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Friday
Mar242017

President Trump climbs into an 18-wheeler and pretends to be a trucker

Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Donald Trump, trucker-in-chief?

That's the role the president briefly assumed Thursday when he climbed into the drivers seat of a Mack 18-wheeler parked on the South Lawn of the White House.

Trump, who wore an "I Love Trucks" button on his lapel, tried his best to emulate a truck driver: He enthusiastically pumped his fists, made a series of facial expressions that lit up the Twittersphere, and excitedly tooted the big rig's horn at least six times.

And Trump clearly didn't run out of gas: following his spirited session of trucker role play, he met with truckers and CEOs from the American Trucking Association to discuss healthcare.

"No one knows America like truckers know America," he said during the meeting. "You see it every day. You see every hill, and you see every valley and you see every pothole in our roads that have to be rebuilt."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Mar232017

Trump Hotel in DC not in violation of government lease, GSA says

Pool/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The General Services Administration (GSA) announced on Thursday that President Donald Trump's lease of a luxury hotel from the government in Washington, D.C. -- which raised
eyebrows among some ethics watchdogs -- is in good standing.

The lease of the Old Post Office property prohibits government officials from profiting from the agreement. In a letter released on Thursday, the GSA said that Trump International Hotel has not
violated the terms of that agreement.

“Based on my review of the Lease, discussions with Tenant, and documents submitted by Tenant, I have determined that Tenant is in full compliance,” GSA Contracting Officer Kevin Terry wrote.
“Accordingly, the Lease is valid and in full force and effect.”

The announcement comes as a blow to a number of ethics experts, who have contended that Trump violated the lease upon taking office. Some argued that Trump may be in violation of the Emoluments
Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits U.S. officials from profiting from foreign officials.

A suit from January accused Trump of profiting from the hotel and other international business ventures, a claim Trump said was "without merit."

The Trump Organization said in a statement at the time that Trump had resigned from leadership positions in the organization and affiliates. Before the inauguration, Trump handed control of his
businesses over to his sons and a long-time associate through a financial trust, but that didn't satisfy the call from some to completely divest of his interests.

According to the letter from the GSA, the reorganization of the hotel’s management and organization structure and the creation of a revocable trust have satisfied the terms of the agreement.

“During his term in office, the President will not receive any distributions from the Trust that would have been generated from the hotel,” Terry wrote in the letter.

A spokesperson for the hotel thanked the GSA “for their diligent review of this matter.”

“We are immensely proud of this property and look forward to providing our guests with an unrivaled luxury experience for years to come.”

Ahead of his inauguration, Trump announced that he would be placing his assets in a revocable trust and transferring control of his business to his two sons, Donald Jr. and Eric. His lawyer, Sherri
Dillon, also said Trump would “voluntarily donate all profits from foreign government payments made to his hotels to the United States Treasury.”

The hotel is located just blocks from the White House at the site of the historic Old Post Office. Trump Hotels acquired the right to lease the property for 60 years in 2013. The hotel opened in
October 2016 following a $200 million renovation.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Mar232017

Customer returns to Starbucks with apology note, $50 after rude treatment of barista

Courtesy of Andrew Richardson(NEW YORK) -- One California Starbucks barista got a surprise on March 21 when a customer returned to apologize for her behavior from the day before.

Andrew Richardson, 20, was floored when he received a handwritten card and $50 bill from his customer named Debbie, whom he admits he didn’t even think was that rude.

“On the 20th, this woman, Debbie, came through the drive through while I was working. She was extremely pleasant, and we had some friendly conversation while her drinks were being made,” Richardson, of Bishop, California, told ABC News. “She had multiple drinks, and we didn't have drink carriers. I informed her and she was a touch frustrated like anyone would be.”

In addition to being out of drink carriers, he also couldn’t take her trash she was hoping to throw away.

“I cannot do this because it would be a California health code violation,” he explained. “She then became a bit more frustrated, but nothing that I would perceive as rudeness. At worst, she was playfully sassy. I really didn't think too much of it.”

Richardson carried on with his day and didn’t give it a second thought.

“It was not a big deal at all in my eyes,” he said. “Being in customer service you can experience a lot of negativity and frustration. I try and counter it with positivity and patience. This was an extremely mild interaction compared to other incidents.”

But Debbie apparently felt otherwise.

“The next day, she came back. I happened to walk by the window when she was there,” Richardson recalled. “She asked me if I was working the window yesterday. I said ‘yes.’ She then became extremely apologetic. She felt genuinely terrible about our interaction the day before. I was so heart warmed to even get a verbal apology. It doesn't happen much.”

The two chatted for a few minutes and Richardson said her in-person “genuine apology” alone was enough to lift his spirits, without even knowing what was going to happen next.

“She then handed me the card, [and] I was even more grateful and uplifted,” he said. “I thanked her for another minute and she left.”

He hadn’t yet opened the card before Debbie drove away.

“I returned to it later, opened it, and I was completely shocked,” he said of discovering the money. “Without the money, this was one of the most beautiful and heartfelt things I have ever read. It absolutely made my day when I read it. The money was unnecessary. The card alone was the best part. I would have turned the money down had I opened it when she was there. It's hard to take things like that.”

Richardson’s supervisor told him he could keep the money.

“She handed it to him in a personal card so of course he was able to keep it,” one of the location’s supervisors, Angie Harris, told ABC News.

“I think it was great. It’s always good to see those customer connections,” she added. “We’re really proud of him.”

“Nothing like this has ever happened, it's unprecedented,” said the humbled barista. “This was easily one of the kindest things I've ever received. I'm very happy to know that there are still good, caring people in this world. I'm still smiling about it.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Mar232017

Jobless claims jump to 258K

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Jobless claims spiked higher last week, increasing by 15,000, according to the latest figures released Thursday by the Labor Department.

For the week ending March 18, the number of people filing for benefits jumped from a revised level of 243,000 the previous week to 258,000.

Now at 240,000, four-week moving average also increased by 1,000 from last week’s revised average of 239,000.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Mar232017

Tax Tip: What happens when you can't pay the IRS?

iStock/ThinkstockYou've gone through your receipts, crunched the numbers, checked them twice and now you're ready to file your taxes. But there's one problem: You can't pay everything you owe Uncle Sam.

Certified public accountant Richard Lavina says don't panic.

"If you can't just shell out one check, you know, a huge check for hundreds of thousands of dollars, what you can do is set up a payment plan," he says. "There are plenty of CPAs that can do that. It's a nice option, as opposed to saying, 'Uh, ok, here's $10,000 right here.'"

Just make sure you keep the agreement because if you don't, the penalties add up quickly.

And remember: There's only one way to guarantee you won't owe the IRS.

"You could always overpay them. The IRS loves when you overpay. That's essentially what you have when you have withholdings and they give you a refund because you paid or withheld, as an employee, too much throughout the year," Lavina explains

If you need to change your withholdings for next year, do it now.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Mar222017

Virgin America will disappear into Alaska Airlines in 2019

Virgin America(SEATTLE) -- The Virgin America name is embarking on its final voyage.

The parent company of Alaska Airlines announced Wednesday that it would be phasing out Virgin’s name following the merger of the two companies last December.

“After careful consideration, the combined company will adopt Alaska's name and logo, retiring the Virgin America name likely sometime in 2019,” a statement said. However, the combined airline
will adopt many of the brand elements that Virgin America enthusiasts love about their favorite airline, including enhanced in-flight entertainment, mood lighting, music and the relentless desire
to make flying a different experience for guests. The goal is to create a warm and welcoming West Coast-inspired vibe.”

Vice President of Marketing Sangita Woerner,said they wanted one name for their airline in order to be more consistent and efficient.

The combined forces of the Alaska Air Group make up the fifth-largest carrier in the nation.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Mar222017

Starbucks to open 12,000 new locations by 2021

Starbucks(NEW YORK) -- If you already feel like there's a Starbucks on every street corner, get ready to see a whole lot more of the coffee chain's stores.

The company announced on Wednesday plans to open 12,000 new stores globally by 2021, 3,400 of which will be in the U.S.

The new locations will amount to more than 240,000 jobs around the world, including 68,000 positions in the U.S. alone.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Mar222017

Cheerios' free flower seeds become thorny issue

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- General Mills' heart was definitely in the right place when it took its Honey Nut Cheerios spokes-insect “BuzzBee” off its boxes, to raise awareness of declining bee populations.

However, botanists are decrying a "bring the bees back" campaign that had consumers sending away for free packs of wildflowers to plant because some of the seeds will grow into invasive plants that aren't bee-friendly.  

The company reportedly gave away some 1.5 billion seeds as part of the campaign, which actually began in Canada.

"At worst these things can potentially introduce weedy plants where they might not currently exist," said Eric Mader, a native plant specialist with the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation, to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. "At best … I don’t know if there is a best."

Experts agree private planting of the seeds wouldn't necessarily be harmful but doing so on public land -- either deliberately or accidentally -- could lead them to spread in an uncontrolled manner.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Mar222017

Italian grandmothers taste test pasta at three price points

Grace Wong/ABC(NEW YORK) -- Ease and affordability make pasta a perennial favorite, but today artisans have turned this humble pantry staple into nouvelle cuisine.

By using ingredients like spring water, quality semolina flour and pushing the dough through a bronze extruder, a pound of gourmet spaghetti could cost 10 times more than the average price of supermarket spaghetti. But does pricier mean tastier?

ABC News' Good Morning America asked Luca Donofrio, head pasta maker at Eataly in New York City, to create a blind taste test comparing dried spaghetti at three different price points: $1, $2.50 and $10 a pound.

Donofrio cooked the pasta and dressed it simply with olive oil and garlic, and we invited three experts, or "nonnas" (that’s Italian for grandmother), to take our taste test. The "nonnas" were asked to pick their favorite and which one they thought was the most expensive.

It was a three-way split vote for favorite, and a split vote again for the most expensive, but Nonna Romana Sciddurlo chose the pasta labeled “C” as her favorite and the most expensive.

Sciddurlo, like the other grandmothers who took the test, considers herself a pasta connoisseur -- she makes her own pasta and has had her recipes featured in her granddaughter’s cookbook called Cooking with Nonna.

The pasta Sciddurlo chose? The pasta that cost $1 a pound, showing tasty doesn’t have to be expensive.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Mar222017

Tax Tip: How moonlighting can affect your taxes

iStock/ThinkstockA lot of people are doing the side hustle these days, working a second job -- or more -- in addition to their full-time career. But when it comes time to file your taxes, that extra money may cost you.

"We saw a lot of independent contractors -- they either drove for Uber or they listed a property on Airbnb, and they're getting for the first time income into their household outside of their W-2," says certified public accountant Richard Lavina. "Little did they know at the time that they've got to pay a tax bill because there are no withholdings."

Lavina says that means big changes to the way you file your taxes. And while you may have to pay more this year than you'd hoped to, you can plan ahead for next year.

"Organization's key. If you know you're going to be moonlighting throughout the year, it's best to get with an adviser and estimate how much you're going to be making off that contracting job and set up at least quarterly payments," he says.

You can also find the forms for this kind of payment on the Internal Revenue Service's website, IRS.gov.

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