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Wednesday
Feb132019

IRS struggling with shutdown backlog, new laws, 'antiquated' technology

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.

Tuesday
Feb122019

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

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.

Tuesday
Feb122019

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

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.

Tuesday
Feb122019

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

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.

Tuesday
Feb122019

Alaska Airlines unveils special-edition "Captain Marvel" plane

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.

Tuesday
Feb122019

Inside the lucrative child modeling business behind Instagram phenom Baby Chanco

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.

Tuesday
Feb122019

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

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.

Monday
Feb112019

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

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.

A Tesla spokesperson told ABC News on Monday they "are not aware of a single instance in which Autopilot refused to disengage" since the system launched in 2015.

"Safety is the top priority at Tesla, and we engineer and build our cars with this in mind. We also ask our customers to exercise safe behavior when using our vehicles, including following the car’s instructions for remaining alert and present when using Autopilot and to be prepared to take control at all times," Tesla said in a statement to ABC News Monday. "A driver can easily override Autopilot by lightly touching the steering wheel or brakes. Moreover, the brakes have an independent bypass circuit that cuts power to the motor no matter what the Autopilot computer requests. And the steering wheel has enough leverage for a person to overpower the electric steering assist at all times."

Despite the name "Autopilot," Tesla's driver assistance technology does not make the technology autonomous. Tesla's website says the technology is "intended for use only with a fully attentive driver who has their hands on the wheel and is prepared to take over at any time."

"The driver can override any of Autopilot’s features at any time," the website says. But statistically, drivers appear to be safer in a vehicle with Autopilot than a vehicle with no driver assistance.

Data provided by Tesla in October 2018 said when Autopilot was active in a vehicle, one accident occurred for every 3.34 million miles driven.

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.

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Monday
Feb112019

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

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.

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.

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Monday
Feb112019

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

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.

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