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Tuesday
Aug082017

Airline bumping at a lowest rate in over a decade, new data shows

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In the first half of 2017, airlines involuntarily bumped passengers at the lowest rate in over a decade, according to newly released data from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The 12 U.S. carriers that report incidents of involuntary denied boarding posted a bumping rate of 0.52 per 10,000 passengers compared to a rate of 0.62 from this time last year. Specifically, the second quarter of 2017 saw an even lower rate of 0.44 per 10,000 passengers, a historic low for the airline industry.

The lower involuntary bumping rate comes as airlines are reviewing their involuntary bumping or denied boarding policies after the Dr. David Dao incident on United in early April. The event caused a major public backlash as images and videos of a bloody Dao being dragged off a United flight by police flooded social media.

United Airlines settled with Dao back in late April over his removal. Oscar Munoz, United Airlines' CEO, spoke with "Good Morning America" around the same time in an ABC News exclusive interview, saying he felt “shame” over the incident.

“This will never happen again,” Munoz said. “We are not going to put law enforcement officials onto a plane to take them off ... to remove a booked, paid, seated passenger. We can’t do that.”

United and other airlines have taken steps to reduce passenger bumping, including raising their incentive payment cap for voluntary denied bumping to $10,000.

Other changes specifically in United policies specifically include “crews must be booked on flights at least 60 minutes prior to departure” and “customers already seated on a plane will not be required to give up their seat involuntarily unless safety and security is at risk.”

The Department of Transportation has also released a microsite to help passengers learn about their rights 35,000 feet up. When it comes to involuntary bumping, one right passengers have is, “DOT requires each airline to give all passengers who are bumped involuntarily a written statement describing their rights and explaining how the carrier decides who gets bumped.”

The website also states that airlines still have a legal right to involuntarily bump or deny boarding to passengers and “it is the airline’s responsibility to determine its own fair boarding priorities.”

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Tuesday
Aug082017

US stocks close lower after President Trump's remarks to North Korea

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A warning from President Trump on North Korea pushed U.S. stocks in the red on Tuesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 33.08 (-0.15 percent) to finish at 22,085.34.

The Nasdaq gave up 13.31 (-0.21 percent) to close at 6,370.46, while the S&P 500 finished at 2,474.92, down 5.99 (-0.24 percent) from its open.

Crude oil was 0.5 percent higher with prices at $49 per barrel.

North Korea:  While at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, President Trump pledged North Korea would be "met with fire and fury like the world has never seen" amid the country's latest nuclear threats.

Winners and Losers: 
Ralph Lauren Corp. and Michael Kors Holdings Ltd. reported earnings that beat investors' expectations, sending shares in both to soar 13 percent and 22 percent.

Dean Foods Co.'s stock plunged 21 percent after reporting earnings in the second-quarter that were way below investors' expectations.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Aug082017

Kids create lemonade stand to help buy school clothes and supplies

iStock/Thinkstock(CHARLESTON, N.C.) -- Two North Carolina kids who wanted to give back to their families are showing their entrepreneurial colors under the vibrant yellow tent of their lemonade business.

Aniyah Williams, 11, and Isaiah Lattimer, 12, said they started "Sweet and Sour Lemonade" in Raleigh to help buy new clothes and school supplies for the upcoming school year.

A local community advocate, Geraldine Alshamy said she noticed Lattimer trying to run a makeshift lemonade stand using an old refrigerator box and saw an opportunity to help the children get the business off the ground.

"I live near there and when I saw him I asked why they were selling it," Alshamy told ABC News. "They wanted new clothes and school supplies, so I decided to see how I could help."

"We got them a tent, a table and a recipe for lemonade and I taught them how to roll the lemons and mix all the ingredients so they could make fresh squeezed lemonade for people," she continued. "Everything else was on them."

Alshamy helped teach them basic business skills and believes the experience will teach them valuable social skills.

"There's math involved when they're tracking their money each day and they deduct the amount they pay for ingredients," she said. "So they're learning the basics of good business and how to get along, respect people, be grateful and share."

The local grocery stores and police department have been extremely supportive donating lemons and water to help their cause, Alshamy said.

"I just wanted to help them because they wanted to help themselves,"she said.

Alshamy estimated that the young pair has raised more than $800 in just over a month running the lemonade stand.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Aug082017

Newlyweds get midair wedding ceremony on flight to honeymoon

ABCNews.com(NEW YORK) -- Love was in the air for this Texas couple on the way to their honeymoon.

Newlyweds Taylor and Mikaela Flowers were surprised with a special wedding ceremony aboard a Southwest Airlines flight to their honeymoon destination in Mexico. The ceremony included a toilet paper veil, boutonniere and bouquet and a crown made out of pretzel bags and coffee stirrers.

As the bride walked down the aisle again, among her fellow passengers who were the "wedding" guests, a flight attendant walked the couple through their new vows, "To always put their small carry-ons underneath the seat, not in the overhead bins."

"It was awesome," Mikaela Flowers told ABC News from their honeymoon in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

The flight attendant was inspired to create the wedding reenactment after the groom asked for a whiskey to accompany his Coke because he wanted to start the honeymoon celebrations. She returned with the beverage, along with a vodka for the bride, while secretly planning the surprise.

"About an hour later the stewardess came back and I was asleep and she pulled us both out of our seats and my wife asked me, 'What did you do wrong?'" Taylor Flowers recalled.

The bride made her way to the back as the groom was pulled to the front of the cabin for the midair ceremony. After the nuptials were completed, the couple said the flight attendant asked the passengers, all of whom were complete strangers, to write a piece of advice for the newlyweds.

"Some of them were more sincere like, 'Never go to bed angry' and 'Always say "I love you,"'" said Taylor.

But others were definitely sarcastic, which they also enjoyed.

"Our favorite one said, 'It’s a good thing you guys are cute together because you woke me up from my nap,'" the bride said with a laugh.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Aug082017

Safety experts warn about the potential dangers of buying and selling through apps

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- The rise in popularity of apps that you can use to buy and sell things online is causing safety concerns from experts and local police departments across the country.

"Anytime you're dealing with strangers your risk level of something bad happening goes up," Steve Kardin, a former police detective, told ABC News.

"This really is the new marketplace," Kardin said of doing business through apps, which many see as an easy and fast way to make cash by posting an item you want to sell and then waiting for the highest offer.

Kardin said the safety concerns arise next, when, "you agree to meet at a specific location."

Pooja St. Amand, of Middletown, Connecticut, told ABC News that she was robbed after meeting up with a stranger when she was selling an iPad through the app OfferUp. St. Amand said she took what she thought were all the right safety precautions and she agreed to meet the potential buyer in a populated community center parking lot.

"My whole body went numb, I was scared," St. Amand said of the incident. "The only thing that they didn't take was my personal cell phone and the iPad that we were selling."

The threat of crimes related to these meetings have sparked police departments across the country to set up designated safe meet-up spots for doing business through apps, many of them located in the parking lots of local police stations.

"Criminals do not want to commit crimes at the police department," Frank Sabol, a Port St. Lucie Police Department sergeant from Florida, told ABC News. "They know that their likelihood of being arrested or getting caught greatly increases."

The Rocky River Police Department of Ohio announced their new meet-up spot outside their police office on their Facebook page, saying in a post that not only will the new location reduce the risk of fraudulent transactions, it will also "let buyers and sellers avoid giving personal information, such as home or work addresses, to complete a transaction."

The Fanwood Police Department of Fanwood, New Jersey, which also has a meet-up spot right outside of their police headquarters, noted in a statement announcing the location that it would be monitored 24 hours a day with surveillance cameras.

OfferUp told ABC News in a statement that they have provided close to 5,000 signs to police departments across the country, and "are committed to providing local buyers and sellers with the best experience possible and safety is a big part of that."

They also released a series of safety tips which includes reviewing buyer and seller profiles before making a transaction, communicating with strangers only through the app, putting extra care into where you choose to meet up and bringing a friend or family member if you have to do a transaction at a private residence.

A spokesperson for another popular app for buying and selling, letgo, told ABC News that "Tens of millions of people securely buy and sell billions of dollars in secondhand items on letgo every month," and they "constantly test new ways to ensure our app remains a safe place for local buyers and sellers to connect."

"We use human and artificial intelligence to moderate our marketplace and we ask our user community to flag anything or anyone that raises concerns in extremely rare cases where that's necessary," the spokesperson for letgo added.

Kardin advised that if you choose to meet somewhere other than a local police department parking lot, there are three key things you should ensure before meeting up with strangers, including that the location is a public place, has a lot of people around, and has surveillance cameras.


Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Aug082017

Google fires employee behind controversial anti-diversity memo

Google(MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.) -- Google has fired the employee who wrote a controversial 10-page internal memo that criticizes the search giant for its efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in its workforce, the company has confirmed to ABC News.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai sent a note to employees about the incident on Monday, saying the staffer violated the company’s Code of Conduct.

The post went over “the line by advancing harmful gender stereotypes in our workplace," Pichai said. “To suggest a group of our colleagues have traits that make them less biologically suited to that work is offensive and not OK,” he added.

In the memo, which circulated on an internal company network and was first reported by Motherboard and published in full by Gizmodo on Saturday, the writer attributes gender inequality in the male-dominated tech industry to biological differences between the sexes.

“Distribution of preferences and abilities of men and women differ in part due to biological causes and ... these differences may explain why we don’t see equal representation of women in tech and leadership,” the author wrote.

The memo also targeted what it referred to as a “left-leaning” workplace culture at Google and urged the firm to “stop alienating conservatives.”

The employee memo, titled “Google's ideological echo chamber,” comes as the company fights a wage-discrimination probe by the Department of Labor, which said it found evidence that the search giant often pays women less than their male counterparts. Google has denied those allegations.

In an email to employees on Saturday, Danielle Brown, Google’s newly appointed vice president of diversity and integrity, acknowledged the memo and said it “advanced incorrect assumptions about gender.”

“Diversity and inclusion are a fundamental part of our values and the culture we continue to cultivate,” Brown wrote. “We are unequivocal in our belief that diversity and inclusion are critical to our success as a company, and we’ll continue to stand for that and be committed to it for the long haul.”

“Part of building an open, inclusive environment means fostering a culture in which those with alternative views, including different political views, feel safe sharing their opinions,” Brown added.

Aristotle Balogh, Google’s vice president of engineering, also rebuked the memo in a separate email to employees and several Google employees also spoke out against the original memo.

“Building an open, inclusive environment is core to who we are, and the right thing to do. ’Nuff said,” Balogh wrote on Twitter.

The memo’s author claimed that he has received support and praise from fellow employees who are afraid to defend him publicly.

“Despite what the public response seems to have been, I’ve gotten many personal messages from fellow Googlers expressing their gratitude for bringing up these very important issues which they agree with but would never have the courage to say or defend because of our shaming culture and the possibility of being fired. This needs to change,” the author wrote in a comment to his original post.


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Monday
Aug072017

Tinder couple whose three years of messages went viral enjoy first date in Hawaii

Grand Wailea Resort(NEW YORK) -- After exchanging messages on the dating app Tinder for three years, college students Michelle Arendas and Josh Avsec finally went on their first date.

It all started in September 2014, when they matched up on the app. The two then texted back and forth for over three years, taking months to reply to each other and giving increasingly creative excuses for the delay.

When Tinder caught wind of the two Kent State University students' epic 21st century love story, the company decided to send the pair on a romantic first date to a destination of their choosing. They chose Hawaii, and after a long-anticipated first meeting in New York on "Good Morning America" in July, the two went on a once-in-a-lifetime first date to Maui.

"I never in a million years could have expected that when this story first started, when he first tweeted out our conversations, that something so simple could turn into something so amazing," Arendas said.

"GMA" got an exclusive look at their date at the Grand Wailea Resort in Maui, where the two soaked up the sun and beach, went on a scenic bike ride and enjoyed tropical drinks by the pool.

"Never did I imagine our first date would be on a resort like this ... it's like something from a postcard. It's amazing," Avsec said.

"On this trip I have learned about Josh's incredible energy. He is just always excited and always energetic, even on like a hot day like today, he's always ready to go," Arendas, 21, said.

And Avsec, 22, had nothing but glowing things to say about his date.

"You should hear her talk about her dreams and her passions and her career path ... [her] determination and perseverance, it's really rare and awesome to be apart of," he said.

Both parties said they are hopeful they will see each other again.

"We're heading back to Kent soon and I know we don't have any concrete plans yet," Arendas said, "but I'm sure our paths will cross once we get back there."

"With everything going on, it's been hard to talk about the little things like when we do go back. She's so much fun I know once we get back home we're gonna want to meet up again," Asvec said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Aug072017

Dow posts ninth straight record close

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The Dow Jones Industrial Average reaches yet another all-time high as U.S. stocks close in the green.

The Dow gained 25.61 (+0.12 percent) to finish at 22,118.42, a ninth straight record.

The Nasdaq climbed 32.21 (+0.51 percent) to close at 6,383.77, while the S&P 500 finished at 2,480.91, up 4.08 (+0.16 percent) from its open.

Crude oil was 0.5 percent higher with prices at $49 per barrel.

Winners and Losers:  Tyson Foods, Inc. reported better-than-expected earnings and sales in the third-quarter, sending shares to climb 5.7 percent.

Shares of Apple Inc. jumped 1.6 percent after a Bloomberg report revealed the company is planning to release a smartwatch that can connect to cellular networks.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Aug072017

Yorkshire terrier gets the royal treatment in luxurious bath

ABCNews.com(NEW YORK) -- Diesel Minnie, a 2-year-old Yorkshire terrier, has a pretty good life.

His dog mom, Maria Lopez, spoils him with the latest fashions, perfumes and even spa-inspired baths.

In fact, a video of little Diesel enjoying a bath, complete with cucumbers on his puppy dog eyes and a rubber ducky, went viral on Instagram recently.

Lopez, 33, told ABC News she spoils her dog, which she got in 2015, so much because he helped her get over a devastating breakup. The British Columbia, Canada, woman had split with her boyfriend of eight years one year before.

"I was going through a very bad depression," she explained. "I wanted a dog. I wanted company."

Thanks to Diesel, Lopez said her entire life has changed and she's in a much better place. "I'm happy," she added.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Aug072017

Farecompare CEO Rick Seaney shares the cheapest days of the week to fly

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Looking to cut costs when you travel? Farecompare CEO Rick Seaney sat down with ABC News to give his tips on how to save money when choosing what days to fly.

Here's what he had to say:

Are you a true cheapskate?

You are if you do this when traveling: You always use a carry-on to avoid the checked-bag fee. You pack a lunch from home so you don’t pay for airline meals. And first class? Hah! Nothing but economy for you.

But true cheapskates do one more thing; they fly on the three cheapest days of the week. For U.S. domestic travel, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are usually the least expensive days to fly.

It’s simple, really: Demand is low because who wants to start a vacation in the middle of the week? Everyone wants to fly Fridays and Sundays but you pay a price for popularity and those are usually the most expensive days to fly.

The good news is airlines have to fill up their planes every day of the week so they do the only thing they can for flights on unpopular days: They lower the fares.

These examples are for Los Angeles-to-New York flights in September, trips of about a week’s duration:

- Friday to Sunday: $365
- Wednesday to Tuesday: $288

For transatlantic flights, the difference can be more startling and the rules a little looser: In general, weekdays are cheaper than weekends. Now check out these Boston-to-Dublin fares from United Airlines:

- Friday to Sunday: $581
- Wednesday to Tuesday: $457

Time for some Saturday fares now. This example features Chicago-to-Atlanta routes:

- Friday to Sunday: $207*
- Saturday to Saturday: $89

*There were cheaper fares for this itinerary, but only if the Sunday flight departed at 5 a.m. or earlier.

Is the rule on the "cheapest three days to fly" etched in stone? No.

It is usually true but not always, which is why I urge people to be as flexible as possible whenever shopping for airfares. If you can step back from a fixed itinerary and use tools to find cheap days to fly during specific months you’d like to travel, do this. It can save a significant amount of money. And isn’t that what being a cheapskate is all about?

Rick Seaney is the CEO of FareCompare, a website that curates the best deals on flights from around the world. Any opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author.

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