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06/21/2018 03:42 PM
Supreme Court opens up possibility for online sales tax

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In a case that could likely mean consumers paying more nationwide, the Supreme Court on Thursday opened the door for states to collect sales taxes on purchases from online retailers even if that company doesn't have a physical presence in that state.

The court overturned a longstanding rule that states can collect sales taxes only on transactions if the retailer has a "bricks-and-mortar" presence in that state. The decision could allow more states to impose sales taxes on companies that operate entirely online.

This is a developing story. Please refresh for updates.

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06/21/2018 01:41 PM
What you need to know about Instagram's new video platform

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Instagram, which just hit 1 billion users, announced a new video format is coming to the platform, and its creators are calling it the "most exciting feature to date."

Vertical videos up to 60 minutes long will now appear in a new tab in Instagram and in a stand-alone video app, IGTV, to be released later this week.

The social media company unveiled the news during an "Instagrammable" live show in San Francisco on Wednesday that showcased the importance of video. Video has been key for social media platforms to get users to spend more time engaged with their apps.

Amid the big rollout, the company's founder and CEO, Kevin Systrom, exclusively told ABC News that Instagram plans to roll out a feature in the future that helps users monitor the time they are spending on the app. The feature will include notifications and logging capabilities that would help users know when to put down their device and engage with the real world.

All about IGTV

IGTV is a separate tab within Instagram where users can post vertical, full-screen videos that are as long as 60 minutes. Previously, Instagram limited users to 60-second videos. In a new move, users can also embed links in videos -- key for influencers who use Instagram as a marketing tool.

The move is clearly a competitive shot at YouTube, and Systrom explained that the longer-format videos, combined with Instagram's billion-user reach, give creators more options within Instagram.

"We want to let creators reach their audience wherever they may be. Because of the scale of social media, they can find their audience and find their niche, and that’s what’s special about IGTV," Systrom told ABC News.

While there are some clear differences from YouTube, the most obvious one is format. Instagram is all about mobile users, who hold their phones vertically. Instagram videos will be vertically oriented and full-screen. "We give people a mobile-native, mobile-first format -- they can’t do that anywhere else today," Systrom said.

With more than 25 million followers, Lele Pons (@lelepons) who has been called the "master" of the 60-second video, said she plans to use the longer-format video feature to start a cooking show.

When asked if that’s because she loves to cook, she deadpanned, "I’m not a cook."

All the better to create beautiful, Instagram-worthy kitchen disasters that are relatable for her 25 million followers.

Instagram plans to add time management tools

The standalone app, IGTV, could be critical for video discovery. With people watching lots of videos on their phones, the market opportunity is huge. Instagram wants to compete with not only YouTube, but also Netflix, Hulu and HBO GO.

But that engagement level for teens and tweens can make video a real problem for parents.

Systrom told ABC News that Instagram plans to add features in the future that will notify users when they may be spending too much time on their phone.

"One thing we're going to do is give time management tools for parents and kids, and perhaps even send little alerts to say, 'Hey, I've spent this many minutes, maybe it’s time to put this down and have a conversation with the family,'" Systrom said.

Instagram's terms of service mandate that users are at least 13 years old, but many under that age use the app.

In addition to trying to limit screen time, parents are concerned about user-generated content -- something that has plagued YouTube for years. Systrom said the company works hard with artificial intelligence and paid monitors to flag inappropriate video.

"We’ve got a giant, thriving community that looks out for stuff that may be against our terms and flags it," Systrom said.

Users wanting access to the new IGTV feature in Instagram should go to the app store on their mobile device and upgrade Instagram to version 5.0 or later. Once the new version of the app is installed, you should see a TV icon in the upper right-hand corner of the app, which links to the IGTV feed.

Longer-form videos from accounts you follow will not appear in your regular Instagram feed, so you will have to click into this tab to find them.

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06/21/2018 12:53 PM
Arkansas man allegedly tries to pay waitress with her own stolen credit card

iStock/Thinkstock(PINE BLUFF, Ark.) -- An Arkansas man was taken into custody on Tuesday after he attempted to pay for a meal with a stolen credit card that ended up belonging to his waitress, authorities said.

Police said Shamon West, 21, stole the woman's purse, along with her credit cards and driver’s license, on Sunday when he allegedly broke into her car at a gas station in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, about 44 miles south of Little Rock.

Police arrested West at a restaurant about two blocks away from where the robbery happened after the victim, Flora Lunsford, went to close out his bill and noticed her own name on the credit card, according to a statement.

She immediately notified police, who arrested him after finding the victim’s driver’s license, Social Security card and other credit cards in his possession.

Police obtained surveillance video from the gas station that showed the suspect entering Lunsford's vehicle just moments after she parked her car and went inside the convenience store, according to ABC affiliate KATV.

The video allegedly shows West as he exits the vehicle with the purse and gets back into his car without paying for gas, KATV reported.

Investigators said they were baffled by the entire situation.

"As a side note, the driver’s license, as all do, had her picture on it," a spokesperson for the Pine Bluff Police Department noted, according to KATV. "Therefore, you would think he should have known what she looked like. Yet, he still handed her own credit card to her."

West faces charges of theft by receiving and forgery, court records show. He was being held at the Jefferson County jail on a $2,840 bond.

It wasn’t immediately clear if he had obtained an attorney as of early Thursday.

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06/21/2018 02:57 AM
Airlines speak out against transportation of undocumented children separated from their family

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Before President Trump signed an executive order Wednesday to reverse the administration's family separation policy, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) attacked several airlines that said they would not knowingly work with the federal government in cases of transporting children separated from their parents at the border.

DHS Press Secretary Tyler Q. Houlton lashed out on Twitter, accusing the airlines of "buckling to a false media narrative."

American Airlines acknowledged an existing contract with the federal government, but the airline said it does not know who the government flies nor their purpose for traveling.

"We have no knowledge that the federal government has used American to transport children who have been separated from their parents due to the recent immigration policy, but we would be extremely disappointed to learn that is the case," American Airlines said in a statement.

"We have therefore requested the federal government to immediately refrain from using American for the purpose of transporting children who have been separated from their families due to the current immigration policy. We have no desire to be associated with separating families, or worse, to profit from it."

Southwest Airlines and United Airlines released similar responses. The carriers stated being unaware of any previous occurrences but asked the government to no longer use their flights to transport immigrant children.

"We have contacted federal officials to inform them that they should not transport immigrant children on United aircraft who have been separated from their parents," United CEO Oscar Munoz said.

Frontier Airlines also said they would not knowingly engage in transporting separated children.

Delta Airlines released a statement after the president signed the executive order.

The Georgia-based airline said "recent reports of families being separated are disheartening and do not align with Delta’s core values," but it's pleased with the executive order.

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06/20/2018 10:11 PM
Passengers sue Southwest Airlines over emergency landing, allege they were 'confronted with their greatest fear'

Joe Marcus/Twitter(NEW YORK) -- A group of passengers aboard a Southwest Airlines flight from New York's LaGuardia Airport to Dallas, Texas, is suing the airline over an emergency landing that followed a fatal engine explosion.

Southwest flight 1380 landed in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 17 after an engine exploded about 20 minutes into the flight at an altitude of 32,500 feet, causing Jennifer Riordan to be nearly sucked out of the plane. She died after being pelted by metal fragments.

Riordan’s family is not part of the lawsuit, which was filed in Manhattan State Supreme Court by nine of her fellow passengers on Tuesday. The plaintiffs claim they “were confronted with their greatest fear, the overwhelming horror of being trapped in a plane about to crash.”

One plaintiff, Joe Arenas, is the husband of another passenger, Cindy Arenas, alleges in the lawsuit that he “suffered the loss of consortium of his wife, plaintiff Cindy Arenas, due to the devastating impact upon their marital relationship.”

The lawsuit claims negligence and names the following defendents: Southwest, Boeing and three companies involved in the building of the plane's engine.

“Southwest Airlines negligently failed in its duty to provide the highest degree of care for its passengers whose lives were at risk,” according to the lawsuit. “Southwest Airlines negligently failed to reasonably monitor, inspect, test service, maintain and repair the aircraft and engine.”

Southwest told ABC News: “We do not comment on pending litigations.”

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06/20/2018 09:43 PM
How AMC Theatres plans to compete with MoviePass

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- AMC Theatres introduced a new subscription-based program on Wednesday aimed at giving MoviePass some competition.

AMC Stubs A-List, which rolls out June 26, will allow members to see three movies each week for a monthly fee of $19.95.

Each subscription comes with a three-month commitment, and permits users to make advance reservations and see movies in all formats, including 3D and IMAX.

"We believe that our current and future loyal guests will be interested in this type of program, as AMC Stubs A-List rewards guests with something that no one else offers: the very best of AMC, including IMAX, Dolby Cinema and RealD 3D up to three times per week, for one simple, sustainable price," AMC Theatres CEO and president Adam Aron said in a statement obtained by CNN Money.

The comment has been interpreted to be a dig at MoviePass, which was originally founded in 2011 and has been seen as a major disruptor for the movie business. Currently, it offers two plans: one that costs $9.95 per month and allows users to see a new 2D film every day, or a $7.95 per month version, for which users may see three 2D movies per month. According to the company, MoviePass is accepted at more than 91 percent of theaters nationwide, including AMC Theatres.

However, there have been questions raised recently about the sustainability of MoviePass' business model. Variety reported that the company pays full price for tickets and then discounts them. In April, the company's majority owner, Helios and Matheson Analytics, acknowledged in a regulatory filing that there were doubts about MoviePass' ability to stay in business.

"MoviePass has incurred losses since its inception and has a present need for additional funding. These factors raise substantial doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern," the document reads.

"If we are unable to obtain sufficient amounts of additional capital, we may be required to reduce the scope of the Company’s planned growth or otherwise alter our business objectives and operations, which could harm our business, financial condition and operating results."

The company wasted no time in taking its own jab at AMC Theatres on Wednesday. On its official Twitter page, MoviePass accuses AMC Theatres of "repeatedly" attempting to sabotage them while looking to turn a profit of its own.

"Heard AMC Theaters jumped on board the movie subscription train," the tweet reads. "Twice the price for 1/4 the theater network and 60% fewer movies. Thanks for making us look good AMC!" MoviePass added.

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06/20/2018 05:31 PM
Facebook campaign tops $13M to reunite immigrant families separated at border

John Moore/Getty Images(NEW YORK) --  In a little over four days, a fundraising campaign on Facebook has topped $13 million to help reunite undocumented families split up by the U.S. government at the Mexico border.

The fundraiser page, "Reunite an immigrant parent with their child," was launched on Saturday by three former Facebook employees. As of Wednesday morning, more than 223,000 people had donated to the fund, which was fetching more than $2.2 million in donations a day. Several people donated $260,000 each.

"We are collectively revulsed at what's happening to immigrant families on our southern border," the fund's organizers wrote the campaign's Facebook page.

The page was launched by Silicon Valley power trio Malorie Lucich, and Dave and Charlotte Willner, who were among the original employees at Facebook and now work at Pinterest, the popular image-collecting site. The Willners also work at Airbnb.

The goal of the fund is to raise $5 million.

The money will go to the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, or RAICES, and provide legal aid for undocumented immigrant parents arrested on suspicion of crossing the border illegally.

Bond for the parents arrested at the border has been set at a minimum of $1,500. Unlike in the criminal justice system, bail bond companies either do not help people in immigration proceedings or impose strict requirements, according to RAICES.

President Trump and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen defended the administration's controversial immigration policies on Monday.

As part of the "zero-tolerance" policy, federal prosecutors have been ordered to file criminal charges against any adult caught crossing the border illegally, including those traveling with minors. The children are being placed in the custody of the Department of Health and Human Services, and adults are apprehended by law enforcement.

"Children are not being used as a pawn," Nielsen said at a press briefing Monday. "We are trying to protect the children."

She and Trump said the administration is enforcing laws already on the books.

"The voices most loudly criticizing the enforcement of our current laws are those whose policies created this crisis and whose policies perpetuate it," Nielsen said.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions scoffed at claims that the policy harkens back to Nazi Germany after former CIA and National Security Agency Director Michael Hayden, who served mostly under George W. Bush, tweeted a picture of a Nazi concentration camp and wrote, "Other governments have separated mothers and children."

"Well, it's a real exaggeration," Sessions said in an interview Monday on Fox News. "Of course, in Nazi Germany, they were keeping the Jews from leaving the country."

The policy of separating parents from children at the border had been widely denounced by both Democrats and Republicans. Former first lady Laura Bush penned an op-ed in The Washington Post calling the policy "cruel" and "immoral," and comparing it to Japanese internment camps during World War II.

Lucich and the Willners called the policy "a grave American moral failing."

"These children don't know where their parents are," they wrote on the Facebook fundraising page. "Their parents aren't allowed to communicate with them while in custody. The government hasn't set up a system to reunite separated parents and children if one or both are ultimately released. In many cases, parents have been deported without their children -- sometimes, young children are deported without their parents."

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06/20/2018 02:13 PM
Kate Spade's namesake brand pledges $1M to suicide prevention groups

David Howells/Corbis/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Kate Spade New York will donate $1 million to suicide prevention groups after its founder's death by suicide earlier this month.

“Kate Spade was a true fashion icon who brought joy to the lives of women around the world, and inspired women to live life to the fullest. We are dedicated to carrying on her legacy,” Anna Bakst, CEO of Kate Spade New York, said in a statement.

“The outpouring of love on social media and in our shops from customers of all ages has been overwhelming and moving," she added. "It is such a beautiful reflection of how much Kate was loved.”

Spade was found dead in her New York City apartment on June 5 by a housekeeper, police sources told ABC News. A suicide note was left at the scene, but police officials declined to disclose its contents. The New York City medical examiner officially ruled it a suicide on June 7.

She leaves behind her husband, Andy Spade, and their 13-year-old daughter.

The creative mind, known for her fun and eclectic style, started her namesake company in 1993 and grew it to become a massive fashion empire before she sold the remaining stock she owned in it in 2006.

The Kate Spade New York Foundation will start with a $250,000 donation to the Crisis Text Line, a nonprofit organization proving free crisis support. It will also match all public donations to the Crisis Text Line between June 20 and June 29, up to $100,000.

Spade's death shocked many in the fashion community, as well as women around the world who wore her name on their handbags for years, and shed a blinding light on the indiscriminate nature of suicide and depression.

Suicide rates for white females increased 60 percent between 1999 and 2014. Middle-aged women, between ages 45 and 64, had the highest suicide rate among women in both 2014 and 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Just days after Spade's death, suicide was thrust into the spotlight again when beloved chef and television personality Anthony Bourdain was found dead in his hotel room in France, and local authorities ruled it a suicide.

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06/20/2018 11:25 AM
Almost $118B worth of US homes threatened by rising sea levels, report says

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A report published by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has found that nearly 311,000 coastal homes -- worth $117.5 billion -- are at risk of chronic flooding due to sea level rise over the next 30 years.

The advocacy group said rising sea levels are a result of climate change as fossil fuel emissions warm the climate and melt ice caps.

UCS determined these numbers by using government data and information from the online real estate company Zillow. Three sea level rise scenarios were devised by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. After analysis, the group was able to predict that the states with the most homes at high risk for flooding include Florida, with nearly 1 million homes; New Jersey, with 250,000 homes; and New York, with 143,000 homes.

UCS reported that damage from rising sea levels could have "staggering economic impacts." Homeowners may see property values decline, physical damage to property structures or have to pay more for insurance.

"With no obvious option for reversing that trend, some might choose to abandon their homes and allow banks to foreclose on their mortgages," the UCS website reads. "Banks holding these risky mortgages on devalued properties could then find their financial position adversely affected."

The report indicated that the number of homes that will be affected does not include new homes, future developments or infrastructures such as airports, roads and buildings.

ABC Affiliate WFTS-TV in Tampa Bay, Florida, spoke with coastal homeowner Kim Caswell, who said the tide has been rising each year for three decades.

"The flooding, particularly at the end of the street, used to happen once every month or two. And now, down there it's flooded almost every day," Caswell said.

Just last week, NASA reported having found that ice losses from Antarctica had tripled since 2012 and that, as a result, global sea levels have increased by 0.12 inches.

"The risks of rising seas are profound," according to the UCS website. "Many of the challenges they bring are inevitable. And our time to act is running out. There is no simple solution, but we do still have opportunities to limit the harms."

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06/20/2018 01:06 AM
Computer glitch grounding 2,500 flights could take days to sort out, airline says

IStock/Thinkstock(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- A computer glitch that grounded 2,500 American Airlines flights and left passengers stranded for days at a major U.S. airport has now been “stabilized” but it could still take days to sort out the mess, according to the airline.

Between 200 and 1,000 passengers have been sleeping at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, since flights were forced to be canceled starting last Thursday after American’s regional carrier, PSA Airlines, suffered two computer glitches.

“It was canceled four times,” an angry passenger told ABC News.

“Every time they book us, wait about a half an hour and it's canceled,” another passenger told ABC News.

One woman got so frustrated that she broke a window and luggage separated from their owners began piling up.

The glitches have affected an estimated 125,000 passengers, according to the airline. Applications that help schedule flight movement and crew staffing, which ordinarily takes a few seconds, took hours. As a result, planes and passengers were barely moving until the fix was finalized Monday night.

“It's not a cyber-security issue. It's a hardware IT applications issue,” said Katie Cody, an American Airlines spokesperson.

Passengers continue to struggle with delays.

“We're tired. We're ready to go home,” a passenger told ABC News. “There's a group of 17 and we can't get a rental."

While the problems were fixed, the airline doesn’t expect it to get back to normal operations until Thursday.

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06/19/2018 11:56 PM
Major retailers say they'll phase out sales of paint stripper with chemical linked to deaths

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Three major retailers have announced that they will no longer sell paint strippers or other products containing a chemical that has been linked to dozens of accidental deaths.

Home Depot, Sherman Williams and Lowe's all have announced that they will no longer sell products containing methylene chloride. The Centers for Disease Control has found several people have died while using products that contain the chemical to refinish bathtubs, specifically when individuals inhaled fumes that collected in the tub.

In a 2012 report, the CDC said products with methylene chloride were an "extreme hazard" for professional bathtub refinishers and do-it-yourselfers who can buy the products online or at hardware stores. The CDC confirmed that 13 deaths in 11 years were caused by inhaling fumes from those products.

The Environmental Protection Agency has been looking into the risks from methylene chloride for several years but has not finalized a rule to limit use of the chemical.

A group that has been campaigning to ban the chemical called Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families, said at least 64 people have died from exposure to methylene chloride since 1980.

Health advocates have said the EPA has taken too long to take action on the chemical and petitioned retailers to stop selling products they believe are dangerous.

Home Depot announced Tuesday it will phase out products that contain methylene chloride and another chemical described as risky for pregnant women from all of its stores by the end of this year.

"We applaud The Home Depot for taking this important step that will go a long way in safeguarding its customers from these unnecessary toxic chemicals and promote safer alternatives. The time for hazardous paint strippers is over, and we urge the remaining retailers stocking these products to put their customers first and remove them from store shelves swiftly," a campaign director for Safer Chemicals, Healthy Families said in a statement.

Sherwin-Williams also tweeted last week that it will no longer sell paint strippers with methylene chloride by the end of the year.

Lowe's announced in May it would also phase out the products by end of 2018.

"We care deeply about the health and safety of our customers, and great progress is being made in the development of safer and more effective alternatives," said Mike McDermott, Lowe's chief customer officer.

The director of an industry group that represents manufacturers of these products said the group supports banning the use of products with methylene chloride for stripping bathtubs because of the risk, but added that they are the most effective products for removing paint. Faye Graul, executive director of the Homogenated Solvents Industry Alliance, said they support continued education and labeling to ensure methylene chloride-based paint strippers can be used safely.

The EPA said in May that it will make a decision soon on whether to completely ban the chemical, as the Obama administration recommended, or impose some other rules such as warning labels.

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06/18/2018 05:37 PM
Eight things you should never do at hotel checkout

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For most hotel guests, checking out is an afterthought. It’s the last thing you have to do before heading home. But knowing what not to do at checkout and properly preparing for it can turn a potentially heated situation into a quick “thank you and goodbye.” Below, we compiled a list of eight things you should avoid doing at hotel checkout.

1. Don’t be late to checkout.

The first rule of checking out? Don’t be late. Just like rental car companies that charge for an extra day when you return the car a few minutes after due time, hotels may tack on an outrageously high price for being just a half-hour late. If you’re rushing back to the hotel and know you won’t make the cutoff time, it never hurts to call ahead and try to negotiate away a potential charge.

2. Don’t forget to double check the room and safe.

In addition to leaving the room on time, make sure you don’t leave anything behind. You may want to check under the bed for that lost sock and the bathroom outlet for your phone charger. If you have an early flight or checkout time, pack up as much as you can the night before so that last-minute rush isn’t too harried. Also, be sure to take out anything you were keeping in the room safe. If you’re staying at a hotel where you need to leave your passport at the front desk, you may want to get it back before checking out, if possible.

3. Don’t forget to tip the housekeepers.

Though easy to forget, it’s always polite to leave some money for the people keeping your room clean. If it helps, write yourself a Post-it note reminder.

4. Don’t ignore the itemized bill.

You may be in a rush to get through checkout, but give the itemized bill a careful look so you understand why the hotel charge is different than the room rate you initially booked. Some hotel executives intentionally advertise low room rates, knowing the property will make up the difference with fees that only appear at checkout. Yes, it’s a smarmy practice, but you should be on the lookout or you might get grifted.

5. Don’t be surprised by hidden charges.

Anyone who has stayed in a hotel in the past 10 or so years has likely been presented with an itemized bill that has an unexpected fee. Many New York hotels located near Times Square are now charging an extra $25 destination fee. Some properties add on a resort fee for amenities -- even when you’re not staying the resort. Then, there’s the obnoxious restocking fee for those macadamia nuts you ate when you couldn’t bring yourself to walk a block to find food. Research the fees your hotel charges before you book your stay. The property should clearly spell out the fees they add to the bill, and if it’s not, you can push back on any surprise charges.

6. Don’t freak out.

Spitting venom at the assistant manager standing behind the front desk probably won’t help when dealing with an unexpected line item on the bill. Anyone working at checkout likely knows what fees can and can’t be adjusted. Being empathetic about how difficult it can be to deal with annoyed customers will likely go much further than screaming about the unfair fees. If the Wi-Fi or resort fee wasn’t disclosed beforehand, it’s possible you may be able to get it waived. You can also try to dispute a charge later through your credit card company.

7. Don’t pay with cash or a debit card.

Many hotel guests don’t even realize they’ve been snookered with an unexpected charge until they’re about to throw their itemized receipt into the trash at home. Disputing your bill after paying with cash is a lot harder than working with a credit card company to get a chargeback. If you pay with a debit card, you may not have the protection to challenge a charge. Also, some identity thieves like to target hotel guests. Most credit card companies are set up to detect suspicious behavior, but some debit cards aren’t as well protected.

8. Don’t have the hotel call you a cab.

This advice is only for travelers on a budget. If you want to save a few dollars, plan ahead and check if a ride-sharing service is going to be cheaper than a cab to the airport. If so, call your own ride just before checking out of the hotel.

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06/17/2018 06:49 PM
Man charged with making $1.3M in fraudulent returns to Walmart

Yuma County Detention Center(YUMA, Ariz.) -- Police in Arizona thought they were busting an ordinary case of a fraudulent return this week until some digging revealed that the same 23-year-old man has perpetrated the scheme at thousands of Walmart stores across the country.

Police in Yuma, Arizona, said they responded to a case of a fraudulent return on Wednesday afternoon in which a person bringing a computer back to Walmart had allegedly removed parts of the computer before putting it back in the box and taking it back to the store.

Upon investigation, the Yuma Police Department found that the same man had pulled the same scheme at a different Walmart earlier in the day.

Thomas Frudaker, 23, was arrested and booked into Yuma County Adult Detention Facility.

Yuma police said Frudaker pulled similar schemes at more than 1,000 Walmart stores across the country over the past 18 months and caused a monetary loss of approximately $1.3 million to Walmart.

Frudaker was charged with six felonies, including two counts of theft, two counts of fraudulent schemes and artifices, and two counts of criminal damage.

He is due in court on Monday.

Frudaker is being held at Yuma County Detention Center on $40,000 bond.

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06/16/2018 12:37 AM
The female CEO behind polarizing sports media giant Barstool Sports

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- From its humble beginning as a small newspaper to what is now a full-fledged sports media company, Barstool Sports is one of the most popular brands for men, but it’s a woman who’s calling the shots.

Erika Nardini, the first CEO of Barstool Sports and only the second female employee in the company’s at-times tumultuous history, has taken the controversial site to new heights.

“I was the last candidate I think to come along,” she told ABC News’ Rebecca Jarvis in an interview on “Nightline.” “Over 70 were men -- But I think there was something that clicked with me and Barstool.”

ABC News

The booming satirical sports site was getting as big as it was polarizing before Nardini took the job and she said her decision brought “mixed” reactions within her own personal circle.

“I had friends who were huge fans of Barstool and were excited and really behind it. I had colleagues who thought this was career suicide. I had other colleagues who were like go for it take a risk take a leap,” the CEO of almost two years said. “So it is very mixed, very polarizing. Barstool’s very polarizing.”

Ultimately her decision came down to her vision for the company’s potential growth. “I saw what Barstool could do which I think most people couldn't see, which is just how big this brand has the potential to be and just how powerful its audience is,” Nardini said.

Barstool attracts 12 million followers across social media platforms who call themselves “stoolies” and are drawn to the big personalities who are an essential part of Barstool’s DNA.

Dave Portnoy, known to Stoolies and staffers alike as “El Presidente,” founded the sports and pop culture blog in 2004 after a trip to Las Vegas.

“I hated my job, so I knew I wanted to try something that was my own,” Portnoy said. “I was a gambler -- I wanted to find something that I enjoyed doing. So I flew out to Vegas [and] met with offshore sports books, casinos."

"They said -- if I founded a newspaper, a gambling pamphlet, they’d advertise in it. So that was kind of the genesis of it," he added.

Portnoy said the early content when he started as a small newspaper in 2004 was 95 percent “fantasy football, poker and gambling.” Now almost 15 years later the company churns out hundreds of pieces of content a day.

“Barstool Sports is always growing and it moved away from the gambling roots to more of a lifestyle magazine/newspaper, whatever you want to call it, in which we talk about anything a guy may be interested [in]: girls, entertainment, pop culture, sports,” El Pres explained.

Barstool has seen meteoric growth since Nardini joined the company. She has achieved over 8 times revenue growth, 700 percent growth in brand advertising and 300 percent growth in commerce. The company also relocated to New York City and Nardini expanded Barstool Sports’ digital footprint through new partnerships with Facebook, Snapchat, Comedy Central and SiriusXM.

“I brought to Barstool what I knew how to do which is to scale, to monetize, to create a platform to build systems, to think about the brand and brands that we could build underneath Barstool,” she said.

For Nardini the sky is the limit for this company, well actually she said it’s more like “the moon.”

“I think this is a defining brand for young men. I think it's a company that understands its audience -- I think the most elusive consumer that anyone has is a 19-year-old,” she explained.

“They're not watching television. They are not buying the things that they used to. They're not going to retail stores. They are different and we are a company that understands them,” Nardini said.

The company’s target demographic, men ages 18 to 34, spends an average of 45 million minutes per month consuming Barstool Sports content, according to the company.

Allen Adamson, the author of "Shift Ahead: How the Best Companies Stay Relevant in a Fast-Changing World" and the co-founder of Metaforce, said that particular group of young men crave authenticity when it comes to the brand they connect with.

“You have a lot of guys that are adulting, they're learning how to be adults. They don't have adult commitments yet they have disposable income so they can buy lots of toys,” Adamson said. “This group is attracted to authenticity. They grew up being bombarded by ads and sitcoms and plastic entertainment. And when they smell and see something that's textured and rich and authentic they love it.”

Portnoy, 41, said he’s received positive feedback from a sweeping range of age groups.

“I’ve been doing this now since I’ve been about 25 – so people have grown up with me and we have people from different facets of life, but we have college kids now, we have kids in middle school, and now we have 50-year-olds that will come up be like ‘I read it.’ So it’s really everyone,” he explained.

Although the “stoolies” are major fans of the site, others have taken issue with some of the content and personalities.

ESPN canceled a partnership with Barstool for a new show in 2017, when it came to light that Portnoy and a colleague had made derogatory remarks about female ESPN anchor, Sam Ponder, in 2014. ESPN and ABC News are owned by the Walt Disney Company.

Former ESPN president John Skipper released a statement at the time saying, “While we had approval on the content of the show, I erred in assuming we could distance our efforts from the Barstool site and its content.”

Portnoy responded directly in an “emergency press conference” which was an eight-minute video posted on Twitter. “The reason you needed us, is because we’re Barstool. That’s why this audience exists … And it’s not going anywhere. And all this does is just reinforce the very reason we’re the fastest growing media company in the world. Because we don’t care about this.”

Nardini told ABC News, “It also was a good learning for me about building for yourself not building for someone else... And the difference in opinion of what a great creative product is.”

Adamson said “people are tired of boring safe content,” which bodes well for the burgeoning Barstool demo, but could pose a problem for revenue partners and advertisers.

“All of a sudden they're going to need bigger brands to fuel that engine. And the bigger the brand the harder it is to be edgy,” he explained.

Portnoy said the company has “a massive audience” and he believes humor is the driving force behind those numbers.

“We try to be funny. A few times, in the span of 15 years, a very few times -- something that maybe rubs people the wrong way, I would argue it is always trying to be funny and not everything lands,” he said. “Controversies generally strengthen our core. Our crowd knows who we are.”

And Nardini’s commitment to that mindset is perfectly aligned with Portnoy. “Barstool knows who it is and what it is and what's funny. We're consistent. We're constant. It's very relatable and it's a brand that doesn't take itself too seriously it's a brand without an agenda,” she said. “It's a brand that's unafraid and it's a brand that's very loyal to its audience and in return its audiences very loyal to it.”

The CEO continued, “I don't think that maintaining a brand in this day and age is difficult. What I do find is that the walls are closing in and the definition of what's OK and not OK is polarizing. I ultimately think that's very good for Barstool sports because Barstool is Barstool and we know who we are and we know what we do and we stand by that.”

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06/15/2018 09:57 PM
JetBlue back to full operations in Puerto Rico

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- JetBlue has returned to its full flight schedule to Puerto Rico, nearly nine months after Hurricane Maria, the airline announced Friday.

The return to full capacity comes six months ahead of schedule, totaling 48 daily flights between the United States and the Caribbean island, the airline said.

JetBlue, which is the island’s largest carrier, hired an additional 50 staffers for San Juan.

“Our return to our pre-hurricane flight count is a testament to the incredible resilience of Puerto Rico and our crewmembers who kept flights operating during a very difficult period,” said Dave Clark, JetBlue’s vice president sales and revenue management, said in a statement.

The Puerto Rican government says that commercial flights to the island are back to normal daily capacity. The island, which depends greatly on tourism, was devastated after Hurricane Maria made landfall on Sept. 20, 2017.

About 15 percent of hotels are still not operating, according to the Puerto Rican Tourism Company.

“The fact that JetBlue has been able to match seat capacity levels to pre-hurricane figures six months earlier than expected shows that demand has increased and that we are on track for a historic recovery," said Carla G. Campos, executive director of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company. "Likewise, the creation of 50 new jobs as a result of the increase in operations is a testament to the trust and commitment that JetBlue has with Puerto Rico.”

There are still 6,224 customers are without power in Puerto Rico, according to the island’s electric power authority. The agency’s new chief told the Associated Press in early June that it would take up to two months to restore power to the entire island.

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