US Economy Adds 280K Jobs in May

Jun 5, 2015 226

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — U.S. employers added 280,000 jobs to their payrolls in May, the Labor Department reported Friday morning.

Last month’s figures beat expert expectations of just 227,000 jobs.

The unemployment rate was “essentially unchanged,” the Labor Department’s Bureau of Labor Statistics said, at 5.5 percent. The prior month, the rate stood at 5.4 percent.

 Hourly wages rose 0.3 percent for private sector workers as jobs were added in health care, business services and hospitality, the report shows.

Employment in mining and oil extraction continues to decline, according to the report. In May — marking the fifth straight month of declines — mining jobs fell by 17,000. The industry has lost 68,000 this year.

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Taco Bell Wants In on Happy Hour

Jun 5, 2015 295

iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) — Taco Bell’s long been a fast-food destination after a night of partying, so maybe it’s only fitting they’re now serving alcohol.  At least, if you’re in the Chicago area.

The eatery announced they’ll be serving alcoholic beverages — beer, wine and spiked frozen drinks — at their new Wicker Park location, set to open this summer, reports. It’ll be the first Taco Bell in the U.S. to feature alcohol sales.

But you won’t be buying booze through the drive-thru window. The Chicago-area Taco Bell will be a little more upscale than a normal fast-food spot, featuring an urban design, transparent kitchen and fancier packaging. Drinking will be restricted to inside the restaurant, which will also boast an eco-friendly design with recycled material, LED lights and an energy-saving heating and cooling system.

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CVS Accused in Lawsuit of Racially Profiling Customers, Worker Discrimination

Jun 4, 2015 265

Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Four former CVS workers are suing the pharmacy chain and some of its managers in a potential class action lawsuit, claiming that staff in multiple New York City stores racially profile African-American and Hispanic shoppers, using racial slurs.

The suit alleges that the workers were “routinely” directed, among other things, to “follow that black guy” without any evidence that a shopper is going to steal anything, while at least one supervisor “would never give such directions with regard to white shoppers.”

Three of the four plaintiffs also claim they quit because of hostile working conditions as loss prevention employees, or “market investigators,” after they complained about racial discrimination against themselves. They filed their lawsuit in Federal District Court in Manhattan Wednesday, claiming violations of the New York State Human Rights Law and New York City Human Rights Law. CVS must respond to the lawsuit within 30 days.

When asked to comment about the allegations in the lawsuit, a spokesman for CVS provided the following statement to ABC News: “CVS Health has firm nondiscrimination policies that it rigorously enforces. We serve all communities and we do not tolerate any policy or practice that discriminates against any group. We are shocked by the allegations in this complaint and we intend to defend against them vigorously.”

Keith Pollack, 41, one of the plaintiffs, alleges in the lawsuit that after he got into an argument with a store manager, he was told to “get his black a** back to the store and apologize” by one of the defendants in the lawsuit. The other three plaintiffs are Delbert Sorhaindo, 26; Lacole Simpson, 32; and Sheree Steele, 46. Two of the plaintiffs claim that their complaints about racial discrimination resulted in retaliation through “increased scrutiny, micromanagement and fabricated performance criticisms.” The four plaintiffs are asking for injunctive relief against CVS so that it takes steps to remedy its alleged illegal conduct, as well as unspecified punitive damages.

David Gottlieb, an attorney for the plaintiffs, said the lawsuit does not specify the number of stores in the New York City area where his clients experienced discrimination.

“This was not a situation where it was not one or two stores or one or two managers,” Gottlieb told ABC News. “This scheme was perpetrated by multiple managers and directors in the loss prevention department of CVS and many store managers. I don’t have an exact number. This is not an isolated situation but an institutional problem at CVS.”

The four ex-workers claim “CVS intentionally targets and racially profiles its black and Hispanic shoppers based on the highly offensive, discriminatory and ill-founded institutional belief that these minority customers are criminals and thieves,” according to the lawsuit. Among several CVS managers that the suit names, two CVS loss prevention managers in Manhattan and Queens are accused of being “ringleaders of this racist and offensive approach to loss prevention,” the suit claims.

The plaintiffs claim they personally experienced racism from CVS managers, including one who allegedly wouldn’t allow Pollack to enter her office. The assistant store manager allegedly told him, according to the lawsuit, “She [the store manager] does not allow blacks in her office.”

Pollack, Simpson and Sorhaindo were forced to resign between February and April this year, the suit says, after working for the company for about four years, Gottlieb told ABC News. Steele says she was not permitted to return to work in July 2013 after returning on approved leave, which the suit alleges is “blatant retaliation for her complaints.”

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Wall Street Drops over Europe Losses, Greece Worries

Jun 4, 2015 184

tarabird/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The markets closed lower on Thursday, as investors remained on edge over the outcome of Greece’s talks with creditors.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 17,905.58 on Thursday, down 170.69 from its open.

The Nasdaq was down by 40.11 to close at 5,059.13. The S&P 500 was also down by 18.23, to finish the session at a close of 2,095.84.

Shares of food maker J.M. Smucker fell on Thursday after the company reported a loss in its latest quarter, while shares of Dish Network and T-Mobile jumped over published reports the two companies are considering a merger.

The International Monetary Fund is downgrading its outlook for the U.S. economy this year, and IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said on Thursday the Federal Reserve should wait until the first half of 2016 to start raising short-term interest rates.

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Carnival Corp Announces New Brand, Fathom, Focused on ‘Social-Impact Travel’

Jun 4, 2015 192

Carnival Corp.(NEW YORK) — Carnival Corp. unveiled plans Thursday for a new brand: fathom. Aimed primarily at cruisers who want to add an element of so-called voluntourism to their trips, the first sailing will take place in April 2016.

The company calls the fathom brand “social impact travel.” Passengers will participate in activities focused on education, the environment and economic development, the company said.

The first sailing for fathom, which Carnival spells with a lowercase “f,” is from Miami to the Dominican Republic. Passengers could choose to work in a school alongside a Dominican teacher to assist students with English language skills, or they might choose to build water filters using local clay and then deliver those filters to families throughout the community to provide healthy drinking water.

Depending on a passenger’s level of interest, a person might spend just a few hours or up to three days of their voyage in community activities. Three “impact” activities are built into the cost of the trip. Typical shore excursions — like kite surfing or scuba — are an additional cost, as is typical.

There are select “volunteer” options that cost extra: for example, spending the night at an environmental impact activity two hours from the port, the cruise line said.

The company believes it will attract a new customer base with a departure from the traditional cruise itinerary and shore excursions, citing market research that indicates one million North Americans already pursuing service-oriented travel experiences.

The new brand will launch on the ship MV Adonia, previously part of Carnival Corp’s U..-based P&O Cruises. It’s a 710-passenger vessel that will undergo an update prior to the fathom brand’s first sailing.

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How Uber Drivers Rate You and How You Can Reach Five Stars

Jun 4, 2015 171

Bernard Weil/Toronto Star via Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) — It’s been five years this week since Uber launched its first service in San Francisco, but many of Uber’s customers in 58 countries still may not realize they are being judged by their friendly drivers.

Uber ratings cover both drivers and passengers, and are based on the ride experience, similar to the system of competitor Lyft.

“The rating system works to make sure that the most respectful riders and drivers are using Uber,” Uber states on its website. “Ratings are always reported as averages, and neither riders nor drivers will see the individual rating left for a particular trip.”

Here are several ways you can ride like a pro.

1. Check what your rating is

First, checking your rating as a passenger isn’t as mysterious as you would think. You can just email customer service or there’s a page on the Uber website called, “How do ratings work?” with a “submit” button. Just a few minutes later, you will receive an emailed “Uber support” response with your average rating on a scale of 1 to 5.

Not everyone can have five stars. Even Uber CEO Travis Kalanick told San Francisco magazine he was a “five” for a long time, then he had a “string of 4 stars.”

“I don’t know what happened. I think what happened was I was a little stressed at work. I was not as courteous as I should have been,” Kalanick said.

2. How to check your driver’s rating

An Uber user can only see a driver’s rating after the driver has accepted a ride request. It appears next to his or her photo at the bottom of the app.

3. Follow the golden rule

Treat your drivers and their cars like you and your own personal property would like to be treated when it comes to activities like smoking and drinking, Uber has said, “and let’s be honest: that greasy pizza can wait.”

4. Don’t be unsafe

Uber drivers have been deactivated for “consistently poor ratings” while riders have “been given a temporary cooling off period or barred from using the app for inappropriate or unsafe behavior,” according to an Uber blog post last year.

“We take this feedback seriously — depending on the circumstances, rider feedback may lead to deactivating a partner from the system or serve as validation that the driver is providing great service,” an Uber website post stated back in April 2014.

In San Francisco, as of April 2014, only 1 percent of trips end with a driver or rider given a low rating of 1 or 2, Uber said.

5. Make sure your pin is dropped in the right place

Make sure your location is pinned accurately, or even better, add your pickup address to the app to save time, Uber said in a post back in January. Uber’s “pro tip” on this subject: Entering your destination ahead of time makes everyone’s life easier.

“And, in case you were wondering: drivers can’t see your destination before accepting a request,” Uber has said.

6. Don’t try to cram more than four people in a car

Most Uber cars can only fit four passengers. If you need more space, request uberXL or uberSUV, which can fit up to six riders.

7. Be ready

“Driver-partners do everything they can to pick you up in under 10 minutes,” Uber has said. “Please try to return the favor by being ready to hop in your Uber when it arrives.”

But if you are a few minutes late, call or text your driver using Uber’s in-app feature, the company suggests.

Even if you’re running late to your destination, “don’t encourage your driver to break traffic laws like illegal u-turns,” the website says.

8. Introduce yourself

Confirm your first name with the driver and ask the driver to do the same to make for a smoother beginning, Uber recommends.

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Flintstones Bedrock City in Arizona on Sale for $2 Million, Brontosaurus Included

Jun 4, 2015 181

Courtesy Bedrock City(WILLIAM, Ariz.) — Yabba dabba doo. You could raise your modern stone age family in your very own Flintstones world, which is priced at $2 million, volcano included.

Bedrock City, a theme park and campground in Williams, Arizona, is located 30 miles south of the Grand Canyon. Established in 1972, the family business has a gift shop, restaurant, RV park and convenience store, as well. With 30 acres, the seller says redevelopment opportunities could include a casino, resort, time shares or an outlet mall, according to the brochure.

Holly Hulen, the daughter of the owner, Linda Speckels, told ABC News why her mother is selling the property.

“My mother is 73 and she and my father built that business,” Hulen said from Arizona. “My father passed away over 20 years ago. She’s been running it herself, and she’s ready to retire. She’s ready to enjoy her grandkids and not worry about managing a business.”

The license agreement with Hanna-Barbera, the studio behind the campy 1960s cartoon, The Flintstones, is not a part of the sale and would need to be renegotiated, Hulen said. A fake volcano is named Mt. St. Wilma, after Fred Flintstone’s wife, which is part of a train ride that uses a re-designed golf cart.

The property is not to be confused with the similar Bedrock City in Custer, South Dakota, which opened in 1966 and is managed by a distant cousin of Hulen’s. Hulen’s father and grandfather worked for the property in South Dakota before moving to Arizona to build the second property.

“I believe that it provides a lot of opportunity for somebody,” Hulen said.

“Thirty acres offers plenty of room to grow,” the brochure states. “This unique property has unlimited potential.”

Besides a green brontosaurus with a tail people can slide down, the property includes “a 3,800-square-foot residential housing that offers two separate living areas, two kitchens, four bedrooms complete with vanity sinks, and two-and-a-half baths.”

According to the brochure, “This would provide excellent employee housing.”

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Jobless Claims Fall to 276K

Jun 4, 2015 238

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Jobless claims dropped lower last week, decreasing by 8,000, according to the latest figures released Thursday by the Labor Department.

For the week ending May 30, the number of people filing for benefits dropped to 276,000. The previous week, claims stood at 284,000.

The Labor Department said there were no “special factors” impacting that week’s figures.

The four-week moving average increased by 2,750, to 274,750.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

All the Places to Score Freebies on National Doughnut Day

Jun 4, 2015 794

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Of all the made-up national food holidays out here, National Doughnut Day may be the best. That’s because there’s actual payoff for the consumer in the form of free fried dough, as opposed to just an excuse for companies to push their products.

Should you care to celebrate this historical holiday (started in 1938 by the Salvation Army to honor the men and women who served doughnuts to soldiers during World War I), here are all the national doughnut chains offering up some free fare this Friday, June 5.

BI-LO, Harveys and Winn-Dixie: Get one free powdered donut hole at all in-store bakeries, while supplies last.

Cumberland Farms: This convenience and gasoline retailer will be offering a free doughnut with a purchase of any hot or iced coffee or Chill Zone beverage from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m.

Dunkin’ Donuts: Participating Dunkin’ Donuts restaurants nationwide will offer guests a free doughnut of their choice (while supplies last) with the purchase of any beverage.

Entenmann’s: For the fifth year running, Entenmann’s Facebook fans have the chance to win free doughnuts for a year, as well as additional prizes through the sweepstakes link on the Entenmann’s Facebook page. All entries must be received by 11:59 p.m. ET on July 3, 2015. Winners will be randomly selected from all submissions. Official rules can be found here.

Plus, through June 30, Entenmann’s Bakery will donate $1 to the Salvation Army for every person who enters the sweepstakes, up to $30,000.

Fractured Prune: Get one free OC Sand doughnut (honey glazed and dusted with cinnamon sugar) at participating locations.

Honey Dew Donuts: Purchase any medium drink and get a free Mocha Madness doughnut, which is topped with mocha frosting and chocolate drizzle.

Jiffy Lube: The car maintenance company is getting punny with this one: select locations in Houston, Philadelphia and Florence, South Carolina will be offering complimentary tire air pressure checks this Friday to help drivers avoid having to use their small spare tires (AKA “donut tires” – get it?). You’ll also get to enjoy complimentary doughnuts should you get that donut check.

Krispy Kreme:
Stop in to any Krispy Kreme U.S. or Canadian location for a free doughnut of any variety.

Lamar’s Donuts: Any doughnut with a hole comes free, no purchase necessary.

Shipley Donuts: Head to a participating location between 5 a.m. and 12 p.m. to receive one glazed doughnut for free.

Tim Hortons: Buy anything to receive a free doughnut in the U.S. — but you’ve got to print out this Facebook offer to receive the promotion.

Copyright © 2015, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monster Energy Sponsoring American Pharoah At Belmont Stakes

Jun 3, 2015 310

Monster Energy(NEW YORK) — It’s believed to be one of the biggest single-horse sponsorship deals in history: Monster Energy drink company will be blanketing American Pharoah ahead of his big race on Saturday at the Belmont Stakes.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but the deal will also give Monster the rights to outfit the jockey’s collar, top the horse-owning Zayat family with Monster hats, and surround the horse with “Monster girls” before the race.

“We have a horse that’s a unique talent that is going for the Triple Crown, and we’re pleased to be associated with a beverage brand like Monster,” American Pharoah owner Ahmed Zayat told ESPN. “We hope the drink gives our horse that extra kick.”

Last year’s Triple Crown frontrunner California Chrome also signed a major marketing deal ahead of the Belmont Stakes–his, with shoemaker Sketchers. American Pharoah’s deal with Monster is not exclusive, and the horse is expected to make a few more sponsorship deals before this weekend’s race.

Pharoah will compete to become the first horse to win a Triple Crown in over 30 years. Since Affirmed won the three race title in 1978, six horses have won the first two legs, but all have failed at Belmont.

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