ABC - Business News

gradyreese/iStock(NEW YORK) -- A sweeping new study that looked at 329 companies employing 13 million people found that women in the workplace have come a long way in recent years -- but it's not a "glass ceiling" that is keeping women from the top, but a "broken rung" on the corporate ladder.

The annual Women in the Workplace study released Tuesday from and the consulting firm McKinsey & Company, is the largest analysis of the state of women in corporate America and a deep dive into their experiences in the workforce as the fight for gender parity continues.

While the companies they looked at have made great strides to promote women to executive level positions in recent years, the study found that the biggest obstacle most women face with being promoted is that first step up from entry-level roles to manager -- what they dub the "broken rung."

This first "broken rung" is the biggest systemic barrier to gender parity, according to the report.

For every 100 men promoted and hired to management, only 72 women are, the study found. As a result, men end up holding 62% of manager positions, with women just holding 38%.

The numbers are worse for women of color: For every 100 entry-level male employees promoted to manager, only 58 black women are and only 68 Latina women are promoted.

"For me, the biggest takeaway is that we’ve long thought that the glass ceiling was the problem, that there is this invisible barrier on top of the pipeline that prevents people from rising to leadership,"’s co-founder and CEO, Rachel Thomas, told ABC News. "It's really at that first step up into management, that broken rung."

This means "there's fewer women to promote at every subsequent level," she added. "And as a result women can never effectively catch up."

"Until we fix that broken rung, some women may make some cracks in it, but we’re not going to have enough women coming up behind them to really break that glass ceiling," Thomas said.

Alexis Krivkovich, a senior partner at McKinsey and the co-founder of the annual report said their findings are especially important because "so much attention has really gone to the glass ceiling, but the largest number of women affected are women at the beginning of their careers."

"One thing that's interesting is how many companies don't realize that it's an issue," Krivkovich added. "You can't solve the problem until you first recognize that it is one."

"If you don't realize that the imbalance is there it's really hard to put the attention you need to fix it," she said.

Another issue women face on a day-to-day basis in the workplace that men often don't are "micro-aggressions," Krivkovich said.

"These are things like having to credential yourself, being mistaken for someone more junior, being asked to take the notes, being challenged or talked over in conversation," Krivkovich said.

"Women face real headwinds in their advancement," Krivkovich said. "While women demonstrate similar levels of ambition, they have very different day-to-day experiences."

The good news is that the gaze from the C-suite is becoming more female. Since 2015, the representation of women in senior leadership has increased from 17% to 21%, the study found. Meanwhile, 44% of companies have three or more women in their executive level management -- up from 29% in 2015.

Still, only one in five "C-suite executives" is a woman, according to the report. And only 1 in 25 "C-suite executives" is a woman of color.

What working women can do about this

Thomas and Krivkovich urged women not to lose hope, as the data this year holistically has been more encouraging than before.

At the individual level, Krivkovich said there are two things she always tells women to do as they climb the corporate ladder: Find sponsors in the workplace and stand up for other women.

"The first one is to really seek out sponsors and to think broadly about who sponsors, and who really could be a powerful sponsor for you," Krivkovich said. "They don't need to be the people you have the most in common with, they don't need to be the people you share the most interactions with, they need to be the people who can most help you advance and get ahead."

"The second one is it can be hard to be your own champion, it can be much easier to be a champion for someone else, so if you are in those meeting where you see those micro-aggressions, where you see someone talked over," Krivkovich said. "Call it out, because being someone else's advocate helps brings awareness to everybody."

Thomas said to keep asking for those promotions.

"In terms of practical thing that women can do its kind of going outside the bounds of the study itself, it's continue to ask, we know that women ask for promotions even if the don't get it in the moment, we know that they are more likely to get it in the future," Thomas said.

"We know that any women, when they ask for specific amount of money, the outcomes are better, so ask for it and be specific," she added.

As for what companies can do?

"One of the biggest things for me is that companies need to treat gender diversity and diversity more broadly as a business priority," Thomas said.

This means set goals or targets, share your metrics, hold senior leaders accountable and reward diversity in the workplace.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Lays(NEW YORK) -- Comfort foodies rejoice! One of America’s favorite homemade meals is headed to a chip bag near you.

Lay's is releasing a brand new flavor just in time for fall: grilled cheese and tomato soup.

The new fall-filled flavor hits shelves on Oct. 21 for a limited time run.

According to Lay's, the new combo delivers a dynamic fusion of "tomato taste and buttery cheese with underlying creamy and toasted notes...all in one bite."

Also launching on Oct. 21, Lay's "Gotta Have Lay’s" campaign.

For over a month, Lay's will be awarding five winners a day with a chance to win free Lay's for an entire year.

Fans enter by uploading a photo with the new packaging design.

Two hundred lucky winners will end up snagging 10,000 bags of free chips by the end of the campaign.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


apichon_tee/iStock(BEIJING) -- A wildly-popular app touted as an educational tool by the Chinese authorities may actually be used to digitally monitor its citizens, a new report from the Open Technology Fund and a German cybersecurity firm claims.

Xuexi Qiangguo, or "Study the Great Nation," has reportedly been downloaded more than 100 million times in China. It features quizzes about China's history, politics and more, as well as news articles about the Chinese Communist Party.

STUDYING ‘STUDY THE GREAT NATION’: A new audit out today analyzing the “Study the Great Nation” app, or Xuexi Qiangguo (学习强国) finds that the app has several concerning privacy-invasive capabilities and features, including "superuser privileges."

— Open Technology Fund (@OpenTechFund) October 12, 2019

An audit of the Android version of the app, conducted by the Open Technology Fund (OTF) and the Berlin-based cybersecurity firm Cure53, found that the app could potentially be used to access personal data from the user.

"It’s spying on users in the sense that it's collecting a lot of information on users that it wouldn’t normally need," Sarah Aoun, the director of technology at the OTF, told ABC News. "There is no good reason that this app should be collecting all this information and sending it back to the servers."

In a statement announcing the findings of the audit, the OTF said the app "contains code that amounts to a backdoor to rooted devices, essentially granting complete administrator-level access to a user’s phone."

The OTF, which is an organization partially funded by the U.S. government that works to support internet privacy, security and more, said there is "no evidence of if or how exactly this access is being used could be identified."

Moreover, the audit found that the app "actively scans to find other apps that are running on the user’s device."

The OTF also alleges that the app "purposely" uses a "weak cryptographic algorithm in areas containing sensitive user data."

Aoun says this is especially interesting because "at the same time the app uses very strong anti-reversing techniques, it makes it very hard for someone to look into the code."

It also "collects and sends detailed app log reports on a daily basis, containing a wealth of user data and app activity," according to the OTF statement.

The lengthy Cure53 report concludes that "the application's functionality leads Cure53 to believe that violations of human rights are indeed taking place."

Aoun said the app essentially amounts to a "surveillance device in your pocket."

"The biggest concern is just how many people actually have this app. We’re talking about hundreds of millions of downloads," Aoun told ABC News. "The most concerning part is just the reach and the size of this surveillance device in your pocket."

China's State Council Information Office denied the app had the functions the report alleged to the Washington Post, which first reported the story, telling the outlet in a faxed statement: “We learned from those who run the Study the Great Nation app that there is no such thing as you have mentioned."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


JHVEPhoto/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The United Auto Workers executive board voted to increase the strike pay to $275 per week for General Motors workers as the strike against the Detroit automaker enters its fifth week with no clear end in sight.

In addition to increasing strike pay from $250 to $275, the union leaders also announced they were allowing members on strike to take on part-time jobs without reducing their strike pay as long as they continue to perform their picket duties.

“UAW members and their families are sacrificing for all of us,” Gary Jones, the president of the UAW, said in a statement Saturday announcing the wage increase.

“We are all standing together for our future," he added. "This action reflects the UAW commitment and solidarity to all of our members and their families who are taking a courageous stand together to protect our middle-class way of life.”

Previously, union workers who took on part-time jobs while on strike that paid more than the UAW strike wages would not be eligible to receive the strike pay.

"Every little bit more helps," Keondis Howell, a striking GM worker, told ABC News. "Two-fifty has barely been enough to put gas in the car and groceries on the table."

On Friday, UAW vice president Terry Dittes announced that a counterproposal to GM's latest offer had been submitted.

"If GM accepts and agrees to this group of proposals, we will have a Tentative Agreement," Dittes said in a letter to union members, adding that the tentative agreement will include "a review and approval of all language issues as well as the economic terms approved by your elected Bargaining Committee."

Approximately 49,000 union workers walked off their jobs on the night of Sept. 15, starting a nationwide strike at General Motors after a previous labor contract expired and negotiations over a new one fell apart.

Union leaders have argued that GM workers deserved a bigger slice of the company's profits, which they say have totaled $35 billion in North America over the last three years. Union members are calling for fair wages, saying for every $1 a GM employee made, CEO Mary Barra made $281.

The strike comes nearly a year after GM announced it was laying off 15 percent of its salaried workers and shuttering five plants in North America.

Last week, Barra met with union negotiators for the first time. Shortly after the UAW put out a statement accusing GM of attempting to "undermine the ongoing, good-faith efforts the UAW has made to end this strike."

GM has argued that the offer it presented to UAW workers "prioritizes employees, communities and builds a stronger future for all."

"It includes improved wages and health care benefits, over $7B in U.S. investments and 5,400 jobs," the company said in a tweet.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Pineapple Studio/iStock(NEW YORK) -- For many women in their 20s, saving money and being their own financial advocate can be daunting. And if they are living paycheck to paycheck, it can seem almost impossible to meet certain financial goals.

But 25-year-old Tori Dunlap says the idea of being financially independent isn’t as far-fetched as many women may think. Dunlap is destigmatizing the way millennial women take ownership of their finances after banking six figures fewer than three years out of college.

The 25-year-old knows more about finances than you may think.

Dunlap was featured in CNBC and The Cut for saving $100,000 in three years.

"The joke was always, 'As long as I do it the day before I turn 26, it still counts,'" she told ABC News' Good Morning America. "I was happy I came in actually nine months [prior] to my goal, so I was like 25 years old and 3 months when it happened."

Dunlap, who set the goal for herself three years ago, decided to do so after reading an article about someone doing the exact same thing.

"I crunched the numbers, did the math, and realized that would be possible for me. So it was a completely arbitrary goal that I set for myself," she said. "I thought if the other person can do it, maybe I can."

She used different strategies to save the money, including automating her savings so that $20 to $50 got put away every month, setting up an emergency fund and investing early in things like a ROTH IRA.

Dunlap grew up with parents who taught her the value of a dollar and helped guide her in any sort of financial decision. Whether it was saving up money to go see Annie The Musical or starting a vending machine business at age 9, she learned the importance of saving early on.

"I just saw my parents be really frugal. They not only said to be good with money, but they demonstrated how to be good with money," she said. "It’s really amazing that my parents gave me that gift of … here’s how to make money, here’s how to manage it and here’s how to run your business."

While Dunlap was able to save money and reach her goal quickly, she acknowledges that not everybody is like her and everybody has their own set of challenges that they face. Through her own planning and with help from her parents, she managed to graduate college without any debt -- an advantage she readily admits.

"It is a privilege that I not only went to college, but that I was able to go debt free. With a student loan crisis of over a trillion dollars in student debt, that is something that I really like to acknowledge," she said.

Now, after reaching her goal, she’s trying to help other women reach their financial goals with "Her First 100k," a community she founded for women to help guide them to financial success.

On her website, she advocates for women’s financial equality by helping them build wealth and know what they’re worth.

Dunlap teaches other women how to save and budget, pay off debt, have a money mindset, negotiate job offers/raises, price themselves as a creative and build their personal brand.

And though she’s not a licensed financial or career professional, many have turned to Dunlap for advice and taken her sessions at different events.

"I believe I was put on this earth to fight for women’s financial rights. So I don’t think we have any sort of equality, as people of a marginalized group," she said. "Whether that’s women, people of color, folks in the LGBT community, I don’t think you have any sort of equality until you have financial equality."

Here are three tips from Dunlap on how you, too, can save up money:

1. Invest early

“That's what grows your money,” she says. “That's what makes you wealthy. And what gives you opportunities, as far as your experiences in life, and how you want to live it.”

She also says that smart investing is particularly important for young women.

So we care about the pay gap a lot with women, and that's something we should continue to care about and talk about,” she said. “But the thing that we're not talking about is the investing gap, so women either wait to invest longer than men or don't invest at all.”

2. Get a side hustle

To earn some more money for your savings account, you may want to consider a side hustle.

It could be anything from turning your hobby into to a money-earning business or picking up a few hours a week giving rides or running errands for others.

3. Use the three-bucket budget rule

Dunlap uses what she calls the three-bucket budget rule to divvy up spending.

“The first bucket is reserved for living expenses,” she said. “The second for goals like retirement or home owning … those are the two most important buckets. And then anything left over goes into the third for the ‘fun stuff,’ like travel.”

Dunlap says she focuses on priority-based spending.

“[Figure] out what your priorities are in life, what really brings you joy,” she said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


ABC News(FLINT, Mich.) -- For a month of Sundays, Keondis Howell has anxiously eyed two things: his deep freezer, and his savings. He’s had to ration both.

The General Motors worker, on the picket lines for over a month, now plans the whole week’s dinners ahead of time, strategizing leftovers for the meals his three children will have. They like pizza and french fries, but most nights he sticks with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or Ramen noodles, for himself.

As the GM nationwide strike grinds toward its fifth week, United Auto Workers are feeling the strain in what has become the longest walkout the company has faced in half a century.

Behind Howell’s picket line in Flint, Michigan -- where General Motors was born -- and across the country, the workers' unyielding stance hides the stress that the strike has put on many pocketbooks.

"I have to keep going, I gotta pay my bills, I gotta eat," he told ABC News. "My savings are almost spent; I’ve had to skim way down, and dig way into it. … I don’t have a lot longer to wait. I just don’t."

On a drive around the perimeter of the huge GM plant in Flint, striking workers stand like sentries at every gate, every hour of every day.

"That truck's in my blood," Howell told ABC News. "I take pride in General Motors. I put my all into what I do … it’s part of our identity. And now it’s like … they forgot about us. The ones that stood them up when they fell down. And we just want a thank you."

Howell has been a temporary worker for nearly four years -- and at the crux of what the prolonged picket line stands for. He is a third-generation GM worker: a point of deep pride.

Honking horns blare up and down Bristol Road to show solidarity with the UAW.

Outside, strikers sit on lawn chairs and under tents, with coolers full of bottled water. Local community members bring them brown-bag snacks. They’ve been in it for the long haul, but even that’s being tested now.

"It’s scary as hell," Howell said. He honks his own horn, raising his voice above it. "There is no room to say no, no room to negotiate, no room to bargain."

"People have spent decade after decade after decade doing this repetitive work, and it puts a beating on your body," he continued. "And you shouldn’t worry about how you’re going to pay for it, because the reason your body is getting beat up is the work you’re doing for this company that’s making billions off your back."

"We just want a piece of the pie that we helped create," he said.

On day 28 of the strike, as workers took to the streets for another "Solidarity Sunday" demonstration, UAW Vice President Terry Dittes thanked members for "holding the line."

"As you know, our issues our just," he said.

Chief among those issues is securing seniority, health care and higher wages for temp workers.

Talks between GM and the UAW union continued through the weekend even amid concerns negotiations have stagnated. Late Friday, the UAW sent yet another counterproposal to the company after several sharp exchanges of words.

Harsh missives were volleyed back and forth throughout the fourth week of the strike -- with both sides digging in.

"At every step of the way, GM has attempted to undermine the ongoing, good-faith efforts the UAW has made to end this strike," the UAW said in an official statement Friday. "The company’s strategy from day one has been to play games at the expense of workers."

Gerald Johnson, GM’s executive vice president of manufacturing, wrote Friday that they had advised the union: "It’s critical that we get back to producing quality vehicles for our customers."

A spokesperson for General Motors said the two sides continue to make progress, but a source close to the UAW told ABC News that the strategy seems to be to "literally starve members off the picket line as a way to leverage unfair concessions."

A source familiar with the ongoing negotiations told ABC News on Sunday that the two sides are "still pretty far apart" from reaching a deal, "unless a miracle happens."

In a sign of slight relief for workers like Howell, the union announced it would raise strike pay from $250 to $275 per week late Saturday.

"Every little bit more helps," Howell said. "Two-fifty has barely been enough to put gas in the car and groceries on the table."

Workers are also now allowed to look for part-time work, provided it does not interfere with their picket duties, of course. Howell’s frustration with the company has pushed him to start looking for other work, full-stop.

"This company has so little loyalty," he said. "It doesn’t feel like the same GM I grew up knowing. I might have to walk away … don’t want to, but I might have to."

Howell fears the strike’s stigma might make him less hireable by another company.

"None of us are expecting to be invited into another company with open arms," he said. "But I just want to work. That’s all I want. And I can’t afford to go back to school right now."

When asked what he wants, Howell said he still hopes to hear an apology from General Motors.

"We were wrong. And we’re sorry. We were wrong. You guys are right," Howell said of what he wants to hear. "We understand that we owed you better than we gave you. We want to get back to work."

"I feel like I have a voice now. And I don't want that to go away, because I should have always," he said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(NEW YORK) -- Shepard Smith, longtime anchor of Shepard Smith Reporting, is stepping down from his role at Fox News, the network announced Friday.

Smith was the chief news anchor and managing director of Fox's breaking news unit as well as the anchor of his eponymous show. He joined Fox News in 1996.

The anchor has gained attention in recent years for not being afraid to criticize the Trump administration. Smith has often been a target of President Donald Trump's tweets -- as recently as on Thursday.

"Recently I asked the company to allow me to leave Fox News and begin a new chapter. After requesting that I stay, they graciously obliged," Smith said in a statement. "The opportunities afforded this guy from small town Mississippi have been many. It's been an honor and a privilege to report the news each day to our loyal audience in context and with perspective, without fear or favor. I've worked with the most talented, dedicated and focused professionals I know and I'm proud to have anchored their work each day -- I will deeply miss them."

"Shep is one of the premier newscasters of his generation and his extraordinary body of work is among the finest journalism in the industry," Fox News President and Executive Editor Jay Wallace said. "His integrity and outstanding reporting from the field helped put Fox News on the map, and there is simply no better breaking news anchor who has the ability to transport a viewer to a place of conflict, tragedy, despair or elation through his masterful delivery."

News of Smith's departure seemed to have caught others at Fox News off guard. Video spread on social media of anchor Neil Cavuto visibly surprised, on-air, as he reacted to the news.

Fox News' Bret Baier said the news "brought about a little shock" for them and shared his farewell broadcast on Twitter.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


jetcityimage/iStock(SEATTLE) -- Amazon has unveiled a page on its site titled "Our Positions" where it breaks down the company's stand on issues ranging from climate change to immigration.

"While our positions are carefully considered and deeply held, there is much room for healthy debate and differing opinions," the webpage reads. "We hope being clear about our positions is helpful."

The page is intended to "provide customers, investors, policymakers, employees, and others our views."

The company says that the federal minimum wage in the U.S. is "too low and should be raised," and argued that doing so would "help address growing income inequality" and benefit tens of millions of individuals and families. Amazon, which has aggressively pushed for tax incentives from U.S. municipalities as it has expanded, said the company believes "corporate tax codes should incentivize investment in the economy and job creation."

It also said that "human-induced climate change is real, serious," and that "action is needed from the public and private sectors."

In addition, Amazon said diversity is "good for business," the rights of LGBTQ people "must be protected" and that it supports "the rights of immigrants and immigration reform."

On the tech front, the e-commerce giant also said that it believes governments at all levels "should have access to the best technology" and that this is important for the "ongoing safety and security of the country."

In terms of business, Amazon outlined that it believes "counterfeiters should receive stronger penalties under federal law" and "consumer data privacy should be protected under federal law."

Amazon, however, has come under scrutiny from critics over some of these issues in the past.

Last month, over a thousand Amazon workers walked off their jobs in support of the Global Climate Strike, saying in a statement that CEO Jeff Bezos’ climate pledge is “not nearly enough” to tackle the company’s role in climate change.

In June, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, made headlines after claiming that Amazon is paying its workers “starvation wages,” and that Bezos being a billionaire was predicated on this. Amazon has refuted the congresswoman’s comments.

The following month, in July, some Amazon workers at a suburban Minneapolis plant planned a strike on the company’s Prime Day shopping event. An organizer said their goal was to “put pressure on Amazon to protect us and provide safe, reliable jobs.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Oleksii Liskonih/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- As U.S. and Chinese negotiators sat down in Washington to resume high-level talks on Thursday, President Donald Trump played coy about his desire to cut a deal with China in a tweet as he also announced that he is set to have a face-to-face meeting with China's top negotiator on Friday.

While the president projected an air of nonchalance in his morning tweet as top negotiators for both sides sat down for the first time since July, Trump also told reporters on Wednesday that he thought there was a "really good chance" of making a deal.

Even so, the president continues to contend that China is more eager to cut a deal than he.

"In my opinion, China wants to make a deal more than I do, OK?" Trump told reporters Wednesday. "The question is: Do I want to make a deal? And the answer would be, if we make the right deal, I'd love to do it."

"If we can make a deal, we're going to make a deal. There's a really good chance. There's a really good chance," he added, explaining that he won't be content with a "50/50 deal," because he believes the scales are unfairly tipped in China's favor and, "you got to have a little balance."

Even as the president downplays his eagerness to reach a deal and insists that the trade dispute is harming China far more than the U.S., the resumption of talks comes as the president faces the greatest political crisis of his presidency with the House's ongoing impeachment inquiry.

The impeachment inquiry stemmed from a whistleblower's account accusing the president of pressuring the Ukrainian president to investigate political rival Joe Biden and his son Hunter's role with a Ukrainian oil company. A week later, the president also declared that "China should start an investigation into the Bidens."

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are leading the U.S. delegation in negotiations with China's Vice Premier Liu He and his team.

A senior administration official close to the negotiations declined to set expectations for the broader talks, describing the situation as "very fluid."

While the two sides are working toward the ultimate goal of reaching a grand agreement to end the more than year-long trade dispute, the most pressing matter before the two teams is the United States' scheduled Oct. 15 escalation to raise the rate of tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods. The U.S. has also dangled the threat of another round of tariffs on Dec. 15.

Further complicating matters are the U.S.'s latest actions this week to blacklist 28 Chinese companies and suspend visas for some Chinese officials.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Delta(HOUSTON) -- A Delta flight operated exclusively by women, and carrying 120 young females as passengers, took off this week to inspire more women to become aviators and advocate for equality in a "male-dominated industry."

The Delta "WING" flight -- Women Inspiring our Next Generation -- took girls between the ages of 12 to 18 from Salt Lake City to NASA headquarters in Houston to draw attention to the need to close the gender gap in aviation and promote STEM careers, according to a press release from the airline on Sunday.

"It didn't seem realistic to go after a career in aviation. But today I realized, 'Hey, I can do this too,'" said a 12th-grade student named Katelyn.

Another student, an 11th-grader named Karyanna, said, "It's such an exciting time to be in STEM. There's so much left for us to discover."

The flight was planned and orchestrated by an all-female crew, and women also served as ramp agents working on the ground, gate agents boarding the flight and operators in the control tower guiding the aircraft off the runway, according to Delta.

Out of the 609,306 pilots in the U.S., about 7% are women, according to 2017 data from the Federal Aviation Administration's Aeronautical Center. There are no female flight navigators, according to the data.

Once the flight touched down in Houston, the girls toured NASA's Mission Control Center, the Johnson Space Center and Space Center Houston.

They also spoke with other women in the aviation field, including Jeanette Epps, a NASA astronaut and aerospace engineer.

In selecting the participants, Delta worked with Salt Lake City schools that have STEM or aviation programs. The passengers included students from Advanced Learning Center, Bryant Middle School, Granite Technical Institute, Jordan Technical Institute, Karl G. Maeser Preparatory Academy and Salt Lake Center for Science Education.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


D-Huss/iStock(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The fitness tracker and smartwatch maker Fitbit announced it will move manufacturing operations out of China to avoid tariffs as President Donald Trump's trade war continues to sow uncertainty for many U.S. businesses.

"In 2018, in response to the ongoing threat of tariffs, we began exploring potential alternatives to China," Ron Kisling, the chief financial officer at Fitbit, said in a statement announcing the news on Wednesday. "As a result of these explorations, we have made changes to our supply chain and manufacturing operations and have additional changes underway."

"Based on these changes, we expect that effectively all trackers and smartwatches starting in January 2020 will not be of Chinese origin," Kisling added.

Tariffs on $300 billion of Chinese imports -- cell phones, laptops, video game consoles, toys, computer monitors among them -- are set to go into effect Dec. 15, after an initial delay.

Other U.S. companies have moved production out of China over the past year.

GoPro CFO Brian McGee announced the company was "moving most of our US-bound camera production out of China" by the end of summer 2019, saying in a company statement that they believe "this diversified approach to production can benefit our business regardless of tariff implications."

Crocs also issued a statement in July saying the company would be exploring options to mitigate the effects of tariffs that also could include footwear made in China.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Eddie Lewis III(NEW YORK) -- From sunrise to sunset, many farmers work in the fields to help provide food for others to eat.

While many may not think twice about where their food comes from, the farmers who gathered it, like the Lewis brothers, look at that food as a labor of love.

"At three, four years old, I knew my place in this world," said Eddie Lewis III, who was raised on their family farm alongside his brothers, Hunter and Jordan Lewis.

On their Lewis Farms near Lafayette, Louisiana, the brothers grow the commercial crop sugarcane.

They produce 5 million pounds of sugar a year. But that kind of harvest doesn't always come easily for the brothers who took over the farm after their father passed away eight years ago.

"It's very crucial that we get the job done in and out every day," said Eddie Lewis, who quit his stockbroking job after his father passed away to save his father's crop.

Right now, the brothers are wrapping up planting season, and they're hoping the sugarcane stalks they planted months ago multiply by the time they harvest.

It seems simple, but even though their family has been working in the fields for generations, they're facing some new challenges.

"The Lewis Farms is about 25 to 27 hundred acres in our rotation," said Eddie Lewis. "Twenty to 30 years ago when my grandpa was farming full time, it was a lot more land. It was about four thousand acres that we were farming."

Their shrinking farmland is one of many farms across the country experiencing the same thing. With big corporations and modern technology, pressure is put on family-owned farms to compete.

But families like the Lewises are feeling the burden a bit more. As African American farmers, they're seeing many other African American family-owned farms, who have been around for generations, grow smaller and smaller or even disappear.

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, less than 2% of farmers in the United States are African American.

"There's probably about four African American farmers left," said Eddie Lewis. "About 20 to 30 years ago, there was about 40, 50."

Even though there is that growing pressure to compete with big corporations, farmers like the Lewis brothers are finding it more important to sow the seeds for generations to come.

And they're fighting back at their competitors by setting an example and telling others about the rich tradition of farming.

"I hit the fields, get on my tractor, no matter what problem I run into, it's not going to be big enough to stop me," said Eddie Lewis.

"This job is not meant for everyone but the people who dedicate themselves to doing it end up making it worth their while," said Hunter Lewis, who said their father would still be keeping the farm running if he was still alive.

"I don't want his hard work to be taken for granted," said Jordan Lewis. "I want to make sure that it's here for years and years and years."

"It brings a great sense of pride to me because my grandfather and my family and my dad preserved that," said Eddie Lewis.

Their grandfather, Eddie Lewis Sr., added that as a black farmer, "It's pretty tough you know. We were able to work at it and kept it going… keep the legacy going."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


JHVEPhoto/iStock(PHILADELPHIA) -- A Pennsylvania jury ordered Johnson & Johnson and its drugmakers Janssen Pharmaceuticals to pay $8 billion in damages in a lawsuit over the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal that has been linked to the growth of breast tissue in boys.

The verdict came from a jury in Philadelphia County's Court of Common Pleas Tuesday, and was the first in thousands of Risperdal cases pending in the Philadelphia court system to be heard.

It was also the first time a jury determined whether to award punitive damages -- which they determined to be $8 billion to a single plaintiff -- in a Risperdal trial.

“Johnson and Johnson is a company which has lost its way," attorneys Tom Kline and Jason Itkin, who represented the plaintiff, said in a joint statement following the verdict.

Risperdal has been linked to a non-curable condition known as gynecomastia, the abnormal enlargement of breast tissue in males. Attorneys for the plaintiff argued that Johnson and Johnson marketed the drug without warning patients enough about its link to gynecomastia.

"This jury, as have other juries in other litigations, once again imposed punitive damages on a corporation that valued profits over safety and profits over patients," the attorneys' statement added. "Johnson & Johnson and Janssen chose billions over children.”

Johnson & Johnson called the jury's determination "grossly disproportionate with the initial compensatory award in this case" and added that it is "confident it will be overturned."

"This award for a single plaintiff stands in stark contrast with the initial $680,000 compensatory award and is a clear violation of due process," the company added in a statement.

Johnson & Johnson also defended their labeling of Risperdal, saying that it "clearly and appropriately outlined the risks associated with the medicine," and the benefits it provides to patients with mental illness.

The company said that they were unable to present a "meaningful defense due to the Court’s exclusion of key evidence" and argued attorneys for the plaintiff did not present any evidence that the plaintiff suffered actual harm.

"We will be immediately moving to set aside this excessive and unfounded verdict," the company added.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


ABC(NEW YORK) -- Previously only available online, Kim Kardashian West is bringing her KKW Beauty line to Ulta stores.

"I'm so excited to launch @kkwbeauty in @ultabeauty on October 20!! I can't wait to make KKW Beauty more accessible and available for you guys to swatch and find your perfect shades in person," West wrote in an Instagram post.

Lots of fans of West's cosmetics collection are happy about the news, and looking forward to having the opportunity to try KKW products in real life before buying.

"This is the first time I'm partnering with a retailer for my cosmetic line and I'm happy to be working with Ulta Beauty again after launching KKW Fragrance last year," West said in a statement from the brand. "Feedback from fans of the brand is so important to me and I can't wait to make KKW Beauty more accessible and available for swatching and try-on before purchasing."

Senior vice president of merchandising at Ulta Beauty, Tara Simon, also said "the impact Kim has had on our culture is undeniable."

"She is the original influencer, and now a successful business woman in areas where she has true passion. We’re thrilled to extend our partnership with Kim to include KKW Beauty at Ulta Beauty and are proud to be her exclusive retail partner," she said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


gk-6mt/iStock(NEW YORK) -- American Airlines announced in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Wednesday that it will start flying the troubled Boeing 737 MAX aircraft on Jan. 16.

The airline said it expects the two software upgrades to be approved before the end of the year and it is notifying Wall Street on when it intends to fly the MAX again.

American Airlines is one of three U.S. carriers -- including United Airlines and Southwest -- ordered by federal regulators to ground all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft following two crashes in October 2018 and March 2019, which killed a total of 346 people.

Since the grounding of the Boeing MAX aircraft in March, U.S. commercial carriers have said they have gone to great lengths to minimize the impact on their passengers, pulling MAX flights from their schedules.

Were mistakes made?

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has been working to get a better understanding of the Federal Aviation Administration's oversight, certification and delegation along with an investigation into Boeing's design and development of the 737 MAX.

When asked if Boeing made any mistakes, CEO Dennis Muilenburg has repeated that not having an "AoA Disagree Light" working on all MAX aircraft was a mistake.

In both crashes it appears that the angle-of-attack sensors sent bad data, misfiring the MCAS -- or Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System -- and the software fix will rely on both sensors for activation.

This is one of the outstanding questions: Wasn't it a mistake to use just one sensor, if the fix is using both?

On Oct. 30, Muilenburg will appear on the Hill and is expected to answer that question when he testifies on the airworthiness of the 737 MAX and the updates made to the MCAS software.

This will be his first appearance before lawmakers since the two fatal crashes.

Safety investigators issue recommendations to the FAA

Preliminary findings indicate that while the pilots of Lion Air flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 fought to regain control of their aircraft -- making life-and-death decisions in a matter of minutes -- they were bombarded with cockpit alarms.

The National Transportation Safety Board said those alarms and alerts were "undoubtedly confusing" and "probably" made a stressful situation worse. In response, they issued non-binding safety recommendations to the FAA.

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said that the NTSB recommendations suggest that in designing and certifying the 737 MAX Boeing and the FAA, "may not have made realistic assumptions about how pilots respond to multiple simultaneous and potentially confusing warnings in emergency situations."

The path to certification

The FAA has been working with Boeing, international authorities, the aviation industry and a team of technical experts to return the Boeing 737 MAX to service.

In June, Boeing announced that they completed development of the updated software for the 737 MAX, along with engineering test flights.

Boeing then worked to address FAA requests for additional information on the system architecture, detailing how pilots interact with the airplane controls and displays in different flight scenarios.

Once the FAA completes their review and schedules test flights, Boeing will submit final certification documents.

Federal regulators have not yet set a date for certification flights, but in an interview with ABC News last month, the head of the FAA, Stephen Dickson, said that no U.S. commercial carrier will fly the Boeing 737 MAX until he is "completely assured" that it is safe to do so.

"I'm not going to certify this plane until I'm satisfied," he said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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