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How one woman is helping settle school lunch debt, advocating for universal free lunch

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(NEW YORK) -- Millions of dollars in unpaid school lunch debt have been mounting in districts across the country, and one Virginia mom is on a mission to settle the bill in her local community.

Adelle Settle feels a student's ability to pay for their meal at the school cafeteria should never get in the way of their success.

"Food is so crucial and such a critical part of all of our lives," Settle told ABC News' Good Morning America.

For years, Settle has been raising money for schools one call or social media post at a time, to help students in Virginia focus on their studies and not their stomachs.

"I want to make sure that no school is left holding the lunch bag, so to speak, for so many kids that haven't been able to pay their lunch debt," she said.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, approximately 4.9 billion school lunches were served to children nationwide through the National School Lunch Program in fiscal year 2019, prior to the pandemic, with 74% provided for free or at a reduced rate. (The agency notes that "a higher share of the meals served in FY 2020 and FY 2021, [approximately 99% in 2021,] were served free or at a reduced-price, attributable in large part to a USDA pandemic waiver allowing for meals to be provided free of charge to all students.")

This school year, students have amassed record lunch debt with districts across the country reporting $19.2 million in lunch debt accumulated since November of last year, according to a 2023 School Nutrition Trends Report by the School Nutrition Association.

"I got to believe that's doubled or tripled since," Lori Adkins, president of the School Nutrition Association, told GMA about the debt numbers. "When you've got an unpaid meal debt it's got to be paid for. So, it will eventually fall to the general fund."

In Prince William County, the second largest school district in Virginia, schools have already racked up more than $300,000 worth of lunch debt.

Adam Russo, the director of School Food and Nutrition Services in Prince William County, told GMA that's "pretty typical," especially in the wake of COVID-19.

"We knew our families were a little confused coming back from the pandemic and not understanding that meals had a cost associated with them," he said, referring to the pandemic waivers, which the Trump administration previously extended through June 2021.

That provision was further extended under the Biden administration, but officially ran out at the beginning of this school year.

California was the first of five states to make universal school lunch permanent, starting in school year 2022-2023. Maine has also since made its school lunches permanently free.

At least three other states -- Colorado, Minnesota and New Mexico -- have passed permanent free school lunch measures starting in school year 2023-2024, according to the Food Research and Action Center.

Dozens of other states have similar pending legislation.

Russo said "one of the biggest barriers" to getting students to sign up for these free and reduced meals is "pride."

"They don't necessarily want a handout from a government entity," he said.

Settle echoed that sentiment.

"There were times where I might have just gone without lunch instead of applying for free and reduced because my mom was very proud and she didn't want to take advantage of of any programs if she didn't absolutely have to," she said, recalling her own childhood.

Since starting her nonprofit "Settle the Debt" in 2017, Settle has raised more than $190,000 to pay off school lunch debt in her district -- more than $50,000 this year alone -- which has been a big help, she said, but serves as a bandage on a bigger problem.

She said she has also advocated for several pieces of legislation at the state level that, among other things, ensure students are fed and that their school lunches are not thrown out because they can't pay for them.

Settle said she'll know she's done enough "when Settle the Debt is no longer needed and we can close our doors and not raise any more money for a school meal debt, because there's no more need."

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

'Nowhere to escape': Frontline workers contend with wildfire smoke, face repeat of pandemic divide

Matt Leichenger

(NEW YORK) -- As wildfire smoke bathed New York City in fumes on Wednesday afternoon, UPS driver Matt Leichenger said he suffered a wave of nausea in the back of his truck with hardly anything he could do about it.

"There's nowhere you can escape to," Leichenger told ABC News. "Unless you literally stop working and go inside. If you do that, it prolongs your day."

Leichenger, who worked a 12-hour shift in Brooklyn that involved more than 100 stops, said he couldn't keep the doors of the truck closed due to a lack of air conditioning. The experience reminded him of delivering during the pandemic, he said.

"You can't outscore delivery work; you can't do it remotely," he said. "As we see climate events happening, we're going to be on the frontlines of that, too."

In a statement, UPS told ABC News that the company is "working on a variety of immediate actions, including the speedy distribution of masks for our employees in affected areas."

"The well-being and safety of UPSers is our number one priority," the statement added. "We are following developments closely and will continue to be in close contact with our people as the situation evolves."

Tens of thousands of delivery workers carry items across New York City each day, alongside a host of employees in other outdoor trades like construction. Those workers join more than 300,000 retail employees who risk exposure to smoke that wafts through open doorways.

The threat faced by such workers contrasts with the relative safety of office employees capable of working from home, recreating a divide that emerged during the pandemic, Joshua Freeman, a professor emeritus of labor history at Queens College at the City University of New York.

"Because of the nature of certain people's jobs, they simply need to be outside," he said. "It highlights the disparity."

The Environmental Protection Agency's air quality index, or AQI, which ranges from 0 to 500 with escalating health risk as it goes higher, reached over 400 in New York City on Wednesday. As of Thursday afternoon, the AQI registered at 178. Levels under 100 are considered safe.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Thursday extended an air quality health advisory until Friday night, urging people to limit their time outdoors and, when necessary, wear a mask.

"Much of the guidance being issued has not been adequate for workers who are being exposed to wildfire smoke all day," the non-profit New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health said on Thursday.

"For those employers who are forcing their workers on the job when the work is not essential," the group added. "We need to do better."

Jordan Pollack, an employee at a Trader Joe's in lower Manhattan, said early Wednesday afternoon she noticed that the basement-level store had begun to smell smoky.

"The air was just flowing through the automatic doors when they were opening and closing," she said. "It was getting stuck in the basement."

While lifting heavy boxes in the freezer section, Pollack said she felt lightheaded and short of breath, she said.

"It felt very apocalyptic," she added.

She and some coworkers asked the managers if they could leave early with a full day's pay, she said; but the managers declined. Ultimately, at around 5 p.m., 12 of the 20 employees on duty walked out in protest, she said.

In a statement, a Trader Joe's spokesperson affirmed the company's commitment to worker safety.

"Nothing is more important at Trader Joe’s than the safety of our Crew Members and customers. Trader Joe’s stores, including Essex Crossing, have high-quality air filtration systems, which are regularly serviced to ensure optimal operation," the spokesperson said.

"Yesterday a few Crew Members indicated they were uncomfortable completing their scheduled shifts. As is our normal practice, any Crew Member wanting to go home was welcome to do so," the spokesperson added.

Meanwhile, Pollack said she does not fault coworkers who declined to walk out.

"Most people can't afford to take that risk," she said. "They could have no choice to come into work under these conditions because otherwise they won't be able to pay rent."

"In the immediate present, that seems much more scary than the fact that your lungs are getting permanently damaged," she added.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

New seat designed to make flying easier for wheelchair users


(NEW YORK) -- For wheelchair users, taking a trip that involves flying can often be an undignified hassle. A partnership between a consortium and a major airliner is looking to change that.

Oftentimes at the gate, people who use power wheelchairs are lifted out of their seats into narrow wheelchairs designed specifically for airplane aisles, while their wheelchairs go in the cargo hold. In many instances, the wheelchairs are damaged in transit. But a consortium called Air4all and Delta Flight Products, a subsidiary of Delta Air Lines, are introducing a new seat design for passenger aircraft that will allow wheelchair users to sit in their wheelchairs on the plane.

The prototype of the seat is being shown this week at the Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany, and members of the consortium say there's already interest from major airlines.

The Air4all consortium consists of Flying Disabled, a group that advocates for accessibility in aviation; PriestmanGoode, an aviation design company which took the lead on designing the chair; SWS Certification, a design organization; and Sunrise Medical, a wheelchair manufacturing and design company.

Chris Wood, the founder of Flying Disabled, said that he was inspired to work on an accessible seat by the difficulties his children, who use power wheelchairs, face when they fly.

"Whenever I traveled by flight with them, ... it's a kind of brutal and undignified process," said Wood.

Nearly 50,000 wheelchairs and scooters were boarded on planes in February 2023, according to Department of Transportation data. Out of that, 767, or 1.54%, wheelchairs and scooters were mishandled.

Wood hopes these new seats will reduce that number.

The seats are designed for single-aisle aircraft. To accommodate someone using a wheelchair, the airline seat will fold up, allowing the wheelchair to be secured to the seat. The user would still have access to the headrest and tray tables. If the seat isn't occupied by someone in a wheelchair, it can fold down into a regular airplane seat.

"We want to try to remove that awful process of traveling by air," said Wood.

Wood acknowledged that air travel presented unique challenges.

"The rules of engagement and safety are very different," said Wood. "This is not just strapping [the wheelchair] down in the back of the car and off we go."

Wood said that there has been interest from major airlines and manufacturers. But it will still be a while before the seat becomes commercially available.

Delta said in a statement that the product was still in its "early development stages," with 18 months of work ahead, including stringent safety and regulatory reviews.

"Delta will keep a keen eye on the progress of this concept being driven by our subsidiary -- as we are always looking for ways to improve the travel experience for all customers," said Delta in a statement.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Booking a vacation rental? Here's how to avoid a fake listing

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(NEW YORK) -- Looking for a holiday or vacation rental this summer? Beware the fake listing.

It's a scam that Morgan MacFarlane encountered when she booked an Airbnb room for a trip to Mexico.

After she paid and showed up to the destination shown on the Airbnb listing to check in, she learned there was no reservation under her name.

"When I got there, I started speaking with the manager who was working, who explained to me that it was $15 more U.S. a night, which I was like I've already paid, like I already have a booking," MacFarlane said.

According to MacFarlane, the listing photos, address and phone number of the place she arrived matched up with what she saw in person -- but there was one catch.

"He was like, 'This isn't the right hotel,' that's when I was like, 'Oh, something's really not right,'" MacFarlane recalled.

MacFarlane said she reached out to Airbnb for assistance and that's when she learned the listing was fake.

Both Airbnb and the hotel had been targeted by a bad host and the actual hotel wasn't even open yet.

Airbnb told Good Morning America that fake listings have "no place" on their website and platform. In MacFarlane's case, Airbnb said the bad host was later banned and has never received any money through Airbnb.

Airbnb said they refunded MacFarlane the money she paid and the hotel gave her a real reservation.

To avoid such pitfalls, Amy Nofziger, a director of fraud victim support at AARP's Fraud Watch Network, said to look for red flags.

"If anyone is asking you to pay in a nontraditional form of payment, like a prepaid gift card, Bitcoin or even via a peer-to-peer app like Venmo, Cash App or Zelle, those are huge red flags," Nofziger said.

If you're booking online, Nofziger said to check for other reviews and use a credit card to charge the reservation.

"Find out what the actual hotel is charging for that room and most likely, you're probably going to get a better deal from the hotel directly anyways," Nofziger said.

It is also a good idea to confirm a booking has been made by contacting the property before traveling.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

'A train wreck coming': Americans brace for the return of student loan payments

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(NEW YORK) -- Jamilla Vanbuckley would like to buy a home one day.

A correctional counselor in New York City, Vanbuckley has been living with her parents and tucking as much money as possible into her savings account. But by late summer, she expects a new expense to enter her monthly budget -- gradually paying off the $68,000 she owes in student debt.

"I'm gonna have to dip into my savings to start paying back on August 29," she said, mentioning the day that payments for direct federal student loans are set to resume. "And now that kind of hinders the goals I had set for myself for the next couple of years."

Vanbuckley is among the 37 million borrowers who have not been required to pay their student loans since March 2020 due to legislative and executive action during the pandemic.

Education Secretary Miguel Cardona confirmed in May that the Biden administration intends to restart student loan payments by 60 days after June 30, a plan later cemented in the government's deal to suspend the debt ceiling.

However, advocates worry that the resumption of payments and the legal challenges to President Joe Biden's plan to cancel up to $20,000 in student debt can result in catastrophic consequences for vulnerable borrowers.

The uncertainty comes amid a change in debt servicing companies for millions of borrowers and staffing shortages that experts see as unprecedented in consumer finance, resulting in logistical headaches, hourslong wait times, and potential communication errors in billing.

"Anyone who has been paying attention to the student loan system sees a train wreck coming, and there's very little time to try to avoid it at this point," said Abby Shafroth, a senior attorney at the National Consumer Law Center and the director of its Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project.

Why is this change happening?

The original pause to student loan payments originated from the early days of the pandemic, according to University of Wisconsin Madison professor Nick Hillman.

Fearing that the sudden spike in unemployment might lead many borrowers to default, the government put millions of federal direct student loans into administrative forbearance and dropped their interest rate to zero percent.

With the end of the federal COVID emergency, the government lost its ability to continue the student loan pause, originally authorized through the Higher Education Relief Opportunities for Students Act of 2003, according to Hillman.

The deal made by congressional Republicans and Biden to suspend the debt ceiling confirmed that student debt payments would resume this summer. With the change, experts worry that the historically low rate of delinquency for student loans will return to the previous high of 10 percent or worse.

"We are anticipating what has been described as a wave of student loan defaults and delinquencies," said Cody Hounanian, executive director of nonprofit Student Debt Crisis Center.

What factors complicate the change?

Without having to pay for student loans over the last three years, many Americans have created strict budgets that do not include a monthly student loan payment, according to Shafroth. With a new monthly student loan bill averaging $160, something in these budgets has to give.

"Leisurely spending is probably gone," Robert Bistoury, a 2020 graduate of Baruch College who said he has $27,000 in student debt, told ABC News.

Both Hounanian and Shafroth worry that borrowers will be cutting into their budgets for rent, medical expenses and food.

"For the majority of people, this is just a new bill that they have to pay, the size of which they may not even realize quite yet," said University of California Irvine professor Dalié Jiménez.

Complicating the resumption of payments is the logistical hurdle of suddenly resuming payments for millions of Americans, which a Department of Education spokesperson described to ABC News as "unprecedented" and "herculean."

Multiple companies that service student loans have left the industry, according to Shafroth, meaning that millions of borrowers will also be dealing with an unfamiliar company that might not have up-to-date contact information for borrowers.

For example, Vanbuckley's student loan servicer switched from Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation, which no longer services student loans, to NelNet -- a transition she described as relatively smooth. Others like Hounanian described a more chaotic switch, including receiving false information from his servicer that needed to be corrected.

Shafroth added that many loan servicers have reduced their staff during the pandemic and will need to hire and train new employees to handle the demand for assistance, further complicated by a smaller-than-desired budget for the Department of Education this year.

Those constraints "may lead to some longer processing times and call hold times than would be ideal for this situation," Scott Buchanan, the executive director of the Student Loan Servicing Alliance, said in a statement to ABC News.

The Department of Education spokesperson told ABC News that it recognizes the return to repayment will result in "significant financial hardship" for borrowers but is committed to helping borrowers.

Perhaps the most significant unknown for borrowers is the fate of the Biden administration's plan to eliminate up to $20,000 in student debt, which is facing a legal challenge in the Supreme Court. On Wednesday, Biden vetoed a bill that would reverse the debt relief program, and the bill faces low chances of a successful override vote in Congress.

"It does give me some anxiety…it is what it is, and I have to budget accordingly," Vanbuckley said about the stalled plan.

Who is most vulnerable?

Experts worry that the shift back to student loan payments places financial hardship on vulnerable Americans and presents an opportunity for bad actors. For borrowers who are still determining how they might pay their monthly student loan bill, some may turn to companies that promise student loan relief but are nothing more than scams that prey on vulnerable consumers, according to Hounanian.

"We know that a lot of companies prey on the confusion and anxiety and stress that people are feeling about their student loans," Shafroth said.

Before the change, experts recommend that borrowers confirm the contact information for their loan servicers and their repayment plan. The Department of Education offers a new income-driven program for borrowers and has discharged loans for borrowers who qualify through public service, disability, or college wrongdoing.

Hillman particularly encouraged borrowers under $20,000 in debt to confirm their servicer and repayment plan, especially given the uncertainty with loan forgiveness.

According to Hillman, while six-figure loans often drive media attention, borrowers with "smaller" loans who never completed their degrees face the highest rate of default.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Target faces criticism from artists involved with Pride month products over response to boycott: ‘Quick to fold’

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(NEW YORK) -- Kennedy Davenport, a drag queen, rejoiced when she learned last year that she would be featured on apparel in the forthcoming Pride collection at Target.

"You never imagine opportunities like this," Davenport told ABC News, comparing the breakthrough to her previous role competing on the TV show "RuPaul's Drag Race."

For Davenport, elation turned to disappointment last month when Target announced it would remove some Pride products from stores in response to anti-LGBTQ harassment faced by employees, she said. Davenport says she does not know whether products with her image were removed.

"The bigwigs at Target should continue to take a stand with us and not be so quick to fold," Davenport said, calling on the company to return the full Pride collection to their shelves. "I would love for Target to put on their boxing gloves and fight."

Davenport is among five artists and organizations tied to this year's Pride collection at Target who criticized the company's response to the backlash in interviews with ABC News.

Critics acknowledged the difficult position faced by Target when anti-LGBTQ backlash nationwide boiled over last month into a boycott and reported employee harassment, including bomb threats at stores in Utah, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

However, some critics said, the decision to remove Pride products marked a retreat from the company's longstanding support of the LGBTQ community that could further embolden extremists and imperil vulnerable people.

"The thing that's so disappointing is that the leadership that Target has shown over such a long period of time seems to be wavering in a moment when the attacks on our community are increasing," Melanie Willingham-Jaggers, the executive director of LGBTQ advocacy group GLSEN, which has partnered with the company for more than a decade, told ABC News.

Rob Smith, the founder and CEO of The Phluid Project, an LGBTQ-owned clothing company that has placed products in Target stores for three years, expressed disappointment over the decision to remove some products from the Pride collection nationwide rather than focus on specific stores at heightened risk of threats.

"It's a big blanket decision that didn't seem appropriate," Smith told ABC News, noting that he does not think his products were among those removed. "I would've made a different decision if I was in charge."

An LGBTQ designer who contributed products to this year's Pride collection at Target -- and requested anonymity because they did not want to be publicly identified speaking about the company -- said the response to the backlash leaves them "questioning how committed to the LGBTQ community these companies really are and how much we can trust their word."

Target, which has seen its stock decline about 13% since the boycott began last month, did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

In a statement last month, Target said it removed some products from this year's Pride collection because the company "experienced threats impacting our team members' sense of safety and well-being while at work."

"Our focus now is on moving forward with our continuing commitment to the LGBTQIA+ community and standing with them as we celebrate Pride Month and throughout the year," the company said in the statement.

More than 200 LGBTQ advocacy groups, including GLSEN and the Human Rights Campaign, signed a public letter on Monday calling on Target to make all Pride products available for sale online and in-store, reaffirm the company's commitment to the LGBTQ community and ensure employee safety.

The boycott of Target follows a similar consumer protest against Anheuser-Busch InBev over a Bud Light promotion in April from a trans influencer. Bud Light sales have declined for seven consecutive weeks, and Anheuser-Busch's stock has plummeted about 20%.

Meanwhile, the boycott of Bud Light gained momentum after the company's initial response was perceived as conciliatory by some LGBTQ advocates, prompting frustration on the left.

MORE: The boycott against Bud Light is hammering sales. Experts explain why.
"It's my hope that other corporations see what's happening to Anheuser-Busch, see what's happening to Target and choose a different path," Willingham-Jaggers said.

To be sure, some of the people tied to this year's Pride collection identified the root cause of the unrest as a rise in right-wing extremism centered on the LGBTQ community, which they said has put companies like Target in a difficult position.

"On the one hand, they risk losing sales from individuals who oppose the LGBTQ+ community," a second designer who contributed to this year's Pride collection told ABC News. "While on the other hand, they risk alienating the pro-LGBTQ+ community, which may result in a loss of sales as well."

As of last month, more than 520 anti-LGBTQ bills had been introduced in state legislatures, including over 220 bills specifically targeting transgender and non-binary people, the Human Rights Campaign found.

Smith, who said he has been in contact with Target often since the decision to remove some Pride products, said he remains optimistic that the company will respond more forcefully to the backlash.

"Target has continually done a good job and been a good leader," he said. "They just need a moment to reset and recalibrate."

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

CNN Chairman and CEO Chris Licht steps down

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(NEW YORK) -- CNN Chairman and CEO Chris Licht is stepping down, parent company Warner Bros. Discovery said on Wednesday.

Over a 13-month tenure, Licht vowed to institute down-the-middle coverage but faced backlash over decisions such as a recent town hall event with former President Donald Trump.

Story developing...

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Over 22K pounds of beef chili recalled over possible contamination

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(NEW YORK) -- Nearly 22,530 pounds of beef chili with beans that was meant to be served in schools has been recalled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

J.T.M. Provisions Company announced the recall of its "frozen, ready-to-eat beef chili with beans products that may be contaminated with extraneous materials, specifically white plastic," the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) said on Sunday.

The affected items from the Harrison, Ohio-based food manufacturer were produced on Feb. 27.

The products in question include a 30 pound case of “CHILI WITH BEANS” that contains six 5-pound boilable bags of “CP5309 CHILI WITH BEANS” with lot code 23058 printed on the bag, and “February 27, 2023” and lot code 23058 printed on the case, the USDA wrote in the recall announcement.

"The products subject to recall bear establishment number 'EST. 1917' inside the USDA mark of inspection on the case. These products were purchased by USDA Foods for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). These items were shipped to distributors in California, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Wisconsin," the statement said.

The FSIS was first notified of the problem from the company after it received "a customer complaint about semi-rigid white plastic material found in the frozen, ready-to-eat beef chili with beans."

As of time of publication, there have been no confirmed reports of adverse reactions due to consumption of these products.

The FSIS said it's "concerned that some product may be in school freezers or refrigerators" and advised all school nutrition professionals who may have purchased the products not to prepare or consume them.

"These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase," the agency stated.

Consumers with additional food safety questions are encouraged to call the toll-free USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 513-367-4900 or live chat online.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Apple CEO Tim Cook says Vision Pro is 'tomorrow's engineering, today': Exclusive

ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an exclusive interview with ABC News' Good Morning America on Tuesday that the company's first-ever spatial computer, the Apple Vision Pro, is the "most advanced piece of electronics equipment out there."

"It's tomorrow's engineering, today," Cook told Robin Roberts. "So you're going to live in the future and you're going to do it today."

Apple announced a series of new products at its annual Worldwide Developers Conference on Monday, including the Apple Vision Pro.

The device, which will cost at least $3,499, allows users to manipulate apps, messages and other virtual programs displayed within their physical environment, Apple said.

When individuals approach a user's physical space, the glass appears transparent, allowing a user's counterpart to see his or her eyes, the company added.

In his interview with Good Morning America, Cook said the product marks a turning point for the company.

"We started working on augmented reality quite some time ago because we saw it as a big idea, as a profound technology," Cook said. "This is the next chapter in that, and it's a huge leap."

"You can immerse yourself in movies, TV shows, sports, and feel like you're right there. You can take photos and videos and then enjoy those and bring back memories as if you were there and repeating that experience," Cook explained.

"It's not about one thing, it's -- it is a platform. And so we can't wait to unleash it to the developers so they can begin to work on applications for it," he added.

Disney+ will be among the apps available for use on day one. Disney is the parent company of ABC.

Apple Vision Pro will be available for purchase online and in stores in the U.S. early next year, with additional countries to follow later in 2024, Apple said.

In the exclusive sit down, Cook also said artificial intelligence poses serious risks such as bias and misinformation, calling for government regulation to protect against potential abuses.

The comments thrust one of the tech industry's most prominent executives into a policy discussion that has drawn heightened interest in Washington, D.C., and Silicon Valley since the emergence of ChatGPT and other advanced conversation bots.

"I do think that it's so important to be very deliberate and very thoughtful in the development and the deployment of these," Cook said. "They can be so powerful that you worry about things like bias, things like misinformation -- maybe worse in some cases."

The rapid development of AI requires government intervention but also places responsibility on tech companies, Cook said.

"Regulation is something that's needed in this space," Cook said. "Regulation will have a difficult time staying even with the progress on this because it's moving so quickly, and so I think it's incumbent on companies as well to regulate themselves."

With the remarks, Cook joins a chorus of industry leaders cautioning about possible negative consequences of AI.

Last week, hundreds of business leaders and public figures -- including Sam Altman, the chief executive of OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT -- sounded a sobering alarm over what they described as the threat of mass extinction posed by artificial intelligence.

Still, Cook said conversation programs such as ChatGPT hold "great promise," describing it as "something that we're looking at closely."

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Apple announces mixed reality headset Vision Pro

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(NEW YORK) -- Apple announced a mixed reality headset called Vision Pro on Monday at its annual developer conference.

The headset, which will cost at least $3,499, allows users to see apps messages and other virtual programs displayed within their physical space, the company said.

When individuals approach a user's physical space, the headset becomes transparent, allowing a user's counterpart to see his or her eyes, the company noted.

Users can enter search queries using voice commands and scroll through the results by gently tapping their fingers, the company said.

"Vision Pro is a new kind of computer that augments reality by seamlessly blending the real world with the digital world," Apple CEO Tim Cook said. "This is the first Apple product that you look through and not at."

"In the same way that the Mac introduced us to personal computing and an iPhone introduced us to mobile computing, Vision Pro will introduce us to spatial computing," Cook added.

Vision Pro affords users wide latitude to shrink or expand a program that appears within the display, including movies and TV shows, the company said.

"Turn any environment into your own personal movie theater," the company added.

Alongside Cook, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced a partnership between the two companies that will make Disney+ content available on "Day 1" of Vision Pro.

Vision Pro will be available for purchase online and in-store in the U.S. early next year, with additional countries to follow later in 2024, the company said.

Shares of Apple fell slightly after the Vision Pro announcement.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Apple announces mixed reality headset Vision Pro

Philip Pacheco/Bloomberg via Getty Images

(SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.) -- Apple announced a mixed reality headset called Vision Pro on Monday at its annual developer conference.

The headset, which will cost at least $3,499, allows users to see apps messages and other virtual programs displayed within their physical space, the company said.

When individuals approach a user's physical space, the headset becomes transparent, allowing a user's counterpart to see his or her eyes, the company noted.

Users can enter search queries using voice commands and scroll through the results by gently tapping their fingers, the company said.

"Vision Pro is a new kind of computer that augments reality by seamlessly blending the real world with the digital world," Apple CEO Tim Cook said. "This is the first Apple product that you look through and not at."

"In the same way that the Mac introduced us to personal computing and an iPhone introduced us to mobile computing, Vision Pro will introduce us to spatial computing," Cook added.

Vision Pro affords users wide latitude to shrink or expand a program that appears within the display, including movies and TV shows, the company said.

"Turn any environment into your own personal movie theater," the company added.

Alongside Cook, Disney CEO Bob Iger announced a partnership between the two companies that will make Disney+ content available on "Day 1" of Vision Pro.

Vision Pro will be available for purchase online and in-store in the U.S. early next year, with additional countries to follow later in 2024, the company said.

Shares of Apple fell slightly after the Vision Pro announcement.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

How to thrift like a pro: Tips and tricks on scoring secondhand gems

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(NEW YORK) -- Thrift shopping is a great way to score trending and vintage looks on a budget.

Thrifting has been around for decades but sometimes it can be a challenge to know the best ways to find exactly what you are looking for.

ABC News' Good Morning America set out to a handful of thrift shops across the country to learn some best practices from the pros, whether you are searching for clothing for adults and kids, wedding attire, furniture or something else entirely.

Tip 1: Ignore sizes and always try on

Yoshi Isogaya, a sales associate at Jet Rag, a vintage thrift store based in Los Angeles, told Good Morning America that thrifting "can be very overwhelming."

"You have to take your time and look through all the racks, have patience," Isogaya said.

While shopping at Jet Rag, Good Morning America lifestyle correspondent Lori Bergamotto had a similar insight to share.

"I tried on jeans three sizes up from what I normally wear -- and they were too tight. You have to try everything on before you find a gem," Bergamotto said.

Tip 2: Only shop for designer pieces at trusted establishments

Dom Marlowe, general buying manager at Wasteland, another vintage thrift shop based in LA, told GMA that shoppers should "make sure you're looking for good condition, good fabric, and you're going to a trusted place" when looking for designer items specifically.

It is important to remember to shop for designer brands only at well-established stores that have professional authenticators on staff.

Tip 3: Start with denim jeans

If you're unsure where to start, given the large inventory most thrift stores keep on hand, try kicking off your shopping trip by searching for a good pair of jeans.

"Every thrift store I went to had a large selection of jeans. Denim holds up really well over time and used jeans start with that broken-in feel and look," Bergamotto said.

Happy thrifting!

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'Thrown in their faces': Bud Light salespeople say boycott is hurting commission

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(NEW YORK) -- Salespeople promoting Bud Light for a Florida–based distributor have grown accustomed to car horns, middle fingers and jokes amid a weekslong boycott, but say they have struggled to ignore thousands of dollars in lost commission pay, two sales supervisors at the distributor told ABC News.

A typical salesperson at the distributor made roughly $2,000 less in May than he or she would have over each of the previous two years, suffering primarily from a decline in Bud Light sales that reached as much as 60% over the week ending on Memorial Day, the sales supervisors said.

"This has really, really killed a lot of the guys who are commission-based. That's who it's really hurting," one supervisor said. "There's nothing they could've done -- this was thrown in their faces."

A consumer boycott of Anheuser-Busch InBev over a promotion in April from a trans influencer has pummeled the company's stock, but it has also brought financial pain for thousands of salespeople at independent distributors nationwide, many of whom depend largely on performance-based pay, former Anheuser-Busch InBev executive Anson Frericks told ABC News.

Sales of Bud Light have recorded declines for seven consecutive weeks after a product endorsement from Dylan Mulvaney, a transgender influencer, sparked backlash among many conservatives.

The boycott gained momentum, meanwhile, after the initial response from the company was perceived as conciliatory by some LGBTQ advocates, prompting frustration on the left.

Those losses have slashed the income of salespeople who work for roughly 500 independent wholesalers that sell Anheuser-Busch beverages to restaurants, bars and grocery stores, according to interviews with two distributors, two sales supervisors and Frericks.

The sales supervisors and distributors declined to share their names because they didn't want to be publicly identified speaking about the financial consequences of the boycott.

Compensation for salespeople differs widely between different distributors, but a typical salesperson makes about $60,000 a year, including $20,000 in variable pay that depends largely on commission, said Frericks, who left Anheuser-Busch InBev last year.

"Good people are going to start leaving because they aren't making money," Frericks told ABC News.

On an earnings call last month, Anheuser-Busch InBev CEO Michel Doukeris acknowledged the strain that the boycott has placed on workers in the field.

"This situation has impacted our people and especially our frontline workers: The delivery drivers, sales representatives, our wholesalers, Bud owners and servers," Doukeris said.

"These people are the fabric of our business. They are our neighbors, family members, and friends. They are in every community in America," Doukeris added. "We've been doing everything we can to support our teams."

Anheuser-Busch said in a statement to ABC News that the boycott has had an impact but they remained committed to bringing people together.

"Anheuser-Busch employs over 18,000 people and our independent wholesaler partners have an additional 47,000 valued colleagues. The current situation has impacted our people and especially our front-line workers including delivery drivers and sales representatives. These people are our neighbors, family members and friends. They are in every community in America. As we move forward, we will continue doing everything we can to support our teams while working tirelessly to do what we do best - bringing people together over a beer," the statement read.

Sales of Bud Light across the U.S. fell nearly 26% over the week ending on May 20 compared to the same period a year ago, according to data from Bump Williams Consulting and Nielsen NIQ reviewed by ABC News.

At an Anheuser-Busch distributor in the Midwest, nine salespeople rely on commission for roughly two-thirds of their pay, the president of the distributor told ABC News.

The salespeople sustained overall sales declines in May of between 6% and 26% compared to the same month a year prior, which translates into losses ranging from $200 to $900, the president added.

At a meeting with the salespeople earlier this month, the president told them, "None of this is your fault and none of this is my fault," he recounted. He vowed to pay them each a lump sum that would put their income for last month at or above where it would have stood without the losses.

"I'm frustrated that this has [dragged] on as long as it has," the president of the distributor said. "I'm hopeful that we're moving in the right direction."

Anheuser-Busch InBev also provided financial support for frontline workers at independent distributors, Doukeris said on the earnings call last month. The company provided $500 for each employee and additional ad spending last month, the Wall Street Journal reported.

To be sure, some Anheuser-Busch salespeople at independent distributors depend on little or no sales commission.

The owner of a different distributor in the Midwest said the company previously paid salespeople entirely on commission but stopped the practice in recent years because sales varied significantly between the strong summer months and weak winter ones.

"My employees haven't been hurt that bad on it," the owner said, referring to the boycott.

Maurice Schweitzer, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business who studies consumer movements, said the losses for some salespeople at Anheuser-Busch distributors mark an unanticipated result of the consumer boycott.

"This has a disproportionate effect on a handful of people who had little or nothing to do with the decision that triggered people to be upset," Schweitzer told ABC News. "It has this cascade of unintended consequences."

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Food, drink, pot under one roof: California state bill could allow for cannabis cafes

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(CALIFORNIA) -- California cannabis users may soon not have to travel far to get a cup of coffee to go with their legal pot.

The state's assembly passed a bill Wednesday that would allow California's localities the right to approve the sale of food and non-alcoholic drinks inside legal cannabis dispensaries. Current state law prohibits any food or beverage from being served in recreational marijuana dispensaries.

State Assemblyman Matt Haney, who introduced the bill, told ABC News that those current regulations are "outdated and nonsensical," and as a result, a lot of legal cannabis shops are losing out on revenue.

"There is a huge demand for this. This idea came from shop owners. They wanted to diversify their businesses," he said.

The bill, which now heads to the state senate for approval, would also allow dispensaries to have live music inside their establishment.

Haney said that even though legalized cannabis stores have been popular ever since the first legal sales began in 2018, however, those business owners are still competing with illegal marijuana sales.

Those illegal sellers have been able to get past the regulations and offer food, he said.

"The advantage the illegal market has is it can sell that experience, similar to what you can do in a neighborhood bar," Haney said.

The assemblyman cited a West Hollywood cannabis shop that originally sold its own food but was forced to stop that by local regulators for violating the current rules.

"They were required to have the food made, sold and delivered from another establishment," he said.

Under California law, if food and drink are to be allowed in cannabis shops, it would have to be consumed indoors in a well-ventilated room.

Current California cafes and restaurants won't be able to offer cannabis in their establishments, according to the bill.

Haney emphasized that customers under 21 will still be barred from entering the dispensaries even if food and drink are allowed.

Haney said that concerns about whole streets being lined with these pot cafes are not strong as California's law doesn't permit multiple cannabis shops to be located close to each other.

"It will look nothing like Amsterdam," he said. "So you won't have an entire block of them and they won't be near schools."

Haney said municipalities could decline to allow for the food and drink rules in the dispensaries, however, some cities, including San Francisco, have already passed ordinances to permit them if the bill becomes a law.

Haney said he was impressed with the 64-9 vote in the Assembly and the bi-partisan support for the proposal.

"A lot of people who didn't initially support legalized marijuana voted in favor of the bill," he noted. "It just goes to show how crucial the cannabis industry has been for the state."

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The four-day workweek is gaining momentum. Could the US adopt it nationwide?

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(NEW YORK) -- When Michael Arney, the founder of an eight-person marketing design agency in Minneapolis, Minnesota, learned an employee was leaving for a 50% raise at a larger company, he knew he had to make a change or it would happen again.

"I just couldn't compete with the monetary offer," said Arney, recounting the moment in January 2022 when he first considered a four-day, 32-hour workweek for his company Halftone Digital.

Within two months, the shorter hours took effect without a reduction in pay.

"I thought it was a pretty sweet deal," Arney told ABC News. "Nobody has left since."

Halftone Digital is among a growing roster of companies that use a four-day workweek, fueling a movement that has accelerated amid a pandemic-era reconsideration of the workplace, experts told ABC News.

However, the four-day workweek faces formidable obstacles to nationwide adoption, they added.

Here's what to know about the rise of the four-day workweek, how it works and its prospects for implementation across the U.S.:

Where has a four-day workweek taken effect?

A host of countries and U.S. states have moved toward a four-day workweek or considered doing so, Juliet Schor, an economist in the Boston College Sociology Department who studies the issue, told ABC News.

Spain, Iceland and South Africa are among the nations that have implemented a trial of the four-day workweek for select companies and workers.

A six-month experiment in the United Kingdom, which involved 61 companies and about 2,900 workers, resulted in a continuation of the policy for 56 businesses or 92% of the employers, according to a February report from advocacy group 4 Day Week Global.

Belgium imposed a law in November that requires employers to offer full-time workers a right to request a four-day workweek.

"We're seeing more countries take steps," Schor said.

At the state level, lawmakers in Massachusetts introduced a bill in April that would provide employers with a tax credit if they shift at least 15 workers to four days a week without cutting their pay. In January, legislators in Maryland introduced a similar bill before rescinding it months later.

In California and the U.S. House, lawmakers have introduced bills that would set the standard workweek at 32 hours.

Is a four-day workweek still 40 hours?

A crucial question at the heart of the debate over a four-day workweek is whether the policy constitutes a decrease in hours or a traditional 40-hour week compressed to fewer days.

Companies have opted for both approaches, setting a loose definition for a four-day workweek that accommodates a willingness to reduce the hours in the workweek or preserve them, experts told ABC News.

"There are different places doing it different ways," Mark Bolino, a professor of organizational behavior at the University of Oklahoma, told ABC News. "I don't think there's consistency."

Tuan Diep, a senior product designer at Halftone Digital who works 32 hours each week, said a workweek consisting of four 10-hour days would make for a markedly different experience.

"Although two hours a day doesn't seem like a lot, I just feel like any extra time that we're required to work is going to create more stress," he told ABC News. "I'm not really for 10-hour workdays."

Will the U.S. ever have a four-day workweek?

Some experts said a combination of escalating market pressure and legislative activity could ultimately bring a nationwide four-day workweek standard; while others said such an outcome would prove nearly impossible, at least anytime soon.

Eric Loomis, professor and labor historian at the University of Rhode Island, said the policy has faced difficulty spreading from white collar professions to low-wage ones.

"I can see in an office getting a job done in 32 hours instead of 40 hours," Loomis told ABC News. "If you're a ticket taker at a theater or you're wearing a costume at Disney World, you need to be there."

The prospect of federal legislation enshrining a four-day workweek standard, meanwhile, is highly unlikely, Loomis added.

"The U.S. hasn't passed significant pro-labor legislation that's in any way comprehensive in almost 90 years," he said.

Schor disagreed, however, citing the recent rise of businesses voluntarily adopting the four-day workweek.

"I see momentum in the market as more companies do it," Schor said. "That creates more pressure for the government to act."

The U.S. could take incremental steps downward from 40-hour week to a 32-hour week within the next decade, Schor added, predicting that policies would start in statehouses and work their way to the federal level.

"I think that's conceivable. People really, really want it," Schor said. "Am I going to put money on it? No."

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