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August 2022

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Walt Disney Co. is exploring a membership program that could offer discounts or perks to encourage customers to spend more on its streaming services, theme parks, resorts and merchandise, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday.

The program would be somewhat similar to Amazon Prime and internally some executives have referred to Disney’s initiative as “Disney Prime,” although that won’t be the name of the program, according to the report, which cited people familiar with the discussions.

Discussions at Disney are in the early stages and it wasn’t known how much the company would charge for membership and how long it would take to launch such a program, the WSJ reported.

A membership program would help Disney increase customer spending on its products and services, while giving it access to information about consumer preferences.

Disney did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.



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Pet owners hit hard by inflation are not spoiling their dogs and cats with new toys and treats, online retailer Chewy said.

Instead, they are rationing their dollars on food and other pet essentials, the company added.

“We saw softer demand in the second quarter for discretionary products,” chief executive Sumit Singh said on an earnings call Tuesday in which the company slashed its sales guidance for the rest of the year.

Chewy shares plunged nearly 8% on Wednesday.

The company also said fewer people are getting new pets as inflation takes a bite out of household budgets.

The Dania Beach, Fla.-based company, founded by billionaire Ryan Cohen, ended the quarter with 20.5 million active customers, an increase of 2.1%.

A puppy chewing on a rubber duck.
Pet ownership soared during the pandemic, but fewer people are adding adding pets to their households now.
Getty Images

That’s in contrast to the torrid growth during the pandemic when 23 million American households, or about 1 in 5, adopted a pet, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Pet-focused companies were beneficiaries of the pandemic, but now the sector is bracing for belt-tightening as consumers stick to the basics.

A dog with a bone chew in its mouth.
Chewy lowered its sales guidance for the year.
Getty Images/Image Source
Dog toys
Chief executive Sumit Singh said there was a softer demand for “discretionary products.”
Getty Images
A Chewy box.
Chewy says inflation has taken a bite out of its toy and treat sales this summer.
Gado via Getty Images

Chewy said revenue grew 13% to $2.43 billion in the second quarter ended July 31 compared to a year ago, but the results were below Wall Street’s forecasts. 

The company said it expects full-year revenue in the range of $9.9 billion to $10 billion, which is below estimates of $10.25 billion. 

“Broadly speaking, the purchase cycle isn’t actually favorable now,” Singh said on the earnings call.



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Complaints about Gopuff drivers have gotten so heated that the fast-delivery firm has enlisted security guards for at least one of its Manhattan stores to keep the peace, The Post has learned. 

While Big Apple grocery stores typically hire security to catch shoplifters, the guard at Gopuff’s Upper East Side location is there to stop the company’s own drivers from bothering neighbors, Gopuff told a neighborhood co-op board as well as a City Council member.

The move comes after months of complaints from residents near a Lexington Avenue store about delivery drivers talking, smoking and double parking at all hours of the day and night. 

“A lot of times they are talking loudly at 1 a.m.,” Stephen Durso, president of the co-op building across the street from the store, told The Post. “Our tenants can smell pot and hear them talk late at night.”

Gopuff security guard
Gopuff has hired a security guard for its Upper East Side store following complaints from neighbors.

Council member Julie Menin, who represents the area, said she has relayed Upper East Siders’ complaints about the store on Lexington Avenue between 89th and 90th streets to Gopuff.

“We reached out to Gopuff who decided to hire a security guard to address traffic, crowd and trash issues,” Menin told The Post. 

Durso likewise said that he repeatedly contacted Gopuff with concerns about the facility. In one email exchange reviewed by The Post, he sent Gopuff an email with a photo of a group of drivers hanging out outside the store late at night.

“The manager spoke with each individual driver partner pictured below and reminded them that there is a driver lounge and seating inside for them to use,” Gopuff corporate affairs staffer Ashley Maass told Durso on Aug. 12. “Communications were also sent out to all driver partners.”

Gopuff workers
City Council Member Julie Menin said Gopuff “decided to hire a security guard to address traffic, crowd and trash issues.”
Stephen Durso

“There is a guard on site each evening who will monitor and alert management as needed,” Maass added.

Still, some locals still aren’t happy, griping that the security guard has made little difference and drivers are still hanging out outside.

“Gopuff employs security personnel at locations across the country, including at multiple locations in New York City,” a Gopuff spokesperson told The Post. “Security decisions are made on a case-by-case and ongoing basis and vary depending on the specific needs of the store in order to secure inventory, staff and the surrounding area.”

Rival rapid delivery apps like Gorillas and Getir use full-time employees that ride company bikes, but Gopuff relies on gig workers who sign up for deliveries using their own vehicles, which range from e-bikes to full-sized cars

Gopuff
Gopuff uses contract delivery workers with their own vehicles, while its rivals provide e-bikes to full-time employees.
William C. Lopez/NYPOST

One Gopuff driver told The Post that the company required them to park their car in a Manhattan no-standing zone to pick up deliveries, where they racked up hundreds of dollars in tickets they had to pay off themselves. Another ex-Gopuff driver said that e-bike and scooter delivery drivers often played loud music and partied outside stores while waiting on work.  

Alex Gabriel, head of external and government affairs at rival delivery app Gorillas, told The Post that his company has not had to hire security guards for any of its stores and said that it would be an “unusual” move for them to do so.

The kerfuffle comes as Gopuff is trying to secure a credit line of up to $300 million as a cash cushion in case of an economic downturn, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday. The company, which operates in more than 1,000 cities around the world, is planning to pull out of Spain, Bloomberg reported the same day.  

And in July, Gopuff announced plans to lay off 10% of its workforce and close 76 warehouses as it looks to reach profitability. 

Gopuff is the biggest and most-funded of the grocery delivery apps, having raised a whopping $3.4 billion from a variety of backers ranging from investment firms like Softbank and Blackstone to big names like singer Selena Gomez and ex-Disney CEO Bob Iger, according to Crunchbase data. 



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Several major US air carriers caved to public pressure by confirming they will pay for meals and lodging to passengers who endure delays or cancellations ahead of the potentially chaotic Labor Day travel weekend.

The move by the carriers comes after Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg demanded airline CEOs provide free meals and hotel rooms for lengthy delays “at a minimum” due a period of widespread flight disruptions and cancellations.

Most US airlines already offered meal vouchers or complimentary lodging to passengers in the event of delays, but the benefits were not explicitly detailed in plans on their website or other public-facing areas.

As a result, some customers had to be aware in advance about the existence of the vouchers in order to take advantage of the benefit.

Air travelers
Airlines are alerting customers they are eligible for free meals and lodging in the event of some flight delays or cancellations.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

“For cancellations or delays within our control, like mechanical issues, that result in your waiting for more than three hours, we’ll give you a digital or printed meal voucher,” United said in a customer commitment plan that took effect on Tuesday.

“This voucher can be used for the reasonable cost of a meal at airport food vendors. If you don’t automatically get one, just ask us.”

JetBlue noted that passengers stuck waiting 3 hours or more due to “controllable cancellations” will receive meal vouchers of $12 and hotel accommodations for overnight cancellations.

United Airlines planes
Airlines are scrambling to meet surging travel demand this year.
Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Southwest’s customer service plan includes similar language, though it notes in bold that the free meal vouchers and lodging apply to flight delays or cancellations “within our control.”

The Post has reached out to the airlines for comment on the updated customer service policies.

“US airlines are committed to offering a high level of customer service and providing a positive and safe flight experience for all passengers,” Airlines for America, a trade group representing major carriers, said in a statement.

American Airlines plane
Flight disruptions have skyrocketed this year.
GC Images

“Carriers continue to post their customer service plans on their websites and welcome opportunities to simplify, clarify and increase transparency for travelers,” the statement added.

In letters to major US airline CEOs earlier this month, Buttigieg referred to ongoing travel chaos and flight disruptions as “unacceptable” ahead of the Labor Day holiday. The letters also demanded that airlines update their customer service plans to reflect assistance available to impacted travelers.

Buttigieg said the Department of Transportation was “contemplating” more regulations that would “further expand the rights of airline passengers.”

Air travelers
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg had urged airlines to offer the benefits “at a minimum.”
AFP via Getty Images

“As you know, these aren’t just numbers, these are missed birthday parties, graduations, time with loved ones and important meetings,” Buttigieg said.

Airlines have been struggling to meet surging travel demand this year while contending with labor shortages and supply chain issues. Mishandled baggage complaints and flight delays have spiked during the tumultuous period.



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ST. LOUIS – A new report recognizes Washington University as the 15th best college in the nation.

Niche, a platform dedicated to ranking and reviewing schools across the country, recently released its “2023 Best Colleges in America” list. The rankings are based on an in-depth analysis of academic, admissions, financial and student life data from the U.S. Department of Education.

Washington University received an overall “A+” grade from Niche. The university’s report card also featured an “A+” grade in academics, value, diversity, campus life, professor, dorms, campus food and student life.

The university left the following message, in part, on its Niche review:

“At WashU, you will draw strength from a community of achievers who inspire each other with their creativity and tenacity. You’ll acquire the confidence and skills to succeed as a professional and as a person, ready to change the world. You’ll learn from faculty leading their fields, and you’ll have the opportunity to work side by side with them on independent projects.”

Three Illinois colleges ranked within the Top 100 of Niche’s list, including Northwestern University (No. 14), University of Chicago (No. 16), and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (No. 59). The Massachusetts Institute of Technology was named the top university in the report.

More than 4,000 top colleges and universities in the country were recognized on this year’s list, featuring millions of reviews from students and alumni among the honored universities.



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Are you glad to be closing the chapter on Ashland Locke or did you want that saga to continue? “Personally, I didn’t want the Ashland saga to end as quickly as it did. I thought there was a lot of mileage left with that story because it affected so many characters. I just liked that the Newmans had this foil because one of the things I love, if not the most, is that when one of them is in danger, the whole family circles the wagons and do whatever they can to protect each other. I love that quality, especially when the charge is led by Victor. And that includes Adam and Abby. The family mantra is, ‘We will get through this, if we lock hands and stay tight.’ ”

How do you like Nick back in the corporate world? “I absolutely love that he’s really involved in the family business again with all the intrigue, trials and fighting that come with it. Those are all fun to play to me. Nick is part of the Newman fabric and I just like being in the mix. And I absolutely love working with Amelia [Heinle, Victoria], Mel [Thomas Scott, Nikki] and Eric [Braeden, Victor] every day. As an actor, I was sort of feeling a little lost because I didn’t really know what Nick did anymore. Not every character has to have a cut-and-dry thing to do, but once I was previously removed from any of the corporate dynamics, you’re sort of on the outside looking in. So, it’s been invigorating, to say the least, to be back in the thick of things.”

Which means wearing a suit every day. Yeah, I don’t like it doing that again. When my high school guidance counselor asked me what I wanted to do for a living, I remember very clearly telling her, ‘I honestly don’t even know at this point, but I just don’t want to wear a suit [laughs].’ So there have been periods of time where I’ll wear suits for months and months on the show, which I never liked, but I do like the direction of the storyline and where Josh [Griffith, co-executive producer/head writer] is planning on taking Nick, so I really look forward to what lies ahead — even if it’s in a suit.”

Why is Nick willing to give Sally, who manipulated his daughter into moving to Italy, a second chance? “Nick is intrigued by Sally and it’s in his nature to give people second chances. He’s willing to allow people to kind of find their own path because that’s all he ever wanted from his dad. He sees that Sally has a drive and ambition that really suits what is the mission statement for Newman Media. He’s really gone to bat for her by fighting Victoria and his father over and over because he wants to see what Sally can do. Nick sees that Sally’s a fighter who’s not afraid to speak her mind, and he respects that.”

Are you excited about the next chapter in Nick’s life? “Yes, I am. It’s got the potential to be messy and really challenge Nick. I felt like I was sort of coasting around for a while and now, Josh and the writers seem to have some interesting stuff pending with a new lady and the corporate dynamics. I’m excited more than I’ve been in a long time with the show and it’s been really fun. I’m enjoying going into work and feeling like they trust me to drive some story and be a crucial part of it.”




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FRESNO, Calif. – A California mother and former dean of a Missouri boarding school for troubled youth were charged last week for a scheme to take the woman’s teenage son against his will and bring him to the Show Me State.

Prosecutors with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California unsealed a federal indictment on Tuesday accusing Shana Gaviola, 35, and Julio Sandoval, 41, of violating a protective order and hiring people to, in essence, kidnap Gaviola’s own son in July 2021. At the time, Sandoval was the dean of the Agapè Boarding School in Stockton, Missouri, and the founder of an agency that transported minors to the school.

According to court documents, Gaviola’s son began living apart from her in 2020 and moved in with another family. In July 2021, the teen filed a domestic violence restraining order against his mother with Fresno County Superior Court and also petitioned for emancipation. The judge approved the order of protection, prohibiting Gaviola from harassing, striking, threatening, assaulting, hitting, following, stalking, molesting, disturbing the peace, keeping under surveillance, blocking the movements of her son, or contacting him in any way, including directly or indirectly, and from denying his use and possessing his phone.

Prosecutors allege that over the next few weeks, Gaviola contacted Sandoval and the two planned to have Sandoval’s agency take her son to the boarding school.

Gaviola learned where her son would be on the morning of Aug. 21, 2021, and Sandoval directed his agents to detain the boy at a local Fresno business. The agents handcuffed the teen and forced him into their car. The teen remained handcuffed for more than 24 hours while being taken to Stockton, Missouri.

The teen remained at the boarding school until his father arrived to take him home.

If convicted, Gaviola and Sandoval each face a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.



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Chloe Lanier is reprising the role of Nelle on GH for a short-term appearance next week and spoke exclusively to Soap Opera Digest about reprising the role of Nelle, who she previously played from 2016-18 and 2019-20. Having been away from Port Charles for so long, she admits to having struggled to find the character again. “I was looking at videos of Nelle online for days, like, ‘It has been two years since I had played this role. What did I even do? What were my speech patterns? How did I walk as Nelle?’ All of these things that were once so clicked-in for me, I had totally forgotten how to do, but hopefully it translated and I was able to slip back into character the way I did it before. I’m hoping!” For more on the actress’s return, check out the new issue of Soap Opera Digest, on sale Friday.




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Tech billionaire and bitcoin booster Michael Saylor evaded more than $25 million in Washington, DC income taxes by falsely claiming to live elsewhere, according to a tax fraud lawsuit filed Wednesday by the District’s attorney general. 

Saylor’s company, the software firm Microstrategy, conspired with the entrepreneur to help him evade taxes for more than 15 years, according to the lawsuit from Washington’s Attorney General Karl Racine. 

“Saylor avoided paying more than $25 million in DC income taxes by claiming to be a Florida or Virginia resident,” Racine’s office said in a statement.  “He has publicly called the District’s Georgetown neighborhood home since about 2005.”

Saylor lives in a 7,000-square-foot Georgetown penthouse and has docked at least two of his yachts in the city for “long periods of time” despite claiming not to live there, Racine’s office said.

Washington DC Attorney General Karl Racine said Saylor avoided taxes by claiming to be a Virginia or Florida resident.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Microstrategy stock tanked 7% on the news, trading at around $223.40 on Wednesday afternoon. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

Saylor — whose Twitter account has more than 2.6 million followers and lists his location as Miami Beach — has cultivated a cult following among die-hard fans of bitcoin. 

He founded Microstrategy in 1989, but turned the company into a “meme stock” starting in August 2020 when he invested $250 million of its cash reserves into bitcoin during the cryptocurrency boom. 

According to the attorney general’s suit, Microstrategy knew that Saylor lived in Washington but helped him evade taxes. 

“MicroStrategy had multiple sources of information regarding Saylor’s true location and residency, but that the company actively conspired with Saylor to enable his fraud, including by filing inaccurate W-2s with the address of his property in Florida rather than his home in DC, and by failing to withhold and remit DC taxes,” the attorney general’s office said. 

Racine’s office added that they could recover a total of more than $100 million in unpaid income taxes and penalties from Saylor and Microstrategy. 



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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WTVO) — Gov. JB Pritzker announced $300 million in funding to help Illinois residents pay their energy bills on Wednesday.

The money comes from the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and is available for families who meet criteria to receive natural gas, propane, or electricity bill assistance.

“Thanks to LIHEAP, we are making natural gas, propane, and electricity assistance accessible for our state’s family that are feeling the squeeze from rising costs of living. My administration has always been—and will always be—committed to making sure that every resident has access to the services they need to keep the lights on,” Pritzker said.

The program will provide a one-time payment, with the amount varying per household. Last year, the program sent out an average of $1,330 per household.

“Starting September 1st, support with energy bills is available through DCEO’s Help Illinois Families program and all households who meet the income threshold are eligible for support with their utility bills,” said DCEO Director Sylvia I. Garcia. “Families who earn up to two-times the federal poverty level qualify for help, which means a family of four making around $55,000 a year or less is eligible. I encourage all Illinois families in need of assistance to visit our website or call our hotline to learn more and apply.”

A chart with eligible income thresholds can be found on this webpage.

Visit helpillinoisfamilies.com to fill out and submit a request for services form online or call 1-833-711-0374 for more information.



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