Business Headlines

David Tran/iStockBy JACQUELINE LAUREAN YATES, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Joining a host of several other popular retailers, Gap is planning to make major changes amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The global American retailer announced it will shutter 225 of its stores by 2024 -- a third of its locations. With these closures, 80% of Gap's remaining stores will be free-standing outside of malls and a 30% drop in overall locations that will remain.

Gap Inc.'s plans are closely tied to many clothing retailers losing foot traffic in stores due to lockdowns during the pandemic. Many have also reported that shopping habits have pivoted toward online versus in-store throughout the past few months.

"We've been overly reliant on low-productivity, high-rent stores," said Mark Breitbard, CEO of the Gap brand in a statement. “We’ve used the past six months to address the real estate issues and accelerate our shift to a true Omni-model."

In addition to Gap's store closings, the company is planning to also close 130 of it's Banana Republic stores in North America to focus on growing e-commerce business and outlet stores.

"As result of this work, our mall-based exposure will decline meaningfully," Gap Inc.'s chief financial officer Katrina O'Connell said in an investor presentation on Thursday, according to Business Insider. "Gap said that in 2023 roughly 80% of its revenues will come from online sales and locations outside of malls."

Gap and Banana Republic are joining a host of other companies, such as H&M, Victoria's Secret, JCPenney, that have announced store closures.

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eyewave/iStockBy KELLY MCCARTHY, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- The parent company of Dunkin' and Baskin-Robbins confirmed it's in talks to sell itself to a private equity-backed company.

Dunkin' Brands announced in a press release Sunday "that it has held preliminary discussions to be acquired by Inspire Brands."

The company explained that there's "no certainty that any agreement will be reached" and won't comment further "until a transaction is agreed or discussions are terminated."

Inspire Brands, which is backed by Roark Capital Group, holds an array of fast-casual restaurant chains in its portfolio including Arby's, Jimmy Johns, Sonic and Buffalo Wild Wings. A spokesman for Inspire Brands told ABC News he had no comment at this time.

The New York Times, which first reported the sale discussions, said the deal is valued at nearly $9 billion.

Dunkin' Brands stock was trading at $104.75 on Friday. The potential sale would represent a 20% premium in the company's current share price.

Even with setbacks at the start of the COVID-19 outbreak including closing hundreds of locations, Dunkin' Brands has been able to bolster its sales with drive-through and online ordering.

The company, which has 21,000 franchises, reported $1.4 billion in revenue last year and over $240 million in profit.

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BrianAJackson/iStockBy TAYLOR DUNN and ANGELINE JANE BERNABE, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- This year, millions of people around the world have missed out on big milestones or have had to postpone important events like weddings due to COVID-19.

The same has happened to college seniors who missed out on their graduation ceremonies and were unable to kickstart their careers by finding their first jobs.

For Caitlyn Martyn, a recent graduate of Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, job prospects seemed attainable before the pandemic hit.

"I was having a lot of interviews, I was pursuing some really exciting opportunities that were, in my opinion, like dream job type situations," said Martyn. "I was really like moving along in the interview process."

But then, when the pandemic began, the job hunt was put on hold for Martyn.

"Everything kind of just went radio silent after the pandemic hit," she said. "And even currently to this day, it kind of hasn't really moved since March."

Now nearly eight months since the pandemic began, the job hunt is still difficult for Martyn and many others seeking employment.

"I'm back in my childhood bedroom feeling like I'm living my 12, 13-year-old life, like nothing has ever really changed," said Martyn. "Definitely anxious because loan payments are coming up soon."

While the job market has improved since the pandemic began -- with unemployment numbers down 7.9 % from its pandemic peak of 14.7% -- layoffs still persist.

And in the U.S., there are only 6.5 million job openings for the 12.6 million who are unemployed -- that's about two job seekers for every job opening.

Currently, while Martyn works as a nanny, she spends her days applying, networking virtually and taking online courses to improve her skills and make herself more marketable.

All of this, LinkedIn career expert Catherine Fisher said, is key to job hunting amid the pandemic.

"Caitlyn's doing a lot of things right," Fisher told ABC News' Good Morning America. "And there's just a few things that she should be doing and thinking about to get her those interviews she desperately wants."

Read on for more tips to help you find a job during the pandemic:

Set up alerts

Set up alerts for jobs so that you're the first person to apply.

"This is important because what we're finding is that the first people who apply are more likely to get the call from the recruiter," Fisher said. "So it's not just about searching. It's about having all those tools and alerts in place so that you can jump on those opportunities."

Keep your industry search broad

During these uncertain times, Fisher said to apply for jobs in different fields that are hiring.

"Maybe she had her heart set on marketing for travel and leisure or hospitality," Fisher said of Martyn. "Those jobs are really hard to come by, but you can still get the right skills that you need to and to build out that network so that your position to get that dream job when the market gets much easier for you to find a job."

"Think about the short term right now," Fisher added. "You want a job to get you the skills and build those relationships needed for your future."

Be proactive

For anyone trying to find a new job amid the pandemic, Fisher said it's important to let people know that they're open to work.

For example, on LinkedIn there's a new filter for profile photos that lets employers know that you're looking for work. According to Fisher, those who are looking for work are 40% more likely to hear from a recruiter if you have that setting on your LinkedIn profile.

"You need to make sure everyone knows that you're looking," she said. "You need to make sure everyone knows that you're looking and what your skills are, what you want to do and you just want to make it easy for people to find you and get your foot in the door for that interview."

Network

Some may find it nearly impossible to network virtually during the pandemic, but Fisher said it's not so hard -- and it's more important than ever. The trick to successful networking is to speak with people outside of your circle and meet with someone, virtually, at least once a week.

And if you're asking someone within your network to make an introduction, Fisher said to make it easy for them.

"Be very clear why you want that introduction," she said. "Is it because they have specific skills that you're looking to acquire?"

Once you've been connected with that contact, Fisher said you should reach out to them and ask for a 15-minute virtual coffee. State the questions you'll ask and then maintain the relationship. Once you've met with them, send a thank you note and keep in touch.

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apilarinos/iStockBy MIGUEL FLORENCIO, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Since the first introduction of Pokémon to American audiences in 1997, it has collected the hearts of several generations.

When the iconic show first aired in the U.S., kids were immediately glued to their TV sets and mesmerized by the adventures of Ash and Pikachu. Then, when the Pokémon Trading Card Game launched in the late 90s, Pokémon cards invaded classrooms across the country and many schools fought the craze by banning them in order to keep students focused on their schoolwork. Years later, in 2016, Pokémon Go became a global phenomenon as people ventured out in the real world to become Pokémon masters. And now, with the 25th anniversary of the $90 billion franchise approaching next year, it's taking the world by storm again.

Logic, the multi-platinum artist, made headlines in early October when he was the winner of a rare 1999 first edition Charizard card that was sold at auction for more than $220,000 and, more recently, over 9.5 million people watched YouTube star Logan Paul’s live stream video that featured him opening a sealed 1999 Pokémon first edition Base Set Booster Box, which he purchased for more than $200,000.

On the ABC News Perspective Podcast, Lee Steinfeld, who is known as Leonhart on YouTube and has over one million subscribers that watch him open new and vintage Pokémon card packs, told ABC News there are two reasons why celebrities like Justin Bieber and others are driving the recent trend.

“It’s an absolute combo of people around my age -- I’m 33," Steinfeld said. "They are getting that nostalgia fix by finding their old collections, then they're seeing that, ‘Hey, they're valuable.’ Anything with Charizard is usually the most popular; the most valuable as well.”

Soon after Logic won his prized card, he revealed on Instagram that he missed out on buying Pokémon cards during his childhood because his family could not afford them.

Although not every Pokémon card is selling for the same price of a Lamborghini, Steinfeld revealed that Charizard’s dragon-like flair is one part of why it’s known as the crown jewel of Pokémon cards.

“Charizard is one of the absolute rarest cards -- pulls wise," he said. "Which means you open up a pack and there are several cards in the pack; you’re hoping to get that holographic Charizard card because that’s the most popular and very difficult [card] to pull from a pack. So, fast-forward to today, how many of these packs are out in the wild right now? How many of these packs are really even in a random storage unit somewhere, maybe? We don’t know. There’s not a lot of them left, but you want to pull that Charizard card because of the nostalgia, because of how difficult it is to pull it.”

When the coronavirus pandemic first hit back in March and forced people to stay home, Jeff Woolf, owner of Iconic Auctions, the auction site that sold the $220,000 card to Logic, shared to Perspective that he believed the COVID-19 outbreak played a role in people revisiting their childhood and accelerating the recent hype around Pokémon, but that the market for these cards have been years in the making.

“I see a Pokémon card and it was past my generation. I see the investment potential, but the people that get it, the people that will drive the market for it are the people that first see it and there’s a sense of nostalgia," Woolf said. "It takes them back to a time when they were younger or puts them in a happy place. It’s the same type of identification that people have to the sports cards and now we’ve seen routinely now, sports cards just this year alone, several have sold for millions of dollars and Pokémon is probably on its way to that.”

It’s no secret that sports cards have traditionally held a lot of value. Earlier in July, a LeBron James rookie card sold for a record breaking $1.8 million. But Woolf added there is some hesitation in the collector community about the recent trend of Pokémon cards because of the baseball card bubble in the 90s. However, he explained because technology has made information and cards easily accessible today, it’s making Pokémon card collecting a viable investment.

“It’s got a community behind it that understands it and appreciates it. There’s a level of rarity to it. People are not only willing to put in their money but they’re willing to compete for it. It has all of the factors that go into what makes something an investment,” he said.

Chances are slim that many forgotten collections in dusty garage boxes will feature cards in perfect quality. PSA and BGS, two of the world’s leading card grading companies, award cards a mark between a scale of 1-10 by analyzing their condition, and the higher the number, the more it can sell for.

Nevertheless, Steinfeld voiced that it’s worth revisiting old collections because he disclosed to ABC News how much he paid for someone’s aged Pokémon cards.

“I did actually go through a subscriber's old Pokémon card collection that’s been sitting in a shoe box, and I did pay them over $10,000 because it had a 1st edition base set Charizard card. It wasn’t [in] perfect [quality], they just found that sitting for 20 years in their closet,” he said.

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Jetlinerimages/iStockBY: BILL HUTCHINSON, ABC NEWS

(NEW YORK) -- Usually reserved for suspected terrorists, Delta Airlines has added the names of 460 people to its no-fly lists for refusing to comply with a requirement to wear masks during flights, according to a memo to employees from the company's CEO.

Delta CEO Ed Bastian revealed the number in an internal memo about breast cancer awareness month. He encouraged employees to participate in helping to raise money to fight the disease.

"Throughout the pandemic, we have focused our efforts on protecting our people, our customers and our communities," Bastian wrote in the memo sent to employees on Thursday and obtained by ABC News.

Bastian went on to cite a significant increase in COVID-19 infections across the nation, saying the continuing public health crisis "makes it as important as ever for us to be aware of the multiple layers of defense." The coronavirus has killed nearly 225,000 people and infected more than 8.5 million the United States.

"Wearing a mask is among the simplest and most effective actions we can take to reduce transmission, which is why Delta has long required them for our customers and our people," Bastian wrote. "As of this week, we’ve added 460 people to our no-fly list for refusing to comply with our mask requirement."

Bastian's memo followed several incidents in which Delta flight crews and those of other airlines experienced confrontations with people refusing to wear masks.

On Saturday, the departure of a Delta flight from Detroit to Las Vegas was delayed for 90 minutes because a passenger refused to put on a mask. On Oct. 19, a Delta flight attendant was struck in the face by a passenger who allegedly refused to wear a mask on a flight from Miami to Atlanta, a confrontation that was recorded on cellphone video by other passengers and posted on social media.

In July, a Delta flight from Detroit to Atlanta was taxiing on a runway when a confrontation erupted over two customers who refused to wear masks, forcing the pilot to return to the gate to eject the passengers from the plane.

In September, a mother and her 2-year-old son were kicked off an American Airlines flight because the toddler refused to wear a mask.

All major U.S. airlines require any child age 2 and over to wear a mask in order to fly, but the policy has come under scrutiny as more stories of parents with small children being kicked off flights have surfaced.

In late August, a mother and her six children were kicked off a JetBlue Airways flight because her 2-year-old daughter refused to wear a mask.

In June, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, a union representing more than 50,000 members, implored the federal government to mandate that passengers wear face coverings on all flights, noting at the time that more than 350 flight attendants had contracted COVID-19 and some had died.

“Masks are essential to keep passengers, flight attendants, and frontline aviation workers safe during the Coronavirus pandemic," the union's statement said. "It is also essential to rebuild confidence in air travel. The federal government has completely abdicated its responsibility to keep the flying public and aviation workers safe during COVID-19."

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VioletaStoimenova/iStockBy JACQUELINE LAUREAN YATES, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Like most things this year, Black Friday shopping will be quite different amid the coronavirus pandemic.

While traditional, on-site "doorbuster" sales aren't available this year, big-box retailers have announced plans to provide shoppers guidance on how to navigate the best deals online.

ABC News chief business correspondent Rebecca Jarvis also spoke with experts for top tips on getting the best deals.

Expect more online sales for Black Friday


"Retailers want to make sure that shoppers feel safe and feel comfortable," Nerdwallet personal finance expert Kimberly Palmer told Good Morning America. "And so we're seeing them take those steps to do that."

With that, stores have extended sales not just on-premise, but also online. A Deloitte survey found that 64% of holiday budgets will be spent online this year.

Walmart recently announced in-store and online sales to be spread out across three events starting on Nov. 4.

Lowe's also launched its "Season of Savings" sale events Thursday which include daily one-day deals online labeled "Cyber Steals." Sales on everything from home products and appliances to electronics and outdoor furniture will be on sale through Dec. 2.

Updated safety measures and in-store shopping experiences


To keep shoppers safe, several retailers have made big changes to protect customers who choose to shop in-store.

Target announced new technology Thursday that will allow guests to skip waiting in line. The retailer is also offering contactless self-checkout, over 8,000 additional parking spots for contactless drive-up services and contactless same-day fulfillment options.

"You can actually reserve your spot in line," Palmer said. "You can check ahead of time. And if there is a line, you'll be notified. So you don't show up and then see that it's more crowded than you expect."

Other stores including Nordstrom have announced extended curbside hours as well as complimentary gift-wrapping with all purchases.

Jarvis also advised that one of the best shopping tools this holiday season might be your smartphone. "Consider downloading apps for retailers where you plan to shop and signing up for the loyalty program. That will give you access to exclusive deals and discounts."

What about return policies?


Experts advised there will be more flexibility with return policies. Shoppers can expect longer periods to make holiday returns which retailers are hoping will encourage people to spend and feel comfortable with what they are buying.

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LEGOBy CARSON BLACKWELDER, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Sesame Street is getting the Lego treatment for the first time ever.

The nostalgia-inducing set, dubbed 123 Sesame Street, is the latest addition to the Lego Ideas collection, which features creations imagined by and voted for by Lego fans themselves.

From Bert and Ernie's apartment to Big Bird's nest -- Rubber Duckie and Radar the teddy bear included -- fans of the educational children's TV series can take a trip down memory lane.

Joining the cast of mini-figures alongside Bert, Ernie and Big Bird are trash can-dwelling Oscar the Grouch, forever hungry Cookie Monster and, of course, lovable Elmo.

This set was created by Ivan Guerrero, a fan of both Sesame Street and Lego, who called the opportunity "a dream come true."

"LEGO bricks and 'Sesame Street' shaped by my childhood and adult years, and the opportunity to work with the LEGO Ideas team to bring this quintessential New York street to life has been thrilling," Guerrero said in a press release.

The set, consisting of 1,367 pieces, will be available for purchase on LEGO.com and at Lego stores beginning Nov. 1.

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ineskoleva/iStockBy CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- A new bill proposed by a handful of Senate Democrats aims to make discrimination in the banking industry explicitly illegal for the first time, bridging a gap that left the financial services industry out of 1964 Civil Rights Act discrimination laws.

Senators Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, Tina Smith, D-Minn., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., introduced the Fair Access to Financial Services Act to fellow lawmakers on Wednesday.

The bill would prohibit banks from discriminating based on race, color, religion, national origin, sex, gender identity or sexual orientation.

The landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964 outlawed discrimination in many public places and businesses including hotels, restaurants, movie theaters and more -- but it notably left out banking institutions. The new bill, if passed into law, would allow a way for courts to hold banks accountable for discriminatory practices.

"Too many Black and brown Americans experience racial profiling and unequal treatment when trying to access services at banks and other financial institutions. Victims of discrimination are not even able to hold financial institutions accountable-it is shameful," Sen. Brown said in a statement.

"It is past time we pass legislation that explicitly outlaws discrimination in our nation’s financial system so that Black and brown people can have complete access to financial services free from harassment," Brown added.

Warren, a former presidential candidate, said that discrimination by "big banks" is "denying communities of color the chance to build real economic security."

The Massachusetts senator added that the bill is "a step in the right direction to help root out the systemic racism that has pervaded our financial institutions for decades."

Booker, also a former presidential candidate, called access to financial institutions "a fundamental building block for economic security."

"But persistent, unchecked racial discrimination has unjustly blocked many Black and brown Americans from accessing financial services," Booker said. "Equal access to these critical services must be a right guaranteed by federal law and financial institutions must be held accountable for putting an end to systemic discrimination and harassment of any kind."

The lawmakers said the bill comes in response to a myriad of reports of discrimination in the banking sector, specifically linking to a New York Times investigation from June. The lawmakers added that the proposed legislation has been endorsed by the NAACP and a handful of other civil rights organizations.

Many critics have blamed systemic racism at financial institutions and beyond for the nation's large racial wealth gap.

In 2016, the typical white family had a net worth nearly 10 times that of a Black family, according to a Brookings Institute analysis. Moreover, an Urban Institute report from 2019 also found that the gap between Black and white homeownership rates in the U.S. had increased to 30.1% in 2017 -- a wider gap than when race-based discrimination against homebuyers in the U.S. was legal.

Protests over police brutality and systemic racism erupted across the country this summer and put renewed pressure on banks to address these issues.

Earlier this month, banking giant JPMorgan Chase pledged to invest $30 billion to help ameliorate the racial wealth gap in the U.S. and "reduce systemic racism against Black and Latinx people."

The investment bank said the $30 billion commitment over the next five years will come in the form of loans, equity and direct funding to promote affordable housing, grow Black- and Latinx-owned businesses, improve access to banking in communities of color and build a more diverse workforce.

Other major banking institutions including Citigroup and Bank of America have announced similar initiatives, committing $1 billion each so far.

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DNY59/iStockBy AARON KATERSKY, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- A subsidiary of Goldman Sachs pleaded guilty on Thursday for its role in a scandal involving the embezzlement of billions of dollars from a Malaysian government investment fund known as 1MDB.

The subsidiary pleaded guilty to violating anti-bribery provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, admitting it contributed to the misappropriation of $2.6 billion in a bribery scheme that spread from Southeast Asia to the United States and has been a costly and lasting black eye for the prominent investment bank.

Goldman Sachs itself has entered into a deferred prosecution agreement, which will be announced during a noon news conference at the Justice Department. The bank will have to pay more than $2 billion in penalties.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has said Goldman Sachs ignored warning signs of fraud as it pursued the lucrative fees from the Malaysian business.

"Guilty, your honor," said Karen Seymour, Goldman Sachs general counsel, on behalf of the Malaysian subsidiary. "From approximately 2009 to 2014, Goldman Sachs Malaysia and certain of its agents and employees, and together with others, knowingly and willfully agreed to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act."

She conceded the bank paid bribes in order to win lucrative business tied to 1MDB.

"The government has given a discount off the bottom of the minimum fine and so the total monetary penalty is $2.3 billion," said Assistant U.S. Attorney Alexandra Smith.

The 1MDB scandal involved the theft of billions of dollars, which was allegedly laundered by associates of then-Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, who was convicted on corruption charges in Malaysia in July.

The scheme also ensnared former Republican and Trump fundraiser Elliott Broidy, who pleaded guilty earlier this week to violating federal lobbying laws.

Broidy agreed to take millions of dollars in exchange for trying to persuade the Trump administration to drop the investigation into 1MDB and Jho Low, a Malaysian businessman charged in the theft.

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courtneyk/iStockBy CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- Weekly unemployment filings dipped below the 800,000 mark for the first time in months, falling to 787,000 last week, the Department of Labor said Thursday.

This is the lowest number of weekly jobless claims since March, when the pandemic clobbered the U.S. labor market and the tally of initial unemployment filings peaked at some 6.9 million in a single week.

While the drop is a welcome sign for an economy still entrenched in a pandemic-induced financial crisis, the figure still remains well above pre-pandemic levels. It also dwarfs the previous record for initial claims set in 1982.

Some seven months into the COVID-19 crisis, the U.S. economy has clawed back approximately half of the 22 million jobs lost in March and April. The weekly unemployment claims tally has stagnated around the 800,000 mark for the past few months, showing that the new layoffs are persisting at alarmingly high rates.

The new layoffs also come as hopes for new stimulus or jobless aid remains in limbo as lawmakers struggle to agree.

Meanwhile, the government also said Thursday that more than 23 million people are still claiming some form of unemployment assistance as of the week ending Oct. 3 -- more than 20 times what that figure was during the same week in 2019.

States that saw the largest increase in initial unemployment filings for the week ending Oct. 10 were California, Illinois and Massachusetts, the DOL said Thursday. States that saw the largest decrease during that same week were Michigan, North Carolina and Virginia.

The unemployment rate was 7.9% in September. This is more than double what it was in February, before the pandemic hit.

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Pureradiancephoto/iStock

By AARON KATERSKY, LUKE BARR and ALEXANDER MALLIN, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- The Justice Department announced an $8 billion settlement with Purdue Pharma, the OxyContin maker widely accused of fueling the nation's opioid crisis that has been blamed for more than 400,000 American deaths in the last 20 years.

The settlement resolves criminal and civil investigations into how Purdue Pharma aggressively marketed its powerful painkillers but the staggering amount is largely symbolic. The company is tied up in bankruptcy proceedings and lacks the assets to pay the full amount.

The Sacklers, the wealthy family that controls the company, will separately pay $225 million to resolve civil claims.

The settlement agreement does not prevent family members or company executives from being prosecuted in the future.

The Sackler family said family members who served on the Pharma's board of directors acted "ethically and lawfully," which would be proven in "the upcoming release of company documents," a statement from family on Wedensday read.

"We reached today’s agreement in order to facilitate a global resolution that directs substantial funding to communities in need, rather than to years of legal proceedings," the statement continued.

"The abuse and diversion of prescription opioids has contributed to a national tragedy of addiction and deaths, in addition to those caused by illicit street opioids," said Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey A. Rosen in a statement. "With criminal guilty pleas, a federal settlement of more than $8 billion, and the dissolution of a company and repurposing its assets entirely for the public's benefit, the resolution in today's announcement re-affirms that the Department of Justice will not relent in its multi-pronged efforts to combat the opioids crisis."

"This resolution does not provide anybody with a pass on the criminal side," said Rachel Honig, an assistant U.S. attorney in New Jersey.

The company is pleading guilty on three counts: one charge of defrauding the United States and two anti-kickback-related charges.

"Purdue deeply regrets and accepts responsibility for the misconduct detailed by the Department of Justice in the agreed statement of facts," said Stephen Miller, Purdue Pharma's chairman of the board in a statement released Wednesday.

Miller said resolving the DOJ's investigation was an "important step in our bankruptcy process."

The company will operate under different ownership, will be overseen by new trustees and will offer "milllions of doses of livesaving opioid addiction treatment and overdose" medicine for free or "at cost," per the company's statement.

"The department will not relent to combat the opioid problem," Deputy Attorney General Jeffery Rosen said at a press conference on Wednesday.

Rosen said that according to the plea agreement, and subject to bankruptcy court approval, Purdue Pharma will be "be dissolved and won't exist in its current form."

Two dozen states, however, have opposed Purdue's plans to turn itself into a public trust.

"DOJ failed," said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey. "Justice in this case requires exposing the truth and holding the perpetrators accountable, not rushing a settlement to beat an election. I am not done with Purdue and the Sacklers, and I will never sell out the families who have been calling for justice for so long."

"While our country continues to recover from the pain and destruction left by the Sacklers' greed, this family has attempted to evade responsibility and lowball the millions of victims of the opioid crisis," New York Attorney General Letitia James said Wednesday. "Today's deal doesn't account for the hundreds of thousands of deaths or millions of addictions caused by Purdue Pharma and the Sackler family. Instead, it allows billionaires to keep their billions without any accounting for how much they really made. From the beginning, we've aimed to unearth how much the Sacklers actually profited and how much they continue to hide away. While no amount of money can ever compensate the pain that so many now know, we will continue to litigate our case through the courts to secure every cent we can to limit future opioid addictions. We are committed to holding the Sacklers and others responsible for the role they played in fueling the opioid crisis."

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Melpomenem/iStockBy PENELOPE LOPEZ, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Astronaut Ellen Ochoa has a message for the next generation of Latinx students who are aspiring to work in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) fields: "We need you."

“We need your minds. We need your creativity,” she told ABC News.

Ochoa, a first generation Mexican-American, made history in the Latinx community as NASA's first Hispanic astronaut. She took her first space flight aboard the space shuttle Discovery in 1993. She was also the first Hispanic director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center and spent nearly 1,000 hours in space during four shuttle missions.

As the chair of the National Science Board, Ochoa is constantly championing a more inclusive work environment.

“Look at the demographics of our country. They are changing … we have to involve the people in our country. And increasingly, of course, that is people of some kind of Latino or Hispanic heritage,” she said.

For young Latinx students, working in the STEM fields is no longer something out of reach.

“STEM fields offer a unique opportunity to change the world, one person at a time,” said India Carranza, a first generation Puerto Rican and Salvadorian high school junior who aspires to be a physiotherapist. “And being able to help people through their paths and different journeys is one of the unique opportunities of the STEM field.”

Today, Latinx individuals make up nearly 20% of the U.S population and yet just 7% of the STEM workforce.

Among these innovative leaders is trailblazer Jose Hernandez. His dedication and tenacity as a farm worker led him to accomplish his dream of becoming an astronaut.

Hernandez’s resilience has taught many about the importance of never giving up on their dreams.

“NASA rejected me not once, twice or three times. It was 11 rejections," he said. "It wasn't until my 12th attempt that I finally got selected and invited to be part of the 19th class of U.S. NASA astronauts. So perseverance is key."

Louvere Walker-Hannon's triumph within the field of mathematics has led her to become one of the prominent STEM leaders for Afro-Latinx girls.

Walker-Hannon, who takes pride in her Afro-Panamanian roots, said, “Representation matters and it matters in all forms, whether it's visually or in other categories. There are many times when you can walk into an environment and you may be the only person, one of the few that looks like you ... so you deserve to have that seat at the table.”

Organizations like NASA’s HOLA program, The Hispanic Outreach Leadership Alliance, work diligently to help foster upcoming Latinx STEM leaders.

“HOLA tries to engage the community and advocate in a couple of different ways," said Magdiel Santana, chair of HOLA. "So, from a student and educational perspective, we try to invite students to a lot of our events. And we've had students connected with other scientists and engineers to provide them an opportunity for that one-on-one experience.”

As an influential leader in STEM, Santana believes “it's incredibly important to have Latinos in STEM leadership positions because it's a matter of representation.”

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schwartstock/iStockBY: LEIGHTON SCHNEIDER, ABC NEWS

(NEW YORK) -- Canadian green start-up Nexii Buildings Solutions Inc. believes they have a solution to the carbon emission problem in construction.

Its product Nexiite, a proprietary material that allows for rapid construction, is a near-zero carbon alternative to cement, a highly carbon-intensive material. 

Greenhouse gas emissions are a big issue in construction. The 2019 Global Status Report for Buildings and Construction found that 39% of carbon emissions in 2018 came from buildings and construction, 11% came from manufacturing materials such as steel, glass, and cement. 

Nexii CEO Stephen Sidwell tells ABC Audio there needs to be a new way of constructing buildings to help slow climate change and support a growing population around the world. 

“All the buildings on the planet are expected to double in the next 40 years. That's the equivalent of a New York City being built every month for the next 40 years,” said Sidwell. 

Nexii's goal is to build near net-zero or net-zero buildings, meaning the buildings will produce as much or nearly as much energy as it uses each year. 

“In the construction process, we know that we have substantially lower embodied carbons at the same time in our building system compared to other building systems. It's a combination of those embodied carbons going into the building and then the lower operating costs, or energy costs. The energy that's required to operate our building is also going to be substantially lower,” said Sidwell. 

Embodied carbons are the sum of all the greenhouse gas emissions involved with the construction of a building, including the mining, manufacturing, or any transportation of any materials.

The company can build brand new buildings or do retrofits of existing ones. To date, they have completed 10 buildings, including retrofits. 

The product is manufactured off-site, then shipped to the building site leading to faster building times. 

Sidwell said a retrofit could include a high-performance envelope system around the outside of an existing building. 

“You can essentially think of us as almost like we can put a fleece-lined rain jacket over a building at a cost-effective, artistic, beautiful way,” said Sidwell. 

He adds that retrofitting old buildings will be key to addressing energy consumption in buildings and that the retrofit market is expected to be three to five times larger than the new construction market. 

The company has been working with the Rocky Mountain Institute, a non-profit working to transform global energy, on retrofitting solutions in the United States. 

Sidwell says the buildings are fire and water-resistant and that they’ve gone through seismic testing at UC-Berkeley. 

“If the bathtub leaks on the sixth floor all the way to the basement, you're not going to be worried about how much water damage there is. None of the materials that we use are biodegradable. There's no potential for mold, mildew, rot, or insect devastation,” said Sidwell. 

Even though Nexii is a high tech solution, customers will still see savings. 

“Our price is going to be the same as traditional building materials, but our speed of build is roughly seventy-five percent faster than traditional building systems. The developer would be able to save all of those financing costs, the overhead costs, the insurance costs. Overall, it is more affordable,” said Sidwell. 

Currently, Nexii has one plant in Squamish, British Columbia, but they are building several plants around Canada and the United States, including in Vancouver, Canada that should be operational in February and one in Pennsylvania, which Sidwell says will be operational by the end of the second quarter of 2021. 

“The intention is that we would have 10 plants across the US within the next 18 months or so. We would have national penetration across the U.S, ” says Sidwell. 

He believes each plant will be able to produce about 100 buildings, depending on the size, each year once they are completely up and running. 

Sidwell says they have also created a global licensing program that will allow plants to be built internationally. 

“We have had discussions with developers [and] building material companies literally around the world. And we are intending next year to start our global expansion strategy at the same time,“ said Sidwell. 

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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Wolterk/iStockBy JACQUELINE LAUREAN YATES, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Walmart announced its "Black Friday Deals for Days" events last week, and now the retailer is giving shoppers a look at some of the best deals.

Starting Nov. 4, the company is rolling out several sale events through Nov. 27 with discounted prices available in-store and online.

Each event will feature a range of items like home goods and electronics to apparel and toys.

Walmart will also be hosting its biggest mobile phone event with deals on everything from iPhones to Samsung Galaxy phones.

"Here's the millionth reason to 💙 us — we're giving you a sneak peek at our Black Friday deals," Walmart said in a video.

Other standout products featured include Apple AirPods, an Instant Pot, an HP Chromebook and several other items.

Copyright © 2020, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

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tirc83/iStockBy KELLY MCCARTHY, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- New York City diners could soon notice a new item on the bottom of their bill at bars and restaurants during the pandemic.

A new option for restaurants to add a surcharge went into effect Friday after it was approved last month by the City Council. The recovery measure is meant to help hard-hit restaurants amid the continued turbulence in operations changes and safety protocols while attempting to keep their kitchens open for business.

While the measure, sponsored by Council Member Joe Borelli and supported by Mayor Bill de Blasio, is only temporary for now, it will allow food service establishments to add a "COVID-19 Recovery Charge" of up to 10% of a customer’s total bill.

Andrew Rigie, the executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance told ABC News that like what's permitted elsewhere across New York state and across the country, this recovery charge "allows struggling New York City restaurants the option of using a clearly disclosed surcharge, if they so choose, to overcome the expenses of keeping their businesses and workers safe and healthy."

"This bill will give restaurants the freedom they need to increase revenue to help cover rapidly rising labor and compliance costs and keep them in business," Borelli said in a statement. "Restaurants in New York City have been getting crushed by massively increasing costs over the last five years and their options for increasing revenue have been narrowing. This new policy is coming as a result of the impact of COVID-19 on our city, but I have every intention of making this change permanent."

Rigie added that "it also supports restaurants in covering rent and labor, and costly but essential outdoor dining and heating installations that will be critical to attracting customers and keeping them comfortable during the colder winter months."

Restaurants owners who actually plan to add the new charge are required to clearly disclose the change on their menus and a customer's bill. This new surcharge will be applied before sales tax on checks and is separate from tips.

Some restaurant owners have voiced concerns of adding a few more bucks to a customers tab for fear that it could deter diners, but others are more open since it's optional and even a small fee could help cover new overhead costs such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitation.

Bernard Collin, general manager of La Goulue in Manhattan's Upper East Side, told ABC News that the option to add the surcharge, while well intended, could be potentially problematic for direct tips for waitstaff.

"The restaurant industry as a whole is extremely grateful to City Council for giving the option to add this 10% charge. That being said, we are discussing this supplemental charge internally and how it will impact our loyal -- and new -- customers," he said. "Not to mention, there is also concern that implementing the surcharge could take away from guests wiliness to tip the same gratuity to the staff."

He also reminded customers that regardless of whether a restaurant adopts this charge, diners should "always consider tipping industry standard of 18 to 20% if they have a good dining experience, if not more for having an exceptional one."

"If all guests were to do this when dining out, it would not only show an appreciation for the profession during these challenging times but also be a positive impact on the industry," Collin continued.

Another New York City restaurant owner, Pedro Zamora of Cantina Rooftop, told ABC News it's a "great idea because it can help" the hard hit businesses amid the pandemic, but assured that they are not currently adding the surcharge to its customers tabs.

Once it's safe to resume full capacity indoor dining, the surcharge will only be permitted for another 90 days from that date.

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