Business

Samsung vice president sentenced to jail over union-busting, Korean media reports

iStock(SEOUL, South Korea) -- A vice president at Samsung Electronics was sentenced to a 16-month jail term in Seoul for his involvement in attempting to break up a labor union, according to local reports on Friday.

Kang Kyung-hoon, an executive at South Korea's biggest company, was handed the sentence from the Seoul Central District Court for breaching labor union laws and obstruction of business, according to Yonhap News Agency.

He can still appeal the sentence and was not taken into custody, the agency reported.

Kang was accused of attempting to break up a labor union at the Samsung-run amusement park Everland in Yongin, South Korea, between 2011 and 2018. He was also accused of putting union members under surveillance as well as illegally collecting personal information on them and their families.

He faces a separate trial next week over separate allegations of union-busting for workers at Samsung Electronics, according to Yonhap.

Trade union membership in South Korea teeters at around 10%, similar to rates in the U.S. Both South Korea and the U.S. have some of the lowest rates of union membership among OECD countries, according to the organization's data.

Samsung Electronics did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment Friday.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Ford recalls more than 500K pickups over post-crash interior fire risk

iStock(DETROIT) -- Ford Motor Company announced a recall Friday of more than 500,000 pickup trucks over concerns that the carpet flooring could catch fire after a crash.

The recall is centered on certain 2017-19 models of its Super Duty SuperCrew vehicles, according to Ford, the second largest automaker in the United States.

In the affected trucks, the front seat belt pretensioner -- a mechanism that is supposed to deploy during a crash to tighten up any slack in the belt -- could "generate excessive sparks," "ignite the carpet," or cause any potential fire to "spread within the vehicle," Ford explained in a statement.

The Michigan-based company says it is aware of at least one report in the U.S. of a fire that is "related to this condition," but that it has not been made aware of any accidents or injuries caused by the issue.

The recall affects 490,574 Ford vehicles in the U.S, 56,112 in Canada, and 852 in Mexico.

In September 2018, Ford issued a similar safety recall for around two million vehicles in the U.S.

"Ford’s investigation found that some front seat belt pretensioners can generate excessive sparks when they deploy," Ford said in a statement in September.

The company said that recall was connected to 17 reports of smoke or fire in the U.S. and six in Canada.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


How BMW grew South Carolina peach orchards into a car capital

BMW(GREER, S.C.) -- German automaker BMW took a chance 27 years ago when it purchased 900 acres of peach orchards in rural Greer, South Carolina.

The once-booming area had collapsed along with the textile industry. Cheaper manufacturing overseas forced longtime mills to shutter and thousands of workers lost their jobs.

Few locals had heard of the automotive giant when BMW executives announced in June 1992 that the company was building its first full production facility outside of Germany in their hometown.

"There was a lot of excitement about BMW when they were coming, but not everyone knew what that meant," Russell Roman, a senior engineer at BMW, told ABC News. "It was a blip on the radar."

Roman was one of the first employees to be hired. He, too, was unfamiliar with BMW and had never worked for an automaker. In 26 years he watched as the plant transformed into BMW's largest facility in the world.

"It's much more competitive to get a job now at the plant," he said. "The barriers to entry have increased."

These days BMW's SUVs and crossovers are frequently spotted on the roads in Greer and the now vibrant city of Greenville. Plant Spartanburg celebrated its 25th anniversary this year and employs the more than 11,000 workers who build the majority of BMWs sold in America.

The first BMW to roll off the production line in September 1994 was a 318i sedan. More than 4.75 million vehicles have since been built in the state and the 7 million-square-foot facility has undergone six expansions. The BMW Group -- which also includes Rolls-Royce and MINI -- has invested $10.6 billion in the facility, including millions of dollars on the company's production of PHEV (plug-in hybrid electric vehicle) models.

The BMW Group has been the highest value vehicle exporter from the U.S. for the last five years, according to U.S. Department of Commerce data.

BMW is proof that "Germans contribute so much to the U.S. economy," Doug Woodward, a professor of economics at the University of South Carolina, told ABC News.

According to his research, BMW supports nearly 121,000 jobs in the U.S. and the company boosts annual U.S. gross domestic product by $15.8 billion. For every 10 jobs that BMW creates, 90 more jobs "are sustained through an economic ripple effect on the supplier network and through related consumer spending on U.S. goods and services," he said.

The Munich-based automaker received about $200 million in tax breaks from the state government (accounting for inflation) but it's been "a net gain" for South Carolina, Woodward said.

"BMW has generated so much in tax revenue, the incentives have paid for themselves. We're so fortunate to have this investment," he argued.

Woodward said Greenville might not have been what it is today -- a desirable, in-demand city to live and work -- if BMW had chosen to build its plant elsewhere.

"The region was struggling when BMW decided to move here," Woodward said. "BMW has done so much to boost the economy of Greer and Greenville -- it's been a complete turnaround. BMW is the anchor of the local community."

Robert Underwood, a business professor at Furman University, remembers when Greenville "wasn't a safe place 20 years ago."

"Now it's flourishing and the local economy is stronger," he told ABC News. "BMW's investment came at a critical time for South Carolina. It's a great illustration of the merits of globalization."

Underwood said BMW's success in the area has paved the way for other companies -- many of them foreign -- to invest in the state. He estimates that at least 50 foreign firms from 38 different countries have set up offices in the upstate region.

"South Carolina has proved to be a very good place to do business," he said.

BMW's results in the state likely convinced Volvo Cars in 2015 to build its first U.S. plant some 200 miles away in Ridgeville, South Carolina. Workers there manufacture the company's S60 mid-size sedan and production of the XC90 SUV begins in 2022. Volvo says it expects to generate about $15 billion in economic activity in the state and support around 9,000 jobs.

South Carolina was already the manufacturing base for the French company Michelin, and Bosch, the German automotive parts maker that builds advanced fuel injectors and anti-lock brake system components in North Charleston. Their longtime presence, along with the Port of Charleston, were two key reasons BMW selected Spartanburg County to build a plant.

Today, there are 400 auto-related companies in the Palmetto State that employ 66,000 South Carolinians, according to Underwood. The combined economic impact is $27 billion, he said.

"Global icons such as BMW and Michelin have contributed appreciably to our region's transformation from an aging textile hub to a world class center of global manufacturing and innovation," he said.

South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster, who attended the plant's 25th anniversary celebration in June, hailed BMW for creating "a manufacturing renaissance in South Carolina, which is unequal in any other state in the United States."

"The presence of this company has changed everything in the trajectory and the future of our state," he said. "[The investment] is going to grow and continue to produce positive results that no one could have dreamed at the time."

Sky Foster, deputy manager of corporate communications at BMW and plant employee No. 5, said she was tasked with the recruiting process when the plant first opened. More than 160,000 resumes were submitted for 100 jobs, with people from all over the world applying, she said.

"This was an opportunity to work with a world class organization," she told ABC News.

Unlike General Motors, Ford Motor Co. and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), BMW's plant is non-union (South Carolina is a "right-to-work" state) and employee attempts to unionize in 2004 failed.

"People have pride in their jobs," Foster told ABC News. "It's an exciting place to work ... with a lifelong career path. There's constant learning here [and] we want to remain on the cutting edge. We have not stopped growing since Day 1."

Part of that growth includes training employees on the company's latest battery technology. Employees in Spartanburg will assemble batteries on-site for the 2020 X5 xDrive45e Sports Activity Vehicle and X3 xDrive302, more than doubling the plant's capacity for battery installation. Employees in this division were required to complete an extensive program in battery production, robotics and electrical inline quality inspection.

"These are 21st manufacturing jobs," said Woodward. "People want to work here. The plant is running smoothly. Workers are happy."

All of BMW's sport-utility vehicles -- the X3, X4, X5, X6 and X7 -- in addition to their high-performance variants are produced in the bustling plant, with production totaling 356,749 units in 2018, according to BMW. More than 1,500 BMWs roll off the line each day and 70 percent of the plant's production is exported to 125 world markets.

"There is little awareness [in the U.S.] of where the cars are made," Woodward said. "Most consumers think they're coming from Germany. Even Chinese customers don't know."

Woodward, however, said China's retaliation against tariffs imposed by the Trump administration may be even more of a challenge for BMW.

"China was a big export market for the South Carolina plant," he said. "The plant specializes in the X series, which was in high demand in China over the past decade. BMW has had to adjust its global strategy and shift some production to its China factories in Shenyang. The trade war has real costs for major exporting car companies like BMW and has caused considerable uncertainty."

A BMW spokesman told ABC News, "Production at Plant Spartanburg has been unaffected and will be on record level this year."

Roman, the engineer, said BMW has "proven" that South Carolina could be the future of the automotive industry.

"We have a very dedicated group of people here," he said. "It's not easy to build cars. But it's a passion to show up every day."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Old Navy, Postmates partner up for fast holiday delivery

iStock(NEW YORK) -- Holiday shopping just got easier with Old Navy and Postmates latest partnership.

The companies have teamed up this month for an on-demand shopping service, and customers who use Old Navy's "Buy Online, Pickup In-Store" feature will reap all the benefits of avoiding heavy traffic and crowded lines.

When customers receive their "Ready for Pickup" emails, they can select "Same Day Delivery" which in turn leads to Postmates delivering right to your doorstep.

"Last year, we launched Buy Online, Pickup In-Store, offering customers the option to pick up an online order in their local store within two hours," said Jamie Gersch, Old Navy Global CMO in a statement. "Partnering with Postmates to provide same-day, on-demand delivery creates an even deeper convenience proposition during the bustling holiday shopping season."

This new shopping experience will be available in over 4,000 stores that Postmates operates in, and if you are a last-minute shopper, from Dec. 21 to Dec. 23, you can enjoy absolutely free on-demand delivery.

"The term 'Postmate It' has become synonymous with on-demand delivery and that includes clothing orders which have grown 60% year-over-year on Postmates," said Eric Edge, SVP Marketing and Communications at Postmates in a statement.

"This partnership with Old Navy showcases the power of two important brands collaborating to meet the demand of consumers and evolve the way we shop," he continued.

Sounds like a win-win during the busiest shopping time of the season!

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Ring security camera hacks see homeowners subjected to racial abuse, ransom demands

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Multiple U.S. families have reported incidents of Ring camera systems being hacked in recent days, raising questions as to whether the systems are allowing hackers access to people's homes, without ever having to set foot inside.

Owners of Ring security cameras in Mississippi, Georgia, Florida and Texas have reported incidents where hackers tormented families with racial slurs, encouraged children into destructive behavior and demanded a ransom in Bitcoin.

"I can't even put into words how violated I feel. It really is like my worst nightmare," Mississippi mom Ashley Lemay told ABC News' Good Morning America.

Lemay installed a Ring camera in her daughters' room to keep an eye on them while she worked overnight shifts as a nurse.

Only four days after installing it, her 8-year-old daughter, Alyssa, heard music and a banging noise coming from the room where the camera was installed.

Alyssa says that when she began looking for the source of the noise, she heard a voice saying, "I'm Santa Claus, don't you want to be my best friend?"

Lemay says the voice taunted Alyssa and encouraged her to mess up her room and break her TV before her dad came into the room and shut the camera off.

"I was even scared of my room for a few days. I'm still a little bit scared of it," Alyssa told GMA.

In response to the incidents, Ring said in a statement, "Customer trust is important to us and we take the security of our devices seriously. While we are still investigating this issue and are taking appropriate steps to protect our devices based on our investigation, we are able to confirm this incident is in no way related to a breach or compromise of Ring's security."

"Due to the fact that customers often use the same username and password for their various accounts and subscriptions, bad actors often re-use credentials stolen or leaked from one service on other services," Ring continued. "As a precaution, we highly and openly encourage all Ring users to enable two-factor authentication on their Ring account, add Shared Users (instead of sharing login credentials), use strong passwords, and regularly change their passwords."

In Georgia, a couple who asked not to be identified say they were horrified to hear the voice of a hacker in their bedroom via a camera they had installed to watch their puppy while they were at work.

"I see the blue light come on, and so I'm texting my boyfriend saying, you know, 'Why are you watching? We're laying down. We're about to go to sleep.' He's like, 'What are you talking about?'" the woman told ABC affiliate WSB-TV in Atlanta.

Seconds later, she said she heard someone clapping and saying, "I can see you in the bed! ... Come on! Wake the f--- up!"

"I was terrified. I mean, I literally could not move my body," said the woman, who reported the incident to Ring.

For the Brown family of Cape Coral, Florida, the hack of their Ring camera brought racist abuse into their home.

Video from the camera taken Sunday night shows a home alarm being triggered, followed by a voice spewing racial abuse through the camera.

"Is your kid a baboon, like the monkey?" said the hacker. The abuse continued for three minutes, until the family removed the batteries from the camera.

Disturbingly, the family said their 15-year-old son did not appear on the camera during the incident, leading the family to believe the hacker had been observing them for longer than just that night, according to Naples ABC affiliate WZVN-TV.

In Grand Prairie, Texas, a couple was rudely awakened on Monday when a hacker took over their camera system and demanded payment.

"I was asleep and our Ring alarm was going off like an intruder had entered our home," Tania Amador told ABC affiliate WFAA-TV. "Then we heard a voice coming from our camera."

In video captured by the camera of the incident, a voice can be heard laughing and then saying, "Ring support! Ring support!"

It continues, saying, "We would like to notify you that your account has been terminated by a hacker."

It then says, "Pay this 50 bitcoin ransom or you will get terminated yourself," before the hacker accessed Amador's doorbell camera, saying, "I'm outside your front door."

"Very scary to hear a threat shouted over the camera for a ransom," Amador told WFAA. "The fact that the person was watching and we don't know for how long is even scarier."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Ugly holiday sweater can get passengers priority boarding on Alaska Airlines

Alaska Airlines(NEW YORK) -- Alaska Airlines is encouraging travelers to get dressed in holiday gear for National Ugly Sweater Day.

The one-day only promotion will give guests who wear any kind of holiday sweater priority boarding on Dec. 20, according to the airline's press release.

"We know holiday travel can be stressful for some, which is why we've made sure flying with the 'merrier carrier' this time of year is an experience that brings nonstop joy to all our guests," Natalie Bowman, managing director of marketing and advertising for Alaska Airlines, said in a statement. "Celebrating Ugly Sweater Day is just another way we're making the holidays a priority."

The airline's lounges will also feature holiday-inspired beverages and cocktails, including snowflake sprinkled lattes and peppermint mochas and a hot toddy cocktail available on National Ugly Sweater Day.

Alaska Airlines even has a holiday-themed "Snowplane," which will fly across the airline's network through the winter ski season.

To keep the holiday cheer going, the airline also partnered with Starbucks for a special happy hour on Dec. 12 with buy one, get one free beverages, which will reoccur every Thursday through the end of the year.

The two companies are also offering 20% off Alaska Airlines flights with a discount code through the coffee company's mobile app when booking through Dec. 13.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Couple says stranger hacked into bedroom Ring security camera

Dustin Brantley(ATLANTA) -- A couple in Georgia said they were terrified recently when a stranger hacked into their Ring security camera set up in their bedroom.

The couple, who asked not to be identified, said they'd bought and installed a camera three weeks ago, so they could watch their puppy, Beau, while they were at work.

On Monday night, however, the woman said as she lay in bed after putting the dog in a crate she heard a cough over the camera.

"I see the blue light come on, and so I'm texting my boyfriend saying, you know, 'Why are you watching? We're laying down. We're about to go to sleep.' He's like 'What are you talking about?'" she told ABC affiliate WSB-TV in Atlanta.

Seconds later, she said she heard someone clapping and saying, "I can see you in the bed! ... Come on! Wake the f--- up!"

"I was terrified. I mean, I literally could not move my body," said the woman, who recorded the stranger with her cellphone.

The voice then began talking to the couple's dog. Her boyfriend said the camera was on a dresser and looked down at the cage where the dog slept.

The couple reported the incident to Ring and said they also planned to file a report with the police.

"I just want people to be aware because we got this Ring camera thinking about one thing, which was our dog, watching our puppy," she told WSB-TV.

"Ring should have the safety precautions already set in place where you never have to worry about it," the woman's boyfriend said.

He told ABC News Wednesday that Ring had told him that his data had likely been stolen.

The couple told the affiliate that they'd checked the settings and learned that their Ring security camera had been hacked on four separate occasions; it was not clear whether it was the same stranger from Monday.

In a statement, Ring said: "Customer trust is important to us and we take the security of our devices seriously. While we are still investigating this issue and are taking appropriate steps to protect our devices based on our investigation, we are able to confirm this incident is in no way related to a breach or compromise of Ring’s security.

"Due to the fact that customers often use the same username and password for their various accounts and subscriptions, bad actors often re-use credentials stolen or leaked from one service on other services. As a precaution, we highly and openly encourage all Ring users to enable two-factor authentication on their Ring account, add Shared Users (instead of sharing login credentials), use strong passwords, and regularly change their passwords," the company also stated.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


New owner of genealogy website GEDmatch vows to protect users from search warrants

iStock(NEW YORK) -- The new owners of GEDmatch, a third-party genealogy site that's helped investigators crack cases using DNA, have vowed to protect users' privacy by fighting against police search warrants.

Verogen, Inc., the California-based forensic genomics company that recently bought GEDmatch, announced this week that it would ensure ongoing privacy protections remain in place.

In May, GEDmatch announced a change to its policy that would require participants to upload their personal DNA to the database and manually "opt in" if they wanted law enforcement to have access to their information. Before, users were opted in automatically.

The terms of service will not change, with respect to the use, purposes and processing of user data, Verogen CEO Brett Williams said in a statement.

The database currently has more than 1.3 million customer profiles, according to Verogen.

"We are steadfast in our commitment to protecting users' privacy and will fight any future attempts to access data of those who have not opted in," Williams said.

Up to 70 violent crimes have been solved as a result of genealogy searches, according to the company. GEDmatch was the tool California authorities used to identify and catch the suspected Golden State Killer.

The technology works by taking DNA submitted by suspects' family members and creating a much larger family tree than those built using law enforcement databases, such as the Combined DNA Index System, aka CODIS, in which an exact match is needed in most states, genealogy expert CeCe Moore told ABC News earlier this year.

Other direct-to-consumer DNA companies, including AncestryDNA and 23AndMe, do not allow their DNA samples to be searched by authorities, Moore said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


First All-Electric Plane Takes Flight in Canada

Courtesy of Harbour Air (VANCOUVER, British Columbia) -- Harbour Air, a seaplane company based in Vancouver, completed the first successful test flight of what they claim will be the world's first all-electric powered commercial airplane on Tuesday.

The ePlane, a retrofitted six-passenger DHC-2 de Havilland Beaver, is powered by a 750-horsepower (560 kW) magni500 propulsion system built by Redmond, Washington based electric motor company magniX.

The test flight took off from the Fraser River near Vancouver International Airport and lasted about 10 minutes. It was flown by Harbour Air CEO and founder Greg McDougall.

"The company is extremely proud to be pioneering this change in aviation," McDougall told ABC Audio on Wednesday. "We feel that somebody has to lead the way in terms of getting through the regulatory side of it and once we do that a lot of people will be able to follow in our footsteps."

Harbour Air and magniX joined forces 11 months ago for this project after McDougall decided on building an electric powered commercial seaplane fleet.

"It was really a natural partnership because they had the technology, they had the will, they had a mandate to get it done by the end of the year," say's McDougall. "It took us literally 15 minutes to figure out we were, so to speak, a match made in heaven."  

The propulsion system was first introduced at the Paris Air Show in June. MagniX CEO Roei Ganzarski says seeing the system work is like watching a baby grow.

“It was an amazing feeling of seeing the fruits of your labor start,” Ganzarski told ABC Audio. “Now that it’s flown in a commercial aircraft, it’s about how do we cultivate it, how do we grow it, how do we expand it and allow it to have more to happen. The potential for this commercial aviation propulsion system is tremendous and it’s our role to harness that and fulfil it.”

The current system allows for a range of 100 miles before the need to be re-charged. Flights can last up to half an hour with a 30 minute re-charge after each flight.

The companies said they will now begin the certification and approval process for the propulsion system, which should take two years, before the retrofitting of the remaining aircraft in Harbour Air's fleet.

The goal is to have the fleet flying customers by 2022.

Harbour Air was founded in 1982 with two seaplanes as a service to the forest industry. It has grown to 40 seaplanes with more than 300 daily flights to 12 locations, including Seattle, with 500,000 thousand passengers each year.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Three arrested for alleged $722 million cryptocurrency 'Ponzi scheme' targeting 'dumb' investors

D-Keine/iStock(Los Angeles) -- Three people were arrested -- and two more remain at large -- for involvement in an alleged "high-tech Ponzi scheme" that defrauded $722 million out of investors using the "complex world of cryptocurrency," according to federal authorities.

The alleged scheme includes a trail of evidence indicating they were targeting "dumb" investors and "building this whole model on the backs of idiots," investigators added.

"The indictment describes the defendants’ use of the complex world of cryptocurrency to take advantage of unsuspecting investors," U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said in a Department of Justice statement on Tuesday announcing the arrests.

"What they allegedly did amounts to little more than a modern, high-tech Ponzi scheme that defrauded victims of hundreds of millions of dollars," Carpentino added. "Working with our law enforcement partners here and across the country, we will ensure that these scammers are held to account for their crimes."

Matthew Brent Goettsche, 37, and Jobadiah Sinclair Week, 38, of Colorado, were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to offer and sell unregistered securities. Joseph Franks Abel, 49, of California, also arrested as part of the alleged scheme, was charged with conspiracy to offer and sell unregistered securities.

Two other defendants remain at large, authorities said. Their identities are under seal and were not released.

The men allegedly lived "lavishly" while running the scheme, which began more than five years ago.

The three men arrested "are accused of deploying elaborate tactics to lure thousands of victims with promises of large returns on their investments in a bitcoin mining pool, an advanced method of profiting on cryptocurrency," Paul Delacourt, the assistant director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, said in a statement.

"The defendants allegedly made hundreds of millions of dollars by continuing to recruit new investors over several years while spending victims' money lavishly," Delacourt added.

John R. Tafur, the special agent in charge at the IRS Criminal Investigation's Newark Field Office described their alleged scheme as a "classic con game with a virtual twist."

From April 2014 until this month, the men allegedly ran BitClub Network, which rewarded investors for recruiting new investors and brought in money from them in exchange for shares in the apparent crypto mining pools.

Goettsche told the others to target "dumb" investors, who he referred to as "sheep," authorities said. At one point, he said he was "building this whole model on the backs of idiots," according the DOJ.

In a particularly damning exchange in February 2015, Goettsche told a colleague to "bump up the daily mining earnings starting today by 60%." His colleague said back: "that is not sustainable, that is ponzi teritori [sic] and fast cash-out ponzi ... but sure," authorities said.

Abel and Weeks promoted BitClub Network to investors around the country, law enforcement said. In one promotional video, Abel told investors that BitClub Network was "too big to fail."

In September 2017, Goettsche directed a colleague at BitClub Network to "[d]rop mining earnings significantly starting now," so that he could "retire RAF!!! (rich as f***)."

The men were arrested across the country: Goettsche in Colorado, Weeks in Florida and Abel in California. Their initial court appearances are scheduled in the districts of their arrests, according to authorities.

It is not immediately clear if the three arrested have obtained attorneys. Attempts by ABC News to reach them on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

The DOJ is encouraging victims of the BitClub Network scheme to come forward at a designated website.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


What we searched for in 2019: Disney+, Cameron Boyce and Nipsey Hussle top Google's list

Erikona/iStock(New York) -- This year people wanted to know about Disney , Area 51 and where Sri Lanka is, according to Google's annual Year in Search report, which gives insight into some of the top news, trends and curiosities we all had in 2019.

As the search engine has cemented itself in our society as a place people turn to for information and to ask the questions they may be too shy to voice in person, the data set has become a unique source of information on what was going on in the world over the past year.

Across the country, the top search of the year on Google was for Disney , the hyped-up streaming service that promised the beloved Disney catalog on digital. This was followed by searches for the two unexpected celebrity deaths: Disney Channel star Cameron Boyce, who died of a seizure in July, and rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was fatally shot in Los Angeles this March.

The record-smashing hit "Old Town Road" was the most-searched song of the year.

Despite the birth of a new royal baby in May, the most-searched baby of the year was "baby yoda."

Here is a glimpse of who we were in 2019, based on our Google searches.


Top Google searches of the year for 2019


1. Disney Plus

2. Cameron Boyce

3. Nipsey Hussle

4. Hurricane Dorian

5. Antonio Brown

6. Luke Perry

7. Avengers: Endgame

8. Game of Thrones

9. iPhone 11

10. Jussie Smollett

Top news searches on Google in 2019


1. Hurricane Dorian

2. Notre Dame Cathedral

3. Women's World Cup

4. Area 51 raid

5. Copa America

6. El Paso shooting

7. Sri Lanka

8. Government shutdown

9. Equifax data breach settlement

10. California earthquake

Most-searched people on Google in 2019


1. Antonio Brown

2. Jussie Smollett

3. James Charles

4. Kevin Hart

5. R Kelly

6. 21 Savage

7. Lori Loughlin

8. Jordyn Woods

9. Bryce Harper

10. Robert Kraft

Most-searched movies on Google in 2019


1. Avengers: Endgame

2. Captain Marvel

3. Joker

4. Toy Story 4

5. Lion King

6. It Chapter Two

7. Frozen 2

8. Once Upon a Time In Hollywood

9. Midsommar

10. Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark

Most-searched songs on Google in 2019


1. Old Town Road

2. 7 Rings

3. Shallow

4. Sunflower

5. Truth Hurts

6. Lose You To Love Me

7. Sicko Mode

8. thank u, next

9. Act Up

10. Bury a Friend

Most searched 'what is ...?' questions on Google in 2019


1. what is area 51

2. what is a vsco girl

3. what is momo

4. what is a boomer

5. what is quid pro quo

6. what is camp fashion

7. what is disney plus

8. what is bird box about

9. what is a mandalorian

10. what is brexit

Most searched 'where is ...?' questions on Google in 2019


1. where is sri lanka

2. where is the super bowl this year

3. where is area 51

4. where is 21 savage from

5. where is the hurricane now

6. where is xur

7. where is clemson football team from

8. where is gonzaga university located

9. where is stranger things filmed

10. where is pebble beach golf course

Most searched babies on Google in 2019


1. baby yoda

2. baby shark

3. royal baby

4. kim kardashian kanye west baby

5. cardi b baby

6. trey songz baby

7. andy cohen baby

8. shawn johnson baby

9. amy schumer baby

10. hoda kotb baby

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Cheerios adds heart shapes to cereal for first time in 40 years

General Mills, Cheerios(NEW YORK) -- A beloved breakfast has created new shapes with its heart-healthy cereal for the first time.

General Mills has transformed the iconic "Os" inside Cheerios into heart shapes to celebrate the brand's new heart health campaign.

The limited-edition Honey Nut Cheerios cereal has already hit select store shelves, according to a press release, and the yellow-box Cheerios will be available nationwide in January ahead of National Heart Health Month in February.

The new shape will serve as a reminder that living a happy, heart-healthy lifestyle can be fun, easy and delicious.

Cheerios have no artificial flavors or colors and are made with 12 vitamins and minerals.

The high fiber food will be available in two different box sizes for $3.99 and $4.99 respectively.

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, "Eating a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol and high in fruits, vegetables, and grain products that contain fiber may lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce your risk of heart disease."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Hundreds of Nike employees march at company headquarters over treatment of women

Natalie Behring/Getty Images(BEAVERTON, Ore.) -- Almost 400 Nike employees at the company's Oregon headquarters marched in droves to raise awareness of how women staffers can be treated better.

The staff-run walkout at the sportswear company comes approximately a month after running star Mary Cain spoke out about her experiences and alleged mistreatment as a female Nike athlete in the company's Oregon Project for elite runners that was led by embattled running coach Alberto Salazar.

"I joined Nike because I wanted to be the best female athlete ever," Cain, now 23, said in an op-ed published in The New York Times in November 2019. "Instead I was emotionally and physically abused by a system designed by Alberto [Salazar] and endorsed by Nike."

Cain told ABC News' "Good Morning America" that many people at the time "thought that I was living the dream, and in certain ways I thought I would be."

"But nobody cared about me as a person," she added. "I was a product and I didn't know how to cope."

The march -- in which even Nike senior leadership participated on Monday -- was held in front of a building named after Salazar, the company confirmed to ABC News on Tuesday.

At least 400 employees participated in the walkout, some carrying signs that read "Nike is a woman," or "Do the right thing," according to The Willamette Weekly, a local Oregon news organization that first reported the story.

Some signs from the event read: "We believe Mary."

"We respect and welcome employee feedback on matters that are important to them," a Nike spokesperson told ABC News Tuesday.

In September, Salazar also received a four-year ban by the United States Anti-Doping Agency for doping violations. Shortly after, Nike announced it would shut down the Oregon Project.

Salazar has denied many of Cain's claims, and Nike said it was launching an investigation into the allegations.

Cain did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment Tuesday, but tweeted her thanks Monday to those which participated in the event.

My love and thanks to all those that came together at the Nike Walk the Talk event this morning. Company cultures can only change when people stand together. Let’s be that voice of change and show we demand better support for women. Thank you for standing with me. 💛 pic.twitter.com/E0cfzzBtNl

— Mary Cain (@runmarycain) December 9, 2019

"My love and thanks to all those that came together at the Nike Walk the Talk event this morning. Company cultures can only change when people stand together," she wrote. "Let’s be that voice of change and show we demand better support for women. Thank you for standing with me."

In a follow-up tweet Monday, Cain added that if Nike "genuinely wants change, they must allow a third party to run their investigation. Let their employees and community talk freely."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Fashion designer Misha Nonoo on collaborating with the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle

Chris Jackson(NEW YORK) -- Fashion designer Misha Nonoo is a force to be reckoned with in the fashion industry, bringing bold new ideas to manufacturing and collaborating with the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle on a philanthropic campaign.

Nonoo grew up in Bahrain and London and spent a few years studying in Paris, before she moved to New York City in 2009 and took a job with a small tailoring shop in the Garment District.

"When I moved here it was kind of around the financial crisis, it was 10 years ago, and it was really difficult to get a visa, cause of course I'm not an American citizen so I took a job with basically the only company that would sponsor me," Nonoo told ABC News’ Rebecca Jarvis on an episode of "No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis."

While learning how to source fabrics, make patterns and understand the production side of fashion, she spent her spare time creating jackets and coats for herself.

"I happened to on the side, two years later, make eight jackets and coats for myself and I didn't really have any business plan but I guess maybe I was thinking about how I could commercialize it," Nonoo said.

While out at brunch with a group of her girlfriends, a stranger spotted Nonoo’s jacket and asked where she got it. Little did Nonoo know that the stranger happened to be a senior buyer at Intermix and after learning that Nonoo had made the jacket herself, offered for her to come to their office for a meeting.

"Five days later I walked out of her office with a purchase order for $150,000 not having a business incorporated, not having any plan of how I was going to deliver this product in six to twelve weeks time," Nonoo said.

Nonoo has since gone on to be a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Finalist in 2013, having to present in front of fashion icons Anna Wintour and Diane von Furstenberg. She has also been named to Forbes’ "30 Under 30" and Crain’s New York Business’ "40 Under 40", and disrupted the industry when she held the first ever runway fashion show on Instagram in 2015, showing off her Spring/Summer 2016 collection exclusively on the platform and creating a way for brands to show off their products to a broader audience.

"People were afraid to take risks and many people still are, and I think that that is really a big part of what makes you an entrepreneur is when you are willing to put yourself out there and take risks publicly," Nonoo said.

Speaking of taking risks, Nonoo was not interested in using traditional manufacturing methods for her products, but instead sought to create her products piece by piece through manufacturing on demand, giving customers a more unique shopping experience and promoting sustainability by reducing waste of extra products.

In an industry that is encompassed by fast fashion, Nonoo struggled to find a manufacturer domestically or internationally that would partake in her vision of made to order products. After searching coast to coast, Nonoo landed on a small female-owned factory in between Hong Kong and Shenzhen that was willing to take the risk.

"I think that if you knock on enough doors you'll get a break and you'll get an opportunity, but it does take a lot of tenacity," Nonoo said.

One of Nonoo’s best-selling products is the "husband shirt" which took her four months to create because of the level of detail she paid to the fit and the stud details. The shirt has been seen on a variety of celebrities including the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle, a friend of Nonoo’s.

The pair recently collaborated on a project alongside British designers John Lewis & Partners, Marks & Spencer and Jigsaw, for the UK based philanthropy Smart Works, which provides high quality interview clothes and interview training to unemployed women in need.

In Sept. 2019 it was announced that the four retailers alongside the Duchess would create Smart Sets, a working wardrobe for their clients, including a white shirt, blazer, trousers, a dress and a tote bag, with Nonoo in charge of designing the white shirt.

"She really entrusted me with the responsibility of designing the piece," Nonoo said. "When I showed her what I was thinking we had a little bit of a conversation about what other items might be worn with, the fact that it should be tailored, where this woman was going and when I showed her the idea that I had she was like sounds great," Nonoo recalled of the design process with the Duchess.

For every set that Smart Works sells, one set is donated to a woman looking to get back into the workplace.

"The thing that I love the most about this business is empowering women, equipping women with clothes that are going to take them in any direction that they want to go, and that's always what I want for myself."

Hear more from Misha Nonoo on episode #141 of "No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


National Labor Relations Board launches investigation into firing of Google employees

JHVEPhoto/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has launched an investigation into Google following the firing of four employees just days after a staff-organized protest last month.

Google's termination of the employees led to allegations of retaliation against organizing workers at the tech giant.

A NLRB spokesperson confirmed to ABC News Tuesday that an investigation had been launched following a charge from the Communication Workers of America, AFL-CIO, labor union.

The charge, obtained by ABC News, alleges that the fired employees "visibly led and participated" in organized labor efforts "to preserve and improve their working conditions."

Google responded by creating new data classification and other policies, the charge claims, and then investigated the "employee leaders based upon retroactive application of such guidelines" and fired them on Nov. 25 "within minutes of each other."

"Google engaged in all of this unlawful conduct in order to discourage and chill employees from engaging in protected concerted and union activities in violation of the National Labor Relations Act," the document states, adding, "Its actions are the antithesis of the freedoms and transparency it publicly touts."

An NLRB investigation typically takes around three months, an agency spokesperson said.

Google denied the allegations, saying the employees had been fired for violations of "longstanding data security policies."

"We dismissed four individuals who were engaged in intentional and often repeated violations of our longstanding data security policies, including systematically accessing and disseminating other employees’ materials and work," a Google spokeswoman told ABC News Tuesday. "No one has been dismissed for raising concerns or debating the company’s activities."

The firing of the four employees was announced late last month and came days after Google staff and supporters demonstrated outside of the San Francisco office on Nov. 22 to protest two workers who were placed on sudden leave.

Google Walkout for Real Change, a group representing employees organizing at the company, accused Google of firing the employees "in an attempt to crush worker organizing" in a Nov. 25 statement after the firings were announced.

The turmoil comes amidst a leadership shakeup at Google. Last week, the company announced that effective immediately its founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin would step down as CEO and president, respectively, of Google's parent company Alphabet Inc and that Sundar Pichai will be the new CEO of both Google and Alphabet Inc.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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