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What Happened When 3 Politicians Tried a Minimum Wage Budget?

McDonald's press photo(WASHINGTON) -- Have you ever seen a congressman snacking on a measly tin of sardines? Or maybe a governor ordering a McChicken off the dollar menu?

In Washington this week that scene was reality for three Democratic politicians who are taking the Live the Wage challenge.

Reps. Tim Ryan and Jan Schakowsky joined former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland in taking the challenge and are each living on a budget of $77 for the week–- the same amount that a minimum wage worker typically has to spend on food, transportation, and day-to-day expenses, after factoring out major costs such as rent and utilities.

"I basically had a couple bags of peanuts in the cloakroom–and there was a little fruit in the office that I ate yesterday," Rep. Ryan told ABC News. "I spent about seven bucks last night on a couple cans of sardines and a bag of crackers from the convenience store up the street."

The congressman began the Live the Wage challenge last week with hopes of bringing attention to the hardships facing minimum wage workers around the nation.

Rep. Jan Schakowsky also began the challenge Thursday telling ABC News, "It totally changes your perspective. Even the shopping experience -- I make a shopping list when I go to the store usually. I think about what I need -- what I want -- and I put it in the cart. I truthfully rarely think about how much it costs."

"I'll walk down the aisle and I'll see something you know, that would be great and I throw it in the cart. There's just none of that when you're on that kind of budget. There's no spontaneity whatsoever," Schakowsky added.

Strickland even took a trip to McDonald's to try out the fast food chain's dollar menu. Strickland posted a photograph of his $2.20 meal on Twitter noting that the workers at McDonald's -- a company known for paying the legal minimum -- "deserve a raise."

In a Politico op-ed, Strickland explained that he was unable to complete the week-long challenge with a budget of just $77. One particularly difficult aspect the governor discussed was eating a healthy diet while living on a $7.25 hourly wage.

"Because fresh fruits and vegetables are hard to find at a price within a minimum wage budget, I turned to bread, peanut butter, bananas and bologna more than anything else. That was what I could find when I took this budget to the grocery story last Sunday. And that's why I ate lunch from the McDonald's dollar menu."

and Ryan have also taken to social media in recent days to share their message about the challenges facing minimum wage workers.

"There are a lot of people out there who do this for extended periods of time -- years -- so the idea is to get the message out and raise awareness about some of the difficulties that can happen to you," Ryan told ABC News. "We realize it's not going to be exactly like the challenges that a minimum wage family faces, but the country is talking about the minimum wage right now. And I think that's exactly what we want to do."

Schakowsky said, "I'm not going to pretend that now I understand what it's like to live on the minimum wage. I think it's a taste of it. But for anyone who thinks it's a gimmick, my suggestion would be try it."

Ryan and Schakowsky were co-sponsors of the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013. Their goal is to increase the federal minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10. The push to increase the national minimum has steadily intensified in the past year as the minimum wage has remained unchanged since 2009.

Last week marked the five-year anniversary since Congress last passed an increase to the national minimum, while the wage for tipped workers has remained at $2.13 an hour since 1991.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the minimum wage doesn't get you very far: "On average, a single-parent household (one parent, at least one child under 18) will spend $5,457 per year on food, or about $105 per week."

That's $28 above what a minimum wage worker has to live on for a week.

When asked about plans for reintroducing minimum wage legislation, Schakowsky was optimistic, but expressed concerns over whether Speaker of the House John Boehner would bring the bill to a vote.

"We're hoping that we're going to see another vote on it in the Senate and that there will be more pressure," Schakowsky said.

"I fully believe that if Speaker Boehner were to call an increase on the minimum wage that it would pass. It's a matter of making sure that we just get more Republicans over this recess to ask the speaker to just call the bill."

Ryan, however, was not as optimistic about the bill's prospects before the midterm elections.

"I doubt it. The speaker's holding the line on this. And I hope it's a rallying call for the 65,000 minimum wage workers in my district and the million and a half across the country," Ryan said.

"Let's increase the minimum wage and get people to work and make sure work pays. That’s ultimately the conversation we want to have."

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FAA: Southwest Didn't Comply with Safety Regulations During Plane Repair

Southwest media / Stephen M. Keller (NEW YORK) -- The Federal Aviation Administration is reporting that Southwest failed to comply with federal safety regulations while making repairs to its Boeing 737's.

Starting in 2006, Southwest gave 44 of its planes what the FAA calls "extreme makeovers" to eliminate the potential for cracking on the aluminum skin.

But according to the FAA, a contractor did not follow proper procedures, and Southwest flew the planes despite knowing they were not in compliance.  

The FAA wants to fine Southwest Airlines $12 million. 

Southwest says it has since resolved the repair issues and will respond to the FAA allegations in accordance with procedures.

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OkCupid Experimented on Users, Then Blogged About It

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- In the wake of Facebook's recent admission of toying with users' emotions, another site revealed Monday that it, too, likes to "experiment on human beings" -- and lie to them.

OkCupid founder Christian Rudder published a blog on Monday detailing three recent experiments the online dating site performed that manipulated users' perceptions, including telling a "small sample" of couples that they were highly compatible when they actually were not.

"The ultimate question at OkCupid is, does this thing even work?" wrote Rudder, referring to its algorithm for accurately calculating match percentage. "In the back of our minds, there's always been the possibility: maybe it works just because we tell people it does. Maybe people just like each other because they think they’re supposed to?"

To test the theory, Rudder and colleagues "took pairs of bad matches (actual 30 percent match) and told them they were exceptionally good for each other (displaying a 90 percent match.)" As hypothesized, the couples initiated contact with one another because they believed what the site told them.

But it didn't end there. The experiment also determined that users were more inclined to actually like each other when told to, exchanging four or more messages, even if they wouldn't normally.

"The four-message threshold is our internal measure for a real conversation," wrote Rudder. "And though the data is noisier, this same 'higher display means more success' pattern seems to hold when you look at contact information exchanges, too."

Rudder did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment on the size of the sample tested, how long the experiment lasted and whether any couples notified of it had reacted positively or negatively.

But readers were quick to respond to the blog post, comparing it to Facebook and drawing their own conclusions.

"Facebook secretly manipulated the users of the site, attempting to alter their emotions ... quite possibly at the behest of creepy interests sponsoring this experiment," commented one user identified as SteveRestless. "All I can see here is honest curiosity and a desire to improve the site."

Others were not as forgiving.

"I hope you didn't cause me to miss out on a relationship while playing around with the data," wrote another. "It is hard enough for me as it is. Also, people trusting your match percent is what you want, so don’t lie to them about it."

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Virgin America Files for IPO

Virgin America Press(NEW YORK) -- Virgin America is coming to Wall Street.

Virgin America has filed for an initial public offering of its shares.

The California-based airline flies to 22 airports in the United States and Mexico. Its fleet of 53 planes has perks including including live TV, movies, leather seats, and purple mood lighting.

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Stock Market Tries to Break Recent Losing Streak

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The stock market is trying to recover after last week's losses.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 21.77 points ending the day at 16,982.34 and the S&P 500 went up .55 to 1,978.89. Nasdaq fell 4.65 points on Monday, ending the day at 4,444.91.

Dollar Tree is buying rival discount store Family Dollar in a cash-and-stock deal valued at about $8.5 billion, while real estate website Zillow is buying competitor Trulia in a $3.5 billion, all-stock deal.

Fewer Americans signed contracts to buy homes in June, as the real estate market cooled off this summer. The National Association of Realtors says pending home sales slipped 1.1% last month. Realtors blame meager wage growth as well as rising home prices and mortgage rates.

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Zillow Plans to Buy Trulia

Zillow/Trulia(NEW YORK) -- Zillow says it plans to buy its online real estate rival, Trulia, for $3.5 billion in an all-stock deal.

“Consumers love using Zillow and Trulia to find vital information about homes and connect with the best local real estate professionals,” said Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff. “Both companies have been enormously successful in creating compelling consumer brands and deep industry partnerships.”

The deal is expected to close in 2015.

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Dollar Tree Buying Family Dollar

Dollar Tree/Family Dollar | ABC News Illustration(NEW YORK) -- Dollar Tree is buying Family Dollar in a deal valued at approximately $8.5 billion.

The combined company would operate more than 13,000 discount stores.

Shares of Family Dollar jumped more than 20 percent after the merger was announced.

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Greyhound Bus Fleet Revamps, But Can a 100-Year-Old Dog Learn New Tricks?

Greyhound(NEW YORK) -- Riding the bus is cool. Or, at least, that's what Greyhound, the country's largest intercity bus transportation provider, is on a mission to prove.

Having celebrated its 100th birthday in May, the company has completely refurbished its fleet of approximately 1,200 vehicles, adding new leather seats, more legroom and digital offerings, such as power outlets and Wi-Fi, in a bid to appeal to a multi-tasking, mega-social millennial ridership.

"We’ve received a great deal of positive feedback, especially when it comes to the on-board amenities, convenience, frequency and environmental stewardship," said Greyhound CEO Dave Leach. "They understand the social impact of public transportation."

According to a study conducted by the American Public Transportation Association in 2012 and 2013, millennials travel often, using multiple modes of transportation and are motivated by affordable cost and convenience.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, they also prefer to socialize online or work remotely during their journey.

"Millennial customers enjoy the ability to keep in touch with friends on social media and they are now able to share their experience with friends and loved ones in real-time as they travel [on Greyhound]," he said. "Young professionals on a budget also love that they can be productive and work while they travel. They can get ahead on a company project or answer emails during their journey."

Greyhound isn't just seeking to connect riders with their online communities, however. It also wants to become a part of them.

"We are introducing technology that will allow us to have a more intimate relationship with our customers, providing services and features that are important to them, and better engagement with our brand," said Leach, alluding to an app currently in development that would offer service updates in real time similar to airlines and Amtrak trains.

Rider security has also been updated in recent years. Modern strategies include random passenger screenings, enhanced driver training, a surveillance system called DriveCam that captures video both inside and outside the bus, and an on-board GPS communications system that allows the company to remotely shut down a vehicle in an emergency.

"Safety is our core value at Greyhound, and it is ingrained throughout our business," said Leach, adding that there is now a zero-tolerance stance on aggressive behavior.

As the centennial celebrations continue throughout the year, vintage buses are on view and a mobile museum is making its way through 40 cities with various memorabilia.

"We’re excited to celebrate our 100th anniversary this year and be among an elite group of brands that have withstood the test of time," he said.

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Many Still Have a Hard Time Choosing Generic Brands

Hemera/Thinkstock(CHICAGO) -- They may not have the big recognizable names but generic brand products deliver big savings.

Yet, a study by economists from the University of Chicago and Tilburg University in the Netherlands points out that many Americans are still forking over their money for name brands and wasting $44 billion annually in the process.

The study says that millions are duped by misleading ads even when they can buy generic products for far less.

But not everybody is fooled.

According to the researchers, the smarter the consumer -- that is, those who are more educated -- the greater the chance they'll pick the generic version of a product rather than the name brand.

For instance, only nine percent of pharmacists buy Bayer, Advil and Tylenol with the rest opting for generic brands. Meanwhile, the average consumer will select the name brands 26 percent of the time.

Meanwhile, just one in five professional chefs will pay full price for name brand salt, sugar and baking powder, as compared to 40 of average households.

The researchers used Nielsen tracking data based on 77 million shopping trips by about 125,000 households.

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Women Still Vastly Underrepresented in Hollywood

ABC/Rick Rowell(LOS ANGELES) -- Disney's Frozen was the highest grossing movie of 2013 but one of its directors was an anomaly.

According to a new study, Jennifer Lee was among the very, very few women who helmed a big film last year.

In fact, just under two percent of the directors were women, according to the findings of University of Southern California's Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative. That figure is the lowest of the past six years.

The researchers examined some 25,000 speaking characters in 600 top-grossing films from 2007 through 2013 and determined that women were vastly unrepresented both on camera and behind the scenes.

In 2013, for instance, 7.4 percent of writers of the top-grossing movies were women.

As far as acting parts are concerned, women made up 36 percent of the characters in comedies during the six years studied while falling between 20 and about 24 percent of those in action movies.

What explains the lack of women in movies? USC Annenberg associate professor Stacy L. Smith says it all about money, adding: "The people who fund films and green light content are mostly male. Women are perceived to lack confidence and to be less trustworthy with resources."

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Caesars Entertainment Installing Electric Vehicle Charging Stations at Resorts

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Caesars Entertainment Corporation is installing electric vehicle charging stations at a number of its resorts and casinos and plans to continue to expand the presence of charging stations.

Thus far, the company says it has installed operational charging stations at nearly all of its Northern and Southern Nevada locations. In total, 48 charging stations have been installed in parking lots and valet areas. Each station is free and available to guests.

The next Caesars locations to receive charging stations will include Harrah's New Orleans Hotel and Casino, Harrah's Philadelphia, Harrah's Resort Atlantic City and Horseshoe Casino Hammond.

"We want to make it easy for our guests to continue their green habits while they stay and play at our resorts," said Eric Dominguez, corporate director of facilities, engineering and sustainable operations at Caesars Entertainment.

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Tyson Foods to Close Three Facilities to Improve Business

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images(SPRINGDALE, Ark.) -- Tyson Foods will close three of its facilities by the middle of 2015 in an effort to "improve the performance of its prepared foods business."

According to a release from the company, Tyson will close plants in Cherokee, Iowa, Buffalo, N.Y., and Santa Teresa, N.M. The Iowa plant will close on Sept. 27, and the other two will be closed "during the first half of...2015."

The decision impacts approximately 950 employees, who the company says will be encouraged to apply for openings within the company and will receive invitations to Tyson-hosted job fairs.

Tyson says the closures are caused by "changing product needs, the age of the Cherokee facility and prohibitive cost of its renovation, and the distance of the Buffalo and Santa Teresa plants from their raw material supply base in the Midwest."

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Walmart Names New President and CEO of US Division

Walmart(BENTONVILLE, Ark.) -- Walmart named Greg Foran the next President and CEO of Walmart U.S. on Friday, succeeding outgoing leader Bill Simon.

Foran, 53, will report directly to Walmart's President and CEO Doug McMillon, the release says. Simon will spend the next six months consulting with the company "to ensure a seamless transition."

The new head of the company's U.S. division had been in charge of all of Walmart's Asia business since June, having just received a promotion from heading Walmart China.

Foran is expected to take his new responsibilities on Aug. 9.

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Stocks Dive with Disappointing Retail Reports

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wall Street stocks took a hit Friday, ending the week with losses following disappointing news from retailers.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 123 points, finishing at 16960.57, the Nasdaq Composite lost 23 points at 4449.56, and the S&P 500 dipped 10 points, ending the day at 1978.34.

Amazon's stock fell 10 percent after the online retailer posted a loss greater than anticipated. Shares closed at $324, down $34.60. Visa also slipped 8 percent to $214.77.

Following a May decline, orders for long-lasting manufactured goods bounced back in June.

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Beware of Buying Fake Event Tickets

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you're trying to see a concert -- or a game -- that's sold out, be careful. Scammers are getting better and better at making fake tickets.

Capt. Shaun Mathers from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's office says new technology is a scammer's dream.

"It's fairly easy for someone to generate something that looks very close to the original," he says.

So make sure you buy tickets from a trusted source -- one that offers a guarantee. If you don't, and you show up at a sold-out show with a bogus ticket, it's not the venue's fault and there's not much they can do.

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