iStock/Thinkstock(ATHENS, Greece) -- If the news about Greece's debt crisis has left you wondering about how the country could have gotten itself into such an economic pickle, one thing is clear -- it didn't happen overnight, and there's no single cause.
The roots of the crisis run deep with many contributing factors, including the highest pension spending in the European Union. But there are also political and cultural factors.
"The moment of truth for Greece and for the euro zone approaches," said Hari Tsoukas, who was born in Karpenissi, Greece, and is a professor of organization studies at Warwick Business School in the U.K.
Hours before a midnight deadline Tuesday night when Greece defaulted on a $1.7 billion payment to the International Monetary Fund, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said there will be no new negotiations about Greece's bailout.
Here are some of the changes Greek workers have experienced and will face head-on with austerity measures imposed by creditors from the last five years:
1. Inefficient Pension System
Greece spent 17.5 percent of its economic output on pension payments, the most in the E.U., according to the most recent Eurostat data from 2012. But with existing cuts, that figure has fallen by more than one percentage point. Italy, France and Austria each spent about 15 percent of their GDP on pensions in 2012, according to Eurostat.
Greece's struggle to pay pensioners is even more evident this week with banks closed and Greeks unable to withdraw more than 60 euros from ATMs.
Not only is the pension system pricey, but it is highly fragmented and political, Tsoukas told ABC News from Athens. Trade unions, such as those that may represent the police or military, can exert political power and reap better pension benefits.
"Not all Greek pensions are generous," Tsoukas said. "This is one of the things I find bizarre."
His elderly mother receives a farmer's pension of 600 euros a month while his father, who ran a shop, receives a small business pension of 700 euros, cut 40 percent compared to what they received five years ago.
"It’s impossible to further reduce that small pension," Tsoukas said.
Government employees have had some of the best worker benefits in Greece. For example, an unmarried daughter used to receive her dead father's pension, Tsoukas said, though that specific practice stopped after the bailout agreement was made in 2010.
Some workers received atypical bonuses for showing up to work on time, but these bonuses were paid so workers were not paid higher pensionable salary. Either way, it's a practice that austerity measures eliminated.
"These were bizarre bonuses with bizarre names and misnomers, not because people regularly attended work," Tsoukas said. "It was a cheap way to give people more money without necessarily encumbering itself with paying higher pensions."
3. Early Retirement
In 2013, Greece's retirement age was raised by two years to 67. According to government data, however, the average Greek man retires at 63 and the average woman at 59.
And some police and military workers have retired as early as age 40 or 45, Tsoukas said.
There are also unique benefits for some workers. Female employees of state-owned banks with children under 18 could retire as early 43, he said.
"These kinds of exemptions were made -- particularly young mothers with young children who were able to take advantage of this and work 15 or 20 years for a reduced pension," he said.
4. High Unemployment and Work Culture Issues
A man who gave his first name as Apostolis, 39, who works in a store in Athens selling organic products, told ABC News he's concerned that his boss does not have the money to pay him. Still, he said, "It's not too serious. First of all I could go a bit earlier in the evening and go to the beach to surf. Secondly, I will have a ready excuse not to pay electricity and water bills that have just arrived home."
The unemployment rate is 25.6 percent in Greece.
John Challenger, CEO of global outplacement and executive coaching consultancy Challenger, Gray and Christmas, told ABC News that entrepreneurism is in dire straits in Greece. He said he's not surprised by the shop worker's response.
"It’s kind of endemic and built into that culture that if I don’t get paid, I can’t pay you. It’s not the right foundation culturally for the economy to come out of this tailspin," Challenger said.
5. Tax Evasion
The country has struggled to collect taxes from citizens, especially the wealthy, which is a problem when Greece's national debt is 177 percent of its GDP. Italy’s debt is about 133 percent of its GDP as of 2014, according to Eurostat. Greece's far-left government has said it wants to target wealthy tax evaders, but creating a more equitable tax system has been challenging.
Apple(NEW YORK) -- All good things must come to an end -- especially if they're free -- and Apple Music is no exception.
Apple's music streaming service launched on Tuesday, enticing users to try out the service with a free three-month membership, after which point the credit card on file in a user's iTunes account will automatically be charged a monthly fee.
That monthly fee is $9.99 per month for an individual, or $14.99 per month for a family plan providing service for up to six family members.
If you're curious about what Apple Music has to offer but are undecided if you want to take the plunge after the trial membership, there's one quick step you can take now to turn off auto-renew to make sure you don't forget three months from today.
Open your profile (the red silhouette icon) in the Apple Music app, choose "View Apple ID," and log in to your account. From there, go to the manage tab under subscriptions and toggle automatic renewal to off.
After your three months are up, you can choose to renew with the card on file.
Girl Scouts of Western Washington/Facebook(SEATTLE) — The Girl Scouts of Western Washington recently returned $100,000 to a donor who sent a follow-up note to the donation requesting that the gift "not be used to support transgender girls," the group said.
Despite the loss, the Girl Scouts have now raised the amount back, and some more, in less than 24 hours since they began an Indiegogo campaign using the hashtag #ForEVERYgirl on Monday.
"Girl Scouts empowers EVERY girl regardless of her gender identity, socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity [and] sexual orientation," the group said on a video for their campaign. "EVERY girl deserves access to a safe friendly environment where she can stand up for what she believes in and be proud of who she is."
The Girl Scouts of Western Washington added they were "thrilled" when they initially received the $100,000 gift, which would have been used to make sure 500 girls would get the financial support they need to join the troop.
The CEO of the Girl Scouts for that region told a local paper that she would not reveal the donor's identity out of respect for their privacy.
"The relationship is complex," CEO Megan Ferland told the Seattle Met, adding that she was "very sad" when she got the donor's follow-up letter.
"Girl Scouts is for every girl,” Ferland said. "And every girl should have the opportunity to be a Girl Scout if she wants to."
Ferland previously made headlines in 2012 when she fought for 7-year-old transgender girl Bobby Montoya to join a troop in Denver, Colorado, after she was initially denied entry.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- With Greece amid a financial crisis, should travelers to the European nation be wary about their upcoming vacations?
Hundreds of ATMs have reportedly run out of cash, as Greeks rush to remove their money from the country's shaky financial system. Though foreigners are not subject to the 60-euro limit, there are reports that they still run into the same empty cash machines as the locals.
But not every traveler has experienced troubles this week in Greece, and there are practical steps you can take to prevent any headaches.
A handful of American travelers who are clients of Ronnie Liadis, president and owner of Liadis Travel, based in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania, had no issues during these last few days in Greece, when the country essentially shut down its banks. These include travelers to Crete, Santorini and Athens.
"I had clients who just returned yesterday," Liadis said, adding that no problems except long lines for gas on Greece's largest island of Crete.
Here are some travel tips to Greece:
1. Purchase euros ahead of time.
On Sunday, the U.S. State Department issued a security message to U.S. citizens traveling in Greece in light of that country's banking disruptions.
"U.S. citizens are encouraged to carry more than one means of payment (cash, debit cards, credit cards), and make sure to have enough cash on hand to cover emergencies and any unexpected delays," the State Department announced.
Liadis recommends travelers get euros before departing the U.S. at your bank or use your ATM card if connecting in another E.U. country.
2. Call your credit card companies.
With travel to any country, jetsetters should advise your debit or credit card company that you will be out of the country so they don't flag your card if they see unusual activity, Liadis said.
3. Make sure your ATM card can be used outside the U.S.
This is another simple tip for American travelers to nearly any other country.
4. Find out which of your credit cards do not charge a fee for foreign currency transactions.
Travelers can sometimes choose to be charged in other countries with their local currency or U.S. dollars. If you decide to be charged in your home currency, you could be charged a fee from your bank of 3 to 7 percent. Some credit cards have no fees.
5. Make a copy of the information pages of your passports and keep them in separate part of your luggage.
In case anything happens to you or your passport, it's helpful to have copies and to leave a copy with a friend in the U.S.
The State Department encourages U.S. citizens in Greece to enroll in its "Smart Traveler Enrollment Program."
"By enrolling, U.S. citizens make it easier for the Embassy or nearest Consulate to contact them in the case of an emergency. U.S. citizens without Internet access may register directly with the U.S. Embassy in Athens," the State Department said.
6. Be cautious of protests.
Greece, like many European countries, has peaceful demonstrations frequently, Liadis said. The U.S. Embassy in Athens posts the planned demonstrations on their website: athens.usembassy.gov.
As part of its security message to travelers on Sunday, the State Department said it recommends Americans "maintain a high level of security awareness and avoid political rallies and demonstrations as instances of unrest can occur."
"Exercise caution and common sense: Avoid the areas of demonstrations, and if you find yourself too close to a demonstration, move in the opposite direction and seek shelter. Even demonstrations intended to be peaceful can turn confrontational and possibly escalate into violence," the State Department said.
Photo by Chance Yeh/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) -- Fashion designer Donna Karan has made a personal decision to step down as chief designer for Donna Karen New York (DKYN), the New York-based international fashion house announced Tuesday.
Karan, who spent the last three decades revolutionizing "the working woman's wardrobe" for DKNY, will now be taking on an advisory role to focus on her Urban Zen Company and foundation, which she founded in 2007, DKNY announced on social media.
Urban Zen, a nonprofit organization committed to improving the healing and treatment experience for patients and families, was founded after Karan said she was disappointed by the health care her husband received while undergoing treatment for lung cancer, she said in a previous interview with Stand Up to Cancer.
"Over the past three decades, Donna Karan has inspired women around the world to embrace their power and sensuality," DKNY said. "Donna Karan is an icon, visionary designer and a passionate philanthropist. She believes in dressing and addressing women. Her impact on American fashion has been extraordinary and she will continue to influence and inspire for years to come."
"We honor Donna today and always," DKNY added. "We look forward to celebrating her past, present and future in her memoir, which is due out in October 2015."
Karan, 66, co-founded the company with her late husband, Stephen Weiss, and Takiyho Inc. in 1984. It went public in 1996, and in 2001, LVMH Moet Hennessey Louis Vuitton invested and helped grow DKNY into Donna Karan International.
It was not immediately clear who would be replacing Karan as chief designer for DKNY.
Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Nike Chairman Phil Knight announced that he will step down from that role, perhaps as soon as next year.
Knight and the company also announced a succession plan, including Knight's recommendation that Nike President and CEO Mark Parker succeed him. "For me, Nike has always been more than just a company," Knight said in a statement, "it has been my life's passion."
Knight, 77, said that the plan announced Tuesday "will continue to promote Nike's long-term growth."
"I have long felt a great responsibility to provide clarity and certainty for the long-term governance and leadership of Nike and for my ultimate transition as Chairman," Knight said Tuesday.
Parker noted in a statement that Knight's "vision and inspiration continues to drive [the company's] success today around the world."
Photo by David McNew/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- United Airlines plans to use fuel made from farm waste and animal fat oil to fly its planes after announcing the single largest investment by a U.S. airline in alternative fuels.
The airline announced in a press release that it had invested $30 million in Fulcrum BioEnergy, Inc. United's Executive Vice President and General Counsel Brett Hart said in a statement that "alternative fuels is an emerging industry that is vital to the future of aviation." The investment, he says, "is just one of our intiiatives to help make these fuels saleable and scalable."
"Investing in alternative fuels is not only good for the environment," Hart continued, "it's a smart move for our company as biofuels have the potential to hedge against future oil price volatility and carbon regulations."
As part of the investment, United will also have the opportunity to purchase up to 90 million gallons of sustainable fuel from Fulcrum for a minimum of 10 years. Fulcrum's first alternative fuels plant is expected to begin commercial operation in 2017.
Fulcrum expects that its renewable fuel can reduce carbon emissions by 80 percent when compared to conventional jet fuel.
iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Obama said the Greek debt crisis will not have a “major shock” to the U.S. financial system but noted his administration is closely monitoring the situation developing in Greece.
“In layman's terms, for the American people, this is not something that we believe will have a major shock to the system, but obviously it's very painful for the Greek people and it can have a significant effect on growth rates in Europe,” the president said in a press conference with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff Tuesday. “If Europe's not growing the way it needs to grow, that has an impact on us; it has an impact on Brazil. Those are major export markets and that can have a dampening effect on the entire world economy.”
“It’s something that we take seriously but it’s not something that I think should prompt overreactions,” he added. “And so far I think the markets have properly factored in the risks involved.”
The president has discussed the Greek debt crisis with his European counterparts German Chancellor Angela Merkel, British Prime Minister David Cameron, and French President Francois Hollande this week, “encouraging them to find a path towards resolution.”
“It is also important for us to make sure that we plan for any contingency and that we work with the European Central Bank and other international and -- institutions to make sure that some of the bumps that may occur in the financial markets and that have already occurred are smoothed out,” the president said.
iStock Editorial/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Say goodbye to the days of free checked bags on JetBlue flights.
After first announcing its plans to eliminate free checked bags last November, the airliner began rolling out the changes on Tuesday.
The move leaves Southwest as the only domestic airline to let all fliers check at least one bag free of charge.
JetBlue will now offer passengers three different fare options -- Blue, Blue Plus or Blue Flex. There is also another fare option -- Mint -- for those traveling coast to coast.
Customers who opt for the "Blue" option will pay the cheapest fare but will have to fork over $25 for their first checked bag at the check-in counter. The fee drops to $20 if they pay to check the bag online or at a check-in kiosk.
A second checked bag will be an additional $35.
Customers who pay a little more for "Blue Plus" will get one checked bag included in their fares, and those who select the "Blue Flex" and "Mint" options will get two checked bags.
Apple(NEW YORK) -- Apple is continuing to change the landscape of the music industry with its launch Tuesday of Apple Music, a streaming service offering members access to tens of millions of songs in the iTunes collection.
While Apple is late to the music streaming game, it enters the market with one huge advantage: With more than 800 million iTunes accounts, Apple Music has the opportunity to quickly amass a following.
Introducing the service at the Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this month, Jimmy Iovine, co-founder of Beats, which is owned by Apple, emphasized the carefully tailored playlists won't be grouped by genre or beats -- and instead will be curated by a team of music experts.
How to Get Apple Music
In order to check out Apple Music, users will need to first upgrade their phones to iOS 8.4, which can be downloaded by going to settings, general and then software update. From there, users will need tp download the latest operating system, which will allow them to check out Apple Music.
Apple Music will first be available on iOS, watchOS, Mac and Windows, with an Android version coming in the fall.
What to Expect
Your existing iTunes music library will live alongside the tens of millions of songs in Apple's catalog. Apple Music members will be able to add to their collection and save songs for offline listening or quickly share favorite music with friends on social media.
Apple Music users can get a three-month free membership, after which a $9.99 per month subscription fee will apply. There will also be a family plan providing service for up to six family members available for $14.99 per month.
Play with Siri
Once you're all set up with a trial membership, try asking Siri, Apple's virtual personal assistant, to be your DJ. As her questions such as "play me the best songs from 2000" or "What was the No. 1 song in January 1988?"
What Else Is New in iOS 8.4
Aside from Apple Music, expect iOS 8.4 to also fix that pesky bug making the rounds last month that caused some iPhones to reboot after receiving a specific string of unicode characters. Also expect iBooks improvements and a fix to an issue where some deleted Apple Watch apps could re-install.
Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If Tuesday feels a bit longer, there's a reason for it.
A leap second will be added to the clock to account for a discrepancy between Earth's rotation and the atomic clock.
While there have been more than two dozen instances of a leap second being added since 1972, companies relying on their computer systems aren't taking any chances.
When the last leap second was added on June 30, 2012, it caused issues with a number of websites, including Qantas, LinkedIn and Yelp.
The extra second will be added as the clock strikes midnight universal time, meaning the extra second will come for people in the United States at 8 p.m. EDT -- making it the first leap second to be added during trading hours since active 1997.
Clocks synchronized to standard civil time will show the extra second as 0:60, however it's possible that programs not equipped to handle the extra second could have an issue.
As a safeguard, U.S. stock markets are ending some after-hours trading early. The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission requested plans of action last month from exchanges, according to NASDAQ.
Google explained its approach for handling the leap second in a 2011 blog post. The company has adopted an approach they call the "leap smear," which gradually adds a few milliseconds to every update to ensure when the leap second comes around, all of the systems are caught up and not disrupted.
"Our systems are engineered for data integrity, and some will refuse to work if their time is sufficiently 'wrong,'" a company blog post said. "We saw some of our clustered systems stop accepting work on a small scale during the leap second in 2005, and while it didn't affect the site or any of our data, we wanted to fix such issues once and for all."
Amazon Web Services said last month it would spread out the leap second over the course of many hours to ensure all of its systems are caught up by midnight and unaffected by the change.
iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The 99 percent of Americans who aren't among the country's richest saw their incomes rise more than 3 percent last year, marking the biggest annual gain for that group since the Great Recession.
Incomes rose 3.3 percent to a household average of $47,213, according to economist Emmanuel Saez.
But despite the gains, the gap between the 99 percent and the top 1 percent got worse. The richest Americans saw their incomes go up 10.8 percent to a household average of $1.3 million.
The White House(WASHINGTON) — Millions of more Americans may soon see a boost in their wages as President Obama prepares to announce a new regulation for overtime pay.
Later this week, President Obama will unveil a plan to increase the threshold for which employers are required to pay employees, a senior administration official says.
Under the new rule, employees earning under $50,440 will be able to earn time-and-a-half when their work week exceeds 40 hours, up from the current threshold of $23,660.
The proposal would affect 5 million American workers.
"That's good for workers who want fair pay, and it's good for business owners who are already paying their employees what they deserve — since those who are doing right by their employees are undercut by competitors who aren't,” the president wrote in a Huffington Post op-Ed touting the new plan. “That's how America should do business. In this country, a hard day's work deserves a fair day's pay. That's at the heart of what it means to be middle class in America.”
FeelPic/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Gas prices dropped slightly from last week, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said Monday, with the average price of a gallon reaching $2.80.
That figure is 90 cents lower than a year ago, the EIA points out. The cheapest gas, on average, can be found in the Gulf Coast, where a gallon averages $2.54, while the West Coast pays the most for their gas.
California remains the most expensive state to buy gas, with each gallon costing an average of $3.45.