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Amazon raises monthly Prime membership rate

The monthly membership fee for Amazon Prime rose Friday from $10.99 to $12.99.

Company officials said the annual membership will remain at $99 dollars.

>> Read more trending news

Monthly customers do not get access to Amazon Video, which costs $8.99 a month.

The last Prime subscription hike came in 2014, when Amazon increased its yearly membership from $79 to $99.

>> Related: Amazon announces final 20 cities in the running for second headquarters

The e-commerce company did not give a reason for the price increase.

Nestle Japan launches ruby chocolate KitKat ahead of Valentine's Day

Nestle Japan on Thursday unveiled a new, pink KitKat var, which is to be sold ahead of Valentine’s Day in a handful of stores in Japan and South Korea, as well as online.

>> Read more trending news

Dubbed the KitKat Chocolatory Sublime Ruby, the chocolate is made using ruby cacao beans, which give the treat a naturally pink color. The beans also give the chocolate “a fruity flavor reminiscent of berries,” according to Nestle Japan.

The pink chocolate variety made its debut in September by Swiss chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut. It was touted as an alternative to the traditional chocolate varieties of white, milk and dark chocolates.

The new KitKat flavor was created by chef Yasumasa Takagi, the owner of Tokyo’s Le Patissier Takagi. In a news release, he said his creation “allows you to enjoy the characteristic fruity fragrance and subtle acidity of the ruby cacao to the fullest.”

The flavors “have never been experienced before,” Takagi said.

The KitKat bars will be sold at KitKat Chocolatory stores in Japan and South Korea starting Friday. Chocolate fans in the U.S. and other countries can purchase the chocolate online.

Nestle Japan employees said 5,000 bars of the chocolate treat will be available for sale from Jan. 19 to Jan. 25. Each bar costs ¥400, or $3.60.

The variety will also be part of the KitKat Chocolatory Sublime Valentine’s Assortment, alongside bars of KitKat Sublime’s Bitter, Milk and White flavors for ¥1,800, or $16.20. A larger assortment also includes the KitKat Sublime Matcha and Raw flavors as well for ¥2,400, or $21.60.

The boxes of assorted chocolate bars will go on sale starting Feb. 1. 

9 best- worst-paying jobs at Amazon

Amazon is the talk of the town for metro areas across North America, since the company just announced it has whittled the list of cities that could be home to its second headquarters down to 20.

The cities, which include New York, Nashville, Tennessee, Washington, D.C. and Atlanta, are vying for the massive $5 billion project, known as HQ2, that could bring about 50,000 highly paid tech and corporate jobs to one community. 

>> Read more trending news 

Since the public contest began in September with 238 cities competing, the Amazon team has shared few details about how the finalist cities would be chosen. Amazon did announce, however, that the top cities would be able to provide an initial 500,000 square feet of space − in an urban or suburban area − with access to major highways, airports, public transit and “a robust technology workforce,” according to the Baltimore Sun.

Related: Amazon announces final 20 cities in the running for second headquarters

“Thank you to all 238 communities that submitted proposals,” Holly Sullivan, an executive with Amazon Public Policy, said in a statement. “Getting from 238 to 20 was very tough – all the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity. Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.”

Related: 5 things to know about Amazon

With the possibility of HQ2 coming to metropoles scattered across the U.S., thousands of eager job seekers are already contemplating their next career move, and hoping that move is headed toward Amazon.

Pulling from Amazon’s current job listings in web services, corporate, Amazon Alexa and other device teams, these are some of the highest- and lowest-paying positions at Amazon.

Pay estimates are provided by Paysa.com, an online career and hiring site that uses artificial intelligence and real-world salary insights. The following salaries are estimates, which include salary and benefits.

Best-paying Amazon jobs:

Principal Business Development Manager - Average: $529,000

This position requires 10+ years experience at the director level of working in security intelligence software for technology companies. The role would be involved in the strategic business development plan for the company and work with existing security intelligence products, field organizations and business development.

Principal Software Development Engineer - Average: $414,000

The principal engineer will be the technical lead for the Amazon Devices team. The engineer will also design and select appropriate imaging and sensing systems. The position requires at least a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science, five years of experience leading junior engineers and 10 years of software engineering experience.

Prinicipal Technical Program Manager - Average: $290,000

The principal technical program manager will lead the technical strategy and program management of Elastic Block Storage-specific services and products that will revolutionize industries across the globe. The position requires 10 years of experience in system software/hardware product development, including technical program leadership of computer system, storage devices, etc.

Global Leader of Sales Strategy - Average: $233,000

This role will focus on developing and driving strategy, analytics and data management to optimize the rapid growth of Amazon’s cloud business. A bachelor’s degree is required as well as 15+ years of experience in both enterprise technology sales and sales operation.

Worst-paying Amazon jobs:

Healthcare & Life Sciences Solutions Architect - Average: $73,000 

This position is slated for an experienced IT consultant with technical expertise in a specialty area and ability to travel internationally as needed to support customers. The individual will assist in sales of infrastructure engagements and coach Amazon Web Services field sales, presales, training and support teams. At least 15 years of relevant experience in information technology is required for this position.

Inside Sales Representative - Average: $69,000

The inside sales representative creates the first impression for prospective customers through business development activities, follow-ups on their inquiries and from the company’s marketing programs. Experience with technology sales is required.

Head of Media - Amazon Channels - Average: $56,000

This role is responsible for leading, managing and growing a team of media professionals, as well as managing media agencies and other partners in order to achieve the company’s marketing and media objectives. The person should have at least eight years of experience in media strategy.

Head of Social Media - Average: $54,000

Amazon seeks an experienced, strategic and highly creative individual to lead its global social media marketing efforts. The perfect candidate will have more than 10 years of experience in social media marketing.

Content Writer - Average: $47,000

The ideal candidate will have experience in results-driven technical content writing. Requirements include knowledge of search engine optimization and experience managing multiple content management systems.

What is bitcoin? What you need to know about cryptocurrency

If you own bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, it might be a bad day for you.

The price of bitcoin plunged by 15 percent Tuesday morning, dropping below $12,000 for the first time since Dec. 4. Other cryptocurrencies have also seen price declines, with Ethereum falling by 20 percent and Ripple falling by 33 percent. The plunging prices are a stark difference to the success bitcoin saw last month — hitting a record of nearly $20,000 on Dec. 16.

>> On DaytonDailyNews.com: Currency of the future? Some argue it’s bitcoin

As the digital currency bitcoin surges in popularity, curious investors and entrepreneurs alike are watching closely to see what happens with the fluctuating prices. Don’t understand the basics of bitcoin? Here’s what you need to know:

What is bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, or a digital token, that can be sent electronically and directly from peer to peer. There is no physical backing and it is a decentralized currency — meaning it is not controlled by any government or banking entity. Bitcoin is the first cryptocurrency ever created, and remains the most popular one to date.

“I tell people it’s a digital currency and it’s a program,” said Jad Mubaslat, Wright State University graduate student and founder of BitQuick.co, a bitcoin trading platform. “For the first time in history, it allows anyone anywhere in the world to send any amount of money instantly. Most importantly, it’s without a third party … like a bank or a government. Now, you can truly send your money without somebody telling you what you can or cannot do.”

>> On MyDaytonDailyNews.com: I bought bitcoin. Here’s what I learned

The record of all bitcoin exchanges and transactions are on what is called the blockchain, which is a network of decentralized computers.

How was bitcoin created?

Bitcoin was created by a programmer going by the name Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008. He communicated only through email and social messaging, and no one truly knows Nakamoto’s identity. He released the software globally in 2009, and now anyone can use and download it.

How do you buy bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies?

In the U.S., several websites have popped up where you can buy and sell bitcoin online. One of the most popular websites is Coinbase and others include Mubaslat’s BitQuick.coCoindesk.com and bitcoin.com. Investors can also meet with other bitcoin users in person and trade bitcoin via their virtual wallets on their phones. After meeting another bitcoin user through websites like Craigslist or LocalBitcoin.com, a user simply scans a QR code with another person’s wallet to transfer bitcoin.

Some people prefer to buy bitcoin in person or through a bitcoin ATM because the bitcoin transfer over faster than when they buy it online — it can take up to seven days, and sometimes longer, for bitcoin to show up in a virtual wallet after purchasing it online.

Why do some criminals use cryptocurrency for illegal transactions?

Some criminals use bitcoin because users can open a wallet to send and receive bitcoin without giving a name or identity. There is no bank or central authority, like a government, to control this information. Bitcoin also became a popular method for making ransom payments when a computer system is taken over by ransomware.

>> On DaytonDailyNews.com: How criminals use bitcoin illegally

However, bitcoin is not completely anonymous and transactions can be traced by police through bitcoin trading websites. Other untraceable cryptocurrencies, like Monero, are becoming popular for dark web uses including drug trafficking and human trafficking.

How is the worth of bitcoin decided?

The price — and ultimate worth — of bitcoin fluctuates, and experts are calling the cryptocurrency extremely volatile. The price is determined by open-market bidding on Bitcoin exchanges. The worth of bitcoin could be compared to the way that gold prices fluctuate — in the sense that gold has value because people believe it does.

What exactly is bitcoin mining?

Mining is the process that creates new bitcoins in the blockchain, or network of computers. The bitcoin miners race to process new transactions, and the fastest computers get a chunk of new bitcoin. A miner wins the race about every 10 minutes, which will happen until there are 21 million bitcoins in the world. No new bitcoins will be created after the blockchain has 21 million, which is expected to happen in 2140.

Anyone can set their computer up to mine bitcoin, but programmers with specialized hardware are usually the only ones to win bitcoin now.

Are there any other cryptocurrencies as popular as bitcoin?

Other cryptocurrencies also exist, but bitcoin is the most popular one right now. Other popular cryptocurrency includes Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple, Litecoin and Monero. Digital cryptocurrencies are being created for all types of uses like the legal marijuana industry and adult entertainment and sex worker industries.

>> Read more trending news 

What are the legal uses of bitcoin?

Most transactions on the bitcoin network aren’t illegal — it’s typically people buying and selling bitcoin to each other. People in countries with high inflation or unstable governments are putting their money into bitcoin to avoid losing their savings. It’s also used to transfer large sums of money internationally. It is quicker to transfer bitcoin than it is to go through a bank transfer, which can take weeks.

Some businesses also accept bitcoin, including Overstock.com, Wikipedia, backpage.com and Square. For a short time, a franchise of Firehouse Subs in Cincinnati accepted bitcoin. The restaurant, in Clifton, shut down a few years ago. “Firehouse Subs didn’t do very many transactions in bitcoin, but it has generated buzz around the shop,” the Cincinnati Business Courier wrote.

Apple hiring for work from home positions

Apple is looking for additions to its workforce and you don’t even have to leave home. 

The tech company is looking to fill about 50 AppleCare at-home positions to offer tech support of devices like iPhones, iPads and MacBooks, the Houston Chronicle reported

>> Read more trending news 

While working from home is a big enough perk for some, the job also comes with Apple discounts, paid time off and potential career growth, even for those who work part time, according to Apple’s job announcement.

Apple At Home employees work directly for Apple for the company’s normal support hours. There could be extra shifts for holidays, what’s considered “peak business hours,” and training.

Workers are required to have a distraction-free room that is quiet and that can be closed off to keep noise down, high-speed internet with at least 5 mps download/1 mps upload, a desk and an ergonomic chair. 

Apple provides the iMac and headset that is only for work.

Click here to see what jobs are open and to apply.

Mary B's frozen biscuits recalled due to listeria concerns

Be sure to check your freezer because there’s a new recall on frozen biscuits that were sold in nearly two dozen states.

>> Biscuits recalled over listeria concern

Hom/Ade Foods is recalling Mary B’s brand biscuits due to listeria concerns. The biscuits were sold in Alabama, Arkansas, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Wisconsin and West Virginia.

>> Read more trending news 

Company officials said the problem was discovered in a product sampling conducted by an outside company that manufactured the product.

Listeria can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, elderly people and others with weakened immune systems.

The Mary B’s products affected are frozen bagged biscuits. All have “Best If Used By" dates before Sept. 23, 2018, and with the letter “M” immediately after the date.

UPC codes affected by the recall:

  • 2059300007 MARY B’S JUMBO BUTTERMILK BISCUITS 35OZ 10 / 3.5OZ
  • 2059300015 MARY B’S BUTTERMILK BISCUITS 26.4OZ 12 / 2.2OZ
  • 2059300018 MARY B’S SOUTHERNMADE BISCUITS 26.4OZ 12 / 2.2OZ
  • 2059300020 MARY B’S BUTTERMILK VALUE PACK BISCUITS 44OZ 20 / 2.2OZ
  • 2059300021 MARY B’S SOUTHERNMADE VALUE PACK BISCUITS 44OZ 20 / 2.2OZ
  • 2059300022 MARY B’s BUTTERMILK TEA BISCUITS 24OZ 24 / 1OZ
  • 2059300023 MARY B’S BUTTERTASTE VALUE PACK BISCUITS 44OZ 20 / 2.2OZ
  • 2059300028 MARY B’S THIN BUTTERMILK BISCUITS 28.6OZ 22 / 1.3OZ
  • 2059300033 MARY B’S BUTTERMILK FAMILY PACK BISCUITS 60OZ 30 / 2OZ
  • 2059300034 MARY B’S SOUTHERNMADE FAMILY PACK BISCUITS 60OZ 30 / 2OZ
  • 2059300035 MARY B’S BUTTERTASTE FAMILY PACK BISCUITS 60OZ 30 / 2OZ
  • 2059383000 MARY B’S BUTTERMILK 0 TRANS FAT 220CT BULK BISCUITS 220 / 2.2OZ
  • 2059383004 MARY B’S BUTTERMILK BISCUITS 220CT BULK BISCUITS 220 / 2.2OZ
  • 2059387000 MARY B’S MADE WITH WHOLE GRAIN 220CT BULK BISCUITS 220 / 2.2OZ
  • 3059320583 MARY B’S 3.5 OZ JUMBO BUTTERMILK 144CT BULK BISCUITS 144 / 3.5OZ

Customers are urged to return affected products to the store for a full refund.

Read more here.

CVS to stop digitally altered images in its store brand advertising, will label other brands’ manipulation

CVS is making sure its beauty ads live up to real life. 

It’s stopping the practice of photo manipulation on its store-brand beauty products and will mark other company’s advertisements with a notation on images that have been Photoshopped, USAToday reported.

The company will also mark photos that have not been altered with what it is calling the CVS Beauty Mark. 

>> Read more trending news 

The initiative has a deadline of 2020, the company announced.

CVS has 9,600 stores across the country and is considered one of the largest sellers of beauty products with 80 percent of the customers women. 

CVS Pharmacy President, Helena Foulkes told USAToday, “We’re all consuming massive amounts of media every day and we’re not necessarily looking at imagery that is real and true. To try to hold ourselves up to be like those women is impossible because even those women don’t look like how they appear in those photographs.”

The company hopes to have the CVS Beauty Mark on photos this year.

Walmart to raise starting wages, expand benefits: 6 things to know

Walmart officials on Thursday announced plans to increase starting wages for hundreds of thousands of the company’s employees, affecting the wallets of more than a million people across the country.

>> Read more trending news

In a news release Thursday morning, Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon characterized the wage increases and other announced benefits as “building on investments we’ve been making in associates, in their wages and skills development.”

“It’s our people who make the difference and we appreciate how they work hard to make every day easier for busy families,” he said.

>> Related: Sam's Club abruptly closes locations across the country

The announcement came on the same day that dozens of Sam’s Club locations announced they were closing for good and just days after company officials said they planned to expand Walmart’s “Mobile Express Scan & Go” app to 100 more locations. The app allows users to pay for their Walmart purchases in-store from their phones without the need to go through a checkout line manned by a cashier. The expansion has led to speculation that Walmart, the country’s largest employer, might replace some of its workforce with technology.

“(The app) means no waiting in line at the register, but presumably also means that cashiers will lose their jobs,” the Arkansas Times reported

It was not immediately clear how many jobs would be affected.

Here are six things to know about the planned changes:

1. The starting wage rate for all hourly associates in America will rise to $11, $3.75 over the federal minimum wage of $7.25 and $2 over Walmart’s previous starting wage of $9. The wage change will apply to all hourly associates in the U.S. who work in Walmart stores, Sam’s Clubs locations, eCommerce, logistics and Home Office, according to company officials.

2. The pay bump will take effect starting during the Feb. 17 pay cycle. Walmart officials said its employees will determine which associates qualify for the cash bonuses before February, “and payments will be paid as quickly as practical thereafter.”

3. Some associates will also be eligible for cash bonuses of up to $1,000, depending on how long they’ve been with Walmart. Officials said the $1,000 bonus would go to those with 20 or more years of Walmart employment.

4. The company plans to expand on its maternity and parental leave policy. Full-time hourly associates will be eligible for 10 weeks of paid maternity leave. Both hourly and salaried employees will also get six weeks of paid parental leave.

5. Walmart will create a benefit to help associates with adoption expenses. The company will provide full-time hourly and salaried associates who are adopting children with $5,000 per child to help cover expenses like adoption agency fees, legal costs and translation fees.

6. McMillon credited the recently approved tax reform bill for the changes. Company officials said they are still reviewing their options for additional investments.

“We are early in the stages of assessing the opportunities tax reform creates for us to invest in our customers and associates and to further strengthen our business, all of which should benefit our shareholders,” McMillon said Thursday. “Tax reform gives us the opportunity to be more competitive globally and to accelerate plans for the U.S.”

Subway's $5 footlong could bankrupt franchises, some owners warn

While the $5 footlong from Subway is one of the best bites for your buck in the fast food industry, business owners aren’t always fond of the deal. Some of them say it could even threaten their business.

Keith Miller, who owns three Subways in North Carolina, told The Washington Post that the ingredients in the sandwich cost him about $2, but after paying his employees and adding up all the overhead — electric, gas, rent and supplies — his store brings in a measly profit on the hoagies. When the company decided to drop the prices of its famous subs to $4.99, Miller and a number of other franchise owners sent a letter telling the higher-ups that such a move would have them staring down bankruptcy.

>> Read more trending news 

Subway isn’t the only company to keep prices low with the hopes of enticing hungry customers; Taco Bell, Wendy’s and McDonald’s both boast dollar menus. You’d probably have a tough time finding a franchise owner happy with the low-priced items, but Subway owners have been the most vocal about their complaints. They recently wrote a petition to the big wigs at the company, asking them to reconsider. Owners admitted that the cheap options bring in more customers but that even the increase in traffic “insufficient to make up for the lost margins.” The petition was signed by almost 900 people in 39 states.

Subway says the promotions are optional and that the majority of franchise owners don’t share Miller’s views. In a statement given to the Post, Subway claimed “we are in constant communication with our Franchisees and Development Agents … they are actively involved in many aspects of our decision-making process, and we welcome and encourage their feedback.”

As the minimum wage continues to rise, the prices of some products (like Subway’s sandwiches) haven’t risen to the level necessary for owners to make a profit. Miller says that when he bought his first franchise, he was bringing in profit margins as high as 18 percent. But that number has drastically dropped in recent years.

There are also a number of other problems facing franchise owners. The fast food restaurant industry has become more crowded and, on top of that, people are shopping less and less at fast food stops. And for most owners, the problems show no sign of letting up.

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