Walt Disney World goes green(er) with solar farm larger than Magic Kingdom

Posted on: April 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Orgis Energy via Walt Disney World(ORLANDO) — Disney just got a whole lot greener!

Walt Disney World has unveiled its newest and largest solar farm. At 270 acres, the site is almost twice the size of the entire Magic Kingdom.

“Here at Disney, every day is Earth Day,” Angie Renner, Environmental Integration Director of Disney Parks told “

The new facility is Disney’s largest solar endeavor to date and is expected to generate enough energy to power two of the four theme parks at Walt Disney World.

The 50 megawatt solar farm features 500,000 panels, which “is equal to about removing 10,000 cars from the road,” said Renner.

This is the second solar plant at Walt Disney World — the company announced a 22-acre Mickey Mouse-shaped facility in 2016 near EPCOT.

These facilities are all part of Disney’s goal to reduce net greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2020.

“[These projects] tag onto a long legacy of environmental stewardship that started with Walt [Disney],” Renner noted.

The new site was built in collaboration with the Reedy Creek Improvement District and Origis Energy.

“A lot of companies are understanding their carbon footprint and their impacts across the globe,” said Orgis Energy’s Scott Shivley when asked about the rising corporate trend of using solar energy.

“It’s been a lot easier [for companies] to be cost effective as well as to meet the goals of renewable energy,” added Reedy Creek director John Giddens.

Along with the solar energy harnessed by the panels, Disney also worked with environmental and horticulture experts to ensure the new plant is a nurturing habitat for wildlife, like bees and butterflies.

Two-thirds of the facility is pollinator-friendly and it also features an experimental test garden to improve research on the area.

“We have a really important opportunity here to make this site as pollinator-friendly as possible,” said Rachel Smith, a Conservation Programs Manager from Disney’s Animals, Science and Environment team.

“We know they give back to us so much so we’re trying to create that habitat for them,” Smith added.

 The company’s longstanding commitment to environmental conservation could offer a whole new world of Disney magic to visitors coming to its parks.

“I hope everyone is as excited as we are to harness the power of the sun and about this new renewable facility that’s helping bring magic and clean energy to the Disney Resort,” said Renner.

The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of ABC News.


Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Nantucket’s 2 grocery stores caught in the crosshairs of the Stop & Shop strike

Posted on: April 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Courtesy Patty Keneally(NANTUCKET, Mass.) — Mary Walsh has been working on Nantucket for 40 years, so she’s used to the seasonal nature of the Massachusetts island’s business patterns. But it’s different now.

The island that prides itself on being 30 miles out to sea, off the coast of Cape Cod, now finds itself stuck in a bit of a culinary pinch as the island’s two major grocery stores, both Stop & Shops, are caught in the midst of a company-wide workers strike.

“We’re hoping and praying for everyone that this gets settled,” said Walsh, the owner of Nantucket Wine and Spirits, which is located next to one of the Stop & Shops.

While the island’s seasonal population swells in the summer months, it’s estimated to be home to 10,590 people year-round, according to a 2017 Census Bureau estimate. The Stop & Shop locations on the island are two of the estimated 240 locations that the chain runs in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, and New Jersey. The strike started on April 11, after the company proposed changes to wages, pensions and health care plans. While some of the workers on the mainland have gotten support from high-profile Democrats, like former Vice President Joe Biden and presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg, Nantucket workers are getting their support from the locals.

One of the locations at the center of the island is open during the strike, staffed by non-union workers, while many of the union members can be found picketing in the parking lot.

Out of respect for the striking workers, many residents are doing their best to avoid the store, but it’s difficult for some who need items like diapers and baby food, which are not normally stocked elsewhere on island – or if they are available, are more expensive.

Jason Bridges, a town selectman who is also the owner of the Handlebar Cafe and Nantucket Bike Tours, said that “it’s serious, and it’s real, but it’s the nicest strike I’ve ever seen. People are bringing [the picketers] out coffee, people are waving.”

“It’s the most respectful strike I’ve seen because I think both sides know we’re going to see everybody tomorrow. They know all their customers and they know the people that work there,” Bridges said.

“Everybody thinks Nantucket is this magical place, and it is, however there is also what I’ve always called ‘the hidden Nantucket,’ it’s the poor, it’s the homeless, it’s the elders who are lonely and don’t have a lot of contact with people. Those are the people I worry about if this strike goes on two or three more weeks,” he said.

On the union front, Erikka Knuti, the spokesperson for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, told ABC News that “we understand the sacrifices that all of the customers supporting us are making.”

“We understand the importance of our store in providing food to the community, and we are committed to doing whatever it takes to minimize disruptions for our Nantucket customers and to continue to service the island community,” a Stop & Shop spokesperson told ABC News in a statement.

Stop & Shop competitors on island are trying to be supportive.

Sean Ready, the owner of gourmet food store Nantucket Meat and Fish, said that they’re offering a 10% discount “across the board for all grocery items” during the strike.

“The island is a unique community. It’s one of the communities where when something happens like this, they come together and figure it out,” Ready told ABC News.

Ready said that while they are more of a specialty store, they’ve been buying more “regular items like milk, bread, flour, amid the strike.”

The store manager at Bartlett’s Farm, a working farm with a grocery store and prepared foods section, said that they’ve been fielding requests on social media for special items like quart sizes of sour cream and larger sizes of soy milk. Welch’s Fruit Snacks and Annie’s Cheddar Bunnies have also been popular items among parents who normally turned to Stop and Shop.

Another request that took store manager Maryjane Mojer by surprise was the request for white eggs, rather than natural brown eggs, so that they could be dyed ahead of Easter.

Mojer told ABC News that while they do normally stock one or two sizes of diapers, she changed her order to six new sizes “just to try and make sure we had what people are looking for.”

Mojer said that her young staff has been working “the past seven days and 12-plus hours a day. They’re really cranking.”

“We would love to bring in more staff but this time of year, there just isn’t staff to hire,” she said.

Like Stop & Shop’s other competitors, Mojer expressed sympathy for the striking workers.

“They’re community members. They’re people I either taught in school or went to school with,” said Mojer, who used to teach culinary skills and special needs at the local high school.

“I was born and raised here, these are people that we’ve always known,” she said of the striking workers.

Sean Dew, a partner at local store Town Pool, said that the strike has been “a big topic” locally, but he and his family had good timing.

“Luckily we had done a big shop the day before, so we were pretty well-stocked prior to the strike,” Dew told ABC News.

Walsh is another longtime resident who’s trying to help out. Her wine shop will be donating 10% of their profits over Easter weekend to the striking workers.

 “They’re our neighbors so we just thought that we wanted to do something, some sort of gesture, to show our support,” Walsh said, adding that she also supports the non-union managers who are working through the strike.

“I know for a fact that all the striking workers understand” if people need to break the picket line, “that they are not taking note of who goes in and who goes out,” she said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

DNA testing service Ancestry pulls ad said to romanticize slavery

Posted on: April 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

(NEW YORK) —  DNA testing service Ancestry is pulling an ad after an online backlash accusing it of whitewashing history and rape.

The ad, which is called, “Inseparable,” shows an enslaved woman named Abigail running hand-in-hand with what would appear to be her white love interest.

“Abigail,” the man says as he pulls her toward him and pulls out a ring. “We can escape to the North. There’s a place we can be together, across the border. Will you leave with me?”

After the scene fades to black, text on the screen appears, saying: “Only you can keep the story going.” A voiceover then says, “Uncover the lost chapters of your family history with Ancestry.”

A company spokesperson confirmed it was pulling the ad in an email to ABC News.

“Ancestry is committed to telling important stories from history,” the spokesperson said. “This ad was intended to represent one of those stories. We very much appreciate the feedback we have received and apologize for any offense that the ad may have caused. We are in the process of pulling the ad from television and have removed it from YouTube.”

Ancestry did not answer questions about how the ad was conceived and executed, or how many people reviewed it or would have had to sign off on it.

Critics say the ad glosses over slavery, an era in which female slaves wouldn’t have been able to consent to sex with their owners.

“What the hell is this @Ancestry? Why do white people insist on romanticizing my Black female ancestors experiences with white men during slavery?” tweeted Bishop Talbert Swan. “They were raped, abused, treated like animals, beaten, and murdered by white men. Stop with the revisions.”

What the hell is this @Ancestry?
Why do white people insist on romanticizing my Black female ancestors experiences with white men during slavery?

They were raped, abused, treated like animals, beaten, and murdered by white men. Stop with the revisions.pic.twitter.com/cDEWdkzJPm

— Bishop Talbert Swan (@TalbertSwan) April 18, 2019

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Hudson Media buys "National Enquirer" for $100 million

Posted on: April 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Lawrey/iStock(NEW YORK) — In the wake of scandals surrounded by President Donald Trump and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the National Enquirer has been sold off by American Media Inc.

Both the U.S. and U.K. versions of the National Enquirer, known for its often-salacious tabloid fare, as well as the Globe and National Examiner, were purchased by Hudson Media for $100 million on Thursday.

“Year after year, the Enquirer has continued to be one of the best-selling and most profitable newsstand titles,” said James Cohen, owner and CEO of Hudson Media, in a release announcing the sale. “But this transaction is about more than a weekly publication, it’s about a brand with extraordinary potential across multiple platforms.”

Hudson Media owns over 1,000 shops in airports, commuter terminals and various transportation stations, according to the company.

The Enquirer was put up for sale just last week in the wake of scandals involving two of the most powerful men in the world — Trump and Bezos — and current AMI owner David Pecker. Pecker has been a friend of Trump for years.

Former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal signed a $150,000 deal with AMI in August 2016, just months before Trump was elected president, giving the publisher the exclusive rights to her first-hand account of an alleged affair with Trump 10 years earlier. The deal worked as a so-called “catch-and-kill” agreement in which AMI bought the rights with the specific intention not to publish the details.

Michael Cohen, at that time Trump’s lawyer and fixer, told Congress in February that Dylan Howard, the executive editor of the Enquirer, coordinated “catch-and-kill” payments with McDougal and porn star Stormy Daniels, who said they had affairs with Trump. Trump has always denied those affairs took place.

AMI was granted immunity from the U.S. Attorney’s Office by the Southern District of New York last December as part of a federal investigation into Cohen.

More recently, the Enquirer has been mired in an alleged extortion scandal with Bezos. The world’s richest man accused the tabloid of demanding a mea culpa not to publish intimate photos as part of a cover story on his alleged affair with former TV host Lauren Sanchez.

Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, finalized their divorce earlier this month.

The deal between Hudson Media and AMI includes a “multi-year service contract” for American Media to continue publishing and distributing the tabloids.

AMI continues to work toward paying off substantial debt. The deal would lower what the company owes to $355 million, according to the press release.

The sale is still contingent on regulatory approval.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Hudson Media buys "National Enquirer" for $100 million

Posted on: April 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Lawrey/iStock(NEW YORK) — In the wake of scandals surrounded by President Donald Trump and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, the National Enquirer has been sold off by American Media Inc.

Both the U.S. and U.K. versions of the National Enquirer, known for its often-salacious tabloid fare, as well as the Globe and National Examiner, were purchased by Hudson Media for $100 million on Thursday.

“Year after year, the Enquirer has continued to be one of the best-selling and most profitable newsstand titles,” said James Cohen, owner and CEO of Hudson Media, in a release announcing the sale. “But this transaction is about more than a weekly publication, it’s about a brand with extraordinary potential across multiple platforms.”

Hudson Media owns over 1,000 shops in airports, commuter terminals and various transportation stations, according to the company.

The Enquirer was put up for sale just last week in the wake of scandals involving two of the most powerful men in the world — Trump and Bezos — and current AMI owner David Pecker. Pecker has been a friend of Trump for years.

Former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal signed a $150,000 deal with AMI in August 2016, just months before Trump was elected president, giving the publisher the exclusive rights to her first-hand account of an alleged affair with Trump 10 years earlier. The deal worked as a so-called “catch-and-kill” agreement in which AMI bought the rights with the specific intention not to publish the details.

Michael Cohen, at that time Trump’s lawyer and fixer, told Congress in February that Dylan Howard, the executive editor of the Enquirer, coordinated “catch-and-kill” payments with McDougal and porn star Stormy Daniels, who said they had affairs with Trump. Trump has always denied those affairs took place.

AMI was granted immunity from the U.S. Attorney’s Office by the Southern District of New York last December as part of a federal investigation into Cohen.

More recently, the Enquirer has been mired in an alleged extortion scandal with Bezos. The world’s richest man accused the tabloid of demanding a mea culpa not to publish intimate photos as part of a cover story on his alleged affair with former TV host Lauren Sanchez.

Bezos and his wife, MacKenzie, finalized their divorce earlier this month.

The deal between Hudson Media and AMI includes a “multi-year service contract” for American Media to continue publishing and distributing the tabloids.

AMI continues to work toward paying off substantial debt. The deal would lower what the company owes to $355 million, according to the press release.

The sale is still contingent on regulatory approval.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Facebook collected email contacts from 1.5M users without their knowledge

Posted on: April 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Facebook(MENLO PARK, Calif.) — Facebook admitted on Thursday that it had uploaded the email contacts of 1.5 million users without their knowledge or consent, in the latest revelation about user data compromised by the social media giant.

The company also admitted that it stored the passwords of millions of Instagram users in unencrypted plain text that could be viewed by employees — the company had previously said only tens of thousands of users were impacted.

“Since May 2016, the social-networking company has collected the contact lists of 1.5 million users new to the social network,” Business Insider first reported on Wednesday.

Facebook confirmed Business Insider’s reporting in a written statement.

“Earlier this month we stopped offering email password verification as an option for people verifying their account when signing up for Facebook for the first time,” a spokesperson for the company wrote. “When we looked into the steps people were going through to verify their accounts we found that in some cases people’s email contacts were also unintentionally uploaded to Facebook when they created their account.”

“We estimate that up to 1.5 million people’s email contacts may have been uploaded. These contacts were not shared with anyone and we’re deleting them. We’ve fixed the underlying issue and are notifying people whose contacts were imported,” the statement said.

Facebook had been criticized for years for how the company stores and shares user data. This latest revelation drew more outcry.

“Collecting username and passwords for other services from users under the pretext of security, then using that information to login, download, and use users’ contacts for the purpose of advertising is a clearcut deceptive practice,” Ashkan Soltani, a privacy and security expert who served as a chief technologist of the Federal Trade Commission, told ABC News. “The dialogues under which the users’ information is collected makes no mention that the users’ information will be downloaded (it only says for security) — and there is no way to stop/delete the uploaded contacts.”

Soltani added that the company is already being investigated by regulators for deceptive practices. Facebook is facing multiple investigations for data privacy and security in Europe.

Separately, the company has quietly updated a previous post on its blog from March 21, announcing that the number of users who had their passwords stored in plain text without encryption was much higher than previously reported.

In the original March post, Pedro Canahuati, Facebook’s vice president of engineering, security and privacy wrote that the unencrypted password storage affected “hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users, tens of millions of other Facebook users, and tens of thousands of Instagram users.”

On Thursday, the company updated the post to say “we now estimate that this issue impacted millions of Instagram users. We will be notifying these users as we did the others.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Facebook collected email contacts from 1.5M users without their knowledge

Posted on: April 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Facebook(MENLO PARK, Calif.) — Facebook admitted on Thursday that it had uploaded the email contacts of 1.5 million users without their knowledge or consent, in the latest revelation about user data compromised by the social media giant.

The company also admitted that it stored the passwords of millions of Instagram users in unencrypted plain text that could be viewed by employees — the company had previously said only tens of thousands of users were impacted.

“Since May 2016, the social-networking company has collected the contact lists of 1.5 million users new to the social network,” Business Insider first reported on Wednesday.

Facebook confirmed Business Insider’s reporting in a written statement.

“Earlier this month we stopped offering email password verification as an option for people verifying their account when signing up for Facebook for the first time,” a spokesperson for the company wrote. “When we looked into the steps people were going through to verify their accounts we found that in some cases people’s email contacts were also unintentionally uploaded to Facebook when they created their account.”

“We estimate that up to 1.5 million people’s email contacts may have been uploaded. These contacts were not shared with anyone and we’re deleting them. We’ve fixed the underlying issue and are notifying people whose contacts were imported,” the statement said.

Facebook had been criticized for years for how the company stores and shares user data. This latest revelation drew more outcry.

“Collecting username and passwords for other services from users under the pretext of security, then using that information to login, download, and use users’ contacts for the purpose of advertising is a clearcut deceptive practice,” Ashkan Soltani, a privacy and security expert who served as a chief technologist of the Federal Trade Commission, told ABC News. “The dialogues under which the users’ information is collected makes no mention that the users’ information will be downloaded (it only says for security) — and there is no way to stop/delete the uploaded contacts.”

Soltani added that the company is already being investigated by regulators for deceptive practices. Facebook is facing multiple investigations for data privacy and security in Europe.

Separately, the company has quietly updated a previous post on its blog from March 21, announcing that the number of users who had their passwords stored in plain text without encryption was much higher than previously reported.

In the original March post, Pedro Canahuati, Facebook’s vice president of engineering, security and privacy wrote that the unencrypted password storage affected “hundreds of millions of Facebook Lite users, tens of millions of other Facebook users, and tens of thousands of Instagram users.”

On Thursday, the company updated the post to say “we now estimate that this issue impacted millions of Instagram users. We will be notifying these users as we did the others.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Samsung will investigate problems with new Galaxy Fold phones

Posted on: April 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — After reports from tech reviewers that screens on the new Samsung Galaxy Fold phones quickly became damaged, the company responded by saying it “thoroughly inspect” the units.

Reviewers for Bloomberg, The Verge and CNBC reported several different problems with the groundbreaking “foldable” screens on the new Samsung phone .

The model is still scheduled to ship to the public on April 26, the company said Thursday.

“A limited number of early Galaxy Fold samples were provided to media for review. We have received a few reports regarding the main display on the samples provided. We will thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter,” a Samsung spokesperson wrote to ABC News in a statement.

On Wednesday, The Verge’s Dieter Bohn wrote that he found a small bulge on the crease of the phone which was “just enough to slightly distort the screen.”

“My best guess is that it’s a piece of debris, something harder than lint for sure. It’s possible that it’s something else, though, like the hinge itself on a defective unit pressing up on the screen,” Bohn wrote. “It’s a distressing thing to discover just two days after receiving my review unit.”

The Galaxy Fold has a 4.6-inch display when folded as a phone and 7.3-inch display when unfolded as a tablet. Prices start at $1,980, depending on region and carrier, and will come in an LTE or 5G option.

If these screen problems prove to be widespread, troubles for the Galaxy Fold would come at a pivotal time for the mobile phone industry. Sales of smart phones have slowed globally as phones become more and more expensive and the market has become saturated. The new Galaxy Fold was touted as the first foldable phone, though it is really two screens that are connected with a hinge.

Foldable phones were expected to jump start the market, and several companies unveiled foldable models at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain in February, days after Samsung unveiled the Galaxy fold. Several brands have planned launches for later this year.

Research company Gartner predicts that foldable phones will make up 5 percent of high-end phones sales by 2023, around 30 million units.

Bohn isn’t the only reviewer who had a problem. CNBC’s Todd Haselton wrote: “A review unit given to CNBC by Samsung is also completely unusable after just two days of use.” Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman tweeted: “The screen on my Galaxy Fold review unit is completely broken and unusable just two days in. Hard to know if this is widespread or not.”

Gurman did say he accidentally removed a protective film on the screen, but notes that most customers would probably do the same.

“How are people not going to peel this off?” Gurman tweeted.

“A few reviewers reported having removed the top layer of the display causing damage to the screen,” Samsung said in a statement. “The main display on the Galaxy Fold features a top protective layer, which is part of the display structure designed to protect the screen from unintended scratches. Removing the protective layer or adding adhesives to the main display may cause damage. We will ensure this information is clearly delivered to our customers.”

However, CNBC’s Haselton noted that his phone stopped working despite keeping the protective film intact.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Samsung will investigate problems with new Galaxy Fold phones

Posted on: April 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — After reports from tech reviewers that screens on the new Samsung Galaxy Fold phones quickly became damaged, the company responded by saying it “thoroughly inspect” the units.

Reviewers for Bloomberg, The Verge and CNBC reported several different problems with the groundbreaking “foldable” screens on the new Samsung phone .

The model is still scheduled to ship to the public on April 26, the company said Thursday.

“A limited number of early Galaxy Fold samples were provided to media for review. We have received a few reports regarding the main display on the samples provided. We will thoroughly inspect these units in person to determine the cause of the matter,” a Samsung spokesperson wrote to ABC News in a statement.

On Wednesday, The Verge’s Dieter Bohn wrote that he found a small bulge on the crease of the phone which was “just enough to slightly distort the screen.”

“My best guess is that it’s a piece of debris, something harder than lint for sure. It’s possible that it’s something else, though, like the hinge itself on a defective unit pressing up on the screen,” Bohn wrote. “It’s a distressing thing to discover just two days after receiving my review unit.”

The Galaxy Fold has a 4.6-inch display when folded as a phone and 7.3-inch display when unfolded as a tablet. Prices start at $1,980, depending on region and carrier, and will come in an LTE or 5G option.

If these screen problems prove to be widespread, troubles for the Galaxy Fold would come at a pivotal time for the mobile phone industry. Sales of smart phones have slowed globally as phones become more and more expensive and the market has become saturated. The new Galaxy Fold was touted as the first foldable phone, though it is really two screens that are connected with a hinge.

Foldable phones were expected to jump start the market, and several companies unveiled foldable models at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain in February, days after Samsung unveiled the Galaxy fold. Several brands have planned launches for later this year.

Research company Gartner predicts that foldable phones will make up 5 percent of high-end phones sales by 2023, around 30 million units.

Bohn isn’t the only reviewer who had a problem. CNBC’s Todd Haselton wrote: “A review unit given to CNBC by Samsung is also completely unusable after just two days of use.” Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman tweeted: “The screen on my Galaxy Fold review unit is completely broken and unusable just two days in. Hard to know if this is widespread or not.”

Gurman did say he accidentally removed a protective film on the screen, but notes that most customers would probably do the same.

“How are people not going to peel this off?” Gurman tweeted.

“A few reviewers reported having removed the top layer of the display causing damage to the screen,” Samsung said in a statement. “The main display on the Galaxy Fold features a top protective layer, which is part of the display structure designed to protect the screen from unintended scratches. Removing the protective layer or adding adhesives to the main display may cause damage. We will ensure this information is clearly delivered to our customers.”

However, CNBC’s Haselton noted that his phone stopped working despite keeping the protective film intact.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Vacation site offers free flights for teachers

Posted on: April 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

aylinstock/iStock(NEW YORK) — Does anyone deserve a vacation more than a teacher?

We think not. And CheapCaribbean.com agrees.

The site is giving away free flights to Mexico to 50 teachers and their guests.

Simply sign up at Beach4Teach Club by May 9. On the last day of Teacher Appreciation Week, May 10, members of the site will receive an email to register for free flights to Mexico.

The Beach4Teach Club is CheapCaribbean’s membership program offering year-round, exclusive beach deals, upgrades and packages for teachers. The membership is free to join and 3,000 new teacher members have singed up since the free flight promotion began, according to CheapCaribbean.com.

Members must select dates for a 6+-night trip to a Zoetry, Breathless Secrets, Reflect, Now or Sunscape resort in Mexico; and travel July 10 to Dec. 31, 2019, with select blackout dates.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Former Vice President Joe Biden rallies striking Stop & Shop workers

Posted on: April 19th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(BOSTON) — Speaking to hundreds of striking Stop & Shop workers in Boston on Thursday, former Vice President Joe Biden said he is “sick” of how their employer is making billions of dollars while treating employees like they don’t matter.

Standing on the back of a flatbed truck in the parking lot of a Stop & Shop supermarket in the Dorchester neighborhood, Biden told the picketing workers, “Don’t give up.”

“What’s happening here is that workers are not being treated across the board with dignity. They’re not being treated like they matter,” said Biden, standing in front of a sign reading “One job should be enough.”

“And let me get something straight with you all, Wall Street bankers and CEOs did not build America. You built America. We built America. Ordinary middle-class people built America and, guys, that’s not hyperbole. That’s just a simple fact,” he continued.

Workers at about 240 Stop & Shop stores — most of which are in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island — walked off their jobs on April 11 after the company proposed changes to wages and pension and health care plans. About 31,000 workers, represented by United Food & Commercial Workers International, have been walking picket lines ever since.

The workers’ labor contract expired on Feb. 23.

The union says the company’s latest offer would take away premium pay for union employees who work on national holidays and Sundays, eliminate pay raises and reduce the company’s contributions to pensions and health care costs.

The company, however, says that under its proposal, workers’ wages would rise and remain above the industry average. Stop & Shop, owned by Dutch supermarket giant Ahold Delhaize, would cover at least 92 percent of health care premiums for family coverage and 88 percent for individual coverage, according to the proposal.

The company says workers would see the health care premiums they pay rise from $2 to $4 a week.

“There is nothing we want more than having our associates back in the stores, taking care of customers and our communities,” Jennifer Brogan, communications director for Stop & Shop, said in a statement to ABC News following Biden’s speech. “We have offered fair and responsible contracts and remain in active negotiations to reach new agreements as quickly as possible that keep our associates among the highest paid grocery retail workers in New England, while also providing excellent health care and increased contributions to a defined benefit pension plan.”

Biden, a possible presidential contender, noted that Stop & Shop’s parent company made $4 billion in the last two years and received a huge tax cut in 2017 under President Donald Trump’s tax reform policy, which he called “a scam.”

“And what do they do?” Biden said of Ahold Delhaize. “They bought back $3 billion of their own stock. You know why? Because that increased the value of the stock that’s left. That means the CEO gets paid a hell of a lot more, the wealthy get paid a lot more and the stock carriers get paid a lot more.”

In January, Ahold Delhaize reported that in the fourth quarter of 2018 its sales increased by about 3 percent, or $18.76 billion.

“In the U.S., we continued to see good momentum in the financial performance across the brands. We are excited about the program to refresh the look and feel of our Stop & Shop brand and the rapid expansion of our Click and Collect options for our customers,” Frans Muller, president and CEO of Ahold Delhaize, said in the report.

Biden said that instead of sharing profits with its workers, Ahold Delhaize seems more intent on continuing to boost its bottom line.

“It used to be a basic bargain that if you contributed to the benefit of the outfit you work with, you got to share in the benefits,” Biden added. “But that doesn’t happen anymore. Wages have gone up very little, productivity has gone up exponentially and where are you sitting? The same place you’ve been before. This is wrong. This is morally wrong what’s going on around the country and I’ve had enough of it. I’m sick of it and so are you.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Car-sharing service car2go temporarily halts Chicago operations after 50 Mercedes stolen from fleet

Posted on: April 18th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Roberto Galan/iStock(CHICAGO) — Car-sharing company car2go has temporarily suspended service in Chicago after dozens of cars were stolen from its fleet.

A total of 100 cars were unaccounted for, 50 of which were Mercedes-Benz vehicles, officials with the Chicago Police Department said in a statement. The cars may have been rented by deceptive or fraudulent means through car2go’s mobile app, police said.

Several vehicles have been recovered, and persons of interest are being questioned, police said, adding that the recoveries appear to be isolated to Chicago’s West Side.

Car2go — which now goes by the name SHARE NOW — tweeted Wednesday afternoon that service had been temporarily paused as the company works with law enforcement to “neutralize a fraud issue.” Users’ information was not compromised, the company said.

A spokeswoman for the car-sharing service said in a statement to ABC News that the company is actively recovering its vehicles. Service had not been reinstated as of Thursday morning.

Car2go allows users to rent cars “on demand” in urban cities, according to its website. A Smart car costs 24 cents per minute, while Mercedes-Benz CLA and GLA vehicles cost 29 cents per minute. The service is available in 25 cities around the world, seven of which are in the U.S.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Car-sharing service car2go temporarily halts Chicago operations after 50 Mercedes stolen from fleet

Posted on: April 18th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Roberto Galan/iStock(CHICAGO) — Car-sharing company car2go has temporarily suspended service in Chicago after dozens of cars were stolen from its fleet.

A total of 100 cars were unaccounted for, 50 of which were Mercedes-Benz vehicles, officials with the Chicago Police Department said in a statement. The cars may have been rented by deceptive or fraudulent means through car2go’s mobile app, police said.

Several vehicles have been recovered, and persons of interest are being questioned, police said, adding that the recoveries appear to be isolated to Chicago’s West Side.

Car2go — which now goes by the name SHARE NOW — tweeted Wednesday afternoon that service had been temporarily paused as the company works with law enforcement to “neutralize a fraud issue.” Users’ information was not compromised, the company said.

A spokeswoman for the car-sharing service said in a statement to ABC News that the company is actively recovering its vehicles. Service had not been reinstated as of Thursday morning.

Car2go allows users to rent cars “on demand” in urban cities, according to its website. A Smart car costs 24 cents per minute, while Mercedes-Benz CLA and GLA vehicles cost 29 cents per minute. The service is available in 25 cities around the world, seven of which are in the U.S.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Disney Cruise Line debuts Captain Minnie Mouse, aims to inspire girls

Posted on: April 18th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Disney Cruise Line(NEW YORK) — Aye, aye, Captain Minnie Mouse!

Disney Cruise Line announced Thursday the debut of Captain Minnie Mouse. The cruise line aims to inspire the next generation of female leaders in the maritime industry.

In addition to the first ever pants-wearing Captain Minnie, DCL’s new youth programs and the funding of scholarships are designed to empower girls and young women to pursue careers in the cruise industry.

“Captain Minnie Mouse, in her crisp new uniform with smart white trousers or skirt and a bold red jacket emblazoned with captain’s insignia, will make the rounds on all Disney ships starting in April,” Disney Cruise Line said.

In 2019, Disney Cruise Line will sponsor four scholarships at the LJM Maritime Academy in the Bahamas for female cadets who aspire to be ship captains and shipboard leaders. The scholarships, one for each of the ships in the Disney Cruise Line fleet, will include tuition to the three-year program. The scholarships will include two years of study at the academy and one year of service aboard a Disney ship.

Later this year, Captain Minnie will appear in an all-new youth activity where young captain hopefuls practice STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills in a fun maritime-themed activity in Disney’s Oceaneer Lab aboard all Disney ships.

She’ll also visit kids in local communities. Captain Minnie Mouse will visit children in some of Disney Cruise Line’s home ports and ports of call. As part of these local community visits, Captain Minnie Mouse will be accompanied by a female Disney Cruise Line officer or crew member to showcase their roles in the maritime industry and raise awareness about career choices for women aboard a cruise ship.

And of course, there’s merchandise.

Items in the nautical-themed collection of apparel and gifts tout the tagline, “You Can Call Me Captain.” A brand-new Captain Minnie Mouse plush will be introduced this summer. On board in DCL’s Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, girls will soon be able to choose a Captain Minnie makeover. A new PANDORA Jewelry charm will also be available for purchase exclusively on board.

The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Disney Cruise Line debuts Captain Minnie Mouse, aims to inspire girls

Posted on: April 18th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Disney Cruise Line(NEW YORK) — Aye, aye, Captain Minnie Mouse!

Disney Cruise Line announced Thursday the debut of Captain Minnie Mouse. The cruise line aims to inspire the next generation of female leaders in the maritime industry.

In addition to the first ever pants-wearing Captain Minnie, DCL’s new youth programs and the funding of scholarships are designed to empower girls and young women to pursue careers in the cruise industry.

“Captain Minnie Mouse, in her crisp new uniform with smart white trousers or skirt and a bold red jacket emblazoned with captain’s insignia, will make the rounds on all Disney ships starting in April,” Disney Cruise Line said.

In 2019, Disney Cruise Line will sponsor four scholarships at the LJM Maritime Academy in the Bahamas for female cadets who aspire to be ship captains and shipboard leaders. The scholarships, one for each of the ships in the Disney Cruise Line fleet, will include tuition to the three-year program. The scholarships will include two years of study at the academy and one year of service aboard a Disney ship.

Later this year, Captain Minnie will appear in an all-new youth activity where young captain hopefuls practice STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) skills in a fun maritime-themed activity in Disney’s Oceaneer Lab aboard all Disney ships.

She’ll also visit kids in local communities. Captain Minnie Mouse will visit children in some of Disney Cruise Line’s home ports and ports of call. As part of these local community visits, Captain Minnie Mouse will be accompanied by a female Disney Cruise Line officer or crew member to showcase their roles in the maritime industry and raise awareness about career choices for women aboard a cruise ship.

And of course, there’s merchandise.

Items in the nautical-themed collection of apparel and gifts tout the tagline, “You Can Call Me Captain.” A brand-new Captain Minnie Mouse plush will be introduced this summer. On board in DCL’s Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, girls will soon be able to choose a Captain Minnie makeover. A new PANDORA Jewelry charm will also be available for purchase exclusively on board.

The Walt Disney Company is the parent company of ABC News.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Six tips for millennial home buyers from realtors across the country

Posted on: April 18th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Feverpitched/iStock(NEW YORK) — When it comes to home buying, millennials rule the game.

Millennials as a whole accounted for 37 percent of all buyers last year, making them the most active generation of buyers for the sixth consecutive year, according to the National Association of Realtors’ 2019 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study.

Many millennials are first-time home buyers, learning to navigate the world of loans, mortgages and interest rates. Millennials also bring to the real estate table considerations that generations before them have not faced in such depth, like student debt.

With their specific needs, millennials need specific advice. ABC News’ Good Morning America asked realtors across the country for their top tips for millennial buyers.

Here is their advice in their own words:

Tip #1: Get your finances in order before you shop

I often tell clients that the easiest part is finding the property, the biggest (and in my opinion the first) piece of the puzzle is one’s finances and determining which type of financing they should take advantage of so that they are in the best position to go out and “shop.” This goes for a buyer of any age, but especially a younger buyer who might not have a significant financial history and therefore need to explore unique lending opportunities.

Talk to your realtor and ask them for a lender (or two) they’d recommend you chat with. Another thing to keep in mind, is that going in to the bank that you use is not often the best option. Larger banks have more restrictive guidelines that might not allow a buyer to find the best financing option as well as be competitive in the market.

It’s never too early to talk to a lender especially if you think you have some financial messiness you need to fix. They can help you get a game plan together.

– Danai Mattison Sky, sales manager, Long and Foster Realty, Washington D.C.

Tip #2: Don’t settle

The first home you look at may be “The One”, or it may be the 10th home. If you don’t have a good feeling before buying a house, that feeling will still be there after you buy the house, so trust your instincts and don’t settle!

– Ashley Christie, realtor and broker associate, GRI, Tampa, Florida

Tip #3: Think long-term

A hip condo downtown may seem like a great place to establish your first permanent residence, but consider how that investment looks in five years. Where will your career take you? What appreciation does the area have?

If a single-family home is too daunting, consider an attached duplex or town home with a smaller lot size. You will have a broader pool of buyers in the future and the equity gain often exceeds that of a high-rise building.

– Heather Heuer, Denver Metro Association of REALTORS Chair-Elect, Denver, Colorado

Tip #4: Don’t assume that you cannot buy

The sooner you buy a home the closer you are to financial freedom. Once you buy property you stop paying someone else’s mortgage and you start paying your own.

However, make sure that you first get pre-approved and talk to a good local lender to understand how much you can buy and what the costs will be to buy. Talking to a lender may show you that you need to improve you’re credit a bit or pay off a few more student loans but the sooner you know the sooner you can be ready to get into a home.

– Bill Head, MetroTex Association of REALTORS, Dallas, Texas

Tip #5: Determine your ‘must haves’

Buyers in their early 30s tend to be more established in life. I encourage these buyers to give me a list of what is a must have vs a want in their future home. We reference this list often throughout the buying process and will even sometimes make changes to the initial list after we have seen a house or two.

This list is imperative especially if a husband and wife have different wants or needs. Lastly, this also gives them peace of mind that they really have found the “perfect” house when making an offer because the house will typically check off all the boxes on their wish list.

– Marie A. Gregorio, realtor, Century 21, Tampa, Florida

Tip #6: Ask a lot of questions

Ask a lot of questions of your realtor. There really should be no question to big or small to ask, whether its strategizing about a putting together a competitive offer or identifying an inspector or lender or anything else. Consulting them is a good complement to your own research.

– Thomas P. Daley, realtor and broker, Washington, D.C.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Six tips for millennial home buyers from realtors across the country

Posted on: April 18th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Feverpitched/iStock(NEW YORK) — When it comes to home buying, millennials rule the game.

Millennials as a whole accounted for 37 percent of all buyers last year, making them the most active generation of buyers for the sixth consecutive year, according to the National Association of Realtors’ 2019 Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends study.

Many millennials are first-time home buyers, learning to navigate the world of loans, mortgages and interest rates. Millennials also bring to the real estate table considerations that generations before them have not faced in such depth, like student debt.

With their specific needs, millennials need specific advice. ABC News’ Good Morning America asked realtors across the country for their top tips for millennial buyers.

Here is their advice in their own words:

Tip #1: Get your finances in order before you shop

I often tell clients that the easiest part is finding the property, the biggest (and in my opinion the first) piece of the puzzle is one’s finances and determining which type of financing they should take advantage of so that they are in the best position to go out and “shop.” This goes for a buyer of any age, but especially a younger buyer who might not have a significant financial history and therefore need to explore unique lending opportunities.

Talk to your realtor and ask them for a lender (or two) they’d recommend you chat with. Another thing to keep in mind, is that going in to the bank that you use is not often the best option. Larger banks have more restrictive guidelines that might not allow a buyer to find the best financing option as well as be competitive in the market.

It’s never too early to talk to a lender especially if you think you have some financial messiness you need to fix. They can help you get a game plan together.

– Danai Mattison Sky, sales manager, Long and Foster Realty, Washington D.C.

Tip #2: Don’t settle

The first home you look at may be “The One”, or it may be the 10th home. If you don’t have a good feeling before buying a house, that feeling will still be there after you buy the house, so trust your instincts and don’t settle!

– Ashley Christie, realtor and broker associate, GRI, Tampa, Florida

Tip #3: Think long-term

A hip condo downtown may seem like a great place to establish your first permanent residence, but consider how that investment looks in five years. Where will your career take you? What appreciation does the area have?

If a single-family home is too daunting, consider an attached duplex or town home with a smaller lot size. You will have a broader pool of buyers in the future and the equity gain often exceeds that of a high-rise building.

– Heather Heuer, Denver Metro Association of REALTORS Chair-Elect, Denver, Colorado

Tip #4: Don’t assume that you cannot buy

The sooner you buy a home the closer you are to financial freedom. Once you buy property you stop paying someone else’s mortgage and you start paying your own.

However, make sure that you first get pre-approved and talk to a good local lender to understand how much you can buy and what the costs will be to buy. Talking to a lender may show you that you need to improve you’re credit a bit or pay off a few more student loans but the sooner you know the sooner you can be ready to get into a home.

– Bill Head, MetroTex Association of REALTORS, Dallas, Texas

Tip #5: Determine your ‘must haves’

Buyers in their early 30s tend to be more established in life. I encourage these buyers to give me a list of what is a must have vs a want in their future home. We reference this list often throughout the buying process and will even sometimes make changes to the initial list after we have seen a house or two.

This list is imperative especially if a husband and wife have different wants or needs. Lastly, this also gives them peace of mind that they really have found the “perfect” house when making an offer because the house will typically check off all the boxes on their wish list.

– Marie A. Gregorio, realtor, Century 21, Tampa, Florida

Tip #6: Ask a lot of questions

Ask a lot of questions of your realtor. There really should be no question to big or small to ask, whether its strategizing about a putting together a competitive offer or identifying an inspector or lender or anything else. Consulting them is a good complement to your own research.

– Thomas P. Daley, realtor and broker, Washington, D.C.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Twitter not equipped to deal with violent threats: Expert

Posted on: April 18th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

RomanOkopny/iStock(NEW YORK) — Granted, he’s a cybersecurity expert, but it only took Chad Loder a couple of hours to funnel hundreds of death threats to freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar into a Twitter “Moment”.

“Please help report this collection of threats to Ilhan Omar’s safety. It is a felony under 18 U.S.C. § 871-875 to threaten US government officials. Any tweets which illegally call for violence, murder, or lynching of Ilhan Omar should be reported,” Loder wrote on the curation of menacing posts.

He did this to prove a point: that Twitter’s ill-equipped to deal with the hate speech and threatened violence on its platform, Loder told ABC News on Wednesday.

Last month, Omar’s remarks to the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) immediately following the mosque attacks in New Zealand were taken out of context by conservative outlets to seem as if she was dismissive of the Sept. 11 attacks. In the speech, she had said “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something, and all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”

The coverage has resulted in an uptick in threats of violence aimed at Omar online.

“I just decided I wanted to highlight everything that’s been going on and put it all into one place for people to see because I don’t think people realize quite how bad it gets,” Loder, CEO and founder of cybersecurity firm Habitu8, said.

Because algorithms are trained to introduce content to users based on what they engage with, those likely to be offended by such threats might not see them.

Over the weekend, Loder used search terms like “to the head” coupled with “Ilhan” or “string up” or “string her up” or “highest tree” or “Muslim pic and Ilhan” to find death threats to the freshman representative from Minnesota, who is Somali-American and Muslim, and collect them in one “Moment” so that users could see them, and for Twitter to take action.

“Watching the discourse around how Twitter will admit, ‘Hey we need to do more, we realize what a problem harassment is,’ it gets really frustrating because when they say it’s a hard problem they mostly mean expensive, not hard,” Loder said.

“A lot of this stuff we need to do to police hate speech and death threats and online radicalization, is fairly simple to do if you have the will to spend the money on it. It’s not really about AI (artificial intelligence) and it’ s not really about machine learning. It’s really about making decision on policies,” Loder said. “For example, if someone threatens to lynch a black Muslim woman politician then why would you ban them and then let them back on the platform 24 hours later? Those sorts of policies don’t seem to make sense.”

On Tuesday, Twitter released an update to its online safety policies, stating the company now has a system to flag hate speech or offensive comments before it’s reported by victims which it did not have as recently as this time last year. The company also said 100,000 accounts were suspended for creating new accounts after a suspension in the first three months of this year — a 45 percent increase from the same time last year.

CEO and founder Jack Dorsey also gave a TED Talk in which he addressed the abuse on the platform

A Twitter spokesperson wrote ABC News in an emailed statement: “Death threats, incitement to violence, and hateful conduct are absolutely unacceptable on Twitter. Accounts spreading this type of material will be removed and coupled with our proactive engagement, we continue to encourage people to report this content to us. This behavior undermines freedom of expression and the values our service is based on.”

Still, many of the threats Loder pointed out stayed up all weekend.

“Due to the nature of concrete threats that we’re seeing, some of this content — which would have otherwise been immediately removed — was temporarily maintained to enable potential law enforcement coordination. Capitol Hill police are working on this issue,” a source familiar with the situation told ABC News.

Rep. Omar retweeted one of Loder’s tweets about the threats to her. Her office did not respond to multiple requests for comment from ABC News.

 Loder said he understands that the humans who police the content for Twitter and other platforms are “overwhelmed” from watching child pornography, actual violence and online radicalization.

But, he added, “the trust and safety work human beings have to do is very, very expensive. When Twitter says, ‘we need more AI machine learning’ they’re saying, ‘we want to invest as little as possible in these expensive human beings.’ In the meantime there’s a huge gap between what the machines can do and what humans can do and in that gap is where the abuse happens. It’s very expensive to invest in that.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Twitter not equipped to deal with violent threats: Expert

Posted on: April 18th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

RomanOkopny/iStock(NEW YORK) — Granted, he’s a cybersecurity expert, but it only took Chad Loder a couple of hours to funnel hundreds of death threats to freshman Congresswoman Ilhan Omar into a Twitter “Moment”.

“Please help report this collection of threats to Ilhan Omar’s safety. It is a felony under 18 U.S.C. § 871-875 to threaten US government officials. Any tweets which illegally call for violence, murder, or lynching of Ilhan Omar should be reported,” Loder wrote on the curation of menacing posts.

He did this to prove a point: that Twitter’s ill-equipped to deal with the hate speech and threatened violence on its platform, Loder told ABC News on Wednesday.

Last month, Omar’s remarks to the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) immediately following the mosque attacks in New Zealand were taken out of context by conservative outlets to seem as if she was dismissive of the Sept. 11 attacks. In the speech, she had said “CAIR was founded after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something, and all of us were starting to lose access to our civil liberties.”

The coverage has resulted in an uptick in threats of violence aimed at Omar online.

“I just decided I wanted to highlight everything that’s been going on and put it all into one place for people to see because I don’t think people realize quite how bad it gets,” Loder, CEO and founder of cybersecurity firm Habitu8, said.

Because algorithms are trained to introduce content to users based on what they engage with, those likely to be offended by such threats might not see them.

Over the weekend, Loder used search terms like “to the head” coupled with “Ilhan” or “string up” or “string her up” or “highest tree” or “Muslim pic and Ilhan” to find death threats to the freshman representative from Minnesota, who is Somali-American and Muslim, and collect them in one “Moment” so that users could see them, and for Twitter to take action.

“Watching the discourse around how Twitter will admit, ‘Hey we need to do more, we realize what a problem harassment is,’ it gets really frustrating because when they say it’s a hard problem they mostly mean expensive, not hard,” Loder said.

“A lot of this stuff we need to do to police hate speech and death threats and online radicalization, is fairly simple to do if you have the will to spend the money on it. It’s not really about AI (artificial intelligence) and it’ s not really about machine learning. It’s really about making decision on policies,” Loder said. “For example, if someone threatens to lynch a black Muslim woman politician then why would you ban them and then let them back on the platform 24 hours later? Those sorts of policies don’t seem to make sense.”

On Tuesday, Twitter released an update to its online safety policies, stating the company now has a system to flag hate speech or offensive comments before it’s reported by victims which it did not have as recently as this time last year. The company also said 100,000 accounts were suspended for creating new accounts after a suspension in the first three months of this year — a 45 percent increase from the same time last year.

CEO and founder Jack Dorsey also gave a TED Talk in which he addressed the abuse on the platform

A Twitter spokesperson wrote ABC News in an emailed statement: “Death threats, incitement to violence, and hateful conduct are absolutely unacceptable on Twitter. Accounts spreading this type of material will be removed and coupled with our proactive engagement, we continue to encourage people to report this content to us. This behavior undermines freedom of expression and the values our service is based on.”

Still, many of the threats Loder pointed out stayed up all weekend.

“Due to the nature of concrete threats that we’re seeing, some of this content — which would have otherwise been immediately removed — was temporarily maintained to enable potential law enforcement coordination. Capitol Hill police are working on this issue,” a source familiar with the situation told ABC News.

Rep. Omar retweeted one of Loder’s tweets about the threats to her. Her office did not respond to multiple requests for comment from ABC News.

 Loder said he understands that the humans who police the content for Twitter and other platforms are “overwhelmed” from watching child pornography, actual violence and online radicalization.

But, he added, “the trust and safety work human beings have to do is very, very expensive. When Twitter says, ‘we need more AI machine learning’ they’re saying, ‘we want to invest as little as possible in these expensive human beings.’ In the meantime there’s a huge gap between what the machines can do and what humans can do and in that gap is where the abuse happens. It’s very expensive to invest in that.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Cummings accuses Republicans of obstructing drug prices investigation

Posted on: April 18th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

busracavus/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Democratic chairman of the House Oversight Committee, on Wednesday accused his Republican colleagues of obstructing the committee’s sweeping investigation into rising drug prices, after they sent letters sent to 12 drug companies urging them not to participate in the probe.

Republican Reps. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows sent letters to a dozen top drug company CEOs earlier this month warning them not to participate in Cummings’ investigation, arguing the probe is strictly partisan and suggesting Cummings is likely to leak information drug companies turn over to the committee.

“You personally may have no interest in bringing down drug prices for your constituents, you honestly may believe it is more important to protect drug company profits and stock prices than the budgets of American families, and you may even disagree with President Trump that drug companies are ‘getting away with murder’, but your efforts to interfere with this investigation represent a new low for a Member of this Committee,” Cummings wrote in a letter to Ranking Member Jordan.

“It is one thing to have an honest disagreement about the Committee’s policy or approach—which would command respect—but it is quite another to actively obstruct an investigation in the service of placing corporate interests over those of the American people,” Cummings wrote.

In their letter to the companies, Meadows and Jordan argue that Cummings released “sensitive information” as it relates to the closed-door interview of Tricia Newbold, the White House whistleblower who brought concerns over the security clearance process to the committee, attempting to make the companies fearful Cummings will do the same to them.

“To the contrary, the information released during the security clearance investigation was carefully vetted to remove sensitive information, and it accurately set forth the concerns of a career whistleblower who exhausted all other avenues to address these concerns internally,” Cummings wrote.

Jordan tweeted Wednesday that Cummings was “trying to divert attention from the classic Washington gaffe of telling the truth. He bragged about affecting “stock prices with regard to drugs.”

The issue is a top priority for Cummings. In January, he sent letters to the 12 drug companies asking for information and communications regarding “price increases, investments in research and development, and corporate strategies to preserve market share and pricing power.”

It’s an effort that also has traction with President Donald Trump and thereby has the pharmaceutical industry on edge.

The administration has taken steps to crack down on this very issue.

Trump said during a 2017 Cabinet meeting that drug companies are “getting away with murder” and pledged to lower drug prices.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Cummings accuses Republicans of obstructing drug prices investigation

Posted on: April 18th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

busracavus/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Democratic chairman of the House Oversight Committee, on Wednesday accused his Republican colleagues of obstructing the committee’s sweeping investigation into rising drug prices, after they sent letters sent to 12 drug companies urging them not to participate in the probe.

Republican Reps. Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows sent letters to a dozen top drug company CEOs earlier this month warning them not to participate in Cummings’ investigation, arguing the probe is strictly partisan and suggesting Cummings is likely to leak information drug companies turn over to the committee.

“You personally may have no interest in bringing down drug prices for your constituents, you honestly may believe it is more important to protect drug company profits and stock prices than the budgets of American families, and you may even disagree with President Trump that drug companies are ‘getting away with murder’, but your efforts to interfere with this investigation represent a new low for a Member of this Committee,” Cummings wrote in a letter to Ranking Member Jordan.

“It is one thing to have an honest disagreement about the Committee’s policy or approach—which would command respect—but it is quite another to actively obstruct an investigation in the service of placing corporate interests over those of the American people,” Cummings wrote.

In their letter to the companies, Meadows and Jordan argue that Cummings released “sensitive information” as it relates to the closed-door interview of Tricia Newbold, the White House whistleblower who brought concerns over the security clearance process to the committee, attempting to make the companies fearful Cummings will do the same to them.

“To the contrary, the information released during the security clearance investigation was carefully vetted to remove sensitive information, and it accurately set forth the concerns of a career whistleblower who exhausted all other avenues to address these concerns internally,” Cummings wrote.

Jordan tweeted Wednesday that Cummings was “trying to divert attention from the classic Washington gaffe of telling the truth. He bragged about affecting “stock prices with regard to drugs.”

The issue is a top priority for Cummings. In January, he sent letters to the 12 drug companies asking for information and communications regarding “price increases, investments in research and development, and corporate strategies to preserve market share and pricing power.”

It’s an effort that also has traction with President Donald Trump and thereby has the pharmaceutical industry on edge.

The administration has taken steps to crack down on this very issue.

Trump said during a 2017 Cabinet meeting that drug companies are “getting away with murder” and pledged to lower drug prices.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

31,000 striking Stop & Shop workers poised to get boost from Joe Biden

Posted on: April 17th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Scott Eisen/Getty Images(BOSTON) — As a strike by 31,000 unionized Stop & Shop supermarket workers throughout the Northeast stretched into its seventh day Wednesday, Joe Biden was ready to speak up.

The former vice president is scheduled to join the striking workers at a rally at one of their picket lines in Boston on Thursday, according to representatives of the United Food & Commercial Workers International.

Workers at about 240 Stop & Shop stores — most of which are in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island — walked off their jobs April 11 after the company proposed changes to wages and pension and health care plans.

“Negotiations are continuing. Our goal remains the same — reaching a fair new agreement and returning our focus to doing what we do best — taking care of our customers,” Stefanie Shuman, a spokeswoman for Stop & Shop, said in a statement to ABC News on Wednesday.

The workers’ labor contact expired on Feb. 23.

“Stop & Shop’s latest proposal will drastically increase out-of-pocket health care costs, kick approximately 1,000 employees’ spouses off of their health care plan, and make it more challenging for 31,000 people to provide for themselves and their families,” the UFCW said in a statement this week. “If the company’s most recent offer becomes a reality, every working family, neighborhood, consumer, and community will be hurt.”

The union says the company’s latest offer would take away premium pay for union employees who work on national holidays and Sundays, eliminate pay raises and reduce the company’s contributions to pensions and health care costs.

The company, however, says under its proposal, workers’ wages would rise and remain above the industry average. Stop & Shop, owned by Dutch supermarket giant Ahold Delhaize, would cover at least 92 percent of health care premiums for family coverage and 88 percent for individual coverage, according to the proposal.

The company says workers would see the health care premiums they pay rise $2 to $4 a week.

Since the strike started, Stop & Shop management has struggled to keep shelves stocked and stores open as delivery truck drivers, who are members of the Teamsters union, refused to cross picket lines.

On Tuesday, Stop & Shop president Mark McGowan issued an apology to customers for the “inconvenience” the strike caused.

“First, we want you to know, Stop & Shop recognizes the valuable role our associates play in creating a great experience for you,” McGowan said in a statement. “They are a part of your lives, a part of our community, and key to our success. That’s why it is so important to us to provide a fair contract to our employees who are members of the UFCW unions currently on strike.”

 Union representatives said the company, founded in Massachusetts in 1914, has temporarily closed dozens of stores as it struggled to staff them with managers and nonunion workers.

“Most stores remain open for business seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with some reduced services,” McGowan said. “However, bakery, customer service, deli and seafood counters will not be operational, and we currently have a limited meat selection. Our gas stations are also closed at this time.”

 Some striking workers said they are eager to get back to work and hope a contract agreement can be reached soon.

“To be on the sidewalk, getting yelled at by strangers instead of being in there slinging cold cuts is pretty demoralizing. This needs to end, yesterday,” Ian Giribaldi, an eight-year Stop & Shop employee, told ABC Boston station WCVB-TV.

Kenneth Farnham, who has worked for the supermarket chain in Boston for 15 years, told WCVB-TV, “I want to get back to work.”

“All I asked is a fair shake for myself and all Stop & Shop employees,” Farnham said. “We deserve it.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

31,000 striking Stop & Shop workers poised to get boost from Joe Biden

Posted on: April 17th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Scott Eisen/Getty Images(BOSTON) — As a strike by 31,000 unionized Stop & Shop supermarket workers throughout the Northeast stretched into its seventh day Wednesday, Joe Biden was ready to speak up.

The former vice president is scheduled to join the striking workers at a rally at one of their picket lines in Boston on Thursday, according to representatives of the United Food & Commercial Workers International.

Workers at about 240 Stop & Shop stores — most of which are in Massachusetts, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island — walked off their jobs April 11 after the company proposed changes to wages and pension and health care plans.

“Negotiations are continuing. Our goal remains the same — reaching a fair new agreement and returning our focus to doing what we do best — taking care of our customers,” Stefanie Shuman, a spokeswoman for Stop & Shop, said in a statement to ABC News on Wednesday.

The workers’ labor contact expired on Feb. 23.

“Stop & Shop’s latest proposal will drastically increase out-of-pocket health care costs, kick approximately 1,000 employees’ spouses off of their health care plan, and make it more challenging for 31,000 people to provide for themselves and their families,” the UFCW said in a statement this week. “If the company’s most recent offer becomes a reality, every working family, neighborhood, consumer, and community will be hurt.”

The union says the company’s latest offer would take away premium pay for union employees who work on national holidays and Sundays, eliminate pay raises and reduce the company’s contributions to pensions and health care costs.

The company, however, says under its proposal, workers’ wages would rise and remain above the industry average. Stop & Shop, owned by Dutch supermarket giant Ahold Delhaize, would cover at least 92 percent of health care premiums for family coverage and 88 percent for individual coverage, according to the proposal.

The company says workers would see the health care premiums they pay rise $2 to $4 a week.

Since the strike started, Stop & Shop management has struggled to keep shelves stocked and stores open as delivery truck drivers, who are members of the Teamsters union, refused to cross picket lines.

On Tuesday, Stop & Shop president Mark McGowan issued an apology to customers for the “inconvenience” the strike caused.

“First, we want you to know, Stop & Shop recognizes the valuable role our associates play in creating a great experience for you,” McGowan said in a statement. “They are a part of your lives, a part of our community, and key to our success. That’s why it is so important to us to provide a fair contract to our employees who are members of the UFCW unions currently on strike.”

 Union representatives said the company, founded in Massachusetts in 1914, has temporarily closed dozens of stores as it struggled to staff them with managers and nonunion workers.

“Most stores remain open for business seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with some reduced services,” McGowan said. “However, bakery, customer service, deli and seafood counters will not be operational, and we currently have a limited meat selection. Our gas stations are also closed at this time.”

 Some striking workers said they are eager to get back to work and hope a contract agreement can be reached soon.

“To be on the sidewalk, getting yelled at by strangers instead of being in there slinging cold cuts is pretty demoralizing. This needs to end, yesterday,” Ian Giribaldi, an eight-year Stop & Shop employee, told ABC Boston station WCVB-TV.

Kenneth Farnham, who has worked for the supermarket chain in Boston for 15 years, told WCVB-TV, “I want to get back to work.”

“All I asked is a fair shake for myself and all Stop & Shop employees,” Farnham said. “We deserve it.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Feds launch investigation into American Airlines accident at JFK airport

Posted on: April 17th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

XavierMarchant/iStock(NEW YORK) — The National Transportation Safety Board is launching an investigation into an accident that occurred last week when an American Airlines jet struck a runway distance marker upon take off from John F. Kennedy International Airport, the agency announced Wednesday.

On April 10 at 8:40 p.m., the Airbus A321 scheduled to fly to Los Angeles with 110 people on board took off from the New York airport and struck the object with its left wingtip, according to the airline and investigators.

The flight returned to the airport and landed safely 29 minutes later, with no injuries to passengers or crew, American Airlines said in a statement.

NTSB investigations typically last 6-12 months and culminate with the independent agency determining a probable cause of the accident.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Feds launch investigation into American Airlines accident at JFK airport

Posted on: April 17th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

XavierMarchant/iStock(NEW YORK) — The National Transportation Safety Board is launching an investigation into an accident that occurred last week when an American Airlines jet struck a runway distance marker upon take off from John F. Kennedy International Airport, the agency announced Wednesday.

On April 10 at 8:40 p.m., the Airbus A321 scheduled to fly to Los Angeles with 110 people on board took off from the New York airport and struck the object with its left wingtip, according to the airline and investigators.

The flight returned to the airport and landed safely 29 minutes later, with no injuries to passengers or crew, American Airlines said in a statement.

NTSB investigations typically last 6-12 months and culminate with the independent agency determining a probable cause of the accident.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Carl’s Jr. testing CBD-infused Rocky Mountain High Cheese Burger Delight at Denver location

Posted on: April 17th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

typhoonski/iStock(DENVER) — Cannabis enthusiasts in Colorado will now have a savory food item to balance out a well-rounded diet of CBD-infused sweets.

Carl’s Jr. has announced that it’s testing a cannabidiol-infused burger, dubbed the Rocky Mountain High Cheese Burger Delight, at one of its Denver locations on Saturday, which happens to be April 20, the unofficial holiday for marijuana fanatics.

4/20 only: We're dropping our Rocky Mountain High Cheese Burger Delight with CBD-infused Santa Fe sauce at one Denver location only. #rockymountainhigh pic.twitter.com/Ekk4f4r1YL

— Carl’s Jr. (@CarlsJr) April 17, 2019

The burger will be sold exclusively at the Carl’s Jr. on 4050 Colorado Blvd and, keeping with the theme, will retail for $4.20, according to a press release from the fast food company.

The secret to the burger’s potentially calming qualities will be in its “Santa Fe Sauce,” which is infused with 5 milligrams of CBD, according to The Denver Post reported. The oil used in the sauce will be derived from hemp, not THC, which is the principal psychoactive ingredient in marijuana that gets users high.

Each customer will be limited to purchasing two burgers, and it will only be available to customers 18 and older, The Post reported.

“The new Rocky Mountain High: CheeseBurger Delight ties back to our core strategy of being the first to bring bold and unexpected flavors that are at the forefront of hot restaurant trends to a quick service menu,” said Patty Trevino, Senior Vice President, Brand Marketing at Carl’s Jr. in a statement. “From our early introduction into plant-based options to bringing the rare indulgence of truffles to our menu with the new Bacon Truffle Angus Burger, our customers have come to expect innovative and unique menu offerings, and we’re thrilled to be the first quick service restaurant to be testing CBD infused options.”

The FDA still bans the use of CBD in food and beverages, but last year then-Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper passed a law saying that hemp should be treated the same as any food ingredient, and in December, President Donald trump signed a federal farm bill that reclassified hemp as an agricultural product rather than a controlled substance, The Denver Post reported. CBD is widely used to treat pain and anxiety.

Although the sale of the burger will be limited to Saturday for now, Carl’s Jr. said in a statement that “there is potential to expand as regulations allow,” according to The Post.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Uber launches feature that lets female drivers in Saudi Arabia avoid taking male passengers

Posted on: April 17th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

nycshooter/iStock(NEW YORK) — Uber has launched a new initiative that will allow female drivers in Saudi Arabia to avoid picking up male passengers.

The “Women Preferred View” feature in the app gives women drivers the choice to select a preference of women-only riders, according to a statement by Uber. Research conducted by global market research and a consulting firm Ipsos found that 74 percent of prospective female drivers in the country would only be interested in driving female riders, according to Uber.

The rideshare company tested a pilot version of the feature last year and has now incorporated it fully to female drivers in Saudi Arabia. It is unclear if the company plans to offer similar options for women drivers in other countries.

The new feature is part of the “Masaruky” or “your path” initiative, which was created in 2018 in part to increase women’s participation in the workforce after Saudi Arabian law changed in September 2017 to allow women to drive, Uber said in a statement.

After months of research, Uber found that 93 percent of Saudi women saw the lift to the driving ban as positive and another 78 percent planned to obtain a driver’s license, according to the statement.

Uber has seen an “incredible response” in Saudi Arabia after the launch of Masaruky, Abdellatif Waked, General Manager of Uber Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement.

“We launched this feature in response to the feedback we received from women drivers in Saudi Arabia and we are committed to always being thoughtful of how we can always improve their experience driving on the app,” Waked said. “This is just the start, and we will continue working with experts to leverage our external research as we move forward to ensure that this is in the best interest of women driver-partners in the Kingdom.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Upping pressure on Cuba, Trump admin to allow lawsuits against companies using confiscated property

Posted on: April 17th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The Trump administration is moving to allow lawsuits in U.S. courts against any company or entity doing business in Cuba using property seized in the 1959 revolution, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Wednesday.

The move is meant to choke off foreign investment in Cuba as the administration seeks to tighten economic pressure on the government there in a repeal of President Barack Obama’s opening to Cuba and an effort to punish Cuba for its support of President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.

“Sadly, Cuba’s most prominent export these days is not cigars or rum, it’s oppression. Detente with the regime has failed. Cozying up to Cuban dictators will always be a black mark on this great nation’s long record of defending human rights,” Pompeo said in a clear swipe at the Obama administration.

Lawsuits can begin starting May 2. The lawsuits were originally authorized under a 1996 law known as Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act, but Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama had extended six-month waivers for 23 years because the lawsuits were seen as disruptive, likely ineffective, and particularly damaging to U.S. allies in Europe.

But Pompeo signaled this move was coming by shortening those waivers in recent months and then in March allowing lawsuits against businesses and entities with ties to Cuba’s security and intelligence services. Now, lawsuits against any business or entity will be allowed, with no exemptions — including for American companies. The European Union issued a statement last week to urge the administration not to move forward with the move, threatening lawsuits against the U.S. at the World Trade Organization and to allow counter suits in European courts if it did.

“European companies that are operating in Cuba will have nothing to worry about if they are not operating on property that was stolen from Americans post-revolution,” Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Kimberly Breier told reporters.

The U.S. has certified 6,000 claims by Americans for confiscated property seized by the Castro regime that were worth $2 billion in total at the time they were confiscated, according to the Department of Justice’s Foreign Claims Settlement Commission. Those properties could be worth $8 billion with interest now, although a 1996 estimate found that there could be up to 200,000 more claims that have not been certified, potentially worth tens of billions of dollars.

“Implementing Title III in full means a chance at justice for Cuban Americans who have long sought relief for Fidel Castro and his lackeys seizing property without compensation,” Pompeo said, referring to the section of the 1996 law that allowed for lawsuits.

But the lawsuits could also backfire, according to some critics, because it means those European or even American companies would have to now pay compensation, instead of the Cuban government.

“This doesn’t punish the Cuban government; it lets them off the hook,” said James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, a coalition of private companies and organizations that lobbies for the end of the U.S. embargo of Cuba. “This decision punishes the Cuban people and American companies — companies who were given permission by the U.S. government to do business and are now having the rug pulled from underneath them.”

National Security Adviser John Bolton is expected to announce further penalties against Cuba during an address to the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association in Miami to mark the 58th anniversary of the failed effort to topple Fidel Castro’s government. Those could include new sanctions against senior Cuban officials or restrictions on U.S. trade with or remittances to Cuba, with Breier saying, “You’re going to see quite a bit more from us, and this is the beginning of a new process on this.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Upping pressure on Cuba, Trump admin to allow lawsuits against companies using confiscated property

Posted on: April 17th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Drew Angerer/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — The Trump administration is moving to allow lawsuits in U.S. courts against any company or entity doing business in Cuba using property seized in the 1959 revolution, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Wednesday.

The move is meant to choke off foreign investment in Cuba as the administration seeks to tighten economic pressure on the government there in a repeal of President Barack Obama’s opening to Cuba and an effort to punish Cuba for its support of President Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela.

“Sadly, Cuba’s most prominent export these days is not cigars or rum, it’s oppression. Detente with the regime has failed. Cozying up to Cuban dictators will always be a black mark on this great nation’s long record of defending human rights,” Pompeo said in a clear swipe at the Obama administration.

Lawsuits can begin starting May 2. The lawsuits were originally authorized under a 1996 law known as Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity Act, but Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Obama had extended six-month waivers for 23 years because the lawsuits were seen as disruptive, likely ineffective, and particularly damaging to U.S. allies in Europe.

But Pompeo signaled this move was coming by shortening those waivers in recent months and then in March allowing lawsuits against businesses and entities with ties to Cuba’s security and intelligence services. Now, lawsuits against any business or entity will be allowed, with no exemptions — including for American companies. The European Union issued a statement last week to urge the administration not to move forward with the move, threatening lawsuits against the U.S. at the World Trade Organization and to allow counter suits in European courts if it did.

“European companies that are operating in Cuba will have nothing to worry about if they are not operating on property that was stolen from Americans post-revolution,” Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Kimberly Breier told reporters.

The U.S. has certified 6,000 claims by Americans for confiscated property seized by the Castro regime that were worth $2 billion in total at the time they were confiscated, according to the Department of Justice’s Foreign Claims Settlement Commission. Those properties could be worth $8 billion with interest now, although a 1996 estimate found that there could be up to 200,000 more claims that have not been certified, potentially worth tens of billions of dollars.

“Implementing Title III in full means a chance at justice for Cuban Americans who have long sought relief for Fidel Castro and his lackeys seizing property without compensation,” Pompeo said, referring to the section of the 1996 law that allowed for lawsuits.

But the lawsuits could also backfire, according to some critics, because it means those European or even American companies would have to now pay compensation, instead of the Cuban government.

“This doesn’t punish the Cuban government; it lets them off the hook,” said James Williams, president of Engage Cuba, a coalition of private companies and organizations that lobbies for the end of the U.S. embargo of Cuba. “This decision punishes the Cuban people and American companies — companies who were given permission by the U.S. government to do business and are now having the rug pulled from underneath them.”

National Security Adviser John Bolton is expected to announce further penalties against Cuba during an address to the Bay of Pigs Veterans Association in Miami to mark the 58th anniversary of the failed effort to topple Fidel Castro’s government. Those could include new sanctions against senior Cuban officials or restrictions on U.S. trade with or remittances to Cuba, with Breier saying, “You’re going to see quite a bit more from us, and this is the beginning of a new process on this.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

A woman’s journey from stay-at-home mom to construction worker: ‘It isn’t just guys’ work’

Posted on: April 17th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Carlyn McClelland(MIDDLEBURY, Ind.) — Carlyn McClelland is a licensed contractor working at Clayton Homes in Middlebury, Indiana, who helps put the finishing touches on customers’ dream homes. But for the former probation officer with a degree in criminal justice from Michigan State University, it’s a far cry from the reality she once knew.

“I just wanted to learn how to fix my house,” McClelland told ABC News, describing a renovation project in her 100-year-old home that sat untouched for far too long.

“I was starting to get frustrated with the level of things that needed to get done around the house. And I didn’t know how to do them, and my husband didn’t have time to do them because he was working hard to provide for our family,” she added. “And it hit me like an epiphany: ‘You can do this stuff. This isn’t just guys’ work.'”

Another part of her revelation? She had recently lost 150 pounds.

“Because I had lost all of this weight, I had the energy and I had the ability to do it. I just needed the know-how,” she said.

So in 2015, McClelland — ready to go back to work but looking for something more hands-on than her prior job — started looking into programs that would give her the carpentry skills and training she needed to fix up her own home and “fix a few other homes along the way.” Inspired to teach her two young boys how to take care of their own future homes, she found the Construction Trades Green Technology program at Southwestern Michigan College in Dowagiac.

“I was about two weeks into my program when I realized that I should have done construction my whole entire life,” she said.

But she had already accumulated debt from graduate school and she knew she wasn’t going to go down that road again.

“Why did I have to go to school and take all of this debt for a job that I never really wanted to begin with?” she said. “I could’ve gone to school for two years, got an associate’s degree, or even just gone into … union carpentry, never taken out any debt and made a ridiculous amount of money in a field that’s in demand. … Why wouldn’t people want to do this? That just makes sense to me.”

McClelland needed a boost to complete her associate’s degree. It was at that point that celebrity TV host Mike Rowe entered into her life.

While Rowe was in the trenches working as an apprentice in various professions on his hit show Dirty Jobs, he says he saw a real disconnect in society.

Since 2008, he has been working to bring awareness of the value of work and has advocated for skilled trades through the mikeroweWORKS Foundation. His mission: “To help close the skills gap by challenging the stigmas and stereotypes that discourage people from pursuing the millions of available jobs. We’re redefining the definition of a good education and a good job, because we don’t think a four-year degree is the best path for most people.”

To do so, Rowe has stepped up through his foundation by granting or helping to facilitate the granting of over $5 million in technical or vocational education to help more than 1,000 students, including through the Work Ethic Scholarship, the primary program of the foundation. This year, mikeroweWORKS plans to award at least $500,000 in scholarships to some of the 550 applicants.

“I said to my husband, ‘I’m gonna apply for one of those scholarships and I’m gonna win it,'” McClelland said. “And everything that I did from that point forward was like a résumé builder, something I can check off and send to Mike Rowe when I apply for his scholarship the next spring.”

McClelland receive those scholarship funds and that money helped her finish her two-year program to graduate with her associate of applied science in construction trades green technology in 2018.

“It was huge and it was humbling,” McClelland said. “I knew in my mind that whatever I was gonna do was gonna be to make him proud.”

Back at her home, McClelland is proud of herself for not only working in a field she loves but far exceeding her original goal. That’s because McClelland and her husband, Paul, have purchased and are renovating their dream home together. She even has her own tool room. It’s safe to say no project is going untouched now.

“My favorite part has been when it comes to birthdays, Christmas and anniversaries, I get to buy tools [for my wife],” he told ABC News. “It’s fantastic!”

And as for what’s next for McClelland, she’s ready to pay it forward.

“I think when women see the construction field they think of all the heavy lifting involved in construction and I don’t think women realize the number of opportunities that are available,” she said. “And my goal now, going forward, is to try to expose as many people to this opportunity as possible.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.