Airbag-maker Takata files for bankruptcy in Japan, US

Posted on: June 25th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

KAZUHIRO NOGI/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Takata Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection in the U.S. and Japan on Sunday.

The Japanese auto parts maker has struggled to stay afloat amid lawsuits and recall costs over its deadly air bag inflators.

More than a dozen deaths are linked to the company’s faulty airbags. About 100 million have been recalled worldwide, with 70 million being pulled in the U.S., marking the largest automotive safety recall in history.

Chinese-owned Key Safety Systems in Detroit, Michigan, a Takata rival, reached an agreement with the auto parts maker to buy most of its assets and acquire its manufacturing operations for about $1.6 billion.

Takata agreed to pay the U.S. $1 billion in criminal penalties earlier this year, including a $25 million fine, $125 million to those who were injured by the airbags, and $850 million to automakers.

Kevin Dean, a lawyer in South Carolina who has dozens of cases pending against Takata, told ABC News the company’s bankruptcy filing was “a cowardly act by a cowardly company and their lawyers to avoid liability.”

“We currently have pending a number of cases across the United States involving wrongful deaths, people that are hit with these flying shrapnel,” he said. “One gentleman can not smile anymore. It damaged one of his facial nerves to the point where he can not speak anymore.”

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FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney shares five things infrequent fliers need to know

Posted on: June 25th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Flying can be costly, especially for those who don’t do it often. FareCompare CEO Rick Seaney sat down with ABC News to tell us what infrequent fliers need to know before they book a flight.

Here’s what he had to say:

Some people fly frequently for work, but more of us are what you could call leisure travelers who might fly one summer, drive the next.

Traveling by plane only sporadically can leave gaps in our knowledge because the air-travel industry changes its rules and practices often.

A few years ago, for instance, getting free meals when flying coach was the norm. Then that perk disappeared. Now it’s making a comeback.

Here are some other things infrequent travelers may need to know.

1. Get to the airport early.

Rushing to the gate with seconds to spare is a thing of the past. These days, airlines have added incentive to take off and arrive on time because the government publishes these statistics for the world to see; as a result, airlines like Delta suggest domestic passengers arrive at the airport two hours early, check in 30 minutes before departure and be at the gate at least 15 minutes before takeoff. Why? Because sometimes planes leave early, and if you’re not there, they’re not going to wait for you.

Suggestion: Don’t be late. You could get stuck with a $200 ticket-change fee.

2. Checking bags usually costs

Free checked bags: Southwest is the only U.S. airline that will still check bags for free.

Free carry-on bags: Most of the big airlines offer this, with the exception of travelers flying on basic economy fares on American and United. Smaller airlines including Allegiant, Frontier and Spirit generally charge fees for all luggage.

Suggestion: Use a carry-on even if you have to pay for it because the bag that travels by your side is a bag that won’t go missing.

3. Forget about refunds

Except in very rare cases, once you buy your ticket, there’s no changing your mind because the cheapest tickets are almost always nonrefundable. Be very sure of your travel dates before you book.

Suggestion: If you must change your mind about a trip, do so within 24 hours of ticket purchase; by law, changes within this grace period are free.

4. Pay-to-pick seats

This is increasingly common, and you’ll see it on nearly every airline: You buy a ticket, go to pick your seat and find that the only free seats are middle seats way in the back. If you want a seat next to an aisle, window or not directly across from a restroom, you may have to pay a fee for it. On some discount airlines, you get no choice at all; if you don’t pay the fee, you will be randomly assigned a seat and should not expect much.

Suggestion: These pick-your-seat fees can change as the departure date gets closer, so keep checking back to see if you can get a better deal.

5. Freebies, what freebies?

Meals in economy are making a comeback, but don’t get too excited because they are offered on only a few routes of a few airlines. As for blankets and pillows, those airlines that still offer these amenities will make you pay for it. The availability of entertainment options is all over the map, but some airlines are phasing out seat-back screens because so many travelers bring their own electronic devices. Be sure you have your device.

Suggestion: Save money, bring a lunch from home, take a warm jacket, and carry headphones or ear buds for your device. And keep your charger handy.

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Al Capone’s diamond pocket watch fetches over $84K at ‘gangster’ auction

Posted on: June 24th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Donaldson Collection/Getty Images(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) — Capone’s watch as well as a musical composition he handwrote behind bars in Alcatraz were among the items up for bid in the “Gangsters, Outlaws and Lawmen” auction by RR Auction, an auction house headquartered in Boston.

Capone, who was born to Italian immigrants in New York City, headed a Chicago-based crime empire during the Prohibition era that raked in millions of dollars through bootlegging, gambling, racketeering and other illicit activities. He was dubbed Scarface by the press after his face was slashed during a fight, a nickname he apparently disliked.

“Unlike his more maligned moniker of ‘Scarface,’ Capone preferred that those closest to him call him by ‘Snorky,’ a slang term which meant ‘sharp’ or ‘well-dressed,'” according to a description accompanying Capone’s watch on RR Auction’s website.

According to the auction house, the rounded triangular pocket watch was personally owned and used by Capone. The timepiece is on its original chain made of 14-karat white gold. The exterior of the case features 23 diamonds shaped to form Capone’s initials, “AC,” which are encircled by 26 additional diamonds. Another 72 diamonds circle the watch’s platinum face and gold-tone impressed numerals.

Online bids for Capone’s watch had surpassed $17,000 prior to the live auction Saturday afternoon. Experts estimated the item would sell for more than $25,000, according to RR Auction.

A musical piece entitled “Humoresque,” written in pencil by Capone when he was incarcerated in Alcatraz in the 1930s, was also up for grabs. The musical manuscript shows Capone’s softer side, containing the lines: “You thrill and fill this heart of mine, with gladness like a soothing symphony, over the air, you gently float, and in my soul, you strike a note.”

Experts estimated the sheet will sell for over $20,000, according to RR auction. it went for $18,750.

Also up for auction Saturday was a letter written by gangster boss John Gotti, two life-size death masks of gangster John Dillinger, a brick from the scene of the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, and jewelry that belonged to infamous crime duo Bonnie and Clyde.

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Al Capone’s diamond pocket watch among items at ‘gangster’ auction

Posted on: June 24th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Donaldson Collection/Getty Images(CAMBRIDGE, Mass.) — Al Capone’s diamond-studded, platinum pocket watch and other artifacts that belonged to some of America’s most notorious gangsters are being auctioned Saturday.

Capone’s watch, as well as a musical composition he handwrote behind bars in Alcatraz, are among the items up for bid in the “Gangsters, Outlaws and Lawmen” auction in Massachusetts on Saturday by RR Auction, an auction house headquartered in Boston.

Capone, who was born to Italian immigrants in New York City, headed a Chicago-based crime empire during the Prohibition era that raked in millions of dollars through bootlegging, gambling, racketeering and other illicit activities. He was dubbed “Scarface” by the press after his face was slashed during a fight, a nickname he apparently disliked.

“Unlike his more maligned moniker of ‘Scarface,’ Capone preferred that those closest to him call him by ‘Snorky,’ a slang term which meant ‘sharp’ or ‘well-dressed,’ ” according to a description accompanying Capone’s watch on RR Auction’s website.

According to the auction house, the rounded triangular pocket watch was personally owned and used by Capone. The timepiece is on its original chain made of 14-karat white gold. The exterior of the case features 23 diamonds shaped to form Capone’s initials, “AC,” which are encircled by 26 additional diamonds. Another 72 diamonds circle the watch’s platinum face and gold-tone-impressed numerals.

Online bids for Capone’s watch had surpassed $17,000 prior to the live auction Saturday afternoon. Experts estimate the item will sell for more than $25,000, according to RR Auction.

A musical piece entitled “Humoresque,” written in pencil by Capone when he was incarcerated in Alcatraz in the 1930s, is also up for grabs. The musical manuscript shows Capone’s softer side, containing the lines: “You thrill and fill this heart of mine, with gladness like a soothing symphony. Over the air, you gently float, and in my soul, you strike a note.”

Experts estimate the sheet will sell for over $20,000, according to RR auction.

Also up for auction are a letter written by gangster boss John Gotti, two life-size death masks of gangster John Dillinger, a brick from the scene of the 1929 St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, and jewelry that belonged to infamous crime duo Bonnie and Clyde.

Online bidding for the items ended Friday. A live auction was scheduled for 1 p.m. ET on Saturday at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Energy shares rebound, Wall Street closes mostly higher

Posted on: June 23rd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Although the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed flat, U.S. stocks finished mostly higher on Friday with energy companies rebounding from earlier this week.

The Dow Jones slid 2.53 (-0.01 percent) to finish at 21,394.76.

The Nasdaq jumped 28.56 (+0.46 percent) to close at 6,265.25, while the S&P 500 finished at 2,438.30, up 3.80 (+0.16 percent) from its open.

Crude oil was about 1 percent higher with prices at $43 per barrel.

Winners and Losers:
  An earnings miss for Bed Bath & Beyond sent shares plunging 12 percent.

Barnes & Noble climbed 8 percent after reporting a narrower-than-expected loss in its fiscal fourth quarter.

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Texas police officer sues Ford, claims his squad SUV made him sick

Posted on: June 23rd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(AUSTIN, Texas) — A Texas police officer has filed a lawsuit against Ford Motor Company, claiming that his squad car literally made him sick.

Austin Police Sgt. Zachary LaHood was issued a 2011 Ford Explorer, a sport utility vehicle that’s popular with police departments around the country. In March, while he was behind the wheel of the SUV, LaHood passed out and had a minor accident.

His attorney, Brian Chase, blames an exhaust leak that’s been found in that model.

“I want the public to be outraged over our police driving these cars to protect us, sometimes at very high rates of speed, are at risk of passing out and not only killing themselves, but crashing into us,” Chase said.

LaHood alleges that Ford Motor Co. knew about a potential exhaust leak in 2011 to 2015 Explorer police models and issued a recall. The automaker says it’s aware of an odor in some Explorers, but adds that its own investigation has determined that it isn’t a health or safety risk.

The sergeant says he has lingering neurological damage and wants over a million dollars from Ford and the dealership which, his lawsuit alleges, failed to fix the problem.

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Study: Gunmakers ramping up production, focusing on ‘freedom and security’ message

Posted on: June 23rd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Gun makers have boosted production in recent years, focusing on more high-caliber pistols and rifles designed for self-defense and shifting away from recreational firearms used for hunting and target shooting, the authors of a new study said.

Gun violence kills more than 36,000 Americans each year, according to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Authors of the study, published Thursday in The American Journal of Preventive Medicine, said research has focused on victims of gun violence and government policies, while their study is one of the first to focus on gun industry practices.

Looking at data compiled by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the researchers noted a significant increase in gun manufacturing overall from 2005 to 2013, in contrast to a slight downward trend before 2005.

They also found that driving this growth was higher production of pistols and rifles, and the pistols tended to be higher-caliber models, or ones that fire larger bullets. The authors said that five major gun manufacturers control nearly 60 percent of the market, so changes in production of one manufacturer could significantly affect the others.

“It seems clear to us that the trend is for self-defense,” lead study author Dr. Michael Siegel told ABC News.

Siegel, a professor of community health sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health, further suggested that the findings provide evidence of a change in consumer demand.

“[Manufacturers] have reinvented guns not as a recreational sport or tool but as a symbol of freedom and security,” he said.

The study authors further suggested that the issue of gun violence should shift from the criminal justice perspective to the public health arena — a point that has been opposed by the National Shooting Sports Foundation, a major industry organization for gun manufacturers.

“Guns are not a disease,” Lawrence G. Keane, the foundation’s senior vice president and general counsel, told ABC News in a statement. “There is no vaccine or health intervention for the criminal misuse of firearms.”

Siegel, however, said the study is important because it points to the industry’s responsibility in preventing gun violence.

He added that the goal of the research was not to deprive gun owners of their weapons.

“They are not the enemy in public health,” he said. “There are ways to reduce gun violence while valuing gun owners’ values … It has been painted too long as mutually exclusive.”

Siegel said that the group’s next research steps are to identify the most effective methods and policies for isolating the small number of people who are most likely to commit acts of violence using guns.

“The solution lies in not taking guns away from people who are law-abiding but by being more effective at keeping guns out of the hands of the people who are at highest risk of gun violence,” he said.

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Little change on Wall Street as stocks give back early gains

Posted on: June 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

JaysonPhotography/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Another mixed day on Wall Street saw the indices give back most of their early-session gains on Thursday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 12.74 to a close of 21,397.29.

The Nasdaq climbed to 6,236.69, a gain of 2.74, while the S&P 500 dipped to 2,434.50, dropping 1.11 on the day.

Some employees at Uber have circulated a petition to bring back CEO Travis Kalanick. Kalanick resigned the position this week amid controversy, but it remains unclear exactly how unpopular he was within the company he created.

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FCC fines Miami man $120 million for making more than 100 million spoofed robocalls

Posted on: June 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

BrianAJackson/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday announced a $120 million fine against a Miami man accused of making more than 100 million spoofed robocalls in a three-month span.

According to the FCC, Adrian Abramovich used those spoofed calls to trick consumers into listening to his advertising messages. Approximately 80,000 spoofed calls were verified by the agency.

According to a press release from the FCC, consumers reported receiving calls that they believed to be originating from local phone numbers. Once answered, however, an automated message encouraged them to “Press 1” to hear about travel deals. Those individuals who pressed the button were transferred to foreign call centers and operators attempted to sell them vacation packages, and often timeshares.

The call centers were not affiliated with the comnpanies mentioned in the recorded message.

TripAdvisor contacted the FCC regarding the calls in 2016, following complaints from customers who believed the company was responsible for the robocalls. Medical paging provider Spok also issued a complaint to the FCC, saying that the calls disrupted its network.

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George Clooney, partners sell tequila company for $1 billion

Posted on: June 22nd, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — George Clooney won’t have to worry about a college fund for his newborn twins.

The Oscar winner just sold his tequila business with partners Rande Gerber and Michael Meldman to British company Diageo for $1 billion, ABC News has confirmed.

“If you asked us four years ago if we had a billion-dollar company, I don’t think we would have said yes,” Clooney said in a statement. “This reflects Diageo’s belief in our company and our belief in Diageo.”

CNBC first reported on the deal, in which Diageo will pay an initial $700 million, with the potential for another $300 million over 10 years based on the tequila’s performance.

Clooney made it clear that although he and his partners sold the company, they will still be involved.

“We’re not going anywhere,” he said in his statement. “We’ll still be very much a part of Casamigos.”

The three friends started the company, which translates to “house of friends,” as a private collection of tequilas meant just for their friends and family. But in 2013, they took the company public and Gerber, the husband of supermodel Cindy Crawford, told CNBC, “It immediately took off.”

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Energy stocks fall in tough day on Wall Street

Posted on: June 21st, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

JaysonPhotography/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A rough day for energy stocks pushed Wall Street lower on Wednesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the day down 53.89, closing at 21,413.25.

The Nasdaq gained 45.92 to a finish of 6,233.95, while the S&P 500 ended the session at 2,435.78, 1.25 lower than on Tuesday.

Rig Operator Transocean saw its stock prices drop about five percent. AT&T dipped 1.3 percent.

This year’s J.D. Power annual initial quality survey saw Kia claim the top spot, boasting the best new vehicle quality for the second consecutive year. Genesis, Porsche, Ford and Ram were in the top five.

The worst ranking brands were Fiat, Jaguar, Volvo, Mitsubishi and Land Rover.

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167 drivers pay it forward in McDonald’s drive-thru

Posted on: June 21st, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

McDonald’s(SCOTTSBURG, Ind.) — McDonald’s cashier Hunter Hostetler is on the lookout for the customer who started a 167-driver pay-it-forward chain at the Scottsburg, Indiana, McDonald’s where Hostetler has worked since October.

“I keep looking for her, hoping I see her and can tell her what happened,” Hostetler told ABC News. “I don’t know if she knows, but I hope to see her again so I can tell her.”

Hostetler, 19, was working the drive-thru on Sunday night when, at around 8:30 p.m., the mystery woman drove to the window to pick up her approximately $6 food order.

When the woman, whom Hostetler described as being in her early 60s, saw there was a man with four kids in the car behind her, she told Hostetler she’d pay for his $36 food order too.

“She paid it in full and told me to tell the dad Happy Father’s Day,” Hostetler recalled.

When Hostetler told the man that his four Happy Meals and other food were paid for, he offered to pay for the next two cars behind him.

“It just snowballed from there up until we closed,” Hostetler said.

When Hostetler closed the drive-thru at midnight, the total number of cars who had joined the pay it forward chain was up to 167.

“It was very heartwarming,” Hostetler said. “The last customer who came through even asked if there was another car and I said, ‘Ma’am I’m sorry you’re our last customer for the night. We’re closing.’”

Abby Smith, 22, said she and her boyfriend made a last-minute decision to go to McDonald’s around 11:30 p.m. on Sunday and were shocked to find themselves as car No. 161 in the chain.

“I was just shocked because of the large number,” Smith said. “I didn’t even think about it I just said, ‘Go ahead, take what the previous person put down. Go ahead and take that from us too.’”

She added, “This made me feel like it was just a big family congregation. It was such a great feeling.”

Hostetler recalled that customers like Smith paid little attention to whether or not the meal they were paying for was three or four times the cost of what they ordered for themselves. For customers who could not afford to pay the difference, Hostetler and his colleague, Jessica Wells, donated money out of their own pockets to help.

“There’s so much negativity in the world,” Hostetler said. “Something like this just doesn’t happen every day.”

Frank Ward, the owner of the Scottsburg McDonald’s, described the chain as an “act of kindness.”

“McDonald’s believes in supporting the local communities in which we operate,” Ward said in a statement to ABC News. “I was proud to experience the Scottsburg community come together in this act of kindness under the Golden Arches.”

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Surprising drop for Apple’s Tim Cook on highest-rated CEO list

Posted on: June 21st, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Photo by Stephen Lam/Getty Images(NEW YORK) —  A number of tech company leaders made Glassdoor’s list of the 100 highest-rated CEOs for 2017, but one in particular saw his stock fall.

The list, released on Wednesday, uses ratings from anonymous employees to review those in charge of their own companies. The ratings are then combined with an algorithm to rank the best executives.

Clorox CEO Benno Dorer came out on top this year, receiving a rating of 99 percent. That figure was equaled by World Wide Technology’s Jim Kavanagh, Boston Scientific’s Michael Mahoney, Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Craig B. Thompson, Fast Enterprises’ Martin Rankin, and NVIDIA’s Jen-Hsun Huang.

Last year’s top executive, Bain & Company’s Bob Bechek, slipped to number seven this year, with a rating of 98%.

The biggest names on the list included SpaceX’s Elon Musk (8th) and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg (10th), each with a 98% approval rating.

Apple’s Tim Cook, who placed in the top 20 each of the last four years, saw his approval rating come in at 93 percent — only good enough for 53rd on Glassdoor’s list.

By comparison, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made his first appearance on the list, at number 29.

Still, the drop from number one to Cook’s 53rd place finish only includes a six percent decrease in approval rating.

A spokeswoman for Glassdoor told CNET that the average rating for a CEO is 67 percent, making Cook’s grade more than satisfactory.

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Uber CEO Travis Kalanick resigns

Posted on: June 21st, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Uber(NEW YORK) — Travis Kalanick, the embattled CEO of the ride-hailing company Uber, resigned on Tuesday, a company spokesperson told ABC News.

The resignation comes amid a decision by company shareholders who pushed for his exit.

“I love Uber more than anything in the world and at this difficult moment in my personal life I have accepted the investors request to step aside so that Uber can go back to building rather than be distracted with another fight,” Mr. Kalanick said in a statement.

Already before his resignation, Kalanick last week announced that he would be taking an indefinite leave of absence that he said would give him time to work on becoming a better leader. He also said that he needed the time away to grieve the loss of his mother, who died in a boating accident less than a month ago.

While Kalanick launched Uber into one of the world’s most ubiquitous companies, his tenure has been marked by a number of controversies.

His leave of absence came shortly after former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder released a 13-page list of recommendations on how the company could improve its business culture.

Holder, now a partner at the law firm Covington & Burling, was tapped by the company to conduct a review of the company’s workplace environment after a former employee alleged that she had been sexually harassed and discriminated against while working there.

About 20 employees were fired as a result of that investigation, according to the company.

Separately, Uber board member David Bonderman, one of the first to invest in the company, stepped down last week after he was accused of making sexist remarks toward fellow board member Arianna Huffington.

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9-year-old gets a taste of corporate life

Posted on: June 20th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(NEW YORK) — Elementary school student Alex Múnoz has quite a story to share with his Boston-area classmates.

The 9-year-old spent June 19 in New York City, hanging out with the founder and chief executive of Kind Snacks.

Alex said he and his family buy the company’s fruit and nut bars (his favorite is peanut butter dark chocolate) and wanted to one day invest money in the company.

But once he realized Kind Snacks was not publicly traded, his mother, Dara Múnoz, encouraged him to write a letter to Daniel Lubetzky, Kind’s founder and CEO.

“I reached Daniel’s assistant and I told her I had a funny letter and I thought that it would make her laugh. I didn’t think any of this would happen,” Múnoz told ABC News.

In the letter, Alex asks if the company has plans to go public.

“Do you know when you will go public? I think you would do well,” he wrote.

To Alex’s surprise, Lubetzky was so impressed by the letter that he invited the budding investor to spend a day at Kind’s Times Square headquarters. The company paid for Alex and his mother to travel to the city to meet with Kind executives.

Alex, who was dressed in a suit, was named “honorary chief financial officer for the day” and given 10 shares in the company.

“We’re pleased to gift Alex 10 shares, making him our youngest owner to date. If KIND were ever to go public, Alex would reap the benefits just as our team would. I’m personally energized by young entrepreneurs who think business can make this a better world,” said Lubetzky.

Alex also met one-on-one with the current chief financial officer, Zahir Ibrahim, who gave Alex advice on what it takes to be a great CFO. But Alex, showing his age, yawned during the conversation, eliciting laughter from everyone in the room.

Earlier in the day, Alex sampled different Kind snack bars and rated them on a scale of 1 through 10. He also received official business cards with his honorary title.

When asked what was the biggest lesson he learned from the day, Alex replied, “Be kind.”

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Wall Street closes lower as oil drops

Posted on: June 20th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — A drop in oil prices pulled U.S. stocks lower on Tuesday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 61.85 (-0.29 percent) to finish at 21,467.14.

The Nasdaq slid 50.98 (-0.82 percent) to close at 6,188.03, while the S&P 500 finished at 2,437.03, down 16.43 (-0.67 percent) from its open.

Crude oil was more than 2 percent lower with prices at $43 per barrel.

Winners and Losers:  Shares of Sprint climbed 3 percent amid a report that T-Mobile’s parent company Deutsche Telekom is in favor of a merger.

According to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Chipotle Mexican Grill plans to raise its second-quarter marketing and promotion costs as the fast food chain continues to try to recover from food safety issues in 2015. Chipotle’s stock tumbled more than 7 percent.

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Amid sweltering heat, dozens of flights canceled in Phoenix

Posted on: June 20th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(PHOENIX) — With sweltering temperatures in Phoenix, American Airlines has canceled some 43 flights at Phoenix’s Sky Harbor International — just as broiling residents are likely wanting to get the heck out of dodge.

That’s because American’s regional aircraft, the Bombardier CRJ, has a maximum operating temperature of 118 degrees at Phoenix’s elevation level.

Experts say hot air affects engine output and increases the length of runway needed for takeoff — and since the CRJ, a Canadian plane, has not been tested under those conditions, it hasn’t been verified as safe.

American’s bigger jets, like Airbus and Boeing planes, have higher maximum temperatures (127 and 126 degrees, respectively) and aren’t affected by Phoenix’s weather forecast.

Delta was also forced to cancel three flights due to weather conditions at Sky Harbor — two involving Bombardier CRJs and one involving another regional jet, the Embraer 175. In addition, United had to delay one of its flights, an Embraer 175.

Temperatures in Phoenix are expected to hit a high of 120 degrees on Tuesday, according to the National Weather Service.

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Mattel unveils new diverse line of Ken dolls

Posted on: June 20th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Mattel(NEW YORK) — The company behind Barbie announced their most diverse line of Ken dolls yet.

Mattel is introducing new dolls featuring three different body types, seven different skin tones and nine different hairstyles, including the trendy man-bun. The dolls also boast cool fashions and styles for a new generation.

“By continuing to expand our product line, we are redefining what a Barbie or Ken doll looks like to this generation,” Barbie senior vice president and general manager Lisa McKnight said in a press release.

“Evolving Ken was a natural evolution for the brand and allows girls to further personalize the role they want him to play in Barbie’s world.”

Seven of the 15 new Ken dolls were unveiled exclusively on “Good Morning America” this morning.

Since the original Ken doll debuted more than five decades ago, sporting red swim trunks and cork sandals, to “Dream Date Ken” released in 1984, dressed in a sleek black jacket and bow tie for a night out with Barbie, Mattel has given the iconic doll some progressive looks to match the trends of the moment.

Get a first look at some of the new Ken dolls below. Ten are on sale starting today and five more will be released in stores in the coming months.

The dolls join the 100 plus diverse looks that the Barbie brand launched in the last three years with its Barbie Fashionista line.

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Girl Scouts will soon be able to earn cybersecurity badges

Posted on: June 19th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Girl Scouts of the USA(NEW YORK) — The Girl Scouts have announced they are adding new badges for young girls who master of various cybersecurity topics starting in the fall of 2018.

“We’re not just going to be selling cookies, we are going to become cybersecurity experts,” Sylvia Acevedo, the CEO of Girl Scouts USA, told ABC News of the organization, adding that the new badges were part of the group’s overall push to promote and foster science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education for girls.

“To be globally competitive, girls today need to know not just how to use computers but also how to program them,” Acevedo said. She added, however, that the initial idea for the cybersecurity badges came from the young Girl Scout participants themselves.

“We asked the girls what they want and they said they want more STEM badges,” Acevedo said. “The girls told us that they wanted cybersecurity badges.”

Girl Scouts USA, which has 1.8 million young members, announced that they were partnering with the cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks to create the curriculum for girls to learn about everything from how to protect your identity online to programming and understanding hacking. Each badge that a Girl Scout earns is displayed on their individual uniform and represents that the girl has mastered a certain topic.

Mark McLaughlin, the CEO of Palo Alto Networks, said in a statement that the organization’s mission to prevent cyberattacks “is only achievable if we make meaningful investments not just in technology but also in people.” McLaughlin added that the partnership with Girl Scouts will help build “tomorrow’s diverse and innovative team of problem solvers equipped to counter emerging cyberthreats.”

Acevedo said she hopes that earning the cybersecurity Girl Scout badges can also help open doors for girls who may not otherwise be exposed to the field.

“Preparing our girls in cybersecurity really gives them a real insight into a potential career choice,” Acevedo said.

“We reach deeply across America, we are in every residential zip code and almost a third of our girls are in low-income areas,” Acevedo said. “We’re excited that they are going to have access to these kinds of programs. … These kinds of programs can open up a world of opportunities.”

Acevedo added that so far the response from Girl Scouts and parents in the community has been overwhelmingly positive.

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Best amusement parks for families in 2017

Posted on: June 19th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Valueline/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Amusement parks are a staple of summer fun, but some impress families and critics alike.

The experts at Family Vacation Critic have shared with ABC News their top choices for family-friendly amusement parks in 2017. From Ohio to Orlando, Pennsylvania to Pigeon Forge, there are plenty of new attractions across the nation to entice families this summer.

“Amusement parks are one of the most quintessential summertime activities for families,” said Lissa Poirot, editor-in-chief of Family Vacation Critic. “But for those traveling with family members of various ages – including kids-at-heart – finding a park that caters to thrill-seekers and the younger set isn’t always so easy. This list includes parks that successfully cater to both, and those that also have exciting new features for the 2017 season.”

Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio

What’s new: According to Family Vacation Critic, “Cedar Point Shores, an 18-acre water park located along Lake Erie with 17 water attractions for all ages, VIP cabanas, restaurants, shopping and live entertainment.”

Dollywood, Pigeon Forge, Tennessee

What’s new: “Drop Line, a 230-foot tall drop tower, with a spinning gondola that offers riders a breathtaking view of the Great Smoky Mountains,” noted Family Vacation Critic. “Also joining the park in 2017 is Whistle Punk Chaser, a junior coaster positioned as a great first-coaster for younger park visitors.”

Hersheypark, Hershey, Pennsylvania

What’s new: “Hershey Triple Tower offers three drop towers for park guests to choose from: Hershey’s Tower, the tallest at 189-feet high; Reese’s Tower, the second tallest at 131-feet high; and Hershey’s Kisses Tower standing at 80-feet tall.”

Kings Island, Mason, Ohio

What’s new: “The Mystic Timbers [is] a 3,265-foot long wooden coaster with a 48” height requirement, making it an ideal coaster for riders of various ages.”

Silver Dollar City, Branson, Missouri

What’s new: “New Silver Dollar Food Days run from July 31 – Aug. 20, highlighting favorite festival food like funnel cakes, kettle corn and milkshakes, and taking them to new levels,” noted Family Vacation Critic.

Universal’s Islands of Adventure in Orlando, Florida

What’s new: “For guests visiting the park, plan a trip to Universal Orlando Resort’s newest water theme park, Volcano Bay – a 25-acre park featuring 18 unique attractions including a wave pool, winding river, raft rides, body slides and more.”

Universal Studios, Hollywood, California, and Orlando, Florida

What’s new: “‘Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon’ brings guests a simulated race through New York City, a history of ‘The Tonight Show,’ Hashtag the Panda and the Ragtime Gals barbershop quartet also join in the fun,” the experts said.

Six Flags, nationwide

What’s new: Family Vacation Critic noted that Six Flags is unveiling new rides at each of its parks across North America, including Warner Brothers and DC Comics-branded rides and attractions.

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US stocks close higher as tech rebounds

Posted on: June 19th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — What tech sell-off? Stocks closed in the green on Monday with the Dow Jones Industrial Average reaching a new record.

The Dow jumped 144.71 (+0.68 percent) to finish at 21,528.99.

The Nasdaq gained 87.25 (+1.42 percent) to close at 6,239.01, while the S&P 500 finished at 2,453.46, up 20.31 (+0.83 percent) from its open.

Crude oil was more than 1 percent lower with prices at $44 per barrel.

Winners and Losers:  Snapchat parent Snap Inc. climbed 2 percent on news of a $100 million deal with Time Warner to create shows for the platform. Snapchat will also have ads for HBO, Turner, and Warner Bros.

Shares of Costco sunk nearly 2 percent as the warehouse club continues to react to Amazon’s major deal with Whole Foods. Deutche Bank also downgraded the stock from buy to hold. Amazon’s stock was about 1 percent higher.

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22-pound lobster freed after 20 years at New York seafood restaurant

Posted on: June 19th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Peter’s Clam Bar(HEMSTEAD, N.Y.) — So long, Louie!

Peter’s Clam Bar in Hemstead, New York, said goodbye to Louie, a 22-pound lobster believed to be nearly 100 years old.

He’s been greeting and teasing customers at the restaurant for 20 years, but owner Butch Yamali told ABC News he decided it was time that Louie find a new home.

“He became a little aggressive,” Yamali, who’s owned the restaurant for four years and inherited Louie, said. “We really can’t sell him and we really can’t eat him because the meat would be too tough. He became like a pet.”

Still, that hasn’t stopped customers from coming into Peter’s Clam Bar to eat Louie.

“They just want to cook him to see what happens. I don’t want to do that. I can’t do it,” Yamali said.

So instead, he decided to throw a celebration last Friday to say goodbye to Louie.

Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino officially pardoned Louie before he was placed onto a boat, docked at Reynolds Channel, and released into the wild.

Louie has a pretty good chance of surviving, Lobster Institute at the University of Maine Executive Director Robert Bayer told ABC News.

“It’s not the ideal place to let it go but I think he’ll be fine,” Bayer said. “If the water quality is reasonable that lobster will be fine. They run basically on instinct so it should be able to find food.”

Yamali said although it was “bittersweet” to say goodbye, “We know he’s in a better place.”

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How will Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods affect how consumers shop?

Posted on: June 19th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Whole Foods Market(NEW YORK) — Last week, Amazon announced it had entered into a definitive agreement with Whole Foods Market to purchase the supermarket chain for approximately $13.7 billion.

But how will the deal, which is expected to close later this year, affect consumers?

ABC’s Chief Business and Economics Correspondent Rebecca Jarvis explains in the video below:

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Man inspired to adopt by film ‘Antwone Fisher’ celebrates first Father’s Day

Posted on: June 18th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

James Cotten(NEWARK, N.J.) — One man was inspired to make a major change in his life after seeing the 2002 film, “Antwone Fisher.”

“When I saw that movie, it was very touching,” James Cotten told ABC News.

“Antwone Fisher” — featuring and directed by Denzel Washington — centers on a man with a troubled past, played by Derek Luke, after he was abused in a foster home. After enlisting in the U.S. Navy, he’s inspired to reconnect with his mother in an effort to forgive her.

Cotten, a 39-year-old diversity sourcing specialist for a global chemical company, said that although he’s an only child, his parents have a combined total of 23 siblings.

“So it was really heartbreaking for me to even watch that [film],” Cotten continued. “To think there were people that didn’t necessarily have a family was very heartbreaking. Outside of church, I’ve never felt like I’ve been ministered to.”

The Newark, New Jersey man said he felt a calling to adopt a child. But he was waiting until the right time.

“I had set all of these goals for myself — when I buy a house, I’m actually going to do it,” he explained. “I thought I’d be married. I thought I’d be in a different place in my life by now. I had this checklist that I created… but it just became the right time.”

In 2013, Cotten began the adoption process. After three years, he finally got a call about a 3-year-old boy named Caleb, who is autistic and needed a home.

“Because of his profile, most households [couldn’t take in] an autistic kid with screaming bouts. Once I realized they didn’t have a place to put him, he just stayed, and we just figured it out,” he said, noting that before adopting him he had to foster Caleb.

Ten months later, on April 28, Cotten officially adopted Caleb. A photo of the two — with Cotten holding a sign that reads, “Today is my last day in foster care because I’m being adopted!” — went viral on Facebook.

Today Cotten, who is still a single dad, is celebrating his first Father’s Day. He said he’s most looking forward to being a family man.

“I’m looking forward to PTA meetings. I’m looking forward to school projects. I’m looking forward to helping out with school plays and dance class,” he said. “I’m looking forward to providing as much exposure as possible.”

“I was blessed as a kid to have the ability to go to other countries [and] dance classes thanks to my mom. And now that my mom is gone, I really look forward to giving him those experiences that my mom gave me,” Cotten added.

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US stocks close slightly lower; Amazon to acquire Whole Foods

Posted on: June 16th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Wall Street closed slightly lower Friday after a major deal between Amazon and Whole Foods dragged down stocks.

The Dow Jones Jones Industrial Average gained 24.38 (+0.11 percent) to finish at 21,384.28.

The Nasdaq slid 13.74 (-0.22 percent) to close at 6,151.76, while the S&P 500 finished at 2,433.15, up 0.69 (+0.03 percent) from its open.

Crude oil was about 0.50 percent higher with prices under $45 per barrel.

Amazon:  Amazon announced it would acquire Whole Foods Market in a deal worth approximately $13.47 billion as the e-commerce giant takes a major step into the grocery market. Although the new partnership is still subject to regulatory approval, the news sent several retailers’ stocks plunging, including Costco, Target, and Walmart, which all sunk at least 5 percent. Shares of Amazon and Whole Foods were up 2 percent and 29 percent respectively.

Winners and Losers:  The Department of Justice is investigating defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton’s accounting practices, causing shares to plummet 19 percent.

Biotech company Celgene was upgraded by Leerink Partners to Outperform, and its stock jumped over 1 percent.

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Mom turns to crowdfunding to pay daughter’s college tuition

Posted on: June 16th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Kendall Truex(BATTLE CREEK, Mich.) — A Michigan mom determined to send her daughter to college debt-free is turning to her community for help.

Lori Truex has been hitting the streets of Battle Creek, Michigan, while holding a sign that says, “Help Send a 4.0 Kid to College.”

The mom of three told ABC News that she started the campaign, “One Mom One Year,” out of “frustration” and “desperation” to pay for her daughter’s college education.

“Parents need to be talking about this,” Truex said. “It’s a dirty little secret they don’t want to admit to themselves, their coworkers and neighbors–some of us can’t afford to send our kids to college.”

She went on, “You either make too much for financial assistance or you don’t make enough to actually afford to pay for them. We’re truly the middle class. We’re stuck in the middle.”

Lori Truex’s daughter, Kendall Truex, 20, is transferring from Kellogg Community College to Michigan State University in the fall to study food science.

Lori Truex said her daughter received a Pell Grant of $1,770 and an MSU student aid grant for $3,600.

She is now left with a bill of $24,000 per year to attend the school.

On Wednesday, Lori Truex kicked off an official, 79-day fundraising campaign that’ll last until the end of summer. Then she’ll return to her full-time job as a bus driver.

Lori Truex will stand in various locations in her city while holding a sign asking strangers to contribute to her daughter’s college fund. In two days she has raised $200.

“I call it a social experiment,” Lori Truex said. “If you were being totally transparent and honest as to where this money was going would the community respond? It seems to be resonating with people.”

Kendall Truex told ABC News she was shocked when her mother told her about the plan to fund her tuition.

“It’s not in character for my mom,” Kendall Truex said. “For her being out there like this is a really big step for her and I appreciate her doing that for me.”

“My parents make much too much to be considered poor and need the help, but they don’t make enough where they can fork out the cash for me to go to college,” she said. “It’s this systematic cycle that if you want to reach for the upper class and get out of the middle, you have to get a college education. But then, you have to go into debt and there’s no way around it. There needs to be a way to break this cycle.”

While many are supportive of her mother’s initiative, Kendall Truex said there have been negative comments on social media.

“A lot of people have been saying, ‘You have a high GPA, you can [get] scholarships,'” she said. “They don’t just hand scholarships out. There are thousands upon thousands of kids competing for these scholarships. There’s just not that much financial aid out there. Believe me…I’ve tried.”

Lori Truex added, “I’m just a mom and you will do anything you can for your kids. There’s got to be somebody out there that has a solution for this problem. This upsets millions of families, not just mine.”

She said she will stand outside as many days as it takes, even in bad weather. She hopes her actions inspire other parents to start a college fund as early as they can.

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Amazon to acquire Whole Foods in $13.7 billion deal

Posted on: June 16th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Whole Foods Market(SEATTLE) — Online retail giant Amazon announced on Friday it has entered into a definitive agreement with Whole Foods Market to acquire the supermarket chain for approximately $13.7 billion.

Amazon says it will pay $42 per share in the all-cash deal, which includes Whole Foods’ net debt.

“This partnership presents an opportunity to maximize value for Whole Foods Market’s shareholders, while at the same time extending our mission and bringing the highest quality, experience, convenience and innovation to our customers,” Whole Foods Market co-founder and CEO John Mackey said in a statement.

Under the terms of the transaction, Whole Foods stores will keep the chain’s name, Mackey will stay on as CEO and Whole Foods’ heaquarters will remain in Austin, Texas.

The deal, which is expected to close later this year, is still subject to regulatory approval.

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Inside the E3 gaming expo in Los Angeles

Posted on: June 16th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

ABC News(LOS ANGELES) — The Entertainment Software Association’s E3 gaming expo took place at the Los Angeles Convention Center this week.

Companies, analysts, media and gaming fans from more than 100 countries were expected to attend this year, according to the E3 website.

The expo focuses on the computer and video game industry, and companies attending include Nintendo, Sony and NVIDIA. Video game consoles, new software and other merchandise were revealed and on display at the convention center.

Watch ABC News at the expo this week in the videos below:

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Georgia teen builds custom backyard roller coaster over five years

Posted on: June 15th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Jackson Crosskno(CANTON, Ga.) — This innovative Georgia teen is definitely going to be the coolest kid in the neighborhood this summer.

Jackson Crosskno, 19, of Canton, built a custom roller coaster in his backyard over the course of five years.

“I’ve always been into roller coasters, and I used to go on YouTube all the time and I came across some people who had built some in their backyard. But they were all really small and didn’t have a theme to them, so I went and tried it,” Crosskno told ABC News of how the project began. “My dad helped me a little bit back in 2012. I got the main platform and the drop built, and I got kind of distracted for a few years and then I came back to it.”

His elaborate “White Mountain Railroad” even has a complex backstory, which Crosskno said he created to mimic the Walt Disney Imagineering process.

“The way Imagineering approaches things, everything is story-driven,” he said. “I’d like to get into that, so I wrote a whole backstory around a logging company that’s been turned into a tourist attraction. Everything about the ride was driven to that. The trains are actual steam engines, the front ends of them. It’s a whole story-driven experience. That’s how the best theme park attractions are built. It immerses you in the whole experience.”

Crosskno described the unique story behind his “White Mountain Railroad” on his YouTube video, which featured the completed ride in all its glory.

“The story of White Mountain Railroad begins in the late 1800s with the White Mountain Logging Co., which operated until the 1940s,” he said. “The rail lines had been built without blasting through the mountain to create tunnels, as it was cheaper for the money-hoarding management. Two tracks were created, one was the longer but slower route, and the other was a faster, more direct route to the bottom. As the years went by, the operation began to decline, and the mill closed sometime in the 1940s.

“The management decided to leave everything where it was since most of the equipment was too outdated to be sold and it was cheaper to leave the rotting railroad tracks than to remove them,” he said. “The operation sat abandoned for many years until a couple of urban explorers caught wind of the railroad and decided to have a look for themselves. What they found was a railroad that resembled the twists and drops of a roller coaster, and a light bulb went off. About a year later, the ‘White Mountain Switchback Railroad’ officially opened, allowing riders to ride along the slower and more scenic route of the railroad.”

The ride is a pride point for the Georgia State sophomore, who said he had never taken an engineering class until he entered college.

“Not one engineering class,” Crosskno said. “There’s a little bit of math involved, like the width of the track ties, but most of it was trial and error. I approach things like, ‘Just go out there and do it.’ ”

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After directors object, Sony changes plan to sell ‘clean’ versions of movies

Posted on: June 15th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Sony Pictures has relented — at least partially — on its plan to offer consumers “clean versions” of previously released movies.

Last week, Sony announced that it would make its cleaned-up broadcast TV or airline versions of 24 movies available to consumers who purchase films on various download and streaming sites. But that plan faced strong objections from some filmmakers and from the Directors Guild of America, reported Variety.

“Directors have the right to edit their feature films for every non-theatrical platform, plain and simple,” the Guild said, adding that releasing a cut made for one platform on another violates the Guild’s agreement with the studio.

Judd Apatow, producer of one movie on Sony’s list, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, had particularly not-clean words for the plan on Twitter, writing, “This is absolute bulls*** and @sony and @SonyPictures is gonna get hell for F****** with our movies. Shove the clean versions up your a****!”

On Wednesday, Sony announced a change in its plans, saying the studio won’t sell clean versions of the movies against directors’ wishes.

“Our directors are of paramount importance to us and we want to respect those relationships to the utmost,” Man Jit Singh, president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, said in a statement to Variety on Wednesday. “We believed we had obtained approvals from the filmmakers involved for use of their previously supervised television versions as a value added extra on sales of the full version. But if any of them are unhappy or have reconsidered, we will discontinue it for their films.”

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