Supreme Court sides with designer over allegedly offensive trademark

Posted on: June 24th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

YinYang/iStock(WASHINGTON) — In a 6-3 decision, the Supreme Court on Monday sided with a Los Angeles designer who sought to trademark “FUCT” for his clothing line but was blocked by a federal law prohibiting registration of “immoral or scandalous” ideas.

The court said the law violates the First Amendment.

“There are a great many immoral and scandalous ideas in the world (even more than there are swearwords),” wrote Justice Elena Kagan in the majority opinion. “The Lanham Act covers them all. It therefore violates the First Amendment.”

Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor dissented, in part, in the decision. The trio would have struck down the “immoral” portion of the law but retained a ban on “scandalous”ideas.

“Refusing registration to obscene, vulgar or profane marks does not offend the First Amendment,” Roberts wrote in his dissent. “Whether such marks can be registered does not affect the extent to which their owners may use them in commerce to identify goods.”

“FUCT” — which founder Erik Brunetti says is pronounced by saying each letter — was denied a trademark because the government deemed it “scandalous” and “immoral.” But the trademark office has approved registration of the terms “FCUK,” “THE F WORD,” and “F’D.”

The Trump administration, which defended the Act, argued that it wasn’t taking a position on the speech itself but rather the “mode of expression,” invoking a public interest in limiting exposure to profanity among children and others who find it hurtful.

In 2017, the Supreme Court struck down a similar part of the federal trademark law — one which had banned trademark registration for “disparaging” language. The justices said, in a unanimous opinion, that “giving offense is a viewpoint” protected by the First Amendment.

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

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Fashion influencer’s marriage proposal may have been monetized for social media

Posted on: June 24th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

cclickclick/iStock(NEW YORK) — A three-day scavenger hunt that led to what looked like a fairy tale proposal — complete with tears, dancing and going down on one knee at a chateau in France — was actually a carefully crafted advertisement.

Gabriel Grossman, a VP at Morgan Stanley, popped the question to his longtime girlfriend, Marissa Fuchs, a fashion influencer known as @fashionambitionist with over 198,000 followers and director of brand partnerships at Goop.

But the over-the-top multi-day romantic adventure that took the pair from New York City to the Hamptons, Miami and Paris, generated some skepticism by those who followed it unfold on social media.

The pair posted the series of events on Instagram stories with the hashtag #RielLove and shared a highlight reel of the events.

The elaborate proposal was revealed to be a highly produced advertising pitch after it was leaked that Grossman hoped to score sponsorships for the big moment, as initially reported by The Atlantic.

One advertising executive, Bryan Pederson, who said he saw Grossman’s pitch, told ABC News it’s not clear if Fuchs knew of the plans herself.

“Her friends and her fiancé — they put together a professional deck — it had all the details, there was a hashtag in there,” he explained. “She knew a deck existed, but again, I don’t think we’ll ever know for sure.”

Grossman, along with the help from a social media expert and friend of his now fiancé, had offered the impending engagement to marketers at various brands and agencies, but he claimed Fuchs never knew about it.
 
Both Grossman and Fuchs maintain that the proposal itself was a surprise and the bride to be told the New York Times, “I was completely and utterly in shock … I was so mind-blown that this was happening.”

Grossman also told the Times that he paid a little under $50,000 out of pocket on dinners, hotels and flights but did score handouts from Flywheel, Glamsquad and a discount on jewelry from Jade Trau. The jewelry brand was tagged on their social media posts throughout the three day long excursion.

“Jade Trau has a very close relationship with Marissa,” Grossman told the New York Times. He also said he “paid $4,000 for the pieces, but they would have been retail [for] $10,000 or $12,000.”

Pedersen explained that for influencers “the space is getting more and more competitive” and that they “do things to reach audiences the way they wouldn’t have before.”

The couple’s story showed how influencers have continued to push the envelope in a world where they can capitalize and monetize personal, intimate moments.

“Did she know or did she not know?” Pedersen posited. “And that is what brands are really hoping for today, they’re trying to make sure that they’re still reaching consumers in that authentic way.”

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Air Canada investigating after woman left in empty, locked airplane

Posted on: June 24th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

BrendanHunter/iStock(NEW YORK) — Imagine what it would be like to fall asleep during your flight, and then wake up on a pitch-black, empty aircraft.

Tiffani Adams doesn’t need to imagine. She was asleep less than halfway into her 90-minute Air Canada flight from Quebec City to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport on June 9. When she finally woke up, she was alone on the empty, dark aircraft, which had been parked and locked at the airport — leaving her to figure out how to escape after the flight crew somehow overlooked her as she snoozed in her seat.

Adams described her ordeal in detail on Air Canada’s Facebook page. She recalls in the post, “I wake up around midnight, few hours after the flight landed, freezing cold still strapped in my seat in complete darkness.”

Adams said she couldn’t call for help because her phone was out of power and, with the plane’s power off, the USB chargers at the seats didn’t work. Neither did the cockpit radio work without power, and while she got the door open, it was too far a drop to the tarmac to jump.

Adams eventually located a flashlight and began shining it out of the plane, hoping to attract attention. That’s how she caught the eye of a baggage attendant, who drove a ladder truck to the plane to rescue her.

Adams said she was immediately approached by an Air Canada representative on the ground who offered to get her a limo or hotel room, but she just wanted to go home. She said she’s still struggling to sleep following the incident.

“I haven’t got much sleep since the reoccurring night terrors and waking up anxious and afraid I’m alone locked up someplace dark,” Adams said in the post.

Air Canada has declined to comment, other than to say they’re reviewing the incident.

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Rat falls from ceiling onto customer’s table at Buffalo Wild Wings

Posted on: June 22nd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

iStock(LOS ANGELES) — An unwanted guest surprised a woman at a Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Los Angeles on Thursday.

Alisha Norman, a Houston native who was visiting Southern California, told Houston ABC station KTRK-TV she was at the restaurant watching the U.S. women’s soccer team play Sweden in the World Cup when a live rat fell from the ceiling onto her table.

“I heard a noise and we all looked up, and down came the rat,” Norman told KTRK-TV.

The restaurant’s manager quickly scooped up the rat with two plates and placed it into a bag. Norman’s lunch was compensated.

“It was disgusting. It was still alive. Its heart was still beating,” she said.

The manager said significant construction in the area caused the rat to the fall from the ceiling.

A spokesperson from Buffalo Wild Wings said the restaurant was closed for cleaning, but would reopen soon.

“The isolated incident at the Westchester-area Buffalo Wild Wings in Los Angeles yesterday was unfortunate,” Buffalo Wild Wings said in a statement. “We hold Buffalo Wild Wings to the highest operating standards and promptly closed the restaurant for proper remediation, cleaning and sanitization.”

The restaurant had an A rating from the city Department of Public Health.

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Google’s $1 billion housing plan draws more questions than answers

Posted on: June 21st, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Future Publishing/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) — As the San Francisco grapples with a persistent homelessness that many critics blame on tech companies, Google has unveiled a $1 billion plan this week to address the housing crisis.

The company announced its plan in a blog post on Tuesday titled “$1 billion for 20,000 Bay Area homes.” But within days, the plan, which was thin on details, raised as many questions as it seemed to provide answers.

Google’s plan would be to invest about $950 million in more and relatively affordable housing in an area in which tech firms have been blamed for boosting tight supply into stratospheric prices.

Google said it would “repurpose at least $750 million of Google’s land, most of which is currently zoned for office or commercial space, as residential housing,” to put 15,000 new homes, including low- and middle-income housing, on the market in the next decade.

The search giant also said it will invest $250 million into a fund that give developers incentives to build at least 5,000 affordable housing units.

Lastly, the company will give $50 million in grants to “nonprofits focused on the issues of homelessness and displacement.”

Between 2011 and 2015, the Bay Area added over 500,000 jobs, but only 65,000 housing units — about eight jobs for every unit of housing, according to the Bay Area Council.

In that respect, any new housing would help alleviate the issue, experts said.

“To the extent that more housing is being introduced at all levels at the market, including middle and low, it will alleviate some of the pressure. This will eventually push less people into homelessness because prices would stabilize,” said Benjamin Henwood, an expert in health and housing services who teaches at the University of Southern California’s Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work.

University of California San Francisco professor Margot Kushel said it will take more than housing at a Google employees’ price range to truly fix homelessness in the Bay Area.

Kushel, who leads the Benioff Homelessness and Housing Initiative at UCSF, said that most homeless people make less than 30% of an area’s median income, while “affordable housing” could be applicable for people who make as much as 80% of the area’s median income.

“So for that part of the population — a very sizeable population — that is where the problem lies. For the zero to 30% of area median income levels, you need a much bigger subsidy.”

“’Are they trying to address homelessness?'” Kushel asked. “And if they are, they really need to set aside [funds] for people at the very low income scale.”

Henwood told ABC News that it would take more than just Google to alleviate the Bay Area’s issues.

His thoughts were echoed by Jen Loving, CEO of Destination Home, a homeless advocacy group based in San Jose.

“We’re facing an unprecedented housing crisis in Silicon Valley,” Loving said. “We’re seeing skyrocketing rents, we’re seeing families displaced, and most tragically, we’re seeing our lowest-income families being pushed onto the street. We appreciate Google’s willingness to help combat our housing and homelessness crisis, and we’re going to need more companies to step up to truly solve this problem.”Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Victorian house from ‘Stepmom’ movie listed for sale at $3.75 million

Posted on: June 21st, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

SondraP/iStock(NYACK, N.Y.) — Fans of the 1998 film Stepmom can now live in the Victorian home from the movie that made us all ugly cry.

Listed at $3.75 million by Christie’s International Real Estate, the 5,239-square-foot house boasts six bedrooms, four-and-a-half bedrooms and fireplace.

The wrap-around porch rekindles memories of iconic scenes with Julia Roberts and Susan Sarandon, as does the lawn area and scenic views of Nyack, N.Y.

Exterior shots of the dwelling were used in the comedy-drama, however, one Zillow article says interior scenes were filmed on sets and modeled after real rooms in the house.

Christie’s website describes the property as having exhilarating Hudson views, wide lawns and a cascading waterfall brook.

The home also boasts a secret passageway to the gourmet chef’s eat-in kitchen and an en-suite bath inside the master.

Seems like a great place to live out your nostalgia.

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New Jersey governor signs ‘Sami’s Law’ for rideshare safety in honor of slain student

Posted on: June 21st, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Columbia Police Department(ROBBINSVILLE, N.J.) — New Jersey’s governor on Thursday signed a law to improve rideshare safety in honor of Robbinsville, N.J., native Samantha “Sami” Josephson, a college student who was kidnapped and killed after she got into a car she mistakenly thought was an Uber.

Josephson, a 21-year-old senior at the University of South Carolina, was alone when she requested an Uber ride early on March 29, Columbia police said. After she got into a stranger’s car — mistaking it for her Uber — the child safely locks were activated, preventing her from escaping, police said.

She died from multiple sharp force injuries, officials said, and her body was recovered in a wooded area. A suspect was arrested.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed the law in Josephson’s hometown. It will be known as “Sami’s Law.”

Every day, thousands of passengers use rideshare services. It is our responsibility to do everything we can to keep them safe.

Today, I joined the Josephson family in Robbinsville to sign Sami's Law, honoring Samantha's life by enhancing protections for rideshare passengers. pic.twitter.com/tX0sv9C8R6

— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) June 20, 2019

The legislation requires more identification on rideshare cars, including two identifying markers on the front windshield and back window.

The law says the companies must issue “two credential placards” with the driver’s name, photo and license plate number to go on the driver and passenger side back windows.

Rideshare companies also must give its drivers two barcodes “or other machine-readable code that passengers can scan to confirm the identity,” according to the governor’s statement.

Murphy said, “I am proud to stand beside the Josephson family and legislative sponsors to enhance protections for New Jersey’s rideshare passengers, and ensure that Samantha Josephson’s tragic death is not in vain.”

Similar federal-level legislation also called “Sami’s Law” has been introduced by New Jersey’s senators Robert Menendez and Cory Booker and New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith, according to Murphy’s statement.

Days after Josephson’s slaying, South Carolina legislators introduced the “Samantha L. Josephson Ridesharing Safety Act” to require ride-sharing vehicles to have an illuminated, company-provided sign with the company’s trademark or logo that can be seen in the dark. The bill was later signed by the South Carolina governor.

“We’ve heard from strangers all over the country and so many people have told us it could have been our daughter, our son, ourselves,” Josephson’s mother, Marci Josephson, told ABC News’ “Good Morning America” in April.

“I think it’s just become such a natural or new phenomenon using Uber. We trust people and you can’t,” she said. “You have to change the way that the laws are to make it safer because that’s our nature. We automatically assume that we’re safe.”

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How some moms supplement income working for grocery shopping apps

Posted on: June 21st, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

fstop123/iStock(NEW YORK) — The art of the side hustle may not always be as easy as it seems, but some moms are finding flexible jobs that offer a little financial boost and allow them to work hours that also work for their families.

Hilary Gordon has a lot to take care of at her home in Sacramento, California — three kids, a mini pig, two chickens and four dogs — but she found a job that has helped her strike a balance between the hustle and bustle of parenting and earn extra money.

Gordon works as a shopper for the delivery app Instacart, which is a service where someone shops for other people’s groceries and delivers it to their door. It’s similar to the flexibility of ride sharing services — users can be their own boss and set their own schedule, but in this case don’t have to drive any strangers in their car.

“I was looking for a way to make some extra income,” she told ABC News. “With three kids, I don’t have a ton of free time, but I could do something if it was — economically feasible and worth it.”

Instacart and other food delivery companies like Doordash, Postmates and Shipt, pay tens of thousands of workers to deliver packages, food or groceries across the U.S.

The shopping and delivery app that Gordon currently works for said that more than 50 percent of their shoppers are female. Similarly, Postmates showed that 48 percent of its workers are female and 38 percent of their workers overall are mothers, according to a survey in April.

Doordash said women make up more than half of its shoppers in rural and suburban areas.

“I love the flexibility,” Gordon, 47, said. “I do this around my kids’ schedule.”

Ericka Souter, editor at Mom.me, told ABC News that flexible part-time work like shopping deliveries are beneficial from both a family and financial aspect.

“There are so many moms out there looking for a side hustle to kind of help beef up their family income and this is an easy way to do it,” Souter said. “The best thing about it is that you can make your own schedule so if your kid gets sick or you have to go to a ballet recital or a little league game you can put work to the side … and then when your ready to work again, you can pick it right back up.”

Gordon can accept or deny the jobs that come up on her app while she’s working. If she chooses she could deny a job that is lower paying or one that is too far of a drive.

She also has the ability to make sure her schedule allows time to take care of her family.

“I think, overall, the flexibility and the enjoyment of it makes it worth my while,” she said.

In the last year, Gordon guessed that she has made about $31,000, before taking into account gas, mileage or wear and tear on her car.

“I do love shopping, and I think it’s kinda fun to shop with other people’s money,” she admitted laughing.

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Women working more, sleeping less than they did a year ago, data suggests

Posted on: June 21st, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

PeopleImages/iStock(NEW YORK) — Women are working more and sleeping less than they were a year ago, while men are going in the opposite direction, new data suggests.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ annual American Time Use Survey looks at breakdowns for work and play by gender and engagement.

On days that they worked, employed men worked 7.87 hours in 2018, down from 8.04 hours in 2017.

For working women, that statistic shifted upwards. On the days they worked, women worked 7.3 hours in 2018 as compared to 7.25 hours in 2017.

When it came to sleep, the inverse approach was taken by the different sexes.

Men are apparently sleeping slightly more, shifting from 8.70 hours in 2017 to 8.76 hours in 2018, while women are sleeping slightly less, shifting from an estimated 8.91 hours a day in 2017 to 8.88 hours in 2018.

When it comes to housework, women spend more than three times the amount than men, according to the survey. In 2018, the average woman spent 49.8 minutes doing housework daily, while men spent only 14.4 minutes.

The numbers offered in the survey did not incorporate the standard error.

Caileen Kehayas, the content director at at Career Contessa, a resource for women looking for career transition advice, said that she wasn’t surprised by the data and felt that the trend of having women working more than in previous years was in keeping with other analysis.

She also said that the finding that men spent less time involved in housework than women was also expected.

“On a positive note, women are participating more in the workforce, but on a negative note, I think women still bare a disproportional amount of household responsibilities as well as childcare responsibilities,” Kehayas said.

“[Women] want to progress in their careers but at the same time they still have the expectations to take care of the home, any children, and in some cases, their partner too,” she said.

Kehayas said that she expects that women may continue to work more in coming years while still spending time on housework and childcare, but she also said that there may be help on the horizon.

“I do think certain larger companies are really begining to implement friendlier paternal leave and better benefits that really help both men and women to manage their home life because more and more it’s becoming more normal to have a dual income household, so companies are working to take the burden off both parents,” she said.

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California ammunition sales surging before new background checks law, dealers say

Posted on: June 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

ABCNews.com(LOS ANGELES) — Bullet sales are surging across California ahead of a new law that will mandate background checks on new ammunition purchases, dealers reported on Thursday.

Residents will have to show identification and undergo background checks to purchase ammunition in the state starting July 1. Proponents say its a formidable effort to screen out felons and illegal gun owners, but firearm sellers on both ends of the state say customers are confused about how the process might work.

Norris Sweidan, owner of Warrior One Guns and Ammo in Riverside, said store shelves would normally be fully stocked with ammo around this time of the year, but he’s nearly tapped out as the implementation approaches.

Sweidan, and other guns store owners throughout the state, said customers seem to be stocking up because they’re unsure of how the law, approved by voters in 2016, might affect them.

“I can tell you right now a lot of my customers are confused,” Sweidan told ABC’s Los Angeles station KABC on Thursday. “It’s going to be a total mess.”

“I don’t know how it’s going to work. I don’t know if you’re going to wait one minute or 10 days for your ammo,” he added.

Store operators received guidance from state officials earlier this month, detailing the equipment they’ll need to comply with the new requirements — an internet connection, a computer and a magnetic card reader — but Sweidan said the notice didn’t spell out exactly how the new process will work once the system goes live.

Richard Howell, General Manager of Old West Gun & Loan in Redding, said he’s also noticed a sudden uptick in ammo sales.

“Normally, somebody will come in and they’re going out for a recreational day of shooting, and so they say they need a couple of boxes of .9 millimeter, a couple of boxes of .45 millimeter. We ring them up and they go out the door,” Howell told ABC affiliate KRCR. “But, they don’t bring in lists on an eight-and-a-half by eleven sheet of paper full saying, ‘I need this filled.'”

He said the law, which forces gun owners to buy ammo face-to-face from a licensed dealer verses online, could encourage people make ammo purchases out of state to get around any potential hassle and/or fees.

“If it’s big purchases by those individuals, that could affect our business in a sense that they’re not buying that ammunition from us,” Howell said. “The law, like all firearms laws we have in California, haven’t put us out of business yet, and it won’t. Will it be a hindrance? Of course. Will people decide to buy ammo elsewhere? Of course they will.”

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DC restaurants share their kitchens with refugee and asylum-seeker guest chefs

Posted on: June 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Janet Weinstein/ABC News(WASHINGTON) — At the trendy Washington, D.C. restaurant Maydan, executive chef Gerald Addison tends to kebabs sizzling over a huge fire pit, as Nejat Ahmadollah, a guest chef and an Afghan refugee, fans the flames. Both men look right at home.

Over the course of six nights, and ending on Saturday night, Maydan and four other restaurants in the nation’s capital are participating in “Tables without Borders” — a dinner series where local establishments host refugees and asylum seekers as guest chefs. The project, which coincides with World Refugee Week, is designed to foster a cultural exchange and to bring newcomers into the industry.

“The name ‘Maydan’ means ‘central square’,” Addison told ABC News. “And, I think, having this giant [fire pit] in the middle to gather around is very on point with what we’re trying to convey.”

Ahmadollah, who has been cooking for more than 20 years, plans a special meal from his home country to offer on Maydan’s menu.

“I want to present the real, authentic Afghan food,” Ahmadollah told ABC News.

The other participating restaurants are A Rake’s Progress, Espita Mezcaleria, Little Sesame and Himitsu.

According to the Tables without Borders website, restaurants involved in the week-long event will donate part of their proceeds to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the Jewish refugee resettlement non-profit.

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What you need to know about Libra, Facebook’s new cryptocurrency

Posted on: June 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Facebook(NEW YORK) — Facebook has announced that it’s launching its own cryptocurrency next year, leaving many to wonder how the social media giant’s offering, Libra, will differ from Bitcoin.

For most people, the biggest difference will be how the currency is used.

Bitcoin has been mostly used for investments, while Facebook intends for Libra to be used for everyday transactions like purchases and paying bills.

Bitcoin is ungoverned, decentralized, backed by nothing, and therefore highly volatile.

Libra, on the other hand, will be subjected to a governing body and administered by a Swiss-based nonprofit called The Libra Association. It will also be backed by a basket of global currencies or other investments, so its value should hold relatively steady.

Facebook’s cryptocurrency will be accessed through Calibra, Facebook’s digital wallet which will also launch next year, and will operate like Apple Pay or Amazon Pay. However, Calibra will be connected through the Facebook family of apps, including WhatsApp, Messenger and a standalone app.

Because it’s meant to process payments, Libra is supposed to have a faster transaction speed than other cryptocurrency. Bitcoin’s is slow — about seven transactions per second, compared to Visa’s network, which processes 65,000 transactions per second, according to Lisa Ellis, an analyst who covers payment processors at research firm MoffettMathanson.

The planned move into crypto was announced Tuesday. Along with Calibra, it is expected to debut in 2020, and comes as Facebook moves more aggressively into e-commerce.

“From a cryptocurrency perspective, it’s a pretty watershed moment,” Ellis told ABC News.

“For the first time in 10 years, we’ve seen a huge amount of evolution, for asset transfer, logistics. The original premise of bitcoin was the democratization of payments and freedom of money and person-to-person payments. In 10 years it’s really failed to gain significant traction,” she said.

Major payment processors like Visa, Mastercard, Paypal and Stripe have signed onto Libra in what Ellis calls a “pretty big vote of confidence,” adding that “it increases the likelihood of success.”

To use Libra, users will first sign up for the Calibra wallet, and give information necessary to start a digital wallet, including proof of identity and address. Users would also be able to add information about their bank accounts or credit cards.

Facebook users can use whatever their local national currency is to buy Libra tokens, which they can then use to transfer money to other Facebook users via text or messaging app. They will also be able to transfer money to participating businesses to buy goods and services.

Facebook said it is hoping to reach the unbanked — those without access to a bank, often in poor or rural areas — which is as many as half of the world’s adults.

MoffettNathanson estimates the number of the world’s unbanked is two billion, noting that about half those people have a smart phone.

For Libra to work, consumers will have to overcome concerns about handing even more of their information to Facebook, especially after over two years of privacy and consumer data scandals and breaches that have plagued the company.

“The association with Facebook is one of the biggest challenges for the success of this system,” Ellis said. “It’s run by a separate organization with the goal that in the first two years, everyone will forget that it was Facebook.”

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Chuck Schumer wants investigation into delay of $20 bill redesign

Posted on: June 20th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Kativ/iStock(WASHINGTON) — Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has requested an investigation into the Trump administration’s delay of the $20 bill redesign.

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Treasury Inspector General Eric Thorson, Schumer, D-N.Y., questioned the decision to delay the redesign, and asked the inspector general to inquire “whether political considerations played a role in the decision to delay the release.”

“Any unnecessary delays, especially for political reasons, in redesigning the $20 note in her honor are improper and unacceptable,” Schumer wrote.

In 2016, President Barack Obama’s Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew announced plans for Tubman to replace former President Andrew Jackson on the $20 bill, as part of an effort to get more women on U.S. currency. The plan was set to go into effect in 2020.

However, the redesign was put on hold until 2028, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Mnuchin explained the delay was necessary to accommodate anti-counterfeiting measures, which is handled by the Secret Service.

Mnuchin has not given his opinion on the bill redesign.

In his letter, Schumer also noted previous comments made by President Donald Trump when he called the efforts to replace President Jackson’s likeness on the front of the $20 note as “pure political correctness.”

Specifically, Schumer wants to know if the Secret Service, Federal Reserve or the White House had “been allowed to infect the process for designing American currency.”

“Harriet Tubman was an extraordinary American and New Yorker whose story deserves to be shared with current and future generations,” said Schumer in his letter to Thorson. “She deserves to be honored for her bravery, compassion, and service to the United States. There is no reason to reverse the original decision to recognize her heroic legacy on the $20 note. Any unnecessary delays, especially for political reasons, in redesigning the $20 note in her honor are improper and unacceptable.”

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Lululemon launches sweat-friendly line of beauty products

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

Courtesy Lululemon(NEW YORK) — Athletic apparel company Lululemon has officially stepped into the world of beauty with a fresh new line.

On Tuesday, the brand announced the launch of the new Selfcare line of products that will be sold their website, in 50 stores and in studio partners throughout North America. It also will be available online at Sephora.

The new category includes dry shampoo, deodorant, face moisturizer and a lip balm selling between $14 and $28.

“Lululemon has always been in the work of creating solutions for sweaty problems and our Selfcare line is an extension of that approach,” the company’s chief product officer Sun Choe said in a statement.

“Like our apparel, Lululemon Selfcare has been designed with function at its core and created to support guests pre and postworkout,” she continued.

The Selfcare Sweat Reset Face Moisturizer has a Tri-Active formula made up of key ingredients such as algae and menthyl to clean and calm the skin, according to the company.

Another standout is the Anti-Stink Deodorant Aloe Lotus which doesn’t stop your body from naturally sweating, but does keep it from carrying an unpleasant odor, according to the company.

Standout ingredients from the deodorant include pre-biotics to reduce the growth of bacteria as well as restrict odor-forming bacteria, zinc which is a natural odor absorber, and coconut oil to condition the skin.

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Capt. ‘Sully’ Sullenberger on 737 MAX: We should design aircraft without ‘inadvertent traps’

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

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call(WASHINGTON) — Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the ‘‘Miracle on the Hudson’’ airplane captain who safely landed a disabled jetliner on the Hudson River in 2009, told a congressional hearing on the Boeing 737 MAX on Wednesday that we should design an aircraft that does not have “inadvertent traps” set for pilots.

This is the second hearing the House Aviation subcommittee has conducted on the safety certification of the 737 MAX after it was involved in two deadly crashes that killed 346 people.

Sullenberger criticized Boeing for adding an anti-stall system called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), and failing to communicate its existence to pilots until after the first Lion Air crash in Indonesia.

“Our current system of aircraft certification and design has failed us,” Sullenberger said. “These accidents should never have happened.”

Sullenberger refuted the idea that the pilots involved should have been able to perform better and solve what he called the “sudden, unanticipated crisis they faced.”

“From my 52 years of flying experience and many decades of safety work, we must consider all the human factors,” Sullenberger told lawmakers.

The now-retired US Airways captain said he recently entered a 737 MAX flight simulator that recreated the accidents in Ethiopia and Indonesia. He said even knowing what was going to happen he “could see how crews could have run out of time before they could have solved the problems.”

According to Boeing, the company completed development of the updated software for the 737 MAX last month and Boeing Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg said they are “confident that the 737 MAX with updated MCAS software will be one of the safest airplanes ever to fly.”

Sullenberger told the subcommittee there needs to be robust training on these 737 MAX MCAS updates and that as complexity increases the most important trait that every technology must have is that it be intuitive. “It has to make sense,” he said, especially for things that operate in a surprising or counter-intuitive way.

“We must be made aware of it and its implications,” Sullenberger said. “We must experience it first-hand in a simulator before we face a crisis in-flight, with an airplane full of passengers and crew.”

On Monday, Boeing executives apologized to airlines and families of those who died in the separate crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.

“Only by discovering and correcting the ways in which these tragedies occurred can we being to regain the trust of our passengers, flight attendants, pilots, and the American people,” Sullenberger said at the end of his testimony.

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You can get into Disney World as early as 6 a.m. this fall

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

BanksPhotos/iStock(ORLANDO, Fla.) — The mornings are going to be a little more magical this fall at Walt Disney World.

Starting Sept. 1, guests staying at Disney Resort hotels can enter the parks as early as 6 a.m.

The “extra, Extra Magic Hours” vary by park. Disney’s Hollywood Studios — including Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, Toy Story Land attractions and more — from 6:00 AM to 9:00 AM daily (Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and its experiences are subject to capacity); Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park — including Pandora — The World of Avatar and other attractions throughout the park — from 7:00 AM to 8:00 AM daily; and Magic Kingdom park from 7:00 AM to 8:00 AM daily.

What’s a little missed shut eye when you’re piloting the Millennium Falcon anyway?

In addition to Disney resort guests, guests of the following properties can use extra\, Extra Magic Hours: Walt Disney World Swan Hotel, Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel, Shades of Green Resort, Disney Springs Resort Area Hotels, Four Seasons Resort Orlando, Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek and Waldorf Astoria Orlando.

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

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Monsanto is contacting the journalists, activists it tracked on ‘watch lists’ in 7 countries

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

wellesenterprises/iStock(NEW YORK) — Agriculture conglomerate Monsanto has started contacting journalists, politicians and activists it was keeping tabs on and documenting via “watch lists,” its parent company Bayer announced this week.

An international group of journalists, politicians and activists whose information, including their views on pesticides, was tracked by the agribusiness giant, and placed on ‘watch lists’ by the company, were informed of the company’s surveillance activities, Monsanto’s parent company Bayer has announced.

Bayer disclosed details on Monday about the “watch lists” as part of a widening probe into the company’s practice of keeping tabs on people who it perceived as critics or supporters of the company’s products, amid global efforts to rehabilitate its reputation.

In May, Bayer disclosed that FleishmanHillard, an outside public relations firm hired by Monsanto before Bayer acquired the fertilizer maker, had drawn up lists of “stakeholders in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, and United Kingdom” according to a statement released by the company . It described the stakeholders as “journalists, politicians and other interest groups” who had a position on pesticides.

On Monday, the Bayer said that people on the French and German “watch lists” had been notified they had been monitored by FleishmanHillard. Bayer addressed the lists after “a French television channel revealed the existence in France of files on prominent backers and opponents of pesticides and genetically modified crops,” according to Agence France-Presse (AFP), which reported there were 600 people who were kept track of from those two countries.

“By the end of last week, everyone on the German and French lists had been notified. This process will soon be completed in the remaining countries,” Bayer said in a statement.

The company added that it hired U.S.-based law firm Sidley Austin to investigate whether information was gathered on people considered to be opponents of Monsanto in other counties as well.

The law firm has found that “in contrast to France several weeks ago,” it “has neither found journalists nor sensitive private data on the German lists,” Bayer’s head of corporate communications, Christian Maertin, told ABC News.

Sidley Austin declined to respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

AFP has filed a complaint with French data protection regulators after discovering that some of its journalists were on the watch lists. Once the lists were revealed in May, Bayer immediately severed ties with FleishmanHillard regarding the tracking project and other public relations campaigns, Bayer said.

“Corporations, NGOs and other clients rightfully expect our firm to help them understand diverse perspectives before they engage. To do so, we and every other professional communications agency gather relevant information from publicly available sources,” FleishmanHillard wrote in a statement released in May. “Those planning documents are fundamental to outreach efforts. They help our clients best engage in the dialogue relevant to their business and societal objectives.”

The German pharmaceutical giant Bayer bought Monsanto last year for $63 billion, and has since dealt with several high-profile controversies in connection with the company. Last week, Bayer addressed Monsanto’s allegedly troubled legacy by announcing a new commitment to “transparency, sustainability and engagement.”

“We’re making good progress on integrating the acquired agriculture business, and are now starting to implement a series of measures to drive transparency and sustainability across our business,” Werner Baumann, chairman of the board of management of Bayer, said on Friday.

“These measures address questions and concerns Bayer has heard about its role in agriculture in the year following its acquisition of Monsanto,” according to a statement on the company’s website.

Statements about transparency come amid a broader image rehabilitation effort by Bayer after remarkably large civil court verdicts against Monsanto in the U.S., connecting a key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup fertilizer, glyphosate, with cancer, and holding the company liable for damages. The company is facing lawsuits from approximately 11,200 plaintiffs as of Jan. 28, according to the company’s annual report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

At least three recent lawsuits in the U.S. have resulted in huge jury awards against Monsanto.

Last year, a California jury awarded $289 million to a California groundskeeper after ruling that Roundup caused his cancer. The award was later reduced to $78 million, and is being appealed, according to the company’s annual report.

In March of 2019, a federal jury in San Francisco awarded $80 million to a different California man after determining that Roundup caused his cancer. The company said it would appeal that decision.

In May, another California jury awarded $2 billion in damages to a couple who said Roundup caused both of them to contract non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

On Monday Bayer appealed the latest verdict. In a statement, a company spokesman said the trial “focused not on ascertaining the truth regarding the state of the science, causation, and compliance with legal duties, but instead on vilifying Monsanto in the abstract.”

Monsanto has repeatedly said that glyphosate is not a carcinogen.

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Google Calendar experiencing outage, company says

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

JHVEPhoto/iStock(MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif.) — Engineers at Google are working to resolve an outage with Google Calendar, according to the company.

The problem began Tuesday morning, according to Google’s service details dashboard.

Google Calendar is currently experiencing a service disruption. Please stay tuned for updates or follow here: https://t.co/2SGW3X1cQn

— G Suite (@gsuite) June 18, 2019

Google’s other services such as Gmail, Google Docs and Google Drive, appear to be unaffected by the outage.

The company did not provide any additional information to ABC News regarding the disruption.

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Facebook announces Calibra, a subsidiary for Libra digital currency

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

Facebook(NEW YORK) — Facebook announced on Tuesday plans to unveil in 2020 a subsidiary called Calibra, which will allow access to Libra, a new digital currency.

Calibra will work in concert with Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, and as a standalone app, Facebook announced in a blog post.

“Libra holds the potential to provide billions of people around the world with access to a more inclusive, more open financial ecosystem,” said David Marcus, head of Calibra for Facebook.

The currency is designed to reach adults globally who have no access to a traditional bank but do have a mobile phone.

Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin allow users to buy and sell digital units of currency independent of a central bank, with little to no transaction costs. Libra is designed to work with Calibra as a place to save, send and spend Libra.

The app interface for Calibra looks similar to existing mobile banking apps.

Libra is built on a secure, scalable and reliable blockchain network governed by the independent Libra association, according to Facebook.

The Libra association is a group of organizations from diverse sectors including payments, telecommunications, nonprofits and more. Members include Mastercard, PayPal, Vodaphone Group and Spotify.

Calibra won’t share account information or financial data with Facebook, Inc., or any third party without customer consent, according to the statement released on Tuesday.

Libra Blockchain begins Tuesday in an open-source test, but it’s expected to be launched in 2020 alongside Calibra.

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Amazon blasts Ocasio-Cortez for claiming company pays workers ‘starvation wages’

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

Amazon(NEW YORK) — Amazon took to Twitter on Monday to refute a claim Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez made during her interview on ABC’s This Week on Sunday that the company pays its workers “starvation wages.”

“@AOC is just wrong,” Amazon tweeted from its @AmazonNews Twitter account. “Amazon is a leader on pay at $15 min wage + full benefits from day one. We also lobby to raise federal min wage.”

.@AOC is just wrong. Amazon is a leader on pay at $15 min wage + full benefits from day one. We also lobby to raise federal min wage. https://t.co/crWp5fPEzS

— Amazon News (@amazonnews) June 17, 2019

On Sunday, ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jonathan Karl asked Ocasio-Cortez whether Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos would still remain a billionaire under a “true progressive program,” to which she responded that she is not as concerned “whether Jeff Bezos is a billionaire or not” and is more concerned over whether “your average Amazon worker is making a living wage, if they have guaranteed health care and if they can send their kids to college tuition-free.”

Ocasio-Cortez told Karl that part of Bezos “being a billionaire is predicated on paying people starvation wages and stripping them of their ability to access health care” as well as “taking billions of dollars of government subsidies” from having many workers on food stamps.

Amazon’s senior vice president of global corporate affairs and former press secretary to President Barack Obama, Jay Carney, also slammed Ocasio-Cortez, tweeting later on Monday that she should stop “making stuff up about Amazon” and instead “focus on raising the federal minimum wage.”

He added that “more than 42% of all working Americans earn less than the $15/hour” which Amazon pays its “entry-level fulfillment center employees” and that all their “employees get top-tier benefits.”

More than 42% of all working Americans earn less than the $15/hour Amazon pays entry-level fulfillment center employees. And all our employees get top-tier benefits. I’d urge @AOC to focus on raising the federal minimum wage instead of making stuff up about Amazon. https://t.co/ClhFfOrywd

— Jay Carney (@JayCarney) June 17, 2019

A spokesperson for Ocasio-Cortez, Corbin Trent, did not directly respond to Amazon’s tweets regarding its minimum wage but further criticized Amazon for not paying federal income tax in a statement to ABC News.

“Amazon built a nearly trillion-dollar company on the backs of the American people. They have a business model that relies on the American taxpayer. Amazon has made billions using our roads, bridges, postal service, airports, and internet – all built with the tax dollars of hardworking Americans. You would think a company that relies so heavily on taxpayer innovations would be more willing to contribute to our society, but you’d be wrong. Amazon pays zero federal income tax, has extorted our cities and states for tax breaks and their employees often rely on government subsidies to get by. It is time for Amazon to do right by their employees. It is time for Amazon to do right by the American people,” said Trent.

Amazon announced in 2018 that it would raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour for all U.S. employees after yielding to pressure from critics.

“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and CEO, said in a statement back in October. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”

The New York congresswoman has for long been a vocal critic of the tech giant. She celebrated in February when Amazon canceled their plans to open a second headquarters in Long Island City, New York, after facing fierce opposition from several lawmakers including Ocasio-Cortez.

“Anything is possible: today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted at the time.

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Severe turbulence leaves 10 injured, throws flight attendant into ceiling

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

AdrianHancu/iStock(NEW YORK) — Frightening passenger video captured severe turbulence that sent a flight attendant and her drink cart into the ceiling during a flight from Pristina, Kosovo, to Basel, Switzerland, on Sunday.

The 30-second video showed the drinks from the flight attendant’s cart spill all over passengers and a lady appear to pray as the plane violently shakes. Some passengers said they were burned by the hot water that was thrown from the cart.

According to a spokesperson for EuroAirport, 10 passengers were dispatched to local hospitals in Basel and suffered minor injuries.

“The flight from Pristina with airline ALK experienced turbulence in the air around 20 minutes before landing,” a EuroAirport spokesperson told ABC News. “The pilot alerted handling agents so that the airport firemen were immediately on the scene when the plane arrived.”

ALK Airlines confirmed to ABC that they are aware of the cellphone video and that the turbulence was expected. The flight attendant was trying to “collect all drinks and full glasses from passengers” before the “downward impulse occurred,” the airline said.

U.S. carriers are generally required to have flight attendants sit if they believe turbulence is ahead, but ALK Airlines says the flight attendant from the video is still in “absolutely good health.”

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Boeing executives apologize for 737 Max crashes

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

Wolterk/iStock(PARIS) — Boeing executives apologized Monday to airlines and the families of those who died in two recent crashes involving its new 737 Max 8 aircraft.

The U.S. plane manufacturer has been in hot water since the separate crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia and the subsequent grounding of all Max aircraft worldwide.

“We are very sorry for the loss of lives,” Kevin McAllister, president and CEO of Boeing’s commercial aircraft, said at a press conference at the industry-wide Paris Air Show.

McAllister also apologized “for the disruption” to airlines and passengers as a result.

“It is a pivotal moment for all of us,” he added. “It’s a time for us to make sure that accidents like this never happen again.”

A Boeing 737 Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines went down in clear weather on March 10, just minutes after taking off from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport in Ethiopia’s capital. All 157 people on board died.
 
Another 737 Max 8, operated by Lion Air, crashed into the Java Sea on Oct. 29 shortly after liftoff from Soekarno–Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board.

Investigations into what caused the crashes are still ongoing, but Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg has acknowledged that the jet’s automatic flight control system played a role in both incidents.

The angle-of-attack sensors malfunctioned, activating a new anti-stall software on the 737 Max 8 that controls trim and is believed to have pushed the nose of the planes down. The pilots were unable to regain control of the aircraft.

Speaking on Sunday before the Paris Air Show, Muilenburg told reporters that Boeing engineers learned in 2017 that a warning light in the cockpit of its top-selling Max, designed to alert pilots when the two angle-of-attack sensors disagreed, didn’t work as intended. Muilenburg said it was “unacceptable” the company was not more transparent with aviation authorities and the global traveling public.

As the Paris Air Show kicked off Monday, Boeing executives expressed confidence that software improvements will ensure such tragic accidents never happen again, but wouldn’t speculate on when the aircraft could return to the skies.

“These accidents have only intensified our efforts to ensure the highest level of safety and quality in everything we do,” Greg Smith, Boeing’s chief financial officer and vice president for performance and strategy, told reporters. “We’re mindful of the importance of restoring public trust and confidence in Boeing on behalf of our airline customers.”

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Non-alcoholic ‘wine water’ now available in the US

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

O.Vine(NEW YORK) — Water that tastes like wine is now available in the U.S.

O.Vine tastes like wine but is completely non-alcoholic.

Wine Water Ltd., an Israeli company, first launched O.Vine in 2018 at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City.

O.Vine “is a natural beverage that’s actually an infusion of grape skin and seeds that are left over from the wine-making process,” Adi Seifert, chief technology officer of Wine Water Ltd., told ABC News’ Good Morning America.

Made from the part of the grape that would normally go to waste during the wine-making process, O.Vine has the same antioxidants found in wine, but without the alcohol content, according to the company.

“O.Vine is the perfect match for people that cannot drink alcohol and actually for people that don’t drink water,” the company’s CEO Anat Levi told Good Morning America. “It’s very refreshing, it’s light, it’s fruity, it’s delicious.”

O.Vine is launching a brand-new collection this year that includes an alcohol-free chardonnay and cabernet-infused water.

The original collection, red and white-infused water, is now available online at the Beverage Universe and in-store at Neiman Marcus in New York.

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246,000 pounds of breakfast burritos recalled after customers find ‘small rocks’ in food

Posted on: June 16th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/VeselovaElena(DINUBA, Calif.) — Ruiz Foods, Inc., is recalling over 246,000 pounds of frozen breakfast burritos after consumers found “small rocks” inside them.

The recall, issued by Ruiz Foods, after reporting the problem to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), was issued on Friday.

The eight packs of the frozen El Monterey egg, potato, bacon & cheese sauce breakfast wraps that have been recalled have “best by” dates of dates of Jan. 17, 2020, and Jan. 18, 2020, and lot codes of 19017 and 19018.

Three people reported to Ruiz Foods that they found the small rocks inside breakfast burritos, necessitating the recall.

One person even reported to the company they were injured by biting into the burrito, according to the FSIS.

“FSIS is concerned that some product may be in consumers’ freezers,” the agency said in a press release. “Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.”

The burrito wraps were sent to stores across the country.

Ruiz Foods, headquartered in Dinuba, California, about 30 miles southeast of Fresno, bills El Monterey products as America’s best-selling frozen Mexican food.

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When supercars go electric: The $2M Battista is faster than any current Formula 1 car

Posted on: June 15th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — When Indian auto and tractor maker Mahindra & Mahindra launched Automobili Pininifarina in April 2018, executives were charged with developing a line of extreme performance cars that would establish the nascent carmaker as the world’s newest, sustainable luxury brand.

A year later, the marque’s first vehicle — the $2.2 million all-electric Battista GT hypercar — is already on track to shatter industry records before production begins in late 2020.

“The instructions were clear,” Luca Borgogno, design director of Automobili Pininfarina, told ABC News. “The car needed to be a jump into the future without losing the values of every Pininfarina design — a mixture of innovation, purity, sensual lines and clarity of execution.”

Borgogno and a small team worked for nearly two years on the car’s seductive design.

“It’s beautiful, pure, rare,” he said. “I cannot count how many sketches were done for the Battista, but I can guarantee that when we found the right one, it was clear to everyone that this is what the car would look like.”

Automobili Pininfarina may be the latest entrant in the rarefied supercar realm, but the name Pininfarina is legendary in the automotive world. Started in May 1930 by Battista “Pinin” Farina in Turin, Italy, the company built and designed special car bodies for individual clients, which included Ferrari, Fiat, Maserati, Alfa Romeo, Lancia, BMW and Cadillac. Some of the most sought-after cars — Ferrari Enzo, 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB4, Ferrari FF, 1947 Cisitalia 202 Gran Sport and Alfa Romeo Spider 1600 — have Pininfarina DNA in their metal bodies.

The Battista is no exception. When it debuted at the Geneva Motor Show in March, auto enthusiasts immediately drew comparisons with Ferrari.

“It’s tough to have a really original design,” Karl Brauer, executive publisher of Kelly Blue Book and AutoTrader, told ABC News. For blistering fast mid-engine supercars, “the wind dictates the design … and you get a lot of the same shapes,” he said.

But that’s where the similarities ended. The Battista’s 120 kilowatt-hour battery pack delivers 1900 horsepower — that’s 475 HP per electric motor (one at each wheel). It sprints from zero to 62 mph in under 2 seconds. 280 miles on a single charge. Top speed is at least 217 mph, according to executives. It’s reportedly faster than any current Formula 1 race car. Production of the hand-made Battista will be limited to only 150 units.

“This is further proof that there is insatiable hunger and demand for limited, high-production vehicles,” Brauer said.

The company turned to Croatian EV maker Rimac for the battery technology and drivetrain.

“The most important thing for us was to try to maintain, as much as possible, the proportions of a real hypercar, even if the mechanical layout with batteries and motors is very different from an [internal-combustion engine] car,” Borgogno said. “The great thing about electric cars is that, in general, there is less need of cooling and this gave us a chance to design a car without big openings and relate it as much as possible to the purity of the design.”

Now company executives have a new challenge to conquer: finding buyers. Of the 150 units that will be produced, 50 are allocated for North America, 50 will go to Asia and the Middle East and the remaining 50 are slated for Europe.

Dan Connell, Automobili Pininfarina’s chief brand officer, has been traveling the globe since March, meeting with prospective buyers who can afford the seven-figure hypercar.

“We are pleased with how things are going so far,” he told ABC News. “We are helping people understand the business and share with them our design credentials.”

Battista is just the beginning. Connell said Automobili Pininfarina will launch five to six additional luxury electric cars in the near future, though at lower price points.

“We believe in our pure electric philosophy,” he said. “[Electric cars] have proven to be successful. … Look at the Tesla Model 3. We want to be ahead of the curve.”

The next generation of auto enthusiasts will only grow up with electric cars, according to Angus Mackenzie, international bureau chief of Motor Trend.

“Electrification of the automobile is inevitable,” he told ABC News. “The fastest performance cars are hybrids of some sort: the McLaren P1, Porsche 918, Ferrari Le Ferrari. Electric cars offer a lot of torque at low speeds — you accelerate faster.”

Even though he was “super impressed” with the Battista in March, Mackenzie pointed out that name recognition alone won’t be enough to sell every model.

“There will be early adopters who buy the car right away,” he said. “But right now it’s all on paper. The company has to prove itself. If the cars live up to the performance, word will spread.”

He continued, “The key is to keep it exclusive. Customers are paying for exclusivity.”

Brauer said he’s not surprised Automobili Pininfarina executives are still on a road show to drum up sales.

“They really have to seek these customers out,” he noted. “Even before production begins, they’ll know if they can sell them.”

MacKenzie said the massive accumulation of wealth in Asia and the Middle East has led to an influx of “ultra, ultra-expensive cars.”

“$2 million to $3 million sounds like a lot for a car, but not when someone is earning a million-dollar salary,” MacKenzie said. “There is a market, surprisingly, for vehicles in this range.”

Even though the Battista may be one of the fastest — if not the fastest — cars on the market today, it won’t be a regular sight on the streets. Like many ultra-rare cars, the Battista will be ensconced in wealthy owners’ personal collections.

“Maybe one or two of these cars will be driven,” Brauer said. “You won’t see it in the wild. It’s an ‘inside baseball’ vehicle.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Black Boeing employee sues company after finding noose at desk

Posted on: June 15th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

iStock(CHARLESTON, S.C.) — A black employee at Boeing who says that he has found a noose hanging near his desk, signs near his workspace saying “n—–” and urine covering his desk on separate occasions says his work life remains “degrading” even after he complained to management, he told ABC News.

Curtis Anthony, a quality inspector since 2011 at the 787 Dreamliner at Boeing’s North Charleston, South Carolina, plant, is suing the company for an alleged “racially hostile” work environment and for alleged retaliation after he complained about the alleged harassment.

“I’m not really sure who I’m walking up to. I approach people and it affects my whole overall being there,” said Anthony, who is still employed by the aerospace giant. Even at home, the 57-year old said, “it affects me in a negative way.”

In an emailed statement, a Boeing spokesperson wrote that while Anthony “is a valued Boeing South Carolina teammate, there is no validity to his allegations.”

In his lawsuit, Anthony claims that starting in 2017 he was “subjected to racial harassment” at his Boeing workplace, including having white coworkers “urinate” in his “seat and on his work desk.”

“It was demeaning. I really didn’t want to work, so they had to move my desk, they had to move my chair. I really couldn’t perform the duties I am paid to do,” Anthony said. “I had to wait till they cleaned the area, brought me a new chair, a new desk.”

Instead of focusing on work, Anthony said, “I was thinking about, ‘Who could do this? And why would they do this?’ To anyone, no matter what hue or race they are. It was just degrading and it was demeaning. I don’t know what their motive was, but I tell you right now, it still affects me to this day.”

“They did that and they used the n-word several times. You just hear people say that like it’s 1817,” Anthony said.

He claims in a lawsuit filed on June 7 that he complained to management and subsequently faced retaliation by being moved to a building with no air conditioning.

The company disputes that Anthony reported the alleged harassment incidents.

The experience compelled Anthony to take medical leave and seek treatment for his stress under the Family and Medical Leave Act and a relapse in his sobriety, he asserts in court papers. He also enrolled in the company’s Employee Assistance Program. The lawsuit claims Anthony was retaliated against after returning from his leave and passed over for promotions in favor of “lesser qualified Caucasian workers.”

Then, after working in New Orleans in January and February 2019, Anthony said he returned to work in the South Carolina plant in March to find a noose above his desk.

“The significance and historical symbolism of hanging a noose over an African-American’s head is telling them you’re going to lynch them. It’s not only a symbol. It’s a direct threat of violence,” Anthony’s lawyer, Donald Gist, told ABC News.

The Boeing spokesperson asserted that Anthony’s requests for leave were “consistently and repeatedly approved by the company.”

Moreover, the spokesperson said “most of Mr. Anthony’s allegations were never brought to the attention of management, giving the company no opportunity to investigate these claims. The single issue he did raise was dealt with promptly and in a fair manner.”

After receiving notice that a noose had been found near Anthony’s desk, the company investigated and fired the person responsible, the spokesperson said.

A company statement at the time lamented the discovery of the “racially charged symbol” on the site and said “there is absolutely no place for racism and these cowardly acts in society and especially in our company.”

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Man with unknown identity convicted of stealing someone else’s identity for more than 40 years

Posted on: June 14th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/spyarm(BOSTON) — A Massachusetts man whose real identity is not known was convicted Wednesday of using another person’s identity for more than 40 years, according to federal prosecutors in Massachusetts.

The suspect, referred to only as John Doe, is suspected to be a Dominican national, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney‘s Office. The person was convicted by a federal jury in Boston, Massachusetts, according to the release.

Doe was able to use the identity of the victim, identified by the U.S. Attorney’s Office as a U.S. citizen from Puerto Rico who died in 2012, to “work in Boston, obtain and travel on a U.S. passport, apply for unemployment benefits, and obtain public housing benefits for himself and his family,” according to the release.

Doe began using the identity after obtaining the citizen’s birth certificate some time before 1975, the release said. Doe did not have the victim’s social security number at the time, but he “created or obtained a counterfeit Social Security card bearing the U.S. citizen’s name with a non-matching Social Security number that was assigned to a different person from Puerto Rico,” which he was able to use from 1975 through 1994, according to the release. The fake card allowed Doe to find work in New York and Boston in that time, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

The release said Doe was informed by a letter from the IRS in 1994 that the name and Social Security number on his card did not match, and that he would need to resolve the issue at a Social Security Administration office.

When Doe went to an SSA office in Roxbury, Massachusetts, he “deceived an SSA employee into believing that he was the person whose identity he had stolen and that he had forgotten his true Social Security number,” according to the release. Doe gave biographical information from the citizen’s birth certificate to the employee, who then entered the information into a computer and found the citizen’s actual social security number. Doe was then able to obtain and use a social security card with the U.S. citizen’s real name and Social Security number.

Doe was able to use the new card until the victim died, after which the Social Security Administration “learned that someone in Massachusetts was using a deceased person’s Social Security number and began a fraud investigation,” according to the release.

John Doe was convicted of aggravated identity theft, using a passport obtained through false statements, stealing public funds, and misuse of a social security number, according to the release.

The charges of using a passport obtained through false statements and stealing public funds each carry sentences of up to 10 years in prison, and a charge of misuse of a Social Security number carries a sentence of up to five years in prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. A charge of aggravated identity theft carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison, according to the release.

Doe is set to be sentenced on Sept. 18.

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Registered sex offender in Nebraska used ride-share to bring a teen girl he met online to his home

Posted on: June 14th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/jetcityimage(NEW YORK) — A 34-year-old registered sex offender is facing charges that he befriended a 13-year-old girl on social media and then arranged for her to make the 200-mile journey to his home in Nebraska using the a ride-share app.

Nicholas Avery was transported and booked at the Sarpy County Jail for first-degree sexual assault of a child and contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

The Shawnee County Sheriff’s Office said it is investigating whether or not the driver, who works for Lyft, should face charges, according to ABC Omaha affiliate KETV.

A Lyft spokesperson said in a statement to ABC News that it would cooperate with the investigation.

“Safety is fundamental to Lyft and as soon as we learned about what happened we disabled the passenger account used to request the ride,” the statement said. “Unaccompanied minors are not permitted on the platform and we have reached out to the driver to reiterate this policy.”

The ordeal began late on the night of Tuesday, June 4, when Avery arranged for a Lyft driver to pick up the girl and transport her to his home so that he could molest her, prosecutors said.

The girl was reported missing the following day. When police identified the address the victim was believed to be at, they learned that Avery was a registered sex offender.

“Through further investigation, we believe she was sexually assaulted multiple times,” Lt. Andy Jashinske of the Bellevue, Nebraska, police department, told ABC News.

Avery was put him into handcuffs without incident, and the victim was rescued safely.

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Airbnb offering 80-day, around-the-world trip for $5k

Posted on: June 14th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Airbnb(NEW YORK) — If you’ve ever dreamed about traveling around the world but figured you’d never have the time or money, your moment has come.

Airbnb has announced the ultimate adventure: Around the world in 80 days for about $5,000.

The site is celebrating the launch of Airbnb Adventures, previously known as Airbnb Experiences.

“Just like the famous French novel by Jules Verne, Around the World in Eighty Days, this travel tale starts and ends in London,” Airbnb’s website says. “But unlike the book’s protagonist, the only thing you have to wager is missing out on the trip of a lifetime. All you have to do is make sure you have enough empty pages in your passport, buy a round trip ticket to and from London, and get on that first flight.”

The trip departs on Sept. 1 and returns on Nov. 19. Interested travelers should be poised to book on June 20; Airbnb only said the experience would be open to “a limited number of travelers.”

During the trip, accommodations, transportation (with the exception of that round-trip flight to and from London) and some meals are included.

“Circumnavigate the globe during this 12 week trip, where you’ll explore the culture and traditions of medieval Europe, the former Soviet Union, eastern Africa, the Middle East, northern and southern Asia, the South Pacific, the Americas, and a Nordic island,” the site states.

The entire cost of the experience goes to the Malala Fund. Co-founded by student and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai and her father Ziauddin, Malala Fund works to give every girl 12 years of free, safe, quality education.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

New House bill may change how you plan for retirement

Posted on: June 14th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

designer491/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The House of Representatives recently passed a bill that may complicate retirement planning options for Americans.

The House passed the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement (SECURE) Act of 2019 on May 23. If enacted into law, it could be tricky for Americans who are not financially savvy investors.

Some of the changes could benefit consumers: The law encourages more small employers to offer 401(k) plans and raises the age for required minimum distributions (RMDs) from retirement accounts to 72 from 70.5, a nod to longer life expectancies and later retirements.

However, there are some changes that consumers should be wary of, experts say.

For example, one change in the law would shorten the amount of time that someone who inherits an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) can hold onto the funds, potentially causing them to lose money.

“If you inherited my IRA — before I’d be able to stretch the distribution over your lifetime, which is more time for dollars to grow tax deferred. Now you have to drain that inherited IRA over 10 years, which gives you less time to grow the money on a tax-deferred basis,” Dave O’Brien, chair elect of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), told ABC News.

Another change that American workers should be wary of, according to consumer advocates, is adding annuities — complex financial tools offered by insurance companies — to 401(k) plans.

Annuities have seen a boom in sales since last June, when the Trump Administration rolled back Obama-era regulations that required financial advisers to put their customers’ interests ahead of their own.

“There will come a time where we will point back to this as the start of a trend toward high-cost annuities being offered in 401(k) plans to the detriment of retirement savers,” Barbara Roper, the director of investor protection at the Consumer Federation of America, told The New York Times.

The new law would let employers off the hook for the outcomes of the annuities, which guarantee some future income but usually charge high fees.

“Putting an annuity in your 401(k) plan adds complexity and cost that small employers and employees do not need. Employees can still buy an annuity when they retire. You don’t need an act to allow people to buy something you’re allowed to buy outside of your retirement plan,” O’Brien said.

Annuities are complex financial tools to which workers can contribute over years, and then get regular payouts in retirement. However, experts say that except for the most sophisticated investors, they are hard to understand.

Annuities are often pitched as similar to a pension because of the regular payouts. But O’Brien calls that a false equivalency.

“People may claim it’s like a pension, it really isn’t. A pension is the employer’s money going in for you. This is the employee’s money going in for expenses,” O’Brien said. “A pension is a highly regulated, retirement benefit that the employer funds. An annuity is a really complicated, expensive insurance product that the employee would buy.”

Annuities are often marketed as tax-deferred savings vehicles.

But, O’Brien said, “your 401(k) is already a tax-deferred vehicle. It kills me when we see an annuity in a tax-deferred IRA because you doubled up.”

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