Ford discloses DOJ investigation over emissions certifications

Posted on: April 26th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

fredrocko/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Justice Department is investigating Ford Motor Co.’s emissions certification process, the company disclosed on Friday.

The news about the criminal investigation was revealed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing.

In February, Ford disclosed that it would investigate concerns about its internal processes for emissions testing in the U.S.

“As previously reported, the company has become aware of a potential concern involving its U.S. emissions certification process. This matter currently focuses on issues relating to road load estimations, including analytical modeling and coastdown testing. We voluntarily disclosed this matter to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board on February 18, 2019 and February 21, 2019, respectively,” the filing said.

Ford said it was “fully cooperating” with all government agencies and the matter is “still in the preliminary stages.”

“We cannot predict the outcome, and we cannot provide assurance that it will not have a material adverse effect on us,” the automaker said in the filing.

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US economy grew 3.2% in first quarter

Posted on: April 26th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

MicroStockHub/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. economy grew at a 3.2 percent annual rate in the first three months of the year, the Commerce Department said Friday.

The increase is better than what most economists had expected.

Speaking to reporters on his way to a National Rifle Association conference in Indianapolis, President Donald Trump commented on the gross domestic product numbers, saying they were “far higher than even the high expectation.”

“The country is doing very well in every respect,” Trump said. “We’re just doing well. We’re knocking it out of the park.”

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Venmo now has over 40 million active users as payments skyrocket

Posted on: April 25th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Venmo now has over 40 million active customers, parent company PayPal revealed in its earnings report.

The mobile payment app, which is popular with millennials and encourages social interactions, is also processing dramatically more money.

Payment volume jumped 73% in the past year to $21 billion, and expected to hit $100 billion in 2019, the company said Wednesday in its first quarter earnings release.

Venmo defines users as customers who have used the digital wallet at least once in the past 12 months.

Venmo also has more than 40 partnerships, and just added Chipotle as one earlier this year, PayPal said.

In the context of other digital wallets, Venmo holds a desirable spot. While PayPal counts 215 million users, Amazon Pay reported about 30 million users in 2016 and likely has 50 to 60 million current users, according to Lisa Ellis, a mobile payments analyst at research firm MoffettNathanson.

Apple has said it has “tens of millions” of Apple Pay users. According to research-driven venture capital firm Loup Ventures, Apple Pay had over 252 million users, or 31% of the active iPhone base as of August.

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WhatsApp is reportedly testing fingerprint security, blocking screenshots

Posted on: April 25th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

stockcam/iStock(NEW YORK) — Facebook-owned WhatsApp is reportedly testing a new authentication feature that would require users to access chats by fingerprint and restrict the use of screenshots on one of the latest developer version updates.

The feature is on one of the latest beta updates, which is available only to developers, WABetaInfo, a site that monitors changes on the app, reported.

It is apparently optional in security settings and, per WABetaInfo, comes with an explanation reading, “When enabled, fingerprint is required to open WhatsApp and conversation screenshots are blocked. You can still reply to messages from notifications and answer calls if WhatsApp is locked.”

If a user enables the feature, that user can’t then take screenshots of a conversation, according to WABetaInfo. It’s unclear if this also restricts the ability to take screenshots for people with whom the user is conversing.

This beta update comes after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s recent statement on rebranding the company and its subsidiaries to become a “privacy-focused messaging and social networking platform.” Facebook acquired WhatsApp in a $19 billion deal in February 2014.

Zuckerberg said he wants to create interoperability — the ability to use a software seamlessly — while making sure it “doesn’t compromise the expectation of encryption that people already have using WhatsApp.”

But the company’s plan to create an all-encompassing messaging platform has experts and users concerned about their privacy and end-to-end encryption technology, which is supposed to protect messages between the sender and receiver so no one else, including WhatsApp itself, is able to read them.

Facebook has not responded to ABC News’ request for comment on the new features.

Last year, Instagram, which is also owned by Facebook, tested a function on screen-grabbing that notified users if a follower took a screenshot of a story, which is displayed on the app for 24 hours. That feature has since been removed, however.

Facebook has boasted the security of end-to-end encryption of WhatsApp messages since April 2016, but it has yet to tackle some of WhatsApp’s other pressing problems including misinformation, fake news and child pornography.

TechCrunch investigations reported WhatsApp failed to police its platforms as multiple groups of child pornography videos are allegedly shared freely, in an encrypted environment. BuzzFeed also reported last year on the death of five nomads in the village of Rainpada, India, who were killed by villagers after a misleading video on WhatsApp warned people of outsiders abducting children.

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Kit Kat announces first new flavor in nearly a decade

Posted on: April 25th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Kit Kat(NEW YORK) — It’s time to take that break we’ve all been asking for since Kit Kat finally announced a new permanent duo of flavors — mint and dark chocolate.

“Kit Kat is known around the world for its inventive flavors,” senior brand manager Christopher Kinnard said in a press release. “Our fans in the U.S. have been requesting new Kit Kat flavors and we’re excited to share we are adding to the Kit Kat family with the launch of Kit Kat Duos Mint + Dark Chocolate.”

The classic layered wafer and chocolate treat will combine the two iconic flavors with a mint creme on the top and dark chocolate on the bottom.

This marks the first new year-round Kit Kat flavor to hit the U.S. market in nearly 10 years, but it won’t be available until December.

To Kinnard’s point, the U.S. is playing catch up with their international market that has included flavors like green tea, tiramisu and strawberry cheesecake.

“Here’s the best part — we are just getting started. Keep your eyes peeled; there is more to come,” Kinnard added.

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Goldfish creates special-edition "Toy Story" crackers

Posted on: April 25th, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Goldfish/Pepperidge Farm(NEW YORK) — Two beloved names are joining forces to create a new version of the snack that smiles back.

Goldfish created special-edition shaped crackers with the most recognizable faces of Toy Story, Buzz Light Year and Woody, to celebrate the release of the new Disney-Pixar film.

The baked cheddar cheese crackers will be available nationwide on May 1.

The package has immersive graphics and prominently features Bo Peep, who makes her triumphant return to the toy-filled team for the first time since Toy Story 2.

The highly anticipated movie hits theaters on June 21.

Pixar and ABC News are both part of parent company Disney.

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Boeing says it will take $1 billion hit on grounding of the 737 Max jet

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

Wolterk/iStock(NEW YORK) — Boeing announced Wednesday that it was taking an initial $1 billion hit on the grounding of the 737 Max jet following two fatal plane crashes in five months.

The company also abandoned its previous full-year financial outlook as it grapples with the aftermath of the 737 Max fallout and works to implement software upgrades to its best-selling plane. Boeing is also halting stock buybacks.

The crashes of the 737 Max jets operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air on Oct. 29 and by Ethiopian Airlines on March 10 killed a total of 346 people (189 and 157 deaths, respectively).

Chicago-based Boeing disclosed the information early Wednesday ahead of a call with investors.

The company reported Q1 earnings of $2.15 billion on revenue of $22.9 billion. Boeing said that losses from the 737 Max were partially offset by higher defense and services revenue.

Boeing also said it is making steady progress on the path to final certification for a software update on the 737 Max, with over 135 test and production flights of the software update complete.

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Boeing says it will take $1 billion hit on grounding of the 737 Max jet

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

Wolterk/iStock(NEW YORK) — Boeing announced Wednesday that it was taking an initial $1 billion hit on the grounding of the 737 Max jet following two fatal plane crashes in five months.

The company also abandoned its previous full-year financial outlook as it grapples with the aftermath of the 737 Max fallout and works to implement software upgrades to its best-selling plane. Boeing is also halting stock buybacks.

The crashes of the 737 Max jets operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air on Oct. 29 and by Ethiopian Airlines on March 10 killed a total of 346 people (189 and 157 deaths, respectively).

Chicago-based Boeing disclosed the information early Wednesday ahead of a call with investors.

The company reported Q1 earnings of $2.15 billion on revenue of $22.9 billion. Boeing said that losses from the 737 Max were partially offset by higher defense and services revenue.

Boeing also said it is making steady progress on the path to final certification for a software update on the 737 Max, with over 135 test and production flights of the software update complete.

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Facebook officials will attend Paris summit to combat spread of terror online following Christchurch attacks

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

David Tran/iStock(NEW YORK) — Representatives from Facebook will be among the social media executives attending a May 15 summit being organized by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to combat the spread of terrorist material online.

The summit, which Ardern will co-chair with French President Emmanuel Macron in conjunction with the G7 “Tech for Humanity” meeting, will ask world leaders and the CEOs of technology companies to support the “Christchurch Call,” a pledge to remove terrorist content online

The pledge is being launched in response to last month’s terrorist attack in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, where Brendon Tarrant killed 50 worshipers and wounded dozens more at two mosques. The attack was live streamed on Facebook and widely shared online.

Facebook was drawn further into the controversy when company representatives didn’t comment on the case until two weeks after the attack. In a letter to the New Zealand Herald, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said the company was “committed to reviewing what happened,” without outlining specific policies to counter similar activity in the future.

In a statement Wednesday to ABC News, a Facebook spokesperson said the company will be sending representatives to the summit.

“We share the commitment of world leaders to keep people safe and look forward to collaborating with government, industry and safety experts on a clear framework of rules to help achieve this. We’re evaluating how we can best support this effort and who among top Facebook executives will attend.”

Facebook officials said they removed 1.5 million videos of the shooting in the 24 hours following the attack, 1.2 million of which were blocked while in the process of being uploaded.

However Ardern says that more had to be done in the wake of the attack, as social media was being used in an “unprecedented way as a tool to promote an act of terrorism and hate.”

“We’re calling on the leaders of tech companies to join with us and help achieve our goal of eliminating violent extremism online at the Christchurch Summit in Paris,” she said Wednesday in a statement. “We all need to act, and that includes social media providers taking more responsibility for the content that is on their platforms, and taking action so that violent extremist content cannot be published and shared.”

Ardern described the summit as “an opportunity for an act of unity between governments and tech companies.”

“Social media platforms can connect people in many very positive ways, and we all want this to continue,” she said. “But for too long, it has also been possible to use these platforms to incite extremist violence, and even to distribute images of that violence, as happened in Christchurch. This is what needs to change.”

Twitter representatives did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Facebook officials will attend Paris summit to combat spread of terror online following Christchurch attacks

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

David Tran/iStock(NEW YORK) — Representatives from Facebook will be among the social media executives attending a May 15 summit being organized by New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to combat the spread of terrorist material online.

The summit, which Ardern will co-chair with French President Emmanuel Macron in conjunction with the G7 “Tech for Humanity” meeting, will ask world leaders and the CEOs of technology companies to support the “Christchurch Call,” a pledge to remove terrorist content online

The pledge is being launched in response to last month’s terrorist attack in the New Zealand city of Christchurch, where Brendon Tarrant killed 50 worshipers and wounded dozens more at two mosques. The attack was live streamed on Facebook and widely shared online.

Facebook was drawn further into the controversy when company representatives didn’t comment on the case until two weeks after the attack. In a letter to the New Zealand Herald, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said the company was “committed to reviewing what happened,” without outlining specific policies to counter similar activity in the future.

In a statement Wednesday to ABC News, a Facebook spokesperson said the company will be sending representatives to the summit.

“We share the commitment of world leaders to keep people safe and look forward to collaborating with government, industry and safety experts on a clear framework of rules to help achieve this. We’re evaluating how we can best support this effort and who among top Facebook executives will attend.”

Facebook officials said they removed 1.5 million videos of the shooting in the 24 hours following the attack, 1.2 million of which were blocked while in the process of being uploaded.

However Ardern says that more had to be done in the wake of the attack, as social media was being used in an “unprecedented way as a tool to promote an act of terrorism and hate.”

“We’re calling on the leaders of tech companies to join with us and help achieve our goal of eliminating violent extremism online at the Christchurch Summit in Paris,” she said Wednesday in a statement. “We all need to act, and that includes social media providers taking more responsibility for the content that is on their platforms, and taking action so that violent extremist content cannot be published and shared.”

Ardern described the summit as “an opportunity for an act of unity between governments and tech companies.”

“Social media platforms can connect people in many very positive ways, and we all want this to continue,” she said. “But for too long, it has also been possible to use these platforms to incite extremist violence, and even to distribute images of that violence, as happened in Christchurch. This is what needs to change.”

Twitter representatives did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

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Class-action lawsuit filed over popular baby sleeper

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

iStock(NEW YORK) — The latest rumble in the fallout over the Rock N’ Play baby sleeper comes in the form of a class action lawsuit.

The suit was filed by one named mother, Cassandra Mulvey, on behalf of herself and others, against Fisher Price and Mattel, who the suit claims marketed the product as safe for infants to sleep in.

“This marketing was dangerously false and misleading, as the product is not safe for all-night or prolonged sleep for infants,” the lawsuit states.

This month, all models of the sleeper were recalled following more than 30 infant deaths.

The lawsuit claims the angle at which children would be resting in the sleeper “increases the infant’s risk of developing flat head (plagiocephaly) and twisted neck (torticollis) syndromes, conditions that often require babies to wear expensive head-molding helmets and undergo physical therapy.”

Mattel and Fisher Price did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment about the lawsuit, but in a statement after the recall last week, Fisher-Price said they “stand by the safety of our products,” but “decided to conduct a voluntary recall” because of “reported incidents in which the product was used contrary to the safety warnings and instructions.”

The lawsuit alleges this is an “egregious case of corporate greed run amok.”

The plaintiff is asking for, “on behalf of herself and a class of owners of at least 4.7 million” owners, “damages and all other relief available under law and equity from Fisher-Price and its corporate parent Mattel, including punitive damages for their appalling and unconscionable misconduct.”

This class action suit was filed April 19, a week after the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued its recall.

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Criminal charges filed against drug executive for opioids

Posted on: April 23rd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/sdominick(NEW YORK) — Federal prosecutors charged drug distributor Rochester Drug Cooperative and its former CEO with drug trafficking charges Tuesday — the first criminal charges for a pharmaceutical company and executives in the nation’s ongoing opioid crisis.

The charges signify a groundbreaking move by the government to try to combat the opioid epidemic, which kills 130 Americans every day, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For the first time, a pharmaceutical company and white collar executives were charged like street dealers and traffickers.

“This prosecution is the first of its kind: executives of a pharmaceutical distributor and the distributor itself have been charged with drug trafficking, trafficking the same drugs that are fueling the opioid epidemic that is ravaging this country. Our Office will do everything in its power to combat this epidemic, from street-level dealers to the executives who illegally distribute drugs from their boardrooms,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman said in a statement.

 The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York charged Rochester Drug Cooperative (RDC), one of the country’s largest distributors of opioids, with “knowingly and intentionally” violating federal narcotics laws “by distributing dangerous, highly addictive opioids to pharmacy customers that it knew were being sold and used illicitly,” according to a press release.

RDC was also charged with failing to properly report thousands of suspicious orders of oxycodone, fentanyl and other controlled substances to the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), officials said.

The DEA has been investigating for years whether RDC failed to comply with pharmaceutical reporting laws. The company has previously paid to resolve claims it failed to properly report the theft of opioids.

According to court records, from 2012 through 2016, RDC filled more than 1.5 million orders for controlled substances from its pharmacy customers, but reported just four suspicious orders to the DEA. In reality, there were at least 2,000 suspicious orders in those four years, federal prosecutors said.

Despite being briefed by company employees, top executives allegedly ignored “red flags” like cash payments and customers traveling from out of state to buy opioids.

“Today’s charges should send shock waves throughout the pharmaceutical industry reminding them of their role as gatekeepers of prescription medication,” DEA Special Agent in Charge Ray Donovan said in a statement. “DEA investigates DEA Registrants who divert controlled pharmaceutical medication into the wrong hands for the wrong reason. This historic investigation unveiled a criminal element of denial in RDC’s compliance practices, and holds them accountable for their egregious non-compliance according to the law.”

In the opioid industry, RDC is a middleman that buys controlled substances from manufacturers and sells them to individual pharmacies. As one of the nation’s 10 largest drug distributors, it delivered to more than 1,300 pharmacies and took in over $1 billion in revenue during the relevant five-year period, officials said.

RDC agreed to a non-prosecution consent decree and agreed to pay a $20 million penalty. It will be monitored by the government for the next five years.

“We made mistakes,” Jeff Eller, a company spokesperson said in a statement. “RDC understands that these mistakes, directed by former management, have serious consequences.”

“One element of the opioid epidemic is a dramatic increase in the volume of prescriptions for opioids and all narcotics,” the RDC statement continued. “With that dramatic volume increase came an increase in our business, resulting in an increase in orders we should have identified as suspicious order, which we failed to report to DEA.”

The company’s former chief executive, Laurence Doud III, surrendered to federal agents and appeared in Manhattan federal court late Tuesday. He was handcuffed and wore a dark suit as he was led up the stairs of the courthouse by federal agents.

Doud, 75, of New Smyrna, Florida, was charged with one count of conspiracy to distribute controlled substances and one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States. He faces a minimum of 10 years, if convicted.

Separately, William Pietruszewski, 53, RDC’s former chief of compliance, pleaded guilty earlier this month to participating in a narcotics distribution conspiracy from January 2012 to March 2017. He also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud the United States and one count of willfully failing to file suspicious order reports with the DEA.

He has agreed to cooperate with the investigation.

Prosecutors say RDC employees told Doud and Pietruszewski that some of the company’s customers were “very suspicious,” and went so far as to describe some pharmacy clients as a “DEA investigation in the making” or “like a stick of dynamite waiting for [the] DEA to light the fuse.”

But in the relevant five year period, RDC, under Doud’s leadership, increased its sales of oxycodone and fentanyl “exponentially,” prosecutors said.

“From 2012 to 2016, RDC’s sales of oxycodone tablets grew from 4.7 million to 42.2 million – an increase of approximately 800 percent – and during the same period RDC’s fentanyl sales grew from approximately 63,000 dosages in 2012 to over 1.3 million in 2016 – an increase of approximately 2,000 percent. During that same time period, Doud’s compensation increased by over 125 percent, growing to over $1.5 million in 2016,” the U.S. Attorney’s office said.

RDC was also among the drug distributors named last month in a civil lawsuit by the New York Attorney General’s office, which alleged fraud, willful misconduct and gross negligence.

Between 2010 and 2018, the company sold more than 143 million oxycodone pills to customers in New York alone, the state’s attorney general’s lawsuit said.

“At this time, it would not be appropriate to comment on ongoing litigation,” Eller told ABC News in a statement.

Opioid manufacturers are facing over 1,700 lawsuits over their role in the current crisis. Paul Hanly, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the federal litigation, which he said includes 2,000 cases, welcomed the move by U.S. prosecutors.

“The charges make the civil case against RDC easier to try and provide a potential road map to evidence that may prove the civil claims against other distributors,” Hanly told ABC News on Tuesday.

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Samsung delays launch of $2,000 folding phone after problems with review units

Posted on: April 23rd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

holgs/iStock(NEW YORK) — Samsung is delaying the rollout of its $2,000 foldable phones after several tech reviewers reported that their review units became damaged within a day or two of using them.

The Galaxy Fold, which was originally slated to start shipping to consumers on April 26. A new ship date was not specified, but the company said it would be announced in the “coming weeks.”

“While many reviewers shared with us the vast potential they see, some also showed us how the device needs further improvements that could ensure the best possible user experience,” Samsung said in a statement. “To fully evaluate this feedback and run further internal tests, we have decided to delay the release of the Galaxy Fold.”

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

The problem began last week when reviewers for Bloomberg, The Verge and CNBC reported different problems with the breakthrough “foldable” screens (which are actually hinged) on the new Samsung phones.

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

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

CNBC’s Todd Haselton had a different problem with his device.

“A review unit given to CNBC by Samsung is also completely unusable after just two days of use,” he wrote.

Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman had a phone that quickly became damaged. He tweeted: “The screen on my Galaxy Fold review unit is completely broken and unusable just two days in. Hard to know if this is widespread or not.”

 Gurman did say he accidentally removed a protective film on the screen, as did YouTube tech reviewer Marques “MKBHD” Brownlee and Wall Street Journal reviewers. Gurman said he expected that most customers would probably do the same

CNBC’s Haselton, though, said his Galaxy Fold stopped working despite having the protective film intact.

Troubles for the Galaxy Fold come at a pivotal time for the mobile phone industry. Smart phones sales have slowed globally as phones become more expensive, and the market has become saturated. Foldable phones were expected to boost the market, and several companies unveiled their foldable versions at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona in February.

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With FAA certification, Google’s drone company set to start deliveries in Virginia

Posted on: April 23rd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Interim Archives/Getty Images(BLACKSBURG, Va.) — With the Federal Aviation Administration’s historic certification, Wing Aviation’s drone deliveries are set to arrive in Virginia.

U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced Tuesday that the FAA awarded air carrier certification to Google’s Wing Aviation, the first drone delivery company to be awarded one, according to a FAA news release.

With the certification in hand, Wing Aviation can turn its tests into commercial deliveries in the U.S.

Packages from local businesses are set to be delivered in Blacksburg and Christiansburg, Virginia, after the company consults with the local community, according to the release and a Medium post by the company. The goal is to launch a delivery trial later this year, Wing wrote in its Medium post.

“For communities across the country, this presents new opportunities. Goods like medicine or food can now be delivered faster by drone, giving families, shift workers, and other busy consumers more time to do the things that matter,” Wing wrote in the Medium post Tuesday.

Since graduating in July 2018 from Google X, a division of Google’s parent company, Alphabet, that incubates innovative technologies, Wing Aviation is now an independent Alphabet business, according to Google X’s website.

Wing Aviation conducted over 70,000 test flights with more than 3,000 deliveries to Australian doorsteps, driveways and backyards over several years in order to meet the FAA’s safety requirements to qualify, according to the news release and Medium post.

“This is an important step forward for the safe testing and integration of drones into our economy,” Chao said in a statement. “Safety continues to be our Number One priority as this technology continues to develop and realize its full potential.”

Wing Aviation said their data showed a delivery by drone carried a lower risk to pedestrians than if the same trip was made by car, according to the company’s Medium post. The company stressed that drone delivery provides more independence to people who need assistance with mobility and that the all-electric drones will reduce traffic and pollution with zero carbon emissions.

Wing’s drones can fly up to 120 kilometers, or about 74.5 miles, per hour, and can fly up to 400 feet above the ground, according to Google X’s website. The first of Wing’s drone deliveries were completed in 2014 in Queensland, Australia, where everything from dog treats to a first-aid kit were delivered to farmers. Two years later in 2016, Wing’s drones delivered burritos to Virginia Tech students, according to Google X’s website.

Through Wing’s app, users can order products, such as meals or medicine, to be delivered by drone. Wing currently operates in Australia and Finland, according to the company’s website.

Working with the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership and Virginia Tech, Wing Aviation participated in the Transportation Department’s Unmanned Aircraft System Integration Pilot Program, according to the news release. The program works with both state and local governments, as well as private companies, to assess risks and successfully integrate drones into the airspace, according to the FAA’s website.

Mark Blanks, director of the Virginia Tech Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership, said that commercial delivery is one of the most significant ways to introduce the public to drones.

“But until now there hasn’t been a clear pathway for traditional aviation regulations, which were designed for manned aircraft, to accommodate it,” Blanks said in a statement. “That’s why this certificate is so significant: It’s a testament to Wing’s meticulous work and unwavering focus on safety, but it’s also a milestone for the industry because it demonstrates that there’s a way to do drone delivery under the current regulatory structure.”

In a report last June by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, the FAA was characterized as taking an “overly conservative” approach toward regulating drones and integrating them. Drones have often been feared for their potential to crash into planes, and operations were temporarily paused at the Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey in January due to drone activity.

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Kohl’s to expand its Amazon returns program this summer

Posted on: April 23rd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

SweetBabeeJay/iStock(MENOMONEE FALLS, Wisc.) — Affordable fashion retailer Kohl’s has announced that it is expanding its Amazon returns program this summer.

All 1,150 Kohl’s locations will accept opened packages starting in July for free, Kohl’s said in a statement. Eligible items will not need a box or label to be returned.

The partnership is a result of a “shared passion in providing customer service” and “combines Kohl’s strong nationwide store footprint and omnichannel capabilities with Amazon’s reach and customer loyalty,” Kohl’s CEO Michelle Gass said in a statement.

“This new service is another example of how Kohl’s is delivering innovation to drive traffic to our stores and bring more relevance to our customers,” Gass said.

Kohl’s will also begin to carry Amazon products in more than 200 stores, the company announced last month.

A spokesperson for Amazon did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment.

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Oscar Munoz, CEO of United Airlines, on the changing industry and customer expectations

Posted on: April 23rd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Niall_Majury/iStock(WASHINGTON) — United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz thinks airlines are reaching a breaking point with shrinking seat sizes.

“I think we are nearing a point certainly that we can’t do that anymore,” he told ABC News’ Senior Transportation Correspondent David Kerley.

Munoz acknowledged having to stay competitive with peers and match many of their moves, but he admitted passengers may have had enough.

Another common complaint? Wi-Fi. Why does it so often not work on flights?

“It’s complicated technology,” he said. “We will fix that, and, frankly, we would stop a lot of our growth if we could just stop and find the right provider and get that done. That’s how important Wi-Fi is to us and to our customers.”

Munoz recognizes the changing culture of air travel — an experience that for many transformed from an exciting experience to a painstaking one. He hopes that will change soon.

“It’s become so stressful,” he said, “from when you leave, wherever you live, to get into traffic, to find a parking spot, to get through security.”

“Frankly,” Munoz added, “by the time you sit on one of our aircraft … you’re just pissed at the world,” and improving the flying experience won’t ultimately depend on “what coffee or cookie I give you.”

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Samsung delays release of Galaxy Fold over display issues

Posted on: April 23rd, 2019 by ABC News No Comments

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The company announced it would be delaying the rollout of the Galaxy Fold after initial reviews highlighted flaws in display screens.

“Initial findings from the inspection of reported issues on the display showed that they could be associated with impact on the top and bottom exposed areas of the hinge,” Samsung said in a statement. “There was also an instance where substances found inside the device affected the display performance.”

In 2016, the Galaxy Note7 had problems overheating and bursting into flames shortly after it was released in August, prompting the U.S. Consumer Product Commission to recall the device. The CPSC said nearly 1 million Note7 smartphones were sold in the United States, and an estimated 97% of those contained a defective battery.

That same year, a Florida man sued the company after he said his Samsung Galaxy Note7 ignited while in his pocket.

Samsung said it plans to announce a new release date for the Galaxy Fold in the coming weeks.

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Purdue Pharma tries to ‘cry poverty’ in lawsuit over opioid epidemic, Connecticut attorney general says

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

Moussa81/iStock(NEW YORK) — The embattled maker of OxyContin is attempting to “cry poverty” to avoid accountability for the company’s role in the nation’s opioid epidemic, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said Monday, as the state expanded its lawsuit against Purdue Pharma.

Tong filed an amended lawsuit that alleged hundreds of millions of dollars were fraudulently transferred from Purdue Pharma to the Sacklers, the family that controls the company, to evade liability.

“Purdue Pharma and the individual former directors of the company vigorously deny the allegations filed today in Connecticut and will continue to defend themselves against these misleading attacks,” Purdue Pharma said in a statement in response to the amended complaint. “We believe that no pharmaceutical manufacturer has done more to address the opioid addiction crisis than Purdue, and we continue to work closely with governments and law enforcement agencies on this difficult social issue.”

The lawsuit seeks to claw back transferred funds and a court order to prevent any additional transfers of money.

“We will not allow Purdue Pharma to cry poverty after illegally transferring hundreds of millions of dollars to members of the Sackler family—unearned funds these individuals reaped as Connecticut families suffered,” Tong said in a statement.

Connecticut, along with a number of other states, sued Purdue in December 2018, alleging the company pushed patients toward OxyContin even as opioid addictions skyrocketed. The company recently settled a lawsuit with Oklahoma for $270 million.

Illinois’ attorney general also filed a lawsuit against the company earlier this month.

“Our investigation has left no room for doubt—Purdue and the Sacklers ignored all human cost while pushing deadly opioids in blind pursuit of profit,” Tong said.

Purdue and the Sacklers pushed a false narrative telling doctors that addiction was “not caused by drugs” but instead was the result of “susceptible individuals,” the amended complaint said. It also alleged Purdue insisted patients suffered from “pseudoaddiction” caused by inadequate dosage. To treat it, the lawsuit said doctors needed to up the dosage.

The company has accused the different states of cherry picking the most damning information from their internal documents.

Purdue Pharma did not immediately return ABC News’ request for comment on the Connecticut attorney general’s amended suit.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Social Security is running out of money, with benefits on track to be reduced by 2035

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

BackyardProduction/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The nation’s Social Security program is running out of money with benefits on track to be reduced by around 2035 unless Congress steps in, according to a report released Monday by the Trump administration.

The prediction is somewhat better than last year’s annual assessment delivered to Congress, when the government predicted a reduction of benefits a year earlier in 2034.

The government also concluded Monday that Medicare’s hospital insurance trust fund will run out of money in 2026. That’s on par with last year’s assessment.

“Lawmakers have many policy options that would reduce or eliminate the long-term financing shortfalls in Social Security and Medicare,” according to an administration statement. “Lawmakers should address these financial challenges as soon as possible.”

The viability of America’s 84-year-old Social Security program has become an urgent question for politicians looking to court voters in next year’s election.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly vowed not to touch the popular program or Medicare, the health insurance program for seniors. But his 2020 budget proposed spending less on both programs over the next 10 years, including some $26 billion on Social Security programs and hundreds of billions trimmed from Medicare. Administration officials insisted that the cuts wouldn’t impact benefits and the cost savings would be found by rooting out fraud and changing how the Medicare pays providers like hospitals.

House Democrats have vowed to block the budget proposal from being enacted.

“Americans pay into these essential programs throughout their working lives, and they expect to receive the benefits they’ve earned,” said Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, the Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Options to fix the program could include increasing the payroll tax, raising the retirement age or modifying the formula that determines how people receive their benefits. Some 94% of workers participate in Social Security.

One House bill would expand benefits for individuals, implement a payroll tax to earnings that are more than $400,000, and lower taxes for some recipients, among other things.

Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., who serves as the chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees Social Security and is a co-sponsor of that bill, said the report “underscores why it is so important that Congress take action now to prevent cuts from occurring in 2035.”

“With 10,000 Baby Boomers becoming eligible for Social Security every day, and with people facing a retirement crisis after still not fully recovering wealth lost during the Great Recession, the time to act is now,” Larson said in a statement.

Nancy Berryhill, acting Social Security commissioner, said the program was able to buy more time before it depletes its reserves because of a decline in people receiving money for disability. Since last year’s estimate, the trust funds supporting Social Security increased by $3 billion in 2018 to a total of $2.895 trillion in reserves.

“Disability applications have been declining since 2010, and the number of disabled-worker beneficiaries receiving payments has been falling since 2014,” she said in a statement.

But even with that extra cash on hand and plenty of political support, the cost of the program has struggled to keep pace with the cost of paying out benefits for some 174 million Americans and their 63 million beneficiaries.

“Social Security’s total cost is projected to exceed its total income (including interest) in 2020 for the first time since 1982, and to remain higher throughout the remainder of the projection period,” the report found.

The assessment was completed by Berryhill, along with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Social Security is running out of money, with benefits on track to be reduced by 2035

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

BackyardProduction/iStock(WASHINGTON) — The nation’s Social Security program is running out of money with benefits on track to be reduced by around 2035 unless Congress steps in, according to a report released Monday by the Trump administration.

The prediction is somewhat better than last year’s annual assessment delivered to Congress, when the government predicted a reduction of benefits a year earlier in 2034.

The government also concluded Monday that Medicare’s hospital insurance trust fund will run out of money in 2026. That’s on par with last year’s assessment.

“Lawmakers have many policy options that would reduce or eliminate the long-term financing shortfalls in Social Security and Medicare,” according to an administration statement. “Lawmakers should address these financial challenges as soon as possible.”

The viability of America’s 84-year-old Social Security program has become an urgent question for politicians looking to court voters in next year’s election.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly vowed not to touch the popular program or Medicare, the health insurance program for seniors. But his 2020 budget proposed spending less on both programs over the next 10 years, including some $26 billion on Social Security programs and hundreds of billions trimmed from Medicare. Administration officials insisted that the cuts wouldn’t impact benefits and the cost savings would be found by rooting out fraud and changing how the Medicare pays providers like hospitals.

House Democrats have vowed to block the budget proposal from being enacted.

“Americans pay into these essential programs throughout their working lives, and they expect to receive the benefits they’ve earned,” said Rep. Richard Neal of Massachusetts, the Democratic chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Options to fix the program could include increasing the payroll tax, raising the retirement age or modifying the formula that determines how people receive their benefits. Some 94% of workers participate in Social Security.

One House bill would expand benefits for individuals, implement a payroll tax to earnings that are more than $400,000, and lower taxes for some recipients, among other things.

Rep. John Larson, D-Conn., who serves as the chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees Social Security and is a co-sponsor of that bill, said the report “underscores why it is so important that Congress take action now to prevent cuts from occurring in 2035.”

“With 10,000 Baby Boomers becoming eligible for Social Security every day, and with people facing a retirement crisis after still not fully recovering wealth lost during the Great Recession, the time to act is now,” Larson said in a statement.

Nancy Berryhill, acting Social Security commissioner, said the program was able to buy more time before it depletes its reserves because of a decline in people receiving money for disability. Since last year’s estimate, the trust funds supporting Social Security increased by $3 billion in 2018 to a total of $2.895 trillion in reserves.

“Disability applications have been declining since 2010, and the number of disabled-worker beneficiaries receiving payments has been falling since 2014,” she said in a statement.

But even with that extra cash on hand and plenty of political support, the cost of the program has struggled to keep pace with the cost of paying out benefits for some 174 million Americans and their 63 million beneficiaries.

“Social Security’s total cost is projected to exceed its total income (including interest) in 2020 for the first time since 1982, and to remain higher throughout the remainder of the projection period,” the report found.

The assessment was completed by Berryhill, along with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

How to practice food sustainability and cut waste on Earth Day

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

James Beard Foundation(NEW YORK) — Attention foodies, home cooks and eaters: Chefs have long practiced incredibly smart ways to fight food waste, and you can implement their top tips, recipes and other ways to practice a sustainable relationship with food in your own kitchen.

For Earth Day ABC News’ Good Morning America spoke to leaders in the food community who shared insights from full-use cooking methods to best practices as diners and how everything we do has an impact on the links in the food chain.

If you’ve ever thrown out wilted greens that you forgot about in your crisper drawer, tossed out the tops and stems of veggies without a second thought, or only buy boneless poultry, then you are missing out on some seriously delicious flavor and future star ingredients.

What is food sustainability?

Katherine Miller, the vice president of impact at the James Beard Foundation, knows a thing or two about food sustainability policy and advocacy.

“Sustainability for us at the James Beard Foundation is about three principles: good for people, good for the planet and the community,” she said. “We focus on these pillars in our practices related to food waste reduction.”

Miller developed the foundation’s signature training program, Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change, where professional chefs cook and learn skills to practice sustainability in their kitchens and at the community level.

Along with the Foundation’s “Waste Not” cookbook that shows readers how to get the most from their food, Miller said JBF also has a chef-to-chef curriculum to create a full-use, no-waste kitchen.

Sara Brito, president and co-founder of Good Food 100, which measures chefs and restaurants’ commitment to and impact on a sustainable food system, said everything that eaters, chefs and restaurants do has an impact.

“How they spend their money has an impact on every link in the food chain: the environment, animals, farmers, ranchers and fishermen, farm workers and food service workers,” Brito explained. “People should vote with their food dollars to support food that is as good as possible for every link in the food chain.”

Did you know?

Food waste is estimated at between 30-40 percent in the U.S.

“This estimate, based on estimates from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service of 31% food loss at the retail and consumer levels, corresponded to approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food in 2010,” according to a USDA report.

Meet the chefs practicing what they preach

Michael Anthony, executive chef Gramercy Tavern, New York City

Anthony said that the restaurant is set up by design to share top-quality ingredients across multiple menus offered in the tavern and main dining room.

“This interconnectivity, which highlights different price points and different aesthetic style of dishes, creates a perfect setting to eliminate waste,” he said.

“Every dish at Gramercy Tavern is conceived to express a combination of thrift and ingenuity,” he said, adding that there is an organizational obligation at Gramercy Tavern to transform every ingredient into “delicious, profitable dishes.”

“We respect the effort that goes into producing these great ingredients,” he added. “We train our staff to handle them reverentially, and we work with organizations like Rethink Food that are heroically entering our kitchen at the end of service and happy to capture preparations that will not be able to be served the following day.”

Suzanne Cupps, executive chef Untitled by Union Square Hospitality Group, New York City

Cupps said sustainability is “at the heart” of her cooking and hailed practices passed down from chef Mike Anthony who helped her “understand what it is to be a mindful chef” and be aware of waste.

“Sustainability for me means supporting the folks around me, being the best steward of the ingredients that I can be and really being mindful of what our guests are eating and what’s leftover after,” she said.

Her restaurant focuses on “sourcing local, delicious food that is sustainable” from the Union Square Greenmarket, from which they buy 90 percent of their produce.

Karen Akunowicz, executive chef and owner Fox and the Knife, Boston

The James Beard-nominated chef believes in using “as much as we can of our ingredients — root to stem if you will.”

“Broccoli stems are delicious,” the chef said. “In our grilled broccoli Caesar salad we cut the stems off half way down and grill plank sections with stem attached,” she said of one example. “Then we peel the remainder of the stems, and slice the stems thin, into half moons to add back to the salad raw for lots of crunch.”

Top tips and best practices

These are some of the simple things you can do every day to help create a sustainable food chain:

Love your freezer

“Freeze everything.” This was the resounding message from every chef and food leader we heard from, so it’s no wonder this was Miller’s No. 1 tip.

“You may realize, ‘Oh, I bought that ground beef and decided not to use it tonight,’ or you have a whole bunch of vegetables from the farmers market and you have all these ends you’re not going to eat right away — put it in the freezer,” Miller said.

Freeze leftover vegetables and even rotisserie chicken bones to be used for soup stock.

Plan your menu so you don’t over-prepare

“Especially for home cooks, another tip is to plan your menu,” Miller said. “Plan for your guests and don’t over-prepare. You want people walking away happy, not stuffed.”

She also said that despite the idea for a host to have an abundance, it’s better to “leave ’em wanting more.”

Encourage leftovers and elevate it with an egg

“In the same way we do at the [James Beard] House, encourage people to take leftovers home with them,” Miller said. “You will waste far less food.”

The Good Food 100 co-founder also said people can incorporate this practice when dining out at restaurants.

“Don’t be afraid to ask (or let others make you feel cheap for asking) for all of the leftovers to take home,” Brito said. “Almost all leftovers taste good the next day for breakfast or lunch with an egg on it.”

“Even the extra bread in the bread basket makes for delicious toast the next day or breadcrumbs to freezer for later use,” Brito said.

Chef Kwame Williams, a private chef from New Jersey who also attended a JBF boot camp, suggested another great use of leftovers: “Stir fry!”

“A traditional stir fry is made with day-old rice — combine that with any leftover meat that might be in your refrigerator, along with fresh or frozen vegetables,” Williams added.

Scraps into stars

Miller suggested to “juice the stems and turn it into a lovely cocktail” and to “save the bones from a chicken and turn it into a soup. Use all the peels and ends of your onions, carrots and other vegetables to make into a lovely broth on a rainy day.”

Brito added that purees are another perfect way to preserve and capitalize on using an ingredient.

“Puree any leftover vegetable to make a quick and delicious vegetable soup,” she suggested.

Cupps, who loves Asian cooking techniques, said pickling — and particularly fermenting — is a great way to reinvigorate produce and give it new life.

“In a lot of Japanese and Korean cookbooks,” Cupps added, “they suggest things like Kimchi, which is just a way to ferment with a little chili. It’s just a little funkier but it adds some spice, some kick to your food and it does preserve the product for weeks.”

In addition to pickling or making pesto, Williams also offered an additional option: “Jams can definitely be used when you have an ingredient in excess.”

Eat ugly

That’s right, you don’t have to pick the most Instagram-able fruits and vegetables. In fact, food advocates like Miller think you shouldn’t.

Consumers can help reduce waste by supporting the movement to eat misshapen foods. Some companies, like Imperfect Produce, will even deliver the delicious fruits and veggies that don’t make it off the farm to grocery stores for nearly 30 percent less than supermarket prices.

It’s even become popular on social media accounts that show off carrots that look like they’re hugging or other produce shaped like a heart.

FIFO

First In, First Out: When you put your groceries into the fridge or pantry, move the older products to the front and put new products in the back. You’ll be more inclined to use the older stuff in front before it expires.

Keep a list of what you have

With an inventory of all the items at your finger tips, you may be less likely to purchase more of the same without using what you have on hand.

Save cooking and braising liquid

Another great practice in Akunowicz’s kitchen is to save cooking or braising liquids to add back more flavor. With a filled pasta dish at Fox and the Knife, she uses simmering liquid and the peels from the parsnips to steep the pasta.

“It adds more parsnip flavor and body to the sauce!” she noted.

They also braise vegetables in the duck fat and stock from duck confit.

“The braising liquid is used as the base of the pasta sauce and we save the duck fat to confit our crispy potatoes,” Akunowicz said.

Learn how to properly store ingredients

There are an array of online resources to show tips for proper food storage such as storing fresh herbs in a jar with water or putting mushrooms in a paper bag and removing the tops of root vegetables to keep them fresh.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

How to practice food sustainability and cut waste on Earth Day

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

James Beard Foundation(NEW YORK) — Attention foodies, home cooks and eaters: Chefs have long practiced incredibly smart ways to fight food waste, and you can implement their top tips, recipes and other ways to practice a sustainable relationship with food in your own kitchen.

For Earth Day ABC News’ Good Morning America spoke to leaders in the food community who shared insights from full-use cooking methods to best practices as diners and how everything we do has an impact on the links in the food chain.

If you’ve ever thrown out wilted greens that you forgot about in your crisper drawer, tossed out the tops and stems of veggies without a second thought, or only buy boneless poultry, then you are missing out on some seriously delicious flavor and future star ingredients.

What is food sustainability?

Katherine Miller, the vice president of impact at the James Beard Foundation, knows a thing or two about food sustainability policy and advocacy.

“Sustainability for us at the James Beard Foundation is about three principles: good for people, good for the planet and the community,” she said. “We focus on these pillars in our practices related to food waste reduction.”

Miller developed the foundation’s signature training program, Chefs Boot Camp for Policy and Change, where professional chefs cook and learn skills to practice sustainability in their kitchens and at the community level.

Along with the Foundation’s “Waste Not” cookbook that shows readers how to get the most from their food, Miller said JBF also has a chef-to-chef curriculum to create a full-use, no-waste kitchen.

Sara Brito, president and co-founder of Good Food 100, which measures chefs and restaurants’ commitment to and impact on a sustainable food system, said everything that eaters, chefs and restaurants do has an impact.

“How they spend their money has an impact on every link in the food chain: the environment, animals, farmers, ranchers and fishermen, farm workers and food service workers,” Brito explained. “People should vote with their food dollars to support food that is as good as possible for every link in the food chain.”

Did you know?

Food waste is estimated at between 30-40 percent in the U.S.

“This estimate, based on estimates from U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service of 31% food loss at the retail and consumer levels, corresponded to approximately 133 billion pounds and $161 billion worth of food in 2010,” according to a USDA report.

Meet the chefs practicing what they preach

Michael Anthony, executive chef Gramercy Tavern, New York City

Anthony said that the restaurant is set up by design to share top-quality ingredients across multiple menus offered in the tavern and main dining room.

“This interconnectivity, which highlights different price points and different aesthetic style of dishes, creates a perfect setting to eliminate waste,” he said.

“Every dish at Gramercy Tavern is conceived to express a combination of thrift and ingenuity,” he said, adding that there is an organizational obligation at Gramercy Tavern to transform every ingredient into “delicious, profitable dishes.”

“We respect the effort that goes into producing these great ingredients,” he added. “We train our staff to handle them reverentially, and we work with organizations like Rethink Food that are heroically entering our kitchen at the end of service and happy to capture preparations that will not be able to be served the following day.”

Suzanne Cupps, executive chef Untitled by Union Square Hospitality Group, New York City

Cupps said sustainability is “at the heart” of her cooking and hailed practices passed down from chef Mike Anthony who helped her “understand what it is to be a mindful chef” and be aware of waste.

“Sustainability for me means supporting the folks around me, being the best steward of the ingredients that I can be and really being mindful of what our guests are eating and what’s leftover after,” she said.

Her restaurant focuses on “sourcing local, delicious food that is sustainable” from the Union Square Greenmarket, from which they buy 90 percent of their produce.

Karen Akunowicz, executive chef and owner Fox and the Knife, Boston

The James Beard-nominated chef believes in using “as much as we can of our ingredients — root to stem if you will.”

“Broccoli stems are delicious,” the chef said. “In our grilled broccoli Caesar salad we cut the stems off half way down and grill plank sections with stem attached,” she said of one example. “Then we peel the remainder of the stems, and slice the stems thin, into half moons to add back to the salad raw for lots of crunch.”

Top tips and best practices

These are some of the simple things you can do every day to help create a sustainable food chain:

Love your freezer

“Freeze everything.” This was the resounding message from every chef and food leader we heard from, so it’s no wonder this was Miller’s No. 1 tip.

“You may realize, ‘Oh, I bought that ground beef and decided not to use it tonight,’ or you have a whole bunch of vegetables from the farmers market and you have all these ends you’re not going to eat right away — put it in the freezer,” Miller said.

Freeze leftover vegetables and even rotisserie chicken bones to be used for soup stock.

Plan your menu so you don’t over-prepare

“Especially for home cooks, another tip is to plan your menu,” Miller said. “Plan for your guests and don’t over-prepare. You want people walking away happy, not stuffed.”

She also said that despite the idea for a host to have an abundance, it’s better to “leave ’em wanting more.”

Encourage leftovers and elevate it with an egg

“In the same way we do at the [James Beard] House, encourage people to take leftovers home with them,” Miller said. “You will waste far less food.”

The Good Food 100 co-founder also said people can incorporate this practice when dining out at restaurants.

“Don’t be afraid to ask (or let others make you feel cheap for asking) for all of the leftovers to take home,” Brito said. “Almost all leftovers taste good the next day for breakfast or lunch with an egg on it.”

“Even the extra bread in the bread basket makes for delicious toast the next day or breadcrumbs to freezer for later use,” Brito said.

Chef Kwame Williams, a private chef from New Jersey who also attended a JBF boot camp, suggested another great use of leftovers: “Stir fry!”

“A traditional stir fry is made with day-old rice — combine that with any leftover meat that might be in your refrigerator, along with fresh or frozen vegetables,” Williams added.

Scraps into stars

Miller suggested to “juice the stems and turn it into a lovely cocktail” and to “save the bones from a chicken and turn it into a soup. Use all the peels and ends of your onions, carrots and other vegetables to make into a lovely broth on a rainy day.”

Brito added that purees are another perfect way to preserve and capitalize on using an ingredient.

“Puree any leftover vegetable to make a quick and delicious vegetable soup,” she suggested.

Cupps, who loves Asian cooking techniques, said pickling — and particularly fermenting — is a great way to reinvigorate produce and give it new life.

“In a lot of Japanese and Korean cookbooks,” Cupps added, “they suggest things like Kimchi, which is just a way to ferment with a little chili. It’s just a little funkier but it adds some spice, some kick to your food and it does preserve the product for weeks.”

In addition to pickling or making pesto, Williams also offered an additional option: “Jams can definitely be used when you have an ingredient in excess.”

Eat ugly

That’s right, you don’t have to pick the most Instagram-able fruits and vegetables. In fact, food advocates like Miller think you shouldn’t.

Consumers can help reduce waste by supporting the movement to eat misshapen foods. Some companies, like Imperfect Produce, will even deliver the delicious fruits and veggies that don’t make it off the farm to grocery stores for nearly 30 percent less than supermarket prices.

It’s even become popular on social media accounts that show off carrots that look like they’re hugging or other produce shaped like a heart.

FIFO

First In, First Out: When you put your groceries into the fridge or pantry, move the older products to the front and put new products in the back. You’ll be more inclined to use the older stuff in front before it expires.

Keep a list of what you have

With an inventory of all the items at your finger tips, you may be less likely to purchase more of the same without using what you have on hand.

Save cooking and braising liquid

Another great practice in Akunowicz’s kitchen is to save cooking or braising liquids to add back more flavor. With a filled pasta dish at Fox and the Knife, she uses simmering liquid and the peels from the parsnips to steep the pasta.

“It adds more parsnip flavor and body to the sauce!” she noted.

They also braise vegetables in the duck fat and stock from duck confit.

“The braising liquid is used as the base of the pasta sauce and we save the duck fat to confit our crispy potatoes,” Akunowicz said.

Learn how to properly store ingredients

There are an array of online resources to show tips for proper food storage such as storing fresh herbs in a jar with water or putting mushrooms in a paper bag and removing the tops of root vegetables to keep them fresh.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Happy Earth Day: How to dress up more sustainably, now and forever

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

thredUp(NEW YORK) — We live in a world where “fast fashion” is supreme and retailers are creating clothing at the drop of a dime. But is it time to slow down?

Multiple reports suggest that in addition to oil, fashion is the next largest industry to pollute the world. However, that might change as awareness of the issue increases.

How can you help? You may already have the answer.

“I think finding affordable, sustainable fashion always starts with your own closet,” said Dominique Drakeford, the chief curator of MelaninASS (Melanin and Sustainable Style), a space to celebrate sustainable fashion, natural beauty, wellness and land justice from the lens of communities of color. “Look at your wardrobe and see what you can mend and repurpose or upcycle before throwing an item away.”

If you are already inspired to start shopping for more environment-friendly fashion finds, understanding some of the key terms and symbols placed on clothing can put you on the right track.

A few tell-tale words that are usually associated with sustainable fashion include:

Recycled: This may be the most obvious term, but one of the most important. Pieces that include a recycled stamp have been produced from previously used materials.

Certified organic: When an item has the certified organic stamp, this means the clothing was created through an organic farming process and under strict regulations.

Naturally dyed: This simply means the garments were dyed using only plants, vegetables and minerals, and without the use of animals.

Fair trade: If you notice this verbiage, it’s safe to say your clothing was fairly traded between companies in developed countries and that those who produced the clothing were paid fair prices.

How to make sustainable fashion more affordable

Sustainable fashion isn’t a completely new idea, but it is one that has notoriously been associated with a wealthier class-type.

Devonne Jackson is an upcycle style and earth advocate. She’s also the founder of Positive Obsession, Inc. which is a platform that sparks sustainable lifestyle conversations through events, education and experiences. She said that the most affordable and ethical way to be sustainable is to simply check out everything you’ve already bought in your closet.

“So, clean out that closet and fall in love again,” she said.

Jackson also made clear the value in saving for sustainable goods.

“We save up for good kitchen pots, a first car or a much-needed crew vacation,” she said. “Save for the memories that will last.”

Sustainable stylist Lauren Engelke has become a master at styling herself and her clients consciously without compromising style.

“I help my clients figure out what occasions they dress for during the week, and then we brainstorm a handful of outfit options for each,” said Engelke. “Usually, we’ll realize that they don’t need a whole new spring wardrobe, but one pair of spring booties and one new blazer will make everything they have feel fresh again. Then, we shop for just those two things.”

Engelke also suggested slimming down your wardrobe so that you can identify your own authentic style.

“By being able to identify the silhouettes and colors that you love, you can lean into and play around with your personal style without buying mountains of new clothing,” she said.

Yes, sustainable fashion has made lots of progress, but like anything else, it doesn’t come without challenges and a dark past.

“The sustainable market still isn’t doing a very good job of dressing plus-size people. I have a bigger body myself,” Aja Barber, a London-based stylist and writer, who more recently vowed to dress more sustainably, told ABC News’ Good Morning America. “But, I do believe more and more designers are waking up every day and pledging to do better in that category.”

“I find it unacceptable to call yourself ethical but exclude plus-size people from the narrative,” said Barber. “Buying from Etsy is wonderful because you can get things tailored to your size no matter what size you are! And that’s a beautiful thing!”

Drakeford also chimed in, explaining how overcoming systemic oppression ties into the challenge of more sustainable fashion.

“The infrastructure of the industry was built on slave labor and thrives by way of exploitation, while the environmental crisis disproportionately affects black and brown communities,” Drakeford said. “Dismantling a system that’s doing exactly what it was intended to do is a constant battle and fashion plays a huge role in all of this. It not just about wearing cute clothes, it’s much deeper.”

With the highs and the lows of sustainable fashion, overall, there is forward movement in the right direction. In addition to advocates and stylists pushing for more of it, there are brands that are doing the necessary work to help consumers shop more consciously.

Five sustainable fashion collections leading the charge for 2019

Rent The Runway

Rent The Runway is becoming the Uber of sustainable fashion and shopping. You can sign up for a subscription to rent rather than buy outfits for everything from formal events to office attire. The popular subscription service is disrupting how people traditionally shop by allowing consumers to keep up with the latest styles and returning when they are done — with zero waste.

Amour Vert

Amour Vert means “green love” in French, and the brand is at the forefront of fashion sustainability in everything from their FEC-certified forest fibers to environmental partnerships that help plant trees around North America.

This year for Earth Month, there is an initiative where shoppers can add trees to their cart and one tree will be planted for each dollar spent. You can also share the tree with a loved one or have one planted in their honor. This initiative has allowed the retailer to plant 220,000 trees to date.

thredUP

ThreUp is one of the world’s largest fashion resale websites and actress Olivia Wilde recently teamed up with the brand to launch a secondhand capsule collection to raise awareness for how “choosing used” can end textile waste. The line features more than 4,000 unique items and it is size inclusive, with sizes ranging from XS to 3X.

Everlane

On April 25, the brand is launching a sustainable pair of unisex sneakers under the name “Tread by Everlane.” The new footwear line is 94.2 percent plastic-free and comes with a mission to “make the world’s lowest-impact sneakers.”

Ralph Lauren

The luxury retailer debuted the Earth Polo shirt on April 18. It is made from an average of 12 plastic bottles and dyed with a waterless process. Ralph Lauren has also committed to removing 170 million plastic bottles from landfills and oceans by 2025.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Happy Earth Day: How to dress up more sustainably, now and forever

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

thredUp(NEW YORK) — We live in a world where “fast fashion” is supreme and retailers are creating clothing at the drop of a dime. But is it time to slow down?

Multiple reports suggest that in addition to oil, fashion is the next largest industry to pollute the world. However, that might change as awareness of the issue increases.

How can you help? You may already have the answer.

“I think finding affordable, sustainable fashion always starts with your own closet,” said Dominique Drakeford, the chief curator of MelaninASS (Melanin and Sustainable Style), a space to celebrate sustainable fashion, natural beauty, wellness and land justice from the lens of communities of color. “Look at your wardrobe and see what you can mend and repurpose or upcycle before throwing an item away.”

If you are already inspired to start shopping for more environment-friendly fashion finds, understanding some of the key terms and symbols placed on clothing can put you on the right track.

A few tell-tale words that are usually associated with sustainable fashion include:

Recycled: This may be the most obvious term, but one of the most important. Pieces that include a recycled stamp have been produced from previously used materials.

Certified organic: When an item has the certified organic stamp, this means the clothing was created through an organic farming process and under strict regulations.

Naturally dyed: This simply means the garments were dyed using only plants, vegetables and minerals, and without the use of animals.

Fair trade: If you notice this verbiage, it’s safe to say your clothing was fairly traded between companies in developed countries and that those who produced the clothing were paid fair prices.

How to make sustainable fashion more affordable

Sustainable fashion isn’t a completely new idea, but it is one that has notoriously been associated with a wealthier class-type.

Devonne Jackson is an upcycle style and earth advocate. She’s also the founder of Positive Obsession, Inc. which is a platform that sparks sustainable lifestyle conversations through events, education and experiences. She said that the most affordable and ethical way to be sustainable is to simply check out everything you’ve already bought in your closet.

“So, clean out that closet and fall in love again,” she said.

Jackson also made clear the value in saving for sustainable goods.

“We save up for good kitchen pots, a first car or a much-needed crew vacation,” she said. “Save for the memories that will last.”

Sustainable stylist Lauren Engelke has become a master at styling herself and her clients consciously without compromising style.

“I help my clients figure out what occasions they dress for during the week, and then we brainstorm a handful of outfit options for each,” said Engelke. “Usually, we’ll realize that they don’t need a whole new spring wardrobe, but one pair of spring booties and one new blazer will make everything they have feel fresh again. Then, we shop for just those two things.”

Engelke also suggested slimming down your wardrobe so that you can identify your own authentic style.

“By being able to identify the silhouettes and colors that you love, you can lean into and play around with your personal style without buying mountains of new clothing,” she said.

Yes, sustainable fashion has made lots of progress, but like anything else, it doesn’t come without challenges and a dark past.

“The sustainable market still isn’t doing a very good job of dressing plus-size people. I have a bigger body myself,” Aja Barber, a London-based stylist and writer, who more recently vowed to dress more sustainably, told ABC News’ Good Morning America. “But, I do believe more and more designers are waking up every day and pledging to do better in that category.”

“I find it unacceptable to call yourself ethical but exclude plus-size people from the narrative,” said Barber. “Buying from Etsy is wonderful because you can get things tailored to your size no matter what size you are! And that’s a beautiful thing!”

Drakeford also chimed in, explaining how overcoming systemic oppression ties into the challenge of more sustainable fashion.

“The infrastructure of the industry was built on slave labor and thrives by way of exploitation, while the environmental crisis disproportionately affects black and brown communities,” Drakeford said. “Dismantling a system that’s doing exactly what it was intended to do is a constant battle and fashion plays a huge role in all of this. It not just about wearing cute clothes, it’s much deeper.”

With the highs and the lows of sustainable fashion, overall, there is forward movement in the right direction. In addition to advocates and stylists pushing for more of it, there are brands that are doing the necessary work to help consumers shop more consciously.

Five sustainable fashion collections leading the charge for 2019

Rent The Runway

Rent The Runway is becoming the Uber of sustainable fashion and shopping. You can sign up for a subscription to rent rather than buy outfits for everything from formal events to office attire. The popular subscription service is disrupting how people traditionally shop by allowing consumers to keep up with the latest styles and returning when they are done — with zero waste.

Amour Vert

Amour Vert means “green love” in French, and the brand is at the forefront of fashion sustainability in everything from their FEC-certified forest fibers to environmental partnerships that help plant trees around North America.

This year for Earth Month, there is an initiative where shoppers can add trees to their cart and one tree will be planted for each dollar spent. You can also share the tree with a loved one or have one planted in their honor. This initiative has allowed the retailer to plant 220,000 trees to date.

thredUP

ThreUp is one of the world’s largest fashion resale websites and actress Olivia Wilde recently teamed up with the brand to launch a secondhand capsule collection to raise awareness for how “choosing used” can end textile waste. The line features more than 4,000 unique items and it is size inclusive, with sizes ranging from XS to 3X.

Everlane

On April 25, the brand is launching a sustainable pair of unisex sneakers under the name “Tread by Everlane.” The new footwear line is 94.2 percent plastic-free and comes with a mission to “make the world’s lowest-impact sneakers.”

Ralph Lauren

The luxury retailer debuted the Earth Polo shirt on April 18. It is made from an average of 12 plastic bottles and dyed with a waterless process. Ralph Lauren has also committed to removing 170 million plastic bottles from landfills and oceans by 2025.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

DNA testing service Ancestry pulls ad said to romanticize slavery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hudson Media buys "National Enquirer" for $100 million

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The sale is still contingent on regulatory approval.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Hudson Media buys "National Enquirer" for $100 million

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The sale is still contingent on regulatory approval.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Facebook collected email contacts from 1.5M users without their knowledge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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