US government buying $50 million of milk from dairy farmers

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it's buying 11 to 13 million gallons of milk from dairy farmers for $50 million and planning to send it to local food banks.

It's the first time the USDA program that buys surplus products has purchased liquid milk.

The acquisition is not related to the emergency assistance for farmers linked to President Donald Trump's tariff proposals, although dairy farmers have been hurt by trade issues related to NAFTA and declining demand for milk from cows.

The USDA is buying the milk under a program that allows the government to buy surplus food or agricultural products and redirect them to food banks or school-nutrition programs.

Hundreds of dairy farms have closed, citing economic pressure and government regulations, over the last 15 to 20 years. The Los Angeles Times reported that Califonia Republican Congressman David Valado lost his family farm this year and that 36 percent of dairy farms in the state closed between 2001 and 2017.

Industry and advocacy groups have called on the government to help.

"This purchase addresses one of our country's significant challenges -- hunger -- and, at the same time, will have a positive impact on the dairy industry at a time of significant market uncertainty," said Michael Dykes, the International Dairy Foods Association president and CEO. "The nation's milk processors welcome the opportunity."

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Southwest Airlines announces new rules for emotional support animals

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Southwest Airlines announced Tuesday that it will soon enforce new restrictions on customers traveling with emotional support animals.

Beginning September 17, only one dog or cat, either in a carrier or on a leash, will be allowed per customer on Southwest flights.

"Our updates are based on a careful review of the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) recent enforcement guidance and feedback we received from our Customers, Employees, and several advocacy groups and animal-related organizations," the Dallas-based airline said on its community discussion forum,

Southwest’s policy says emotional support animals provide "support for an individual with a mental health-related disability and is not trained to perform a specific task(s) or work." They are distinct from trained service animals, which Southwest defines as animals "individually trained to perform a task(s) or work for a person with a physical and/or mental disability."

Customers who wish to travel with their emotional support animals on Southwest, once the changes are in effect, must present the airline with a "current letter" from their doctor or medical health professional on the day of their departure, the announcement said.

All emotional support and service animals are still required to be trained to behave in public, according to Southwest. Any animal that displays disruptive behavior can be denied boarding.

The change will make Southwest the only airline that limits emotional support animals to just dogs and cats, but it is not the first major carrier to adjust its emotional support animal rules.

Delta, United, American and JetBlue separately announced new restrictions earlier this year following a string of emotional support animal incidents, including a dog reportedly attacking a Delta passenger last year, and a woman who was denied boarding in January because her emotional support peacock failed to meet United’s guidelines.

Airlines are now not the only companies tightening their emotional support animal rules. Royal Caribbean also announced Tuesday that emotional support animals "may not sail onboard Royal Caribbean International ships," effective immediately.

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Vienna named world’s most livable city

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Move over, Melbourne -- the world has a new most livable city.

Vienna now tops the Economist Intelligence Unit's annual ranking, which is based on 30 factors including access to health care, education, infrastructure, culture, the environment and political and social stability.

This year, the Austrian capital, home to 1.76 million people, beat out Melbourne, which had held the top slot for the past seven years. Canadian, Australian and Japanese cities scored the other top spots, with Melbourne, Osaka, Calgary, Sydney, Vancouver, Toronto, Tokyo, Copenhagen and Adelaide rounding out the top 10. Many U.S. cities, in contrast, saw their rankings fall this year, including Atlanta and Chicago, thanks in part to security issues, according to the Economist.

Located on the Danube river, Vienna boasts a rich artistic and architectural legacy. It is home to landmark buildings such as the Schoenbrunn Palace and the colorful social housing project designed by famous artist Friedensreich Hundertwasser. The city was also the birthplace of the Art Nouveau movement, spearheaded by artists such as Gustav Klimt.

Aside from these historic attractions that draw tourists to the city, locals say Vienna has much to offer residents.

"People think about Vienna as very a classical city, one for older people, but it does have its wild side and nightlife -- there’s always something going on," said Alexander Pearl, a project manager from Israel who has been living in Vienna for the past four years.

Pearl said he also loves the city’s abundance of parks and green spaces.

"It is a big city but it feels very relaxed and calm in a way -- there’s and space and it’s not very crowded," he added.

Public transportation is extensive and less expensive in Vienna than other European capitals such as Berlin or London. For example, a yearly public transportation ticket costs just one Euro per day, or approximately U.S. $415 annually.

The city is also famous for fostering thinkers and creators such as Sigmund Freud and painter Egon Schiele.

"Ultimately, Vienna is a city that is indulgent to individuals. The culture, state, and society all make it very easy to live here in peace and solitude without particular hassle or disruption," said Teddy Allen, a consultant who hails from England and said he plans to call the city home for the long run. "Perhaps for this reason, people have come here throughout the decades to gently go mad and wallow in introspection."

The Economist list includes 140 cities in total. The bottom 10 cities, by contrast, were ones that have recently experienced political instability and security issues.

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Fifty thousand passengers across Europe expected to be affected by employee strike against Ryanair

iStock/Thinkstock(DUBLIN) -- Around 50,000 passengers across Europe are expected to be affected this weekend as Ryanair is forced to cancel almost 400 flights due to a 24-hour walkout by staff in five European countries over a dispute about pay and working conditions.

Ryanair employees are on strike in Germany, Ireland, Sweden, Belgium and the Netherlands, forcing the firm to cancel 394 flights.

The Irish airline, which last year carried its one billionth passenger, is Europe’s biggest low-cost carrier.

It said in a statement that the action was “unjustified” and “regrettable”, but said that 85 percent of its flights would still be operated, and said that it had done all that it could to prevent the dispute escalating into industrial action, adding that the “majority of customers affected have already been re-accommodated on another Ryanair flight.”

But some people took to Twitter to complain at how Ryanair handled the debacle after their flights were canceled.

Unions representing Ryanair staff said they want work rules to be governed by the laws of countries where employees are based, not the laws in Ireland where Ryanair is headquartered.

The action is the latest in a series of disagreements between Ryanair management and staff after the firm recognized its employee unions in late 2017 and entered into negotiations.

In July, around 300 flights were cancelled in similar strikes in Portugal, Spain and Belgium.

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Moms’ swimsuit design epically solves parent's beach-day debacle

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Two moms whose genius idea was born beside a kiddie pool are now changing the game with an innovative swimsuit design that makes bathroom breaks a breeze.

In 2014, Jill Slater and Alexis Castellano ran into the very real struggle that mothers of daughters know all too well: the dreaded one-piece bathing suit debacle.

"My older daughter Avery was 2 at the time," Castellano, a mom of two, told "Good Morning America." "She went [to the bathroom] and trying to get that swimsuit up was harder than it was to get down. I said [to Slater] 'that wasn't a fun experience' and 'there must be a better swimsuit out there.'"  Two moms whose genius idea was born beside a kiddie pool are now changing the game with an innovative swimsuit design that makes bathroom breaks a breeze.

In 2014, Jill Slater and Alexis Castellano ran into the very real struggle that mothers of daughters know all too well: the dreaded one-piece bathing suit debacle.

"My older daughter Avery was 2 at the time," Castellano, a mom of two, told "Good Morning America." "She went [to the bathroom] and trying to get that swimsuit up was harder than it was to get down. I said [to Slater] 'that wasn't a fun experience' and 'there must be a better swimsuit out there.'"

 The gal pals, who met during a mommy-and-me playgroup session, had an epiphany: Why don't swimsuits look like baby onesies with the snaps? With that, their New Jersey-based company, FASTEN was born.

The website,, which launched in 2015, offers bathing suits that are designed like onesies, only they snap near the waist. For older girls, there is a magnet on the back to hold the flap in place so it won't fall into the potty.

In 2017, Slater and Castellano's idea won a one-year mentorship from theSkimm's "Get Off The Couch" female entrepreneur challenge. Within the last two weeks, FASTEN's online shop has sold 85 percent of inventory and in the last year, has grown 130 percent with new customers in sales.

 "We hear, 'This has been a game changer' and, 'Why didn't I think of this before?'" Slater, also a mother of two, said of parents' feedback.

Both Slater and Castellano feel the most rewarding thanks has been from parents of children with special needs, who have said that the suits make potty time easier for kids who may have an insulin pump, feeding pump, or a catheter.

"And for children who are older, but not yet potty-trained -- they're kids who are at the age where they want to look like every child, but they're still in diapers," Slater explained. "We have been so excited that something we created to make our lives easier is now truly making girls' lives easier -- all girls, everywhere, and that's something we're really proud of."

In addition to swimwear, which is normally priced from $34 to $36, FASTEN currently sells leotards, beach coverups and other accessories.

Slater, who previously worked as nurse practitioner, and Castellano, a former event planner and freelance writer, now co-own their brand and operating alongside a technical designer and a financial specialist.

This fall, Slater, and Castellano will be releasing two new swimsuit designs: a halter and a tank. Eventually, they hope to expand to adult sizes, they said.

 In addition to swimwear, which is normally priced from $34 to $36, FASTEN currently sells leotards, beach coverups and other accessories.

Slater, who previously worked as nurse practitioner, and Castellano, a former event planner and freelance writer, now co-own their brand and operating alongside a technical designer and a financial specialist.

This fall, Slater, and Castellano will be releasing two new swimsuit designs: a halter and a tank. Eventually, they hope to expand to adult sizes, they said.

"We are really proud of the fact that we've built this company of talented women we're working with," she added. "This day in age, female-founded companies are important. We're making a name for ourselves and showing our kids what we can do.

"We want to keep going and take it as far as we can."

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Airbnb warns that it may expel 'Unite the Right' rally participants

Airbnb(WASHINGTON) -- Protesters planning to participate in the "Unite the Right" rally in Washington, D.C., this weekend may have some trouble finding a place to stay.

Airbnb is warning users that if they are found to be in violation of the company's policies, they could have their reservations canceled and their accounts removed from the home sharing service.

The company is citing its community values as grounds to cut ties with participants of the rallies, which stemmed from a protest last year to protect Confederate statues -- which included neo-Nazi groups -- but exploded in violence.

"When we identify and determine that there are those who would be pursuing behavior on the Airbnb platform that would be antithetical to the Airbnb Community Commitment, we seek to take appropriate action, which may include removing them from the platform," according to a statement from Airbnb.

The company says all Airbnb users must agree to its Community Commitment, which states that the user agrees "to treat everyone in the Airbnb community — regardless of their race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or age — with respect, and without judgment or bias."

This isn't the first time Airbnb has singled out people supporting the white nationalist and alt-right rally.

The company canceled accounts and bookings ahead of the original "Unite the Right" rally, which occurred in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12, 2017.

"We acted in advance of last year's horrific event in Charlottesville and if we become aware of similar information we won’t hesitate to do so again," according to the company's statement.

Airbnb has not released any data on the numbers of accounts or bookings that were canceled ahead of and after the Charlottesville rally in 2017.

On Aug. 7, 2017, "Unite the Right" organizer Jason Kessler said in a video posted to Twitter that Airbnb was canceling protest participant's reservations, and he told The New York Times that "hundreds of people have been put out of their accommodations."

Groups from both sides of the conflict have planned public demonstrations in Washington, D.C., this weekend on the anniversary of the Charlottesville clashes.

Permits for protests have been granted in different parts of the nation's capital, with the organizers of the original "Unite the Right" rally planning to march from a nearby Metro station to a demonstration in Lafayette Square Park, directly opposite the White House.

Organizers for counter-demonstrations, including groups like Black Lives Matter and an individual who plans to burn a Confederate flag in Lafayette Park, have also received permits.

More details about the demonstrations are expected to be released in the coming days.

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Converse and Hello Kitty collaborate on new sneakers

Converse(BOSTON) -- Converse and Hello Kitty are collaborating on a footwear and apparel collection and all of our childhood dreams are coming true.

Sneakers have been the go-to shoe style this summer and everyone knows '90s nostalgia is the best accessory. So lace up, because your shoe collection is about to get a whole lot cuter when these sneaks come out.

The collection that includes Hello Kitty designs on the classic Chuck Taylor All Star, the One Star and Chuck 70s, ranging from kid sizes to adults.

In addition to the footwear line, they will also be releasing apparel and accessories in the collection, including a pullover hoodie, long sleeve T-shirts, short sleeve T-shirts, Hello Kitty pins in an easy-to-carry pouch, a crossbody purse, a duffel bag and a baseball cap.

The two iconic brands will be releasing the collection globally Aug. 16, and it will be available for purchase on Converse's website, and at retailers like Nordstrom, Journey’s and Shoe Palace.

Everything in the collection is priced from $35 to $100.

Some of the shoes feature the well-known Hello kitty tagline "Say Hello To Me When You See Me!"

Sophie Bambuck, CMO of Converse, said the release of the collection is "incredibly exciting, and fun. Both Converse and Hello Kitty are symbols of expression and originality across generations, cultures and communities. Hello Kitty is whoever you want her to be to you, and Converse sneakers have always been adopted and transformed by the individuals that bring us into their lives daily, and made their own."

Bambuck hopes that lifelong fans of both Hello Kitty and Converse will "welcome this collection ... and have fun with it, just as we did creating it."

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Mustang, the 'soul of Ford' Motor Co., under threat in trade war

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images(DETROIT) -- 2018 could be the year of the Mustang, Ford's iconic pony car immortalized by Steve McQueen in "Bullitt."

On Wednesday, the 10 millionth Mustang rolled off the line at the Flat Rock Assembly Plant in Michigan.

In April, the 54-year-old Mustang was named the best-selling sports coupe for the third year in a row by IHS Markit, an industry analytics firm.

And the Big 3 automaker launched a special edition Mustang to coincide with the upcoming 50th anniversary of “Bullitt,” McQueen's classic 1968 action film.

But even the Mustang may not be able to outrun what’s going on in Washington.

In retaliation of President Trump’s move to slap tariffs on $34 billion in Chinese-made goods, China imposed a 40 percent duty on vehicles imported from the U.S.

Ford sold 7,125 Mustangs in China in 2017, making it the No. 1 sports coupe in the country. Mustangs, though long popular with Chinese drivers who would often buy them on the “gray market” and ship them overseas, didn’t officially enter the Chinese market until January of 2015.

Ford said it has no current plans to increase the price of the Mustang in China but “the company’s clear view is that governments should work together to lower, not raise, barriers to trade,” a Ford spokesman told ABC News. “Higher tariffs do not benefit our customers or our employees.”

China appears to have the upper hand in the trade standoff, according to Brandon Mason, PwC’s automotive director and U.S. mobility leader.

The U.S. sends far more vehicles to China — 267,473 in 2017 — than it imports (58,437), he pointed out.

“Given that it’s the world’s largest automotive market, an unintended consequence of the U.S. tariffs could be that OEMs [Original Equipment Manufacturer] will look to further localize production there in order to bypass Chinese tariffs,” he told ABC News. “Given the huge tariff amount, it seems unlikely that automakers would continue to send their vehicles to China over the long term — their margins will either be slashed or they would have to pass the cost along to customers, making their products uncompetitive.”

Stephanie Brinley, an auto analyst at IHS Markit, said Ford’s decision to offer the Mustang globally has helped it maintain a sales lead over its competitors.

The car’s fortune, however, is “still tied to its U.S. buyer base,” she said.

Seventy-three percent of Mustang sales in 2017 were in the U.S. Even though Mustang sales have slipped in recent years and are projected to decline again in 2018, the American performance legend was never at risk of being banished to the history books like other Ford models.

“There is no reason to believe the Mustang is in any danger of being dropped,” she said. “The Mustang is an image car for Ford, an expression of performance. If Ford did drop the car owners and enthusiasts would be disappointed.”

Bill Ford Jr., whose grandfather, Henry Ford, founded the company 115 years ago, reportedly has more than a dozen Mustangs in his personal car collection. He told ABC News that no one imagined the Mustang would “create such a dedicated base of fans around the world” and still be in production today when it debuted at the New York World Fair in April of 1964.

Now, “the Mustang has become the quintessential American car and a global icon,” he said.

As for the company’s plan to end production of most of its passenger cars, Ford said it was necessary as the automaker “reinvents” its business.

“The consumer shift to utilities is undeniable and our new body styles will give people more capability, space and style,” he said.

Ford SUVs and pickups may be the financial answer for the company but the Mustang will always be part of its past, present and future. McQueen chose the Mustang as his character’s vehicle in “Bullitt” because it had relatability, according to Eric Minoff, an auto specialist at Bonhams auction house.

“That movie cemented the Mustang’s position in popular culture,” he told ABC News, “and Ford markets the hell out of it.”

In June, Bonhams auctioned off six Mustangs that personally belonged to Carroll Shelby, the famous race car driver who collaborated with Ford to build incredibly powerful and limited edition Mustangs. All exceeded sale expectations, especially the 1966 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 continuation series convertible, which sold for $201,600, far above its original $60,000 to $80,000 estimate.

The Mustang’s working class image continues to be part of its allure, Minoff said. The V8 engine sports car offers sheer power and a sexy body at a fraction of the cost of a Ferrari, Corvette or Porsche, he noted.

“Everyone knows someone who has or had a Mustang,” he said. “The most valuable have the Carroll Shelby connection [but] they have been so successful partly because they’re the antithesis of rare. That’s the only limiting factor — there are a lot of them.”

Ford has sold 418,000 Mustangs in 146 countries since 2015. More women are choosing Mustangs over its hometown rivals, the Corvette and Camaro. Even as Ford shifts gears to stay ahead of fickle driving trends the Mustang will endure.

“It’s the soul of Ford,” said Mark Schaller, Mustang’s marketing manager. “It is so deeply intertwined with Ford’s identity.”

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FCC's flood of negative web comments on net neutrality repeal not a bot attack: Watchdog

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Federal Communications Commission acknowledged Wednesday that bots were not responsible for the agency's website slowdown after it sought public comment last year on its controversial plan to repeal net neutrality.

After people were temporarily unable to contest the proposal, the FCC at the time put out a statement blaming the issue on an "attack" by bots coordinated by "external actors."

"Beginning on Sunday night at midnight, our analysis reveals that the FCC was subject to multiple distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDos)," said Chief Information Officer David Bray in the statement. "These actors were not attempting to file comments themselves; rather they made it difficult for legitimate commenters to access and file with the FCC."

However, the slowdown was likely due to a boost in use, the inspector general found.

"The degradation of ECFS system availability was likely the result of a combination of: (1) “flash crowd” activity resulting from the Last Week Tonight with John Oliver episode that aired on May 7, 2017 through the links provided by that program for filing comments in the proceeding; and (2) high volume traffic resulting from system design issues," an inspector general report says.

Traffic had increased by 3,116 percent, according to the report, but that was likely caused by a segment on "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver" and the host's call to action to flood the agency's public comment page with protests.

The inspector general said it "learned very quickly that there was no analysis supporting the conclusion" of the FCC's allegation of an attack and "there were no subsequent analyses performed, and logs and other material were not readily available."

ABC News' attempts to reach Bray were unsuccessful. He left the agency in October 2017.

Before the report was publicly released, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai blamed the misinformation on his former Chief Information Officer, who was hired by the Obama Administration, for the inaccurate initial statement.

"I am deeply disappointed that the FCC’s former Chief Information Officer (CIO), who was hired by the prior Administration and is no longer with the Commission, provided inaccurate information about this incident to me, my office, Congress, and the American people," Pai said in a statement.

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Amid backlash, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey explains why Alex Jones hasn't been banned

Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Twitter said it is standing by its decision not to ban accounts associated with right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, despite "outside pressure" for it to ban his content.

The CEO and co-founder of Twitter, Jack Dorsey, explained the company’s decision in a series of tweets on Tuesday night, noting that Jones, owner of the InfoWars website, hadn’t violated any of its rules.

“We know that’s hard for many but the reason is simple: he hasn’t violated our rules. We’ll enforce if he does,” he said. “If we succumb and simply react to outside pressure, rather than straightforward principles we enforce (and evolve) impartially regardless of political viewpoints, we become a service that’s constructed by our personal views that can swing in any direction. That’s not us.”

Twitter has been under fire from users since Sunday, when Apple said it removed podcasts produced by Jones from its streaming platform, citing “hate speech.” Facebook, YouTube and Spotify followed suit with restrictions of their own this week.

Dorsey said he understood why people were upset with the decision, but he said censorship isn’t the answer. He also encouraged journalists to “refute” false information.

“Accounts like Jones' can often sensationalize issues and spread unsubstantiated rumors,” Dorsey said, “so it’s critical journalists document, validate, and refute such information directly so people can form their own opinions. This is what serves the public conversation best.”

Dorsey appeared to take a swipe at the tech platforms that banned Jones and said Twitter refused to take “one-off actions to make us feel good” or make decisions that could ultimately fuel “new conspiracy theories.”

“Truth is we’ve been terrible at explaining our decisions in the past. We’re fixing that,” Dorsey said. “We’re going to hold Jones to the same standard we hold to every account, not taking one-off actions to make us feel good in the short term, and adding fuel to new conspiracy theories.”

Facebook suspended Jones' account for 30 days on Monday due to repeated violations, includings posts that it said glorified violence and dehumanized others.

“We have taken it down for glorifying violence, which violates our graphic violence policy, and using dehumanizing language to describe people who are transgender, Muslims and immigrants, which violates our hate speech policies,” Facebook said.

YouTube, a subsidiary of Google, issued a similar statement, saying Jones’ accounts had violated its “policies against hate speech and harassment,” but Jones claimed his statements are protected by free speech.

"What conservative news outlet will be next? The one platform that they CAN'T ban and will ALWAYS have our live streams is," Jones, who has more than 850,000 Twitter followers, tweeted Monday.

“#Infowars has been banned on so many platforms, but people are still finding ways to get the truth,” he added in subsequent tweet.

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