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Saturday
May262018

Unruly passenger arrested after allegedly launching midair tirade

iStock/Thinkstock(MIAMI) -- A passenger on an American Airlines flight to Miami was arrested after he allegedly launched into a midair, profanity-laced tirade and traded punches with others on the plane who were trying to restrain him.

The whole incident was caught on tape after passenger Jason Felix began yelling at flight attendants over their refusal to sell him more alcohol, according to charging papers.

An off-duty police officer on the plane, dressed in a blue plaid shirt in the video, stepped in to try to restrain the unruly passenger, but Felix only became more enraged. Finally, another passenger talked down Felix and he calmed down.

"You need to please sit down. I’m not bringing you more beers," a flight attendant is heard saying in the video. "Please sit down. We will be there in an hour. Why do you have this attitude? You had a couple of beers."

The flight from St. Croix landed in Miami on Wednesday, where Felix was taken off the plane by responding officers from the Miami-Dade Police Department. He was then taken into custody by the FBI, since the incident took place on a plane.

Felix is facing federal charges of interfering with a flight crew.

Felix told another passenger that he was going to kill him and spit blood on him, an FBI agent said in the complaint obtained by Miami ABC affiliate WPLG-TV. The complaint also says the flight attendant in the video tried to get Felix to leave the plane's bathroom, but was called a homophobic slur.

American Airlines said in a statement they were proud of the way their employees handled the situation.

"On Wednesday, May 23, American Airlines requested law enforcement meet flight 1293 from St. Croix to Miami due to a disruptive passenger. We thank our crew for taking care of our customers and are proud of the work they do every single day. Please contact law enforcement for additional details."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
May262018

Grocery store will suspend political donations after protest by Parkland students

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(ORLANDO) -- The grocery store chain Publix was on the defensive Friday evening after Parkland student activist David Hogg staged a "die in" over the store's donations to Florida Republican gubernatorial candidate Adam Putnam.

Publix announced Friday it would suspend political donations in the wake of Hogg's organized protest.

"At Publix, we respect the students and members of the community who have chosen to express their voices on these issues," the grocery store said in a statement. "We regret that our contributions have led to a divide in our community. We did not intend to put our associates and the customers they serve in the middle of a political debate. At the same time, we remain committed to maintaining a welcoming shopping environment for our customers."

"We would never knowingly disappoint our customers or the communities we serve," the statement continued. "As a result, we decided earlier this week to suspend corporate-funded political contributions as we re-evaluate our giving processes."

Hogg, a student who survived the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, campaigned against Publix over the store's donations to Putnam, who is an ardent supporter of the National Rifle Association. Putnam, who has served as Florida state agricultural commissioner since 2010, is running in this year's election to replace Rick Scott as governor.

Publix is one of Putnam's biggest contributors. The grocery store donated over $118,000 to Putnam's campaigns from 1999 to 2012, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonpartisan group that tracks funding and lobbying efforts.

The grocery store has donated over $2.1 million to political candidates and political action committees (PACs) in the 2018 election cycle, according to the Florida Division of Elections. While only $3,000 was donated directly to Putnam from Publix, many of the PACs that received hundreds of thousands of dollars have relationships with Putnam's campaign.

Putnam is an outspoken supporter of the NRA. He tweeted on July 25, 2017, "The liberal media recently called me a sellout to the NRA. I'm a proud #NRASellout!" He was given an A+ by the NRA in its ratings in 2010.

Hogg started the momentum against Putnam and Publix in a tweet on May 22, when he called for people to stop shopping at the store until it rescinded its endorsement of the candidate.

Putnam has not commented on Hogg's activism.

Hogg has organized for a number of causes since the Valentine's Day shooting that killed 17 students and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. In March, he and a group of Parkland students organized the March for Our Lives. The main event, which took place in Washington, D.C., called for increased gun control and sprouted sister marches in all 50 states and hundreds of thousands of participants.

The 17-year-old also successfully organized companies to pull funding from Laura Ingraham's Fox News show, "The Ingraham Angle," after she made fun of him for not being accepted by a number of colleges. At least 16 companies pulled commercials from the show in the wake of Hogg's criticism.

He also called for a boycott of Blackrock and Vanguard Group, a pair of investment firms with indirect stakes in gun companies, in April.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
May252018

Amazon responds to story that couple's private conversation was sent to random contact

Amazon/ABC News(PORTLAND) -- Amazon said that it was "evaluating options" after recent and shocking news that its Echo device had not only recorded a couple's conversation inside their home, but also had sent it to a random contact.

A Portland, Oregon couple got a phone call from a family friend in Seattle a few weeks ago, saying that he'd been sent audio recordings of them talking inside of their home, according to CBS affiliate KIRO-TV.

"At first, my husband was like, 'No, you didn't,' and he's like, 'You sat there talking about hardwood floors,'" a woman who identified herself to the affiliate as Danielle said. "I felt invaded, like total privacy invasion."

Danielle said she unplugged all of her Amazon devices and reached out to the company, which said it would investigate.

In a statement addressing the incident, Amazon said that the Echo "woke up" because of a word used in the background conversation that sounded like "Alexa," the name of Amazon's voice control system.

"The subsequent conversation was heard as a 'send message' request," Amazon told ABC News in a statement Thursday .

"At which point, Alexa said out loud 'To whom?' At which point, the background conversation was interpreted as a name in the customers contact list. Alexa then asked out loud, '[Contact name], right?' Alexa then interpreted background conversation as 'right,'" Amazon said.

"As unlikely as this string of events is, we are evaluating options to make this case even less likely," the company said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
May252018

Fiat Chrysler issues urgent cruise control warning for 4.8 million U.S. vehicles

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW  YORK) -- As millions of Americans hit the road for Memorial Day weekend, Fiat Chrysler and federal regulators are urgently warning drivers of 4.8 million American sedans, SUVs, minivans and pickup trucks to avoid using the cruise control until their vehicle is fixed.

The automaker has discovered at least one instance of a driver unable to disengage the cruise control, a spokesperson told ABC News. A recall has been issued for all 4.8 million affected vehicles and FCA will update the software free of charge.

Forcefully applying the brakes will overpower any acceleration and bring the vehicle to a stop, the manufacturer told ABC News, but drivers may have to shift the into neutral or park to fully disengage the feature.

Fiat-Chrysler is unaware of any related injuries or accidents. In at least one known case, the driver was able to stop and disengage by applying the brakes and placing the vehicle into park.

Here is the list of affected vehicles. Car owners can visit NHTSA.gov to find and search using their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to find out if the car or truck is included in this or any other safety recall at this time. Officials suggest checking at least twice per year.

2015-17 Chrysler 200 sedan

2014-18 Chrysler 300 sedan

2017-18 Chrysler Pacifica minivan

2015-18 Dodge Challenger coupe

2014-18 Dodge Charger sedan

2014-18 Dodge Journey CUV

2014-18 Dodge Durango SUV

2014-18 Jeep Cherokee SUV

2014-18 Jeep Grand Cherokee SUV

2018 Jeep Wrangler

2014-19 Ram 1500 pickup

2014-18 Ram 2500 pickup

2014-18 Ram 3500 pickup

2014-18 Ram 3500 cab chassis

2014-18 Ram 4500/5500 cab chassis

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Friday
May252018

What the best sales are for Memorial Day weekend

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) --  The temperatures are rising, but summer weather isn’t the only thing heating up. Memorial Day also means hot deals online and in stores. We teamed up with RetailMeNot who let us know what to buy this holiday weekend, and what not to buy to avoid getting burned.

If you’re looking to treat yourself this Memorial Day, here’s what you should buy:

Outdoor entertaining items:
The season for outdoor entertaining has finally arrived and as the grills start to sizzle -- so do the deals. If you’re in the market for a new grill, consider buying closer to Memorial Day where retailers will heavily discount to prep for the holiday weekend!

For those looking to upgrade their backyard design for grad parties and summer fun, many retailers will be having deals for the long weekend.

Here are some of the places RetailMeNot recommends:
Home Depot: 20 percent off home accents at The Home Depot Spring Decor Event
Sears: "Up to 40 percent off patio furniture at Sears + up to $75 cash back (or $20 Off $150)
JCPenney: 50 percent off select outdoor Oasis Patio & Accessories
Ashley Homestore: 35 percent off select items, plus an extra 15 percent off online
Lowe's: Up to 40 percent off appliances May 17 through May 30
Pier 1 Imports: Up to 50 percent off
Big Lots: $30 cash back for in-store purchases of $140+

Appliances:
With graduation season upon us, many appliances will be discounted for young adults and recent grads looking to furnish their new digs. Refrigerator models are released in May, so now is the time to take advantage of the discounts that retailers will have on older models. May is also a great time to buy small appliances like cookware and any last-minute spring cleaning items, like vacuums.

Here’s where RetailMeNot suggests to grab those discounts on appliances!
Sears: Up to 40 percent off select home appliances
JCPenney: Up to 35 precent off select major appliances
Bed Bath & Beyond: 20 percent off sitewide when sign up for Beyond Plus, BBB's new membership that offers exclusive savings and free shipping

Pro tip: Hold off on items like stoves, washers and dryers as these models are released in September and will be discounted after the summer.

Mattresses:

Who couldn’t use a few extra quality hours of sleep? If you’re in the market for a new mattress, May is the right time to buy. A good night’s sleep is priceless and sleep-related items are an investment worth making. In fact, it’s recommended that people replace their mattress every 10 years. Make sure to do your research on mattress types and hold off until the long weekend for the most savings. Historically, retailers have slashed prices by the hundreds for the long weekend.

Here’s where to look:
Mattress Firm: $250 off queen mattress and up to $50 cash back
1800Mattress.com: $10 cash back for online purchases of $200 sitewide
Sears: Extra $35 off $300+ on home appliances, lawn & garden, tools, mattresses & sporting goods and up to $75 cash back for online purchases sitewide

What not to buy this weekend:


Electronics

With the start of early back to school sales in mid to late June, any electronics or school supply products will not be at their lowest price point. Wait for more discounts to appear in mid to late summer.

Swimwear:

New swimwear lines are starting to hit the racks at their highest prices. Instead of stocking up for the summer ahead, wait until mid-season when retailers will start discounting prices on suits and other beach and pool essentials.

Summer apparel:

Much like swimwear, you will see summer staples starting to roll in at your favorite retailers. Memorial Day might offer some sales on these items, but shoppers are most likely to find the deepest savings toward the middle to end of summer as stores start to release their fall merchandise and need to clear the shelves.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
May242018

Auto groups slam Trump administration's imports investigation, possible tariffs 

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Two Washington D.C.-based automaker groups are slamming President Donald Trump's decision to launch an investigation into auto imports, which could lead to tariffs on foreign-made vehicles.

"To our knowledge, no one is asking for this protection. If these tariffs are imposed, consumers are going to take a big hit," said John Bozella, President of Global Automakers, a trade group representing foreign manufacturers doing business in the U.S. "This course of action will undermine the health and competitiveness of the U.S. auto industry."

The legal mechanism for the investigation "has rarely been used and traditionally has not focused on finished products," said Gloria Bergquist, spokeswoman for Auto Alliance, a group that represents foreign automakers like Volkswagen and BMW in addition to U.S. manufacturers like GM and Ford.

"We are confident that vehicle imports do not pose a national security risk to the U.S.," Bergquist said.

Trump ordered the investigation under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which allows the president to restrict imports that threaten U.S. national security, including levying tariffs on foreign goods which excessively displace domestic goods or cause substantial unemployment.

"Big news coming soon for our great American Autoworkers. After many decades of losing your jobs to other countries, you have waited long enough," Trump tweeted in the hours before the announcement, which came amid reports that North American Free Trade Agreement talks between Mexico, Canada, and the U.S. have stalled over auto manufacturing rules.

According to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose agency will lead the investigation, "there is evidence suggesting that, for decades, imports from abroad have eroded our domestic auto industry."

According to the department, over the past two decades, passenger vehicle imports have grown from 32 percent of cars sold nationwide to 48 percent, while employment in motor vehicle production has declined.

Since he first appeared on the campaign trail, Trump has bemoaned the loss of auto manufacturing jobs, and promised in his State of the Union address to "get the Motor City revving its engines once again."

The investigation "will consider whether the decline of domestic automobile and automotive parts production threatens to weaken the internal economy of the United States," the Commerce Department said.

Mexico, Canada, Japan, Germany an South Korea are among the biggest exporters of cars to the U.S.

But automakers' advocates argue that domestic production remains strong.

"Contrary to the assumption underlying the investigation on import vehicles, the U.S. auto industry is thriving," Bozella said.

"Last year, 13 domestic and international automakers manufactured nearly 12 million vehicles in the U.S. The auto sector remains the leading exporter of manufactured goods in our country," Bergquist said. "During the last 25 years, 15 new manufacturing plants have been launched in the U.S. – resulting in the creation of an additional 50,000 direct and 350,000 indirect auto jobs throughout America – and new plants are on the way."

"We urge the Administration to support policies that remove barriers to free trade and we will continue to work with them and provide input to achieve that goal," she said.

This isn't the administration's first foray into a Section 232 investigation.

In March, Trump used his Section 232 authority to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum — another hotly contested policy move.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
May242018

Facebook and Twitter launch new rules for political ads to counter misinformation

Twitter(NEW YORK) -- Facebook and Twitter will now only allow verified advertisers to post political ads, and users will be able to see who paid for and how much was spent on the ads.

The new rules are the latest efforts from the social media platforms to be more transparent ahead of the U.S. midterm elections after the FBI found that Russians used Facebook ads in their attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Facebook’s new regulations went into effect Thursday and Twitter says they’ll start enforcing the new rules later this summer. Facebook’s restrictions cover all political ads as well as “issue ads,” which cover certain ads across a broad range of topics which initially include health, education, immigration, abortion and civil rights.

Advertisers placing a political ad or an “issue ad” on Facebook in the U.S. will have to verify their identity and location through a newly-created process. Ad buyers will have to provide a U.S. issued ID, a physical mailing address and list which candidate or organization they represent.

All the issue and political ads will have a clear label saying "Paid for by" and the name of the verified user. Clicking on the label will bring users to the full Facebook political ad archive which provides more information such as how much was spent on the ads and how many people they reached, broken down by demographics and location.

Anyone visiting the archive can see and search ads with political or issue content an advertiser has run in the U.S. for up to seven years.

For now, this archive can only be searched manually with keywords so people can’t search for ads being used in a particular area or targeting a particular group.

But Facebook has promised to make the technology, known as an “application programming interface” available to some as yet unnamed academic researchers which would allow them to access all the data and do their own automated searches. This will allow researchers to analyze the archive and determine which ads were targeted at specific demographics and locations.

So what qualifies as a political or issue ad?

Much of the ads used to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election concentrated on issues rather than mentioning political candidates directly.

Facebook has worked with the Comparative Agendas Project, an international organization that investigates trends in policy-making, to build a list of 20 issues, including health, education, abortion and guns.

“We're also working with third parties with respect to how we define the issues, that's obviously going to be subject to ongoing feedback,” said Rob Leathern, Facebook director of product management, in a call with reporters on Thursday. “Some of these, as you can imagine will be difficult to nail down, there will be mistakes that we will make in this process, which is why we're going to hold ourselves accountable”.

Not all the ads related to these issues will be defined as political and fall under the new regulations.

"For instance, on the topic of education -- ads regarding points of view on student loan policies would require a label, but advertisements on a particular university for student enrollment would not," said Katie Harbath, Facebook’s global politics and government outreach director.

Facebook says it will use a program to identify ads from non-verified users to detect whether or not they are political in nature.

They also promise to hire 3,000 to 4,000 new employees to help personally vet these ads.

Facebook users can also report any ad they deem to contain political content by clicking a link on the corner of the ad and these will be then be reviewed by a team. If the ad is deemed to be political or an issue ad, it will be taken down until the advertiser passes the verification process.

Twitter will require a similar verification process.

“In addition, we will not allow foreign nationals to target political ads to people who are identified as being in the U.S.,” Twitter said in a statement released Thursday. Twitter is defining political ads as “ads purchased by a political committee or candidate registered with the FEC; or ads advocating for or against a clearly identified candidate for Federal office.

These ads will be labeled as political and will clearly display who is paying for it.

Twitter says "issue ads" will fall under a separate upcoming policy.

Separately Twitter has announced new labels for candidates running in 2018 U.S. midterm general election. Each candidate seeking a Twitter account will have a special profile page contain relevant information about a political candidate, including the office the candidate is running for, the state the office is located in and district number when applicable.

Key to the success of these initiatives is the extent to which the platforms can detect and define issue ads.

Other third parties, like market research and data analytics firm YouGov, have been asked to help with the classification process but ultimately it is Facebook who will decide if an ad qualifies as political or not. Which is why many groups have called for outside regulation of political ads.

“I do worry about self-regulation, I worry about who has the teeth,” Claire Wardle, a research fellow at the Shorenstein Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School, who is leading a project fighting misinformation online, told ABC News. “I wish we could have an independent task force that could look to see if these transparency efforts are working in real time, otherwise I worry we could have another situation after the election where platforms are apologizing for what they missed.”

Facebook itself admits that it won’t catch all political ads and the midterm elections will be a good test to see how effective these new regulations really are.

“Companies are experimenting with these tools, the midterms is going to be a live experiment,” Aaron Rieke, managing director of Upturn, a nonprofit company calling for public scrutiny of social media ads. told ABC News. “This is incredibly difficult to get right. It’s going to be an uphill battle - I expect there to be imperfections.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
May242018

Harvey Weinstein to turn himself in to face criminal charges

Jacopo Raule/GC Images(NEW YORK) -- Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein will turn himself into New York City police Friday to face criminal charges brought by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, sources familiar with the case told ABC News.

Weinstein has been under criminal investigation in connection with the allegations of two women, Lucia Evans and actress Paz de la Huerta.

It’s not clear what charges Weinstein will face but Evans told The New Yorker Weinstein forced her to perform oral sex on him in 2004 while de la Huerta told Vanity Fair he raped her in 2010.

Both accusations are within the statute of limitations in New York given the nature of the alleged crimes.

Weinstein’s case was recently presented to a grand jury by prosecutors in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, which declined to comment. Weinstein’s defense attorney Benjamin Brafman also declined to comment, as did the NYPD.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
May242018

Women's pay still not adding up to what men earn

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new report from the U.S. Census Bureau found that women are still earning less than their male counterparts in most occupations. The widest wage disparities are found in sales and finance positions even though women tend to comprise 45-55 percent of that workforce.

Equal Pay Day is a public awareness event dating back to 1996 that represents the extra amount of time women would have to work in order to earn what her male counterparts earned in the previous year. This year’s Equal Pay Day was April 10.

But for black and Latina women, Equal Pay Day will be even further on Aug. 7, 2018, and Nov. 1, 2018, for full-time, year-round workers.

The pay gap has been on a steady decrease for the last 50 years largely due to the higher numbers of women present in the workforce and increased representation in higher education, according to Lynda Laughlin, chief of the Industry and Occupation Statistics branch at the U.S. Census Bureau.

The report, which was released on Tuesday, showed that one of the largest disparities between men and women’s earnings is found in the financial services sector, where a male financial manager earns a median of $100,505 whereas a woman in the same position would earn a median of $62,089.

Even in a female dominated industry like nursing where women comprise 88 percent of the workforce, their male counterparts still earned more with at a median salary of $70,952, while female nurses earned a median salary of $64,413.

With the spread of the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements, many celebrities have taken to social media, the red carpet, and interviews to speak out on the prevalence of pay inequalities in Hollywood and the entertainment industry.

In January, Octavia Spencer made headlines for highlighting fellow actress Jessica Chastain’s fight to get Spencer five times her original salary in speaking on pay disparities for women of color. Similarly, Ellen Pompeo openly discussed her own fight for equal pay in her lead role as Meredith Grey on "Grey’s Anatomy."

“Until we’re in those rooms as equally as men are, it can’t shift,” singer and songwriter Alicia Keys said at Variety’s Power of Women New York in April.

“We have to infiltrate our industries. Period. We have to," she added. "That alone will shift the power balance."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
May232018

Airline industry preparing for record 246 million summer travelers

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Airports across the country are expected to serve a record number of summer travelers this year, but if all goes to plan for airline and security officials, you may not even notice.

Airlines for America, an industry trade group representing many of the largest domestic airlines, projected on Wednesday that 246.1 million people will board U.S. commercial flights between June 1 and Aug. 31, 2018. That increase would be up 3.7 percent from last year’s record 237.3 million passengers.

The announcement follows the Transportation Security Administration's own historic projection of 243 million passengers and crew to pass through security checkpoints nationwide between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

TSA is hoping to minimize the impact on their checkpoints by adding another 1,000 officers at screening areas, the agency announced last week. The agency has already added 600 since the beginning of the year.

“TSA screens over 2 million passengers on an average day throughout the year and expects to screen over 2.6 million a day during peak periods of the busy summer travel season,” TSA Administrator David Pekoske said last week.

Airlines are also increasing their capacity this summer. Adding more flights and larger aircraft to their routes, airlines are adding 116,000 seats per day to accommodate the 96,000 additional daily passengers they expect to carry during this period, Airlines for America said.

The surge in summer air travel during the last two years is generally credited to a stronger economy and lower air fares, despite rising costs for airlines in 2017.

According to Airlines for America, cost increases were led by fuel, up 23.3 percent, and labor, up 6.8 percent. With a 7 percent year over year growth in revenues, the nine publicly traded U.S. passenger airlines have seen an overall drop in profitability.

Despite the decrease in profitability, air fares continue to be low, largely driven by the introduction of low-cost carriers to the market.

The price of domestic air travel fell 12.5 percent from 2014 to 2017, according to the trade group.

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