Harvey Weinstein's lawyer slams Asia Argento for 'stunning level of hypocrisy' amid sex claims

Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Harvey Weinstein's attorney stated Monday that the claim of sexual misconduct made against Italian actress Asia Argento should cast doubt on the allegations she's made against the disgraced producer.

Months after Argento became one of the first people to publicly accuse Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, she's now herself accused of paying off a young male actor who accused her of sexual misconduct, according to a report in the New York Times.

The paper says it obtained documents that show Argento paid 22-year-old actor Jimmy Bennett $380,000 to settle the accusations. Bennett claims that in 2013 -- a couple of months after his 17th birthday -- a then 37-year-old Argento sexually assaulted him in a California hotel, according to The New York Times. The age of consent in California is 18.

"This development reveals a stunning level of hypocrisy by Asia Argento, said Weinstein's attorney, Benjamin Brafman, in a statement to ABC News. “At the very same time Argento was working on her own secret settlement for the alleged sexual abuse of a minor, she was positioning herself at the forefront of those condemning Mr. Weinstein, despite the fact that her sexual relationship with Mr. Weinstein was between two consenting adults which lasted for more than four years."

According to the New York Times, a notice sent to Richard Hofstetter, the lawyer for Argento's late boyfriend, Anthony Bourdain, who was representing the actress at the time, claims Bennett made more than $2.7 million in the five years before the alleged assault, but his income has since dropped to an average of $60,000 a year as a result of trauma he suffered following the alleged "sexual battery." Argento, who lives in Rome, subsequently hired Carrie Goldberg -- a prominent lawyer for victims of online attacks -- to handle the case, according to The New York Times.

Bennett and Argento first met when he appeared at age seven in Argento’s 2004 film "The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things," according to the Times. They reportedly stayed in contact in the ensuing years and agreed to meet years later for a reunion. Bennett claims that at the time of the alleged May 13, 2013, incident, he arrived at the Ritz-Carlton in Marina del Rey, California, to meet Argento in her hotel room with a family member, who left the room after Argento asked to be alone with Bennett.

He alleges that Argento gave him alcohol prior to the assault, which allegedly included oral sex and intercourse.

Argento then asked to take a number of photos with Bennett, according to the documents cited by The New York Times. They, along with an Instagram post of their faces taken on that day, were included in the notice of intent to sue.

The notice of intent reportedly sought $3.5 million in damages for the intentional infliction of emotional distress, lost wages, assault and battery.

Argento, one of the 13 women included in the first October 2017 New Yorker report about Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual harassment and assaults that dated back decades, has not commented on the allegation, nor have her representatives.

Rose McGowan, another of Weinstein's early accusers, stated on Twitter that the New York Times report left her heartbroken.

"I got to know Asia Argento ten months ago. Our commonality is the shared pain of being assaulted by Harvey Weinstein. My heart is broken. I will continue my work on behalf of victims everywhere," she wrote. "None of us know the truth of the situation and I’m sure more will be revealed. Be gentle."

Bennett's other film credits include 2003's "Daddy Day Care," "Firewall," "Evan Almighty" and "Star Trek." He most recently had a role in the Amazon TV series "Bosch."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Job post for cat sanctuary caretaker on Greek island flooded with 35,000 applications

Gods Little People Cat Rescue(NEW YORK) -- If you're a cat lover, there's still time to embark on your own "Mamma Mia!"-inspired journey and move to Greece to care for over 50 cats.

A cat sanctuary on the Greek island of Syros is hiring a caretaker to tend to over 55 cats on the property, and told ABC News it's been flooded with over 35,000 applications since the job post went viral.

"When we put up the advert, we expected about maybe 20-30 applicants -- we were utterly overwhelmed to get to more than [35,000]," Joan and Richard Bowell of God’s Little People Cat Rescue told ABC News. "It all said one thing to us -- there are so many people out there who really love cats and want them to have a proper life."

The sanctuary posted the job in early August looking for "a mature and genuinely passionate cat lover" to live on the property and feed and take care of all of the cats. "Cat-whispering skills" were among the required skills.

"You’ll no doubt thrive best if you are the type of person who appreciates nature and likes tranquility -- and rest comfortably in your own company," the job post reads. "That said, you’ll never feel lonely in the company of the cats and you’ll be expected to live with a small handful of cats in your house. From experience the job is most suitable for someone 45+ years of age, who’s responsible, reliable, honest, practically inclined -- and really, with a heart of gold! Apart from feeding the cats the cats will also need heaps of love and attention. You will at times be expected to trap or handle a feral or non-sociable cat, so knowing something about a cats psychology too is important + cat-whispering skills should come natural to you."

The job, which includes free accommodations in a house on the island property with water and electricity, went viral shortly afterwards. The sanctuary founders said they received many follow-up inquires asking: "Is this for real? A job, paid, with a house and car to look after cats?"

Joan Bowell, the founder of God's Little People Rescue, said the interest in the job reinforces why cats are so beloved around the globe.

"In a time when more than 1,000 species are becoming extinct each day, the world is in danger of becoming a graveyard for the most spectacular creatures -- of course, we must ensure that all lives are respected," Joan Bowell said. "For us, the challenge we were given by being in Greece was the welfare of cats. I have always loved them from an early age -- I could not say no to their plight."

For the last eight years, Joan Bowell and her husband Richard have offered a sanctuary to cats on the Greek island of Syros. When Richard Bowell's non-profit work required him to be in New York, they decided to seek help on the property caring for all of their cats.

The job starts in November and the sanctuary will keep the posting open through August, so get your resumes in order.

After the role is filled, the Bowells are currently crowdfunding on GoFundMe to set up a location in upstate New York.

"We want to rededicate ourselves to the cause in a bigger way to show the world that have shown us, that animals count and that the way we treat them reflects something of our own humanity!" the couple wrote on the page. "Our Greek sanctuary can't take more cats and which is heartbreaking, so we need to move on. We have already identified some worthy causes in the Manhattan and greater New York area where cats desperately need help."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Former Miss America slams pageant

Steve Mack/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A former Miss America is speaking out days after the reigning titleholder, Cara Mund, reportedly released a letter slamming the pageant's current leadership, including chairperson Gretchen Carlson.

Caressa Cameron-Jackson, Miss America 2010, is part of a group of 19 former titleholders who are calling for the resignations of Carlson and Regina Hopper, the president and CEO and the board of trustees, according to The Associated Press.

Cameron-Jackson, 31, told "Good Morning America" Monday that she isn't surprised by Mund's letter, which accuses Carlson and Hopper of bullying, manipulation and intimidation.

"It's never the wrong time to do the right thing," Cameron-Jackson said. "[J]ust because we are asking for our chair and our CEO to step down does not mean the Miss America pageant will not happen and I think it will send a clear message -- not only to our new Miss America but to the public that we are willing to do the right thing so that Miss America who is crowned on September 9 will not have to go through what Cara [Mund] has gone through."

Pageant organizers told ABC News, "We have supported Cara [Mund] for her entire year and we will continue to support her."

Carlson, the 1989 Miss America, denied the allegations in a statement posted to Twitter.

"I have never bullied or silenced you," Carlson wrote. "We've acknowledged your grievances and taken many steps to try to make your experience a good one."

Carlson went on, "Actions have consequences. Friday, as an organization we learned that $75,000 in scholarships is no longer on the table as a direct result of the explosive allegations in your letter. The impact won't stop there.”

Not only did Carlson deny bullying but she said that Mund's accusations have caused a "negative ripple effect" across the organization.

Cameron-Jackson said she disagrees with Carlson's statement.

"[W]e are not going to do the victim-shaming here," she said. "I’m sure she [Carlson] didn’t want that when she was part of the #MeToo movement and I think that these sponsorships will return when they see that we are willing to do the right thing. I don’t think that it’s also fair if someone has [said], ‘You hurt me' to say, 'No, I didn’t.'"

Cameron-Jackson continued, "I think what should have been said was, 'I’m sorry for anything I have done that would have made you feel as though,' and then continue on, but you don’t get to outright say, 'No, I didn’t.'"

The Miss America organization announced June 5 that it would be eliminating its swimsuit competition and will no longer judge contestants based on physical appearance.

"We are no longer a pageant," Carlson said on "GMA" at the time. "We are a competition."

In place of the swimsuit portion of the competition, Miss America contestants will now take part in a live interactive session with the judges, the organization said.

Many thought changes to the contest were happening too far, too fast. But Cameron-Jackson said the call for new leadership has nothing to do with the end of the swimsuit competition.

"What was upsetting is finding out that the reason that the board voted to get rid of swimsuit was under the impression that the network who was going to air the pageant would not do so if the swimsuit competition was part of it," she added. "And then when it was found out that that was not the truth, that was just the beginning of a lot of undercurrents of transparency that states have been asking for, we as Miss Americas have been asking for and not getting it.

"And so that’s what this is really about and I hate that people are trying to make it a swimsuit issue when it's more about a transparency and a leadership issue."

Despite the turmoil, Cameron-Jackson said, she believes Miss America can thrive.

"I think it’s great that we are allowing and making sure that there is a space for accountability and then doing what’s necessary to ensure that we don’t continue down a path that’s wrong," she said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


US CEOs earned 312 times more than workers in 2017: Study

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- CEOs at the 350 largest U.S. companies received 312 times as much in compensation as typical employees in 2017, according to a study released Thursday.

The average chief executive received $18.9 million last year, a 17.6 percent increase from 2016, as the wages of a typical worker rose just 0.3 percent, according to research by the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank.

The highest CEO-to-worker pay ratio ever recorded is 344-to-1, in 2000.

In 1965, it was 20-to-1.

In 1989, it was 58-to-1.

Last year, it was 270-to-1.

"CEO compensation has grown far faster than stock prices or corporate profits," EPI said in an online summary of the findings. "CEO compensation rose by 979 percent [based on stock options granted] or 1,070 percent [based on stock options realized] between 1978 and 2017."

"CEO pay continues to be very, very high and has grown far faster in recent decades than typical worker pay," the summary continued. "Higher CEO pay does not reflect correspondingly higher output or better firm performance. Exorbitant CEO pay therefore means that the fruits of economic growth are not going to ordinary workers."

The median household income in the U.S. in 2016 was about $59,000, according to a U.S. Census report released last year.

EPI, according to its website, is "an independent, nonprofit think tank that researches the impact of economic trends and policies on working people in the United States."

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Why this supermarket is stocked with 31,000 items of inedible food

ABC News(LOS ANGELES) -- At first glance, the Sparrow Mart looks like an ordinary California supermarket.

It has red shopping carts near the entrance. There's a giant Coca-Cola refrigerator holding beverages next to rows and rows of packaged foods, including Cheez Whiz, Moon Pies and Welch's Grape Jelly. But upon closer inspection, it's not food at all.

"The items are all made of felt. They're all hand-sewn and stuffed with polyester fiber," British artist Lucy Sparrow told "GMA."

Sparrow said the exhibit took her an entire year to create, with some individual items, like the shrimp, taking a few minutes and other, larger items taking an entire week.

The immersive art installation located at The Standard Hotel in downtown Los Angeles is open through the month of August.

Sparrow has been working with felt for about 25 years, and this is her fifth exhibit of this kind. She said she's drawn to felt for a number of reasons.

"It's a brightly colored, approachable, easy fabric to use that is available in so many colors, and it's synonymous with simplicity, with childlike feelings," Sparrow said.

The art is also for sale, ranging from about $5 to $160 per item.

Sparrow said the art is independent of the food brands, and they either don't know or are fine with it.

"This is a celebration of brands -- its always been about that. It's not a criticism on consumerism or anything like that. Each brand was chosen to be in the supermarket because of how I liked their label, how well it came across and how successful they've been in becoming well-known brands," Sparrow said.

Sparrow said it's not official merchandise, it's art.

Her favorite?

"I really like the Windex bottle ... I think cleaning products work well in felt because they're so unexpected," Sparrow said.

It was cat litter, though, that made the biggest splash at first.

"Weirdly, the first thing to sell out was cat litter, so that went I think on day one," Sparrow said.

Other best-sellers included instant noodle soup, avocados and watermelon.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Twitter quietly kills suspected firearm-themed bot network

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- One minute, they were cranking out an endless stream of tweets, pushing conservative-leaning news articles or fiery video commentary. The next, they were gone, without a trace or an explanation.

Twitter took down what experts told ABC News was almost certainly a bot network on Friday, one that impersonated military or firearms enthusiasts with account handles like "@TacReviewD," "@MilitaryProudA1," "PatriotsTacA" and "@WhiskeyTangoD."

The demise of the linked, likely preprogrammed profiles is one of the latest casualties in Twitter's six-month siege against inauthentic, and often politically provocative, accounts, opening a window into what one expert called the ever-evolving "cat and mouse" nature of bot-hunting.

"Twitter has definitely upped its game when it comes to dealing with botnets," said Ben Nimmo, a fellow at the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab. "So the bot-herders [who create and program the accounts] have upped their game too."

Before its removal, the suspected bot network was probably not very large -- numbering just over 100 accounts in Nimmo's estimation -- but it was hardworking. Some of the accounts, which had been live for a little more than a year, tweeted nearly 30,000 times.

The timing of similar tweets between accounts appeared staggered, leading Nimmo to believe that as rudimentary as the suspected alleged bot network was, someone at least took some time to try to duck Twitter's bot-detecting tools. And it worked -- for a while.

Amid concerns that inauthentic accounts were increasingly polluting social media platforms and in the wake of revelations that Russia allegedly attempted to spread divisiveness on social media ahead of the 2016 U.S. election, Twitter announced in February it would be cracking down on bots and other automated feeds.

"Keeping Twitter safe and free from spam is a top priority for us," Yoel Roth, Twitter's head of site integrity, said in an announcement at the time. "One of the most common spam violations we see is the use of multiple accounts and the Twitter developer platform to attempt to artificially amplify or inflate the prominence of certain Tweets."

Twitter dismantled most of the firearms-themed network Friday, but the social media giant declined to provide any additional information about it or how it came to the company's attention. Nicholas Pacilio, a company spokesperson, confirmed to ABC News in an email that some accounts in the network had been suspended, but said that there's not "much more I'm able to say."

Pacilio did not respond to follow-up questions, including about how many bot networks the company has dismantled, beyond pointing to a company blog post from May that said fewer than 1 percent of accounts make up the majority of those reported for abuse.

Bret Schafer, a social media analyst for the Alliance for Securing Democracy, reviewed some of the purported bot accounts for ABC News and said he thought they were "very suspicious." He ran a few handles through an online bot-detecting tool developed by Indiana University’s Network Science Institute, and the tool flagged each as likely non-human.

Nimmo said that from the information available, it's hard to tell who might've been behind the network beyond the suggestion that it was a small operation, potentially run by a single person -- nothing like the scale of the coordinated influence operation Russia allegedly ran online ahead of the election.

But it's clear the fight against bots and botnets has entered a new phase. As Twitter continues its crackdown, coders behind the bots are trying to outsmart Twitter's algorithms by tweaking the volume, timing, content and even style of the robot-written posts.

"Bot herders are trying to second guess what Twitter is looking for and get ahead of it," Nimmo said.

That's not to say that the firearms-themed network was that well-hidden. The account handles were often re-used, only with the letter A, B, D, or E added on the end. The profile photos often showed individuals with firearms, but a quick reverse image search on a few photos showed they had apparently been lifted from firearms websites.

And, in perhaps the clearest sign that these Twitter users perhaps weren’t who they appeared to be, the accounts posted links to a single website -- a bare bones conservative website, where a few articles and videos lived alongside ads hawking commemorative Donald Trump coins or tactical pens and flashlights -- at regular intervals with the kind of consistency and precision uncommon to human users. GoDaddy, the domain registration firm that is listed on the website’s public register, declined to identify the owner, citing its privacy policy.

Last week, for example, the network produced a deluge of tweets with links to a video showing Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) calling for an investigation into a senior Justice Department official -- a revamped line of attack by critics of the ongoing probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election.

"That's classic bot behavior," said Nimmo, who analyzed archived data related to the suspected network at ABC News’ request. "Seeing a single post do that is entirely innocuous, but when you see an account and you're scrolling down it and every time the post is the exact wording of the headline with the source at the end, it looks like someone has automated that process."

Darren Linvill, a Clemson University associate professor who recently made headlines with his colleague Patrick Warren and their analysis of millions of tweets linked to the purported Russian operation, told ABC News he agreed the firearms-themed network was likely a small effort, but added that it was always possible it was just a piece of a larger operation that shifted its focus from time to time based on real-world events.

Linvill said one lesson he learned from analyzing the Russian cache that it’s important to identify and analyze current troll and bot networks in as close to real time as possible, because the technical tactics in that cat-and-mouse game are always changing.

“It’s difficult because what these trolls were doing in 2014 is totally different to what they were doing in 2015 and 2016,” he said. “That’s one of the main takeaways from our dataset, how their efforts change over time.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Soaring bankruptcy rates signal a 'coming storm of broke elderly,' study finds

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Older Americans are filing for bankruptcy at more than double the rate of just 25 years ago, a sign of a "coming storm of broke elderly," a new study finds.

The rate of people 65 and over filing for bankruptcy grew nearly 204 percent from 1991 to 2016, a study published by the Social Science Research Network found, and the percentage of seniors among all U.S. bankruptcy filers increased by nearly five times over the same period.

Researchers looking at data from the Consumer Bankruptcy Project found that high health care costs, combined with reduced incomes and the widespread decline of pensions, are all contributing to the growing trend of "financially broken retirees."

Deborah Thorne, one of the study's authors from the University of Idaho, said "it's not an individual's fault" when they have to file for bankruptcy, citing issues with retirement systems and Medicare.

Thorne said her research found that many older people struggling financially also feel that society seems unconcerned with their plight.

"We’ve become uncaring about what they’re confronting," she said.

'The bills began piling up'

Medical costs are a frequent tipping point for older bankruptcy filers, the study found.

Although Medicare is a great start for covering seniors' health care costs, many people don't realize that it doesn't cover everything, Thorne said.

Long-term care, hearing aids, most dental treatment, eye exams for glasses and foot care are among the many things Medicare Part A and Part B plans do not cover. Medicare can also involve copays, coinsurance, and deductibles that may be difficult for some seniors on reduced incomes to afford.

"My bankruptcy started with back surgery," one older bankruptcy filer told the study's authors. "I had several medical tests that my insurance did not cover. This caused me to fall behind in my medical payments. The next thing I knew, the bills began piling up. I got to the point I owed more than I was making on Social Security."

Medical problems can also lead people to stop working, worsening their financial struggles.

"My wife developed medical problems and had to leave her job, resulting in a loss of income. About two years later, I developed medical problems and was not able to continue working," another respondent told the study's authors. "We got to a point where we simply could not handle the debt load. The constant calls from bill collectors forced us to contact an attorney for help."

Out-of-pocket health care costs for Americans on Medicare ate up 41 percent of the average Social Security income in 2013, the nonprofit Kaiser Family Foundation reported. Those costs are expected to rise to 50 percent of average Social Security income by 2030, the organization found.

Retirement finance experts also agree that older Americans must plan for hefty health care costs.

"A 65-year old couple retiring this year will need $280,000 to cover health care and medical expenses throughout retirement, Fidelity reported earlier this year.

While that is just a 2 percent increase from last year, Fidelity's estimate has risen 75 percent since 2002, when the firm first estimated health care costs during retirement would be about $160,000.

Seniors unable to cover such costs may go into debt. Medical debt poses the most significant barrier to economic well-being for older Americans, a survey of aging professionals conducted by the National Council on Aging found.

"Over half indicated that medical debt was the most significant barrier to the economic well-being of seniors, while nearly 20 percent said that missed utility payments were the biggest problem," the council reported.

A long road to bankruptcy

Most Americans who go into bankruptcy first try for years to pay their bills.

Bankruptcy lawyer Charles Juntikka said he has seen a "frightening" increase in older clients during his 34 years in practice in New York and New Jersey.

Many of them have used credit cards to pay medical costs, the dentist or their mortgage, then spent years scraping together minimum payments of $80 or $90 a month for their cards without achieving any significant reduction in the principal balance.

"The problem with my older bankrupt people is they paid for years" but the principal on the credit cards barely budges, Juntikka told ABC News.

Seniors are often reluctant to file for bankruptcy, having been brought up by people who endured the Great Depression, Juntikka said.

Many think that only "crooked" businesses go bankrupt, but decent people pay their bills.

"They blame themselves," he added.

Typically, something triggers people to reach out to a bankruptcy lawyer, and it is often a creditor's threat to sue, Juntikka said.

The "Graying of U.S. Bankruptcy" study similarly found that among older bankruptcy filers, more than four out of 10 -- 42.6 percent -- struggled for two to five years to manage their bills before going bankrupt.

The trend is similar for all bankrupt households, regardless of age, the study said.

"With few exceptions, the road to bankruptcy is long," researchers wrote.

If you or someone you know is struggling with debt, there is help available. One source of information on debt, credit counseling and bankruptcy is this government website, Dealing with Debt.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


New York University offers free tuition to all medical students

NYU School of Medicine(NEW YORK) -- New York University medical students received life-changing news on Thursday -- the School of Medicine will cover full tuition going forward for all current and future students, regardless of need or merit.

The stunning announcement was made Thursday morning at the end of the annual "White Coat Ceremony," where new medical students are given white lab coats to mark the start of their M.D. degree program. At the same time, all current NYU medical students received emails saying the school is offering them full-ride scholarships too.

"Our last thing was to tell the students and their parents that, hey, tuition is going to be on us," Dr. Rafael Rivera, associate dean for admission and financial aid, told ABC News on Thursday. "It was awesome to see the emotions on their faces."

The skyrocketing cost of tuition can lead to hundreds of thousand of dollars in debt, which can be out of line with potential earnings, has been a source of much debate across the nation. Prospective doctors can carry some of the highest debt burdens.

According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, 75 percent of all doctors in the United States graduated with educational debt in 2017. On average, doctors currently graduating from a private school do so with $202,000 in debt. That debt pressure can steer new doctors away from research, community-based work and general practice, which may not be as highly paid as medical specialties.

NYU School of Medicine is the first private U.S. medical school and the only one ranked in the top 10 to offer free tuition to all its students, the university said in a press release. The yearly tuition costs covered by the scholarship are $55,018.

The free-tuition initiative began more than a decade ago when NYU created an endowment for that purpose. So far, the university has raised more than $450 million of the roughly $600 million it estimates it will need to fund full-tuition scholarships for all medical students "in perpetuity."

The move follows NYU's decision in 2013 to offer an accelerated three-year curriculum for its MD degree program, which also helps in cutting tuition costs.

The goal is to allow aspiring physicians "from all walks of life" pursue their passion with less stress, according to Dr. Robert Grossman, dean of NYU School of Medicine and CEO of NYU Langone Health.

"We thought it was a moral imperative because it's very difficult for medical students to incur the debt burden of medical school, as well as the additional time burden of training," he told ABC News on Thursday.

Rivera said the daunting prospect of financial debt has an "adverse effect on patient care" by "scaring away" talented students from a career in medicine and, in effect, causing physician shortages and a lack of diversity.

"We don't want this debt to hang over their heads and persuade them from pursuing careers of passion," Rivera told ABC News.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.


Consumer Reports finds 'concerning' levels of heavy metals in some baby foods

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A new report published Thursday by Consumer Reports found "concerning levels" of heavy metals including arsenic, cadmium and lead in some popular baby food products on the market.

Consumer Reports says that they tested samples of 50 popular packaged baby food products for heavy metals including lead, cadmium and inorganic arsenic. They say they found at least one of these metals in all the samples.

If consumed regularly over time, these heavy metals can pose an increased risk for certain health problems in children, according to Consumer Reports.

"This is of a concern because people should not have heavy elements or heavy metals in their food, particularly for their children," James Dickerson, the Consumer Reports chief science officer told "Good Morning America."

Moreover, their report concluded that 68 percent of the samples it studied had at least one heavy metal at levels it considered "worrisome," and that 30 percent of the products tested raised cause for concern if a child consumed just one serving or less a day regularly.

The report added that among the sample products it tested, those containing rice and sweet potatoes had higher levels of one or more of the heavy metals, particularly inorganic arsenic.

The report also concluded that their analysis of organic food samples tested were just as likely to contain the heavy metals as non-organic products.

However, Dickerson told "GMA" that parents should not be "gravely alarmed" by their findings.

"Our message is balance," he said. "As a parent you should not be gravely alarmed by this, but it should be a bit of information that you use to make balanced choices for your children."

Dickerson added that these heavy metals can actually occur naturally and get absorbed into food from soil or could come from contaminants in the water and equipment used for the processing of raw food.

Dr. Edith Bracho-Sanchez, an ABC News consultant, told "GMA," that, "These metals pose a specific risk to children because their brains are still developing."

In an ideal world, we would be able to "limit and completely eliminate these metals from our food," she added.

Consumer Reports said their results showed that goal is achievable.

“In about a third of the products we tested, the amount of heavy metals were below our level of concern, and for some the products, amount of some metals were not measurable," said James E. Rogers, director of food safety research and testing at Consumer Reports. “That indicates that there are ways for manufacturers to significantly reduce or eliminate these metals from their products.”

Consumer Reports said its findings were a spot-check of the market and should not be used to draw definitive conclusions about specific products or brands. They advise parents to give children a variety of foods and rotate options to maintain balance and limit the risk of any long-term exposure of heavy metals.

Some of the companies mentioned in the Consumer Reports report, including Gerber, Beech Nut, Baby Mum Mum, Parent's Choice, Happy Baby and Plum Organics told "GMA" that they are dedicated to the safety and quality of their food products and follow the guidelines set by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as well as what they say are their own stricter internal standards.

Gerber further noted that "trace amounts of many elements occur naturally in our environment -- so it's possible they can get into fruits, vegetables and grains as they grow.

Beech Nut told "GMA" after it received the Consumer Reports test results it "upgraded the requirements for its third-party lab testing to help meet our goal of minimizing heavy metals as much as possible."

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Reservations required: London McDonald's goes luxe for a day

Molly Hunter/ABC News(LONDON) -- Now that's what you call a happy meal.

Imagine walking into a McDonald's fast food restaurant to find white tablecloths, a string quartet playing, a smartly-dressed maître d' to see you to your table, and a Michelin Star chef preparing burgers in the kitchen to be served to you on silver platters.

It's McDonald's like you've never experienced before -- and may never again.

"Luxury, in a bun," the company's website declared on Wednesday.

For one day only, lucky London guests were welcomed to what was billed as "the most luxurious tasting event in history" -- in celebration of the worldwide roll-out of McDonald's Signature Collection.

Just steps from the royal palace, the McDonald's location in London's upscale Kensington neighborhood closed to the general public Wednesday and was transformed into a fine dining restaurant, complete with red carpets, burgundy velvet curtains and candelabras.

The Signature Collection was designed for McDonald’s by the Chefs Council, which is made up of chefs who have worked in Michelin Star restaurants, and have cooked for royalty and international food specialists.

The maître d described the new Spicy Signature Burger as "100% British and Irish Beef, Jalapeño slices, Pepper Jack cheese, Batavia lettuce, mayo and a spicy relish, all in a Brioche style bun."

An ABC News producer failed to wrangle a reservation for the special day, but did sneak a taste of the new Spicy Signature Burger.

It was juicier, thicker and more tender than the normal patty. The jalapeños brought the heat, the spicy relish was indeed, spicy, the Pepper Jack cheese could have been melted more but the traditional sesame seed bun wasn't missed.

It was all washed down with a diet Pepsi while sitting on a gilded, white leather Louis XVI chair under a candelabra, twinkling with fake candles.

In a word: luxurious.

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