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Wednesday
Jan172018

Walmart distributing first-of-its-kind opioid disposal product

iStock/Thinkstock(BETONVILLE, Ark.) -- Walmart is offering a first-of-its kind opioid disposal product for free at all of its pharmacies, according to a company statement.

The product, called DisposeRX, enables patients to responsibly dispose of leftover medications by turning them into a useless gel. A DisposeRX packet is used by emptying it into a pill bottle with warm water to create the biodegradable gel, according to a statement from Walmart. The solution solidifies, and can be tossed out, making them inaccessible for illicit use.

"DisposeRx provides a virtually effortless way for patients to destroy leftover opioids and a way to do so without ever leaving home," said Walmart in a statement.

Beginning immediately, patients filling any new Class II opioid prescriptions, such as oxycodone and methadone, at Walmart pharmacies will receive a free DisposeRx packet and opioid safety information brochure when picking up their prescription.

“About one-third of medications sold go unused. Too often, these dangerous narcotics remain unsecured where children, teens or visitors may have access." said Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark.

The product will be available at all 4,700 Walmart pharmacies. The chemicals in DisposeRx are listed as safe by the FDA, according to Walmart.

In 2016, 46 people died every day in the United States from prescription opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
 
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Tuesday
Jan162018

Medieval Times features queen as lead for first time in history

Medieval Times(LYNDHURST, N.J.) -- Long live the queen!

After 34 years of casting a king as the lead, the Medieval Times has featured a queen in charge.

Erin Zapcic, who has performed with Medieval Times for seven years, most recently as the princess, debuted as the inaugural queen in New Jersey last week.

"I was feeling prepared, but nothing prepares you for how the audience is going to respond when you first make that entrance on the horse," Zapcic told ABC News of her grand entrance. "But it's a good nervous. I feel a sense of responsibility to the audience and like a role model now more than ever."

Jaci Hernandez, the marketing and sales manager at the Lyndhurst, New Jersey, Medieval Times location, told ABC News that the plan to feature a matriarch was 18 months in the making.

The fresh storyline first debuted at the Dallas location in October, followed by Chicago and Lyndhurst.

"In a major break from Medieval Times’ 34-year tradition of casting a king as the show’s lead role, the company will launch a new production ... which features a queen now in charge and sole ruler of the land," the company wrote in a press release.

"Where previously our female characters played in more supportive roles, we are now showing a woman fully in charge, a woman whose authority is sometimes challenged, but she quickly rises to the occasion as a strong leader, squelching opposition," Ingrid Hunt, Medieval Times senior general manager said in a press release.

"She is cast as a firm but kind ruler respected throughout the kingdom who inherited the throne at the passing of her father, the previous king," the statement continued.

Zapcic said her male cast of knights and former kings have been "really supportive" of her new role and she enjoys sharing the same energy from the crowd that those roles have felt for so many years.

"It's really humbling to be a part of and what we're going to see is a generation of young women who can look up to this," Zapcic said.

The change to a woman lead comes as the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements have gained steam in the wake of numerous allegations of sexual assaults and harassments across different industries.

The decision to put a strong female at the helm of the show came in response to audience feedback.

"We were really ahead of the curve in that sense," Zapcic said.

Hernandez added that they listened very closely to reviews and other forms of feedback requesting a greater female presence in the last year.

"Customers were saying that they wanted to see a woman more involved in the show," Hernandez said.

So far, Hernandez and Zapcic said the response has been overwhelmingly positive across the board.

"The energy from folks coming through has been really exciting," Zapcic said, adding that her social media accounts have drawn scores of new followers.

The remaining six Medieval Times locations will change their scripts in the coming months and weeks, Hernandez said.

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Tuesday
Jan162018

Dow hits 26000 points but loses early gains

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Despite the Dow hitting a new record of 26,000 Tuesday, U.S. stocks pulled back and closed in the red.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 10.33 (-0.04 percent), finishing the session at 25,792.86.

The Nasdaq fell 37.38 (-0.51 percent) to close at 7,223.69, while the S&P 500 finished trading at 2,776.42, down 9.82 (-0.35 percent) for the day.

Crude oil prices were were about 1 percent lower and under $64 per barrel.

Winners and Losers:  General Electric sunk 2.93 percent after reporting a $6.2 billion after-tax charge.

Shares of Twitter Inc. tumbled 2.95 percent.

Energizer announced it will acquire Spectrum's Rayovac batteries in a $2 billion deal. The battery-maker's stock soared 14.51 percent.

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Tuesday
Jan162018

Beleaguered YouTube star Logan Paul: 'Everyone deserves a second chance'

ABCNews.com(LOS ANGELES) -- Beleaguered YouTube star Logan Paul is looking for a second chance following the fallout he's faced in response to a video he uploaded Dec. 31, which appeared to show a lifeless, hanging body in Japan's so-called suicide forest.

In the clip, which received an onslaught of online criticism, the audience appears to see the body of an apparent suicide victim hanging from a tree.

On Monday, Paul spoke to TMZ on camera as the vlogger was boarding a plane at Los Angeles International Airport.

"Everyone deserves second chances," he told the outlet when asked about his next steps.

On what he's learned from the past few weeks, he added, "Everything, so many things," and said that a message to his fans is "coming ... soon."

This isn't the first time Paul, who's known for his pranks and comedy vlogs, has apologized for the video.

Since that video received public damnation, Paul has taken a leave of absence from social media and YouTube removed him from Google Preferred, a premier ad service that offers brand advertisers access to top channel producers.

He also apologized on Jan. 1 in a letter to fans, saying his intentions in posting the video were to raise awareness of suicide prevention and not to anger anyone. Paul posted a warning at the start of the video advising viewers who are considering suicide to seek help.

"Where do I begin," he wrote. "Let's start with this -- I'm sorry."

Paul added that he's never "made a mistake like this before."

"But I'm still a human being. I can be wrong," he continued. "I didn't do it for views ... I did it because I thought I could make a positive ripple on the internet, not cause a monsoon of negativity."

He later added a video apology, saying that his reactions in the video were raw and unfiltered, and that "none of us knew how to react." He said he knew he should have put the cameras down and stopped filming.

His last post almost two weeks ago read, "Taking time to reflect. No vlog for now. See you soon."

Then last week, YouTube said he will not be featured on season 4 of the original YouTube series "Foursome" and added that "his new Originals are on hold."

These actions came after YouTube previously released a statement on its Twitter page indicating Paul would be penalized for sharing the inappropriate video with his 15 million subscribers. “The channel violated our community guidelines, we acted accordingly, and we are looking at further consequences,” the statement reads.

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Tuesday
Jan162018

NYT exec speaks out: 'We are not the opposition to the current administration'

The New York Times(NEW YORK) -- The New York Times introduced a new paywall in December that slashed its free articles in half, from ten to five. The move was all part of Meredith Kopit Levien's mission to understand where news consumption is headed.

“You can describe the business model -- not the journalism, not the mission -- but the business model of The New York Times in five words: ‘Make something worth paying for,’” Kopit Levien, executive vice president and chief operating officer of The New York Times Company, told Rebecca Jarvis on an episode of No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis.

Kopit Levien was named COO of The New York Times in June 2017 and is the first person to hold that role in the company in over a decade. Prior to her current position, she was The Times' head of advertising and chief revenue officer.

“I would say I have a voracious interest in where media consumption is going and how original, independent, quality journalism fits into that,” she said.

As COO, she oversees the teams responsible for digital product, design, audience and brand, and consumer revenue and advertising. Kopit Levien is at the forefront of The New York Times’ digital revolution and less than six months into her role as COO, The Times reported that its digital advertising revenue had risen 11 percent in the third quarter of 2017, and digital-only subscriptions had reached nearly 2.5 million.

Kopit Levien said The Times understands that “news is a relationship business,” adding, “We have to treat everybody fairly and you know, fairness means people can speak their minds.”

She went on, “The New York Times believes that journalism should provide a place for intelligent thoughtful dialogue from all perspectives. We are not the opposition to the current administration. We are not an advocacy organization. We are a place for intelligent ideas and debate of all kinds and you're going to see us continue to push it that way.”

The self-described "lifelong lover of journalism" has always wanted society “to have a shared fact base.”

“It's really about bringing your whole self to work because people are most comfortable when they aren't trying to compensate for something they really aren’t,” she explained.

And could bitcoin be a new form of payment for this fast-growing subscriber base?

“Such a good question, I’m not going to answer that. You’ll have to find out,” Kopit Levien said.

Hear more of Meredith Kopit Levien’s interview on this week’s episode of No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play Music, Spotify, TuneIn and the ABC News app.

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Tuesday
Jan162018

The ways consumers are at risk of fraud and what they can do if their information is compromised

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Although consumers enter January preparing to spend less than they did during the holiday season, cybercriminals are still as active as ever and many Americans face the risk of credit fraud.

Based on findings in the 2017 Capital One Credit Protection Survey, people are not taking advantage of the full array of opportunities presented to them to keep their personal information safe. According to the survey, 36% of people could be doing more to protect their credit. The study also finds less than half of people use a credit monitoring tool to have access to the resources needed to improve or protect their credit.

Sarah Strauss, the head of Fraud at Capital One, recently spoke with ABC News about the findings, how and where fraud occurs, and what people can do if they have been hacked.

"Fraud is something all consumers should be aware of," Strauss says. She stresses that although shoppers are especially vulnerable during the holiday season, cybercriminals seemingly never sleep and consumers must be vigilant often to be as safe as possible.

As a fraud expert, she finds that most card users have their information compromised when someone obtains possession of their credit or debit card or the cards' numbers and makes purchases using them. She also sees criminals open or close a new or existing account in someone else's name with their personal information.

To lessen the frequency of these crimes, Strauss recommends consumers take important steps to keep a close watch on their purchases, ensuring their personal information is safe. She asks consumers to sign up for two tools: credit monitoring services and instant-purchase notifications, both of which are often offered by credit card providers.

One example of a credit monitoring tool that Strauss suggests using: CreditWise from Capital One, which alerts users of new activity on their credit report. Instant-purchase notifications, also offered by many card providers, notify users instantly after a transaction is made with their card so that they can track down fraud as quickly as possible if they did not make a specific purchase.

Communication is vital as well. Stauss tells ABC News the most important step consumers can take, along with signing up for purchase and credit monitoring tools, is to communicate with their bank and ensure all accounts are updated and banks have their latest personal information.

Strauss stresses, "Hackers want to monetize your information... before the account owner identifies it." So, account owners need to verify that banks know if users have switched addresses, changed phone numbers, or made any updates to the information associated with their account. It helps to protect hackers cannot use old information to get access to active accounts.

If hacking occurs, Strauss suggests users report the fraud to the card provider and sign up for a free credit report, available on sites such as annualcreditreport.com.

She then suggests contacting the three major credit bureaus (TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian) and requesting credit reports from them because "sometimes there's different information in those reports… and [users should] take a hard look to make sure there's nothing in those credit reports that you don't recognize.”

Strauss adds that hacking victims should also sign up for free monitoring services with their card providers, if they are not already using them, to keep a closer eye on their purchases.

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Tuesday
Jan162018

Growing California almonds takes more than half of US honeybees

David Miller/ABC News(NORWICH, N.Y.) -- It can be hard to see how important honeybees are to daily life. Just by looking at fully grown oranges, apples and almonds, the honeybee wouldn’t necessarily get marquee credit for their growth.

But, bees pollinate around 70 percent of the world’s crops, according to Cornell University, and without them, there’s no easy way to pollinate the fresh foods that need to be grown and harvested.

The vast farming operations around the country keep bees in high demand almost year-round and it’s up to commercial bee keepers to make sure farmers have their pollinators.

One of those beekeepers, Chuck Kutik, rents his bees out across the country, throughout the year. He said there's one crop that demands more bees than any other -– almonds. In the winter, Kutik, and commercial beekeepers throughout the country, send the majority of the nation's commercial bees to pollinate almonds blossoms.

Kutik loads his bees on flatbed trucks that hold 112 palates of beehives and sends them on a multi-day, cross-country journey.

Truck drivers have to continue moving throughout the day, only stopping at night, in order to maintain cool temperatures for the bees. If it’s too warm they will be tempted to fly out of their hives.

The bees will spend several weeks pollinating the bright white almond blooms. When they are done, they will be taken to the next farm, to a new crop on the east coast.

Almond farmer and beekeeper Ryan Cosyns tells us that the price of pollination rental for almonds has nearly doubled since 2005, which is directly related to the increased acreage devoted to almonds.

A single hive from Kutik’s farm rented for as much as $200 in 2017, to a California almond farmer.

But as the demand for bees has gone up, keeping honeybees healthy has also become more and more of a challenge.

According to the USDA, Between 2015 and 2016 the nation's beekeepers lost 44 percent of their colonies.

"The consensus in the scientific community now is that it's not any single factor that is driving losses of bees," said Scott McArt, an associate professor in the Department of Entymology at Cornell University. "It's multiple factors."

He said those factors can include pesticides, insecticides, loss of habitat and climate change.

However, as honeybees are dying the overall population of bees has gone up.

"This is something that a lot of people don’t necessarily understand," said Emma Mullen, an associate in the Department of Entymology at Cornell University, "because if you do track the number of colonies that are in New York or the U.S., they do tend to increase. So what they’ll do is they’ll split their colonies and in that way they can continue to replace the colonies that were lost and grow their operation."

In the springtime, beekeepers can take a hive that is thriving and split them, creating two from one. Kutik predicted he would create 6,000 new hives in the spring.

When the bees return home to Kutik’s farm, there is still more work to be done; that's when oney production starts. But farmers in the U.S. cannot produce enough honey to meet the total demand across the country.

“We only produce, I don't know what it is, 120 million or 140 million pounds of honey in the U.S.," Kutik said. "I think the consumption is 300 [million pounds]. The consumption is way more than we can produce."

With so much work to be done by American beekeepers and their bees, can the industry keep up with demand?

In this episode of “Food Forecast,” Ginger Zee tags along the route of the bees to the almonds groves of California and talks to the beekeepers along the way.

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Monday
Jan152018

Family sues Norwegian cruise line after daughter allegedly assaulted by crewmember

Norwegian Cruise Line(MIAMI) -- A family from Iowa is suing Norwegian Cruise Line in a civil case after their 12-year-old daughter was allegedly sexually assaulted by one of the ship’s crewmembers in her cabin. A jury trial in Miami last February found the accused not guilty, according to documents obtained by ABC News.

The girl, who was identified as H.P. in civil court documents, was “sexually assaulted, sexually battered and sexually abused” as she napped in her cabin aboard the NCL Escape on Feb. 16, 2017, around 1 p.m., the civil complaint said.

The lawsuit alleges that Norwegian was negligent in properly screening its staff and providing stewards with master keys to access each passengers’ cabin.

The suit references NCL’s safety and children programs, saying the cruise line “invites parents to rely on the cruise line to provide a safe environment for children,” and that “alongside our well-trained staff, your children will experience a wide range of exciting activities with kids and teens they own age.”

The family is suing for damages in excess of $75,000, excluding interest, costs and attorney’s fees. The alleged incident caused the girl to suffer “bodily injury, emotional distress, mental anguish, pain loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life, medical and psychological expenses,” the suit said.

“The family is pretty much devastated by this,” the family’s lawyer told ABC News.

Norwegian Cruise said it “cannot comment on legal matters.”

It is unclear if the crewmember is still working for the cruise line.

The crewmember entered cabin 15858 as the girl was napping, according to the suit. He then began to sexually abuse her until she moved to the other side of bed, the suit said. When the crewmember left the room, the girl ran next door to find her family and friends, reporting the incident to them, the suit said.

According to a February 2017 criminal complaint obtained by ABC News, the FBI was made aware of the incident from the cruise line after it was reported to them by the girl’s parents. Once the parents notified Norwegian Escape’s security team, the crewmember was “confined by the Escape’s captain until the vessel returned to the Port of Miami,” the complaint said.

The FBI referred ABC News to court records when asked for comment.

The cruise line provided security footage of the crewmember entering cabin 15858, and both the employee and the minor were interviewed, according to the complaint. The security footage matched the timeline of what was said from each interview, the complaint said.

According to the complaint, the crewmember admitted that he made contact with the girl and was later charged with sexual abuse and sexual abuse of a minor.

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Monday
Jan152018

CVS vows to put an end to altering of beauty imagery in its stores

CVS Pharmacy(WOONSOCKIT, R.I.) -- Drug chain giant CVS Pharmacy announced Monday it will take new steps toward letting customers know when an image used on social media or in marketing and in-store materials has been digitally altered.

The company is also making a commitment, starting in April, to not materially alter beauty imagery it creates for its stores, website and marketing materials for social media.

The company’s president, Helean Foulkes, said she recognized that CVS has a responsibility as a retail business whose “costumers predominantly are women.”

“The connection between the propagation of unrealistic body images and negative health effects, especially in girls and young women, has been established,” Foulkes, president of CVS Pharmacy and executive vice president of CVS Health, said in a statement. “As a purpose-led company, we strive to do our best to assure all of the messages we are sending to our customers reflect our purpose of helping people on their path to better health.”

The company is introducing a CVS Beauty Mark watermark – a circle with a heart-like shape at the center -- that will appear on all imagery in its stores that has not been “materially altered.”

CVS defines materially altered as “changing or enhancing a person’s shape, size, proportion, skin or eye color, wrinkles or any other individual characteristics.”

Customers will begin to see the CVS Beauty Mark on products in April. CVS expects 80 percent of the images in stores to be compliant by 2019, a company spokeswoman told ABC News.

By 2020, brand partners will be required to use imagery that is not materially altered or will have to include a disclaimer on the imagery that labels it "digitally modified."

CVS Pharmacy has over 9,700 locations. The company made headlines in 2014 when it announced it would stop selling cigarettes and other tobacco products, becoming the first national pharmacy chain to do so.

The chain has also committed to removing certain "chemicals of concern" from all store brand beauty and personal care items.

CVS's latest move follows Getty Images, which announced last year it would no longer accept photos of models' body shapes that have been retouched.

The American stock photo agency said it modified its Creative Stills Submission Requirements after a French law that requires clients to disclose whether photos of models have been altered to make them larger or thinner.

Changes to hair color, nose shape and retouching of skin or blemishes are still acceptable and are "outside the scope of this new law," according to Getty's website.

CVS said it will work with "key brand partners and industry experts" on guidelines to ensure the coming changes are transparent and consistent.

The move drew praise from Girls Inc., a nonprofit organization that serves girls ages 6-18 at more than 1,400 sites across the U.S., according to its website. The organization has partnered with CVS on the transparency initiative.

"As the national nonprofit dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart, and bold, Girls Inc. is honored to be a partner in CVS Pharmacy’s movement to counter limiting stereotypes too often faced by girls and women," Girls Inc. President and CEO Judy Vredenburgh said in a statement released by CVS. "Allowing diversity and natural beauty to shine will have an immensely positive impact on girls."


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Sunday
Jan142018

Michelle Williams responds to controversy over pay gap with Mark Wahlberg

Amanda Edwards/WireImage via Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Michelle Williams is responding to the controversy over a pay gap in which she was paid less than 1 percent of what her male co-star, Mark Wahlberg, received for reshoots of the film, "All the Money in the World."

The actress spoke out Saturday after Wahlberg, 46, announced in a statement that he's giving his $1.5 million fee from the reshoots to the Time's Up Legal Defense Fund in Williams' name. Wahlberg's agency, William Morris Endeavor, also donated another $500,000, bringing the total gift to $2 million.

The legal defense fund aims to "subsidize legal support for individuals who have experienced sexual harassment or related retaliation in the workplace," its website reads.

In contrast to Wahlberg's pay, Williams, 37, was paid $80 per diem for a total of less than $1,000 for reshoots for the film.

"Today isn’t about me," Williams' statement began. "My fellow actresses stood by me and stood up for me, my activist friends taught me to use my voice, and the most powerful men in charge, they listened and they acted."

She added, "If we truly envision an equal world, it takes equal effort and sacrifice. Today is one of the most indelible days of my life because of Mark Wahlberg, WME and a community of women and men who share in this accomplishment. Anthony Rapp, for all the shoulders you stood on, now we stand on yours."

Rapp, 46, publicly alleged in an October Buzzfeed article that one-time "All the Money in the World" star Kevin Spacey attempted to seduce him at a party back in 1986 when Rapp was 14.

Spacey issued an apology in the wake of Rapp's accusations, saying, "I honestly do not remember the encounter, it would have been over 30 years ago. But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior."

After Rapp's allegations became public, other claims of Spacey engaging in sexual misconduct followed.

The 58-year-old "House of Cards" actor was replaced by Christopher Plummer in "All the Money in the World," which centers on the story of the 1973 kidnapping of billionaire J. Paul Getty's grandson. The change came less than two months before the film's scheduled release.

Rapp responded to Williams' statement on Twitter Saturday night, writing: "I’m very moved by Michelle Williams’ kind words."

Earlier Saturday, Wahlberg explained in a statement obtained by ABC News why he was donating his fee from the film.

“Over the last few days my reshoot fee for 'All the Money in the World' has become an important topic of conversation. I 100% support the fight for fair pay and I’m donating the $1.5M to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund in Michelle Williams’ name," he said.

His agency, WME, added in a separate statement, "The current conversation is a reminder that those of us in a position of influence have a responsibility to challenge inequities, including the gender wage gap."

"It’s crucial that this conversation continues within our community and we are committed to being part of the solution," the statement added.

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