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Thursday
Apr272017

United reducing overbooking, increasing incentive cap to $10k

FG/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images(NEW YORK) -- United Airlines will cut back on overbooking and develop an automated system to gauge customers' interest in voluntary, compensated bumping at check-in, the airline announced Thursday in a review of the April 9 incident that saw a passenger dragged off an aircraft.

Following in Delta's footsteps, United will also increase its incentive payment cap for voluntary denied boarding to $10,000.

"Every customer deserves to be treated with the highest levels of service and the deepest sense of dignity and respect," embattled CEO Oscar Munoz said in a statement. "Two weeks ago, we failed to meet that standard. Today, we are taking concrete, meaningful action to make things right."

In one of the airline's biggest PR fiascos to date, passengers on board a United aircraft still at the gate at Chicago's O'Hare International Airport filmed fellow passenger Dr. David Dao wrenched from his seat and dragged down the aisle of Flight 3411 after refusing to deplane to make room for crew members deadheading to Louisville.

According to documents obtained by ABC News, Dao and his wife initially expressed interest in United's offer to bump passengers in exchange for an $800 voucher, but later declined after learning they were not guaranteed a flight that same day.

When none of their fellow passengers volunteered for re-accommodation, the couple was informed they had been selected to involuntarily surrender their seats. They refused, and a United supervisor summoned security officers.

Described in aviation department reports as "aggressive" and "combative," Dao repeatedly rejected officer's orders to exit, declaring, "I don't care if I get arrested."

According to the reports, when officers attempted to extricate him from his seat, Dao allegedly flailed his arms, hitting his mouth on an armrest during the struggle. Because Dao "would not stand up," a Chicago aviation official explained in one report, officers removed him "by dragging him."

After his forcible removal, Dao ran back onto the aircraft -- his face apparently bloody, according to video of the incident -- and was removed once again via stretcher a short time later.

Dao's attorney -- who said allegations of aggressive behavior are "utter nonsense" -- told reporters his client suffered a broken nose, injury to his sinuses, concussion, and lost two front teeth.

After the altercation went viral, four Chicago aviation officers were placed on paid administrative leave.

"Our review shows that many things went wrong that day, but the headline is clear: our policies got in the way of our values," Munoz said in a statement distributed Thursday alongside the incident review. "Our customers should be at the center of everything we do and these changes are just the beginning of how we will earn back their trust."

In the days following the incident, United pledged to never again summon law enforcement to forcibly remove a paying customer from an aircraft, except for security reasons -- a promise they reiterated in Thursday's report.

In fact, the report outlined a total of 10 policy changes resulting from the Dao incident, including some previously reported by ABC:

  • Law enforcement officers will not be asked to remove customers from United flights unless it is a matter of safety and security.
  • Customers already seated on a plane will not be required to give up their seat involuntarily unless safety or security is at risk.
  • Beginning Friday, April 28, maximum compensation for voluntary denied boarding will be increased up to $10,000.
  • A "customer solutions team" will be established by June to provide gate agents with creative solutions. They'll explore putting passengers and flight crews on flights to nearby airports, using other airlines or providing ground transportation.
  • Crews must be booked on flights at least 60 minutes prior to departure
  • Gate agents will undergo additional annual training beginning in August on difficult situations like this.
  • A new automated check-in process will be introduced later this year that will "gauge a customer's interest in giving up his or her seat on overbooked flights in exchange for compensation."
  • Reduce overbooking, particularly on smaller aircraft and the last flights of the day.
  • A new "in the moment" app will be launched for flight attendants by July and gate agents later this year that will allow them to give customers miles or other compensation the moment a disservice occurs.
  • Customers will be paid at least $1,500 on any permanently lost bags.

Involuntary denial of boarding incidents like Dao's are among the most "difficult" situations for gate agents and other employees, United said in the report.

According to company statistics submitted to the Department of Transportation, the vast majority of passengers denied boarding gave up their seats voluntarily, in exchange for travel vouchers or other incentives. Fewer than 1 in 23,000 customers are involuntarily denied boarding, the airline said, and many of those are kept off the plane due to weight restrictions, aircraft down-sizing, or security concerns. Only a handful are kept from boarding due to overbooking or crew positioning issues, according to United.

Dao's flight was plagued by overbooking and crew positioning issues, United clarified in the report. (Previously, United had disputed reports that the flight was overbooked, saying the incident stemmed only from crew movement problems.) One passenger who had not yet received a seat assignment was involuntarily bumped prior to boarding, and two more were booted from their seats to make room for United crew members displaced by maintenance issues.

"This has been a defining moment for our United family," says the report. "It is our responsibility -- our mission -- to make sure we all learn from this experience."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Apr272017

Reebok trolls fake 'muddy' jeans with fake 'sweaty' T-shirt

Reebok.com(NEW YORK) -- Reebok has taken a cue from a pair of $425 men's jeans with a fake mud coating that lit up the Twittersphere Tuesday because of their lack of authenticity.

The heavily-distressed, straight-leg blue denim jeans have "seen some hard-working action with a crackled, caked-on muddy coating that shows you're not afraid to get down and dirty," according to Nordstrom's website.

Reebok entered the fray on Wednesday by adding the "Reebok Authentic Sweat Shirt" -- complete with fake sweat stains -- on its website, among its legitimate offerings. The faux soiled shirt's price? $425, of course.

"Created by the hard working Reebok employees who always find time to sweat it out during the day," reads the shirt's description. "We're putting in the hard work for you and giving you a pre-sweated tee for that post-workout look and smell."

As for its features, Reebok writes, "Authentic sweat for those who don't have time to put in the real work ... Actual stains that will last forever (do not wash) ... Accurate placement of stains created by sweaty employees after workout for maximum visibility."

As of early Thursday morning, the website says the shirt is "sold out."

Again, the Reebok shirt is fake. The jeans are legit -- to the dismay of TV host Mike Rowe of the Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs, who kicked off the controversy.

"I offer further proof that our country's war on work continues to rage in all corners of polite society," he wrote on Facebook. "Behold the latest assault from Nordstrom's ... Finally - a pair of jeans that look like they have been worn by someone with a dirty job…made for people who don't."

Nordstrom did not respond to ABC News' request on Wednesday for comment.

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Wednesday
Apr262017

Designer Joseph Abboud's focus is creating quality menswear that's made in America

hxdlbzky/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW BEDFORD, Mass.) -- Growing up, Joseph Abboud always believed that dressing well, and presenting himself well, would open doors.

So much so, that in his high school yearbook, Abboud's peers voted him "Best Dressed."

His idea paid off: Abboud became an award-winning U.S. menswear designer and author, opening up his namesake brand and launching his first collection in 1987.

From the very beginning, the pieces were made in a factory in New Bedford, Massachusetts, just 30 miles from where he grew up with his parents.

"We always believed, as an American designer, making it in America was really important for us," he said. "It's important to know that we're a solid piece of Massachusetts."

In 2004, Abboud sold the trademark and left his business. He told ABC News he never thought he'd work with his name again. He went on to join Men's Warehouse as its chief creative director in 2012. Little did he know that just a year later, he'd be reunited with the brand he built and with his workers, who were still making suits in New Bedford.

"When I walked back into that factory for the first time after seven or eight years, it was a pretty emotional moment because all the people came up and embraced me," Abboud told "World News Tonight's" anchor David Muir. "It was like coming home again."

These days, 800 workers cut and sew more than 1,000 men's suits every day for the Joseph Abboud brand. He said many workers had been there for 25-30 years.

"The whole idea is creating the great men's special store again," he said. "We want the best prices we can give our customers, with all our products ... But it really is about the quality first and the experience."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Apr262017

White House set to unveil tax reform blueprint

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The White House will unveil its much-anticipated blueprint for President Donald Trump’s tax reform plan on Wednesday.

Administration officials are calling this a "first draft" -- an outline of priorities and principles. It won't be draft legislation. In the final hours leading up to its release, some key parts were still a work in progress.

But with excitement on Wall Street, and the president looking to build momentum ahead of his 100th day, aides are planning a coordinated public relations blitz.

There will be a press briefing Wednesday on the proposal and key members of Trump's team, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, will be out talking about it. However, there won't be a formal event with the president himself; Trump is expected to do a few media interviews and address it during his rally in Pennsylvania on Saturday.

So what's in it?

The plan mirrors his tax proposal from the campaign. Among the things Trump will call for:

  • Corporate tax rate cut from 35 percent to 15 percent
  • Tax break for child-care expenses -- a stance advocated by first daughter and assistant to the president Ivanka Trump
  • Cutting individual tax rates, though aides are still tweaking the brackets
  • Closing loopholes, although it is unclear if the blueprint will specify which loopholes and how

One big item the plan likely will not include is a Border Adjustment Tax, which has been the centerpiece of the House Republican and Speaker Paul Ryan-backed tax plan and is the critical "pay-for" to help offset rate cuts.

Administration officials say the "hope" is for Trump tax reform to be revenue neutral and deficit neutral, but there does not appear to be any internal insistence that it is. Many Republicans on Capitol Hill and external conservative groups are worried the corporate tax cut alone would blow a hole in the deficit.

By one independent analysis, Trump's most recent tax plan from the campaign would cost about $4.4 to almost $6 trillion over 10 years.

Asked about those concerns on Monday, Mnuchin responded, "the tax plan will pay for itself with economic growth."

When will this have any chance of getting a debate on the Hill?

Mnuchin told the Financial Times earlier this month that getting tax reform done by August recess is "highly aggressive to not realistic."

But that was before Trump teased this announcement and injecting a sense of urgency on his team.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Apr262017

"Dirty Jobs" host takes issue with Nordstrom's $425 'muddy' jeans

Nordstrom.com(NEW YORK) -- The fashion industry's "war on work" has hit a nerve with TV host Mike Rowe of the Discovery Channel's Dirty Jobs.

What's elicited such a strong reaction from the alpha male? A $425 pair of men's heavily-distressed, straight-leg blue denim jeans sold at Nordstrom, which, according to the retailer's website, has "seen some hard-working action with a crackled, caked-on muddy coating that shows you're not afraid to get down and dirty."

But not being afraid to get down and dirty, and actually getting down and dirty are two vastly different things. After all, Rowe is the real deal, which is why he takes issue with the jeans's concept. On his show, he performs difficult, disgusting and downright dirty occupational duties alongside the regular folks who hold such jobs. He's actually "seen some hard-working action."

Of the "Barracuda Straight Leg Jeans," Rowe writes in a lengthy 507-word Facebook post, "I offer further proof that our country's war on work continues to rage in all corners of polite society. Behold the latest assault from Nordstrom's ... Finally - a pair of jeans that look like they have been worn by someone with a dirty job…made for people who don't."

Rowe has harsh words for those who buy the jeans, writing the faux mud is "something to foster the illusion of work. The illusion of effort. Or perhaps, for those who actually buy them, the illusion of sanity."

He continues, the jeans are "a costume for wealthy people who see work as ironic -- not iconic."

ABC News has reached out to Nordstrom for comment.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Apr252017

Chobani yogurt company sues conspiracy theorist and InfoWars host Alex Jones for alleged defamation

Chobani(NEW YORK) -- The Chobani yogurt company is suing far-right conspiracy theorist Alex Jones for alleged defamation, after the shock jock published what the company says are false and defamatory stories.

At issue in the suit filed Monday is a video published on Jones’ InfoWars website and social media accounts earlier this month in which two InfoWars staffers discuss the publicity that Chobani founder Hamdi Ulukaya received for hiring refugees at his plant in Twin Falls, Idaho, and the separate case of three refugee youth who pleaded guilty in the assault of a 5-year-old girl in the same city.

The youth, who had no connection to the plant, were reportedly ages 7 to 14 and were involved in inappropriately touching the girl while filming the incident.

“In the video, Mr. Knight republishes the false statement that the Chobani plant brought crime and tuberculosis to the community,” the suit said.

The assault was "unrelated to Chobani," it said.

The video was promoted on the @PlanetPrisonTV Twitter account under the headline: “Idaho Yogurt Maker Caught Importing Migrant Rapists.” The assertion made in the headline was not made in the video.

The lawsuit alleges that the Twitter account is controlled by InfoWars and that the video was retweeted by Jones himself.

Jones and InfoWars “declined to remove the defamatory statements or publish a retraction,” the suit says. “Defendants promoted the video with the defamatory headline ‘Idaho Yogurt Maker Caught Importing Migrant Rapists’ despite knowing that the statement was false or while clearly doubting the truth of the statement.”

In the video, the two staffers refer to the assault case -- in which three refugee youths pleaded guilty -- as “the Idaho rape case.”

But “police and prosecutors said there was no rape,” according to the Twin Falls Times-News. Instead, the unnamed boys pleaded guilty in the assault.

Chobani is seeking punitive damages worth at least $10,000.

Responding to the suit, Jones appeared in a video posted to the InfoWars website on Tuesday, in which he blamed billionaire George Soros, saying “he had his Islamicist-owned and backed U.S. company openly file suit against InfoWars Tuesday for stating information that is part of the public record.”

“I’m not saying he [Ulukaya] consciously brought in people he thought were going to rape, but people he brought in and force-fed on America have now been implicated, indicted, and now have pled guilty to that,” Jones also said.

An email ABC News sent to Soros’ foundation seeking comment was not immediately returned. He is not mentioned in the suit and there’s no suggestion that he has any connection.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Apr252017

Nasdaq closes above 6000 for the first time

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The major indexes closed higher Tuesday, and the tech-heavy Nasdaq reached a new milestone, ahead of President Trump's announcement on tax reform.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 232.23 (+1.12 percent) to finish at 20,996.12.

The Nasdaq jumped 41.67 (+0.70 percent) to close at 6,025.49, hitting above 6,000 for the first time. The S&P 500 finished at 2,388.61, up 14.46 (+0.61 percent) from its open.

Crude oil prices were about 1 percent higher at under $50 a barrel.

Tax Reform:
On Wednesday, investors will pay close attention when President Trump announces a tax reform proposal ahead of his 100th day in office. Under the new tax plan, the president has said individuals and businesses will receive large tax cuts.

Winners and Losers:
Shares of Netflix, Inc. soared 6 percent after the streaming service landed a Chinese licensing deal.

Health insurance company Anthem Inc. will likely not renew its contract with Express Scripts, sending the pharmacy benefit management organization's stock to tumble 11 percent.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Apr252017

College professor Mark Beal offers advice for students as graduation nears

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The final weekend of April and first few weekends of May mark the dates many college graduation ceremonies take place across the country.

As students leave their institutions and embark on their careers, they often leave school with more questions than answers.

Mark Beal, a public relations veteran and adjunct professor of PR and marketing at Rutgers University, answered some common questions his students have asked him in an exclusive interview with ABC News. He discusses some of the common mistakes post-graduates make, and offers some advice on how soon-to-be graduates should begin their careers.

He recently published a guidebook, 101 Lessons They Never Taught You In College: The Essential Guide for Students and Recent Graduates to Launch Their Careers, offering advice on building a successful career. Without revealing all the details in his book, he shared a few lessons and broke down some key things seniors should consider as graduation approaches.

1. "Experience Counts"

Lesson 35 in Beal's book: there is no learning experience like actual work experience according to Beal. Even if it is not your dream job, Beal advises graduates to immerse themselves in their work no matter where they end up because when they go for another job, the first question they will receive is, "What sort of experience do you have?”

This lesson applies to undergraduates as well. Beal advises students to for work experience after their freshman year to learn about an industry they may want to one day pursue.

2. "Be Confident, Not Cocky"

Beal wants students to consider their body language when they finally land that interview. Nerves are normal, but he advises projecting confidence.

Some tips: shake the interviewer's hand firmly, look them in the eyes, and thank them afterwards for their time.

He says doing just the opposite--a soft hand shake or looking at the ground while speaking--could cause a hiring manager to immediately consider other candidates.

3. Set your own curriculum

Beal calls it "being a student for life." On the verge of graduation, students have the opportunity to create their own curriculums. They can choose what newspapers to read, podcasts they prefer to listen to, and when they land a job, can choose how they immerse themselves in that industry.

Whatever path they choose, Beal wants soon-to-be graduates to constantly challenge themselves to learn. He feels it helps them get closer to a career that aligns with their interests.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Apr252017

Incident report says doctor fought with officers before being pulled off United flight

United Airlines(CHICAGO) -- The officers who forcibly removed Dr. David Dao from a United Airlines flight earlier this month said the passenger responded in an "aggressive manner" when he was ordered to give up his seat and flailed his arms as he fought with the responders, according to a Chicago Department of Aviation incident report obtained by ABC News on Monday.

Dao, a 69-year-old physician from Kentucky, allegedly acted "violently” and yelled "I am not leaving this flight that I paid money for. I don't care if I get arrested,’” when the responding officers tried to persuade him to get off the flight, according to the incident report, which was released Monday in response to a public records requests.

ABC News also obtained police dispatch audio that suggests the responding officers and medics were operating under the assumption that the flight was overbooked and that Dao was creating a disturbance on the plane. However, the flight was never overbooked; instead, four passengers were asked to get off the flight so that four United employees could take their seats.

The report reveals for the first time the names the four officers who were involved in the April 9 incident, for which Dao said left him with injuries that he is still being treated.

In a supplemental incident report, one of the officers said Dao’s “combative” flailing motions made the officers lose their grip on him, causing him to fall and hit his his mouth on the armrest across from him.

That report also stated that a responding officer eventually removed Dao "by dragging him due to the fact that the subject would not stand up."

In a separate report released Monday, the Chicago Police Department said Dao was seen hitting his face on an armrest as aviation officers "attempted to escort" him off of the flight.

The incident, which was videotaped by other passengers at the O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, sparked a national outcry and three of the involved aviation officers were subsequently placed on leave, according to the aviation department.

United CEO Oscar Munoz apologized for the incident and has vowed that the company will conduct a "thorough review” of the "truly horrific event.”

The aviation department also released its use of force policy, which indicated that security personnel should use force only when "reasonably necessary to defend a human life, effect an arrest or control a person," and that the force used "shall only be that which is necessary to overcome the resistance being offered by an offender and to effect lawful objectives."

The department said the policy was sent to all officers in the aftermath of the incident.

Dao’s attorney, Thomas Demetrio, told ABC News on Monday that he and Dao are "getting ready" to take legal action.

Demetrio is also representing an American Airlines passenger who is at the center of another viral video posted to Facebook on Friday. That footage shows an intense confrontation between a flight attendant and at least two passengers after a woman tried to bring her double-wide stroller on board a plane.

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Monday
Apr242017

Bill O’Reilly, 'sad' over firing, returns to podcast

Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Bill O'Reilly is "sad" that he is no longer hosting his "O'Reilly Factor" program on Fox News, but says, in the wake of the sexual harassment claims that drove him from his spot in front of the camera, that he is "confident the truth will come out."

The conservative commentator made his first spoken comments since being fired from his show last week on his "No Spin News" podcast Monday. O'Reilly admitted he was "surprised" how the situation transpired while he was on vacation in Italy last week, but did not delve into many details.

O'Reilly has denied all allegations.

"I can't say a lot because there's much stuff going on right now," said O'Reilly at the top of the podcast. "But I can tell you I'm very confident the truth will come out and when it does, I don't know if you're going to be surprised, but I think you're going to be shaken as I am."

"There's a lot of stuff involved here," he continued.

Fox News' decision to dismiss O'Reilly came in the aftermath of an April 1 New York Times report which described settlements he reached with five women who accused him of harassment. O'Reilly has denied the misconduct claims levied against him.

Following his dismissal, O'Reilly released a statement in which he called it "tremendously disheartening" that his relationship with Fox News was ending due to "completely unfounded" claims.

On Monday's podcast, O'Reilly pledged to maintain his four-day-per-week podcasting schedule, broadcasting in the format he has utilized for years in addition to his television work.

Continuing in the podcasting sphere may prove lucrative for O'Reilly. A 2016 study by the Pew Research Center revealed that some 21 percent of Americans who were 12 or older listened to a podcast during the previous month. That was up from 12 percent in 2013.

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