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Saturday
Aug042018

Two people injured by flaming drink at Gordon Ramsay's Las Vegas restaurant

Scott Kowalchyk/CBS via Getty Images(LAS VEGAS) -- Two people were rushed to the hospital after they were injured by a flaming drink at Gordon Ramsay's restaurant in Las Vegas on Thursday.

The accident occurred at Hell's Kitchen, which is Ramsay's restaurant located in Caesars Palace. The drink which caused the injuries is called the Rum Donkey, according to Las Vegas ABC affiliate KTNV.

The two suffered burns from the incident, but it was unclear how seriously they were injured.

"Unfortunately, two guests were injured at Gordon Ramsay Hell’s Kitchen at Caesars Palace last night. We stand ready to provide any assistance they may need to help them through this difficult time," Caesars Entertainment said in a statement to ABC News. "The particular type of specialty drink served at Hell’s Kitchen is served at the finest restaurants worldwide without incident. But, out of an abundance of caution, Hell’s Kitchen has removed the drink item at issue from the menu.

"All of us here at Caesars Palace and the Gordon Ramsay Restaurant Group are concerned for the injured guests, and are hopeful for their speedy recovery."

Clark County Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief Jon Klassen confirmed to KTNV that two people were taken to the hospital due to the burns.

The Rum Donkey is made with Cruzan Single Barrel Rum, falernum, brown sugar, ginger beer and torched passion fruit, according to the restaurant's website. The passion fruit is literally lit on fire, as the name "torched" implies. It costs $14 a drink.

The restaurant is named after Ramsay's hit TV show and opened in January.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Aug032018

Google to seek return to China with a censored search engine, reports say

Google(BEIJING) -- Google is reportedly building a censored search engine that could allow it to return to the massive market in China, but some experts said the plan is unlikely to succeed at least in part because of Beijing's growing limits on free speech.

“Restrictions on speech are increasing” in China, said Zhan Jiang, a professor of journalism and communication at Beijing Foreign Studies University and a vocal critic of the country's censorship. “It’s unlikely that Google could yield that much” in such an environment.

Zhan predicted that any attempt by Google to attain significant market share in China will be "impossible."

The internet giant left China in 2010 following criticism over its operating a censored search engine there, and is currently banned by the government. But the company is working on a version of its search that would filter out results related to topics such as democracy and human rights, which are deemed sensitive by Beijing, according to multiple reports.

Google's effort to create a censored version of its search engine -- a project it reportedly calls Dragonfly -- could pave the way for it to re-enter the huge Chinese market, according to an article in The Intercept based on leaked documents and subsequent reports by The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

When asked about Project Dragonfly on Friday, Google responded, “We don’t comment on speculation about future plans.”

From 2006 to 2010, Google also ran a censored search engine in China. However, facing public blowback and a congressional hearing, it stopped running the site and instead directed Chinese users to its uncensored Hong Kong search engine.

This move caused the Google site to be blocked by the Chinese government.

When these changes were announced in March 2010, Google cited “attempts over the last year to further limit free speech on the web in China” as a major reason for its decision.

Since then, limits on free speech in China have become even more stringent. Internet circumvention tools such as VPNs, which allow users to bypass the Chinese firewall, are being banned and made increasingly hard to obtain.

Attracting a share of the 772 million internet users in China will not be a simple task. Since Google’s exit from China, Chinese search engine Baidu has dominated, controlling 74 percent of the search engine market share.

Google will also need approval from the Chinese government, which may prove difficult, especially with escalating tensions from the U.S.-China trade war.

And, as before, the company should expect some backlash.

Amnesty International released a statement Wednesday, saying, “It will be a dark day for internet freedom if Google has acquiesced to China’s extreme censorship rules.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Aug022018

Apple comes first American publicly traded company to reach $1 trillion valuation

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- A company that started in a garage more than four decades ago became the first American publicly traded company to reach a $1 trillion valuation.

Shares hit $207.05 midday Thursday to crack the historic milestone. There have been expectations in the past that the company’s value would hit this level, but the path has been far from certain.

In April, Apple’s stock hovered in the $160-$170 range amid worries of lowered demand for iPhones, Apple’s flagship product that accounts for over 60 percent of its revenue.

Earlier this week, the company released its third-quarter earnings report. According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, it was “Apple’s best June quarter ever and our fourth consecutive quarter of double-digit revenue growth.” Revenue increased 17 percent to $53.3 billion.

Apple’s software and services revenue, including the App Store, which recently turned 10 years old on July 10, along with Apple Music and cloud services, jumped 31 percent year-over-year. So far this year, Apple has sold 134.54 million iPhones.

“It’s simply a testimony to how they’ve become a fabric of our lives, and it’s also a testimony to Steve Jobs’ vision,” says analyst Gene Munster.

Apple was founded in a Silicon Valley garage by college dropouts Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak and their friend Ronald Wayne in 1976. Apple had its initial public offering on Dec. 12, 1980.

As for what Jobs would say of Apple’s valuation, Munster says, “he’d be very proud of what he had helped build. ... He would’ve come in the next day and said, ‘How are we going to make beautiful products?’ I don’t think it would change anything.”

With this historic valuation, Apple beats its closest market cap-competitor Amazon in the race to $1 trillion. This valuation makes Apple more valuable than the GDP of all but 26 countries, according to data from the CIA Factbook.

Apple was famously led for years by its visionary co-founder Steve Jobs. Apple’s first product, all hand-built by Wozniak, was the Apple-1, basically a DIY computer without a case. After securing funding and getting the iconic Apple logo designed, they continued to make products like the Macintosh, the company’s first mass-market computer. The ad that announced it, "1984," is considered one of the greatest ads of all time.

“It didn’t just change Apple, it changed the whole computer industry,” Jobs said of the Macintosh in 2007.

Not long after the success of the Macintosh, Jobs clashed with then-CEO John Sculley, arguing that the company should focus more on the consumer when developing products. According to Walter Isaacson’s 2011 biography, Jobs was “frequently obnoxious, rude, selfish, and nasty to other people,” which the “polite to a fault” Sculley disliked. A boardroom battle resulted in Jobs’ resignation from the company, and Apple began to falter. But when Apple bought NeXT in 1997, the company Jobs worked on in his absence from Apple, he returned to the company he co-founded and helped it restructure.

The company then began to rebrand, releasing the iMac in 1998 and the “clamshell” iBook in 1999, both in multiple bright colors in contrast to the beige computers of the day. The iMac returned Apple to profitability after the brink of bankruptcy. Mac computers enjoyed continued success with the popular MacBook’s debut in 2006.

Jobs was a cult of personality synonymous with Apple Inc. With his trademark uniform of a black turtleneck, blue jeans, and New Balance sneakers, he captivated keynote address audiences with his proclamations of the magnificence of new Apple products.

Jobs’ biggest consumer devices were the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad, released in 2001, 2007, and 2010, respectively. While they weren’t the first music player, smartphone or tablet on the market, they embodied Jobs’ famous mantra, “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them,” and revolutionized their respective product categories.

The iPod changed how people listen to and buy music, the iPhone changed how we communicate with others, and the iPad changed what it meant to have a computer in your hands.

“Right there, holding the internet in your hands -- it’s an incredible experience,” Jobs said at the iPad’s announcement.

Tim Cook became CEO just six weeks before Jobs passed away on Oct. 5, 2011.

Jobs told consumers what they wanted, but Cook made sure it got to the consumer as efficiently as possible. Prior to being named CEO, he developed a reputation as a whiz in efficiency as Chief Operating Officer. Under his leadership, the iPhone has been persistently popular around the world, reaching over 1.4 billion units sold. Apple services like the App Store and Apple Music have grown consistently, and consumers have been taking to new products like the Apple Watch, which debuted in 2015 and has made Apple the biggest watchmaker in the world by revenue, according to research firm Asymco.

“Tim Cook is an ideal example of sticking to what you believe in rather than listening to the masses,” says Munster. “Being hyper-focused on the details and making products and services relentlessly better versus drifting and being distracted by other things defines Tim Cook’s genius.”

The historic valuation Apple reached Thursday is a culmination of the “Think Different” motto of its 1997 ad campaign featuring the famous “Crazy Ones” ad. It's black-and-white footage of 17 iconic 20th century personalities like Albert Einstein and Martin Luther King Jr. began with, “Here’s to the crazy ones,” and ended saying, “while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Aug022018

Prominent locals want Trump's DC hotel to lose liquor license

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A local regulatory agency is nearing a decision on whether to recommend a review of Trump International Hotel’s liquor license after seven D.C. residents filed a complaint arguing the hotel’s owner, President Donald Trump, is “not of good character.”

The law governing liquor licenses in D.C. states that in order to acquire and maintain a liquor license in the city, the owner of the bar or restaurant is required to be “of good character,” and two retired judges and five local religious leaders say the president doesn’t measure up.

“President Trump is not above the law,” said Joshua A. Levy, a lawyer for the D.C. residents who filed the complaint to the Washington D.C. Alcohol Beverage Control Board in June. “In D.C., the law requires an owner of a liquor license to be of ‘good character,’ and Mr. Trump is not. He should transfer the ownership to someone who can comply with the law or show cause why his license should not be revoked.”

The president’s supporters and officials within the Trump Organization, which manages the hotel property, are crying foul, dismissing the effort as a political cheap shot.

“This is not about the neighborhood, not about the common good and certainly not about the law," Alan Garten, general counsel of the Trump Organization, told ABC News in a statement Wednesday. "This is politics at its worst and an obvious effort to misuse the power of government to advance a political agenda.”

Political stunt or not, the city agency with the authority to revoke it is conducting a serious inquiry, a spokesperson told ABC News, and officials plan to respond to the complaint in writing by Sept. 18.

“The complaint is currently with ABRA’s Enforcement Division, where it is still under review,” agency spokesman Max Bluestein said.

The “good character” provision is typically invoked when a liquor license is up for transfer or renewal, Bluestein told ABC News, but the complaint against the Trump International Hotel pertains an active liquor license that is not up for renewal until March 2019.

In bringing the complaint, the D.C. residents – Judge Joan Goldfrank, Judge Henry H. Kennedy, Jr., Rev. William Lamar IV, Rev. Jennifer Butler, Rev. Dr. Timothy Tee Boddie, Rabbi Jack Moline and Rabbi Aaron Potek – cited that Trump agreed to pay $25 million to settle fraud claims arising from the now-defunct Trump University and that multiple contractors who have worked for Trump have filed suit against him claiming they were never paid.

Garten, the Trump Organization lawyer, urged members of the Washington D.C. Alcohol Beverage Control Board – who are appointed by the mayor and confirmed to four-year terms by the city council in the heavily Democratic District of Columbia – to “see this for what it is and not allow itself to be used to advance anyone’s political goals.”

“The statute is clearly being distorted for political gain and the suggested interpretation would create an absurd precedent, not to mention a slippery slope," he said.

If the board recommends a show-cause hearing in September, the D.C. Attorney General’s Civil Enforcement Section would then consider the evidence and decide whether to bring a civil enforcement action.

The D.C. Attorney General already has filed a separate lawsuit alleging that President Trump’s hotel business puts him in violation the Constitution’s prohibition against receiving foreign and domestic government profits while in office. Last week, a federal judge ruled that the lawsuit can move forward.

Whatever the outcome of this dispute, Trump’s friend Christopher Ruddy, the founder and CEO of news and opinion site Newsmax, told ABC News he believes Trump’s foray into politics has already hurt his global business empire.

“It is pretty clear that many Trump businesses have suffered unfairly because of the President’s politics,” Ruddy said. “The bar issue is another example of that.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Aug022018

Couple pays off $124K of debt in 3 years and finds financial peace

Courtesy Christopher Espinosa(NEW YORK) -- Paying off $124,000 in debt sounds nearly impossible but one couple managed to do so in three years by changing their habits and learning to save.

Christopher Espinosa, 29, met his now-wife Morgan Espinosa, 28, at Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Oklahoma. After graduation, they said they were collectively making $28,000 per year doing part-time jobs including retail, photography and waiting tables, all while spending more money than they should have.

They landed in a financial spot where many millennials find themselves today -- facing a massive sum of debt. America's total student loan debt is now around $1.5 trillion, according to the U.S. Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), and the average debt was just over $28,000.

Chris admitted his spending habits were taking a toll on his wallet and relationship. He was a big spender, often splurging on clothes and gadgets he found cool and eating out at restaurants. After going back and forth with his wife, they decided it was time to make a change.

"We just really wanted to be financially at peace," Espinosa told "GMA." "We wanted to stop fighting about money and change our family tree so that our kids would not have to worry about paying for college."

Added Morgan, "I was feeling overwhelmed by the debt."

"I remember Chris grabbing my face and saying, 'We will get rid of this debt, I promise,'" she continued.

Overcoming "FOMO" to find financial freedom

While they began saving little by little after graduation, it wasn't until 2015 when they really began to limit their spending. Their debts included $88,000 in student loans, $29,000 in car payments and $5,200 on credit cards, they said. To tackle it, the couple followed what experts call the "snowball method," putting each debt from smallest to biggest, focusing on paying them off in that order while still making the minimum payments on the larger debts.

The couple limited their spending to a $40 a week allowance and found some simple solutions like selling off some of their belongings -- from clothes to furniture for extra cash -- and inviting friends over to eat instead of going out. By making these changes, the couple managed to put up to $3,500 a month toward their debt.

Chris admits that it wasn't easy. "I would get 'FOMO' and I didn’t want to miss out," he said.

The hardest part for Morgan was saying no to things she loved.

“I really like interior design so I had to pull back the reigns and not buy things for our house that I dreamt of buying,” she said. “The hardest part was saying no when I wanted to spend or I saw people around us spending."

While some of their friends were buying new Jeeps, they saved by making use of Chris' old college car, a 15-year-old Honda. They also cut off their cable TV subscription, switched to a slower internet speed and negotiated a less expensive cellphone contract.

Morgan also took on extra work, cleaning homes around the holidays for extra cash.

Chris said there were times when they went over their allotted monthly budget. In those instances, they would course correct and “had to take from next budget to pay back [themselves],” he explained. This would make the next month even more difficult as they would have even less money to go around.

Now, three years later, all that struggle was worth it when they paid off their final debt. The couple treated themselves to a trip to Cancun that Chris said was paid for in cash because they vow to never use credit cards again.

Chris said the sacrifice to live within one's means is worth it long term and he wants others struggling with debt to not to be afraid to say no to things to curb spending.

Nothing beats "having a sense of peace, and getting to keep your money on payday,” Chris said.

Morgan hopes their story encourages other people in similar situations.

"I just want other people to know that they can do it," she said. “Put blinders on and don't think about anyone else even if someone is paying off debt faster than you’re doing it.”

So what’s next for the Espinosas? The two hope to save enough to buy a house.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Aug022018

Trader Joe's store in Los Angeles reopens 12 days after deadly shooting

George Rose/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- A Trader Joe's grocery store in Los Angeles that was the site of a deadly shootout and hostage crisis nearly two weeks ago reopened to the public Thursday morning.

On a sunny afternoon 12 days ago, an armed man stormed into Trader Joe's in the eastside neighborhood of Silver Lake and took hostages while exchanging gunfire with police. The store's manager, 27-year-old Melyda Corado, was killed in the crossfire.

Trader Joe's said in a statement Thursday that it remains "heartbroken" over Corado's death and the "trauma" its other employees there have suffered. The grocery store chain said it made "some renovations" to its Silver Lake location while giving those who work there time to grieve.

The store reopened its doors at 8 a.m. local time, returning to its normal hours.

"While we move forward, we will never forget," the company's statement read in part. "And we remain forever grateful for the incredible outpouring of support from customers and crew members across the country."

The hourslong standoff and shootout at the Trader Joe's on July 21 was the culmination of a crime spree that began earlier in the day, police said. The suspect, identified as 28-year-old Gene Atkins, allegedly shot and wounded his grandmother and a teenage girl elsewhere in Los Angeles earlier that day, before allegedly kidnapping the injured teen and leading police on a 15-minute car chase, police said.

Atkins faces a number of charges for the alleged crime spree, including murder and attempted murder.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Aug012018

Restaurant serves American comfort food, 'barbecue diplomacy' in Mexico City

Laura May Grogan/Pinche Gringo BBQ(MEXICO CITY) -- A restaurant in Mexico City is using "barbecue diplomacy" to bring the U.S., Mexico and deportees closer together, according to its owner.

By serving Texas-style barbecue and hosting events for the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving and Halloween, Pinche Gringo BBQ's mission is to change the stereotype Mexicans have of American food and culture.

Owner Dan Defossey told ABC News' Start Here podcast that some Mexicans believe frozen food is served predominately in the U.S. because it's what they see exported to Mexico.

"What we've done in the last four-and-a-half years is positioned ourselves as the cultural representative for the United States here in this city," Defossey said.

Pinche Gringo, which loosely translates to "Darn American," has served as a slice of home -- and even provided job opportunities -- for a growing group of people in Mexico City: deportees.

Hugo Hernandez, Pinche Gringo's kitchen manager, came to the U.S. illegally in 2004 but was later deported in connection with a DUI. He's been with the barbecue joint for four years.

"Coming back from the states, I was lost. I had no hope, nothing to hold onto," Hernandez told Start Here. "And then when I got here, I saw an opportunity for my career."

Another employee, Victor Cruz Ortega, lived in the U.S. for almost 30 years, but he was deported in February after running a red light and had to leave his family behind, Defossey said.

"When I was hearing this story, I got emotional. I started crying. And I'm not really an emotional person, but what I was so sad about is that, you know, this is now a victim of a public policy." Defossey said he didn't initially know he had hired a few deportees, but now he has seven working at Pinche Gringo. "They understand more what we do, and they have a home that they feel familiar."

This story is featured in Wednesday's edition of ABC News' Start Here podcast.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jul312018

Los Angeles DA could not pursue case against Les Moonves due to statute of limitations

Jason Merritt/Getty Images for CW(LOS ANGELES) -- The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said Tuesday it declined to pursue a sexual assault allegation against Les Moonves, the CEO and president of CBS, saying the statute of limitations had expired.

Moonves was accused of assaulting the same woman on July 1, 1986, and Jan. 1, 1988, according to the district attorney’s office.

The office’s report, filed Feb. 22, 2018, said the potential charges were oral copulation by force, indecent exposure and battery.

"The victim encountered suspect through employment in the television industry," the report said. "Victim has reported multiple incidents of assault by suspect."

The woman disclosed the second of the two incidents to a friend about a year before approaching police, the report said.

The statute of limitations for sexual assault in California, which by law was 10 years at the time of the alleged incidents, had expired by the time the victim approached police.

California has since removed the statute of limitations for all rape and sexual assault cases occurring after Jan. 1, 2017.

This victim is not one of the six women to speak to The New Yorker about allegations of sexual misconduct against Moonves.

Moonves released a statement Friday in response to allegations in The New Yorker, saying, "Throughout my time at CBS, we have promoted a culture of respect and opportunity for all employees, and have consistently found success elevating women to top executive positions across our company. I recognize that there were times decades ago when I may have made some women uncomfortable by making advances. Those were mistakes, and I regret them immensely. But I always understood and respected—and abided by the principle—that 'no' means 'no,' and I have never misused my position to harm or hinder anyone's career. This is a time when we all are appropriately focused on how we help improve our society, and we at CBS are committed to being part of the solution."

After a board of directors meeting on Monday, CBS announced it had selected "outside counsel to conduct an independent investigation."

No other action was taken, the statement from CBS said.

CBS declined to comment on the new report.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jul312018

Facebook identifies ongoing political influence campaign, bans 32 pages and accounts

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Facebook announced on Tuesday that is has banned 32 pages and accounts it said were engaged in "coordinated inauthentic behavior," on the platform, but the company says it does not yet know who is behind the campaign.

"We’re still in the very early stages of our investigation and don’t have all the facts — including who may be behind this," Facebook said in a post on its website. "But we are sharing what we know today given the connection between these bad actors and protests that are planned in Washington next week. We will update this post with more details when we have them, or if the facts we have change."

In a call Tuesday with reporters, Facebook Chief Operating Officer (COO) Sheryl Sandberg and other top company officials confirmed the news, which comes fewer than 100 days out from a consequential U.S. midterm election.

Sandberg said Facebook does not yet know who is behind the campaign, but that the actors went to even "greater lengths to obscure their true identities," than the Russian and Internet Research Agency (IRA)-linked actors that spread misinformation on the platform before the 2016 presidential election.

"Security is an arms race and it's never done. We've made it harder for inauthentic actors to operate on Facebook. Yet we face determined well-funded adversaries who won't give up and who are constantly changing tactics," Sandberg said. "That means we need to continually improve as well."

In response to a question from ABC News' Rebecca Jarvis, Facebook officials did say there was one instance of a known IRA-linked account becoming a co-administrator of a page on the platform for "seven minutes," before it was discovered and then removed.

"There was only one known IRA account that was a co-admin on one of these pages and that was just for about 7 minutes, so it was a brief period of time," said Tom Reynolds, an official with Facebook's communications team.

Nathaniel Gleicher, the head of cybersecurity policy at Facebook, said that while the pages do share similarities with previous IRA-linked accounts, there are differences this time around in the Internet Protocol (IP) addresses used by the accounts in this most recent influence campaign.

"While IP addresses are easy to spoof, the IRA accounts were disabled last year sometimes use Russian IP address. We haven't seen those here," Gleicher said.

The accounts -- which Facebook said were created as early as March 2017 and May 2018, were first discovered two weeks ago.

According to Facebook officials more than 290,000 users on the site followed at least one of the pages involved in the "inauthentic behavior."

When asked if the campaign was specifically an attempt to influence the 2018 midterm elections, officials said they are not characterizing what exactly the political aim of the network was, but that they "expect to find activity focused on the midterms," given their proximity.

Gleicher detailed the campaign these actors were engaged in, including an instance in which the network tried to boost interest in an August 10-12 event called "No Unite the Right 2 - D.C.," billed as a counter-protest to a rally planned in the nation's capital by the same group that organized a protest that sparked violence in Charlottesville, Virginia last summer.

Gleicher said that the company disabled the event posting on Tuesday and notified 2,600 Facebook users that indicated interest in attending the event.

Facebook officials also said they detected activity from the network that mentioned the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency(ICE), and around the #AbolishICE movement that has grown in popularity in the progressive wing of the Democratic Party in recent weeks.

"There were several mentions of ICE in the material that we took down today for coordinating inauthentic behavior and that includes one event that’s protesting ICE," said Reynolds. "We’d expected these types of coordinated actors to engage in popular social movements like that. But at this point, as I said, because we aren’t specifically attributing who was engaged—who the actor is here, that’s what we understand so far about the engagement with ICE."

The Ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff of California, said in a statement, "Today's announcement from Facebook demonstrates what we've long feared: that malicious foreign actors bearing the hallmarks of previously-identified Russian influence campaigns continue to abuse and weaponize social media platforms to influence the U.S. electorate."

Schiff added, "Facebook must continue proactively identifying these actors, notifying Congress and law enforcement, and taking necessary steps to remove the foreign influence content and to notify legitimate Facebook users who fell victim to the same covert tradecraft that the Russian Internet Research Agency deployed through the 2016 election."

The vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, similarly said in a statement that the announcement shows "further evidence that the Kremlin continues to exploit platforms like Facebook to sow division and spread disinformation, and I am glad that Facebook is taking some steps to pinpoint and address this activity."

When asked about Warner's assertion that the Kremlin is involved in the nefarious activity, Facebook made clear Tuesday that it is not accusing any group or country of being behind the network.

"In this situation, we have shared our technical details with law enforcement and we believe law enforcement and the intelligence community will have a lot more data upon which they can draw, and if they want to make an attribution decision that's up to them," Gleicher said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jul312018

Alaska Airlines accused of separating a gay couple so heterosexual couple could sit together

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Alaska Airlines is apologizing on Tuesday after a customer says a flight attendant discriminated against him and his partner.

David Cooley, an owner of the popular Los Angeles bar, The Abbey, said he was seated in his assigned seat ahead of a Sunday departure from New York to LA alongside his companion when a flight attendant asked his partner to move "so a couple could sit together." Cooley wrote on Facebook that despite explaining that they too are a couple, the flight attendant ordered him to move seats or get off the flight.

"We could not bear the feeling of humiliation for an entire cross-country flight and left the plane," he wrote. Cooley and his partner arranged another flight to Los Angeles.

Alaska Airlines provided a statement to ABC News, claiming the incident was "caused by a seating mix-up."

"It's our policy to keep all families seated together whenever possible," the statement read. "That didn’t happen here. We are deeply sorry for the situation and did not intend to make Mr. Cooley and his partner feel uncomfortable in any way."

"All of us at Alaska value inclusion for our guests and each other. Full LGBTQ equality is part of the fabric of Alaska Airlines. We are an airline for everyone and reflect these values through our work with dozens of nonprofit LGBTQ organizations, and our efforts toward achieving a perfect score in HRC’s Equality Index. We’ll keep building on this commitment with our LGBTQ employee group, GLOBE.”

Alaska Airlines spokesperson Ann Johnson would not answer questions from ABC News, including if the flight attendant understood that Cooley and his partner are a couple.

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