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Wednesday
May232018

Federal prosecutors investigating allegations of sex abuse against Weinstein

WABC-TV(NEW YORK) -- Federal prosecutors in Manhattan are now investigating allegations of sexual abuse against disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein, a source familiar with the probe confirmed to ABC News.

The New York Police Department, Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, New York Attorney General’s Office, Los Angeles Police Department and U.K. authorities have previously acknowledged investigations of allegations by dozens of women, which Weinstein denies.

Federal prosecutors rarely investigate individual sex assault allegations but, in general, there are federal statutes that cover sex trafficking, child exploitation or use of interstate commerce to promote unlawful activity. If Weinstein was found to have lured women across state lines for an illicit purpose, federal prosecutors could bring a case.

Manhattan federal prosecutors were already investigating Weinstein in connection with potentially questionable financial transactions tied to a charity.

The existence of the federal investigation was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Weinstein’s lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, told the Journal that he has met with federal prosecutors in Manhattan “in an attempt to dissuade them from proceeding” and will continue to meet with them in coming weeks, the paper reported. “Mr. Weinstein has always maintained that he has never engaged in nonconsensual sexual acts,” Brafman told the Journal.

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Wednesday
May232018

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg heads to Paris to meet French president after fending off EU lawmakers

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(PARIS) -- Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace in Paris today, after fielding tough questions Tuesday from European Union lawmakers in Brussels.

Zuckerberg has been invited today -- along with dozens of other tech bosses including Microsoft's Satya Nadella, Uber's Dara Khosrowshahi and IBM's Ginni Rometty -- to participate in a summit called “Tech for Good” at the official residence of the French president.

The objective of the summit is “to discuss possible contribution from technology toward public and common good” the Elysee Palace said in a statement.

The summit comes at a time when Facebook is facing mounting pressure in the United States and Europe over data privacy, after revelations in March that data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica harvested tens of millions of users’ personal data from Facebook.

After responding to U.S. lawmakers’ questions last month, Mark Zuckerberg met with European Union lawmakers Tuesday in Brussels, telling them Facebook “didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibilities,” adding, “That was a mistake, and I’m sorry for it.”

President Macron will have a one-on-one meeting with Zuckerberg at the Elysee after the summit later today. In addition to data protections, the topic of taxes will be raised, according to the Elysee Palace.

Macron has criticized U.S. tech giants for using low-tax countries in the European Union such as Ireland to reduce their corporate tax, depriving governments of billions of dollars a year in potential revenue.

Zuckerberg will also speak at a separate event in Paris Thursday called Vivatech, which is an annual commercial convention dedicated to technological innovation and startups.



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Tuesday
May222018

Uber's new rules on arbitration for sex-related claims face 1st test

Uber(NEW YORK) -- A former employee is suing Uber less than a week after the company announced it is doing away with a rule that forced arbitration on passengers, drivers or employees who come forward with claims of sexual harassment or assault.

The lawsuit, filed by software engineer Ingrid Avendaño, alleges years of discrimination based on her gender and race, sexual harassment and a hostile work environment, retaliation for taking a medical leave and pay inequality, among other allegations. The suit will be the first test of the company’s new policy.

According to the lawsuit, Avendaño, who worked for the company from February 2014 to June 2017, "was repeatedly faced with discriminatory treatment and sexually explicitly conduct specifically directed at female employees."

"Each time Avendaño raised concerns regarding unlawful conduct, she was met with Uber's entrenched disregard for the rights of its women employees and a refusal to take effective steps to prevent harassment," the lawsuit said. "Worse, she suffered blatant retaliation, including denial of promotions and raises, unwarranted negative performance reviews, and placement on an oppressively demanding on-call schedule that had detrimental effects on her health."

"Uber's failure to take effective remedial measures for her to resign," the suit added.

An Uber spokesperson responded to the lawsuit in a statement to ABC News: “Uber is moving in a new direction. Last week, we proactively announced changes to our arbitration policies. And in the past year we have implemented a new salary and equity structure based on the market, overhauled our performance review process, published Diversity & Inclusion reports, and created and delivered diversity and leadership trainings to thousands of employees globally.”

Uber’s chief legal officer, Tony West, detailed the “changes” to the “arbitration policy” in a letter that was published on the company’s website on May 15, 2018.

West wrote that the company "will no longer require mandatory arbitration for individual claims of sexual assault or sexual harassment by Uber riders, drivers or employees."

This update, he continued, will "give riders, drivers and employees options to continue taking accusations of harassment or assaults into arbitration, but also allow for a confidential forum such as mediation or let the case play out in open court."

Avendaño was also a part of lawsuit filed against Uber in October of 2017. In the suit, she and two other female employees alleged that Uber violated the Equal Pay Act and the Private Attorney General Act.

The suit, which sought class-action status, said the company's policies, patterns and practices allowed "female engineers and engineers of color [to] receive less compensation and [be] promoted less frequently than their male and/or white or Asian American counterparts.”

Uber agreed in March to a $10 million settlement to be distributed among hundreds of victims but Avendaño, who removed herself from the complaint, opted out the settlement to pursue her own individual claims, her lawyer Jennifer Schwartz, a partner at Outten & Golden LLP, told ABC News.

Uber has denied all wrongdoing and agreed to implement a number of different business practices, including diversity and inclusion training, as part of the settlement, which is awaiting final court approval.

Schwartz said Avendaño chose to pursue individual action because “the magnitude and scope of her claims were greater and different than those claims in the class action lawsuit.”

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Tuesday
May222018

Grocery omits Latin word due to its similarity to profanity

Cara Koscinski(CHARLESTON, S.C.) -- A South Carolina family is moving on after an unexpected omission on a cake had them laughing during their son's graduation party.

Jacob Koscinski graduated Saturday from his Christian-based home-schooling program in a suburb of Charleston.

His family was extremely proud of him not only graduating, but also graduating with highest honors, widely-known in Latin as "Summa Cum Laude."

Summa Cum Laude translates as “with the highest distinction.” To honor this achievement, his family went online and ordered a sheet cake from the nearby grocery store, Publix, for his graduation party.

His mom, Cara Koscinski, entered the phrase she wanted on the icing: "Congrats Jacob! Summa Cum Laude Class of 2018."

But when she entered the request online, she told ABC affiliate WCIV the bakery website warned her that profane language would not be included on the cake. So, Cara Koscinski said she clarified the request in the online form's instructions field.

She explained on the form that "Summa Cum Laude" was a Latin phrase.

Her efforts were in vain.

When her husband picked up the cake, he didn't initially notice that Publix had omitted the middle Latin word and replaced it with hyphens.

"We were all standing there waiting to see it, and when we opened it, it was a huge shock to all of us," Cara Koscinski told WCIV.

Graduate Jacob Koscinski said it was "frustrating and humiliating" that Publix did this.

"I had to explain to my friends and family, like, what that meant," he told WCIV. "And they were giggling uncontrollably. At least my friends were."

The Koscinskis said they contacted Publix, and that the store manager apologized and issued the family a refund for the misstep.

On Tuesday, Publix released a statement to ABC News, saying that "Satisfying our customers is our top priority.

"You can feel confident that this situation has been addressed, and the appropriate business areas and leaders are involved."

"It's fine for us to be compensated for the cake," Mrs. Koscinski told WCIV. "We're just happy that our son graduated school and has a bright future."

The younger Koscinski plans to major in pre-med while attending Wingate University in the fall.

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Tuesday
May222018

Meet the first woman to lead the NYSE in 226 years

Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Tory Burch Foundation(NEW YORK) -- Stacey Cunningham will take the reins of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) on Friday, shattering the glass ceiling to become the first female president in the Big Board's 226-year history.

Cunningham is currently the NYSE's chief operating officer and will take over from Thomas Farley who has served as president since May 2014.

"Since the moment I stepped onto the trading floor, the NYSE has always held a special place in my heart," she wrote on Twitter. "I am humbled and honored to have the opportunity to lead this organization."

Here are six things to know about Cunningham and her career before and during her time on the NYSE's trading floor.

1. It all started with a summer internship

Cunningham was studying industrial engineering at Lehigh University when she became a summer intern at the stock exchange in 1994.

2. From the trading floor to culinary school


About a decade into her career, Cunningham took time off to enroll in Manhattan’s Institute of Culinary Education where she also worked for six weeks in a restaurant kitchen.

3. She then returned to Wall Street with NASDAQ

After her time away from the trading world, Cunningham joined NASDAQ for three years before returning to the NYSE in 2012.

4. She was inspired by Muriel Siebert

Cunningham has pointed to Siebert, the first woman to own a seat on the NYSE in 1967, as a strong inspiration for her own career.

"It took 175 years for the first woman to become a member of the New York Stock Exchange. Muriel Siebert didn't have an easy path, but she was ambitious and it was fantastic. When she was faced with obstacles she put her head down, she was quoted as saying, 'I put my head down and charge.' That was her DNA, so she fought for it and, ultimately, she prevailed. It was Dec. 28, 1967, when the ratio of men to women members of the New York Stock Exchange became 1,365 to 1," Cunningham said in a speech at the Tory Burch Embrace Ambition Summit in April.

"I started my career on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange almost 25 years ago and it never occurred to me for a moment that perhaps that wasn't an opportunity available to me as a woman," she continued. "I didn't think about it and it's in large part because Muriel had already done that work ... I didn't wonder whether or not I belonged. Muriel Siebert may or may not have been thinking about anyone else at the time, but anytime you embrace ambition and you redraw the boundaries, you're not just redefining them for yourself, you're defining them for anyone that follows, and I thank her for that."

5. Two of the world’s largest stock exchanges will now be run by women


As Cunningham steps into her new role on Friday, she will be joining Adena Friedman who is currently the president and CEO of NASDAQ. Together, they will be overseeing two of the largest stock exchanges in the world in terms of market capitalization.

6. She's a "Fearless Girl" fan

At the Tory Burch Embrace Ambition Summit, Cunningham spoke about the importance of diversity on corporate boards and encouraged women and men to fight for progress.

"'Fearless Girl' carries a message of the importance of diversity on corporate boards and in senior leadership roles. But she says so much more than that," she said. "While she's currently staring down that ['Charging Bull'], 'Fearless Girl' and 'Charging Bull' are kindred spirits. They are both symbols of strength and of fearless resilience. They are messages to each and every one of us, men and women, to dig down deep inside to that place where you're not scared. Where you don't care about what anyone else has to say, so you can find that spirit to fight for progress ... Progress is far too slow. We need to take action and move faster."

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Tuesday
May222018

Instagram introduces mute feature to quiet down your feed without unfollowing friends 

Instagram(NEW YORK) -- Are your former colleague's workout selfies bringing you down?

Or your college roommate's constant pictures of their newborn adorable but just too much at times?

Instagram's got your back.

The social media platform rolled out a new feature Tuesday where users will be able to mute any account they follow.

By doing so, users will stop seeing posts from those individuals without having to unfollow them, the company said in a post on its blog Tuesday.

Instagram

The muted individuals won't be notified that you have muted them, and you'll still be able to check out their profile page and see their pictures and videos when you do.

The mute option is reversible as well, so once they start posting at a regular rate or you start to warm up to them, again, you can go back to seeing them in your feed without any public acknowledgment of the break.

The mute feature is new to Instagram but Facebook, which owns Instagram, introduced the same concept in December.

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Tuesday
May222018

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg to meet with European lawmakers

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(BRUSSELS) -- Mark Zuckerberg was expected to be in Brussels today to answer some tough questions.

The Facebook founder is schedule to meet with members of the European Parliament about his company's use of personal data, privacy limits and the social network's potential influence on elections.

Antonio Tajani, president of the European Parliament, said on Twitter Monday the meeting would be live streamed.

Zuckerberg was grilled by American politicians last month over similar issues, as well as the company's alleged role in the 2016 U.S. president election.



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Tuesday
May222018

Gas prices up 5 cents this week, 52 cents from 2017

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Leading up to Memorial Day weekend, gas prices nationwide are up 5 cents from last week and are 52 cents higher than a year ago.

Regular gasoline in the U.S. on May 21 cost an average of 2.923 cents per gallon, compared with 2.873 cents per gallon on May 14, according to the Energy Information Administration.

At a service station in Manhattan, on 11th Avenue and 51st Street, the price for regular gas was about $5 on Monday, according to ABC New York station WABC.

Average per-gallon prices in New York City this week for regular fuel are about $3, and throughout California they're $3.618, according to the EIA.

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Monday
May212018

Primate bound for sanctuary breaks out of cage at Texas airport

KSAT-TV(SAN ANTONIO) -- A rhesus macaque monkey gave handlers the slip at San Antonio Airport, officials confirmed to ABC News.

The crafty primate, named Dawkins, managed to extricate itself from a crate on Monday after arriving at the Texas airport aboard American Airlines Flight No. 1014 from Chicago's O'Hare Airport, airport spokesman Rich Stinson said.

Staff members from Born Free USA's Primate Sanctuary in Cotulla, Texas, were at the airport to meet Dawkins but he broke free, leading to a pursuit to bring him to safety.

"We had folks from our sanctuary there to meet him," Prashant Khetan, CEO of Born Free USA, a 50-year-old conservation nonprofit, told ABC News. "They always had eyes on Dawkins the entire time."

The airport's employed wildlife biologist, Animal Care Services personnel and a veterinarian from the Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation all helped the Born Free members bring the primate back to its cargo cage.

"He is completely under control and should be at our sanctuary soon," Khetan said.

Khetan confirmed that Dawkins will hopefully "live there for the rest of his life" at Born Free USA's Primate Sanctuary, which boasts 186 acres of roaming land to give wildlife "a safe, permanent home."

"The focus of animal care at the sanctuary is to provide conditions in which the captive populations of macaques, baboons, and vervets are allowed to live out the remainder of their lives with extensive freedom of movement, choice of food, and choice of companions, in accordance with their social nature," the site reads.

He will be joining some 600 macaques, vervets, and baboons, confirmed Khetan.

The primate's original itinerary traced him back to Boston's Logan International Airport, where he'd been sent from Brown University.

In a statement, the Brown confirmed that they sent a rhesus macaque to a Texas sanctuary as part of the university's attempt to "seek homes for non-human primates who are retired from research protocols."

"The macaque that was en route to Texas when its enclosure became open was being transported from Brown to an animal sanctuary as part of the university’s commitment to animal well-being," the statement reads.

American Airlines acknowledged that the primate "inadvertently became free of his cage."

Before he was brought back into his cage, the airline assured Dawkins was safely contained.

"He is currently in an isolated area where it is safe, away from all of our team members and customers," according to the statement. “We are working closely with the San Antonio Aviation Department and officials from the San Antonio Zoo. Officials from the zoo are now on site to ensure his safety and wellbeing as he continues his journey to his new home at the primate sanctuary.”

Khetan said that Dawkins was experiencing a great deal of anxiety.

"There was a ton of stress on Dawkins," he said. "He reacted to the stress."

Khetan said that an investigation is underway to determine "when Dawkins got out."

Dawkins' escape illustrates the need to help animals remain in the wild, Khetan said.

"There is so much unpredictability and that's what we're seeing here," he said. "That's why we fight to prevent keeping animals in captivity."

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Monday
May212018

Former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama sign multiyear deal with Netflix

Netflix(NEW YORK) -- Former President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama have inked a multiyear deal with Netflix, the streaming service announced Monday.

According to a tweet from Netflix, the Obamas will produce films and series for Netflix, which could include scripted series, unscripted series, docu-series, documentaries and features.

Netflix did not elaborate on the terms of the agreement.

"One of the simple joys of our time in public service was getting to meet so many fascinating people from all walks of life, and to help them share their experiences with a wider audience," former President Obama said in a statement obtained by The Chicago Tribune. "That's why Michelle and I are so excited to partner with Netflix -- we hope to cultivate and curate the talented, inspiring, creative voices who are able to promote greater empathy and understanding between peoples, and help them share their stories with the entire world."

Added his wife, Michelle Obama: "Barack and I have always believed in the power of storytelling to inspire us, to make us think differently about the world around us, and to help us open our minds and hearts to others," said Michelle Obama. "Netflix's unparalleled service is a natural fit for the kinds of stories we want to share, and we look forward to starting this exciting new partnership."

This is not the first deal the Obamas have signed since they left the White House in early 2017. That February, Penguin Random House announced that the company would publish books by both Barack and Michelle Obama. Though Penguin Random House did not provide details of their contract with the Obamas, it has been reported that the rights were reportedly purchased for $60 million.

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