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Thursday
Feb162017

Britax recalls 676,000 strollers after 26 children injured

The Consumer Product Safety Commision(WASHINGTON) -- Childcare product manufacturer Britax is voluntarily recalling 676,000 strollers in the United States after discovering the car seat on their B-Agile and BOB Motion strollers may disengage and cause a fall to the child, according to federal safety officials.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission announced Thursday that "Britax has announced 33 reports" of incidents that “have resulted in 26 injuries to children.”

The injuries include scratches, bruises, cuts and bumps to the head, according to the commission's report.

Consumers can contact Britax for a free repair kit, according to the commission.

The strollers are sold in the United States, Canada and Mexico.

You can get more information on the recall and remedy instructions on the CPSC website or Britax website.

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Thursday
Feb162017

Businesses nationwide participate in 'Day Without Immigrants' protest

Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Businesses around the country Thursday are planning to either close their doors or provide limited service in support of a “Day Without Immigrants,” a social media-led protest of President Donald Trump’s promises to crack down on illegal immigration.

The boycott is intended to illustrate the impact immigrants have on the United States, particularly Latino immigrants. Hundreds of business owners in Washington, D.C., Pittsburgh, Boston, Philadelphia, Austin, San José and Des Moines are participating in the protests.

The president has promised to deport undocumented immigrants, build a wall along the southern U.S. border and use “extreme vetting” on immigrants from select countries.

United For Change, a group based in North Carolina that helped organize Thursday's protests, wrote on Facebook: “This will be a peaceful day. While the economic effects of the boycott are unknown, most initial reports indicated that the boycott could cause to halt ‘business as usual.’”

In Washington, D.C., nearly 50 restaurant owners said they would either close or offer a limited menu for the day. Celebrity chefs José Andrés and Andy Shallal are among the restaurateurs who have announced their participation.

“We had a deep heartfelt conversation and it was an easy decision,” Shallal told ABC via email of the discussion he had with his kitchen staff. “There are times when standing on the sidelines is not an option. This is one of those times.”

Shallal, who is an Iraqi immigrant, also said that his decision to close all six Busboys and Poets locations was a push for “humanistic” immigration reform, writing, “I want to make sure that immigrants such as myself and others don’t live in fear … We cannot continue to ignore this forever.”

Earlier this week, a similar protest was staged in Milwaukee. Thousands of people attended the “Day Without Latinos, Immigrants and Refugees” march, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

These protests have some history. Nation-wide “Day Without an Immigrant” boycotts and marches were staged on May 1, 2006, in support of loosening the nation’s laws on immigration.

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Thursday
Feb162017

Jobless claims jump higher to 239K

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Jobless claims climbed higher last week, increasing by 5,000, according to the latest figures released Thursday by the Labor Department.

For the week ending Feb. 11, the number of people filing for benefits jumped from an unrevised level of 234,000 the previous week to 239,000.

The Labor Department said there were no "special factors" impacting that week's figures.

The four-week moving average also increased by 500 to 245,250.

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Thursday
Feb162017

US attorney conducting criminal investigation into Fox News

Wesley Mann/FOX News via Getty Images(NEW YORK) — The Manhattan U.S. Attorney’s office is conducting a criminal investigation into Fox News, an attorney involved and sources familiar with the matter told ABC News.

Judd Burstein, an attorney representing former Fox News personality Andrea Tantaros, said during a hearing Wednesday that one of his clients had received a subpoena to testify before a federal grand jury investigating the use of corporate resources in connection with sexual harassment allegations against former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes and his former employer, Fox News parent company 21st Century Fox.

Burstein said the subpoena didn't involve Tantaros but a different, unspecified, client.

A spokeswoman for U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara declined to comment.

Fox News responded to the news, saying in a statement, “Neither Fox News nor 21st Century Fox has received a subpoena but we have been in communication with the U.S. Attorney’s office for months — we have and will continue to cooperate on all inquiries with interested authorities.”

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Wednesday
Feb152017

Markets finish strong after second day of Yellen testimony

Getty Images(NEW YORK) – The markets had a strong day Wednesday, bolstered by Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen’s comments to Congress on the health of the economy.

The Dow Jones jumped 107.45 (+0.52 percent) to finish at 20,611.86

The Nasdaq gained 36.87 (+0.64 percent) to close at 5,819.44 while the S&P 500 finished at 2,349.25, up 11.67 (+0.50 percent) from its open.

Crude oil prices were about $53 a barrel; up less than 1 percent.

Yellen briefed lawmakers for a second day on the strength of the economy. While she said a hike in interest rates will come if economic indicators continued to look strong, she did not signal when to expect a rise in rates.

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Wednesday
Feb152017

"GMA" Frugal Foodie: How to pick gourmet salts

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Salt is no longer just plain white.

The kitchen staple now comes in colors that you would typically find in a Crayola box: Himalayan Pink, Hawaiian Black and Persian blue are some of the gourmet varieties, although they can cost 10 times more than your run-of-the-mill table salt.

Selmelier Mark Bitterman -- a selmelier is a specialist who helps you choose the most appropriate salt to season your meal -- has crammed dozens of varieties of salt from all over the world into his salt boutique in New York City, where you can find exotic varieties that can cost up to $272 a pound. Bitterman prefers to call them “craft salts” to reflect the expertise involved in their production, many mined by hand without the use of heavy industrial machinery.

“I like to say we’re not looking for a subtle improvement in the flavor of your food," said Bitterman. "We’re looking for a mind-blowing improvement. It should taste flat out better."

Chefs like David Burke have their favorites: He uses Himalayan Pink almost exclusively in his restaurants, believing it has added health benefits.

“It’s a healthier salt based on its DNA for the human body,” said Burke. “It’s the most natural salt for human consumption.”

Chef Marcus Guiliano also promotes a mineral-rich salt, endorsing an American-made brand for his kitchen.

“The great thing about this salt is all the trace minerals that are still intact naturally, the electrolytes that are in there,” said Guiliano. “[This] salt does taste different.”

The health benefits associated with high mineral salts are not entirely clear.

“The thinking is minerals are really important to human health, so if you’re going to choose a salt you may as well choose a salt that has more minerals,” said Robin Foroutan, a registered dietitian and nutritionist. “The reality is it may or may not make a really big difference.”

But do they taste better? ABC News' Good Morning America wanted to find out so we asked Chef James Briscione, director of Culinary Development at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, to prepare a blind taste test using an affordable kosher salt, which costs $3 a box, Himalayan Pink salt at $10 a jar, and an expensive French Gourmet salt from France, with a price tag of $48.

We then invited three food professionals, Robert Ramsey, a chef-instructor, Julia Turshen, cook book author, and Rebecca Raben, a student at the Institute for Culinary Education, to take part in a two-part taste test. Our panel was asked to sample three pieces of chicken, identified only by a letter, so they couldn’t tell which salt went on which piece of chicken. We then instructed them to identify which they liked the best, and then which they thought was the most expensive.

Raben and Turshen picked the expensive French “Fleur de sel” gourmet salt as their favorite.

“I liked that it was assertive really got the salty flavor of it,” said Raben.

When it came to picking which they thought was the most expensive salt, Julia, the cook book author picked the kosher salt.

“My hat’s off to Kosher. It really fooled me I thought it was the fancy one,” said Turshen.

While Chef Robert correctly picked the chicken seasoned with the most expensive salt, he actually preferred the taste of the kosher salt.

“I think there are subtle differences that are there,” said Ramsey. “But if I wasn’t tasting them back to back I don’t think I would be able to taste the difference at all.”

The gourmet salt manufacturers GMA contacted said they don’t make specific health claims but believe their mineral-rich salts are a better choice. One salt manufacturer said, “…natural minerals in even small amounts can certainly come into play with our nutrition.”

According to some chefs, when it comes to gourmet salts, texture may make more of a difference than taste and while some gourmet salts might not taste very different from the refined table salt, the colors and shapes lend for a more interesting culinary experience.

As they say, "you eat with your eyes first."

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Tuesday
Feb142017

American Girl announces its first boy doll

American Girl(NEW YORK) -- American Girl has announced its first boy character that will be available starting Feb. 18.

The 18-inch doll, named Logan Everett, comes with his own drum set and acts as an accompaniment to another new American Girl character, Nashville songwriter Tenney Grant.

"A boy character has been a top request from our fans for decades," Julie Parks, a spokesperson for American Girl, told ABC News. "We do an enormous amount of research with girls and their parents, and the one thing we’ve heard loud and clear is a desire for more — specifically more characters and stories from today — with more experiences, more diversity, and more interests."

The American Girl "Tenney" book series, written by Kellen Hertz and published by Scholastic, will feature both these characters.

This news comes on the heels of a recent announcement that many future American Girl dolls would feature a new non-removable underwear design — something that has divided devoted fans of the dolls.

One mom, Jennifer Goetzel, voiced her objections to the new feature. Goetzel, 32, expressed concern that non-removable underwear on the dolls could lead to body image issues. She said she isn't sure that her daughter would read the change positively.

"I'm worried about the message it's sending to her, that it's not okay to be nude or naked," Goetzel said. "It sounds silly, and I know there are much bigger issues, but I just didn't like the direction it's going."

However, not everyone is concerned with the change. Katie Forquer, a 22-year-old who purchases the dolls for collecting purposes, is unbothered and said she will continue to support the American Girl brand.

"I've been collecting American Girl dolls since 2002," she said. "There have been a whole bunch of changes through that time. Nothing has ever been that big of a deal to where I've stopped doing what I love or stopped my hobby. It's okay with me."

In a statement to ABC News, a representative for American Girl said the company does not think the changes will interfere with how its customers enjoy the product.

"Having observed for decades how girls play with our dolls, outfits, and accessories, we believe the change will not limit how a young girl imagines or interacts with her doll," the statement said.


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Tuesday
Feb142017

US stocks close higher after Fed chair Janet Yellen testimony

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The major indexes closed with record highs for a fourth straight day after comments on interest rates from Federal Reserve chairwoman Janet Yellen.

The Dow jumped 92.25 (+0.45 percent) to finish at 20,504.41.

The Nasdaq gained 18.62 (+0.32 percent) to close at 5,782.57, while the S&P 500 finished at 2,337.58, up 9.33 (+0.40 percent) from its open.

Crude oil prices were about $53 a barrel; up less than 1 percent.

Federal Reserve: Yellen testified before the Senate Banking Committee on Tuesday and indicated that another rise in interest rates could come sooner rather than later. She did not say when a rate hike was likely, but said, "Waiting too long to remove accommodation would be unwise, potentially requiring the [Federal Open Market Committee] to eventually raise rates rapidly."

Winners and Losers:
Shares in General Motors soared 5 percent after reports that French car manufacturer Peugeot is interested in buying GM's European Opel brand.

Tata Motors Limited reported a 96 percent drop in quarterly profit, causing shares to sink 11 percent.

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Tuesday
Feb142017

Fed chair indicates likely increase in interest rates

U.S. Federal Reserve(WASHINGTON) -- Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen indicated to a Senate Banking Committee Tuesday that a rise in interest rates is very likely.

"The committee will evaluate whether employment and inflation are continuing to evolve in line with these expectations, in which case a further adjustment of the federal funds rate would likely be appropriate," she said.

Yellen did not note when consumers could expect an increase but added, "Waiting too long to remove accommodation would be unwise, potentially requiring the [Federal Open Market Committee] to eventually raise rates rapidly."

During her testimony, Yellen also said the economy is continuing to grow at a moderate pace and the job market is strengthening.

"The pace of wage growth has picked up relative to its pace of a few years ago, a further indication that the job market is tightening," she said.

"Business sentiment has noticeably improved in the past few months," she added.

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Tuesday
Feb142017

New era for consumer protection as Republicans take helm of watchdog agency

Consumer Product Safety Commission(NEW YORK) -- Consumer groups are bracing for a more pro-industry approach to safety, fearful that strides made in the name of product safety will be rolled back, as Republicans take the helm of the nation’s key consumer safety agency.

The Trump Administration last week elevated Ann Marie Buerkle, a Republican appointed to the commission in 2013, to the post of acting chairman. Buerkle replaces outgoing chair Elliot Kaye, a Democrat who stared down industry groups during the nearly three years he was in the position, calling out businesses for not being proactive enough on safety.

Kaye, who plans to stay on as a commissioner until his term expires in October 2020, bluntly told ABC News he expects the commission to do “an abrupt 180-degree on safety.”

In a press release, new acting Chairman Buerkle said, “While we are experiencing a change in leadership, CPSC’s mission remains the same and I look forward to continuing to work closely with all stakeholders in my new position.”

The written statement added that “we are all consumers and what we do at CPSC impacts the lives and livelihoods of all Americans. If we take a thoughtful, collaborative approach, we will impact the culture of product safety in a positive and meaningful way.”

Through a spokesman, Buerkle declined an interview request from ABC News.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News before the announcement, outgoing chair Kaye said he believes consumers will be less safe under the regulation-averse Trump Administration.

Kaye, who championed causes ranging from brain injuries in youth sports to risks involving lithium-ion batteries, says consumer protection will “absolutely, categorically, yes” be harmed: “Not even a close call.”

The Consumer Product Safety Commission, an independent agency with a budget of $125 million, is tiny compared to many other federal agencies, but it has jurisdiction over pretty much every product that consumers use other than automobiles, food, medicine and guns, which are regulated elsewhere.

But the CPSC can only step in after problems occur, and it is not tasked with approving products before they are marketed.

Kaye has been a strong critic of companies that fail to comply with hazard reporting requirements and recall efforts, and he has drawn criticism from pro-business quarters.

He took the lead in several national safety dramas, including the defective Samsung Galaxy Note 7 phones as well as hover boards that were catching fire.

Kaye said he worries about companies that, when faced with injuries to consumers, would rather put a warning label on their product than go back and fix a poor design. He’s concerned that information about recalls is not reaching consumers. And he says bad players notice when civil penalties are light and figure it’s a cost of doing business.

“We have companies that say ‘safety is our number one priority’ who will fight us tooth and nail to only do a warning label change” as opposed to yanking a product and redesigning it to be safer, he said.

Buerkle, a former Republican congresswoman from upstate New York, is a registered nurse and lawyer who previously served as an assistant state attorney general in New York.

In Congress, Buerkle served on the Oversight & Government Reform, Foreign Affairs and Veterans’ Affairs committees. She served as chair of the Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Health.

She is expected to be confirmed as the CPSC chairman by the Senate.

Some of her recent actions on the CPSC have been viewed as anti-regulation, such as voting against a mandatory standard for infant slings and abstaining from a vote on rulemaking for fireworks regulation.

“We have just witnessed the inauguration of our forty-fifth president,” she wrote in a January statement on the infant sling issue. “This is not the time to pile on more regulation, particularly when the benefits (if any) are minimal.”

Despite their different philosophies, Kaye made a point of describing Buerkle as collegial rather than combative: “She is a lovely human being. People want to give her a chance; I want to give her a chance.”

Consumer groups reacted cautiously to the announcement.

Rachel Weintraub, legislative director and general counsel for Consumer Federation of America, said Buerkle “really has kept her door open and has really sought out the consumer community’s input” -- even though her votes haven’t always aligned with what CFA wanted, Weintraub said.

Weintraub said her organization will seek common ground “and really hope that we can find ways to save lives and fulfill the mission of the agency.”

Nancy Cowles, executive director of Kids In Danger (KID), said her concern was less with the new acting chair and more with the Trump Administration in general. Cowles cited the recent executive order requiring that for each new federal regulation, two existing regulations be eliminated.

While the order does not apply to independent federal agencies like the CPSC, the tone of the order is chilling, Cowles said.

KID advocates for more stringent standards on corded window blinds and tip-prone dressers, which have killed numerous children.

“We think regulation plays a key role in keeping children safe,” Cowles said. “We would hate to go backwards on that, as well as not have the resolve to address new problems as they come up.”

Both Buerkle and Kaye were appointed by President Obama. Seats on the independent commission are, by design, given to appointees from both major political parties. Neither party can control more than three seats at a time. Democrats will still have a 3-2 majority for now, but that will change in late October when the term of commissioner Marietta Robinson, a Democrat, expires.

Kaye says his experience as a parent of two boys, now ages 12 and 7, infused every action he took as chairman.

He hopes the CPSC’s work in the area of youth sports and brain injuries -- looking at whether helmet protection is adequate, for example -- will continue, as well as its attention to lithium-ion battery technology, potential safety or health issues involving crumb rubber surfaces on playgrounds, and flame retardants and other chemicals in everyday household products.

Kaye says he favors catching problems before they turn into something bigger: “I hate the whole ‘close the barn door after the animals are all out’ thing.”

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