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Wednesday
Nov152017

Southwest Airlines pilot arrested after TSA finds gun in his bag

Southwest Airlines(ST. LOUIS) -- A 51-year-old first officer for Southwest Airlines was arrested Wednesday morning around 5 a.m. at St. Louis Lambert International Airport for unlawful use of a weapon after Transportation Security Administration officers discovered a 9mm pistol in his carry-on bag, according to an airport spokesperson.

The pilot did not have the authorization to carry a firearm, the spokesperson said.

It's unclear if he is facing any charges.

"We are aware of a situation involving a Southwest Pilot at St. Louis Airport. We are currently working alongside the appropriate authorities to gather more information. We have no further information to share at this time," Southwest Airlines said in a statement.

The pilot was said to be scheduled to fly on Flight 1106 to Las Vegas.

Southwest Airlines did not respond to ABC News' question about the status of the flight.

A TSA official confirmed the arrest of a pilot at the airport and said a spokesperson would be releasing more information soon.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Nov152017

Self-help author Gretchen Rubin talks finding happiness in her own life

Wavebreak Media/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Gretchen Rubin asked the pioneer what she thought was the secret to happiness.

“And she answered me right away. She knew exactly what her answer was. And she said, it was work worth doing.”

Rubin, who is a four-time New York Times bestseller and the host of a weekly podcast, “Happier with Rubin,” says O’Connor’s comment stuck with her.

“I got to the point where I thought, well you know what I would really like to try is to write a book. I would like to actually see if I could become a book writer. At a certain point, I decided that I would rather fail as a writer than succeed as a lawyer,” she says on an episode of ABC Radio’s “No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis.”

As a graduate from Yale Law School, it was a twist from her well-prepared career track but one she was compelled to try.

“Many people who are circus performers feel a tremendous compulsion to go and do these kinds of professions,” Rubin says. “And I felt that way.”

In a nod to "Star Wars," Rubin added, “For me, this call to writing -– once I had a subject, and had this idea that I wanted to turn into a book, it was the Death Star that had me in its gravitational field.

“And it was just pulling me towards it.”

Rubin found herself up for the challenge, and left law to pursue her passion. It led to the books “Profane Waste,” “Power Money Fame Sex” and “Forty Ways to Look at JFK,” among others. And then came “The Happiness Project.” Her breakout novel spent over two years on the New York Times bestseller list, sold over 1.5 million copies, and was published in over 30 languages.

As Rubin made the switch from law to the literary world, she recalls the ardent support of her family members as one of the driving forces that made her decision possible.

“I’m very impressed by my family and now that I’m a parent myself, I really do respect even more how willingly they supported me.”

Rubin adds, “They want you to do something that feels safer, because they want to protect you. But the problem is, there is no safe place.”

In her most recent book, “The Four Tendencies,” Rubin goes deeper into territory she herself has had to explore: how individuals respond to inner and outer expectations.

Today, Rubin believes that one of the secrets to happiness came from challenging herself. She says that one of the greatest tensions standing in the way of happiness is “on the one hand we want to accept ourselves, and on the other hand we want to expect more from ourselves.”

“Novelty and challenge do bring happiness, but you have to find the novelty and challenge that’s appropriate for you.”

Hear more of Gretchen Rubin’s interview on this week's episode of "No Limits With Rebecca Jarvis," available on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, Spotify, TuneIn and the ABC News app.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Nov142017

13,900 hoverboards recalled for battery fire risk

CPSC.gov(NEW YORK) -- Seven companies are issuing new hoverboard recalls after discovering that the battery packs may pose a fire hazard, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Tuesday's recall involves 13,900 units, bringing the total number to 520,100 since the CPSC began issuing the warnings last year.

Safety officials say the risk is in the battery packs and have found a significant risk of overheating, smoke, fire and in some instances, explosions that cause burns and property damage, according to the CPSC.

The recalls included two reports of property damage, including one recent incident in Louisiana resulting in approximately $40,000 of damage after the unit caught fire.

No injuries were reported in the recalls.

The vast majority of the 520,100 hoverboards recalled stem from a July 2016 announcement involving eight manufacturers and more than 500,000 units.

Hoverboards by Swagway make up more than half of those recalled -- 267,000.

ABC News reached out after business hours to the seven companies involved in the recall and did not receive an immediate response.

You can find the recalls here: Smart Balance by Salvage World, Sonic Smart Wheels by Dollar Mania, Tech Drift, iLive by Digital Products, iHoverspeed by Simplified Wireless, Go Wheels by Four Star Imports, Drone Nerds.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Nov142017

Lawsuit: Some female Uber passengers have 'endured rape, physical violence' from drivers 

Uber(NEW YORK) -- A lawsuit filed against Uber on Tuesday alleges "thousands" of female passengers have endured "rape, sexual assault, physical violence and gender-motivated harassment" while using the popular ride-hailing service.

The lawsuit, filed in San Francisco by attorneys for two women identified in court documents only as Jane Doe 1 and 2, is seeking class-action status.

Jane Doe 1 lives in Miami and Jane Doe 2 lives in Los Angeles, according to the complaint, and both claim that they were sexually assaulted by Uber drivers.

The complaint states that Uber uses "low-cost, woefully inadequate background checks" for their drivers and does not monitor drivers for "violent or inappropriate conduct after they are hired."

Even after allegations of sexual misconduct have emerged against Uber drivers, the lawsuit claims that: "Nothing meaningful has been done to make rides safer for passengers -- especially women."

A spokesperson for Uber told ABC News that the company is currently reviewing the lawsuit, and that the company takes the allegations seriously.

"Uber received this complaint today and we are in the process of reviewing it," the spokesperson said. "These allegations are important to us and we take them very seriously."

Uber announced earlier this month -- prior to the lawsuit being filed -- that it was implementing a new initiative to prevent sexual assault and domestic violence. Part of the initiative includes an education program for their customer support agents that involves expert training provided by the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence and the National Network to End Domestic Violence, the company said in a statement posted to its website.

The company simultaneously announced that it was committing $5 million over five years to fund sexual assault and domestic violence "prevention initiatives."

In the statement, Uber outlined some of the app's safety features including "GPS tracking, the ability to share a trip with family and friends, and 24/7 support."

"We will continue to listen, learn, collaborate and build on our commitment to prevent sexual assault and domestic violence," Uber added in its statement.

Jeanne M. Christensen, one of the attorneys with Wigdor LLP, the firm that filed the lawsuit Tuesday, called on Uber to make public the number of reports it has received about sexual misconduct.

"The company must come forward with information about how many reports it has received about rapes, sexual assaults, and gender-motivated harassment to allow consumers to assess whether Uber really does provide safe rides, especially to women," Christensen said in a statement.

She added that the recent #MeToo campaign on social media has brought to light many "heinous acts" that female Uber passengers have allegedly experienced.

Christensen continued: "It is time for Uber to 'Do the right thing. Period.'"

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Nov142017

US stocks close lower as oil prices fall, GE drops 

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wall Street closed in the red on Tuesday as oil prices sunk.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average slid 30.23 (-0.13 percent) to finish at 23,409.47.

The Nasdaq fell 19.72 (-0.29 percent) to close at 6,737.87, while the S&P 500 finished at 2,578.87, down 5.97 (-0.23 percent) from its open.

Crude oil prices sunk about 2.5 percent to $55 per barrel.

Winners and Losers:  A second day of losses for General Electric after announcing Monday it would slash its quarterly dividend by 50 percent. Shares tumbled 5.89 percent.

Shares of Buffalo Wild Wings soared 23.97 percent after reports private equity firm Roark Capital made an offer to buy the sports bar franchise.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Nov142017

NTSB finds 'weak safety culture' at Amtrak after fatal Pennsylvania crash

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Following a 19-month investigation, the National Transportation Safety Board identified 20 different factors that contributed to the April 2016 crash that killed two veteran Amtrak employees and injured 39 passengers when the company's train struck a backhoe and derailed in Chester, Pennsylvania.

Investigators said Amtrak had a "weak safety culture" where employees frequently took short cuts and put on-time performance over safety.

The NTSB previously disclosed toxicology reports indicating marijuana in the system of the train's engineer and cocaine or opioids in the systems of the killed maintenance workers, but they did not conclude that drugs impaired the employees at the time of the crash.

While drug use did not have a "direct causal link to this accident," according to investigators, it is a reflection of a lax safety culture at Amtrak, they said.

The Federal Railroad Administration revised its federal drug testing rules to include Maintenance of Way workers. This rule went into effect on June 12, 2017. Previously DOT regulations only required drug testing for locomotive engineers, trainmen, conductors, switchmen, locomotive helpers, utility employees, signalmen, operators and train dispatchers.

These rules establish minimum requirements for drug testing. Rail companies are free to expand them.

On Monday the FRA said it was adding certain semi-synthetic opioids such as hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone and oxycodone to its testing.

“The opioid crisis is a threat to public safety when it involves safety-sensitive employees involved in the operation of any kind of vehicle or transport,” said Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao. “The ability to test for a broader range of opioids will advance transportation safety significantly and provide another deterrence to opioid abuse, which will better protect the public and ultimately save lives.”

Railroad repairs were ongoing in the days leading up to the fatal accident. A night foreman was found to have lifted a track closure while a backhoe remained on the track. The day foreman did not restore the closure, according to investigators, leading to a train striking the backhoe at nearly 100 mph.

NTSB chairman Robert Sumwalt described the mistake by the foremen as "the fundamental error of the night."

“Under no circumstances should you clear foul times with men and equipment fouling the track,” said Joe Gordon, who investigated track and engineering issues for the board.

Among the contributing factors to the crash were lack of communication between employees, improper establishment of work zones, lack of shunts and pressure from managers to keep trains on time.

Positive Train Control had been installed in the Northeast Corridor where the crash occurred, but investigators said a series of human errors, such as not properly establishing the work zone, circumvented PTC technology.

Despite Amtrak requiring the use of shunts at the time, investigators said the maintenance workers did not have them at the accident site. The NTSB said the shunts could have signaled that the track was occupied and prevented the crash.

Amtrak has since purchased thousands of the devices.

Amtrak spokeswoman Kimberly Woods told ABC News that Amtrak has "taken a series of actions to improve workplace safety at Amtrak," but did not respond when asked what exactly those actions are.

The engineer of the involved train was fired following the accident, according to Amtrak.

An NTSB spokesperson said the list of board recommendations would be posted later Tuesday.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Nov142017

Plaza's 'Home Alone 2' package lets guests live it up 

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- It's been 25 years since the release of Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. To celebrate, the Plaza Hotel, which plays a prominent role in the film, is offering a package that allows guests to live it up like Kevin McAllister.

Rates start at $895, only slightly less than the $967 Kevin spent on room service during his stay.

"In-room and throughout the hotel a variety of experiences inspired by Kevin's time over the holiday's here at The Plaza will come to life for guests to enjoy," according to the hotel's website. "Beyond the in-room experience, guests are invited to dine in the Todd English Food Hall to taste-test a 90s inspired menu with upscale versions of childhood favorites, or to head over to the interactive photo-experience where they’ll find themselves in Kevin’s New York journey."

Included in the package is an "over-the-top" ice cream sundae from room service, just like the one Kevin had in the film.

The hotel concierge will also arrange for guests to experience quintessential New York sights, like the Empire State Building, Wollman Rink and a limo trip through the city.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Nov142017

Thanksgiving travel: 5 ways to save on flights

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Flying over Thanksgiving: For many, it's a necessary evil. So how can a traveler save money and arrive in time for turkey dinner, with Hopper showing average airfare at $325 per ticket this year?

1. Book immediately

There's no reason to believe there will be an (even more) last-minute deal on airfare over Thanksgiving or any holiday for that matter. Demand is high and prices reflect that. As a general rule, last-minute airfare deals are hard to come by unless people are extremely flexible on their destinations -- which is very rarely the case over the holidays.

According to Hopper, prices will likely go up $10 per day between now and Thanksgiving.

2. If more than one person is flying, first price out seats together and then price them separately.

Because of the ever-more complicated way airlines charge for seats (the front few rows of economy may cost more, for example), the first price you see with all seats together may not be the cheapest seats on the flight. But buyer beware: though there's a good chance the gate agent will figure out a way to seat your family together, it's far from guaranteed. Only you know if your travel companions will be okay if they have to sit alone.

3. Travel on Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day typically offers the cheapest flights, fewer crowds and shortest lines. If possible, take a Thanksgiving morning flight that still gets to the destination in time for festivities. If not, try to fly on the Sunday or Monday before Thanksgiving and the Friday after, or not again until the Wednesday following the holiday.

"The busiest and most expensive day to depart is Wednesday, Nov. 22. You can save $54 by departing on Thanksgiving morning, or you can save $48 by departing on Monday, Nov. 20," according to the Hopper's holiday travel index. "The busiest and most expensive day to return is Sunday, Nov. 26. You can save $161 by returning on Wednesday, Nov. 29, instead."

4. Large airports are good friends.

Yes, they tend to be more crowded and more of a hassle to move through. But large city airports can offer cheaper fares than smaller regional airports during the holidays. Competition is fierce at large airports and more competition equals lower prices. Added bonus: flying in and out of large airports means it's less likely a connecting flight is necessary, something that should be avoided at all costs during peak travel periods. Every connecting flight is just one more opportunity for flights to be missed or canceled and bags mishandled.

5. Bypass the baggage fees

Save $25 - $50 each way in bag fees simply by carrying on. Or, fly Southwest, which is the only major carrier to allow two free checked bags.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Nov132017

Consumer goods companies lead US stocks slightly higher 

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wall Street closed slightly higher on Monday, but uncertainty over tax reform and tumbling General Electric shares weighed on stocks.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 17.49 (+0.07 percent) to finish at 23,439.70.

The Nasdaq jumped 6.66 (+0.10 percent) to close at 6,757.60, while the S&P 500 finished at 2,584.84, up 2.54 (+0.10 percent) from its open.

Crude oil prices were flat and under $57 per barrel.

Winners and Losers:  Shares of General Electric sunk 7.17 percent when it announced it would cut its quarterly dividend by half.

After reporting better-than-expected quarterly earnings last week, Roku's stock skyrocketed 28.45 percent on news of a Black Friday deal with AT&T's DIRECTV.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Nov132017

Dunkin' Donuts doubles down on cookie-inspired flavors for the holidays

Dunkin Donuts(NEW YORK) -- Dunkin' Donuts is betting dollars on cookie-flavored doughnuts this holiday season, taking a cue from the huge popularity of its cookie-dough-flavored coffee.

For the 2017 holidays, the ubiquitous doughnut chain is trying out two specialty cookie flavors: a frosted sugar cookie doughnut with cookie dough filling and topped with cookie crumbles and a gingerbread cookie doughnut decorated with caramel frosting and gingerbread cookie sprinkles.

The cookie flavors follow high demand for the cookie dough coffee flavor, which has been a longtime fan favorite, according to a recent poll that Dunkin' Donuts conducted. The coffee flavor could make a summer 2018 return, since it fared so well in the poll.

This isn't the first holiday season that Dunkin' Donuts has paid homage to holiday cookies. Its 2015 holiday menu had a sugar-cookie-flavored coffee, which is not being offered this season.

Last Valentine's Day, the doughnutmaker's holiday menu featured its first cookie-dough-filled varieties, in heart shapes and with pink frosting.

The company, headquartered in Massachusetts, will be serving holiday-decorated doughnuts and Munchkins — its name for doughnut holes — with snowflake sprinkles.

This year's seasonal cookie-flavored doughnuts will be available by Nov. 20, the company said.

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