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Tuesday
Jan152019

Gillette uses new ad to urge men to get rid of 'toxic masculinity' in #MeToo era

Gillette/YouTube(NEW YORK) -- Gillette has been known for the past 30 years as a brand for men with the tagline, “The best a man can get.”

Now the shaving company, owned by Procter & Gamble, is calling on men to be better in a new ad that has already provoked controversy.

The ad, released Monday on social media, takes on toxic masculinity, opening with the question, "Is this the best a man can get?" It goes into a montage of clips of sexual harassment, fighting, bullying and fathers saying of their sons, "Boys will be boys."

The ad, titled "We Believe," has already been viewed more than 200,000 times on YouTube.

It drew mixed reactions on social media, with some people threatening to boycott Gillette.

Others applauded Gillette and called out those who were critical of the ad.

The mixed, and passionate, reactions are to be expected in this time of change amid the #MeToo movement, according to Christa Hodapp, Ph.D., director of the gender studies program at University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

"What we’re seeing right now is a huge conversation rethinking what we mean by gender roles," Hodapp told "Good Morning America." "I think a lot of people in the face of criticism are feeling very attacked and very defensive."

"Things are changing and when things change and difficult conversations come up there is some defensiveness," she added.

Gillette announced Monday it also plans to donate $1 million per year for the next three years to non-profit organizations "executing programs in the United States designed to help men of all ages achieve their personal 'best.'" The first organization Gillette plans to partner with is The Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

"Gillette is using our platform to advance a more modern, positive vision of what it means for men to be at their best," Damon Jones, Proctor & Gamble's vice president of global communications, told "GMA." "If we get people to pause, reflect and to challenge themselves and others to ensure that their actions reflect who they really are, then I think this campaign will have been a success."

The company began working on the ad in early 2018, according to Jones.

He took issue with critics who say Gillette is lecturing men on how to behave. Jones urged consumers to watch the entire ad themselves instead of reading headlines about it.

"Part of what we really wanted to do was to create a dialogue on the positive impact men have had, and I think we’ve been successful in sparking that dialogue," he said. "We’re seeing a lot of balance in the discussion."

He continued, "People on one extreme or the other are the most vocal but we generally have very positive reaction from both men and women of all ages."

Toxic masculinity in the spotlight

The Gillette ad includes a clip of Terry Crews testifying before Congress about the rights of sexual assault abuse survivors after he accused a high-profile Hollywood agent of assaulting him at a party.

Crews spoke about toxic masculinity after going public with his accusation. He told Esquire that he knew if he had thrown a punch the agent's way, "everyone in that room could make a phone call to every movie studio in the world: ‘Well, you know about Terry,’ and they’d believe them."

"This is what toxic masculinity is. People think, ‘Look how big you are, look how strong you are. If I was you, I would've killed him.’ But my body's not for killing. In America, we want to finish the movie. And the movie, if you’re a man, is 'Dirty Harry,'" he said.

Toxic masculinity is a topic that has been evolving over time, especially in pop culture, according to Hodapp.

"Not all aspects of masculinity are toxic," she said. "It is toxic when construct of masculinity over-emphasizes and over-values problematic aspects of the identity, like lack of emotion and shame culture."

She added, "The worst parts of it get played up so not only are the effects felt externally, but men suffer too because it’s inherently limiting. The damage [from it] is real and men report this pretty regularly."

Hodapp noted she found it interesting that an ad from a shaving company had provoked such a dialogue so quickly.

"It’s really interesting that our politics are happening through commercials," she said. "That might be what we need to start talking, to bring it into the mainstream conversation."

Before this commercial, the #MeToo movement inspired some men to start making changes. A group of men in Philadelphia, in one example, meet on a regular basis to "hold each other accountable" and collectively lay the groundwork to stop "toxic masculinity," sexual assault and harassment.

The Gillette ad ends with a call for more men to "be the best men can be" because "the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jan152019

Ford debuts 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500, its most powerful street-legal car

Ford Motor(DETROIT) -- European supercars, you've met your match.

Ford Motor on Monday debuted its new 2020 Mustang Shelby GT500 sports car -- the fastest and most advanced street-legal vehicle ever produced by the Dearborn, Michigan, automaker.

The hand-built, 5.2-liter aluminum alloy supercharged V8 engine turns out 700-plus horsepower and is "capable of mid-three-second 0-60 mph and sub-11-second quarter-mile scores," according to Ford. The GT500 also boasts an adjustable exposed carbon fiber GT4 track wing.

The Ford Performance team said it inverted a 2.65-liter roots-type supercharger with air-to-liquid intercooler into the V8 engine valley to keep the intake air cooler and deliver a lower center of gravity.

The 7-speed dual-clutch transmission can shift in under 100 milliseconds and includes several drive modes: normal, weather, sport, drag and track.

“With its supercar-level powertrain, the all-new Shelby GT500 takes the sixth-generation Mustang to a performance level once reserved only for exotics,” Hermann Salenbauch, global director, Ford Performance vehicle programs, said in an announcement. “As a Mustang, it has to be attainable and punch above its weight. To that end, we’ve set a new standard among American performance cars with our most powerful street-legal V8 engine to date, plus the quickest-shifting transmission ever in a Mustang for all-out precision and speed.”

Carroll Shelby, the legendary American race car driver, crafted the first-generation Shelby GT500 in 1967 with a modified 428-cubic-inch V8, inspired by his team’s 1-2-3 finish at Le Mans.

According to Ford, Shelby called the original GT500 “the first real car I’m really proud of.”

Ford did not announce pricing for the new Mustang but said the pony car will be available in showrooms this fall.

Bill Ford Jr., whose grandfather, Henry Ford, founded the company 115 years ago, reportedly has more than a dozen Mustangs in his personal car collection. He told ABC News in 2018 that no one imagined the Mustang would “create such a dedicated base of fans around the world” and still be in production today when it debuted at the New York World Fair in April of 1964.

The Mustang has been the best-selling sports car in the U.S. for the last three years.

Ford also introduced two new SUVs at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit: The Explorer ST, part of Ford Performance, and an Explorer Hybrid.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jan152019

Unpaid federal workers get help from food banks during government shutdown

asiseeit/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Food banks around the country near military bases or in cities with a lot of federal government employees have been stepping up to help the furloughed or unpaid workers during the government shutdown.

Over the weekend in Washington, a local food bank said 2,200 furloughed federal employees received produce and other items at pop-up locations.

As the historic government shutdown moves into its fourth week, with no end in sight, anti-hunger advocates and other groups are working to make sure that federal employees and contractors can access resources and get food while they aren't getting paid.

In Dallas, a local church is handing out gift cards to furloughed employees. In cities like Tampa, Florida; Chicago; Rochester, Minnesota and Ogden, Utah, food banks are setting up pantries or expanding hours so federal employees can pick up groceries or even pet food.

Some restaurants have also offered discounts for federal workers. Award-winning chef Jose Andres announced that his organization World Central Kitchen will start serving food on Pennsylvania Avenue in D.C.

One group, Hunger Free America, launched a hotline and website to help unpaid federal workers navigate the process to apply for benefits, locate food pantries, or find out how to volunteer while they are furloughed.

The CEO of Hunger Free NYC Joel Berg worked as a federal employee for eight years at the United States Department of Agriculture. He said that given low starting salaries for federal employees and that many Americans don't have enough savings for an emergency fund, missing even one paycheck is serious.

"It's clear that low-income federal employees could quickly run out of food after being denied even one paycheck," Berg said. "Many dedicated public servants will need extra help with food. This shutdown vividly demonstrates just how many Americans are only one missed paycheck away from hunger."

And for people who receive food assistance on a regular basis, advocates want to make sure they know they will receive their Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, also known as food stamps, early this month and will have to make them last until the end of February.

Angie Rodgers, president of the Arizona Association of Food Banks, told ABC News she knows many families already have to stretch their monthly benefits and are worried about the impact for those that now have to make those benefits last even longer. She said almost all families that receive benefits don't carry any over to the next month and that, when push comes to shove, they'll sacrifice buying healthy food if they have to prioritize other expenses like rent.

"I think it really could have a significant impact with low-income families and those struggling with hunger because they are not going to have the cash to be able to float it to the next month," she said in an interview Friday, adding, "asking them to stretch a benefit that doesn't usually stretch 30 days into 45 days could be a challenge."

Politico also reported that retailers are scrambling to make sure they have enough food in stock to handle an early surge of shoppers using SNAP.

The "Fed Food" hotline is available at www.HungerFreeAmerica.org/FedFood and 855-859-4647. Information about SNAP and other government nutrition programs is also available on the USDA website and state government websites. Feeding America also has a search tool to find local food banks at FeedingAmerica.org.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jan152019

The looming danger in high-tech car safety systems: Experts

oatawa/iStock(DETROIT) -- Get behind the wheel of a new car and you'll be amazed at the suite of safety features available. Blind spot detection. Rear-view cameras. Automatic emergency braking. Lane departure warning. These driver-assist technologies are proliferating as cars become increasingly sophisticated computers.

At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, which opened to the press on Monday, consumers can expect to hear how automakers are loading up their vehicles with sensors, cameras, radar and other technologies to keep drivers safer and more secure on the road. But are they doing the trick? And are drivers willfully surrendering their skills to a machine?

Ten percent of drivers recently surveyed by Esurance said they believe semi-autonomous technology in cars is hindering their driving. Nearly 30 percent of respondents admitted that warning sounds -- the audible alerts, beeps and blinking lights -- could be distracting. Moreover, one in four drivers are disabling at least one feature intended to increase their safety, Esurance found.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Brandon Mason, an automotive analyst and director at PwC, said he witnessed technology that monitors a driver’s eyes and posture via cameras and retinal display. If the car’s computer senses the driver’s eyelids are drooping, for example, an alert will go off. Computers are also learning to surveil a driver’s hands at all times.

Automakers may have good intentions with these in-vehicle features but there could be negative consequences too, he pointed out.

“Drivers could become overly reliant on these technologies,” he told ABC News. “The technology may be smarter but not always safer.”

The number of accidents in the U.S. since the mid 2000s have been on the rise, he noted, about the same time automakers began introducing some of this tech. Accidents related to distracted driving have also been on an upward trajectory, he said.

Automakers are “struggling to find a balance” between what consumers want in cars and what technology to include, he said, adding that they still cannot control “the human element.”

In 2016, 37,461 people died in motor vehicle crashes, up from 32,744 in 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which works in partnership with the auto industry to ensure drivers are equipped with the latest safety technologies. Distracted driving accounted for 3,450 deaths in 2016, the agency said. Texting, eating, drinking and fidgeting with the radio or navigation are all causes of distracted driving.

Mason and Ed Kim, a veteran automotive industry expert and vice president of industry analysis at AutoPacific, both believe these safety features are steps toward fully autonomous vehicles.

Carmakers are “mentally preparing the general public for this autonomous future,” Kim told ABC News. “It’s all about messaging.”

Consumers will often pay more for safety technologies and safety ranks as a top reason for selecting a vehicle, according to research done by AutoPacific. Automakers are also choosing names that evoke safety, such as the Ford Co-Pilot 360, Toyota Motor Sense, Acura Watching and Honda Sensing, for their driver-assist technology, Kim noted.

Ford has been touting the advanced safety credentials of its new 2020 Ford Explorer SUV, which had its public debut on Wednesday. The Detroit-based automaker, as part of its push for more driver-assist technology, said the Explorer would offer pre-collision assistance with automatic emergency braking, pedestrian detection, dynamic brake support, lane-keeping system, cross-traffic alerts and adaptive cruise control with speed sign recognition. The new Explorer will not only parallel park itself but also perpendicular park without having the driver touch the steering wheel, gear shifter, gas pedal or brake pedal.

Consumers may want the safest cars but they’re not necessarily seeking out these technologies, Kim said.

“No consumer has said, ‘Gosh, I wish I could keep my car in my lane,’” he said, referring to lane departure and lane keeping assist features.

The new technologies may seem alarming to older drivers but Kim argued they work pretty well and the technology hasn’t failed on him -- yet.

“Automakers won’t put the technology on the market unless it’s passed their Research and Development metrics for safety,” he said. “They’re terrified of liability issues.”

He does acknowledge that younger people who are growing up with these technologies may become overly dependent on them. And features that were designed to limit distractions have actually had the opposite intended effect.

“The controls on the steering wheels [were created] to prevent the driver from taking his or her eyes off the road,” Kim said. “There’s definitely truth to the idea that you can do too much on the wheel now. There’s the potential to create a more distracted environment.”

Fifty-four percent of motorists said new technology makes them better drivers, according to a Cox Automotive mobility study that was published last August. Millennials value in-car tech more than other generations -- 54 percent versus 36 percent for Generation X and 31 percent for Baby Boomers, the study found.

“People want more tech but it’s always the No. 1 complaint when it doesn’t work,” Michelle Krebs, executive analyst at Autotrader, a part of Cox Automotive, told ABC News. “Infotainment has to work seamlessly with a cellphone and be intuitive."

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety rates and evaluates the infotainment systems of a variety of vehicles, focusing on visual and cognitive demand. It found that hands-free, voice-command features and other interactive tech in cars are causing distractions that “unintentionally provide motorists with a false sense of security about their safety behind the wheel.”

“Just because a technology is available in your vehicle does not mean it is safe to use while driving,” the organization states on its website.

Carmakers are trying limit the number of distractions to motorists by disabling certain features when the car is in motion, according to Kim.

Jessica Cicchino, vice president of research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said forward collision warnings and automatic emergency braking have helped to reduce the number of accidents on the road. Consumers do have the option of turning off the technology and the largest complaints from consumers involve lane departure warnings, with more than half of drivers shutting that feature off, she noted.

Whether or not technology actually hinders driving will continue to be closely watched by the industry. But “certainly there are more things in the vehicle to look at than ever before,” Cicchino told ABC News. “We want consumers to know the tech that’s been out there is proving to be effective and helpful.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jan142019

TSA staffing shortages hit nation's busiest airports amid government shutdown

David Tran/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Transportation Security Administration officials are closing more security lanes amid increased callouts from officers not being paid during the government shutdown.

The absence rate at TSA on Monday is 7.6 percent, up from 3.2 percent on the same day last year, according to TSA spokesperson Michael Bilello.

Major airports in cities such as Atlanta and Houston "are exercising their contingency plans to uphold aviation security standards." That means condensing TSA officers into fewer checkpoints and screening lanes to uphold security standards at the cost of longer lines.

Queues at Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport security extended more than an hour long on Monday morning, causing travelers to miss flights, according to ABC-affiliate WSB-TV.

 An Atlanta airport spokesperson told ABC News several security lanes were closed this morning, leading to longer than usual lines. It's unclear if those lanes are reopening for the evening rush.

The security checkpoint at Terminal B in Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport is also closed. Passengers are forced to go through a surrounding checkpoint and then walk or take the train to their gate in Terminal B on the secure side of the airport.

While "mission critical" federal employees continue to go to work during the government shutdown, they are, for the first time, missing a paycheck. Airport screeners, air traffic controllers and many FAA inspectors and engineers did not get paid this week despite going to work.

Flights are still taking off on time and air traffic controllers had to tackle a major winter storm from the Midwest to the East Coast this weekend, canceling hundreds of flights and thousands of delays.

As a show of solidarity, a number of air traffic controllers in Canada have banded together to send pizza to their American counterparts amid payment freeze.

ABC News saw employees of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport on Monday delivering donuts and words of encouragement to TSA officers at a security checkpoint. TSA officers are not allowed to accept gifts from companies or passengers but can accept donations like meals from the airport.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jan142019

Traveler was able to get a firearm through a TSA security checkpoint and onto an international flight

TennesseePhotographer/iStock(NEW YORK) -- As concerns about the possible impacts of the government shutdown on airport screening grow, a passenger got a gun through the country's busiest airport and onto an international flight in his carry-on bag, according to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

The passenger was traveling through the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport earlier this month and boarded a Delta flight to Japan, which has strict gun control laws.

"TSA has determined standard procedures were not followed and a passenger did in fact pass through a standard screening TSA checkpoint with a firearm at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on January 2. TSA will hold those responsible appropriately accountable," the agency said in a statement.

The Jan. 2 incident was 12 days into the current government shutdown, but staff shortages were not an issue at the time; the TSA reported that staffing levels were the same that day as they were on Jan. 2, 2018.

The security breach was only determined when the passenger informed Delta of what happened "upon arrival" in Japan, a Delta source told ABC News.

After the passenger made the disclosure, the airline alerted the TSA. It is unclear what happened to the gun and if the passenger faced any consequences.

In the 12 days since this incident, the number of TSA agents who called in sick has steadily increased as the government shutdown carries on.

On Sunday Jan. 13, 7.7 percent of the agency's employees had unscheduled absences, according to TSA spokesperson Michael Bilello.

More than 51,000 airport security screeners are required to work through the government shutdown -- despite the agency's inability to provide them their regular pay -- until it secures congressional funding from lawmakers in Washington.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jan142019

CEO of California utility PG&E resigns as firm faces liability over wildfires

David Tran/iStock(LOS ANGELES) -- California's largest utility company said on Sunday its chief executive had resigned as the firm faces billions of dollars in potential liabilities tied to the state's deadly and destructive wildfires last year.

Geisha Williams announced her resignation from PG&E amid growing concerns over the company's role in the devastating Camp Fire, which killed at least 86 people and destroyed more than 18,800 homes and buildings.

Williams, who took the helm in 2017, will be replaced temporarily by the company's general counsel, John Simon, until a full-time chief executive is hired.

Simon held several senior roles within the company, including executive vice president of corporate services and senior vice president of human resources.

"While we are making progress as a company in safety and other areas, the board recognizes the tremendous challenges PG&E continues to face," the company said. "We believe John is the right interim leader for the company while we work to identify a new CEO."

The cause of the fire, which grew to become the deadliest and most destructive in state history, is still under investigation.

PG&E said an employee discovered a damaged power line near the source of the Camp Fire immediately before the massive blaze broke out.

Analysts said PG&E's wildfire liabilities could be as as high as $30 billion, if the company is found responsible.

Ratings agency S&P slashed PG&E's credit rating to junk status earlier this month, citing growing regulatory and financial concerns stemming from the wildfire probe. The ratings agency cut the company's key rate five notches to "B" from "BBB-."

The utility firm's market value tumbled to $9.12 billion over the last few months, compared to $25.32 billion in October.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jan142019

Six brands helping women take back the lingerie industry

Neon Moon(NEW YORK) -- While there's a time and place for elaborate lingerie, more women want to be comfortable and practical, forcing the lingerie industry to adapt.

According to a Zion Market Research report, the "global lingerie market was valued at approximately [$]38.19 billion in 2017 and is expected to generate a revenue of around [$]59.15 billion by end of 2024."

It's no secret that lingerie retailer Victoria's Secret has dominated the industry, but in the time of Me Too and Times Up, women are taking more control of their bodies and what they wear.

We've seen a change in some major companies over the past few years, with brands such as Aerie eliminating retouching from its ads and website, but now we're seeing more indie brands pop up to give women what they want.

Singer and songwriter Rihanna even took notice of the change and, in 2018, launched her own lingerie brand, Savage X Fenty, which showcases models of all ages, sizes and skin tones.

So, what's next for the lingerie industry?

Get to know the story behind six brands who are reshaping the industry.

Indie brands LIVELY, Lonely, THINX, Nubian Skin, Dear Kate and Neon Moon were all created to give women more functional and practical undergarments that cater to them instead of the male gaze.

LIVELY

Michelle Cordeiro Grant created LIVELY in 2016 to not only be a brand but a community for women.

With social media, "you can actually build your community and your brand with customers," Grant told ABC News' Good Morning America.

"The community's goal is one thing, which is to inspire women to be passionate, purposeful and confident," she added.

In nearly three years, LIVELY has built a following of more than 141,000 on its Instagram page and inspired more than 10,000 posts using the hashtag "#livingLIVELY."

With its following and community, Grand says its "customers tell us what to make."

Seventy percent of the bras at LIVELY do not have wires in them, so "our bras conform to you, not the other way around."

"Everything about our brand came from the realness of how women look, feel and think," Grant said.

The brand has even found fans in celebrities with Jessica Alba and Kate Upton both seen wearing the bras during their recent pregnancies.

LIVELY combines lingerie, activewear and swimwear to created "leisurée," a term coined by the company to describe its aesthetic.

The company offers all of its bras for $35 no matter their size.

LIVELY's goal for the future is to "be even more inclusive than we are today," according to Grant.

Lonely

"When Lonely started 16 years ago, our vision was to celebrate the strength and individuality of women, everything we’ve done since is anchored in this idea," co-founder Helene Morris told GMA.

Lonely was ahead of its time with its ideas and it continues to stay on the pulse of the industry, with its website featuring real women of all ages.

"Our goal is simply to portray women as they are without applying a set of filters or expectations on how their bodies are meant to look," Morris said.

When it comes to creating their pieces, Morris said, "The idea of creating a lingerie piece that has the power to make a woman feel special is hugely important to us."

She added, "Hopefully, less stereotyping and more female voices become the new normal. Sadly, we still have a long way to go, but there are positive signs that change is taking place."

THINX

THINX has created its own space when it comes to lingerie.

The company is a unique mix of feminine hygiene and lingerie offering period-proof underwear.

CEO Maria Molland says the company was a "response to a lack of innovation in feminine hygiene."

Molland wants to make sure, "women know what they are putting into their bodies."

"We wanted to make sure that the women that came to our website could see themselves in our models," Molland added.

THINX focuses on, "comfort and making sure women can feel confident," with its website offering different styles, sizes and materials for customers to find an ideal fit.

Over the next few years, THINX plans to focus on more performance-oriented fabrics and hopes to see more innovation from the U.S. being used.

Nubian Skin

What do you think of when you hear the word nude? For Ade Hassan, she was frustrated with the term and how it was represented for women of color in stores.

"My nude isn’t the nude I see in shops," she says on the website for Nubian Skin, which she launched in 2014.

Since everyone has a different idea in their head, Hassan felt stores should reflect that.

"Representation is important," Hassan told GMA. "We should care about it because women of color are often underrepresented, and it’s an incredibly empowering thing to open a magazine and see someone you can relate to."

Hassan's impact in the industry has not gone unnoticed. Nubian Skin has provided underpinnings for Beyoncé's Formation World Tour and Hassan was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2017 at Buckingham Palace for her services to the fashion industry.

Despite all of these advancements in inclusivity, Nubian Skin founder Ade Hassan says, "there is still work to be done!"

Dear Kate

Monthly Gift, which sends period products to your door, acquired Dear Kate in 2017 as an extension of its subscription service.

Co-founder and COO LisaMarie Lawrence told GMA the purpose of Dear Kate is to be functional as well as fashionable.

Lawrence even used local moms from her own community as models for the Dear Kate website.

“It’s all about real bodies,” she said.

While Lawrence looks for something comfortable, she says her sister loves the fashion element and that Dear Kate offers both.

Lawrence says Dear Kate has new and exciting things coming in 2019 and says she can't wait to see how far they can push their technology.

Neon Moon

Neon Moon is "feminist lingerie for all shapes and sizes," according to its website.

The company founded in 2014 is taking a stand against body shaming, and lingerie made only for specific sizes and in certain colors.

The company says it has, "seen a huge increase in love for lingerie which is inclusive, especially regarding body types but also in items which are designed with trans folk in mind."

"Women don't want to buy from companies which don't align with their views and in the era of Me Too, the sexualization of models just doesn't cut it for a lot anymore," the company told GMA.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Jan122019

DNA tests prompt a family reunion 52 years in the making

slavemotion/iStock(SAN DIEGO) --  In September, 2017, an Ohio woman named Erin Chatterton who never knew her biological parents received a birthday gift from her daughter and husband -- an AncestryDNA kit – and took the test.

Last spring, halfway across the country, a San Diego woman named Lisa Webster took one as well, and the startling results of those two tests led to a remarkable reunion this week that was 52 years in the making.

Webster was trying to puzzle together her heritage. While Chatterton said she "just took it for fun" after receiving the kit as a present.

Until Chatterton got a match, that is, and things "just snowballed from there."

Lisa and her sister Lori Webster are the daughters of Dick Webster and his first wife.

After Webster and his first wife divorced, he married Karen Leslie and had two sons.

So when Chatterton texted Lisa to say that they appear to match as either a “first sibling” or “first cousin,” the Webster sisters couldn't figure out how that could be.

The sisters turned to their father, but weren't able to get any details out of him, so Lori turned to her stepmother for answers.

Reluctantly, Leslie revealed that she did, in fact, have a daughter with their father -- Dick Webster -- before they were married, but gave the baby up for adoption.

Raised in a religious family, Leslie was kicked out of her home for getting pregnant out of wedlock.

At 21, Leslie felt like she had no other options but to give up her baby, the Webster sisters said.

“It was a real hard time in her life,” Lori said her stepmother told her.

“She absolutely blocked the memory out of her mind, probably because it was so painful.”

Leslie agreed to take a DNA test that later confirmed Chatterton was indeed her daughter.

The news was stunning, and it prompted the Webster sisters to organize a reunion.

“I was freaking out I was ready to give up, but it turns out it was just big fat secret!” Lori said.

After months of text exchanges the family finally met Chatterton for the first time yesterday in an emotional reunion at the San Diego airport.

“My stepmom had always wanted to meet her daughter, she just didn’t think it was going to take 52 years,” said Lori.

The heavily-anticipated meeting ended in tears of joy and big hugs.

“Part of me questioned why I was doing this, but I was really excited, and seeing them felt like we’ve known each other our whole lives,” Chatterton said.

Later this year, Chatterton plans to travel to Michigan to meet her birth father, who wasn’t able to make it due to health issues.

Understandably, her adoptive parents were uneasy about the meeting but Chatterton said she reassured them this “was just a cherry on top” and that she had no regrets about her wonderful upbringing.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Jan122019

Veteran's border wall fundraiser falls apart as GoFundMe says $20M will be refunded

Joe Raedle/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Turns out an Air Force veteran is having just as much trouble funding a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico as President Donald Trump.

GoFundMe said on Friday it will refund over $20 million in donations to a campaign started by veteran Brian Kolfage last year after he changed course on where the money would be donated. The campaign earned a massive amount of attention -- and just as many donations.

Kolfage started the campaign on Dec. 16 and touted it as a way to raise money to build a wall along the southern border as Trump struggled to secure the necessary $5 billion he was targeting in a spending bill. The government has now been shut down for a record 22 days over the impasse between the president and the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives.

"Eight days before Christmas I started this GoFundMe campaign because I was tired of watching the U.S. government’s inability to secure our southern border," Kolfage wrote on the campaign's page Friday. "Like most Americans, I see the porous southern border as a national security threat and I refuse to allow our broken political system to leave my family and my country vulnerable to attack."

The campaign, titled "We The People Will Build the Wall," had raised $20,240,198 as of early Saturday. Over 330,000 people had donated to the cause, with nine people giving over $10,000 and one person giving $50,000.

But Kolfage also announced on Friday he was suddenly stepping back from donating the money straight to the U.S. government -- a promise it wasn't exactly clear he could complete -- and instead funneling the money to a new nonprofit he started called "We Build the Wall, Inc."

The switch broke GoFundMe's donation rules and prompted the refund offer.

"There was a change in the use of funds," Bobby Whithorne, director of North America Communications for GoFundMe, told ABC News in a statement. "When the campaign was created, the campaign organizer specifically stated on the campaign page, 'If we don't reach our goal or come significantly close we will refund every single penny.' He also stated on the campaign page, '100% of your donations will go to the Trump Wall. If for ANY reason we don't reach our goal we will refund your donation.'

However, that did not happen," the statement continued. "This means all donors will receive a refund. If a donor does not want a refund, and they want their donation to go to the new organization, they must proactively elect to redirect their donation to that organization. If they do not take that step, they will automatically receive a full refund."

Whithorne said all donors will be contacted via email about receiving their refund.

Kolfage, who was severely wounded in Iraq in 2004 and is a triple amputee, was still soliciting funds on Friday. He acknowledged the government would not be able to accept the donations "anytime soon," and said his nonprofit was "better equipped than our own government to use the donated funds to build an actual wall on the southern border."

The nonprofit's board includes controversial former sheriff and regular Fox News guest David Clarke, private government security company Blackwater USA founder Erik Prince, and former Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, who oversaw Trump's dud voter fraud commission.

The border wall campaign is the second high-profile fundraiser to end in refunds in a matter of months. A homeless man and couple in Philadelphia were all arrested and charged in connection to creating a rouse to elicit over $400,000 in donations late last year.

The couple allegedly blew much of the money on vacations and gambling, and the scheme was exposed when the homeless man sued over not receiving the money.

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