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Monday
Mar182019

Meet the couple who created mobile showers for the homeless community

Revive + Refresh(HONOLULU) -- This couple is helping people within Honolulu's homeless community "feel like humans again" with their mobile shower service.

Craig Shoji and his wife Danica have provided showers for more than 250 people through their company Revive + Refresh.

In June 2015, when they visited an underprivileged community in San Francisco's Tenderloin neighborhood, they were inspired to fulfill an even greater purpose in life.

"I was walking down the street and there was a houseless individual there," Craig shared with ABC News' Good Morning America. "I just told him, 'Good morning,' and he was kind of surprised that I said that to him because no one ever says anything to him."

Craig realized how important it was "to just treat people like normal people."

Their business started as their service, Laundry Love, to provide fresh clothes to the homeless community, but it has expanded into a business that provides individuals with hot meals and showers.

This mission stems from their belief that "everyone has a story," no matter their walk of life.

The couple takes their trailer with two showers to their events around Honolulu. More than 460 people have attended to use their facilities with more than 250 people having used their showers.

Each guest gets 15 minutes, and each stall is equipped with toilet paper, shower gel and hand gel. Attendees are also all provided with a hot meal.

"Just to see their faces when they come out, it's like a different person," Craig said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Mar162019

Powerball grows to $550 million as jackpot goes unclaimed again

iStock(NEW YORK) -- The largest Powerball jackpot so far this year keeps climbing.

There was no winner again on Saturday, so the jackpot for March 20 has crossed the half billion mark and risen to $550 million.

The winning numbers for the $495 million jackpot on Saturday night were 30, 34, 39, 53, 67 and a Powerball of 11.

The cash value of the jackpot for a single winner would have been $300.2 million.

While there was no big winner on Saturday, someone in North Dakota matched all five white balls and the Power Play to claim $2 million and people in New Jersey and Pennsylvania each claimed $1 million.

Winners can take up to 180 days to claim their prize, and some can handle the delay.

It took 132 days for the winner of the $1.5 billion Mega Millions jackpot to claim her prize from the South Carolina Education Lottery. South Carolina is a state that allows winners to stay anonymous.

On Thursday, the lucky lady revealed more details about her winning situation through her lawyer, Jason Kurland. She didn't enjoy billionaire status for long; she chose the cash one-time payment of $877,784,124, the largest prize for a single winner in U.S. history.

The South Carolinian path into lotto history started when she drove past a KC Mart on a scenic trip to Greenville, South Carolina, Kurland said in a statement released on Thursday.

The store's signs about the jackpot caught her eye and she stopped to buy a ticket. She knew that she had won since the morning after the drawing, according to the statement.

“I hired a team with experience handling large jackpot winners,” the winner said. “I want to make sure I make all of the right decisions, which is why I have taken this amount of time to collect my prize.”

“Words can’t describe the feeling of such incredible luck,” she continued. “I do realize that such good fortune carries a tremendous social responsibility, and it gives me a unique opportunity to assist, support and contribute to charities and causes that are close to my heart.”

Kurland said she wanted to show her appreciation to her home state of South Carolina and the city of Simpsonville by providing charitable donations to the Ronald McDonald House of Charities of Columbia, South Carolina, One SC Fund for Hurricane Florence Relief, In The Middle of Columbia, the City of Simpsonville Art Center and the American Red Cross Alabama Region Tornado Relief Fund.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Mar162019

Louisiana attempting to recoup $26M in accidental tax refunds

iStock(BATON ROUGE, La.) -- A number of Louisiana residents unhappy with their tax return are about to get even more mad.

The state announced that a computer error earlier this week accidentally gave some people double the refund they expected. And no, they will not get to keep it.

Louisiana officials have already begun recouping what amounted to $26 million in duplicate refunds.

Most accidental refunds will be recovered electronically, with banks withdrawing the direct deposits.

"There is no need for the taxpayers to take any action as the department works to recover the overpayment of funds directly from their bank accounts," Commissioner of Administration Jay Dardenne said in a statement Friday. "With the cooperation of several financial institutions, the process is working."

According to the state, refunds that were processed correctly on March 12 were accidentally redeposited the following day. The mistake affected both direct deposit refunds and debit card refunds.

The error affected 66,700 individual taxpayers, according to a press release.

"If the state is unable to recover the refunds directly from the banking institutions, those taxpayers will receive a letter from the Department of Revenue with repayment instructions," the Division of Administration said in its release.

The state said it is "implementing procedures to prevent any recurrences" of the mistake.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Mar152019

USPS to release 'Sesame Street' stamps in honor of show's 50th anniversary

USPS(WASHINGTON) -- Sunny days, sweeping the clouds away, on their way to...the United States Post Service!

The federal agency revealed this week that 16 iconic "Sesame Street" Muppets will be joining the ranks of new stamps being released in 2019.

In a press release, USPS said the show is "one of the most influential and beloved children’s television shows."

"For the last 50 years, it has provided educational programming and entertainment for generations of children throughout the country and around the world," it continued.

The stamp art will feature photographs of 16 Muppets from "Sesame Street": Big Bird, Ernie, Bert, Cookie Monster, Rosita, The Count, Oscar the Grouch, Abby Cadabby, Herry Monster, Julia, Guy Smiley, Snuffleupagus, Elmo, Telly, Grover and Zoe. Art Director Derry Noyes designed the stamps.

In addition to the "Sesame Street" fleet of stamps, coming later on this year there will also be "Tyrannosaurus Rex" as well as "Spooky Silhouettes" stamps.

The “Nation’s T. rex,” the young adult depicted on two of the stamps, was discovered on federal land in Montana and is one of the most studied and important specimens ever found. Its remains will soon be on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., according to the U.S. Postal Service.

The "Spooky Silhouettes" stamps will offer "fun, frightful scenes that symbolize this annual celebration," the agency said.

More details, including dates and locations for the first-day-of-issue ceremonies, will be released soon.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Mar152019

Facebook offers ways to fight revenge porn, including sending nude photos to the company first

iStock(NEW YORK) -- Facebook announced new steps to fight revenge porn on its platforms on Friday, including the option to "provide a photo proactively to Facebook," so that it does not get shared more widely.

The company outlined multipronged strategies to deal with non-consensual pornographic content, and flag it before intimate material is reported on Facebook or Instagram, Antigone Davis, Facebook's global head of safety, wrote in a statement announcing the initiative.

Remarkably, the company outlined an "emergency option to provide a photo proactively to Facebook, so it never gets shared on our platforms in the first place," Davis wrote.

In the pilot program, a user could send a photo to themselves on Messenger, which a Facebook specialist would turn into a digital fingerprint. The fingerprint would then be stored in a database to check against potential future matches. This method is now being expanded over the coming months.

“We are thrilled to see the pilot expand to incorporate more women's safety organizations around the world, as many of the requests that we receive are from victims who reside outside of the U.S.," Holly Jacobs, the founder of Cyber Civil Rights Initiative (CCRI) said in Facebook's statement announcing the program.

The social media giant is also using more conventional tactics to deal with revenge porn, such as using artificial intelligence to scout near-nude images or videos shared without the subject's permission on both platforms.

"This means we can find this content before anyone reports it, which is important for two reasons: often, victims are afraid of retribution so they are reluctant to report the content themselves or are unaware the content has been shared," Davis said.

After machine learning detects the image or video, a human being will evaluate it.

"If the image or video violates our Community Standards, we will remove it, and in most cases, we will also disable an account for sharing intimate content without permission,” David wrote. “We offer an appeals process if someone believes we've made a mistake."

The company has come under fire in the past for its algorithms inaccurately flagging pornographic content. In 2016, it banned the iconic "Napalm Girl" photo by photojournalist Nick Ut, which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1972. It depicts a naked girl running down a highway outside Saigon during the Vietnam War, because napalm had burned off her clothing. The photo is titled The Terror of War. After international backlash, the company reinstated the photo.

The company is also launching an online hub called “Not Without My Consent” on the platform's Safety Center to help victims respond after revenge porn is posted. It said it consulted with experts to develop the program.

The service will help victims begin the process to get the offensive material removed, and make it easier for victims to report when their intimate images were shared on the platform.

Facebook said its new initiatives were created in partnership with Britain's Revenge Porn Helpline, the aforementioned U.S.'s CCRI, Pakistan's Digital Rights Foundation, Brazil's SaferNet and South Korean Professor Lee Ji-yeon.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Friday
Mar152019

How this couple turned their love of DIY into their side hustle

Jaruwan Jaiyangyuen/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Kevin and Ashley McAlpin turned their love of do-it-yourself (DIY) projects into their own side hustle.

The Knoxville, Tennessee, couple launched their own business, McAlpin Creative, that sells DIY tray and sign kits, in December. The company was born after Ashley, 28, gave birth to the couple’s first child, a daughter named Isla, last year.

“We decided when I was pregnant with Isla that we wanted to find some kind of investment that would be us investing in our future together,” she said. “We wanted to build something that is an investment in our future and that Isla will be part of.”

Kevin works full-time in human resources, while Ashley still works full time in marketing. Outside of work, the couple said they are constantly tackling DIY projects, with Kevin handling the construction and Ashley handling the design.

With spaces now popping up everywhere for groups to go do DIY projects together, Ashley said she realized there was a niche missing for people who wanted to do pre-assembled DIY projects at home.

“I was thinking about my group of friends,” she said. “We’re trying to find our community. We like to go out, but with everyone having young kids, it’s easier to stay at home and not have to put on makeup or get a babysitter.”

With the McAlpins’ DIY tray and sign kits, crafters simply have to go on the company’s website to order the kit they want, select the stain color and select a design to stencil or request a custom design, such as their family name.

The kits, which cost around $35 each, come with all supplies included and are kid-friendly so they can be done by families, groups of friends or as solo projects.

Forming their own business as a couple was both rewarding and an eye-opening experience for the McAlpins, who are still doing it as a side hustle on top of their full-time jobs. They also still put each DIY kit together by hand, usually at night after Isla goes to bed.

“We call them 'business date nights,'” Ashley said. “Starting a business together is totally foreign for us. It’s taught us a lot about each other.”

Kevin described his side hustle with his wife as a “bonding experience.”

“We’re still married,” he said. “It’s been fun. It helps to both be passionate about what we’re doing and having fun with it.”

Here are Kevin and Ashley’s three tips for couples starting a business together:

1. Keep an open mind. Not everything is going to go the way you envisioned, and that's okay. For us, navigating the early stages of our business was rocky at times. Opportunities that we thought would be great ended up letting us down.

We learned pretty early on that we had to stay open to different endings.

2. Let it grow organically. Working full-time and starting a business can be exhausting. For us, it was manageable because we spent the time and leg work up front developing repeatable and scalable processes that carry our business for us as we grow.

We've taken steps to schedule our time in a way that makes sense for us, even if it's not traditional. We often have business "date nights" where we spend four to five hours after Isla's bedtime working on building kits and fine-tuning our business plans. We try not to stress about certain growth goals, but instead focus on having fun, enjoying each other and building something we love.

3. Always be ready to pivot. When we started this adventure we thought we were headed in a completely different direction. But, the deeper we got into our plan, the more its shortcomings were exposed. We had to decide rather quickly whether to keep pressing in or pivot in a new direction. We chose a new direction and we would never go back.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Mar142019

Hallmark Channel drops actress Lori Loughlin amid college cheating scandal

Phillip Faraone/WireImage/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The massive college admissions scam that snared 50 people in a federal indictment now appears to have cost one of the two famous actresses a major contract.

Lori Loughlin, known to many as Aunt Becky from the television show "Full House," was dropped from the Hallmark Channel where she has been featured in a number of movies in recent years, the company said in a statement.

"We are saddened by the recent news surrounding the college admissions allegations," the Hallmark Channel's parent company Crown Media announced Thursday afternoon. "We are no longer working with Lori Loughlin and have stopped development of all productions that air on the Crown Media Family Network channels involving Lori Loughlin including Garage Sale Mysteries, an independent third party production."

No more of Loughlin's work will air on the network, including shows that have already been filmed.

Loughlin appeared in court Wednesday and was released on a $1 million secure bond. According to court documents, she and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, "agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team -- despite the fact that they did not participate in crew -- thereby facilitating their admission to USC."

Loughlin isn't the only one in the family to lose work over the scandal. Sephora announced Thursday that they were dropping their partnership with Loughlin's daughter, Olivia Jade, who is a popular YouTube vlogger and a freshman at the University of Southern California (USC).

"After careful review of recent developments, we have made the decision to end the Sephora Collection partnership with Olivia Jade, effective immediately," the makeup company announced in a statement.

Those directly involved in the federal criminal case are not the only ones who are entering the legal fray over the college admissions scheme. Now a class-action lawsuit filed by two California college students in a Northern California federal court by two students at Stanford University, one of the eight elite colleges named in the lawsuit, all of which had associated individuals implicated in the bribery case.

In the suit, students Erica Olsen and Kalea Woods claimed they both went through the legitimate and rigorous admissions process to Stanford and were "never informed that the process of admission was an unfair, rigged process, in which rich parents could buy their way into the university through bribery."

The suit also names as defendants the University of Southern California, UCLA, the University of San Diego, the University of Texas, Wake Forest University, Yale University and Georgetown University.

The college admissions scam investigation said that people associated with various athletic teams at each of those schools were involved in getting students admission.

Olsen, according to the lawsuit, applied to Yale University in 2017, submitting "stellar standardized test score, and a glowing profile that including being a talented athlete and dancer."

Olsen noted that she paid an application fee of approximately $80, according to the suit.

"Had she known that the system at Yale University was warped and rigged by fraud, she would not have spent the money to apply to the school," the lawsuit states. "She also did not receive what she paid for — a fair admissions consideration process."

Olsen contends she had been damaged by the admissions scandal because her degree from Stanford "is now not worth as much as it was before, because prospective employers may now question whether she was admitted to the university on her own merits, versus having parents who were willing to bribe school officials."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Mar142019

Jury awards $29 million to California woman who claimed Johnson & Johnson baby powder caused cancer

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images(OAKLAND, Calif.) -- A California jury awarded $29 million on Wednesday to a woman who sued Johnson & Johnson, claiming that asbestos in its talcum-based baby powder caused her cancer.

An Alameda County jury in Oakland, California, held Johnson & Johnson responsible for Teresa Leavitt’s mesothelioma — a cancer linked to asbestos exposure — through her use of baby powder.

It is the latest in as many as 13,000 pending lawsuits against the company related to body powders containing talc, according to the annual report the company filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The largest award to date is $4.7 billion, which was awarded in July 2018.

In the same filing, the company also disclosed it is being investigated by the SEC and the Justice Department for its disclosures regarding alleged asbestos contamination in baby powder.

Leavitt's attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Johnson & Johnson said it is appealing the Oakland jury verdict and maintains that its baby powder is safe.

"We are disappointed with today’s verdict and will pursue an appeal because Johnson’s Baby Powder does not contain asbestos or cause cancer," the company said in a statement emailed to ABC News. "Plaintiffs’ attorneys have fundamentally failed to show that Johnson’s Baby Powder contains asbestos, and their own experts concede that they are not recognizing the accepted definition of asbestos and are ignoring crucial distinctions between minerals that are asbestos and minerals that are not. We respect the legal process and reiterate that jury verdicts are not medical, scientific or regulatory conclusions about a product."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Mar142019

Norwegian Cruise Line is giving free cruises to teachers this spring

Tramino/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Everyone has that one teacher who made school feel filled with joy.

Norwegian Cruise Line wants to celebrate those incredible teachers with a free cruise.

"Joy" is the theme for a good reason: the cruise line will debut the Norwegian Joy in North America in May 2019.

NCL is giving a seven-day cruise for two to 15 teachers in the U.S. and Canada. Nominate an educator who demonstrates a passion for spreading the joy of learning (or, if you are one, nominate yourself!). Tell NCL how your candidate is bringing joy to the classroom, then cast your vote.

The top 15 nominees will receive a free cruise for two, an exclusive invitation to an award ceremony on May 3 in Seattle -- including airfare and accommodations -- and the chance to win the grand prize of $15,000 for their school.

Part of the cruise line's Breakaway Plus class, the Norwegian Joy will sail from the West Coast year-round to Alaska, the Mexican Riviera, the Pacific Coast and the Panama Canal. It has an on board race track, laser tag, an outdoor promenade and perhaps most importantly for those teachers who give it their all: the Mandara Spa.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Mar142019

Celebrate Pi Day with free food and discounts

Ekaterina79/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Happy Pi Day!

While math nerds may have March 14 -- 3/14 -- circled on their calendars for the annual celebration of that quantity with an infinite number of decimal digits, it's also a day of food-related deals that everyone can enjoy.

Recently, Pi Day has become a fun way for companies to promote deep discounts on pies and pizzas. Pi is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, but on March 14, the mathematical symbol is more of a sign for savings.

Check out the list below for some fun Pi Day deals and treats:

BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse: Dine in and get a mini one-topping pizza for $3.14 on Thursday only.

Blaze Pizza: Build your own artisan pizza for $3.14 when you dine in and download the Blaze Pizza app before March 14.

Bojangles': The famed fried chicken fast food joint will offer three sweet potato pies for $3.14.

All week the southern-based restaurant chain has tweeted out a Pi Day trivia question, giving customers who answer correctly the chance to win a $10 gift card.

Boston Market: When you buy a chicken pot pie and a drink, you'll get a second pot pie free. Print out the online coupon to score this Pi(e) Day deal.

California Pizza Kitchen: Instead of one of their classic pizza pies, CPK is offering a sweet dessert for Pi Day this year.

Get a slice of Key Lime Pie for the classic Pi Day price. The offer is valid at participating locations for dine-in or takeout only.

Cici's Pizza: Buy one adult buffet and a drink and receive a second adult buffet for free.

Fresh Brothers: The pizza restaurant will offer fans any personal pizza for $3.14 and includes orders with unlimited toppings.

Promo code PIDAY is required and available for pick up, dine-in and delivery but not through outside delivery apps.

Hungry Howie's: Receive a one-topping pizza for just $3.14 with the purchase of any bread item and use of the code 19PI to save on March 14.

Little Pie Company: The bakery released an all-new new customer voted chocolate peanut butter pie just for Pi Day. The new flavor has a chocolate crust, smooth peanut butter filling and swirls of chocolate ganache.

The 3.14 inspired pie is available in store and online until May 14 and comes in two sizes -- a five-inch personal pie and 10-inch.

Magnolia Bakery: On Pi Day, the bakery will offer special caramel apple hand pies.

The personal portion of caramel apple pie is made with fresh apples, handmade caramel and a sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar. They are available at all Magnolia Bakery U.S. stores in New York City, Boston, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Los Angeles for $4.00 each while supplies last.

Marie Callender's: Get a free slice of pie with the purchase of any adult entree.

The restaurant and bakery will offer the sweet deal for customers who print out the online coupon available on their website. Some exclusions apply so see the coupon for more details.

Milk Bar: The pastry shop owned by All About Cake author and pastry chef Christina Tosi will be serving it's infamous crack pie a la mode this Pi Day. The signature slices made of a gooey butter filling and oat crust will be served with the shop's classic cereal milk, soft serve. Taste this delicious duo for just $10 at locations in New York, D.C., Toronto, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

Milk Bar products are also available to be shipped nationwide, and from March 13 through noon on March 14, the bakery will offer free shipping for any order with whole Crack Pies.

Papa Johns: Get 30 percent off a full price order with their Pi Day discount code.

Pieology: Buy one pizza and get one for -- you guessed it -- $3.14.

Salt and Straw: The popular artisan ice cream shop has a pie infused flavor that's perfect for Pi Day: wild foraged berry slab pie. The flavor includes globs of gooey berry pie with cranberries, cherries and other fruits mixed into the creamy salted vanilla base.

Scoops and pints are available in all scoop shops and for nationwide shipping all month long.

Whole Foods: Get $3.14 off select bakery pies at the grocery chain. Varieties, flavors and availability may differ by region.

&Pizza: Use promo code PIDAY19 from March 13 - March 17 courtesy of Uber Eats to get $3.14 off any &Pizza delivery.

Fun Pi Facts

A recent survey by CouponFollow showed that 91 percent of Americans know what Pi is (not just the food kind.)

3.14159265359 are the first 10 digits of Pi but only 25 percent of Americans can recite even the first five or more decimal places.

Thanksgiving is the overwhelming favorite holiday to eat pie -- 66 percent of people preferred turkey day to all other times to eat pie.

Nearly 50 percent of the survey respondents said they shop for discounts and deals on March 14, and 43 percent said they would buy a whole pizza pie.

People said their favorite pie is apple, but the all-American classic just barely edged out chocolate cream pie with 20 percent of people who chose the silky dessert.

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