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Thursday
Mar142019

How one woman is changing the face of the industrial workforce for women

SeeHerWork(NEW YORK) --  One woman who worked in the oil and gas industry for 15 years found a common issue among women in similar fields: there is no protective clothing that helps women "fit in" in industrial careers.

Jane Henry's solution was to create SeeHerWork, an inclusive clothing line designed for women in fields such as construction and engineering, helping them to feel more confident and safe at work.

The "aha moment"


With the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, which hit her home in Houston in 2017, Henry and her family were forced to rebuild everything.

The Division I Collegiate athlete's mindset was trained "to think about safety first" with her sledgehammer in hand and three feet of mud to work through in her house.

"The breaking moment was when I went to go throw a board into the dumpster," Henry told GMA. "My unisex gloves go flying with it, and the board comes back and slams my hand against the dumpster wall."

Henry called this her "aha moment," especially considering she normally wears a women's large in gloves, so the fact that the unisex gloves did not fit spoke volumes.

"You can't perform at that level if your clothing and equipment don't fit," Henry said.

She realized that if this clothing was not available for women working in hard labor like her, she would create a company that would.

SeeHerWork would be a line that would sell personal protective clothing (PPC) and personal protective equipment (PPE).

No more "pink it and shrink it"


According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), PPE and PPC, such as boots, gloves, pants, helmets and other items, "should be based on female measurements."

Henry conducted focus groups with women in careers that focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) that are physical in nature. She realized that the PPE that was available was a prominent issue.

Women handling chemicals in their jobs, for instance, were at risk of exposing themselves to harmful substances because of the way their clothing was designed.

"They'll say things to me like, 'Well, I just didn't fit,'" Henry shared. "When I hear that and then I correlate it to their work wear. The men would even say they didn't look like they fit."

Another response she said she often received was, "'We are tired of this 'pink it and shrink it.' We want work wear that fits.'"

Women were represented in a smaller margin of employment in STEM occupations, according to a 2016 chart by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Women hold about 14 percent of architecture and engineering jobs, and just 9 percent of construction jobs, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

"SeeHerWork's mission is about saving lives and attracting and retaining in these very lucrative, equal-pay careers that go with massive labor shortages every year," Henry said.

The company sells products such as leather gloves, high visibility long-sleeved shirts, vests, backpacks, safety glasses and undergarments such as bras.

This inclusive line also provides items for men, who also range in size.

"You're already trying to prove yourself as a female in a male-dominated career," Vivi Rodriguez, a firefighter and paramedic, told GMA. "And it's really hard when what you're complaining about is that your pants don't fit or your gloves don't fit."

Rodriguez said that when she wears clothing from SeeHerWork, she doesn't have to worry about "a glove falling off during overhaul or my clothing being see-through because I'm sweating."

"I'm able to focus on the job that I'm trying to do."

Paving the way for the next generation


Some encouraging words other women gave Henry within these focus groups were:

"'We cannot wait for this gear to come out so we can perform," she said they have told her. "We can pull up the next level, the next generation that's going to come in behind us.'"

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Mar142019

Facebook under criminal investigation over data-sharing deals with tech firms

GERARD JULIEN/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Facebook is under a criminal investigation over its data-sharing agreements with major technology firms and manufactures, ABC News has confirmed.

Federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York are looking into the social networking giant's sharing deals with other big tech companies, a source with knowledge of the matter told ABC News Wednesday.

The probe comes just months after The New York Times published a report accusing Facebook of giving well-known electronics companies, including smartphone makers, more intrusive access to users' personal data than it previously disclosed.

A New York grand jury has subpoenaed records from at least two prominent smartphone manufacturers in connection with the criminal investigation, according to The New York Times, which first reported news of the probe. The companies were not named in the report.

ABC News' source did not offer details about the scope of the inquiry or when it began.The Justice Department and the Eastern District did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment.

Facebook did not mention the reported federal investigation specifically, but said in a statement Wednesday it would continue to cooperate with any law enforcement probes.

"It's already been reported that there are ongoing federal investigations, incl. by the Dept of Justice. As we’ve said, we're cooperating w/ investigators and take those probes seriously," the company said in a statement Wednesday. "We've provided public testimony, answered questions, and pledged that we'll continue to do so."

The company did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment early Thursday morning.

Facebook, which has more than 2.2 billion users, has been under pressure by privacy regulators since last year when news broke that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had obtained the personal data of as many as 87 million profiles.

Cambridge Analytica -- which received nearly $6 million for services provided to President Donald Trump's campaign during the 2016 election cycle -- allegedly accessed users' personal data improperly to target voters with political ads, according to a whistleblower.

Facebook suspended Cambridge Analytica from its platform in the wake of the scandal, saying the firm violated its policies governing how third-party developers can deploy user data they obtained from the company.

Cambridge Analytica denied any wrongdoing, including allegations that it used or held onto Facebook data.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg vowed to focus more on user privacy amid fallout from the scandal and intense scrutiny from lawmakers and advocacy groups.

Last week, the company said it planned to build out its messaging platform to focus more on privacy and encrypted chats.

"I understand that many people don't think Facebook can or would even want to build this kind of privacy-focused platform -- because frankly we don't currently have a strong reputation for building privacy protective services, and we've historically focused on tools for more open sharing," Zuckerberg wrote in a blog post last week. "I believe the future of communication will increasingly shift to private, encrypted services where people can be confident what they say to each other stays secure and their messages and content won't stick around forever."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Mar132019

Facebook, Instagram experience widespread outages

alexsl/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Eager posters everywhere were forced to table foodie photos, kid pics, sponsored influencer posts and relationship status updates for a little while as Facebook and Instagram experienced widespread outages Wednesday afternoon.

"We’re aware that some people are currently having trouble accessing the Facebook family of apps," a Facebook spokesperson told ABC News. "We’re working to resolve the issue as soon as possible."

Word of the outages, which have lasted for several hours, spread quickly on one platform still up: Twitter, where #FacebookDown and #InstagramDown were quickly among the top trends on the site.

Many expressed relief they weren't the only ones locked out of the platforms, while others took the opportunity to poke fun at the frustration of those who rely on the social media platforms for work.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Mar132019

Huda Beauty founder talks about women's empowerment, how passion has led to her success

John Phillips/Getty Images for The Business of Fashion(NEW YORK) -- “Our ambition is far bigger than the bottom line.”

That’s how makeup artist, CEO and entrepreneur Huda Kattan responded when she was asked about her company’s road to billionaire status.

“That’s really the reason we’ve been successful and will have longevity as a brand," Kattan said.

With a platform of over 33.9 million followers on Instagram alone, Kattan is at the helm of an eponymous beauty empire that's been valued at $1.2 billion and now goes far beyond her signature eyeshadow palette that put her on the map.

Although she's in love with beauty, she said she didn't initially seek to turn her passion for it into a massive cosmetics brand.

"It was never my plan to create something as big as Huda Beauty but it became so important so quickly because I had an entire audience of people who were telling me what they wanted," said Kattan.

In 2013, Kattan launched a beauty line that included makeup products for the eyes, face and lips, after listening to the needs and wants of her many Instagram followers.

Today, an online search of "nude eyeshadow palette" will likely turn up results that include Huda Beauty.

"I mean, our New Nude Palette is next-level," Kattan told "Good Morning America." "It redefined the term 'nude' in the cosmetics world and brought innovation to an already loved beauty product: the eyeshadow palette. The shades are not what anyone was expecting from a nude palette. They ranged from deep berries to dusty coppers to fair pinks."

Why Huda used to go by 'Heidi'


Kattan admitted that she used to pretend she had a different name. "Growing up in the U.S., I started going by 'Heidi' so that my classmates could pronounce my name," she said. "I went to college and studied finance because I figured it was the safest route. I was quickly losing everything that made me, me."

"When Huda Beauty took off, I was adamant about putting my name everywhere — not because I was vain but because I was finally proud of who I am, so I wanted to own it. The moment I embraced myself and let me be me, everything took off."

The road to billionaire status


Huda Beauty is operated mostly by women and female empowerment is at the core of Kattan's brand. She recalled being frustrated during meetings with distributors and retailers who didn't take her brand seriously. "They all made out like we were just some girls with a hobby," she said.

Eventually, Sephora in Dubai Mall stocked Huda Beauty eyelashes, and they sold out the same day.

After turning down two other offers, Huda Beauty sold part of its business to TSG Consumer Partners in December 2017, at which time the brand was valued at $1.2 billion.

"To have created a brand that was valued at over a billion dollars was really humbling," said Kattan. "The big difference between Huda Beauty and our competitors is that we are in it to make an impact, while they are in it to make profit.”

Her advice for women in business

"Generally speaking, women are very compassionate and tend to see scenarios differently, but it’s super important to focus on your goal and never lose sight of that goal," said Kattan. "It is so easy to get distracted but it’s really important to stay focused and not cloud your judgment with emotions. How well you’re able to remain focused can ultimately define your success, so a big lesson has been to not allow anything to deter my focus."

She continued, "Whenever you are pushing boundaries, there will be pushback from people so we’ve really needed to embrace what we stand for as a brand and accept that there will be criticism. On the flipside, one of the biggest rewards is succeeding in a space where it isn’t common for a woman to push boundaries. We’re that brand that shows women that they can have it all, and we love being that role model."

Aside from being an all-around beauty boss, Kattan has lots of young women who look up to her, including her daughter Nour who also has a whopping 88.5 thousand followers on her own. The mommy-daughter duo often dresses alike and share many "girl power" moments together.

"It’s no secret that she watches YouTube tutorials and makeup hacks, it’s only natural, but I always remind her that beauty is more about what’s inside than what’s on the outside," Kattan said.

Kattan is constantly growing and glowing while building an empire that beauty lovers are obsessed with. She continues to keep Huda Beauty's mission in mind and suggests that much of her success can be contributed to that.

"We want to give women the tools to be their most confident self and really break down barriers," said Kattan. "It's even more important today than it was when we started."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Mar132019

Spare change apps might be the savings hack you've been looking for

franckreporter/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Investing can certainly be a daunting experience. Whether you are saving for a home, for your retirement, or just want to grow your hard-earned money, it's tough to know where to start.

Well, there's something fairly new that investors are calling "spare change" or "fractional" investments, where you can contribute just a few dollars a month (or more if you like) and get an introductory experience to the world of stocks, bonds and more.

"We live in an environment, where a lot of people struggle to save or they don't think that saving is possible because they don't have large incomes," Clever Girl Finance founder Bola Sokunbi tells ABC News' Good Morning America. "So, those spare change apps and platforms help them create fractional savings, cents on the dollar."

Some of the popular apps offering this service include Acorns and Stash.

Sokunbi founded Clever Girl Finance as a blog full of tips, courses and more empowering women to achieve financial success. She documented her own journey coming out of college and having no idea or background in finances and her story has earned the blog north of 160,000 followers on Instagram.

She believes spare change investments can be used to open doors and get young people interested in investing.

In time, these cents can also add up to a nice chunk of money.

Set it and forget it

The reason these investments can be great for someone fresh out of college is once they are set up, there's really nothing you need to do but monitor your money.

Acorns, for example, asks you to deposit a small sum each month ($10, $20, $50, etc.) and then has you link your credit or debit cards so that for each transaction, it will round up to the next dollar and deposit that extra change into your account.

The app will also have you choose what type of investments you want, including conservative, moderate, or aggressive. So, if you're not sold on the stock market, you can put your money more into government bonds and less volatile options, though the gains may also be smaller.

"The penny is actually valuable, especially when you give it time to accumulate," Sokunbi said. "It also helps establish consistency with saving. Especially for a young person, early 20's, or even a teenager, who just entered the workforce, this is a great way to save."

Knowledge is power

Another nice side affect of using Acorns or Stash is you learn the basics of investing.

Acorns does a great job of defining what a stock portfolio, exchange traded funds and asset classes are. You also get to see the breakdown of where your money is going and how it is either rising or in some cases falling if the market is down and you chose aggressive investments.

Sokunbi believes that once you see the impact of saving and investing, you may become interested in larger investments through companies like Vanguard, Chase or other brokerage houses, whether you do the investing yourself or you hire someone else to do it for you.

In some cases, once you're hooked on the impact of investing, you might designate a chunk of your income to saving in this way.

Both Acorns and Stash also have "learn" and "grow" sections within their apps and websites. In those sections, you'll see stories like, "How Much Can I Expect to Pay in Taxes on My Investments?" and "Avoid the Biggest Mistakes Investors Make When the Market Drops" written by media partners collaborating with the apps.

Pricing pitfalls

One of the downsides to these investments is the pricing, if you don't save enough.

For Acorns, they charge $1 a month for the core investment, $2 a month for the core and later tier, and $3 for the top tier. For this article, let's just say you choose the basic, core, tier.

Stash charges $1 a month and .25 percent on balances over $5,000.

If you only deposit and invest say $10 a month from your roundups and your monthly deposit, that's a 10 percent charge, which is pretty hefty.

But in the end, we are talking about saving and investing for someone who otherwise wouldn't do so and it's still just a dollar.

Don't start picking out your own private island just yet


While you may end up with a nice chunk of change at the end of six months, two years or more, Sokunbi says people need to look at these investing products as entry tools mostly.

So, if you plan to deposit $20 a month and link one credit card to Acorns, that's not gonna cut it for retirement. Acorns does have a "later" section, which includes financial vehicles like a Roth IRA, but for this discussion, we're just including the core portion of the app. Plus, that still will require investing more funds each month.

"If you can see your money build fractionally with just pennies on the dollar, imagine what you could do if you put intention towards it," Sokunbi said. "If you plan around that."

As a gateway into bigger investments, she asks instead of saving a few cents every time, what if you instead invested $5 at a time.

The Clever Girl Finance Instagram page is filled with helpful tips to get more out of your money through simple actions like bringing your lunch to work or brewing your own coffee. These transactions add up and if invested, they could mean big money in 10, 20 or 30 years.

Time -- the only resource you can't get back


The biggest takeaway from using and trying out small-scale investing is do it now, when you're young.

The market will go up and down, but over time, if you continue to contribute and save, your money should accumulate and compound.

"Time is your greatest asset, but health is your second greatest asset, you need to be able to go out and work and earn that income so you can invest it and give it that time to grow," Sokunbi added.

All-in-all, "spare change" investments are a really easy way to dip your toe into and learn about investing. This doesn't mean you should ditch your 401(k) or cancel your retirement plans just yet, as a small contribution each month won't set you up for life.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Mar132019

TN distillery wants Pepsi to allow booze producers to use 'Mountain Dew'

darios44/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Ole Smoky Moonshine, a Tennessee distillery locked in a legal battle with PepsiCo over use of the term "Mountain Dew," filed a motion on Monday to allow any company to use the phrase for alcoholic beverages.

The distillery has been in a legal battle with one of the world's largest food companies since shortly after Ole Smoky filed an application to trademark "Ole Smoky Mountain Dew Moonshine" for distilled spirits in 2015. PepsiCo officially filed a Notice of Opposition with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in 2016 -- the most recent motion filed.

According to the motion for a disclaimer filed to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, Ole Smoky would like to "disclaim the entire phrase 'MOUNTAIN DEW MOOSHINE,'" which would cause Ole Smoky to "not need to argue it has acquired exclusive rights in MOUNTAIN DEW for distilled spirits."

"It only makes sense that [the term 'Mountain Dew'] be shared amongst distillers," Ole Smoky founder Joe Baker told ABC News.

In a bid to speed up the decision, Ole Smoky asked the TTAB grant the motion so "resources can be conserved by not having to litigate ... specific issues."

If the TTAB waits until all pending litigation is over to decide on whether to grant the disclaimer, "any benefit of simplifying the issues for trial would be lost because all of the issues would have already been addressed and litigated during the trial period," Ole Smoky said in the motion.

Baker said Ole Smoky decided to file the motion to disclaim Mountain Dew after hearing from others in the distilling community.

"The term Mountain Dew is not a term we believe should be exclusively owned and used by Ole Smoky ... and we've decided to try to move to establish the term as a descriptive and general term for what moonshine is," Baker said.

Moonshiners argue "Mountain Dew" is a synonym for moonshine, and some point that dictionaries, such as Merriam-Webster, also note that "Mountain Dew" is known as moonshine.

"We would like to be able to use what has historically been, and even defined as Mountain Dew" in the dictionary, Baker said.

He added, "'Mountain Dew' is a phrase all moonshiners and people of the Appalachian region are fond of. ... It would be wonderful to see other distillers making moonshine products ... enjoy the celebration of the name 'Mountain Dew' alongside Pepsi's soda."

PepsiCo did not respond to a request for comment from ABC News.

Baker remains hopeful that Ole Smoky, PepsiCo and the TTAB can come to an agreement on the motion to disclaim "Mountain Dew."

"I hope that our lawyers and Pepsi can reach some type of amicable solution that allows everybody to celebrate the history [of 'Mountain Dew']," Baker said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Mar132019

Claire's issues voluntary recall of three makeup products

Roger Utting Photography/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Claire's has announced a voluntary recall of three cosmetic products after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration warned consumers that they may contain asbestos, a known carcinogen, even though Claire's has disputed the FDA test results.

The voluntary recall comes approximately a week after the FDA's announcement that samples of Claire's "eye shadows batch no./lot no. 08/17, compact powder batch no./lot no. 07/15 and contour palette batch no./lot no. 04/17" all tested positive for tremolite asbestos, a naturally occurring mineral often found in the earth near talc, an ingredient in many makeup products. Talc can become contaminated with asbestos while being mined, according to the FDA.

"Consumers who have these batches/lots of Claire's Eye Shadow, Compact Powder, and Contour in their home should stop using them," the FDA said in an alert posted on its website last week. "Claire's has informed us that it does not believe that affected products are still available for sale."

The FDA said it's not aware of any adverse reactions associated with exposure to the three products.

While the company has already pulled the products from the shelves, they have now issued a voluntary recall and are advising consumers who have purchased these products to "discontinue use and return them to a Claire's store for a full refund," according to a statement from the company.

The company reiterated, however, that "Claire’s is not aware of any adverse reactions, injuries or illness caused by the possible presence of asbestos in the recalled products."

"We are working with FDA to ensure the agency and our customers share that confidence," the statement added.

Prior to the voluntary recall, Claire's disputed the FDA tests.

"There is no evidence that any products sold by Claire's are unsafe," the company said in a statement last week. "The recent test results the FDA have shared with us show significant errors. Specifically, the FDA test reports have mischaracterized fibers in the products as asbestos, in direct contradiction to established EPA and USP criterion for classifying asbestos fibers. Despite our efforts to discuss these issues with the FDA, they insisted on moving forward with their release. We are disappointed that the FDA has taken this step, and we will continue to work with them to demonstrate the safety of our products."

The retail chain emerged from bankruptcy in October after filing in March last year.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Mar122019

Pressure mounts on FAA as more countries ground or ban the Boeing 737 MAX 8

aapsky/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- As more countries and airlines around the world grounded the Boeing 737 MAX 8 or banned the plane from their airspace Tuesday, pressure was growing on the Federal Aviation Administration to take similar action in the United States.

Tuesday evening, acting Federal Aviation Administration Administrator Daniel Elwell said in a statement that the agency continues to extensively review all available data and aggregate safety performance information from operators and pilots, but that, "Thus far, our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft."

Adding to that pressure was uncertainty over how -- and how soon -- critical questions might be answered about what might have caused Sunday's crash of the Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 that killed 157 people just six minutes after takeoff.

"In the course of our urgent review of data on the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash, if any issues affecting the continued air-worthiness of the aircraft are identified, the FAA will take immediate and appropriate action," Elwell's statement concluded.

It was still unclear Tuesday how Ethiopia would handle retrieval of data from the "black boxes" recovered from the wreckage -- the flight data and cockpit voice recorders -- including whether it would ask for help from the U.S. or other countries with more sophisticated labs, Ethiopia's lead investigator told ABC News.

Investigators said they would spend at least the next two to three days at the crash site before beginning the process of getting the data recorders analyzed, the country's lead investigator, Amedey Fanta, told ABC News' Chief National Correspondent Matt Gutman at the scene outside Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency, which often works in tandem with the FAA, announced Tuesday it was suspending all Boeing 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 (a longer version) operations in Europe -- "taking every step necessary to ensure the safety of passengers."

Because of the uncertainty, the UK Civil Aviation Authority, announced Tuesday that it, too, was banning the 737 MAX 8 from its airspace.

"The UK Civil Aviation Authority has been closely monitoring the situation, however, as we do not currently have sufficient information from the flight data recorder we have, as a precautionary measure, issued instructions to stop any commercial passenger flights from any operator arriving, departing or overflying UK airspace," a statement said.

"The UK Civil Aviation Authority's safety directive will be in place until further notice. We remain in close contact with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and industry regulators globally," the statement continued.

A key question is whether the plane's advanced flight management system -- the autopilot -- might have played a role in the most recent crash as it did in the fatal crash of an Indonesian Airlines 737 MAX 8 last October, In that crash, it appears the pilots failed to disengage the autopilot when the plane's nose began pitching up and down, perhaps because they were unaware of how to do so.

Both planes experienced similar pitch problems right after takeoff.

President Donald Trump spoke by phone with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg Tuesday, White House spokesman Judd Deere confirmed, but he released no other details other than to say "we are continuing to monitor the situation."

On Tuesday evening, Boeing confirmed the conversation to ABC News and said that Muilenburg reiterated to the president "our position that the MAX aircraft is safe."

Trump weighed in earlier Tuesday, tweeting that today's jetliners were getting dangerously complex -- that "I don't want Albert Einstein to be my pilot" -- and that pilots must be able to "easily and quickly take control of a plane."

 Asked on the Fox News program "Outnumbered" why the president has not ordered the FAA to ground the aircraft, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said, "it's early in the process."

She said the White House will be “constant contact through the Department of Transportation, the FAA, to make determinations at the appropriate time.”

In the face of the growing international pressure, Boeing put out an updated statement Tuesday.

"Safety is Boeing’s number one priority and we have full confidence in the safety of the MAX," the statement said. "We understand that regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets. We’ll continue to engage with all of them to ensure they have the information they need to confidently operate their fleets or return them to service.

 "It is also important to note that the Federal Aviation Administration is not mandating any further action at this time, and based on the information currently available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators," the Boeing statement said.

But while Boeing, the FAA and U.S. carriers that operate 72 of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes -- Southwest, American and United -- were standing by the safety of the aircraft, political pressure was rising in Washington.

Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, who is running for president, urged the FAA to follow the lead of other countries and "immediately ground this plane in the United States until its safety can be assured."

Because the FAA has not yet ruled one way or the other, the agency should "air on the side of protecting the flying public until you know for sure what happened," Warren said on ABC News Live's "The Briefing Room" Tuesday afternoon.

In her statement on the issue Tuesday morning, Warren also called out the Trump administration's previous attempts to protect an ongoing Boeing arms deal with Saudi Arabia by not denouncing the country's government, which was accused of murdering Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi in 2018.

Pressed if she believed the FAA or Trump administration was protecting Boeing, Warren said, "That's sure what we watched last time."

"For me. I just want to be sure this is not about protecting Boeing's profits, this is about protecting the people who get on those airplanes and count on the fact that they're going to be safe," Warren said on "The Briefing Room."

“Until the cause of the crash is known and it’s clear that similar risks aren’t present in the domestic fleet, I believe all Boeing 737 Max 8 series aircraft operating in the United States should be temporarily grounded,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat from California, wrote in a letter to the FAA Monday.

Several countries have already taken “this important step,” Feinstein said.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut who sits on the Senate committee that oversees U.S. aviation, echoed Feinstein’s call and said he was encouraging his own family and friends to avoid the planes.

"The 737 MAX 8 should be immediately grounded until the FAA can assure us they are safe,” Blumenthal told reporters on Capitol Hill Tuesday. "I’m advising members of my own family and friends they ought to change planes, change flights, change airlines, whatever they need to do to avoid these 737 Max 8s until they are proven safe -- which right now is very much in doubt."

Blumenthal also urged all airlines to completely waive flight change fees.

Republican Sen. John Thune of South Dakota, who sits on the same Senate committee, said -- "like probably everybody else" -- he would also feel safer "flying some other airplane at the moment." Fellow Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah called for the FAA to ground the aircraft "out of an abundance of caution, and frankly common sense."

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Peter DeFazio stopped short of asking the FAA to ground the 737 MAX 8 aircraft, but increased pressure on the FAA Tuesday, calling on its leading safety experts to "do what is necessary in a timely manner to provide certainty to the flying public that the nation's aviation system remains exceptionally safe," he said in a statement.

“I remain concerned that international aviation regulators are providing more certainty to the flying public by grounding the 737 MAX 8 than our own FAA – the world leader in aviation safety,” DeFazio, a Democrat from Oregon, said.

Meanwhile, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, a union that represents flight attendants who work for American Airlines, directly urged the airline's CEO Doug Parker to ground the planes pending the results of the investigation and said flight attendants would not be forced to fly if they felt unsafe.

"While we cannot draw premature conclusions, it is critical to work with manufacturers, regulators and airlines to take steps to address our important safety concerns," said APFA's National President Lori Bassani in a statement calling on Parker.

The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, which represents United employees, said crew and passengers “are expressing concern about the 737 Max 8.”

“It is vitally important that U.S. airlines work with Boeing, the FAA, and the NTSB to address concerns and take steps to ensure confidence for the traveling public and working crews," said AFA-CWA President Sara Nelson.

At least one pilot's union -- the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association -- came out in support of its airline's decision to keep flying the planes. The union is “extremely confident that our entire fleet, including the MAX, is safe based on the facts, intelligence, data and information we presently have,” the group's president, Capt. Jon Weaks, said in a statement.

About one-third of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets around the world were grounded as of Tuesday morning.

On Monday, Ethiopian Airlines, the flag carrier of the East African nation, grounded its remaining Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft "until further notice." Also on Monday, China grounded its 96 jets and Indonesia temporarily grounded its Boeing 737 MAX 8 fleet as well. The United Kingdom joined the growing list and grounded its five jets on Tuesday morning.

Singapore has indefinitely banned all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from flying into and out of the country, as has Australia, Malaysia, Oman and Ireland, as of Tuesday afternoon. None of the countries fly the model themselves.

Airlines in other countries also have announced the grounding of Boeing 737 MAX 8 fleets, including Cayman Airways, South Africa-based airline Comair, Aeromexico, Aerolineas Argentinas, Brazil's largest airline Gol, Morocco's national carrier Royal Air Maroc and South Korean airline Eastar Jet.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Mar122019

Tesla CEO Elon Musk denies violating SEC fraud settlement

Joshua Lott/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Attorneys for Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the Securities and Exchange Commission was broadly overreaching when it sought to hold him in contempt of court over a tweet he posted last month.

In documents filed Monday, the attorneys said Musk's Feb. 19 tweet was a restatement of prior disclosures and that it didn't violate a 2018 settlement with the SEC.

"Musk has dramatically reduced his volume of tweets generally and regarding Tesla in particular," the attorneys wrote in their response to the SEC. "This self-censorship is reflective of his commitment to adhering to the order and avoiding unnecessary disputes with the SEC."

"The 7:15 tweet was a celebratory, aspirational, and forward-looking statement on a topic that had been the subject of multiple written disclosures by Tesla," they added.

The lawyers also accused the SEC of censorship and of violating Musk's First Amendment rights.

The SEC said Musk violated the terms of a September settlement with his "inaccurate" tweet last month about the company's manufacturing projections and asked a judge to hold him in contempt of court.

"Musk did not seek or receive pre-approval prior to publishing this tweet, which was inaccurate and disseminated to over 24 million people," the SEC said in a filing with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York last month. "Musk has thus violated the court's final judgment by engaging in the very conduct that the pre-approval provision of the final judgment was designed to prevent."

The billionaire CEO shocked investors on Feb. 19 when he tweeted that the company would "make around" 500,000 vehicles this year, soaring past previous estimates.

Musk clarified the statement about four hours later with another tweet, saying he "meant to say" the company's annualized production rate would come in at around 500,000 vehicles for the year. He said deliveries for 2019 are still estimated at 400,000.

His attorneys said Musk "used his discretion" to determine that the tweet did not require pre-approval.

Musk agreed to "seek pre-approval of any written communications, including social media posts, that contained or reasonably could contain information material to Tesla or its shareholders," according to the filing.

The parties made the agreement last fall after Musk tweeted about a now-aborted plan to take the company private at $420 per share.

"Musk's tweets caused Tesla's stock price to jump by over six percent on August 7 and led to significant market disruption," the commission said in the filing. "Two days after the SEC filed its complaint against Musk, it reached settlement agreements with both Musk and Tesla."

"In turn, Tesla, as one condition of its settlement with the SEC, agreed to implement mandatory procedures to oversee and pre-approve Musk's Tesla-related written communications that reasonably could contain information material to the company or its shareholders," it added.

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Tuesday
Mar122019

Deutsche Bank, Investors Bank subpoenaed for Trump Organization records by New York attorney general

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Michael Cohen told Congress that Donald Trump inflated his assets to improve his odds of buying the National Football League's Buffalo Bills, a gambit that eventually failed.

Late Monday night, the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James subpoenaed Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank for records related to Trump's unsuccessful NFL bid and several other Trump Organization projects, a source familiar with the matter told ABC News.

First reported by The New York Times, the subpoenas are based largely on Cohen's recent testimony, the source told ABC News. The subpoenas also are seeking records related to other transactions including Trump International Hotels in Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Florida.

Deutsche Bank, which couldn't be reached late Monday night for comment, previously has cooperated with other Trump-related inquiries, including last year when called on by New York bank regulators. That inquiry ended without further action taken.

Investors Bank and the Trump Organization didn't immediately respond to requests for comment late Monday.

As part of a lawsuit brought by then-New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood, the president's charity agreed in December to dissolve itself under judicial supervision, meaning the attorney general's office would review and approve disbursements of the Trump Foundation's remaining assets.

At the time, the foundation had about $1.75 million in cash, in addition to physical assets including paintings of Trump that he'd paid for with foundation money, according to Underwood's office.

The case brought by Underwood alleged that Trump and his three eldest children, also Trump Foundation board members, repeatedly used donations for personal, political and business purposes, including legal fees and campaign contributions.

Their conduct, Underwood said at the time, "amounted to the Trump Foundation functioning as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump's business and political interests."

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