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Wednesday
Oct092019

Johnson & Johnson must pay $8B over Risperdal drug linked to male breast growth

JHVEPhoto/iStock(PHILADELPHIA) -- A Pennsylvania jury ordered Johnson & Johnson and its drugmakers Janssen Pharmaceuticals to pay $8 billion in damages in a lawsuit over the anti-psychotic drug Risperdal that has been linked to the growth of breast tissue in boys.

The verdict came from a jury in Philadelphia County's Court of Common Pleas Tuesday, and was the first in thousands of Risperdal cases pending in the Philadelphia court system to be heard.

It was also the first time a jury determined whether to award punitive damages -- which they determined to be $8 billion to a single plaintiff -- in a Risperdal trial.

“Johnson and Johnson is a company which has lost its way," attorneys Tom Kline and Jason Itkin, who represented the plaintiff, said in a joint statement following the verdict.

Risperdal has been linked to a non-curable condition known as gynecomastia, the abnormal enlargement of breast tissue in males. Attorneys for the plaintiff argued that Johnson and Johnson marketed the drug without warning patients enough about its link to gynecomastia.

"This jury, as have other juries in other litigations, once again imposed punitive damages on a corporation that valued profits over safety and profits over patients," the attorneys' statement added. "Johnson & Johnson and Janssen chose billions over children.”

Johnson & Johnson called the jury's determination "grossly disproportionate with the initial compensatory award in this case" and added that it is "confident it will be overturned."

"This award for a single plaintiff stands in stark contrast with the initial $680,000 compensatory award and is a clear violation of due process," the company added in a statement.

Johnson & Johnson also defended their labeling of Risperdal, saying that it "clearly and appropriately outlined the risks associated with the medicine," and the benefits it provides to patients with mental illness.

The company said that they were unable to present a "meaningful defense due to the Court’s exclusion of key evidence" and argued attorneys for the plaintiff did not present any evidence that the plaintiff suffered actual harm.

"We will be immediately moving to set aside this excessive and unfounded verdict," the company added.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Oct092019

Kim Kardashian West is officially launching KKW Beauty at Ulta this month

ABC(NEW YORK) -- Previously only available online, Kim Kardashian West is bringing her KKW Beauty line to Ulta stores.

"I'm so excited to launch @kkwbeauty in @ultabeauty on October 20!! I can't wait to make KKW Beauty more accessible and available for you guys to swatch and find your perfect shades in person," West wrote in an Instagram post.

Lots of fans of West's cosmetics collection are happy about the news, and looking forward to having the opportunity to try KKW products in real life before buying.

"This is the first time I'm partnering with a retailer for my cosmetic line and I'm happy to be working with Ulta Beauty again after launching KKW Fragrance last year," West said in a statement from the brand. "Feedback from fans of the brand is so important to me and I can't wait to make KKW Beauty more accessible and available for swatching and try-on before purchasing."

Senior vice president of merchandising at Ulta Beauty, Tara Simon, also said "the impact Kim has had on our culture is undeniable."

"She is the original influencer, and now a successful business woman in areas where she has true passion. We’re thrilled to extend our partnership with Kim to include KKW Beauty at Ulta Beauty and are proud to be her exclusive retail partner," she said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Oct092019

American Airlines to resume flying beleaguered Boeing 737 MAX jet in January

gk-6mt/iStock(NEW YORK) -- American Airlines announced in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing on Wednesday that it will start flying the troubled Boeing 737 MAX aircraft on Jan. 16.

The airline said it expects the two software upgrades to be approved before the end of the year and it is notifying Wall Street on when it intends to fly the MAX again.

American Airlines is one of three U.S. carriers -- including United Airlines and Southwest -- ordered by federal regulators to ground all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft following two crashes in October 2018 and March 2019, which killed a total of 346 people.

Since the grounding of the Boeing MAX aircraft in March, U.S. commercial carriers have said they have gone to great lengths to minimize the impact on their passengers, pulling MAX flights from their schedules.

Were mistakes made?

The House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure has been working to get a better understanding of the Federal Aviation Administration's oversight, certification and delegation along with an investigation into Boeing's design and development of the 737 MAX.

When asked if Boeing made any mistakes, CEO Dennis Muilenburg has repeated that not having an "AoA Disagree Light" working on all MAX aircraft was a mistake.

In both crashes it appears that the angle-of-attack sensors sent bad data, misfiring the MCAS -- or Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System -- and the software fix will rely on both sensors for activation.

This is one of the outstanding questions: Wasn't it a mistake to use just one sensor, if the fix is using both?

On Oct. 30, Muilenburg will appear on the Hill and is expected to answer that question when he testifies on the airworthiness of the 737 MAX and the updates made to the MCAS software.

This will be his first appearance before lawmakers since the two fatal crashes.

Safety investigators issue recommendations to the FAA

Preliminary findings indicate that while the pilots of Lion Air flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 fought to regain control of their aircraft -- making life-and-death decisions in a matter of minutes -- they were bombarded with cockpit alarms.

The National Transportation Safety Board said those alarms and alerts were "undoubtedly confusing" and "probably" made a stressful situation worse. In response, they issued non-binding safety recommendations to the FAA.

Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., said that the NTSB recommendations suggest that in designing and certifying the 737 MAX Boeing and the FAA, "may not have made realistic assumptions about how pilots respond to multiple simultaneous and potentially confusing warnings in emergency situations."

The path to certification

The FAA has been working with Boeing, international authorities, the aviation industry and a team of technical experts to return the Boeing 737 MAX to service.

In June, Boeing announced that they completed development of the updated software for the 737 MAX, along with engineering test flights.

Boeing then worked to address FAA requests for additional information on the system architecture, detailing how pilots interact with the airplane controls and displays in different flight scenarios.

Once the FAA completes their review and schedules test flights, Boeing will submit final certification documents.

Federal regulators have not yet set a date for certification flights, but in an interview with ABC News last month, the head of the FAA, Stephen Dickson, said that no U.S. commercial carrier will fly the Boeing 737 MAX until he is "completely assured" that it is safe to do so.

"I'm not going to certify this plane until I'm satisfied," he said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Oct092019

Starship Technologies robots to deliver food at University of Houston

University of Houston via KTRK(HOUSTON) -- Students at the University of Houston will have food delivered by rolling robots under a new program announced by the school's president.

University President Renu Khator demonstrated the autonomous food delivery service during her annual fall address last week. The delivery robot rolled across the stage, delivering the president a bottle of water and a flower.

The robot, made by Starship Technologies, is designed to travel on campus sidewalks at up to 5 mph using a system of sensors and cameras, according to Houston ABC station KTRK.

It uses an obstacle detection system to find its way and avoid collisions.

Its maker says the robot, whose location can be tracked to the nearest inch, will stay locked until the customer opens it with a command from their mobile phone.

It will also be equipped with an anti-theft system in case hungry thieves try to rob it.

Food and grocery delivery company Postmates tested out a similar Starship Technologies robot for food delivery in Washington, D.C., in 2017.

University of Houston officials say their robots will start making deliveries later this fall.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Oct092019

Man hopes to battle LGBTQ bank discrimination with new credit union

nktwentythree/iStock(NEW YORK) -- A male-to-female transgender woman was locked out of her bank account in 2018 because a phone operator thought she sounded like a man.

A same sex couple was qualified for a mortgage, but a lending institution decided to deny them because gay marriage had just been legalized and the bank wasn't sure how it was going to work out.

These are just a few of the stories that Myles Meyers cited as inspiration to start the country's first LGBTQ credit union, which is slated to launch next year. Meyers' effort comes in response to what advocates and researches say is systematic discrimination against LGBTQ clients.

"If I walk into a bank here in New York, I can pretty much handle anything they're going to put in front of me," Meyers told ABC News. "I go in with my husband and right away, we are having to adjust and watch for the adjustments that are happening in the institution."

"As a gay man, it is apparent that this occurs and we deal with this day in and day out," he said.

Same-sex couples are dramatically more likely to be denied a mortgage and then be hit with higher finance fees, according to a ground-breaking study that has sparked calls for the federal government to intervene.

The study, published in April by Iowa State University’s Ivy College of Business and based on more than two decades' worth of U.S. mortgage data, found that gay and lesbian couples were 73 percent more likely to be denied a mortgage, despite having equal default risks to their straight counterparts. Overall, the approval rate, not controlled for credit risk, is 3-8 percent lower for the same-sex community.

When they were approved for a home loan, same-sex couples were more likely to be hit with higher interests rates, according to the study. The difference in finance fees was on average less than .5%, but when combined added up to as much as $86 million in extra costs annually.

“Lenders can justify higher fees, if there is greater risk. We found nothing to indicate that’s the case," the researchers said in a statement. "In fact, our findings weakly suggest same-sex borrowers may perform better."

“Policymakers need to guarantee same-sex couples have equal access to credit," they added.

The Fair Housing and Equal Credit Opportunity acts prohibit discrimination based on a borrower’s race, gender, marital status or religion, but neither specifies sexual orientation. There are also only 14 states in the country with laws that prohibit credit decisions based on sexual orientation and gender identity, which puts about 72 percent of the LGBTQ population at risk for experiencing gender discrimination, according to data compiled by the Movement Advance Project.

Despite this, many entrepreneurs are stepping in to try to fill in the gaps with offerings aimed directly at LGBTQ consumers, who are estimated to have about some $1 trillion in buying power, according to market research firm Witeck Communications.

One of the small businesses trying to achieve this is Superbia Credit Union, a new company that plans to offer financial services that are unavailable at traditional lending corporations, such as loans for people undergoing transition and other products that are specific to the LGBTQ experience.

Regulators in Michigan approved the company earlier this month, clearing the way for it to start offering financial services online by early 2020 and making it the first financial institution geared to serving the national LGBTQ community.

Superbia Credit Union's Meyers said the company will help combat the intolerance and discrimination that the LBGTQ community faces when accessing banking services.

"As many as 16 million people identify as LGBTQ in the country and they don't get an experience of a financial institution that reflects and affirms who they are," Meyers told ABC News. "We are continuously pushed through processes that are designed for the general population."

As more LGBTQ entrepreneurs step up to offer alternatives to traditional banking, marketing experts say it's imperative that established brands do more to show their commitment to helping marginalized communities.

"Right now, it's a hodgepodge. Some states have laws to protect LGBT people, some don't. But people would have to shop for equality by where they choose to live and work and in America, it should not operate that way," market researcher Bob Witeck of Witeck Communications told ABC News. "People of color and women should not have to shop for states that are welcoming and not discriminating. Nobody should."

Witeck, who specializes in market strategies surrounding lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer communities, said credit discrimination shows up in a variety of ways, but it's "mostly psychological or attitudinal."

"It's not always because the bank may not have the right policies, but sometimes the staffers may not have been trained or educated to be more welcoming," Witeck said. "The workers may make them feel like they don't belong there. When they walk in, they treat they may make them wait longer to see if they get up and leave, or the employees may make off-hand comments to each other, or look at them with side eyes."

"Overall, they make them feel like they're not intended to be served," he added.

Before Superbia Credit Union came around, there were already banking and credit institutions making efforts "to speak to the community," Meyers noted, but he said those attempts seemed to be aligned to the calculation of the return on investment. For him, the goal is to attend to the financial needs of the community by listening to their concerns and adjusting.

"Surveys that are done on an annual basis show that LGBTQ people don't feel connected to financial institutions. There isn't enough communication happening around their needs," Meyers said. "We don't need to be treated as a niche market. That's not necessary anymore."

He said he expects to see more companies offer specialized services aimed at members of the LGBTQ community if traditional corporations fail to rise to the occasion.

"We know, in fact, that people in the past and thought of this, but we are the first that have been able to organize ourselves in a way that can serve the entire LGBTQ community through a financial institution that's not for profit, and give back to the community," Meyers said. "We're looking at what's occurring in and around the community, when it comes to policies and practices in a number of different industries and how that creates financial challenges, wealth gap, and discrimination."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Oct092019

Rebecca Jarvis' five tips to keep college students' personal finances on course

AndreyPopov/iStock(NEW YORK) -- You just started college -- hooray!

Between purchasing books, dealing with student loans and going out with your friends, we understand if you feel like your wallet is crying.

That's why ABC News' Rebecca Jarvis is here with her five tips on managing your personal finances as a college student.

1. Get a credit card and pay it off right away

The earlier you can get a credit card, the better, because it helps you establish a strong credit history as soon as possible.

"But in order to [establish a strong credit history], you need to be really thoughtful about how you're using it and also what credit card you sign up for," Jarvis said.

One important factor that Jarvis advises students to consider when looking at credit cards is the cost.

"A lot of these companies are going to charge an annual fee, but you don't have to pay that annual fee because there are a number of credit cards that have a zero-dollar," she said. "That means no cost to annual fees, and those are the cards you should be looking for as a college student."

Jarvis' rule of thumb when it comes to using a credit card while in college: "You shouldn't spend more than 20% of the limit in a month on your balance ... If the limit on your credit card is $1,000, you shouldn't be putting more than $200 on that credit card."

Another important note to keep in mind: Get into the habit of paying off your full balance every single month.

Jarvis suggests that a good way to do this is to set your credit card account to auto-pay.

"If your objective is to create good credit based on having a credit card, you need to be paying off your credit card every single month to get that good credit," Jarvis said.

2. Choose your major wisely

"The average student is now graduating with almost $30,000 in debt," Jarvis said. "It's important to think about how you're going to be paying that debt off in the future."

"STEM majors -- science, technology, engineering, math -- they tend to be some of the highest paid majors post-graduation, as do business majors," she said. "Humanity majors, on the other hand, don't necessarily have jobs that will ultimately help you pay for that education."

Hiring managers have told Jarvis, however, that the most important traits that they look for in candidates are "a good bedside manner [and] communication."

"Bringing that sound communication to the table, both in person and in writing, will really set you apart," Jarvis shared.

3. Consider your fixed costs when creating a budget

Let's face it: budgeting can be difficult when you're simultaneously trying to save for the future and live your best life with your friends.

Jarvis strongly urges students to focus on the fixed costs in their daily lives when building a budget.

"For example, if you're paying rent, if you're paying utilities, if you're paying [for] groceries, these are, generally speaking, fixed costs," she said. "Add them all together and when you know exactly what your spending is, then you know what you have available to either save or spend money on things like entertainment, having fun."

Another pro tip that Jarvis has to offer: Put those fixed expenses on your credit card.

"If you already know the amount of money that you're spending, it's a great way to start building credit as long as you're paying off the bill every single month in full," she said.

4. Complete prerequisites at a community college

"If you are budget-constrained, a very good thing you could do for yourself is finish some of the introductory courses at a community college," Jarvis said. "Check with your dream school and make sure they will accept those credits."

Another way you can save money is by living at home.

"Think about it as, 'I'm going to set a foundation for myself, financially I'll be in a better situation and, in the future, if I do all of these things correctly, I will be able to take even more advantage of spending time in a great college experience, spending time on that first job,'" Jarvis said.

5. Negotiate your financial aid package

This tip can help prospective students who are still on their college search.

"It's important for people to know that they can appeal their financial aid decision," Jarvis said. "If a college comes back to you with a financial aid package that doesn't meet the needs of you and your family, you can appeal that decision by going back to the college's financial aid office and asking them to take a second look."

Jarvis speaks from experience, because she actually negotiated her own financial aid package at the college of her choice, which found a way to add money to her package.

She also advises presenting the financial aid office at the college of your choice with another financial aid package from a different college or university, if you have one, that's competitive or better.

"Tell them, I will attend your university if you can give me the same deal as this other college," she said.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Oct082019

Instagram dims its lights with iOS 13 Dark Mode feature

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Instagram hit the lights and the internet is beaming.

The photo-sharing app has inverted its bright white hue to a sleek true black with its latest update featuring Dark Mode.

 

 

How to update Instagram on iOS or Android

1. Update your device’s operating system to iOS 13 or Android 10.

2. Update your Instagram app.

3. Open your iOS or Android device settings.

4. Select display and select dark.

5. Open the updated Instagram app and see the jet black theme.

Naturally, users were fast to try the trend for themselves and so far it's gotten some glowing reviews on social media.

 

 

Others took the opportunity to ask for an update they think more users would appreciate, like a chronological feed.

 

 

When Dark Mode is turned on in device settings, other apps may now appear in Dark Mode, not just Instagram.

The feature that rolled out Monday is compatible in the latest iPhone and Android operating systems.

Instagram also announced a new security feature in the latest update that will help identify phishing emails.

 

 

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Oct082019

Adidas debuts first size-inclusive collection with Universal Standard

Pere_Rubi/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Adidas has teamed up with Universal Standard to launch its first size-inclusive collection.

The partnership brings together both labels for a sportswear line available in sizes 2XS-4XL.

"Matching Universal Standard's expertise in inclusive fit and Adidas' industry-leading sportswear design, Adidas [and] Universal Standard will allow women to exude fearless confidence and feel free to be, just as they are," Universal wrote in a statement.

"The collection lives into Universal Standard’s ethos of 'all of us, as we are,' and marks the next step in Universal Standard's continued commitment to fashion freedom across the industry."

The collection features hoodies, tank tops, crop mesh tees and long and short tights in black, maroon, white and earth tones.

The clothing was designed to capture how women move in their bodies throughout their lives.

"We said that we'd start a revolution with partners who were ready to shape the future with US. Welcome to the revolution," Universal Standard wrote in an Instagram video caption.

"This collection isn’t about asking women to change, it’s about meeting them where they are, just as they are," the caption continued. "It's about movement -- the beauty of movement through dance, the strength of community through double dutch, the belief in potential through basketball, and the power of a woman's body in phases of transition. It’s for the athlete, the team, the mom, the anyone and everyone. It’s for all of US. As we are."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Oct082019

Unilever commits to major plastic reduction by 2025

Poulssen/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Unilever announced a new initiative to reduce thousands of tons of plastic waste and invest in new reusable and recycled materials over the next six years.

The company behind an array of consumer goods from foods to personal care, confirmed in a press release that "by 2025 it will cut its use of virgin plastic in half, by reducing its absolute use of plastic packaging by more than 100,000 tons and accelerating its use of recycled plastic."

"Plastic has its place, but that place is not in the environment. We can only eliminate plastic waste by acting fast and taking radical action at all points in the plastic cycle," Unilever CEO, Alan Jope, said.

The brand's pledge makes it the first major global consumer goods company to commit to an absolute plastics reduction across its portfolio.

Additionally, the company said it will collect back and process more plastic than it sells -- nearly 600,000 tons annually -- through investments and partnerships to improve waste management infrastructure.

"Unilever is already on track to achieve its existing commitments to ensure all of its plastic packaging is reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025, and to use at least 25% recycled plastic in its packaging, also by 2025," the company said.

Today the UK-Netherlands-based company's plastic packaging footprint is around 700,000 tons.

Jope also said the company's goal "demands a fundamental rethink in our approach to our packaging and products."

Unilever will introduce new, innovative packaging materials and "scale up new business models, like re-use and re-fill formats, at an unprecedented speed and intensity."

With its new commitment, Unilever has become the first major global consumer goods company to commit to an absolute plastics reduction across its portfolio.

"This is a daunting but exciting task which will help drive global demand for recycled plastic," Jope said.

Unilever has worked with partners like the United Nations Development Program over the last five years to separate, collect and recycle packaging in India.

The company has previously committed to other sustainability efforts including powering its factories, offices, R&D facilities, data centers, warehouses and distribution centers with 100 percent renewable grid energy.

Unilever is the parent company of Dove, Axe, Vaseline, Lipton, Hellmann's, Ben & Jerry's and more.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Oct082019

Mattel unveils new Judge Barbie Doll ahead of International Day of the Girl

Ekaterina79/iStock(NEW YORK) -- All rise for Judge Barbie.

Barbie announced the latest addition to its collection of more than 200 career dolls, and the 60-year-old company said it hoped the new doll would encourage more girls to aspire to hold a gavel.

"Even though, there is a record number of women take office, there is still work to be done to reach all branches of government," Barbie said in a press release. "In the U.S., women make up only one-third of sitting stage judges. In 2019, Barbie is taking the stand as a Judge to inspire girls to explore judicial careers with the hopes that one day they will sit on the bench and make important decisions that can change the world for the better."

Each doll comes with a gavel and round block that kids can use to help Judge Barbie doll call the room to order and make important rulings

There are four dolls with a range of skin tones and hairstyles that come in a career-themed look with a customary black robe and a lacy collar that can be removed to reveal a floral dress.

The famous toy doll brand also shared some statistics on Instagram about the history of female judges.

The new Judge Doll, which costs $12.99, is also part of the Barbie Dream Gap Project -- "a multi-year global initiative to raise awareness around limiting factors that prevent girls from reaching their full potential."

With the latest doll, Barbie also announced a new partnership with GoFundMe, ahead of International Day of the Girl, "to empower people and partners to help close the Dream Gap."

Mattel has continued its celebration of strong women with Barbie's 60th anniversary to help "inspire the limitless potential in every girl."

"From astronaut to zoologist, there isn’t a plastic ceiling Barbie hasn’t broken," the company said in a statement.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.







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