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Monday
Jul092018

Issa Rae on the worst advice she never took

Taylor Hill/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- “Insecure” creator and star Issa Rae has forged her own path in Hollywood.

Forgoing the conventional route often taken by actors dictated by casting directors, agents and producers, Rae created her own show: a web series, “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl,” which became massively popular and in 2013 won the Shorty Award for Best Web Show.

It caught the attention of writer/producer/comedian Larry Wilmore and together the two created HBO’s “Insecure.” Now about to enter its third season, “Insecure” has garnered critical acclaim, named one of the American Film Institute’s top 10 television programs of the year in 2017 and earining Rae two Golden Globe Award nominations.

So when it came to sharing the worst advice she never took it's not surprising that for Rae it was "to do it the traditional way."

Rae tells ABC News' Chief Business, Technology and Economics correspondent, Rebecca Jarvis, that she was told, "No one's checking for internet shows. No one's checking for web series. So just write a traditional spec script, send it to someone, send it to an agent, and you'll break in the industry that way."

Had she listened and tried do it the "traditional way," Rae tells Jarvis, she believes that she "wouldn't be where I am now".

She adds, “Your individuality is such a currency, because it makes you rich. It makes you, you."

Since the first episode of her web series “The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl” aired in 2011, Rae has helped to pave the way for other web creators, opening a new door to entry in Hollywood. Today her online content has amassed over 23 million views and over 350,000 YouTube subscribes.

You can hear more from Issa Rae on episode 41 of ABC Radio’s “No Limits with Rebecca Jarvis” podcast.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Sunday
Jul082018

JetBlue plane crew comes to rescue of dog with oxygen mask for flight

Steven and Michele Burt(WORCESTER, Mass.) -- Plane passengers rarely describe air travel as a breath of fresh air, but it was literally that for one family's bulldog on a recent JetBlue flight.

The French bulldog, named Darcy, was on a flight from Florida to Massachusetts on Thursday when she started showing signs of distress, according to his owner Michele Burt. The 3-year-old bulldog's tongue began to turn blue, and she was having difficulty breathing.

The crew came to the rescue with an oxygen mask for Darcy. The photos, which have since spread across social media, show the bulldog being treated for hypoxia. The photos are cute, but hypoxia -- a lack of oxygen in the body -- can be deadly.

"I placed the mask over her face, and within a few minutes, she became alert. And after a short time, she didn’t want the mask," Michele said.

Michele thanked JetBlue for its attentiveness to Darcy and wanted to remind people that "good people are doing good things on a daily basis -- even if it is in small ways or big ways."

"We all want to make sure everyone has a safe and comfortable fight, including those with four legs," JetBlue said in a statement to ABC News. "We're thankful for our crew's quick thinking and glad everyone involved was breathing easier when the plane landed in Worcester."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Saturday
Jul072018

Clothing company ASOS introduces 'wheelchair-friendly' jumpsuit

ASOS(NEW YORK) -- ASOS is becoming more inclusive than ever before.

Earlier this week, the clothing company released a fully waterproof jumpsuit that its website noted has been adapted to be "wheelchair-friendly."

Reporter and Paralympic hopeful Chloe Ball-Hopkins collaborated with ASOS on the design, which features a hem that's longer in the back to help prevent the pants from riding up, and adjustable cuffs for setting sleeve length.

In an interview with the BBC News show Victoria Derbyshire, Ball-Hopkins, who uses a wheelchair, explained that the idea came to her after she struggled to find something appropriate to wear to a music festival when the weather took a turn for the worse. She sent an email to ASOS detailing the problem, and the company agreed to work with her.

"There's a lot of people like myself who, in a chair, you get cold very easily, and water and rain definitely doesn't help that. And you've got a lap that can get wet too -- I think people forget that," she said. "At the end of the day, I was, like, 'I need to do something.'"

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Thursday
Jul052018

Facebook blocks, then restores Declaration of Independence post

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- A newspaper serially publishing the Declaration of Independence on social media this week got an unexpected surprise: Facebook had blocked one of the posts.

The Liberty County Vindicator, a newspaper in southeastern Texas, had been posting portions of the Declaration on Facebook each day leading up to the Fourth of July. But the tenth installment of the foundational document didn't post -- and Facebook said it was because of hate speech.

"Somewhere in paragraphs 27-31 of the Declaration of Independence Thomas Jefferson wrote something that Facebook finds offensive," Casey Stinnett, managing editor of the Vindicator, said on the paper's website Monday. "The Vindicator received a notice from Facebook saying that the post 'goes against our standards on hate speech.'"

Stinnett speculated that the phrase "merciless Indian savages" was what had triggered Facebook's response.

"He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions," the Declaration's text reads.

"Perhaps had Thomas Jefferson written it as 'Native Americans at a challenging stage of cultural development' that would have been better," Stinnett wrote. "Unfortunately, Jefferson, like most British colonists of his day, did not hold an entirely friendly view of Native Americans."

Facebook said the removal was a mistake, noting that in other contexts "Indian savages" could violate the company's hate speech policies.

“The post was removed by mistake and restored as soon as we looked into it," a Facebook spokesperson told ABC News. "We process millions of reports each week, and sometimes we get things wrong.”

In a post outlining its approach to hate speech questions, Facebook notes that intent is one of the factors considered when weighing whether to remove a post.

The social media platform has been under increasing pressure to police content posted on its site following scrutiny over its alleged use in Russian disinformation campaigns during the 2016 election, which featured content that often played on politically divisive rhetoric.

On Tuesday, Stinnett posted an update, thanking Facebook for restoring the post.

"The Vindicator extends its thanks to Facebook," Stinnett wrote. "We never doubted Facebook would fix it, but neither did we doubt the usefulness of our fussing about it a little."

This is not the first time the Declaration of Independence has been misconstrued on social media. Last summer, National Public Radio tweeted out the entire Declaration of Independence in 113 consecutive 140-character chunks, prompting numerous Twitter users unfamiliar with the language in the founding document to lash out – accusing NPR of trying to incite a rebellion against the Trump administration.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Jul042018

Company fires manager over heartless response to worker saying her son is on life support

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Text messages are notorious for misconstruing tone, but a recent exchange led to one person losing her job.

An apparently heartless text response to a request for time off was shared online and led to an investigation and a dismissal.

Crystal Reynolds Fisher shared screen grabs of her conversation with her manager on Facebook, and now their company has confirmed that the manager no longer works at the company.

In the texts, Fisher writes that her son is on life support and, as a result, she will not be able to make it to her shift two days later.

"This isn't how we do things, so I'll accept that you're quitting," her manager, identified only as Dawn, wrote in response, according to the screengrab.

Fisher shared three screen grabbed images of the exchange, wherein Dawn continues to assert that if Fisher doesn't come to work for the following shift, it will be viewed as her quitting as opposed to a planned absence.

"If you can't come to work that's you quitting," she writes at one point.

"I will not get into [it] with you on here but I've been more than accomodating during this alloweding schedule changes and such," Dawn writes. "There is no reason you can't work and I will not tolerate drama."

"End of conversation... If you aren't there to work your shift tomorrow then I take that as you quit," she wrote in two texts.

Fisher did not immediately return ABC News' request for comment.

Fisher and her manager reportedly worked at PS Food Mart in Albion, Michigan, which is owned by Folk Oil.

At one point in the exchange, Fisher says that she will contact corporate, and Dawn responds with the phone number for the corporate office.

"Would u [sic] be able to go to work and function if ur [sic] child was on life support? I don't know if I'm coming or going and I [sic] expect me to work?" Dawn writes in one text.

"Yes I would, I still have bills to pay and something to keep me busy and occupied. We don't just get to come and go as we please at Folk Oil. I have tomorrow and Monday covered. Your son is in the best place he can be. I have a store to run and that's my focus," Dawn responded in the final text.

Fisher posted the exchange on Facebook on June 30, and two days later, PS Food Mart posted a statement on their Facebook account.

"We investigated and have found that the situation was handled improperly and without the compassion that we value as a company. For that, we are very sorry," the said in the statement.

"As a result of this finding, we took quick action and that manager is no longer employed by PS Food Mart. We have also reaffirmed to our employee that she will be able to take all the time off that she needs during this difficult period," the statement said.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jul032018

Delta's new Boeing 777 features broadest seats of any wide-body U.S. airliner

Delta Air Lines(NEW YORK) -- Some economy-class travelers flying on Delta Air Lines' refurbished Boeing 777s soon will have a bit more room to spread their wings.

Delta announced on Monday its "full-fleet interior renovation" of 777s that will increase the width of economy seats to 18.5 inches, the broadest of any dual-aisle aircraft and wider than those offered by competitors American Airlines and United.

Frontier Airlines is the only carrier with wider seats in economy class, some of which are 19.1 inches across.

As part of Delta's redesign, the main cabin will feature nine seats abreast instead of 10. Each passenger also will have a personal power outlet and an entertainment system featuring a 13.3-inch screen.

A newly modified 777-200ER flying from Detroit to Beijing and was the first of the Boeing series to feature Delta’s latest cabin upgrades, which will be made on all eight 777-200ER jets and all 10 777-200LR by the end of 2019.

Delta didn't confirm an exact cost for the upgrades but said "it's part of a multi-billion-dollar project."

Flyers Rights Advocacy Group President Paul Hudson said he's unsure if offering flyers more room is a trend that will continue.

"It's hard to determine if this is a real improvement, as it's apparently only for super-long-haul flights," Hudson said. "Some airlines are shrinking space between rows and claiming more leg room by eliminating seat padding and recline."

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jul032018

A wallet lost in 1970 just turned up, as an amazing 1970 time capsule

ABC News(GRESHAM, Ore.) -- A wallet lost in 1970 at a high school turned up during a building demolition at the school - and took its long-lost owner on a trip down memory lane.

After a demolition crew came across the wallet - lost 48 years ago - Carrie Henry got a message on Facebook from the principal of her alma mater, Gresham High School in Gresham, Oregon.

“They just found in a rubble," she said. "It would have been where the old art class was."

“I went there that day, and with [the principal], we walked around the school, and it brought back a lot of memories."

The black wallet contained a new high school student ID card, a library card, a green stamp, a Giorgio’s pizza menu, a calendar, and a few photos.

“[There are] pictures of my brother," she said. "He would have been 10 [at the time], and my cousin Billy, and a friend Cathy,” she said.

“That’s what you did back then," she explained. "You kept little pictures, you know. We did not have cell phones or anything."

“You just kept pictures of your friends and family.”

She said adding that these items would not be in a wallet as the technology has been advance as of today.

“I don’t think I would carry a menu," she said. "And I have a library card! My library card’s in there too,” she told ABC News.

“There was an activity schedule, baseball and football. There was a calendar there too, an old calendar.”

Henry said she doesn’t remember losing a wallet, but its discovery has certainly brought her a lot of joy - and good memories.

“It feels really sweet. It kind of took me back to that time and brought back some good memories."

“It was fun," she said. "It was kind of a fun sweet thing to have happened to me.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jul032018

Seattle authorities luring homeless off the streets with plane tickets, rent payments

iStock/Thinkstock(SEATTLE) -- It’s been almost three months since homeless tents began to crop up on the streets surrounding Seattle’s famous Space Needle, but now teams of city employees have begun clearing out the encampments near the tourist attraction, after a homeless man recently attacked a tourist visiting the site.

It wasn't the first such incident this summer.

Earlier in June a family from Arizona was attacked by a man with a rope from one of Seattle's homeless camps as they stepped out of their car which was parked near a large group of tents. The homeless man had a rope and tried to strangle and punch a father after reports said the man confused one of the family members with TV star Ellen Degeneres.

Mayor Jenny Durkan has proposed numerous plans in the past to help aid the homeless through city funding, starting with the new company ‘head tax’ passed in May which will raise $48 million per year for homeless funding.

But until that begins, Durkan is exploring other ideas, such as using tax payer money to purchase airfare for homeless people looking to stay with family in other places.

Last week, two people at the camp accepted plane tickets to Kansas to stay with friends in a more stable housing situation using the taxpayers’ money.

Now Durkan is willing to dig deeper than just covering homeless people’s airfare. She is now proposing paying two months rent or even paying car repairs in order to keep people off the city's streets or give them opportunities to relocate.

Durken has described her plan of action as a diversion service.

It “offers people experiencing homelessness one-time financial assistance or services to bypass shelters and move directly to housing,” Durken's spokeswoman Kamaria Hightower told ABC News.

“Diversion is offered to people who are homeless but have not yet or have just entered the shelter system," she said. "These programs offer financial assistance and/or case management to find creative solutions to the difficulties a person faces. Diversion can help people reunite with family, mediate with a landlord, or pay rent for a short time.”

The theory behind the plan is that paying a little money up-front could prevent the poor from slipping into homelessness - which would end up costing tax payers more down the line.

“The Human Services Department recently presented its results from the first quarter under the new accountability system, and in the first quarter of 2018, the one time services moved 221 people into permanent housing from homelessness,” Hightower said.

Terry Pallas, chief program officer at Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission said that although a plane ticket or a fixed car can temporarily help, these homeless people often benefit from a more relational approach.

“Navigating the range of issues [that] homeless individuals face is complicated,” Pallas said.

“Our dedicated teams are out on the streets daily, working on a one-on-one basis to learn each person’s story and the root issues that led to their homelessness. The vast majority need personalized care to address their root causes of homelessness such as addiction, mental health challenges, broken relationships, trauma, and more.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Jul032018

Secret Service warns of gas pump card skimmers as July 4 travel hits

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW  YORK) --  As Fourth of July travel heats up, the U.S. Secret Service is warning motorists, businesses and police of a disturbing surge in criminals’ stealing credit information at gas pumps.

Fraudsters are installing a tiny device called a skimmer inside the gas pump.

The device copies credit card information when customers pay.

"So what happens is you go to your local gas station, you put in your payment card, you pump your gas and you drive home,” Matthew O'Neill, assistant to the special agent in charge of the Criminal Investigative Division, said. “But in what's in reality happening is during that transmission process, a skimmer is acting in between where you put your card in and the point of sale terminal that's transmitting the data to a financial institution and they're stealing your payment card numbers.”

How do thieves get into the gas pump to install the skimmers? They can buy commercial keys that open the gas pump online.

This past weekend, the Secret Service fanned out across the nation — at more than 80 locations in 21 states — hunting for the devices.

The Secret Service has recovered 59 skimmers from 85 locations during the initiative.

Once criminals have the credit card information, they are able to print fraudulent credit cards by the thousands and use those cards to make purchases.

"They're monetizing the stolen payment card data in multiple ways and the easiest way is they'll take the stolen payment card number and will re-encode a gift card or credit card and then they will use that to buy electronics, gift cards, stuff that they can fence on grey market, the black market or the open market," O'Neill explained to ABC News.

The Secret Service says that millions of dollars every year are being swiped from credit card information obtained at the pump. It says one reason it is so easy is it can be done so quickly.

"It will take just a matter of minutes depending on the level of tradecraft that the fraudster has," O'Neill said.

A high-level skimmer can send credit card information through a Bluetooth device and not have to return to the scene of the crime.

"With a Bluetooth skimmer you don't ever have to retrieve the skimmer if you don't want to because the data is being sent through the Bluetooth device to another internet connected device," O'Neill said.

To reduce the chance of having credit information being stolen, here are some options. Customers can pay with credit cards inside the gas station, rather than at the pump.

And paying with cash may be the most effective way to thwart card theft at the pump.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Monday
Jul022018

Trump administration ramps up pressure on Iran's economy

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- The Trump administration is claiming some early success in its quest to cripple Iran with sanctions in order to drag it back to negotiations and change its behavior, even as it softens its demand on U.S. allies to reduce their Iranian oil imports to zero.

Since President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Iran deal, his administration has been pushing for allies to stop importing Iranian oil before sanctions snap back into place in November. But some key countries, including India and Turkey, have already said they will not do so.

While a senior State Department official said Monday that they are "not looking to grant licenses or waivers," he did say the administration will work with countries on a "case-by-case basis" while their "diplomacy "has been focused around mostly consultations with Europe, France, and Germany," not other countries such as China or Russia that would be more difficult to persuade.

"We will not hesitate to take action when we see sanctionable activity," said Brian Hook, the department's Policy Planning Director and the former lead negotiator for the U.S. who met with European allies for months to reach a side agreement that kept the U.S. in the Iran nuclear deal but addressed Trump's concerns with it. Despite nearly reaching a deal with the Germans, French, and British, President Trump dismissed their progress and withdrew the U.S. from the landmark nuclear accord anyway.

In the face of the damage that did to U.S.-European relations, Hook and teams from the State Department and Treasury Department have been traveling to European and East Asian countries to shore up support for this new pressure campaign and try to persuade countries to reduce oil imports. This week, he and Under Secretary of the Treasury for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Sigal Mandelker will travel to Gulf countries to begin talks there.

"Our focus is on getting as many countries importing Iranian crude down to zero as soon as possible," Hook said – a slight step back from what a senior State Department official who briefed reporters last week said, that all allies must be at zero imports by November 4. That official, who spoke without attribution, said, "Without question, they should be reducing... They should be preparing now to go to zero."

Iran has said it will fight back against US efforts to squeeze Iranian oil exports, accusing countries that fill the gap in oil markets of "a big treachery to the Iranian nation and the world community," according to Iran's First Vice President Eshagh Jahangiri.

After Trump's withdrawal from the nuclear deal, the first round of sanctions will be reimposed on August 6, targeting Iran's gold, other metals like aluminum and steel, and automobile industry. One-hundred and eighty days later, on November 4, sanctions will snap back on Iran's energy sector, all oil-related transactions, and transactions with the Central Bank of Iran.

Hook seemed to celebrate the collapsing Iranian economy, telling reporters Monday that their efforts had led to more than 50 international companies announcing they will leave the Iranian market, although the State Department is not providing that list.

"Foreign direct investment is falling, and the rial hit an all-time high against the dollar last week," he added, blaming the Iranian regime's "violent misadventures abroad" and saying its economy is "too distorted by corruption and the [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps'] pervasive presence in most key sectors."

The collapsing economy has sparked new protests in Iran, with gunfire erupting Sunday morning as Iranian security forces confronted protesters demonstrating over water scarcity in the country's south.

While the administration's goal is to create maximum pressure on Iran "until the regime changes its destabilizing policies," it's unclear if that's where the sharp economic pain will lead, or whether it could embolden hardliners, inflame anti-American sentiments, or bring the country to some unknown chaos that could be worse.

Under the Obama administration, oil sanctions were targeted so that countries had to continually reduce their Iranian oil imports every 180 days or face U.S. sanctions, but the Trump administration's tougher line could mean a sudden collapse of the oil-dependent Iranian economy or a sharp spike in oil prices worldwide.

Hook said Monday the U.S. is "working to minimize disruptions to the global market, but we are confident that there is sufficient global spare oil production capacity." In particular, the administration points to a recent announcement by Saudi Arabia to increase oil production, with President Trump tweeting Saturday that the country's leader King Salman agreed to increase oil production by 2 million barrels. The Saudis have not confirmed if that's the case.

The U.S. does not seek to overthrow the Iranian regime, Hook reiterated Monday, but change its behavior instead.

But two key administration allies – Newt Gingrich and Rudy Giuliani – joined a rally in Paris over the weekend organized by an exiled opposition group that calls for the regime's violent overthrow. Speaking at an event organized by the Mojahedin-e Khalq, or MEK, Giuliani, who is Trump's personal lawyer in the Russia investigation, called for ramping up the pressure on the regime.

"This government is about to collapse, and this is the time to turn on the pressure," Giuliani told the crowd, according to Bloomberg News.

The State Department has insisted on multiple occasions that Giuliani does not speak on behalf of the administration on foreign policy issues.

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