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Thursday
Apr202017

Last killer whale born at SeaWorld

SeaWorld(NEW YORK) -- SeaWorld on Wednesday announced the birth of the last killer whale that will ever be born at the theme park, just a little over a year after it announced plans to stop breeding orcas there amid falling ticket sales and a wave of animal rights protests.

SeaWorld Entertainment, which operates 12 parks including its flagship location in Orlando, Florida, said the calf was born Wednesday afternoon to Takara, the 25-year-old matriarch of its orca pod who was already pregnant when the marine theme park company said it would stop breeding killer whales in March of last year.

"Although this is the last killer whale birth at a SeaWorld park, our work to understand and protect this species will continue for decades to come," said Hendrik Nollens, vice president of veterinary services for SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment.

The company called the calf's birth "historic" and said the event would mark "a new era" for SeaWorld Parks.

"This is an exciting and emotional day for us at SeaWorld and we are all so proud to share this new killer whale calf with the world, after a year and a half of planning, and observing and providing all the special care," said Chris Bellows, vice president of zoological operations at the company’s park in San Antonio, Texas, where the calf was born.

Last year, SeaWorld said "society is changing" and the company is "changing with it" as it announced plans to stop breeding orcas.

 The Orlando, Florida-based company reported total revenue of $1.34 billion for 2016, down 2.2 percent from the previous full year.

Total park attendance for 2016 fell by about 2.1 percent for the year as the company's Florida and northeast park locations hit a major slump, according to the company's own accounting.

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Wednesday
Apr192017

Bill O'Reilly 'disheartened' over departure from Fox News 'due to completely unfounded claims'

ABC News(NEW YORK) -- Bill O'Reilly has responded to news that he will not be returning to his top-rated Fox News Channel show The O'Reilly Factor, saying "it is tremendously disheartening that we part ways due to completely unfounded claims."

"That is the unfortunate reality many of us in the public eye must live with today," he said in a statement released late Wednesday afternoon.

Earlier on Wednesday, Fox News' parent company, 21st Century Fox, announced that "after a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the company and Bill O'Reilly have agreed that Bill O'Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel."

O'Reilly said that over his 20-year career he has "been extremely proud to launch and lead one of the most successful news programs in history, which has consistently informed and entertained millions of Americans and significantly contributed to building Fox into the dominant news network in television."

"I will always look back on my time at Fox with great pride in the unprecedented success we achieved and with my deepest gratitude to all my dedicated viewers," O'Reilly said. "I wish only the best for Fox News Channel."

The host has been dogged by misconduct claims -- some sexual in nature -- since an April 1 story in The New York Times detailed alleged settlements made between the host and five women who accused him of harassment and sexual misconduct.

ABC News has not been able to independently verify the claims made in the Times story.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Wednesday
Apr192017

Stocks close lower despite Fed report showing economic growth

JaysonPhotography/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A bad day for the Dow pushed the stock markets lower on Wednesday for the second consecutive day.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 118.79 to a close of 20,404.49.

The Nasdaq gained 13.56, closing at 5,863.03, while the S&P 500 ended the session at 2,338.17, 4.02 lower than it opened.

The latest report from the Federal Reserve showed the economy growing in all 12 districts. The latest Beige Book also laid out figures that represent expanding employment nationwide.

This year's college graduates will likely take on a lot of student loan debt. The Census Bureau says starting salaries are the same as they were in 2008, and in some cases are even lower.

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Wednesday
Apr192017

Bill O'Reilly out at Fox News amid sexual misconduct allegations

Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage(NEW YORK ) -- Bill O'Reilly is leaving Fox News Channel, the network's parent company has said.

The star host has been dogged by misconduct claims -- some sexual in nature -- since an April 1 story in The New York Times detailed alleged settlements made between the host and five women who accused him of harassment and sexual misconduct.

“After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the Company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel,” 21st Century Fox said in a statement on Wednesday.

Scores of advertisers pulled their spots from his show in the days following the Times' story.

ABC News has not been able to independently verify claims made in the Times story.

After the Times investigation, O’Reilly wrote on his website that "like other prominent and controversial people," he is "vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity.”

O'Reilly also wrote that the time that he was "a father who cares deeply for my children and who would do anything to avoid hurting them in any way" and therefore he had to "put to rest any controversies to spare my children.”

The host is on vacation in Italy, where Vatican spokesman Greg Burke confirmed to ABC News that he met with Pope Francis Wednesday. O'Reilly was due back on the air Monday.

Not a even a vote of confidence from the president could save O’Reilly's job.

Sitting in the Oval Office on April 5, President Donald Trump told the New York Times that O’Reilly was "a person I know well" and "a good person," and that he didn't think "Bill did anything wrong.”

O’Reilly is not the first high-ranking Fox News employee to exit the network amid sexual misconduct claims.

Last summer, network chief Roger Ailes was pressured into resigning amid similar claims.

Ailes has denied wrongdoing.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for the latest updates.

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Wednesday
Apr192017

Emirates Airlines to reduce US service due to decreased demand following travel regulations

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Emirates Airlines will reduce service to the United States after recent travel regulations instituted by the Trump administration.

According to a statement put out on Wednesday, the airline has seen "a significant deterioration in the booking profiles on all our U.S. routes" since the implementation of a ban on laptops and tablets on certain flights. The statement also alludes to President Trump's travel bans that would have barred citizens of a number of majority-Muslim countries.

"This is a commercial decision in response to weakened travel demand to [the] U.S.," the statement said. "The recent actions taken by the U.S. government relating to the issuance of entry visas, heightened security vetting, and restrictions of electonic devices in aircraft cabins, have had a direct impact on consumer interest and demand for air travel into the U.S."

Emirates says that the airline had seen "healthy growth and performance" in their operations in the U.S. until the start of the calendar year.

The company adds, "we will closely monitor the situation with the view to reinstate and grow our U.S. flight operations as soon as viable."

Emirates serves 12 American gateways -- New York; Newark; Boston; Washington, D.C.; Chicago, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Houston, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale and Orlando.

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Wednesday
Apr192017

Bill O'Reilly accusers 'not going to stop until' he's fired, lawyer says

ABC News(NEW YORK) --  Fox News host Bill O’Reilly is facing a new accusation of misconduct, with lawyer Lisa Bloom saying this morning that she and her clients are “not going to stop until Bill O’Reilly is fired.”

“This is about equality for women in the workplace,” Bloom said today on ABC News’ Good Morning America.

O’Reilly is on vacation – a trip he said was long-planned when he left the air April 11 – as he continues to be dogged by accusations of misconduct that were given new life by an April 1 story in The New York Times that detailed alleged settlements made between the host and five women who accused him of harassment and sexual misconduct.

Out of the spotlight, the negative publicity died down for a bit, but surged back with a report in New York Magazine on Tuesday that said — citing three unnamed sources — that Fox News owners, the Murdoch family, were “leaning toward announcing that O’Reilly will not return to the air.”

On the same day, The Hollywood Reporter (THR) published a story saying that another woman had come forward to make misconduct allegations against O’Reilly.

Bloom, who is representing the woman in the THR story, appeared today on GMA without the new accuser and without identifying her, but reiterated the African-American woman’s allegation that O’Reilly called her client “hot chocolate.”

Meanwhile, the host is due back on the air Monday.

Late Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal – which shares the same ownership as Fox News’ parent company – reported that “A final resolution on the fate of Mr. O’Reilly … could come as early as the next several days,” citing “people close to the situation.”

“21st Century Fox, which will hold a board meeting Thursday, hasn’t finalized an exit agreement with Mr. O’Reilly,” The Journal reported.

Attorneys for O’Reilly told ABC News this morning that they “categorically deny” being involved in discussions about his possible departure from the network, but noted that they can’t speak to what’s being discussed internally at Fox News.

ABC News has not been able to independently verify reporting in the Times, New York Magazine, Hollywood Reporter or Wall Street Journal stories.

Fox News did not respond to a request for comment and 21st Century Fox declined to comment Tuesday afternoon.

O’Reilly’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz said that his client “has been subjected to a brutal campaign of character assassination that is unprecedented in post-McCarthyist America.”

He said in a statement Tuesday that his firm, “has uncovered evidence that the smear campaign is being orchestrated by far-left organizations bent on destroying O’Reilly and Fox News for political and financial reasons,” and that the “evidence will be put forth shortly and it is irrefutable.”

Regarding the allegation in the THR report, Kasowitz said: “It is outrageous that an allegation from an anonymous person about something that purportedly happened almost a decade ago is being treated as fact, especially where there is obviously an orchestrated campaign by activists and lawyers to destroy Mr. O’Reilly and enrich themselves through publicity driven donations.”

Bloom told GMA this morning that her client had a right to anonymity, saying “imagine if you’re a low level clerical worker and you’re going up against Bill O’Reilly.”

After the Times’ investigation, O’Reilly wrote on his website that he, "like other prominent and controversial people," is "vulnerable to lawsuits from individuals who want me to pay them to avoid negative publicity.” And said that he was "a father who cares deeply for my children and who would do anything to avoid hurting them in any way" and therefore he had "put to rest any controversies to spare my children.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Apr182017

In business dealings, Donald Trump has ignored 'Buy American' ethos

ABC News(WASHINGTON) -- President Donald Trump signed an executive order to tighten requirements that federal agencies "Buy American" on Tuesday, but it’s a concept that Donald Trump regularly ignored as a businessman.

The executive order, signed before cheering crowds at a rally at Snap-On Tools in Kenosha, Wisconsin, mandates that the government "fully monitor, uphold and enforce" laws requiring federal agencies to favor American-made goods and services.

"We're going to do everything in our power to make sure more products are stamped with those wonderful words, 'Made in the USA,'" Trump declared.

During a December visit to the recently opened Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., however, ABC News found several foreign-made items from at least six foreign countries scattered throughout a fourth-floor "King Deluxe" suite, contrary to the spirit of Trump's latest push toward economic nationalism.

In the marble and gold bathroom, the fixtures were made by Kohler, an American company based in Wisconsin, but there was soap made in Canada, towels made in India and bathrobes made in China. Several additional products in the suite arrived in the United States via Europe, specifically Italy, France and the United Kingdom.

When reached for comment by phone, Patricia Tang, director of marketing for the hotel, offered only a brief comment before abruptly hanging up.

“Nothing has changed," she said. "We have nothing to do with the [Trump] administration.”

As he laid the foundation for his presidential run, Trump tried to laugh off the fact that so many of his branded products were not made in America. In an appearance on the Late Show in 2012, David Letterman pointed out that even as Trump was railing against U.S. companies outsourcing manufacturing overseas, Trump's own line of dress shirts were being produced in Bangladesh.

"Well, that’s good," Trump replied. "We employ people in Bangladesh."

Even several years later, in the heat of the campaign, it became clear that the Trump Organization's policies on overseas production had not changed. In an interview with ABC News' David Muir, then-candidate Trump confirmed that he sold Trump-branded products manufactured in China, Mexico, Turkey and Slovenia.

"It's true," Trump said. "And you know why? Because they devalue their currency and they make it impossible for companies to compete."

First-daughter and official White House adviser Ivanka Trump has also reportedly profited from overseas manufacturing. Ivanka says she is no longer involved in her company’s business strategy, but last week, as she sat next to the Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago, the Chinese government granted her company three new trademarks, raising questions from ethics experts concerned about potential conflicts of interest.

When reached for comment, Ivanka's lawyer Jamie Gorelick dismissed any suggestions of impropriety.

“Since she resigned her position, Ivanka has had no involvement with trademark applications submitted by the business," Gorelick said. "The federal ethics rules do not require you to recuse from any matter concerning a foreign country just because a business that you have an ownership interest in has a trademark application pending there. Ivanka will recuse from particular matters where she has a conflict of interest or where the White House Counsel determines her participation would present appearance or impartiality concerns.”

Abigail Klem, President of Ivanka Trump, told ABC News that those filings were merely a routine part of protecting the company's overseas business.

"The brand has filed, updated, and rigorously protected its international trademarks over the past several years in the normal course of business, especially in regions where trademark infringement is rampant," said Klem. "We have recently seen a surge in trademark filings by unrelated third parties trying to capitalize on the name and it is our responsibility to diligently protect our trademark."

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Tuesday
Apr182017

Murder on Facebook spotlights rise of 'performance crime' phenomenon on social media 

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- A video posted to Facebook that shows the killing of an elderly man in Cleveland has sparked both fear and outrage. Fear because the victim, Robert Godwin Sr., appears to have been chosen at random by his alleged assailant, and outrage because Godwin's last terrifying moments could be watched over and over again on social media.

Steve Stephens uploaded a video of himself allegedly killing Goodwin in Cleveland. Police then launched a nationwide manhunt for Stephens, who ended his life by shooting himself on Tuesday after being pursued by police, according to Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams. The video of Godwin's murder was up for about two hours before being taken down by Facebook, the company said, prompting the tech giant to reexamine how it flags such content.

Stephens’ alleged crime has also drawn attention to a number of other incidents that have been documented on social media. In recent years, sexual assaults, random attacks and murders have been uploaded to social media platforms, sometimes drawing a large audience.

In 2015, Vester Lee Flanagan, aka Bryce Williams, recorded video of himself shooting two former coworkers and then put the video on Twitter.

Earlier this year, Chicago police arrested four people for allegedly torturing a teen and livestreaming the incident on Facebook Live.

Ray Surette, professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at the University of Central Florida, has called some of these incidents “performance crimes” in which a perpetrator is essentially committing violent acts as if they were “playing” to an audience for attention.

Surette told ABC News that there have “always been people committing crimes with an audience in mind," although those crimes were not publicized as much before the rise of social media.

The tactic had previously been more commonly used by terrorist groups or political protesters to try and publicize dangerous events, Surette explained, but now there are a growing number of people posting violent acts online who are not affiliated with larger political or armed groups.

“My reaction was, ‘Oh geez, there's been another one,’’ Surette recalled after learning of Godwin's death.

Surette said he also worries that media coverage of crimes like this one, as well as mass shootings, can contribute to a rise in copycat crimes. Past research on mass shootings has found that a desire for attention and recognition can motivate some attackers. In a 2015 study, researchers looked at mass shooting data and found that one mass shooting incident made it more likely there was would be another within the next 13 days.

During a 2016 presentation at the American Psychological Association meeting, researchers from Western New Mexico University outlined similar findings. The researchers from New Mexico found that when there were more tweets, or mentions on Twitter, about a mass shooting, the chance of another incidence of gun violence increased. Additionally, the authors reviewed published material and found that "most shooters desired fame and wished to emulate a previous mass shooter."

But understanding the motives behind committing a horrific murder and then uploading it to the web is difficult. Such crimes are often the result of multiple factors, some of which may never be known.

Dr. Naftali Berrill, director of the New York Center for Neuropsychology and Forensic Behavioral Science, told ABC News that the decision to upload video footage of a crime to social media may stem from a perpetrator's desire to take control of a situation. Berrill said perpetrators who commit random acts of violence, in general, may be doing so to fight their own feelings of powerlessness.

“One of the things that you're communicating is that you're powerless,” Berrill said. “One of the surefire ways of trying to enhance one’s sense of power and efficacy is to do something as brazen ... as commit a random murder online.”

Berrill said by sharing the crime online, a perpetrator is also aiming to reach a sort of "celebrity" status or notoriety, even if it is for the worst possible reason.

“It elevates you for a moment,” Berrill said. “You have let the world know that you have not only the power but the wherewithal to take someone's life and to take someone's life in the most absurd nonsensical [way possible.]”

Cleveland Police said they are still investigating what prompted Stevens to allegedly attack Godwin.

Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg addressed the killing in comments he made during a conference on Tuesday.

"We have a lot more to do here and we’re reminded of this, this week by the tragedy in Cleveland," Zuckerberg said. "Our hearts go out to the family and friends of Robert Godwin Sr. ... we will keep doing all we can to prevent tragedies like this from happening."

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Apr182017

Weak earnings reports pull US stocks lower

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wall Street closed in the red on Tuesday as investors digested several weak earnings reports.

The Dow Jones fell 113.64 (-0.55 percent) to finish at 20,523.28.

The Nasdaq slid 7.32 (-0.12 percent) to close at 5,849.47, while the S&P 500 finished at 2,342.19, down 6.82 (-0.29 percent) from its open.

Crude oil prices were flat at under $53 a barrel.

Winners and Losers: Shares of Goldman Sachs slumped nearly 5 percent after missing investors' expectations for profit and revenue in the first-quarter.

Johnson & Johnson was also a disappointment for investors, reporting a drop in sales in its quarterly report. Shares in the pharmaceutical company sunk over 3 percent.

In its first-quarter report Monday, Netflix revealed it added fewer dometic and international subscribers than estimated. The streaming service's stock fell under 3 percent.

Health and nutrition retailer GNC Holdings Inc. beat expectations for both revenue and earnings, sending shares to soar nearly 25 percent.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Tuesday
Apr182017

Tax refund vacations: 7 exotic trips

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Are you getting a tax refund this year and are eager to spend that newfound cash? According to the IRS, the average individual income tax refund for 2016 was $3,050.

Depending on where you start, that money can take you far, far away ... on a vacation. Here are seven destinations where airfare and a hotel stay will cost less than the average refund.

Island-hopping in the Aegean Sea

Spend nearly two weeks soaking up the sun on some of Greece's most beautiful islands for just $1,499. This trip from Go-Today begins with two nights in Athens, where travelers can visit the Parthenon and the Temple of Poseidon. The next nine nights are spread across the relaxing islands of Mykonos, Crete and Santorini. The cost includes airfare, hotel accommodations and daily breakfast.

A taste of Ireland

Get the full Irish experience with this two-week trip from Friendly Planet, starting at $2,699, which features visits to classic Ireland destinations like Dublin, Killarney, Galway and Belfast. The cost includes round-trip flights, all ground transportation and transfers, hotel and meal accommodations, and a guide to help get the the most out of the charming country.

Experience Ecuador

This eight-day trip from LivingSocial takes travelers to exotic Ecuador and Galapagos Islands for just $1,399. The fee includes round-trip international and local flights, six breakfasts, and hotel accommodations. For even more adventure, activities like snorkling with sea lions and observing giant sea turtles are available for a small extra fee.

Mamma mia!

Also from Go-Today is the so-called “Italian Adventure” package, priced from $1,099. The cheapest prices are found in October; plan to pay between $100 -- $1,000 more for high season departures in July. The trip includes round-trip airfare from New York (other gateways available), accommodations in Rome, Florence and Venice with rail transfers in between. The 10-day trip is a good option for someone who wants the ease of a fully-booked tour but wants to primarily explore on their own. Breakfast, as well as hotel taxes and surcharges, are also included in the price.

Get there before the crowds

Yes, we’re talking about Cuba. The hottest hotspot is tops on every travelers’ radar, so do yourself a favor and get there before everyone else does. Included in the price of $2,818 from Apple Vacations is a four-night Havana Tour with multiple summer departure dates. Round-trip airfare from Miami, hotel accommodations, tours, private workshops, a salsa lesson, antique car rides and more are included in the price.

Get away from it all

Dreaming of white-sand beaches, a tropical drink and nothing on the agenda but rest and relaxation? Consider the Cook Islands, an island nation in the South Pacific roughly halfway between Hawaii and New Zealand. A trip from Pleasant Holidays will cost $1,165 for a five-night vacation depending on hotel class and departure city. Round-trip airfare on Air New Zealand is included, as are hotel accommodations and taxes.

Asia “taxperience”

STA Travel, famous for catering to student travelers, has created two “taxperience” vacations for those interested in Asia. An 8-day trip to northern Thailand is priced from $1,296 per person with New York and Los Angeles departures and includes flight and hotel with travel from Bangkok to Chang Mei. There’s also a Vietnam and Cambodia trip priced from $1,653 from New York (slightly less from Los Angeles) and takes in Angor Wat and Ho Chi Min City. The 9-day trip touches down in Bangkok, so you’ll get three countries for one price.

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