Posts tagged with "ABC News"

Going south? Facebook, Netflix, and Twitter beg off South by Southwest over coronavirus fears

March 9, 2020

They may be “social media,” but right now, hobnobbing with hordes of people is not their mission: Facebook, Netflix, TikTok, and Twitter have joined the growing list of companies—including Warner Music—that are dropping out of the South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival amid the novel coronavirus outbreak, ABC News reports.

Apple is also, by many accounts, pulling out—but has not confirmed the rumors.

The tech, film, and music festival is slated to take place March 13 to 22 in Austin, Texas—and organizers said at a news conference on March 4 that the event is still scheduled to take place, as planned; and that canceling it wouldn’t make the community safer.

“Right now, there is no evidence that closing South by Southwest or other activities is going to make this community safer. We are constantly monitoring that situation,” Dr. Mark Escott, the interim medical director for Austin Public Health, told reporters. “One of the concerns is that if we shut down or make the recommendation to shut down South by Southwest, people will still continue to come here … but without that organizational structure that South by Southwest provides.”

Festival organizers are increasing the availability of hand-washing and sanitizing stations— as well as screening employees’ and volunteers’ temperatures—to help allay anxieties over COVID-19, Escott added.

Also on Wednesday, health officials in Texas announced the state’s first confirmed case of coronavirus in Fort Bend County, outside of Houston.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey was scheduled to be one of the event’s speakers, but his name no longer appears on the website, ABC News noted. “Twitter is implementing a mandatory global business travel restriction for our employees, effective immediately. This unfortunately includes SXSW,” a Twitter spokesperson told the nework news outlet.

A Facebook spokesperson similarly said, “Due to concerns related to coronavirus, our company and employees will not be participating in SXSW this year.”

Netflix and TikTok also both confirmed to ABC News on Thursday, March 5, that they would not be participating. Apple did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for comment, although Reuters reported that the company had opted not to attend.

Organizers and the city of Austin have faced widespread calls to call off the festival this year. A Change.org petition calling for it to be canceled had garnered nearly 50,000 signatures as of Thursday.

Calling off the festival would be a major blow to the local economy. The gathering injects up to $350 million into Austin’s economy, according to a 2018 analysis by Greyhill Advisors, funded by South by Southwest.

Research contact: @ABC

Editor’s note: Under pressure to keep a lid on COVID-19, Austin has canceled SXSW, as of Friday night, March 6.

Win an inn in Maine with an essay, $99, and a dream

March 6, 2020

If you’ve dreamed of running a bed and breakfast, or a rustic inn—but lacked the funds to make it a reality, this may be your big chance. All you need is an essay and a dream. And $99.

Instead of selling the Harbor Watch Inn on Swan’s Island off the coast of Maine—an 80-square-mile enclave with a permanent population of about 300 and a summer influx of tourists that inflates that number to 1,000— the current owner is having a contest.

According to a report by ABC News, you can enter as many times as you like by writing an essay of no more than 350 words on, according to the website, “Why owning a small island inn would fulfill your dreams. Why do you believe you will succeed? What, if anything would you change about the inn?”

The inn itself is a four-room establishment plus a full apartment on the second level. The two standard rooms have two double beds, a full private bath, sitting area, small microwave, mini-fridge, and  coffee maker. The kitchen rooms are upgraded and include a full kitchen with full-sized refrigerator and range. These units face the harbor and have private balconies.

To take a shot, visit the entry site and fill out the form. The winner will get not only the inn, but $25,000 in operating funds, ABC News notes. Enter before March 31.

Swan’s Island is located six miles off the coast of Maine. It is accessible by ferry from Bass Harbor.

Research contact: @ABC News

Flight risk: Charter jet companies report uptick in business amid coronavirus outbreak

February 20, 2020

With many commercial flights to and from mainland China have been suspended due to the coronavirus outbreak, charter and private jet operators say it’s been “all systems go” for them amid the global health emergency, ABC News reports.

Once thought to be reserved for ultra-wealthy jetsetters, these planes also have been contracted by governments, including e U.S. health authorities, to repatriate their own citizens from China or to send medical supplies to the impacted region.  

Specific data on charter jet travel is not publicly available, ABC News notes, but a handful of the major operators have said they have been flooded with requests.

“Over the last four weeks, the number of coronavirus related inquiries Air Partner has received across the business has increased,” Air Partner—a global aviation services group based in the U.K. that recently helped to evacuate 308 British and EU nations from Wuhan, China—said in a statement. “This includes increased private jet inquiries, requests for medical equipment cargo flights, and emergency evacuations.”

The carrier explained that it had taken precautions to protect healthy crew members and flyers. The aircraft were configured for the flights, with the upper deck designated for crew rest only so that there was clear segregation between the evacuees and the flight crew. There was also a separate section in the nose of the aircraft, which could be used as an isolation zone for passengers if necessary.

“The coronavirus outbreak has been an extremely difficult time for everyone involved and we are very pleased to have safely repatriated a large number of British and EU nationals on behalf of the U.K. government,” Mark Briffa, the CEO of Air Partner, said in a statement.

“Since the outbreak our offices around the world have been arranging flights on local charter aircraft as the world deals with the travel disruption and overall cut to capacity to the region,” Justin Lancaster, the company’s commercial director, said in a statement.

He added that in addition to flying passengers, they have transported 100 metric tons of surgical masks, and that “it has been all systems go since the epidemic was first reported.”

“Some customers have tried to avoid infection by flying with their families on private jets to avoid travelling on commercial aircraft with a large amount of people, whereas several organizations, as well as governments, have evacuated en masse on larger aircraft, such as an Airbus A380,” Lancaster said.

PrivateFly, a booking service for on-demand private jet charter, told ABC News that the company also has noticed an uptick in demand for private flights due to coronavirus.

Adam Twidell, the CEO of UK-based PrivateFly, told ABC News in a statement that the company is “certainly seeing increased demand for private flights out of China, and have had a significant number of inquiries over the past two weeks, from groups and individuals.”

Twidwell said that one was to “set up four flights out of Wuhan for hundreds of passengers for a government client in South America.”

However, demand has been so high, that the charter and private flight companies have told the network news outlet that they haven’t been able to meet all the requests they’ve received.

The coronavirus outbreak in China continues to dampen global economic activity. As of Tuesday, February 18, officials in the country confirmed 72,531 cases of coronavirus and 1,870 deaths due to the virus.

Research contact: @ABC

Use it or lose it: Sexual activity may help delay menopause

January 17, 2020

It turns out that the old saw, “use it or lose it,” is true when it comes to copulation and procreation. Women with more active sex lives may experience menopause later in life, according to the results of a ten-year study conducted at the University College of London.

Published by Royal Society Open Science, the study found that women who reported weekly physical intimacy over a decade were about 28% less likely to experience menopause than women who reported less-than-monthly sexual activity, ABC News reported this week.

The reason may be because “ovulation requires a lot of energy, and it has also been shown to impair your immune function. From an evolutionary standpoint, if a person is not sexually active it would not be beneficial to allocate energy to such a costly process,” the study’s lead author, Megan Arnot, told the news outlet.

“Doctors have long known that there were many benefits from continued sexual activity,” Dr. Jennifer Wu, a New York-based OB/GYN who didn’t participate in the project, told ABC News. “This study highlights a new finding: Women who do not engage in regular sexual activity go through menopause at an earlier age. With the earlier onset of menopause, patients experience more loss of bone and adverse cholesterol profiles.”

The study doesn’t explain the exact connection between sex and menopause, but it illustrates a possible association. Further studies would be required to establish stronger links.

The study began with a look at approximately 3,000 women— 46%  of whom were perimenopausal, meaning they had some symptoms; and 54% were premenopausal, meaning they had no symptoms. Over the next decade, 45% of the women began menopause, at an average age of 52.

The women studied were described as having sex weekly, monthly or less than once a month. Sex was defined as intercourse, oral sex, touching or caressing, or self-stimulation.

“It’s the first time a study has shown a link between frequency of sex and onset of menopause,” Arnot added. “We don’t want to offer behavioral advice at this point at all. These results are an initial indication that menopause timing may be adaptive in response to the likelihood of becoming pregnant. More research will need to be done in the future.”

Research contact: @ABC

Run for your life: Training for your first marathon may reverse aging

January 8, 2020

Training for six months and completing your first 26-mile marathon run can add back up to four years to your heart health, according to new UK research findings, ABC News reports.

The study, published January 6 in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, says the training can lower blood pressure and aortic stiffness to the equivalent of a four-year reduction in vascular health.

This result isn’t surprising to Dr. Alton Barron, clinical associate professor of Orthopedic Surgery at NYU Langone Medical Center, who was not involved in the study but has run 15 marathons and 50 half-marathons.

“Running has long-term health benefits,” he told ABC News. “The beautiful part of running is that it’s just our body—it doesn’t require a membership fee or using equipment. You just go outside and start running.”

Aerobic exercise is good for your health because it decreases blood vessel stiffness and increases blood flow. It reduces vessel stiffness by reducing inflammation and ramping up wall stress. Wall stress causes the release of nitric oxide, which relaxes the smooth muscle in the blood vessels.

Marathons attract millions of people every year, ranging from first-time enthusiasts to professional athletes. According to RunRepeat’s State of Running 2019, participation in races peaked in 2016 with a total of 9.1 million—with the highest number of participants running in 5-kilometer races and half marathons.

For the study, researchers from various institutions in the United Kingdom examined 138 untrained, relatively healthy adults who underwent six months of training for their first marathon in London.

They found that after six months of training and completion of the marathon, it was possible to have reduced blood pressure and vessel stiffness and reversed the consequences of aging large vessels by approximately four years. Older males with slower marathon run times and higher blood pressure at baseline benefited the most.

However, doing so is a major commitment: Training for marathons can be expensive and experts suggest that long-distance runners should cover a minimum distance of 18.6 miles per week before a marathon to reduce their risk of running related injury. What’s more, first-time runners may encounter additional barriers such as being overweight, out of sharp, and lacking motivation, Barron told ABC News.

“Starting anything can be intimidating and scary. I would suggest you find a companion who is on your level or has the same desires and start with small goals. For non-runners, walk every day and gradually build.” Barron advised.

“Stress fractures and shin splints occur by doing too much too fast,” Barron told ABC News.

Research contact: @abcnews

Repudiate or remove? 70% of Americans say Trump’s demands to Ukraine were ‘wrong’

November 19, 2019

A majority of Americans think they have Donald Trump’s number—and that’s not good news for the president. An overwhelming 70% of Americans believe that he was “wrong” to ask a foreign leader to investigate his political rival, an ABC News/Ipsos poll conducted November 16-17 has found.

A slim majority of Americans,(51%) believe Trump’s actions were both wrong and he should be impeached and removed from office. But only 21% of Americans say they are following the hearings very closely.

In addition to the 51%, another 19% think that Trump’s actions were wrong, but that, at worst, he should either be impeached by the House and not removed from office. The survey also finds that 25% of Americans think that Trump did nothing wrong.

Still,about one-third (32%) say they made up their minds about impeaching the president before the news broke about Trump’s July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, in which Trump urged his Ukrainian counterpart to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.

The poll asked Americans how closely they were following the first week of public impeachment hearings in the House, their assessments of Trump’s actions; and whether those actions warranted impeachment and removal from office. The survey also asked Americans when they decided on the matter.

ABC News notes that House Democrats are investigating whether the administration withheld nearly $400 million in aid and promised a White House summit between the two leaders in exchange for an investigation into the president’s political rival, Biden, and his son, for his place on the board of Ukrainian energy company Burisma.

Overall, the poll found, 58% of Americans say they are following the hearings very closely or somewhat closely (21% and 37%, respectively); and 21% say they made up their minds about impeachment after the first week of public hearings. Among those who said this, 60% think that Trump should be impeached and removed from office.

Of those following the House impeachment hearings very closely, 67% think Trump’s actions were wrong and he should be impeached and removed from office.

Among Democrats, 41% say they made up their minds about impeachment before Trump’s actions related to Ukraine became public. And 41% of those who support Trump’s impeachment and removal from office say they made up their minds before the matter came to light.

The unfolding political drama between congressional Democrats and the White House reveals a polarized populace, with Democrats more united in their belief that Trump should be impeached and convicted than Republicans are in their belief that the president has committed no wrongdoing: 85% and 65%, respectively.

Research contact: @ABCNews

Animal house: Dog lover prepares to break ground on sanctuary for pit bulls

November 7, 2019

An animal advocate who lives in Paulding County, Georgia, is demonstrating his dedication to a dog breed that is often misunderstood. Jason Flatt told ABC News Atlanta affiliate WSB-TV that he plans to create a one-of-a kind sanctuary for pit bulls and pit bull mixes

Flatt already pulls pit bulls out of local shelters—where 80% to 85% are ignored or shunned by potential adoptive families, he says—and cares for them with a small team at his home, which is filled with kennels for the pups.

Most of the dogs, Flatt told the news outlet, have experienced “some sort of trauma,” and need tender, loving care to restore their spirits and health.

Flatt said he is working to change the narrative of the breed, which is known as being aggressive or used as fighting dogs.

“Everybody assumes these dogs are like these baby-killing monsters,” Flatt told WSB-TV. “Pit bulls have a problem —a big problem. In every major city, every

At his new facility, Flatt aims for every dog to have a 40-foot run made of concrete and grass. The sanctuary also will feature areas for rehabilitation and indoor play, as well as a full-time veterinarian, he said.

His goal is to raise enough money to break ground in the next few years, he said.

“We don’t give up on dogs,” he said. “We never have.”

Flatt and his team will work to find every dog the right home. Those that don’t find their forever home will continue to live with him on the property.

“Every one of them has a story,” he said. “The stories don’t matter. It’s the ending—the endings that we look to change.”

Research contact: @ABC

FEC chair states unconditionally that accepting ‘oppo research’ from a foreign national is illegal

October 7, 2019

We told him so: Federal Election Commission (FEC) Chair Ellen Weintraub on October 4 stated unconditionally that accepting any kind of “opposition research” from a foreign national or government is illegal under U.S. elections law.

In an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Weintraub again refuted President Donald Trump’s position that there is nothing wrong with listening to foreign intelligence about his 2020 political opponents.

As far back as June 16, in an exclusive interview with ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos, the president reacted to a question about whether he would accept information from foreigners—such as China or Russia—for his reelection campaign, or choose to hand it over to the FBI, by saying, “I think maybe you do both.”

He added at the time, “I think you might want to listen; there isn’t anything wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, [and said] ‘we have information on your opponent.’—oh, I think I’d want to hear it.”

And this week, he called on China publicly to provide that information.

“The law is pretty clear,” Weintraub said to co-host Willie Geist. “It is absolutely illegal for anyone to solicit, accept or receive anything of value from a foreign national in connection with any election in the United States.”

“I don’t want to comment on the specifics,” Weinstein added of Trump’s call for Biden to be investigated by foreign governments, including Ukraine, the UK, and China. “I’m just here to explain the law. That’s part of my job, and I think this is a moment in America where it’s really important that the American people understand what the law is.”

According to a report by The Hill, the FEC chief has weighed in on social media in the past on statements made by Trump, including earlier this year when Trump talked to ABC.

“Is this thing on?” Weintraub tweeted at the time.

Research contact: @thehill

Shooting down a bad idea: Hoodies with bullet holes spark viral backlash

September 19, 2019

A New York City-based clothing company has introduced school shooting hoodies that have bullet holes in them and feature the names of four schools at which major mass shooting have occurred—among them, Sandy Hook, Columbine, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and Virginia Tech, ABC News reports.

The new fashion line was shown by the brand Bstroy during New York Fashion Week—and instantly generated fierce criticism on social media and in fashion blogs.

Bstroy, a self-described “neo-native” post-apocalypse streetwear brand, according to Paper Magazine, has been slammed with comments—of all types—after showcasing its Spring 2020 menswear collection, called “Samsara,” in a series of posts on Instagram.

“Under what scenario could somebody think this was a good idea? This has me so upset. If any of my followers no [sic] anybody involved with this clothing line, please ask them to stop it immediately,” tweeted Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed on February 14, 2018, by Nikolas Cruz in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas

A memorial page for Vicki Soto, one of the teachers killed in the December 14,2012, Sandy Hook shooting responded directly to the Instagram post of the Sandy Hook hoodie saying “As a Sandy Hook family, what you are doing here is absolutely disgusting, hurtful, wrong and disrespectful. You’ll never know what our family went through after Vicki died protecting her students. Our pain is not to be used for your fashion.”

“This is disgusting,” actress Alyssa Milano simply tweeted, according to ABC.

The network news outlet reported that one of the company’s founders, Brick Owens, responded to the critics by releasing a statement on Instagram. “Sometimes life can be painfully ironic,” the statement read. Like the irony of dying violently in a place you consider to be a safe, controlled environment, like school. We are reminded all the time of life’s fragility, shortness, and unpredictability yet we are also reminded of its infinite potential. It is this push and pull that creates the circular motion that is the cycle of life. Nirvana is the goal we hope to reach through meditation and healthy practices that counter our destructive habits. Samsara is the cycle we must transcend to reach Nirvana.”

We are making violent statements,” the other founder of Bstroy, Dieter “Du” Grams told The New York Times in a profile that was published last week. “That’s for you to know who we are, so we can have a voice in the market. But eventually that voice will say things that everyone can wear.”

ABC noted, “While the vast majority of responses to the clothing line were negative, there were some who thought the company was doing their best to bring awareness to the issue of gun violence in America.”

“I hope all the people in the comments that are upset, are upset enough to talk to their elected officials about serious gun control measures,” said Instagram user @magnetic_poles.

Bstory has not immediately responded to ABC News’ request for comment on Wednesday morning.

Research contact: @ABC

‘Putting the brakes’ on hot car deaths

September 9, 2019

By the 2025 model year, nearly all new vehicles sold in the United States will provide electronic audible and visual reminders on the dashboard for drivers to check rear seats before they turn off the ignition, so they don’t leave children behind, ABC News reports.

Indeed, according to the network news outlet, already 20 automakers representing 98% of new vehicles sold have agreed to install such alerts in an effort to stop heatstroke deaths.

So far this year 37 children have died nationwide after being left alone in cars during hot weather. The advocacy group Kids and Cars says a record 53 children were killed last year.

“Automakers have been exploring ways to address this safety issue, and this commitment underscores how such innovations and increased awareness can help children right now,” David Schwietert, Interim CEO of the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, a trade group that includes a dozen large car companies, told ABC News. Members of the Association of Global Automakers, a group of manufacturers based outside the United States, also are taking part.

Automakers say the voluntary agreement will get the alerts installed faster than a government regulation, which takes four to eight years.

Only Tesla didn’t agree to the reminders. The car company has not responded to requests for comment.

Several automakers already are offering the feature. General Motors, for instance, has a reminder on all of its four-door sedans, trucks and SUVs starting with the 2019 model year. Hyundai has pledged to make a similar system standard on its vehicles by 2022.

The auto alliance says the agreement is a minimum and doesn’t preclude automakers from coming up with more sophisticated solutions.

ABC News reports that the U.S. House is considering a bill that would require such alerts.

Research contact: @ABC