TIKI Brand condemns white nationalists' use of tiki torches

Aug 13, 2017 13

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — After white nationalists were seen holding tiki torches while marching through the University of Virginia on Friday night, TIKI Brand Products came out with a statement denouncing the extremists.

“TIKI Brand is not associated in any way with the events that took place in Charlottesville and are deeply saddened and disappointed,” the tiki torch-maker said. “We do not support their message or the use of our products in this way. Our products are designed to enhance backyard gatherings and to help family and friends connect with each other at home in their yard.”

The white supremacists chanted “white lives matter,” “you will not replace us,” and “blood and soil” — a phrase associated with Nazis — ahead of Saturday’s far-right “Unite the Right” rally to protest the removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Violence erupted on Saturday when the rally-goers clashed with counter-protesters, and one 32-year-old woman died when a car crashed into a group of demonstrators protesting against the white nationalists. Two Virginia State Police officers were also killed when the helicopter they were in to monitor the protests crashed nearby.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

HBO responds to hacker's latest release, accuses them of trying to 'generate media attention'

Aug 13, 2017 13

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — HBO is firing back after hackers reportedly released more episodes of the cable network’s programming before they’ve aired, accusing them of trying to get press.

A rep for HBO told ABC News in a statement, “We are not in communication with the hacker and we’re not going to comment every time a new piece of information is released.”

“It has been widely reported that there was a cyber incident at HBO,” the statement continued. “The hacker may continue to drop bits and pieces of stolen information in an attempt to generate media attention. That’s a game we’re not going to participate in.”

The cable network added in a statement that “obviously, no company wants their proprietary information stolen and released on the internet.”

“Transparency with our employees, partners, and the creative talent that works with us has been our focus throughout this incident and will remain our focus as we move forward,” the statement concluded. “This incident has not deterred us from ensuring HBO continues to do what we do best.”

Last month, HBO CEO Richard Plepler revealed that the network was hacked, compromising shows such as “Game of Thrones,” “Insecure” and “Westworld.”

A separate statement, obtained by ABC News in July, also revealed that the network immediately began “working with law enforcement and outside cybersecurity firms” once they became aware of the hack.
“Data protection is a top priority at HBO, and we take seriously our responsibility to protect the data we hold,” the statement concluded.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Couple celebrates engagement with enchanting mermaid-themed photo shoot

Aug 12, 2017 10

Photo by Del Sol Photography(NEW YORK) — One man made quite the splash with his epic proposal. Eric Martinez not only pulled off the initial surprise of popping the question in a beautiful sun-drenched dry cave, but then also arranged a whimsical mermaid-themed photo shoot by Del Sol Photography in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

“I wanted it to be so memorable and so special and obviously unforgettable,” Martinez, 40, told ABC News of the enchanting underwater engagement celebration to his now-fiancée, Cammy Rynae Cuoco. “I didn’t want to do a plain Jane proposal. Why do it if you’re just going to take someone to a restaurant? That’s the way I am.”

He said he tried to incorporate “everything she loves” into the special day: “The mermaid, the dolphin, her favorite photography company, I tried to bring it all into one big proposal.”

It’s safe to say Martinez certainly accomplished that and more. He contacted Del Sol Photography two months before he planned to propose as he knew Cuoco admired their work and wanted her to have the perfect photos for her to remember the occasion forever. Once he began brainstorming ideas with the photographers, they knew a mermaid theme was the perfect option for the Ariel-loving bride-to-be, and even made the sequined mermaid skirt for Cuoco to wear by hand.

“I’ve always loved princesses and Ariel from ‘The Little Mermaid’ was always my favorite,” Cuoco, 26, said. “She got to do whatever she wanted and swim with the animals and she got to swim with dolphins, which is my second favorite thing in the world.”

Martinez proposed to Cuoco with a gorgeous ring inside a crystal-studded dolphin box, which Cuoco said she wasn’t expecting.

“We drive about 10 minutes in this horrible taxi ride in the middle of jungle and I’m like, ‘What the heck is going on?’” she recalled. “We go into this beautiful dry cave and that’s where he actually proposed.”
But unbeknownst to Cuoco, that wasn’t the only surprise he had in store for her. When he then told her they would be partaking in a mermaid-themed photo shoot to celebrate the occasion, she “couldn’t stop smiling and freaking out,” said Cuoco.

The San Antonio, Texas, couple is now planning to wed in Mexico and can’t wait work with Del Sol Photography again.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

US stocks close higher, post weekly decline

Aug 11, 2017 16

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — U.S. stocks closed in the green on Friday, but the major indexes posted sharp losses for the week.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained 14.31 (+0.07 percent) to finish at 21,858.32.

The Nasdaq climbed 39.68 (+0.64 percent) to close at 6,256.56, while the S&P 500 finished at 2,441.32, up 3.11 (+0.13 percent) from its open.

Crude oil less than 0.5 percent higher with prices at $49 per barrel.

Winners and Losers: Among the tech leaders, Apple, Inc.’s shares jumped 1.39 percent and Microsoft Corporation climbed 1.53 percent.

J.C. Penney Co. Inc. reported quarterly losses that were lower than investors’ expectations, causing the stock to crater 16.56 percent.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Hospital employee returns $9K to patient: 'I'd want it done for me'

Aug 11, 2017 18

iStock/Thinkstock(PROVIDENCE, R.I.) — A hospital employee who returned thousands of dollars to a patient after discovering the cash in a laundry room is being commended by the hospital’s staff.

Steven Ledo, 62, was working his shift at The Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island, last month when he noticed money falling out of one of the dryers.

Ledo, who has been employed at the hospital for 19 years, said there were a large number of bills in multiple denominations totaling $9,100. The patient’s passport was also found in the dryer.

Ledo turned the cash in to his supervisor.

“I’ve never handled that much money,” Ledo told ABC News Friday, adding that he never thought to keep the cash for himself. “I was very shocked. My thing was to protect the money.”

Arthur J. Sampson, president of The Miriam Hospital, told ABC News that the patient, whose name was not revealed for privacy reasons, was “delighted” to receive her money back.

“I am not surprised at Steven’s response at all,” Sampson said. “He is an honorable man. He’s been a long-term employee and this is well within his character.”

The hospital is holding a ceremony on Aug. 30 to honor Ledo for his good deed.

“I still believe most people would do the right thing,” Ledo said of returning the money. “I’d want it done for me.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

How to avoid buying counterfeit solar eclipse glasses

Aug 11, 2017 22

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Experts are urging Americans watching the Aug. 21 total solar eclipse to buy smart when purchasing the necessary protective eyewear.

With counterfeit eclipse glasses hitting the market, NASA and the American Astronomical Society (AAS) suggest that consumers purchase off their long list of verified products to ensure safe viewing.

Retired NASA astrophysicist and photographer Fred Espenak told ABC News that he has heard rumors of counterfeit glasses being sold online.

It is unclear if there are counterfeit glasses also being sold in stores or by street vendors.

“The only way you can be sure that they’re not fake glasses is to buy them from a reliable source,” Espenak said.

Espenak recommends that people stick to the AAS’s approved list of 12 companies that manufacture and/or sell eclipse glasses and handheld solar viewers, which have been verified by an accredited testing laboratory to meet the ISO 12312-2 international safety standard.

“They’ve been put through a testing procedure to demonstrate that they’re dark enough to prevent visible as well as ultraviolet and infrared light from passing through it,” Espenak said. “They’ve gone through various laboratory testing in order to be certified for ISO testing. Filters have to be validated by the same standard.”

Avoiding counterfeit

Unfortunately, some companies are placing an ISO label on their counterfeit glasses, which is why following the list of manufacturers is a surefire way to know you’re being safe, according to the AAS.

American Paper Optics is one of the manufacturers listed among the AAS’s 12 that meets the ISO standard.

Jason Mitchell is a partner at GSM Sales, which sells Soluna-brand glasses on Amazon. The glasses are manufactured by American Paper Optics.

Mitchell told ABC News that the Soluna brand faced issues in July with some Amazon sellers copying its design and claiming to have certified glasses produced by American Paper Optics. Mitchell explained that this is not possible considering the fact that Soluna glasses are exclusively manufactured for GSM Sales.

“Amazon has now done a great job eliminating all other sellers that claimed to be selling legitimate Soluna glasses, so there are no longer any issues with the validity of the Soluna glasses on Amazon,” Mitchell said.

“We are only selling the glasses on Amazon, so we cannot guarantee the validity of Soluna glasses purchased through any other site,” he added. “The only way that valid Soluna glasses could be sold through another site is if they were first purchased from GSM Sales on Amazon. To guarantee the authenticity of the Soluna glasses, they must be purchased from GSM Sales on Amazon.”

Amazon released a statement to ABC News in regards to glasses being sold on their site, “We require sellers to comply with all our policies, including their responsibility to source and sell only safe, authentic products. Eclipse glasses sold on Amazon.com are required to comply with the relevant ISO standard.”

Buying safe

Besides American Paper Optics, who makes Soluna glasses, here is a current list of other approved companies that manufacturer and/or sell glasses through vendors and retailers, according to the AAS.

  • American Paper Optics (Eclipser) / EclipseGlasses.com / 3dglassesonline.com
  • APM Telescopes (Sunfilter Glasses)*
  • Baader Planetarium (AstroSolar Silver/Gold Film)* [see note]
  • Celestron (EclipSmart Glasses & Viewers)
  • DayStar (Solar Glasses)
  • Explore Scientific (Solar Eclipse Sun Catcher Glasses)
  • Lunt Solar Systems (SUNsafe SUNglasses) [see their unique kid-size eclipse glasses]
  • Meade Instruments (EclipseView Glasses & Viewers)
  • Rainbow Symphony (Eclipse Shades)
  • Seymour Solar (Helios Glasses)
  • Thousand Oaks Optical (Silver-Black Polymer & SolarLite)
  • TSE 17 (Solar Filter Foil)*

The AAS says on its website that just because they do not list a supplier, that does not indicate that “their products are unsafe,” but rather that the AAS does not yet have the knowledge of that particular seller or that they have not verified the brand is safe.

“You can’t assume that they’re not safe because they’re not on the list … this list is growing,” Espenak said.

Espenak said that there isn’t any way to tell for certain if a set of eclipse glasses are counterfeit, but one indictor is if you are able to see something in the glasses other than the sun, which is why for now, the AAS suggests sticking to the current list of manufacturers when buying glasses.

The consequence of wearing glasses that aren’t specially made to deal with the visible light from a solar eclipse and invisible radiation could be “serious eye injury, perhaps even blindness,” according to the AAS, which also noted that special-purpose solar filters are many thousands of times darker than ordinary sunglasses.

Over 6,800 libraries across the country are distributing safety-certified glasses for the Aug. 21 eclipse, with many collaborating with scientists to hold viewing events and activities before and during the event. For a list of participating libraries distributing glasses from AAS’s approved list, click here.

Quick tips for buying safety glasses, according to the AAS and Espenak:

  • Buy only from the AAS’s approved list of ISO certified solar eclipse glasses.
  • When buying from online retailers, stick to buying from the manufacturer, brand or distributor with their name on the AAS list.
  • To test glasses for damages or scratches, Espenak suggests holding a pair up to your car headlights at nighttime to ensure no light comes through.
  • There could be a company selling what they claim to be genuine glasses off of the AAS list. The AAS says it’s safer to buy directly from the company or brand’s manufacturer whether buying online, or in person.
  • Remember, only the sun or the reflection of the sun in a mirror should be seen through a pair of safe solar eclipse glasses. If you’re able to see something other than the sun, the glasses could be counterfeit, according to Espenak.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Professional food Instagrammer shares his top tips

Aug 11, 2017 17

ABC News(NEW YORK) — A professional food Instagrammer, who works directly with restaurants to make their dishes more shareable on social media, opened up about his top tips for taking food photos in an interview with “Good Morning America.”

Dillon Burke, 27, the co-founder of “Front of House,” a digital branding and marketing firm that helps restaurants market their food on social media, told ABC News that Instagramming food is “a real business.”

Burke, who has a background in photography, added that “almost all” restaurants are working to make their food more shareable on social media in some way.

“We’re now in this space where hashtags come to play, and location tags,” Burke said, adding that his business enters the equation because “if you’re running a restaurant, you probably don’t have time” to manage social media handles as well.

“You eat with your eyes first. When the food comes out, you look at it. If something looks like junk, it affects the way you taste it,” Andrew Knowlton of Bon Appetit magazine told ABC News. “Instagram has taken that, and pumped it up, to make it look good.”

Yvan Lemoine, the executive chef at Union Fare, a restaurant in New York City, told ABC News that he credits Burke with causing a major boon in business, after Burke made their birthday cake croissant go viral.

Burke told ABC News that the secret to a perfect food post on Instagram is to “take your time.”

Burke said you shouldn’t use zoom because the photo will be pixelated. “If you want the best image, shoot it, then crop inwards.”

Burke said the biggest mistake people make when photographing food is using the wrong light.

“You need natural light,” Burke said. “You have to pay attention to where the light source is from.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick sued by early investor

Aug 10, 2017 16

Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for Vanity Fair(NEW YORK) — A venture capital firm that invested early in the ride sharing company Uber is suing the company’s former CEO for fraud, according to a complaint filed this week.

The suit revolves around a 2016 decision to expand Uber’s board of voting directors from eight members to 11, a move that Benchmark Capital claims was initiated by former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. The former CEO had the sold right to designate the three new board members.

Kalanick later resigned his role as CEO following a series of controversial public incidents. He then named himself to one of the three added board seats.

Benchmark Capital claims it would never have given Kalanick control over the three board seats had it been aware of his “gross mismanagement and other misconduct.” According to the lawsuit, that claim includes “pervasive gender discrimination and sexual harassment.”

Kalanick currently has about 10 percent equity stake in Uber, while Benchmark holds about 13 percent of the company that was most recently valued at about $70 billion.

A spokesperson for Kalanick told ABC News that the lawsuit is “completely without merit and riddled with lies and false allegations.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick sued by early investor

Aug 10, 2017 16

Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for Vanity Fair(NEW YORK) — A venture capital firm that invested early in the ride sharing company Uber is suing the company’s former CEO for fraud, according to a complaint filed this week.

The suit revolves around a 2016 decision to expand Uber’s board of voting directors from eight members to 11, a move that Benchmark Capital claims was initiated by former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick. The former CEO had the sold right to designate the three new board members.

Kalanick later resigned his role as CEO following a series of controversial public incidents. He then named himself to one of the three added board seats.

Benchmark Capital claims it would never have given Kalanick control over the three board seats had it been aware of his “gross mismanagement and other misconduct.” According to the lawsuit, that claim includes “pervasive gender discrimination and sexual harassment.”

Kalanick currently has about 10 percent equity stake in Uber, while Benchmark holds about 13 percent of the company that was most recently valued at about $70 billion.

A spokesperson for Kalanick told ABC News that the lawsuit is “completely without merit and riddled with lies and false allegations.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Mega Millions jackpot expected to reach $393M for Friday's drawing

Aug 10, 2017 15

GRAZVYDAS/iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — The next Mega Millions jackpot is expected to be the fifth largest in the history of the game, worth about $393 million if someone wins.

The drawing for the whopping jackpot will be held on Friday and would be the largest since July 8, 2016.

The jackpot was last won on April 28, when a $61 million prize was awarded in California. Two other jackpots were awarded earlier in the year.

The largest Mega Millions jackpot in the 15-year history of the game was $656 million on March 30, 2012.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.