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United Arab Emirates names 1st Arab female astronaut

Mooneydriver/iStockBY: HATEM MAHER, ABC NEWS

(NEW YORK) — The United Arab Emirates named mechanical engineering graduate Nora AlMatrooshi as the first Arab female astronaut, a selection that she described as an "unforgettable moment."

AlMatrooshi was picked from more than 4,000 candidates to be part of the UAE's ambitious space program, Sheikh M...

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/11/2021

St. Vincent covered in ash as volcano activity continues


(NEW YORK) — Much of St. Vincent remains covered in ash following eruptions Friday at the island's La Soufriere volcano.

The volcano has been inactive for nearly 42 years.

"There have been three explosive events that occurred during the day," University of the West Indies Seismic Research Center director, ...

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/11/2021

Prince Philip's funeral service to be held April 17 with limited guests, palace announces

Danny Lawson - WPA Pool/Getty ImagesBy ZOE MAGEE, ABC News

(LONDON) -- The funeral for Britain's Prince Philip, the husband of Queen Elizabeth II, will be held April 17 and limited to 30 guests, Buckingham Palace announced.

The Duke of Edinburgh, who died Friday at the age of 99, will be given a ceremonial royal funeral and will not lie in state, ...

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/10/2021

Volcanic eruption in Caribbean forces thousands of evacuations


(NEW YORK) — The La Soufriere Volcano, located on the eastern Caribbean island of St. Vincent erupted Friday morning, forcing the evacuation of over 16,000 people from nearby homes.

Scientists had been monitoring the volcano’s activity for years and were able to alert th...

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/10/2021

Britain's Prince Philip dies at age 99

Tim Graham/Getty ImagesBy ABC News

(LONDON) -- Britain's Prince Philip, a stalwart supporter of his wife, Queen Elizabeth II, for over seven decades, died Friday. He was 99.

"It is with deep sorrow that Her Majesty The Queen announces the death of her beloved husband, His Royal Highness The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh," Buckingham Palace said...

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/09/2021

Royal family members, world leaders react to Prince Philip's death at 99

AleksandarGeorgiev/iStockBy Katie Kindelan, ABC News

(LONDON) -- Prince Philip's death Friday at the age of 99 marked the end of an era in Britain's royal family.

Philip was a steadfast supporter of his wife of 73 years, Queen Elizabeth, and a consistent presence in public life.

When he officially retired from royal duties in 2017 at age 96, Philip...

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/09/2021

3,000-year-old 'Lost Golden City' unearthed in Egypt's Luxor

donvictorio/iStockBy HATEM MAHER, ABC News

(LUXOR, Egypt) -- Egypt announced on Thursday the discovery of what it termed the "Lost Golden City" in the southern province of Luxor, with one U.S.-based egyptologist describing the find as the biggest archaeological discovery since Tutankhamun's tomb nearly a century ago.

A mission led by Egypt's for...

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/08/2021

Biden admin to 'surge' aid to Central America, offer 'legal paths' to stem historic migration

Official White House Photo by Adam SchultzBy Conor Finnegan, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) -- The Biden administration is working "to surge humanitarian assistance to" Central American countries and to offer new "legal paths" for migration, according to U.S. officials, as it tries to manage a historic jump in the number of migrants reaching the southern ...

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/08/2021

Sustainable crop, timber production can reduce extinction of species by 40%: Study

catalby/iStockBy Julia Jacobo, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Transforming crop and timber production to a sustainable model could reduce the extinction of species by mitigating one of the great drivers of terrestrial wildlife decline, according to a new study.

Loss of habitat is often to blame when the status of a species' potential to survive worsens. B...

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/08/2021

Putin foe Navalny tests negative for COVID-19 but has 2 hernias, lawyers say

macky_ch/iStockBy PATRICK REEVELL, ABC News

(MOSCOW) -- The jailed Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has tested negative for the coronavirus after he was moved to his prison's medical bay to be treated for a respiratory illness, Navalny's lawyers said Wednesday, but the activist remains unwell and appears to be suffering from two hernias t...

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/07/2021

Interpol issues 'red notice' for MIT graduate accused of murdering Yale student

Police are searching for Quinxuan Pan, seen in this undated photo. - (New Haven Police Department)By Morgan Winsor, ABC News

(LONDON) -- The United States Marshals Service has secured a "red notice" through Interpol in the search for Qinxuan Pan, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate student who is wanted for the murder of Yale Univers...

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/07/2021

Gunmen free nearly 2,000 inmates in attack on Nigerian prison

beyhanyazar/iStockBy Morgan Winsor, ABC News

(LONDON) -- Nearly 2,000 inmates have escaped from a prison in southeastern Nigeria after heavily armed gunmen attacked the facility, authorities said.

The massive jailbreak occurred before dawn on Monday in Owerri, the capital of Imo state. Attackers wielding machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and...

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/06/2021

Phoebe Waller-Bridge signs on to 'Indiana Jones 5'

Chelsea Guglielmino/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Fleabag's Emmy-winning creator and star Phoebe Waller-Bridge has signed on to the upcoming fifth Indiana Jones adventure. 

The actress will co-star with Harrison Ford for director James Mangold's take on the dashing archaeologist, production of which has begun to spin up. 

Plot details are still hush-hush, but what is known is the fifth Indy movie is set to bow on July 29, 2022.

Incidentally, while the British actress and Killing Eve co-producer has never worked with Ford, she starred as the Millennium Falcon's sassy droid co-pilot L3-37 in Solo, which was about the early days of Ford's iconic Star Wars character.

Both projects were produced by Lucasfilm, which is owned by ABC News' parent company Disney. 

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/09/2021

Prince Philip memorialized by Netflix and 'The Crown'

Netflix/Des Willie(LONDON) -- Netflix, which brought the drama of Britain's Royal Family to millions of people with its Emmy-winning hit The Crown, is mourning the death of Prince Philip, who died at age 99. Matt Smith and Tobias Menzies, who both portrayed the Duke of Edinburgh at different points in his life on the show, have also sounded off. 

In a statement to Newsweek, Menzies wrote: "If I know anything about the Duke of Edinburgh I'm fairly sure he wouldn't want an actor who has portrayed him on television giving their opinion on his life, so I'll leave it to Shakespeare." Menzies then quoted The Bard's As You Like It: "O good old man! How well in thee appears
The constant service of the antique world..." concluding it with "Rest in Peace."

A representative for Smith expressed his condolences to Queen Elizabeth II to the U.K.'s Express, adding, "Prince Philip was the man. And he knew it." The statement concluded, "Thank you for your service old chap -- it won’t be the same without you."

Netflix released a statement as well, noting, "Netflix, Left Bank Pictures, Sony Pictures Television, and the production team on The Crown are deeply saddened to hear of the death of The Duke of Edinburgh. Our thoughts are with the entire Royal Family at this sad time."

Jonathan Pryce will be the next actor to portray the late Prince Philip as The Crown continues. 

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/09/2021

'Top Gun: Maverick' waives off July 4th landing; new opening bumps 'Mission: Impossible 7' to 2022

Paramount Pictures(LOS ANGELES) -- After buzzing the July 4 tower, Pete "Maverick" Mitchell has done another of his patented fly-bys: ABC Audio has confirmed that Top Gun: Maverick is now landing on November 22. 

This will be the fourth release date for the Tom Cruise sequel. It was initially supposed to come out July 12, 2019, but was bumped to December 2020 in a vain effort to outrun the pandemic, and then again moved to its July date.

The new November 22 date bumps another Tom Cruise movie, Mission: Impossible 7, to May 22 of 2022.

The shifting of the Paramount Pictures tentpole films rippled through the studio's release schedule, leading to the following changes: 

  • The G.I. Joe spin-off Snake Eyes has been moved from October 22, 2021 to July 23, 2021.
  • Jackass 4 has been moved from September 3 to October 22, 2021'
  • The untitled Bee Gees movie will open November 4
  • Dungeons & Dragons has been moved from May 27, 2022 to March 3, 2023
  • The next Star Trek movie will open June 9, 2023
  • Mission Impossible 8 has been moved from November 4, 2022 to July 7, 2023

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/09/2021

Assemble! Disney announces its Avengers Campus attraction will launch at Disneyland on June 4

Disney Parks(LOS ANGELES) -- After its opening was delayed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, Disney has announced that on June 4, its anticipated Avengers Campus will finally open at Disney's California Adventure park at Disneyland in Anaheim, California.

The park itself will fully re-open, only for California residents at first, on April 30. However, California Governor Gavin Newsom recently announced that the Golden State will be fully open for business on June 15, including theme parks.

The Avengers campus will be a must-see for die-hard Marvel movie fans, complete with movie accurate re-creations of locations as seen in Doctor Strange and other films, as well as the interactive attraction WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure. Tom Holland -- Spider-Man himself -- was tapped to help bring the 3-D experience to life. 

"What Walt Disney Imagineers have created is pretty spectacular," Holland previously explained to Good Morning America. "When I first joined [the MCU] playing Spider-Man, I went to [the] Avengers headquarters [set] and it was just a bunch of green screens. So the fact that there will be a legit place where people can...visit is pretty awesome."

The campus will also feature never-before seen tech that was co-created with the engineering wizardry of the late Grant Imahara. The Mythbusters veteran, who died unexpectedly last summer, helped design bleeding-edge-tech acrobatic robot "stuntmen" that will be dressed as Spidey, and swing and tumble over the heads of park visitors.

The Avengers Campus will also provide a perfect backdrop for the Guardians of the Galaxy -- Mission: BREAKOUT attraction, which was an overhaul of Disneyland's existing "Tower of Terror" ride at the California park.

Disney is the parent company of ABC News.

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/09/2021

"I'm OK with it": 'Mom' star Allison Janney explains why she was never a mom in real life

ABC(NEW YORK) -- While her character in the CBS sitcom Mom isn't the ideal mother to say the least, Allison Janney is just fine only playing a mom on TV. 

In a chat on Drew Barrymore's talk show, the 61-year-old, six-time Emmy winner explained she's "OK with" her decision not to have children. 

"I think if I would have found the right guy at the right time who wanted to have kids, I probably would have with the right partner, because I wasn’t ever really confident that I wanted to have kids," the actress explained.

"I would rather regret not having kids than have kids and regret that," Janney admitted. "I'm OK with it."

The I, Tonya Oscar nominee never married, either -- though was engaged for two years to her former Our Very Own co-star Richard Jenik, before they split in 2006.

The currently single star told Drew that she's been "virtually dating" of late, but if nothing pans out, that's OK, too. "[A]t this time in my life [I'm] getting to know who I am and what I want," the actress says. "I’d love to eventually find someone to share my life with, but if it doesn’t happen, I'll be just fine."

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/09/2021

Kevin Bacon hilariously reveals why he had to return wife Kyra Sedgwick's engagement ring

Steve Jennings/WireImage(NEW YORK) -- Kevin Bacon has enjoyed 32 blissful years of married life to actress Kyra Sedgwick, but the Footloose star reveals that he made a major error when popping the question.

Appearing recently on The Kelly Clarkson Show, the 62-year-old actor confessed that he didn't seek a second opinion when picking out the engagement ring, which led to an awkward Christmas Eve proposal.

"I really, really didn't want anybody else to know [that I was proposing,]" Bacon admitted, saying he regrets not consulting any friends or family members about the ring because, "I'm really not, like, a jewelry guy... I'm just not good at picking something like that out."

Sedgwick, now 52, apparently hated the ring he stuffed into her stocking, but didn't make her feelings about it known until three months later.

"We’re lying in bed and she wakes up in the middle of the night, and she’s crying and she’s crying, and she can’t even say what’s going on," the Golden Globe winner recalled.  "I thought she was breaking up with me!"

Thankfully, that wasn't the case, but it wasn't easy to hear his future bride admit, "I don't like the ring!"

"I talked her off the ledge after that," Bacon joked, adding he promised he would "take it back."

"She felt so terrible," he added, saying he assured Sedgwick by claiming he didn't care about the ring but appreciated her honesty.

The couple wed in 1988 and share two children together; Sosie Bacon, 29, and Travis Bacon, 31.

By Megan Stone
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/09/2021

Gwyneth Paltrow shares rare photos of Moses to wish him a happy 15th birthday

ABC(LOS ANGELES) -- "Holy Moses," is right -- Gwyneth Paltrow is having a hard time accepting that her youngest child is 15-years-old.

Taking to Instagram on Thursday, the Oscar winner doted on Moses to celebrate his latest birthday milestone.

"Holy Moses I can’t believe you are 15 today," Paltrow gushed while sharing two photos of her son. "You are the dreamiest, sweetest, most brilliant guy ever. I love you so much, you can’t fathom it."

The first photo is a closeup of Moses' face and messy hair while the second shows the teen doing a kickflip on a skateboard.

"Happy birthday you little shredder," the proud mom concluded.

Several of Paltrow's famous friends flooded Moses with birthday wishes of their own, such as Reese Witherspoon sweetly remarking, "Happy 15th Moses!"

Paltrow shares Moses and daughter Apple -- who turns 17 in May -- with ex-husband, Chris Martin.

The Iron Man star has since remarried director Brad Falchuk. 

By Megan Stone
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/09/2021

Marvel Studios releases hour-long version of Daniel Brühl dancing after #ReleaseTheZemoCut trends

Marvel Studios/Chuck Zlotnick(LOS ANGELES) -- For fans of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, a highlight of last Friday's episode was seeing Daniel Brühl's manipulative Baron Zemo getting down on a Madripoor dance floor. 

The fleeting shot of the Captain America: Civil War baddie fist-pumping like The Situation at Jenks was enough to inspire fans to get #ReleaseTheZemoCut trending, when it was revealed more dancing footage was left on the editing room floor. 

Unlike Warner Bros., which took years of #ReleaseTheSnyderCut trending to result in Zack Snyder's Justice League being released, Marvel Studios acted quickly, releasing to YouTube a one hour super-cut of Bruhl shaking his money maker.

"One Hour Dancing Zemo" has more than 2.1 million views and counting -- in less than 24 hours. 

A new episode of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier drops today on Disney+. 

Marvel Studios is owned by Disney, the parent company of ABC Audio.

By Stephen Iervolino
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/09/2021

New poll finds nearly half the country would vote for Dwayne Johnson if he ran for president

Josh Jacks/Star Max/GC Images(LOS ANGELES) -- President Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson?  A new poll found that if the Jumanji star decided to jump into the next presidential election, he'd have a decent chance of taking over the White House.

According to a poll from Piplsay, which surveyed over 30,000 people, a good chunk of Americans -- 46 percent to be exact -- are hoping Johnson runs for president.

The former WWE star wasn't the only celebrity included in the poll, as Piplsay also focused on another celebrity that has expressed interest in kickstarting a political career.

Matthew McConaughey, who has flirted with the idea of throwing his hat into Texas' upcoming gubernatorial race, also has strong support among the American people.

Approximately 41 percent of respondents say they would support the Dallas Buyers Club star's bid for governor.

Another celebrity Americans would like to see run for president was Angelina Jolie, with 30 percent of respondents expressing interest in seeing her run for political office.

In fourth was Oprah Winfrey with 27 percent support while Tom Hanks rounded out the top five at 22 percent.

The poll also found that Will Smith was the most popular candidate among Millennials and Gen Zers, and he ranked sixth overall with 21 percent of the vote. 

The poll also asked participants about their feelings about Hollywood stars running for public office, with 45 percent of the overall consensus agreeing that celebrities "are free to do what they want."

When asked if movie stars and singers are cut out for politics, Americans again expressed optimism with 39 percent saying "if they have the political aptitude," they will make a good public servant.

However, a large majority of respondents recognized the sway celebrities have over the population, with 81 percent of poll takers agreeing that the Hollywood elite are capable of influencing public opinion.

By Megan Stone
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/09/2021

Here's how the cast of 'Glee' celebrated Naya Rivera at the 2021 GLAAD Media Awards

The 32nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards/Getty Images for GLAAD(LOS ANGELES) -- The cast of Glee came together to honor the late Naya Rivera on Thursday and celebrate the indelible mark she left on television. Rivera played Santana Lopez, an openly queer character, on the popular sitcom.

16 Glee alums gathered together via Zoom to hail their late co-star during the 2021 GLAAD Media Awards, with singer Demi Lovato kicking off the tribute.

Lovato played Santana's girlfriend, Dani, in the series.

"I will always cherish the chance I got to play Naya's girlfriend Dani on Glee," the "Anyone" singer announced. "The character Naya played, Santana Lopez, was groundbreaking for closeted queer girls, like I was at the time, and her ambition and accomplishments inspired Latina women all over the world."

"It's been 10 years since Santana Lopez came out," remarked Lovato.  "Look at what LGBTQ teens have done in a decade.  Imagine what we can do in the next one."

Among the former Glee stars paying tribute to Rivera were Jane Lynch, Chris Colfer, Amber Riley, Matthew Morrison, Darren Criss, Heather Morris, Jenna Ushkowitz, Harry Shum Jr., Becca Tobin, Alex Newell and several others -- to name a few.

Lynch, who played the hilarious nemesis Sue Sylvester, honored Rivera by recalling how impressed she was by the young actress' talent.

"I remember when Naya became a regular cast member.  She was a dancer and I always thought she was cute," said Lynch. "And then Ryan [Murphy] started giving her lines and I was like 'Wow! This girl is really something.'"

Others recalled the inside jokes and the awe they felt when watching her perform.  Morrison, who played Will Schuester, mentioned how he and Rivera became better friends after the two became parents.

"Her best role was being a mom," added Ushkowitz.

Rivera died in an accidental drowning last summer.   

By Megan Stone
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/09/2021

2021 GLAAD Awards: Winners list

"Schitt's Creek" - CBC(LOS ANGELES) -- The 32nd Annual GLAAD Awards aired Thursday night and it was nothing short of a celebration of inclusivity. 

The show, which aims to "recognize and honor media for their fair, accurate, and inclusive representations of the intersectional LGBTQ community," was hosted by Niecy Nash and included musical performances from Chika, Jessica Betts and Rebecca Black.

There was also a remembrance and celebration of the late Naya Rivera and her Glee character Santana, who came out on the show 10 years ago. Demi Lovato, who portrayed Santana’s girlfriend on the hit series, kicked-off the special moment that allowed the Glee cast to reminisce about their former colleague. Naya tragically died in a drowning accident last summer.  

The GLAAD Awards also featured appearances by JoJo Siwa, Katy Perry, Laverne Cox, Sterling K. Brown, Dan Levy and more!

Here is the list of winners:

Outstanding Music Artist
Sam Smith, Love Goes (Capitol)

Outstanding Reality Program
We're Here (HBO)

Outstanding Children’s Programming
The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo (HBO Max)

Outstanding Kids & Family Programming
Tie: First Day (Hulu) and She-Ra & The Princesses of Power (Netflix)

Outstanding Variety or Talk Show Episode
“Lilly Responds to Comments About Her Sexuality” A Little Late With Lilly Singh (NBC)

Outstanding Documentary
Disclosure (Netflix)

Outstanding Film — Limited Release
The Boys in the Band (Netflix)

TikTok Queer Advocate of the Year
Josh Helfgott

Outstanding Drama Series
Star Trek: Discovery (CBS All Access)

Outstanding Film — Wide Release
Happiest Season (Hulu)

Outstanding Comedy Series
Schitt's Creek (Pop)

Outstanding Limited or Anthology Series
I May Destroy You (HBO)

Outstanding Breakthrough Music Artist
Chika, Industry Games (Warner Records)

Outstanding Video Game
Tie: The Last of Us Part II (Sony Interactive Entertainment) and Tell Me Why (Xbox Game Studios)

Outstanding Comic Book
Empyre, Lords of Empyre: Emperor Hulkling, Empyre: Aftermath Avengers, written by Al Ewing, Dan Slott, Chip Zdarsky, Anthony Oliveira (Marvel Comics)

Outstanding TV Journalism — Long-Form
“ABC News Joe Biden Town Hall” (ABC)

Outstanding TV Journalism Segment
“Dwyane Wade One-On-One: Basketball Legend Opens Up About Supporting Transgender Daughter” Good Morning America (ABC)

Outstanding Print Article
“20 LGBTQ+ People Working to Save Lives on the Frontline” by Diane Anderson-Minshall, David Artavia, Tracy Gilchrist, Desiree Guerrero, Jeffrey Masters, Donald Padgett, and Daniel Reynolds (The Advocate)

Outstanding Magazine Overall Coverage

Outstanding Online Journalism Article
“Gay Men Speak Out After Being Turned Away from Donating Blood During Coronavirus Pandemic: 'We are Turning Away Perfectly Healthy Donors'” by Tony Morrison and Joel Lyons (

Outstanding TV Movie
Uncle Frank (Amazon Studios)

Outstanding Online Journalism — Video or Multimedia
“Stop Killing Us: Black Transgender Women's Lived Experiences” by Talibah Newman Ometu, Thomas Blount, Juliana Schatz Preston, and Mariah Dupont (Complex World)

Outstanding Blog

Special Recognition (non-competitive category)
After Forever (Amazon)
Deadline’s New Hollywood Podcast
Happiest Season Soundtrack (Facet/Warner Records)
Noah’s Arc: The ‘Rona Chronicles (Patrik Ian-Polk Entertainment)
Out (Pixar/Disney+)
Razor Tongue (YouTube)
"The Son" Little America (Apple TV+)

By Danielle Long
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/09/2021

Viola Davis honored with AAFCA Icon Award

Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for Women In Film(LOS ANGELES) -- Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom star Viola Davis was honored with the African American Film Critics Association's prestigious Icon Award at a ceremony, presented virtually on Wednesday.

Davis' Ma Rainey co-star Colman Domingo made the presentation, during which he described Davis as “one of the greatest actors of all time,” according to the New York Post.

“I’ve always struggled my entire career -- probably life -- feeling like I’m worthy of all this praise," she admitted while accepting the award. "I think what makes it an easy sort of pill to swallow is when I think of people like August Wilson and I think about directors like George C. Wolfe and Denzel Washington."

Added the 55-year-old actress, “My acceptance of any of this praise is equal to my absolute passion to leave a legacy, a legacy for brown-skinned girls just like me who were told they were invisible... It’s been the ride of my life to have this career.”

Davis, a veteran of Wilson's stage and screen productions, hailed the late playwright as “our modern day griot, who absolutely believed that black lives did matter.”

"Honored to receive the Icon Award last night! Thank you," the actress shared Thursday on Instagram, along with a series of photos of herself in a bright yellow gown and matching heels.

By George Costantino
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.
Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/09/2021

Giant screens, spartan interiors: Electric vehicles go high tech


(NEW YORK) — Electric vehicles are transforming how Americans "refuel." There are changes happening inside the cabin, too. No more start/stop buttons. Radio dials now programmed into massive tablets that are mounted to the center dash. Simple functions like heated seats and climate control operated via an oversized screen.

Automakers are making EVs incredibly austere and geared toward motorists who are accustomed to doing just about everything on their mobile phones.

"A lot of it is playing 'follow the leader,'" explained Ed Kim, vice president at AutoPacific. "Tesla's Model S established the idea that a premium EV has a giant screen. There can be a strong tendency to emulate your benchmark. Right now Tesla is the benchmark."

Teslas attract buyers who are "tech savvy and have a high level comfort with technology," Kim said. Legacy and mainstream automakers, desperate to steal sales from Tesla, are mimicking the giant tablet-like screens and unembellished interiors found in every Tesla vehicle.

These ultramodern and experimental interiors have their drawbacks -- and detractors. Karl Brauer, executive analyst at, said large screens can be very distracting. They could also malfunction.

"The thinking is the computer is smarter than you. Without fail, I've come across a situation that the computer didn't know what to do," he told ABC News. "And if the screen goes down, everything doesn't work."

Dustin Krause, director of e-Mobility North America for Volkswagen, argued that futuristic technology should not deter American drivers, many of whom are still wary and unsure about EVs, from buying one. In Volkswagen's ID.4 crossover, a screen is not required to switch songs or turn on the ventilated seats.

"You just have to say 'Hello ID' to activate the voice assistant," Krause told ABC News. "Asking a car to do functions isn't so unusual -- consumers use [Apple's] Siri and [Amazon's] Alexa. It becomes second nature to most ID.4 drivers.”

He and a few engineers even tried to trick the system by saying "My butt is cold" instead of "Turn on the heated seats." The car was able to get the job done. The only command that's not possible? Rolling down the windows. Though that, too, could change in the near future.

ID.4's engineers decided against a humongous screen. But they converted the gear shifter to a twist knob and eliminated the start/stop button. Krause said the goal was to create a "simple and intuitive cockpit" and an "uncluttered center console."

"Just press on the brake pedal when you sit in and the car will start up," he said. "Select park and when you exit the vehicle the ID.4 will shut off."

He added, "We're trying to make the transition to an EV easy.”

Ford went to great lengths to solicit customer feedback when designing the slinky Mustang Mach-E SUV. It set up studios in the U.K., China and Michigan, inviting locals to sit in and rearrange a mock interior of the electric SUV that was made of Styrofoam. Designers watched from the sidelines and took notes, tweaking their sketches based on how participants reacted to the cabin.

"With this BEV [battery electric vehicle] platform, we got this opportunity to reimagine and reconfigure the space," Josh Greiner, senior interior designer of the Mustang Mach-E, told ABC News. "We were able to design exactly what we wanted and let the chassis kind of follow.”

The Mach-E features one of the largest screens in the EV segment -- 15.5 inches -- and many of the controls, including drive modes, are only accessible via the screen. The interior is also simplistic and sparse, which was intentional. Greiner referred to it as a "calm and serene environment."

"Everything on the Mach-E is digital, even the door handles," he said. "We didn't want levers and switches cluttering the interior.”

Ford's best-selling cars and trucks, like the F-150, are largely immune to the trend, Greiner said, adding, "You're more progressive about tech if you buy a BEV. This is for a very specific customer.”

The team behind BMW's upcoming iX Sports Activity Vehicle went for a dramatic interior, taking inspiration from modern architecture.

"We wanted to create something like a loft on wheels," said Adrian Van Hooydonk, BMW Group's design director. "A cozy seating arrangement, a large flat screen and not much more to be honest.”

The vehicle was designed "from the inside out" and the hidden speakers, slim instrument panel, lack of buttons and panoramic glass roof give the cabin an airy, spacious vibe.

"We're not switchless but we definitely have a lot less switches," Van Hooydonk said. "We've been able to reduce elements by combining them.”

The all-electric Kia EV6 crossover, which goes on sale in the second half of 2021, comes with a high-tech curved infotainment screen and seats made from recycled plastics.

Designing an "inspiring space" was the "most important thing for us," said Jochen Paesen, Kia's vice president for interior design. "We believe EV6 can inspire customers by boosting their creativity.”

A vertical, 11.15-inch screen replaces nearly all of the switches, buttons and knobs in the Polestar 2. Like the ID.4, the electric sedan has no dedicated start/stop button and navigation, entertainment and climate control are all handled on the screen. Polestar 2's inclusion of Google’s native infotainment system, an industry first, separates itself from the pack. The avant-garde, minimalist interior is a traditional Scandinavian design.

"The car is now part of your connected life -- if you want it to be," Polestar Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Goodman told ABC News.

The average screen size in vehicles is now 8 inches, according to AutoPacific research. Kim said consumers generally want more screen real estate, not less.

"There are functional benefits to having larger screens: Bigger fonts that are easier to read and less squinting. Larger screens do not necessary mean more distractions," he said.

There are limitations of the technology, even for Kim. He gave the examples of Tesla's Model 3 windshield wipers being controlled through the screen and the digital gear shifter on the Model S.

These redesigns "may be out of the comfort zone for a mainstream consumer," Kim acknowledged. "A difficult interface can absolutely turn off buyers, especially older ones.”

Brauer suggested that automakers are doing away with traditional buttons to reduce costs.

"It's a lot cheaper to engineer a digital user interface than it is to produce multiple hard controls involving dials and springs and buttons," he said.

When Mercedes-Benz officially unveils its much-hyped all-electric EQS sedan on April 15, consumers may be in for a shock.

The sci-fi interior is the most extreme of any EV on the market. A curved, 56-inch wide "Hyperscreen" consisting of three separate displays cocoons the interior. Scratch-resistant aluminum silicate protects the display and the screen's advanced molding process reduces glare and distortion across the entire width of the vehicle, according to the company.

Gorden Wagener, chief design officer at Mercedes-Benz, said he first saw renderings of a 3D screen five years ago and "loved it."

"I had to make it happen," he told ABC News. "The car is super futuristic and revolutionary. As a designer, I am always aiming for reduction."

The start/stop button is the sole physical switch in the entire vehicle. The screen allows access to all functions but drivers can also depend on the A.I. voice assistant. Wagener admitted that voice commands will likely make even screens obsolete one day.

"The EQS is the first of its kind -- years ahead of anything else you can buy out there," he said. "We have entirely reinvented the car."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/11/2021

What to know about COVID-19 vaccine 'passports' and why they're controversial


(NEW YORK) — There's been a flurry of news about vaccine "passports" of late. New York State created its own digital pass; Florida and Texas attempted to outlaw them; and Baltimore's former health commissioner wrote that we shouldn't be using the word "passport" at all, which she called a divisive phrase that and could trigger backlash against vaccinations.

So what exactly are these credentials?

What is a vaccine 'passport?'

While we typically think of passports as government-issued travel documents, many people are using the same term to refer to digital certificates to prove vaccination status, used to gain entry into events or businesses, such as a QR code on a smartphone that you would show before entering a stadium.

When used to describe domestic health certificates, the term "passport" is already controversial because of connotations of authoritarian government and fears of Big Brother. The idea, however, is not new. Vaccines have long been required for travel, to attend public school and work in certain industries, like health care.

"There is no domestic passport," said Arthur Caplan, founding director of New York University's Division of Medical Ethics. Misconceptions about vaccine passes could potentially scare people, he explained, leading them to believe they'll be pulled over or stopped and asked to show vaccine papers, which isn't the case.

"That's what makes people nervous, and it's a term that we should stop using domestically," said Caplan, who uses "vaccine authentication" and "certification" to describe digital proof of vaccination.

The White House has distanced itself from any sort of federal vaccine certification or pass, preferring instead to leave the issue to private businesses and states. Vaccines are currently in use under emergency use authorization, meaning that they are not mandated by the federal government -- although they can be by state and local governments as well as employers per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention -- so encouraging people to get the shots is a priority for public health officials.

"There will be no centralized universal federal vaccinations database, and no federal mandate requiring everyone to obtain a single vaccination credential,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said at a March press briefing. "We believe it will be driven by the private sector," Psaki added.

New York became the first state to offer digital proof of vaccination. The Excelsior Pass smartphone app allows fully vaccinated residents to show a QR code to businesses as proof of their vaccination status. People with recent negative COVID-19 tests can similarly use the app to enter events. "Participation in Excelsior Pass is voluntary," the state notes. "New Yorkers can always show alternate proof of vaccination or testing, like another mobile application or paper form, directly at a business or venue."

The Vaccination Credential Initiative, a group of public and private organizations, is working to provide guidelines for digital proof of vaccination to businesses like airlines.

As for not centralizing federal vaccine data, Caplan thinks that's a misstep. "We'd be moronic not to set up a system that doesn't permit re-accessing who might need a booster shot," he said.

What are the benefits showing proof of vaccination to enter businesses?

In short, a chance to resume to life a bit more normally in certain settings.

"They're digital opportunities to demonstrate that people have been vaccinated, so as to gain access to places where it's perceived that that's going to increase safety," said Eric Feldman, a professor of medical ethics and health policy at the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School.

Vaccine certification could also benefit beleaguered businesses, which may be able to open at higher capacity if patrons and staff are vaccinated.

As for legal issues related to denying a customer entry into a restaurant, Fedman noted that private establishments currently set all kinds of rules about who can enter the premises. "So long as those rules are not in violation of clear categories that would represent discrimination, my guess is that they're on fairly solid footing," he said.

Colleges and universities, including Cornell University and Rutgers University have already announced that they'll require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for in-person students enrolling in the fall.

"They're saying if you want to come to school here and hang out on campus, you have to get vaccinated," Feldman said. "Do they have a good public health justification for that? I think they do."

With only a quarter of U.S. adults fully vaccinated, vaccine certifications "are going to be essential to keep people safe and help those that have taken the steps to protect themselves and others get back to things they love," said Dr. Jay Bhatt, an internal medicine physician and instructor at the University of Illinois School of Public Health and ABC News contributor.

"We are in an arms race between vaccines and variants," Bhatt added. "We can't afford to have unvaccinated people be in environments where the virus wins, leading to surges."

Why is this controversial?

Critics on both sides of the aisle have concerns.

The governors of Texas and Florida issued executive orders attempting to bar state entities and in some instances, private businesses, from requiring vaccination proof to receive services, on the grounds that such requirements infringe on individual freedom and privacy.

"Unfortunately, it's just another instance of the degree to which public health around COVID-19 has been so extraordinarily politicized," Feldman noted. Still, he's worried about states and businesses pushing people too hard to comply with public health directives.

"We've seen what happens with mask mandates, where reluctance turns into outright refusal, revolution and fury among people who feel like their civil liberties and their fundamental rights to make decisions about their own health and well-being are being challenged," he said.

Others have suggested that requiring proof of vaccination might deepen existing inequities and worsen the digital divide.

"Vaccine passports can pose an ethical and moral issue for BIPOC and other at-risk communities that have difficulty getting the vaccine because of access, their work times, and other life responsibilities," Bhatt said, noting that workplaces should provide support and time off or on-site vaccinations for vulnerable populations.

The potential for creating a two-tier system, where individuals with better access to the vaccine are able to gain access to restaurants and sporting events, creates an ethical predicament, according to Feldman.

"That may turn out to be a litigated issue as a civil rights matter," he said.

Caplan brushed off the equity argument on the grounds that increased vaccine supply should enable everyone in the U.S. who wants a vaccine to be able to get one in the coming months.

"This isn't to penalize those who don't vaccinate," Caplan said. "It's to reward those who do and for the government to be able to keep track so we can respond if there's a new outbreak or we need boosters.”

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/10/2021

Amazon warehouse workers in Alabama vote not to form a union

4kodiak/iStockBy Catherine Thorbecke, ABC News

(BESSEMER, Ala.) -- Amazon has secured an apparent victory as warehouse workers in Alabama voted not to form a labor union.

Of the some 3,200 votes cast in the closely-watched union election, a total of 1,798 votes were against unionization, compared to 738 in favor of it, according to the National Labor Relations Board. Even accounting for the 505 challenged ballots, Amazon has cinched enough "no" votes to defeat the organizing efforts.

Workers needed a majority of "yes" votes in order to form the union.

The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which workers were seeking to be represented by, said Friday that it plans to file objections to Amazon's conduct surrounding the election with the NLRB.

"We won’t let Amazon’s lies, deception and illegal activities go unchallenged, which is why we are formally filing charges against all of the egregious and blatantly illegal actions taken by Amazon during the union vote," union president Stuart Appelbaum said in a statement Friday morning.

Appelbaum accused Amazon of requiring employees to attend lectures where the company demanded they oppose the union, as well as "spreading misinformation" online and other alleged union-busting tactics.

"We demand a comprehensive investigation over Amazon's behavior in corrupting this election," he added.

Amazon issued a statement Friday thanking employees for participating in the election.

"It’s easy to predict the union will say that Amazon won this election because we intimidated employees, but that’s not true. Our employees heard far more anti-Amazon messages from the union, policymakers, and media outlets than they heard from us," the company said. "And Amazon didn’t win -- our employees made the choice to vote against joining a union."

"Our employees are the heart and soul of Amazon, and we’ve always worked hard to listen to them, take their feedback, make continuous improvements, and invest heavily to offer great pay and benefits in a safe and inclusive workplace," Amazon added. "We’re not perfect, but we’re proud of our team and what we offer, and will keep working to get better every day."

The organizing efforts at the Bessemer Amazon facility drew the attention of lawmakers and even President Joe Biden. It would have marked the first time Amazon workers in the U.S. formed a labor union if the bid had been successful.

A total of 3,215 workers participated in the landmark vote, the RWDSU said in a statement earlier this week. There are some 5,800 workers at the Amazon facility, meaning voter turnout was approximately 55%.

The RWDSU also said hundreds of ballots have been challenged, "mostly by the employer," that will need to be addressed after the public count.

Many labor experts viewed the historic and closely-watched unionizing efforts at one of the largest employers in the U.S. as potentially influencing workers elsewhere if it were successful, and possibly having a chilling effect on organized labor efforts if not.

The organized labor movement has languished in the U.S. in recent decades.

In 2020, the percentage of wage and salary workers in the U.S. who were members of unions was 10.8%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 1983, the first year comparable union data is available, the union membership rate in the U.S. was 20.1%.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/09/2021

Man selling tweet of Fyre Fest sandwich as NFT to help with medical expenses

Vertigo3d/iStockBy Kelly McCarthy, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Nearly four years ago, a photo tweeted from the Bahamian island of Exuma of two flimsy cheese slices laying lifeless atop some whole wheat bread with a soggy-looking side salad went viral and perfectly captured the failed Fyre Festival experience.

Now, Trevor DeHaas, an attendee who rose to overnight internet notoriety for that less-than-appetizing snapshot, is attempting to cash in for a good cause on the digital piece of history just weeks before the anniversary by auctioning it as an NFT (non-fungible token).

"Meme. Cultural touchstone. Cheese sandwich," the NFT description reads on Flipkick's auction page. ‍"From an inauspicious dinner, photographer Trevor DeHaas captured the most iconic image from 2017's most famous debacle -- the Fyre Festival. Two limp white slices on wheat bread lay, like the lifeless body of Icarus, bemoaning the hubris of man. A timeless image of inestimable cultural import, sold now as a singular NFT."

"This tweet NFT includes a transfer of copyright to the buyer. The winning bidder or their representative should contact Flipkick of New York to execute transfer agreement," the company wrote.

DeHaas told Good Morning America that the digital investment opportunity was inspired by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, who recently sold his first tweet for $2.9 million.

"With NFTs being in a red-hot market and someone willing to pay over $2 million for a tweet, I knew I had to use the opportunity to my advantage. I immediately thought of my viral tweet of the cheese sandwich from Fyre Festival," he said. "As a photographer, it will never feel normal that a picture I took with an iPhone 6 using flash is the most valuable/viral picture I've taken to date," he added with a laugh.

But DeHaas also said there's a greater underlying motivation for the upcoming blockchain sale -- to help cover ongoing medical expenses for his decades long battle with IgA nephropathy, or Berger's disease, and a possible upcoming surgery.

"I'm currently on the waitlist in the Bay Area for a kidney transplant. Even with medical insurance, a transplant will still be costly," DeHaas said, pointing out the surgery would be added to an already growing list of expenses with daily dialysis, weekly blood tests, weekly nephrologist visits and transplant evaluations. "I'm hoping to get at least $50,000 from the NFT sale, and that would all go towards my current medical expenses and future transplant expenses."

"Even if the NFT doesn't sell, that's OK with me. I would be disappointed, but seeing all these stories about me helping shed light and bring awareness for the need for organ donors in the country will make it all worth it," he explained. "I've been using my platform for years to talk about the need for deceased and living organ donors. While most people might be interested in the NFT sale, if I can get at least one person to become an organ donor, the attempt to sell the NFT will all be worth it."

DeHaas originally listed the NFT himself, but quickly partnered with Flipkick, a company that helps digital and traditional artists monetize their work through NFTs, after he saw the sale involving another Fyre-related NFT from the festival's co-founder, Ja Rule.

"[I thought], if they are helping Ja Rule with his Fyre Fest NFT, maybe they would be willing to help me," DeHaas said, adding that he later found out the rapper is also a partial owner of the company.

"Ja Rule is not selling the cheese sandwich NFT. I am. Flipkickio, which Ja is a partner in, and myself have teamed up to sell the NFT. I do understand why the media is phrasing it as if Ja is selling the NFT but that’s not telling the full story," he clarified in a tweet.

While Flipkick will get a commission fee from the sale, DeHaas said he would receive "most of the proceeds" and reiterated "the proceeds will also be used to make sure my kidney donor doesn't experience any financial hardship from saving my life with their donation."

"Like I said, this NFT might not even sell, but at least I'm helping educate others on the need for deceased and living organ donors in our country."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/09/2021

Starbucks launches reusable cup program -- here's how it works


(SEATTLE) -- Starbucks' latest initiative is a simple concept to help reduce single-use plastic -- simply order, sip, return and repeat.

The coffee chain announced a new two-month borrow-and-return trial program launching at five Seattle store locations that will allow customers to order a beverage in a reusable cup, which will replace the use of up to 30 disposable cups.

Starbucks partnered with Ridwell, a Seattle-based recycling service, to offer customers an at-home option to return their borrowed cup.

Michael Kobori, Starbucks' chief sustainability officer, explained in a press release that this will bolster their efforts in a commitment to promote reusability.

"We understand the interdependency of human and planetary health, and we believe it is our responsibility to reduce single-use cup waste," he said. "We will lead the transition to a circular economy."

This program marks the latest step in the company's target goal to reduce 50% of waste and single-use cups sent to landfills by 2030.

How it works

1. Order your beverage in a reusable cup and pay a deposit.

Customers can order any beverage that will come in the newly designed reusable cup in-person at a participating Starbucks café or drive-thru. If a customer wants their drink in a reusable cup, they tell the barista and pay a $1 refundable deposit.

2. Return the cup and receive a credit and bonus stars.

After the customer is finished with the drink, they scan their cup at a contactless return kiosk, which will be located in the lobby or drive-thru at participating locations, and drop the cup in the designated opening. After that, simply scan their Starbucks App to have the $1 credit and 10 Bonus Stars applied to their account.

3. Each cup is professionally cleaned and sanitized.

Starbucks has partnered with GO Box, a reuse system operator and service provider, to collect borrowed cups from stores daily that are then professionally cleaned and sanitized with commercial-grade dishwashing equipment, and put back into circulation within 48 hours.

The new pilot effort and sanitizing standards are done in addition to the coffee chain's cleaning protocols that follow public health guidelines to help to reduce the spread of COVID-19, the company said.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/08/2021

Citi adds environmental, social and governance scores to its data platform

Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesBy CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Citigroup said it has incorporated environmental, social and governance scores (ESG) to its securities services data platform to let clients better analyze the sustainability exposure of their investments.

The major update comes to Citi Velocity Clarity, the bank's online data and analytics platform that aims to help users stay up to date on the latest metrics about their investments.

The sustainability measures will be provided daily by data firm Arabesque S-Ray, according to the bank, and include visualization tools to better analyze ESG information.

"The ability to understand ESG exposure has become imperative across the entire industry as investors, advisors and regulators are increasingly asking for transparency from asset managers and asset owners," Fiona Horsewill, the global head of data for Citi Securities Services, said in a statement.

"With this latest addition to Citi Velocity Clarity, we offer our clients the ability to understand their ESG exposures inherent within their portfolios and report on their investments from a sustainability perspective," Horsewill added.

Elree Winnett Seelig, the global head of ESG for markets and securities services at Citi added that "providing access to data is a critical foundation" when looking at ways to facilitate the transparency of ESG factors in the market.

ESG has become the latest buzzword in the investing world, as consumers put more pressure on businesses to operate sustainably.

Larry Fink, the CEO of the world’s largest asset manager BlackRock, called climate change a business and investing priority in his 2021 letter to company leaders released earlier this year.

"Over the course of 2020, we have seen how purposeful companies, with better environmental, social, and governance (ESG) profiles, have outperformed their peers," Fink wrote, citing internal data.

"But the story goes deeper. It’s not just that broad-market ESG indexes are outperforming counterparts," Fink added. "It’s that within industries -- from automobiles to banks to oil and gas companies -- we are seeing another divergence: companies with better ESG profiles are performing better than their peers, enjoying a 'sustainability premium.'"

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/08/2021

Majority of pandemic stimulus checks went toward savings or paying off debt: NY Fed

JJ Gouin/iStockBy Catherine Thorbecke, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Americans saved or paid off debt with most of their pandemic stimulus payments, according to surveys from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

For the second round of relief checks that gave $600 to eligible Americans and were issued at the end of December, survey respondents said they spent or planned to spend 25.5% of the total. Respondents said the other 74% went or would go toward paying down debts (37.4%) or savings (37.1%).

Respondents on average reported that 16% of the checks went toward essential spending, 6% toward non-essential spending and 3% toward donations.

For the third round of stimulus checks, which gave $1,400 to eligible Americans in March, respondents said they spent or expect to spend 24.7% of the total, save 41.6% and use 33.7% to pay down debt. Of the amount used for spending, an average of 13% is expected for essential items and an average of 8% on non-essential items.

The latest data on the second and third checks is in line with results from an earlier survey from the New York Fed on the first round of relief payments issued last year -- where respondents said they spent 29.2%, saved 36.4% and used 34.5% to pay down debt.

The fresh data on the second round of checks skewed slightly based on income levels, the researchers added, with lower-income households reporting higher amounts of their second stimulus checks to pay down debt (44% of the total) than higher-income households (32%). Similarly, lower-income households reported spending slightly higher amounts (27%) compared to higher-income households (24%).

Moreover, lower-income households reported spending 20% of their second checks on essentials, versus 12% for higher-income households.

The findings were drawn from the New York Fed's monthly Survey of Consumer Expectations, a nationally representative online survey of about 1,300 U.S. households. Data for the second and third checks were based on the January and March 2021 surveys, which respectively had 1,062 and 1,007 respondents. Data on the first round of checks was from the June 2020 survey, which was based on 1,423 respondents.

New York Fed economists said in a blog post announcing their findings that the results of the survey indicate an environment that continues to be marked by high unemployment and high uncertainty over the duration and economic impact of the pandemic.

"As the economy reopens and fear and uncertainty recede, the high levels of saving should facilitate more spending in the future," the researchers added. "However, a great deal of uncertainty and discussion exists about the pace of this spending increase and the extent of pent-up demand."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/08/2021

NFTs spark debate over digital value, environmental impact

iStock/Carol_AnneBY: MICHAEL DOBUSKI, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Jazmine Boykins is a visual artist who goes by the name “blacksneakers.” She owns and operates a gallery in North Carolina, but recently she’s been selling art that exists purely online as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.

“I’ve always known I’ve wanted to be an artist, probably since I was a little kid,” says Boykins. “However it didn’t morph into digital art until maybe a year or two ago.”

NFTs are digital assets that exist on the blockchain, which acts as a decentralized, public ledger that publicly details every time an NFT has been bought or sold. Blockchain technology also supports cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Etherium, but whereas those tokens are replicable, NFTs are limited in quantity.

“NFTs can’t be duplicated or copied, they’re verifiably scarce,” says Decrypt Editor-in-Chief Daniel Roberts. “All it really means is that it can’t be divided, duplicated, subbed one-for-one.”

NFTs can take the form of virtually any type of online content.

Boykins sells art in which she aims to highlight black narratives. Alternative band Kings of Leon released their latest album as an NFT. NBA TopShot is a marketplace that sells basketball highlights as NFTs. Last month, Time Magazine sold three digitized versions of their covers as NFTs, and the New York Times auctioned off a column as an NFT. Just this week, a man sold a photo of a cheese sandwich from 2017's "Fyre Festival" as an NFT.

Seemingly the only thing that unifies NFTs is their relative scarcity.

“Some of them might be one of a small limited batch of twenty, some of them are even just one of one: truly unique. And you can point to the spot on the blockchain where that is and prove that,” says Roberts.

But owning an NFT isn’t the same as owning the rights to a piece of content. Kings of Leon fans can still buy the band’s latest album through traditional means or listen to it on most popular music streaming services. Basketball fans can still catch highlights on TV or YouTube. Even Boykins’ art is available to look at on her website or Twitter account for free.

As a result, the tech has its fair share of detractors. Many argue that simply tying a piece of content to the blockchain doesn't give it value, especially when that content is easily accessible elsewhere. Even Boykins was skeptical at first.

“I honestly thought it was a little weird,” she says.

Roberts says much of the hesitation over NFTs has to do with skepticism about how much value a piece of digital content can hold.

“You can understand the technology, and try to bone up on that,” says Roberts. “But even once you learn the tech and you understand that… that still doesn’t mean that you want to buy or own an NFT or see it as emotionally appealing. You really just have to get past the mental hurdle of non-physical ownership,” [he said.]

Even then, it’s not for everyone says Roberts.

“There’s a lot of people who, even once you get to that point, they say ‘it doesn’t make much sense to me.’ And I think that’s fair,” he says.

Boykins says the value of NFT, for her, comes from how they help legitimize digital artwork, which she feels has been maligned by critics.

“You have the whole stigma against digital art: whereas digital art is not as hard or complex as traditional. Although both mediums can be pretty intense depending on how you go about it,” she says.

Despite the stigma, NFT art has raked in big money. In March, digital artist “Beeple” sold a compilation of his works at auction for $69 million. The sale represented the third-highest amount ever paid to a living artist - digital or otherwise - behind only Jeff Koons and David Hockney. Boykins said she has taken solace in the recent success of NFT art.

“To now see that is very comforting because, regardless of how it’s done, these artists get to be acknowledged for their work, recognized for their skill and their ability,” [she said.]

Roberts says one of the major appeals of NFT art is that it provides a more direct connection between creators and their customers.

“When we talk about NFTs in the music world or the art world, that right now is touted as one of the big appeals, is that this is a way to actually give royalties directly to the creators.”

NFTs, and the underlying blockchain technology, have also drawn criticism for how much energy they require to function.

“There are computers all around the world that are basically racing to sort of create the next block in the chain,” says Brian Khan, managing editor at Earther and is part of the faculty at the Columbia Climate School at Columbia University.

Blockchains use a “Proof of Work” model, which requires numerous massive computers working simultaneously to add the next line in the digital “ledger.” The process allows the technology to remain decentralized and secure, but it also eats up a significant amount of computer power.

Kahn says that results in pollution.

“These algorithms are racing to solve a problem, and they’re all working at the same time, and they’re all burning energy, and it’s usually dirty energy, and so that’s where the climate impact comes in."

But he says it doesn’t have to be this way. Other, more efficient processes have the potential to cut down on the tech’s energy consumption, such as “Proof of Stake.” That model selects a computer at random to add each block to the chain, eliminating the need for multiple energy-hungry systems to run at the same time.

“That’s the thing that I think, you know, excites a lot of people in both the climate space and in the blockchain space, to think about how do we clean this up while also still maintaining the thing that makes this interesting in the first place,” says Kahn.

Khan says he’s optimistic about the future because the sudden popularity of NFTs has thrust the blockchain’s environmental shortcomings into the spotlight.

“We’re having this talk comparatively at the beginning of something that could grow in a more sustainable fashion. So that’s why I have a little bit of a, I guess hope so to speak about this space and what could come next.”

Boykins says she’d be happy to see the blockchain that supports her NFT art become more environmentally friendly. And she has high hopes for the tech in general.

“It’s going to get bigger and bigger, and probably become the new mainstream way of collecting artwork I feel,” she says.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/08/2021

Biden administration faces increasing calls to stop companies from 'greenwashing'

Sundry Photography/iStockBy Stephanie Ebbs and Elizabeth Schulze

(WASHINGTON) -- In the weeks leading up to Earth Day shoppers will see messages about companies' commitment to combating climate change or even products claiming to have a more positive impact on the environment than others by generating less waste or being produced with less energy.

And it can be hard to tell which of those statements are true.

One study from an international consumer protection group called ICEPN found as many as 40% of company claims about sustainability were misleading or overstate their impact on the environment -- a practice commonly known as "greenwashing."

And as the Biden administration continues to push for climate change to be a top priority more advocacy groups and businesses are honing in on greenwashing as a problem the government needs to address.

Companies like Patagonia, the popular outerwear business known for its commitment to sustainability, say those claims not only hurt consumers and the reputation of brands trying to minimize their environmental impacts, but also delay action seriously needed to address the climate crisis.

Jenna Johnson, the head of Patagonia's apparel division, said the company has always emphasized having as little impact on the planet as possible since it was founded by Yvon Choinard in 1973.

She said even a company like Patagonia struggles to sort through greenwashing from potential suppliers and other companies claiming they follow the best practices for the environment.

"It happens a lot. There's a lot of really strong marketing claims and a lot of products out there that feel fantastic and like they're moving in the right direction in terms of responsibility. But as you dig in, you find sometimes that it's more talk than actual actions," she told ABC News.

Johnson said this is a problem not only because it hurts consumers and companies that have robust environmental programs in place, but also because it delays real action on climate change.

"You could imagine if the oil and gas companies, for example, if they actually were funding and putting in place the actions that they're talking about around environmental and social goals, if they were truly driving impact within their organizations to move in that direction, we wouldn't be in the climate catastrophe that we're in today," she said.

"So saying is one thing, we can educate customers through marketing campaigns for sure that's important, but if we don't have action to back it up, we lose the trust and the confidence of the customer. And for those of us who are really working hard -- diligently every day to be honest -- and transparent and make progress, it erodes trust and credibility across the board, across brands."

The Biden administration is talking about taking more action to crack down on greenwashing, including creating new climate change units at financial agencies like the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve, Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Three environmental groups, including Greenpeace, filed the first-ever greenwashing complaint to the Federal Trade Commission last year against the oil company Chevron. They accuse Chevron of violating advertising guidelines from FTC known as the "Green Guide" that define how certain terms should be used and tells companies not to exaggerate or be overly vague about how their work impacts the environment.

Anusha Narayanan, climate campaign manager for Greenpeace USA, said they see the Biden administration's focus on climate change as a signal they could be more receptive to complaints about greenwashing.

"The Biden administration has been pretty committed to tackling the climate crisis and we believe that the FTC under the Biden administration will be receptive to this complaint and would take Greenwashing seriously," said Anusha Narayanan, climate campaign manager for Greenpeace USA.

The complaint accuses Chevron of producing ads about the company's commitment to new energy technology while not acknowledging the damage caused by burning fossil fuels and that clean energy investments make up less than 0.2 percent of its capital expenditures.

Narayanan said Greenpeace sees greenwashing as part of a bigger problem of people using talk about climate change to delay taking action, including drastically reducing or eliminating the use of fossil fuels.

"It's delaying action from happening, so it allows Chevron to operate business as usual and continue to burn fossil fuels. And then it distracts the public and consumers from seeing the real solutions we already have at hand to tackle the climate crisis and build a renewable energy future," she said.

Chevron called the allegations "frivolous" in a statement to ABC News and said they plan to invest $3 billion between 2021 and 2028 to advance the transition to cleaner sources of energy.

"We are taking action to reduce the carbon intensity of our operations and assets, increase the use of renewables and offsets in support of our business and invest in low-carbon technologies to enable commercial solutions," a Chevron spokesman said in the statement.

An FTC spokesman declined to comment on the complaint. As an enforcement agency, the FTC can investigate or bring complaints against companies accused of misleading consumers but cannot set new regulations on advertising.

Greenwashing doesn't only involve advertising, companies handling investments on Wall Street have also been accused of capitalizing on investors' desire to do good without actually taking steps to improve their impact on society or the environment.

Tariq Fancy is the former chief investment officer for sustainable investing at BlackRock, which manages nearly $9 trillion in assets. He said it was clear to him after working there that sustainable investing was more about marketing.

"My concern is that when they say that they're doing a bunch of things that are really helpful and the public believes that, it creates a placebo effect where we delay action -- and every year matters at this point," he told ABC News.

Fancy said he thinks the only way to push companies into action and avoid greenwashing is if the government gets more involved, including enacting regulations like a price on carbon and requirements to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks.

BlackRock agreed the government should do more to regulate greenwashing. The company recently hired a former top climate official from the Obama administration, Paul Bodnar, to lead their sustainable investing efforts and CEO Larry Fink said he thinks coordinated involvement of governments all over the world will be necessary to decrease emissions and limit global warming.

"BlackRock believes greenwashing is a risk to investors and detrimental to the asset management industry's credibility, which is why we strongly support regulatory initiatives to set consistent standards and increase transparency for sustainable portfolios," a company spokesman said in a statement to ABC News.

Under the Biden administration the SEC could be poised to get more involved in what companies claim about their investments based on environmental or social values, a practice called Environmental, Social and Governance or ESG investing.

Acting SEC Chair Alison Lee said last month that the events during 2020, from the COVID-19 pandemic, George Floyd's death and the connection between racial justice and climate risk have proven that social values cannot be separated from the business world.

"Human capital, human rights, climate change -- these issues are fundamental to our markets, and investors want to and can help drive sustainable solutions on these issues. We see that unmistakably in shifts in capital toward ESG investing, we see it in investor demands for disclosure on these issues, we see it increasingly reflected on corporate proxy ballots, and we see it in corporate recognition that consumers and investors alike are watching corporate responses to these issues more closely than ever," Lee said recently in remarks to the Center for American Progress. "That's why climate and ESG are front and center for the SEC."

Patagonia's Johnson said even though regulations can be challenging and expensive for companies to deal with, holding companies accountable for their statements is the right thing to do when it comes to the environment.

"It's expensive business and the government, alongside civil society, working together, working in tandem," Johnson said. "That is how we are going to save the planet."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/08/2021

How OpenTable is getting diners back to restaurants

Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty ImagesBy KELLY MCCARTHY, GMA

(NEW YORK) -- As restaurants continue to welcome back diners across the U.S. there is increased demand for data when it comes to choosing where to eat or drink.

To help, OpenTable launched Back to the Table, a new information hub with tools and insights that are designed for diners to easily navigate this new era of eating out.

"Dining is coming back, over 80% of restaurants on OpenTable in certain states all across the U.S., like Colorado, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Kansas and Utah, have reopened," OpenTable CEO Debby Soo said in a statement. "Local restrictions are changing quickly and we want to make sure diners are easily able to see what restaurants are open near them and help them choose a restaurant that meets their needs and comfort level."

The hub includes four key areas to explore data from participating restaurants supported by the digital dining and reservation platform.

A reopening heat map shows a state-by-state breakdown of the latest restaurant restrictions and reopening status.

The "Open Near Me" tool allows users to find geo-targeted data on local restaurants that are open for dine-in, takeout or delivery nearby.

"Popular Restaurant Picks" are curated based on diner feedback into top lists including the Top 25 Restaurants for Outdoor Dining, Top 25 Most Kid-Friendly, Top 25 Restaurants Offering Experiences and more.

"Rebound Stories from Restaurateurs," is a catalog of unique pandemic recovery stories on everything from firsthand accounts of weathering the trials and tribulations amid the pandemic, to reopenings, complete with behind-the-scenes content from crowd favorites nationwide.

This new hub comes at a crucial time, especially for small, independently owned restaurants that were hard-hit by nearly a year of government restrictions, closures and limited service options.

As more people across the country get vaccinated and operators prepare to serve diners in the warm months ahead, there is demand for limited, and in some cases, timed seatings

OpenTable has collected data since March 2020 for its state of the industry site to illustrate how COVID-19 has impacted restaurants around the globe.

The data most recently updated on March 11, 2021, reported that diners using its platform have already neared 2019 levels. Moreover, the data showed that 54% of Americans plan to dine out at least once a week or more in 2021.

The company also released a consumer hub for its restaurant partners with everything they need "to rebound and reconnect" with guests.

Resources include interactive guidance to help drive demand and fill seats, operate efficiently, maximize revenue, how to set and meet diner expectations and customer retention.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/07/2021

Microsoft, LinkedIn aim to support skills-based hiring with next steps of global initiative

NicoElNino/iStockBy Taylor Dunn and Sean Sanders, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Nearly one year after Microsoft launched a global skills initiative aimed at helping people acquire the digital skills needed in a COVID-19 economy, the company -- together with LinkedIn -- is extending its commitment to help job seekers in 2021.

Microsoft said it will work to help 250,000 companies like Gap and TaskRabbit make hires based on skills over qualifications.

In a blog post written by Microsoft president Brad Smith, the next steps of its global skills initiative is part of its “vision of what is needed for a more inclusive post-pandemic recovery.”

“COVID-19 has led to record unemployment numbers, disrupting livelihoods of people around the world,” Smith said. “We are doubling down at LinkedIn and across Microsoft with new work to support a more inclusive skills-based labor market, creating more alternatives, greater flexibility and accessible learning paths that connect these more readily with new jobs.”

The focus on skills over qualifications opens the doors for both employers and job seekers, according to LinkedIn career expert Catherine Fisher. For employers, Fisher told Good Morning America that skills-based hiring introduces them to more candidates.

“If you look at food servers, they actually have about 71% of the skills needed for customer service,” Fisher said. “So when companies are looking to hire and we hear this all the time for the company, the industries that are hiring like crazy, they can’t find enough people. It’s because they’ve been looking the wrong way … It’s really looking at the skills as opposed to education or the network, more of those traditional ways of seeking out candidates.”

And for people looking to switch career paths or apply for jobs in a different industry, this method is also beneficial because candidates are able to show off what they can contribute to that job, Fisher said.

“The good news is it’s not about the experience, it’s about the skills that you have,” Fisher said. “The first thing you want to do is take inventory of all the skills that you have. Look at those job descriptions of the roles that seem interesting to you in those industries and do an assessment and the job description is going to give you some clues.”

To help reach the goals of its initiative, Microsoft is providing an extension to its current course curriculum through programs for K-12 students as well as higher education students aimed at helping them discover and guide their career paths.

For example, Career Coach -- which is available in May -- will help higher education students navigate their career journey by identifying career goals aligned with their interests and strengths.

Courses that were made available last year through Microsoft’s global skills initiative have worked for many already, including Rachelle Katchenago, a mom of two who gained new certifications through free online courses on LinkedIn. She said she was able to complete them all on her own time.

“I would log into my LinkedIn Learning, press play on a video while drinking my coffee,” Katchenago told GMA. “Even the quizzes in between each video to gain that certificate was only two to three questions, which I found really not even intimidating.”

Through the courses she took, Katchenago was able to land a full-time job as a customer service representative.

“It’s great to know that there’s programs out there like the generator upskilling and the Global Initiative to make sure that people like me can transition and we can live these lives that we dream of, that we worked so hard for the stability and to be able to provide for our family,” she added.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/07/2021

Old Navy responds to first grader's request for girls' jeans with real pockets

Bentonville SchoolsBy Nicole Pelletiere, ABC News

(BENTONVILLE, Ark.) -- A 7-year-old's request for Old Navy to make girls' jeans with real front pockets has been answered after she wrote a letter to the brand's corporate office.

Kamryn Gardner, a first grader at Evening Star Elementary School in Bentonville, Arkansas, sent the note in mid-January which read the following:

Dear Old Navy,

I do not like that the front pockets of the girls jeans are fake. I want front pockets because I want to put my hands in them. I also would like to put things in them. Would you consider making girls jeans with front pockets that are not fake. Thank you for reading my request.

Kamryn wrote the letter after participating in a persuasive writing unit where her class sends a letter to principal Ashley Williams.

This year, Kamryn and her fellow students asked for new playground equipment.

Kimberly Gardner, who is Kamryn's mom and also a first grade teacher at Evening Star, said Kamryn had the idea after seeing that her brother had pockets in his jeans.

The clothing company does make girls' jeans with pockets, though Gardner said she purchased the ones without.

"She was frustrated her jeans didn't have pockets, so I suggested and encouraged her, 'What do we need to do?'" Gardner told Good Morning America.

"She's very passionate about life ... and uses her voice," she added.

Gardner helped her daughter send the handwritten note to Old Navy.

The Old Navy Kids Product Team recently replied to Kamryn's letter, writing it "appreciates your information and feedback for us as we develop new products."

The team included a gift for Kamryn -- four pairs of jeans in her size which included pockets. Gardner said Old Navy emailed her prior asking for Kamryn's size.

Kamryn's teacher, Ellie Jayne, described her as "unstoppable."

"It's really exciting to see the world get a glimpse of her, fall in love with her and be inspired by her passion," Jayne told GMA.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/07/2021

Prosecutor's office reviewing car crash case involving former Chiefs assistant coach Britt Reid


(KANSAS CITY, Mo.) -- The three-car crash involving former Kansas City Chiefs assistant coach Britt Reid that injured two children, including one critically, is being reviewed by the local prosecutor's office.

Police handed over the investigation to the Jackson County Prosecutor's Office in "recent days," the office confirmed to ABC News.

A spokesperson for the office had no additional comment on the case, including any timeline for reviewing it or any charges recommended by police.

The collision occurred Feb. 4 on a highway near the Kansas City Chiefs' training complex next to Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri. Reid, 35, was driving a Ram pickup truck when he struck two vehicles that were stopped on the side of southbound Interstate 435 just after 9 p.m. local time, according to police.

A 5-year-old was in critical condition with a brain injury and a 4-year-old was hospitalized with non-life-threatening injuries after the crash, police said. All other vehicle occupants suffered minor injuries.

Reid, the son of Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, was injured in the wreck and taken to the hospital with undisclosed injuries. He did not join the Chiefs in Tampa for the Super Bowl that weekend.

According to a search warrant application obtained by ABC News, an officer at the scene reported smelling "a moderate odor of alcoholic beverages emanating" from Reid, and that his eyes were bloodshot. Reid allegedly told the officer he had two to three drinks and had taken Adderall, according to the warrant.

Police had said they were investigating whether Reid was impaired before the crash.

Ariel Young, the 5-year-old critically injured in the collision, likely has permanent brain damage, her family's lawyer told "Good Morning America."

"We're going to be advocating for the most serious charges and the most serious sentence that Britt could ever receive," the attorney, Tom Porto, said in an interview last month. "We don't have the toxicology back -- I don't know what it is going to be. What I do know are the statements that he made to police that night. If you have two or three drinks, and then you get behind the wheel of a car, you are likely over the legal limit."

Reid, who was an outside linebackers coach for the Chiefs, was placed on administrative leave amid the investigation into the crash. His contract has since expired and he's no longer with the team.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/10/2021

Scoreboard roundup -- 4/10/21


(NEW YORK) — Here are the scores from yesterday's games:



 Final  San Diego   3  Texas   0



 Final  Tampa Bay    10  N.Y. Yankees   5

 Final  Cleveland     4  Detroit        1

 Final  L.A. Angels   7  Toronto        1

 Final  Oakland       6  Houston        2



 Final  L.A. Dodgers    1  Washington     0

 Final  San Francisco   3  Colorado       1

 Final  Atlanta         8  Philadelphia   1

 Final  Cincinnati      6  Arizona        5



 Final  Indiana        111  Orlando       106

 Final  Atlanta        120  Chicago       108

  Final OT  Boston         145  Minnesota     136

  Final OT  New York       133  Memphis       129

 Final  New Orleans    101  Philadelphia  94

 Final  Charlotte      127  Milwaukee     119

 Final  Denver         121  San Antonio   119

 Final  L.A. Clippers  126  Houston       109

 Final  Washington     110  Golden State  107



 Final  N-Y Rangers   4  N-Y Islanders   1

 Final  Pittsburgh    6  New Jersey      4

 Final  Washington    4  Buffalo         3

 Final  St. Louis     9  Minnesota       1

 Final  Colorado      2  Anaheim         0

 Final  Vegas         7  Arizona         4

 Final  San Jose      5  Los Angeles     2

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/10/2021

Scoreboard roundup -- 4/8/21

iStock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Thursday's sports events:



Boston 7, Baltimore 3
Chi White Sox 6, Kansas City 0
Minnesota 10, Seattle 2
LA Angels 7, Toronto 5
Houston 6, Oakland 2


NY Mets 3, Miami 2
Chicago Cubs 4, Pittsburgh 2
Colorado 7, Arizona 3
St. Louis 3, Milwaukee 1


Chicago 122, Toronto 113
Cleveland 129, Oklahoma City 102
Miami 110, LA Lakers 104
Dallas 116, Milwaukee 101
Detroit 113, Sacramento 101
Utah 122, Portland 103
LA Clippers 113, Phoenix 103


Edmonton 3, Ottawa 1
New Jersey 6, Buffalo 3
Pittsburgh 5, NY Rangers 2
Winnipeg 4, Montreal 2
Carolina 3, Florida 0
Boston 4, Washington 2
Tampa Bay 6, Columbus 4
NY Islanders 3, Philadelphia 2 (SO)
Nashville 7, Detroit 1
Dallas 5, Chicago 1
Vancouver at Calgary (Postponed)

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/09/2021

Scoreboard roundup -- 4/7/21

iStockBy ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Wednesday's sports events:



Oakland 4, LA Dodgers 3


Minnesota 3, Detroit 2
Boston 9, Tampa Bay 2
Cleveland 4, Kansas City 2
Texas 2, Toronto 1
Seattle 8, Chi White Sox 4
Final Baltimore 4 N.Y. Yankees 3


Atlanta 7, Washington 6
Cincinnati 11, Pittsburgh 4
Milwaukee 4, Chi Cubs 2
Atlanta 2, Washington 0
St. Louis 7, Miami 0
San Francisco 3, San Diego 2
Philadelphia 8, NY Mets 2
Colorado 8, Arizona 0


Washington 131, Orlando 116
Indiana 141, Minnesota 137
Boston 101, New York 99
Brooklyn 139, New Orleans 111
Charlotte 113, Oklahoma City 102
Memphis 131, Atlanta 113
Houston 102, Dallas 93
Denver 106, San Antonio 96
Phoenix 117, Utah 113


Edmonton 4, Ottawa 2
Toronto 3, Montreal 2
St. Louis 3, Vegas 1
Minnesota 8, Colorado 3
Los Angeles 4, Arizona 3

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/08/2021

Trans women targeted in sports bans, but are they really at an advantage?


(NEW YORK) -- Since high school, running has taken up much of 20-year-old Lindsay Hecox’s life, giving her not only an outlet to build friendships, but also a sense of identity and competitiveness. It’s a “core part” of who she is, she said.

“I did cross-country as well and kind of realized this is my thing,” Hecox, of Boise, Idaho, told ABC News’ Kayna Whitworth. “I’m good at it, I like it, and I’m going to continue doing it, because I wanted to really get better.”

Yet, while discovering this fundamental aspect of her life in high school, Hecox was suppressing another. Hecox, a transgender woman, was assigned male at birth. Throughout high school, she said she presented as male, but like many transgender teens, she said it did not match her gender identity.

“I felt like I wasted a little bit of my life trying to pretend to be a guy and just repressing everything,” Hecox said. “That seems so much better now.”

It wasn’t until heading to college that Hecox decided to live her life authentically, and she began transitioning. However, as she waited for the track team tryouts at Boise State University, a new law threatened to uproot all that she’d worked for.

In March 2020, Idaho’s legislature passed House Bill 500, the “Fairness in Women’s Sports Act,” which bans transgender girls and women from competing in female sports leagues.

Bills like this, Hecox said, may be driven by misconceptions that people have about trans women’s abilities in sports.

“I don’t know, [it’s] something about trans women athletes. They feel like it’s going to be some huge, tall, muscular superstar,” Hecox said. “I don’t even think most of my teammates would even think of me as trans -- I just look like a regular girl.”

The bill prompted Hecox to take action. In April 2020, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union and other advocacy groups and legal firms, she filed a lawsuit opposing the legislation. In August, a judge issued a preliminary injunction, effectively preventing the law from being enforced while the case remains pending.

Still, the bill opened a legislative Pandora’s box, with other states following in Idaho’s footsteps. At least 28 states have either proposed or passed approximately 52 bills excluding trans athletes from participating in school sports -- namely, trans girls and women in grades K-12 and college. In Minnesota, legislators have introduced a bill that would make trans female participation in school sports a petty misdemeanor, possibly punishable by a fine.

Last month, Missouri father Brandon Boulware, whose transgender daughter plays volleyball, implored the state's lawmakers to vote against a bill that would block trans teens from participating in high school sports.

“As a parent, the one thing we cannot do … is silence our children’s spirit,” he said during his testimony.

“I need you to understand that this language, if it becomes law, will have real effects on real people,” he added. “I ask you, please, don’t take that away from my daughter or the countless others like her.”

Such marginalization can have devastating effects on trans teens. In response to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Survey of nearly 132,000 students, 27% of those who identified as trans said they felt unsafe at or traveling to or from school, and nearly 35% said they’d attempted suicide.

However, some cisgender female athletes, who identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, say they feel like they’re being pushed out of their sports by trans athletes.

“I know what it’s like to be beat by a biological male in my own sport,” Madison Kenyon, 19, a sophomore runner at Idaho State University, told ABC News. “I’ve seen them beat some of the fastest girls in this nation. … We’re not here for a participation trophy. We’ve been working so hard. We’ve been making so many sacrifices, and we’re not just here to participate. We want to compete, and we want to compete on a fair playing field.”

Chelsea Mitchell, 18, is another cisgender woman who says she lost several state track titles after running against two trans girls in high school. Mitchell came in third place, behind the two transgender girls.

“Personally, I lost four state championships … and countless other opportunities to advance to meet, to place,” she said. “So, I decided to speak out, because I believe that this was unfair for me and my other competitors.”

Mitchell was able to beat one of the transgender runners in later races. She said it made her feel like “I finally got the recognition I deserved.” She is currently a student-athlete on a scholarship at William & Mary in Virginia. Neither of the two trans competitors that once beat her were offered scholarships.

Both Mitchell and Kenyon have joined lawsuits against trans women’s participation in women’s sports. They’re represented by the conservative legal advocacy organization Alliance Defending Freedom.

They’ve both said their position is not based on hate or anti-trans sentiment but about fairness and opportunity in their sport.

“I think that everyone should have a place to compete and everyone has a right to participate in sports, but the question is, where is that most fair?” Kenyon said. “For female athletes, it’s most fair for biological women to be competing against biological women.”

Joanna Harper, one of the world’s leading researchers on transitioning athletes, who is a trans woman athlete herself, said the science and biology related to who has an advantage in sports are more nuanced than these laws make it seem.

“Many critics of transgender women have suggested that trans women have unfair advantages over gender or typical women, and it is certainly true that as a population group, trans women do have athletic advantages over [cisgender] women,” she said. “We do, however, allow advantages in sports.”

For example, Harper said it’s not uncommon in baseball for left-handed players to have some advantages over right-handed players. Athletic abilities vary regardless of the gender someone is assigned at birth, she said.

Moreover, she said, the hormone replacement therapy that a trans woman undergoes during transition changes her body in a way that allows “trans women and [cisgender] women to compete against one another in a meaningful fashion in most sports.”

“I would suggest that it is never the right response to outright ban trans athletes,” Harper said, adding that she believes that for all sports at all levels, “there is some set of solutions that can be implemented … and still allow for trans women to be integrated within women’s sports.”

While more studies may be needed to determine what these solutions should be, leading sports organizations like the NCAA have issued guidance based on their understanding of the current research. In 2011, the college sports organization’s Office of Inclusion released guidance stipulating that trans women should undergo a year of testosterone suppression before joining a team.

Hecox met that requirement by taking a year of hormone replacement therapy, which helps a transgender person’s body match their gender identity more closely. Hecox said the therapy changed her athletic abilities. Along with losing muscle mass, Hecox said her stamina decreased as well.

“I could feel myself getting slower, and I was all right with that,” she said.

Hecox said she believes the hormone replacement therapy brought her athletic abilities more within the range of other female athletes. In fact, despite a rigorous training schedule provided by the school, she was not fast enough to make Boise State’s track team in 2020.

While Hecox said she “felt pretty disappointed” with her times, she remains hopeful for a better future. She said she’ll continue to fight the trans athlete law and added that she’ll be trying out for the track team again in 2022.

“I don’t really mind if I don’t make the team,” she said. “As long as I have paved the road for future trans athletes to make a team and be happy.”

ABC News' Sony Salzman contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/08/2021

Tiger Woods' car crash caused by speed: Sheriff

Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty ImagesBy Emily Shapiro, ABC News

(LOS ANGELES) -- Speed caused the rollover car crash that left Tiger Woods seriously injured, Los Angeles County authorities said Wednesday.

The accident was also due to Woods' "inability to negotiate the curve of the roadway," Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva said at a news conference.

Woods was driving at an estimated 84 to 87 mph during the Feb. 23 accident in Southern California, Villanueva said. Woods was driving in a 45 mph zone, according to The Associated Press.

It's believed that Woods inadvertently hit the accelerator instead of the brake, Capt. James Powers said.

The car was moving at 75 mph when Woods struck a tree, the sheriff said.

Woods was speeding but the decision was made not to issue a citation, the sheriff said. No one witnessed the crash and Woods did not receive any special treatment from police, Villanueva said.

The golfing great showed no signs of impairment, Villanueva added.

Villanueva said last month that the cause of the crash had been determined and the investigation had concluded.

Woods’ team gave permission for the details to be released, Villanueva said Wednesday, adding that under California law, these reports are confidential unless the release is approved by those involved.

Woods was alone, driving a 2021 Genesis GV80 SUV, when he crashed on the border of Rolling Hills estates and Rancho Palos Verdes.

The vehicle hit the center median, crossed into the opposite lane and then hit the curb and a tree, the sheriff said in February. The GV80 rolled over several times and was found several hundred feet away from the center divider with a deployed airbag.

In February the sheriff said no charges were anticipated against Woods, calling the crash "purely an accident."

Woods, who was wearing a seat belt, was taken to a hospital where he underwent a long surgical procedure on his lower right leg and ankle, officials said. Days later he was moved to another hospital for follow-up procedures.

Woods said in a March 16 statement that he was back home in Florida and continuing his recovery.

Woods in a statement Wednesday thanked the good Samaritans and first responders who rushed to the scene. He added, "I will continue to focus on my recovery and family, and thank everyone for the overwhelming support and encouragement I’ve received throughout this very difficult time."

Fellow golfer Rory McIlroy said at Tuesday's Masters news conference that he's visited Woods and described him as in "decent spirits."

"He’s fully focused on the recovery process," McIlroy said. "And I feel like he’s mentally strong enough to get through that. And once he does, broken bones heal, and he’s just got to take it step by step."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/07/2021

Tom Brady reveals newfound motivation with Buccaneers, how much he earned per signed rookie card

ABC NewsBy Kelly McCarthy and Katie Conway, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Tom Brady sat down with Michael Strahan in a new exclusive interview for Good Morning America to reflect on winning his seventh career Super Bowl, and the motivation behind his longevity and momentum.

When Brady announced he was leaving New England after 20 years, six NFL titles and four Super Bowl MVP awards to sign with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the quarterback faced criticism and doubt.

"I was always kind of motivated by people that say 'you can't do it.' You know, 'you're not good enough, you're not fast enough, not big enough, you're not good enough arm,'” Brady told GMA. "I've had a body of work over a period of time, so you know, you just say, hey [and] quickly you forget."

He continued, "I think that's a great part about football. It's not really about what you did last year, it's kind of what you're going to do this year, so for me, it was what I was going to do for the Bucs last year. I still feel that way."

Earning his first title in his first season with a new team would have been impressive enough, but even more so because it all came together during a pandemic.

"I think that's a big part of what I understood last year, it's things are gonna be different. I try to work within what's currently happening but still try to do the best I could do," Brady said. "All of it was really -- really amazing, obviously with the way the season ended -- so it was a great year."

For the 43-year-old quarterback, the idea of starting from scratch in Florida after two decades in New England was "in a lot of ways really invigorating."

"You know when you're at the Patriots, everyone would always come to me and introduce themselves to me because I was kind of the mainstay," he said. "But I was the new guy for the first time, you know, and that was a really different experience."

Another big difference for Brady has been his new head coach, Bruce Arians, who is a totally different type of coach than Bill Belichick, he said.

"He's a great motivator -- he's got a great feel for the team -- a great pulse for what's going on in a locker room, great intuition, great evaluation of talent," Brady said. "When you're in one place for 20 years, you think that's the only way, and I think when you go to a different place you realize, 'wow -- there's another way that people do things.'"

One month after his Super Bowl win over Kansas City, Brady broke another record off the field when his rookie card sold for $2.25 million, edging out the previous record of Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, whose card sold in early February for $861,000.



"It's surreal and it makes me want to go check all my cards that I have stored again; there's got to be one [more] in there somewhere," Brady said. "I kept all these cards for all these years."

When he was first coming up in the league trying to make some money, he said, "my agent, Steve, was like ['I've] got a trading card deal for you. Sign 1000 cards and they're going to pay you like 20 cents a card.' And I was like, '20 cents a card, five, whatever -- I'm gonna be rich. This is unbelievable!'

"And 21 years later, you see these cards that are worth that kind of money. I definitely should have kept some of them -- but whatever I think it all worked out pretty good," he said.

So far in the off-season, Brady has been able to dedicate time with his family.

"We went skiing. We had a little trip there -- we have a place in Costa Rica that we've been to. We were in the Middle East for a week, and then we're here at Disney," he said.

The father of three said he hopes his kids can learn from the hard work that has gone into his success in football and life.

"I think trying to keep them grounded and understand, you know that a. they're gonna have to work hard and b. you know, mom and dad's life is very unique in this world," he explained. "I don't want them to take those things for granted, you know, I want them to make the impact, you know, in the world that they're gonna make but they're gonna make it in their way too."

Brady recently celebrated 12 years of marriage with his wife Gisele Bündchen and hailed her for the secret to their success.

"I give her a lot of credit for that you know she's, she's the one that you know supports the family, she's the one that at the end of the day makes a lot of sacrifices," he said. "She brings out the best version of me."

In the wake of helping the Bucs bring home the Championship, the Super Bowl LV MVP celebrated with his team in a uniquely Florida way -- with a boat parade.

"From what I remember -- it was really cool," Brady said with a laugh.

The QB was seen in a now-viral video throwing one more pass, but this time from one boat to another with the Lombardi Trophy instead of a football.

"There was not a lot going through my mind at that point," he said. "That was not smart for a couple of reasons. One is if we drop it, that's a little bit of a problem. But the worst thing that could happen is the edges on that trophy are so sharp -- and had those things clipped one of my boys on the other boat, it would have been an ugly, ugly parade."

He continued, "I had a lot of fun, and I don't get to do that -- it's hard to relax and when you're out in public, and there's phones, not that I would do anything but it still doesn't feel like comfortable for me my personality to have people filming. So I tend to just stay at home more and I don't go out a lot."

The superstar quarterback's wife whispered "what more do you have to prove" after the epic win in Tampa Bay, but for Brady it's more about playing the game he loves for as long as he can.

"I don't think proving it for me is the motivation," he explained. "I still want to play, I got like a little sickness in me that just wants to throw a frickin spiral you know what I mean."

He added, "once you stopped you can't go back and do it, I got some more football [in me] I mean not a lot, and I know that, but what I got left, I'm gonna go I'm gonna give everything I got."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/07/2021

Scoreboard roundup -- 04/07/21

iStockBy ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Tuesday's sports events:



LA Dodgers 5, Oakland 1


Detroit 4, Minnesota 3
Houston 4, LA Angels 2
NY Yankees 7, Baltimore 2
Texas 7, Toronto 4
Boston 6, Tampa Bay 5
Chi White Sox 10, Seattle 4


Washington 6, Atlanta 5
Cincinnati 14, Pittsburgh 1
St. Louis 4, Miami 2
NY Mets 8, Philadelphia 4
Milwaukee 4, Chi Cubs 0
Arizona 10, Colorado 8
San Diego 3, San Francisco 1


Chicago 113, Indiana 97
Atlanta 123, New Orleans 107
Philadelphia 106, Boston 96
LA Lakers 110, Toronto 101
Memphis 124, Miami 112
Denver 134, Detroit 119
LA Clippers 133, Portland 116
Golden State 122, Milwaukee 121


Buffalo 5, New Jersey 3
NY Islanders 1, Washington 0
Columbus 4, Tampa Bay 2
Carolina 5, Florida 2
NY Rangers 8, Pittsburgh 4
Boston 4, Philadelphia 2
Nashville 3, Detroit 2 (OT)
Chicago 4, Dallas 2
Anaheim 5, San Jose 1
Vancouver at Winnipeg (Postponed)

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/07/2021

NCAA group condemns anti-transgender sports bills in open letter

jetcityimage/iStockBy Kiara Brantley-Jones, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Already, 2021 has been a record year for anti-transgender legislation -- especially when it comes to school athletics -- and one group is taking a stand.

To date, 28 states across the country have taken action to introduce, pass and sign anti-transgender bills, according to the Human Rights Campaign. The majority of these bills are attempting to exclude transgender athletes from school sports and deny gender-affirming health care to youth.

In response, the National Collegiate Athletics Association’s (NCAA) Division III LGBTQ OneTeam Program and members of the NCAA’s Division III LGBTQ Working Group condemned the newly proposed laws in an open letter.

The LGBTQ advocacy group on Monday released a letter titled “An Open Letter in Support of Transgender Student-Athletes,” which called upon elected officials to put an end to legislation aimed at “excluding transgender youth and young adults from equal and equitable participation in sport.”

“We have decided to use our collective voice to condemn such actions,” the letter reads. “We cannot, in good conscience, fail to speak out at this critical moment.”

The NCAA Division III LGBTQ OneTeam Program trains coaches, athletics administrators and student-athletes across all Division III athletics to promote LGBTQ inclusion in college athletics and create an inclusive and safe climate.

“Legislation aimed at categorically banning transgender people -- and particularly transgender girls and women -- from sport is inherently discriminatory,” the letter said. “Such legislation is often ‘informed’ by hate and misinformation rather than science, and it is most certainly ‘informed’ by fear instead of fact.”

The release of the open letter comes amid controversy over several bills targeting transgender people that have advanced in multiple states. The governors of Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee have all signed laws prohibiting transgender girls and women from competing in school sports teams consistent with their gender identity. Executive orders to the same effect have also been signed in South Dakota.

The letter was signed by more than 50 other facilitators of the NCAA Division III LGBTQ OneTeam Program, including Timothy R. Bussey, associate director of the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Kenyon College.

“It's so important to speak out against this legislation, because it is fully rooted in transphobic lies and myths and misconceptions about transgender people,” Bussey, who uses they/them pronouns, told ABC News.

“These laws really play off of those myths and misconceptions about the trans community, and this proposed legislation really weaponizes that misconception and that lack of understanding of science in a way that seeks to exclude trans people and ultimately causes harm to trans folks on a number of levels," they said.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, 18 states introduced bills last year that would ban transgender girls and women from competing on girls' and women's school sports teams. That number increased this year, with more than two dozen states now introducing similar legislation in their current session.

Additionally, more than 90 anti-trans bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the nation this year, according to the HRC.

Bussey also warned that the continued passage of anti-transgender legislation is sending a “dangerous message.”

“It's sending a message to educators and school professionals across the country that legislators in your state want to treat trans and non-binary students in a way that they can be excluded from certain spaces,” they said.

“Ultimately, it's going to have an impact on trans youth and trans young adults, irrespective if they want to play sports," Bussey added, "because it's sending a message to those kids that they are not welcome.”

The NCAA LGBTQ OneTeam letter echoed that warning.

“Discriminatory legislation that is aimed at excluding transgender people from sport has a number of serious consequences for transgender students,” the letter reads. “Such legislation dehumanizes transgender students, refuses them the opportunity to participate equally and equitably in athletics, undermines their support in educational settings, damages their mental health, and ultimately harms these students, while also contributing to an exclusionary athletic environment and a more hostile school climate for all students.”

The letter closes by calling for an end to such legislation in all states, along with the repeal of laws signed in Arkansas, Idaho, Mississippi and Tennessee.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/06/2021

Scoreboard roundup -- 4/5/21

iStockBy ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Monday's sports events:



LA Dodgers 10, Oakland 3

Minnesota 15, Detroit 6
Kansas City 3, Cleveland 0
Toronto 6, Texas 2
NY Yankees 7, Baltimore 0
Boston 11, Tampa Bay 2
LA Angels 7, Houston 6
Chi White Sox 6, Seattle 0


St. Louis 4, Miami 1
Cincinnati 5, Pittsburgh 3
Philadelphia 5, NY Mets 3
Chi Cubs 5, Milwaukee 3
San Francisco 3, San Diego 2
Atlanta at Washington (Postponed)


Dallas 111, Utah 103
Toronto 103, Washington 101
Cleveland 125, San Antonio 101
Detroit 132, Oklahoma City 108
Minnesota 116, Sacramento 106
Brooklyn 114, New York 112
Phoenix 133, Houston 130


Winnipeg 4, Ottawa 3
Montreal 3, Edmonton 2 (OT)
Philadelphia 3, Boston 2 (OT)
Vegas 6, St. Louis 1
Colorado 5, Minnesota 4
Toronto 5, Calgary 3
Arizona 5, Los Angeles 2

Baylor 86, Gonzaga 70

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/06/2021

Lost taste and smell from COVID-19? A new cookbook aims to help


(NEW YORK) — One of the most common COVID-19 symptoms is the loss of taste and smell. For some people, those symptoms can last weeks. Now, a new cookbook aims to help people recover some of the joy of ...

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/10/2021

What to know about expected but rare 'breakthrough' COVID cases

RyanKing999/iStockBy Erin Schumaker, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- With one in four adults in the United States now fully vaccinated against COVID-19, health departments and scientific studies have documented what's known as "breakthrough" cases, or peopl...

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/09/2021

Baby heads home after nearly 700 days in hospital

Francesca GarnettiBy Nicole Pelletiere, ABC News

(ANN ARBOR, Mich.) -- A Michigan baby is now home with her family after a hospital stay that lasted 694 days.

Valentina Garnetti was diagnosed in utero with hypoplastic left heart syndrome -- a condit...

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/09/2021

A next-gen Army COVID vaccine you've never heard of has just begun human trials

Matt Seyler/ABC NewBy Matt Seyler, ABC News

(SILVER SPRING, Md.) -- As more than 100 million Americans were needled and inoculated against COVID-19 with doses produced by pharmaceutical powerhouses like Pfizer and Moderna, a scrappy team of scienti...

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/08/2021

COVID-19 origins: What to know about the search for the start of the virus

CasPhotography/iStockBy Erin Schumaker, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- More than a year after a "mysterious pneumonia" sickened workers at a seafood market in China, scientists are still gathering clues about where SARS-CoV-2 -- the virus that causes COVID...

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/08/2021

With obesity on the rise, the best diet may be tailored to our genes, experts say

trumzz/iStockBy Dr. L. Nedda Dastmalchi, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- With the COVID-19 pandemic drawing more attention to America's obesity problem, a growing body of research indicates that our genetics should be used to determine what we eat.

Decades o...

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/08/2021

CDC Director expects all schools will be fully open for in-person learning in September

kevajefimija/iStockBy Caterina Andreano, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky anticipates that all schools will be fully in person and no longer remote in September 2021.

"We should anticip...

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/08/2021

Reproductive life span of women increasing, study shows

solidcolours/iStockBy Katie Kindelan, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- The reproductive years for women in the United States may be increasing, according to a new study.

On average, the reproductive years for women increased from age 35 to 37.1, according to ...

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/07/2021

NY hospital launches COVID-19 saliva testing for those seeking to attend large events, fly internationally

mbz-photodesign/iStockBy Marlene Lenthang, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Mount Sinai Hospital in New York is launching a COVID-19 saliva-testing program that could prove to be a game-changer for reopening large-scale events.

The program was unveiled Monday...

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/07/2021

Adult acne explained: Experts weigh in on over-the-counter solutions and best treatments

LaylaBird/iStockBy Jacqueline Laurean Yates, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, many of us have been looking to learn more about adult acne and the best treatments.

Whether you are dealing with maskne, which is caused by prolo...

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/07/2021

Research shows promising development in hunt for HIV vaccine


(LA JOLLA, Calif.) -- After more than 30 years of attempts, there may be a promising advance in the search for a vaccine for HIV, the virus that causes AIDS if left untreated.

Now, preliminary data from an ...

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/06/2021

57-year-old woman undergoes first-ever trachea transplant

ABC NewsBy Cathy Becker and Angeline Jane Bernabe, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- When Sonia Sein of New York City suffered damaged vocal cords due to intubation that left her windpipe scarred, she didn't know if she would be able to live a normal life aga...

Author: ABC Audio
Posted: 04/06/2021
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