Business News

jetcityimage/iStock(NEW YORK) -- A viral tweet reveals an Uber business place in Rhode Island had separate bathrooms for employees and drivers, at a time when tensions between the two groups at the ride-share company are already running high.

"I’ve just always wondered why Uber viewed us as two separate classes," Erika Betts, who snapped the photo and shared it on Twitter, told ABC News Thursday.

"These signs are commercially made, somebody made them, somebody ordered them, somebody paid for them," she added.

Betts, 28, said she has been an Uber driver for over two years and was at the Uber Greenlight Hub office in Providence seeking help after finding out via a notification that her account had been deactivated after she says a passenger complained about a surge fare.

"I was waiting to be seen by a representative and I was just noticing the bathroom signs on the door," she said. "It’s always made me a little uncomfortable, I'm not sure what prompted me to tweet about it now."

Even if drivers wanted to use the employee restroom, Betts says it was always locked and "you need a key to get in there."

Uber responded to ABC News' request for comment by pointing to a response to Bett's tweet from Andrew Macdonald, a senior vice president at the company, who said he "looked into this."

"This is not our policy and it's absolutely unacceptable," Macdonald wrote. "The signs are coming down today."

Macdonald added in a follow-up tweet that the "bathroom was also being used for employee storage, but that's not an excuse. I don't believe this is the case anywhere else (and it's certainly not our design policy) but we're doing a full review now."

An Uber spokesperson told ABC News Thursday that the Providence Greenlight Hub was the only location with this signage and that the signs have been taken down.

The signs still sparked outrage on social media, and even caught the eye of a lawmaker.

New York congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, tweeted a link to a news story of the separate bathrooms at the Providence office.

"Siri, show me what classicism looks like," she wrote.

In September, California passed a bill that would extend new protections to employees of so-called "gig economy" companies including Lyft and Uber, essentially forcing companies to recognize formerly contract workers as employees.

Uber said at the time that the California bill, which is set to go into effect in January, "does not automatically reclassify any rideshare drivers from independent contractors to employees" and that it will "respond to claims of misclassification in arbitration and in court as necessary."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


DenisTangneyJr/iStock(BOSTON) -- Tufts University announced plans to sever ties with the Sacklers on Thursday, saying it would remove the billionaire family's name from buildings and medical programs due to concerns over their reported role in the opioid crisis.

University officials said the school would end its decades-long relationship with the family that owns OxyContin producer Purdue Pharma, citing concerns from students and staff about "the negative impact the Sackler name has on them each day."

"Our students, faculty, staff, alumni, and others have shared with us the negative impact the Sackler name has on them each day, noting the human toll of the opioid epidemic in which members of the Sackler family and their company, Purdue Pharma, are associated," school officials said Thursday. "We are grateful to those who have shared their thoughts with us. It is clear that the Sackler name, with its link to the current health crisis, runs counter to the school's mission."

Daniel Connolly, an attorney for members of the Sackler family, said they're seeking to have the "improper decision reversed."

"Tufts acknowledges their extraordinary decision about removal of the family name from campus is not based on the findings of their report, but rather is based on unproven allegations about the Sackler family and Purdue," Connolly said in a statement Thursday. "We will be seeking to have this improper decision reversed and are currently reviewing all options available to us."

Purdue is currently facing more than 1,000 lawsuits for alleged deceptive marketing and contributing to the current U.S. opioid crisis. Individual members of the Sackler family who were involved in the businesses are being sued in a small fraction of these cases.

The Massachusetts university, which has held a relationship with the family since the 1980s, announced its decision in a letter co-signed by the board of trustees’ chairman, Peter Dolan, and university President Anthony Monaco.

The school acknowledged the family's many contributions, noting that the Sacklers would be "part of this institution forever" and that the university wasn't "seeking to erase this chapter of Tufts' history."

"It is part of this institution forever, and we are committed to appropriately recognizing and contextualizing the involvement of family members over the years," the letter said. "In taking these actions, we will more fully enable our university and medical school to move forward in support of their missions and to help the countless individuals and families who have suffered as a result of the opioid crisis."

The school also announced a $3 million endowment to support to support education, research and programs aimed at addiction treatment prevention.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Dafinchi/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Chinese tech giant Huawei is not backing down from an ongoing battle with U.S. regulators by taking new legal action on Thursday against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) over an order it calls "unlawful."

Huawei filed a court petition to overturn an FCC order from November that bans wireless carriers in rural America from purchasing Huawei equipment through a government subsidy fund known as the Universal Service Fund (USF).

The FCC has previously argued the order was imposed because Huawei poses a potential national security threat.

Huawei fought back, saying in a new statement that the FCC's order is "unlawful on the grounds that it fails to offer Huawei required due process protections in labelling Huawei as a national security threat."

"Banning a company like Huawei, just because we started in China -- this does not solve cyber security challenges,” Song Liuping, Huawei’s chief legal officer said at a news conference.

"Huawei also submitted 21 rounds of detailed comments, explaining how the order will harm people and businesses in remote areas," he added. "The FCC ignored them all."

Liuping accused the FCC of shutting down "joint efforts to connect rural communities in the U.S."

Glen Nager, an attorney for Huawei, added that the FCC has "has no national security expertise," and it is not in their authority to label Huawei as a threat.

"The designation is simply shameful prejudgment of the worst kind,” said Nager at the news conference.

The FCC did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment Thursday.

Chairman of the FCC, Ajit Pai, wrote in an October blog post announcing the order to block USF funds from being used to purchase Huawei equipment that "we simply can't take a risk" when it comes to national security.

"I’m circulating an order that would prohibit the use of Universal Service Fund dollars to purchase equipment or services from any company -- like Huawei -- that poses a national security threat," Pai said. "Going forward, we simply can’t take a risk when it comes to our networks and hope for the best."

In November, after the order was adopted, Pai said the agency took these actions based on "longstanding concerns from the executive and legislative branches about the national security threats posed by certain foreign communications equipment manufacturers," he said in a statement.

Pai added that Huawei has "close ties to China’s Communist government and military apparatus" and is "subject to Chinese laws broadly obligating them to cooperate with any request from the country’s intelligence services and to keep those requests secret."

"Moreover, we know that hidden 'backdoors' to our networks in routers, switches, and other network equipment can allow a hostile adversary to inject viruses and other malware, steal Americans’ private data, spy on U.S. companies, and more," Pai wrote.   

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


sestovic/iStock(WASHINGTON) -- Two Russian nationals have been indicted on bank fraud and international computer hacking charges over an alleged decade-long scheme that “deployed two of the most dangerous financial malware ever used and resulted in tens of millions of dollars of losses to victims worldwide," according to the Department of Justice.

Maksim Yakubets and Igor Turashev, described by prosecutors as leaders of “one of the most sophisticated transnational cybercrime syndicates in the world,” are accused in the 10-count indictment of deploying a malware system designed to steal personal and financial information, including online bank information, from infected computers.

The FBI on Thursday issued a wanted bulletin for both individuals, and the State Department announced a $5 million award for the arrest of Yakubets specifically.

"These two cases demonstrate our commitment to unmasking the perpetrators behind the world's most egregious cyberattacks," Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski said.

According to an indictment unsealed Thursday, the malware deployed by Yakubets and Turashev infected tens of thousands of computers across North America and Europe, including two banks, a school district, four Pennsylvania companies and a firearm manufacturer.

The indictment said the malware was delivered to victims via "phishing emails," which Yakubets and Turashev would draft to appear as if they were coming from legitimate companies and organizations. Once victims would click on a link in the phishing emails, it would infect the computer and allow hackers to "hijack" a computer session and pull up a prompt requesting the user's bank account information.

Once the hackers were in possession of the bank credentials, they would use "money mules" to funnel the funds into foreign bank accounts. In one case, an employee of a Pennsylvania school district clicked on a graphic in a phishing email sent by Yakubets and Turashev, and the two later attempted to transfer nearly $1 million from the district's bank account to a bank in Ukraine.

The DOJ has connected Yakubets and Turashev to cyberattacks as recently as March of this year, according to the indictment. As a part of its investigation, the U.S. in 2010 transmitted a mutual legal assistance treaty request to Russia, and according to Bowdich, the Russian government was "helpful to a point."

Since that exchange, however, there is believed to have been no further communication between the two countries regarding Yakubets and Turashev.

Speaking to reporters at the Justice Department, Bowdich said the case stresses the need for all Americans to practice "good cyber hygiene," such as regularly updating online passwords, implementing two-factor authentication on sensitive accounts, and heightened awareness and suspicion regarding links sent over email.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


US Postal Service (NEW YORK) -- A new stamp with a cause has sprouted up thanks to the U.S. Postal Service.

The USPS announced Monday that it has issued a semipostal stamp that will help raise funds for people who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The stamp features a photographic illustration of a green plant sprouting from the ground covered in fallen leaves, intended to symbolize the PTSD healing process.

Greg Breeding designed the bright green bud set on a black background with the words "Healing PTSD" and the original art was done by Mark Laita.

"The Postal Service is honored to issue this semipostal stamp as a powerful symbol of the healing process, growth and hope for tens of millions of Americans who experience PTSD," David C. Williams, vice chairman, Board of Governors of USPS, said in a statement.

Williams served as the dedicating official for the new stamp and said that with its issuance "the nation renews its commitment to raise funds to help treat soldiers, veterans, first responders, health care providers and other individuals dealing with this condition."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Meinzahn/iStock(CHICAGO) -- Oscar Munoz will step down from his role as CEO of United Airlines, the company announced Thursday.

Munoz will be leaving the position in May 2020 but will stay on with the company as executive chairman of the board of directors.

"With United in a stronger position than ever, now is the right time to begin the process of passing the baton to a new leader," Munoz said in a statement.

Scott Kirby, the current president, will take over as the new CEO in the spring, the company said.

"One of my goals as CEO was to put in place a successful leadership transition for United Airlines," Munoz said. "I brought Scott to United three years ago, and I am confident that there is no one in the world better equipped to lead United to even greater heights.

Munoz has been chief of United since September 2015, and led the company as it navigated through a series of high-profile incidents in recent years -- including the viral public relations nightmare in 2017 when video of a bloodied passenger, later identified as Dr. David Dao, being dragged down the aisle of a United jet emerged on social media.

In the wake of the scandal, Munoz appeared on television programs and faced lawmakers to assure the public that the incident will never happen again on his airlines.

Approximately a month after becoming CEO in 2015, Munoz also suffered a heart attack and later underwent a heart transplant.

In a statement Monday, Munoz called his work leading United "the honor of my career."

"It has been the honor of my career to lead the 95,000 dedicated professionals who serve United's customers every day," he said. "I look forward to continuing to work closely with Scott in the months ahead and supporting the company's ongoing success in my new role."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


monkeybusinessimages/iStock(NEW YORK) -- The technology that connects us has revolutionized the world over the past decade -- at times moving faster than we could keep up with, irrevocably changing how people interact and in many ways changing our lives for the better.

But as the decade comes to a close, some say the most significant development in tech was its unintended consequences -- including impinging on privacy and presenting new opportunities for criminals and those who wish to sow political chaos and discord and at times taking a toll on health and relationships.

Robert Scoble, a longtime tech evangelist at Microsoft who currently works as the chief strategy officer at the spatial computing agency Infinite Retina, said that those largely unanticipated consequences have manifested themselves in a variety of ways, like weaponizing a social media platform that had innocuous beginnings for political purposes.

"There are always unintended consequences of technology, I didn't see that the presidential campaigns or Russia would use Facebook, for instance, to advertise to people," Scoble said. "I didn't even think about that, and I don't think most people thought about that."

Another example of this experts cite was the Cambridge Analytica scandal. In the lead-up to the 2016 presidential elections, the since-dissolved data firm Cambridge Analytica allegedly improperly accessed the personal data of 87 million Facebook users through a third-party quiz app. A whistleblower said the company, which was working with the Trump campaign, used the information to build psychological profiles in an effort to target voters with political ads.

Heading into the election year, some experts are demanding more "social responsibility" from Silicon Valley as the world grapples with the real-life consequences of a new digital world.

The promise and pitfalls of the ‘internet of everything’

Scoble said that the "biggest change over the last decade is how technology has wormed its way into almost every part of our lives."

The past decade brought the promise of an “internet of everything" prognosticated in the 2000s, to full realization.

A 2010 whitepaper from Cisco, a technology conglomerate, called the internet of everything, also known as the Internet of Things (IoT) “the first real evolution of the Internet -- a leap that will lead to revolutionary applications that have the potential to dramatically improve the way people live, learn, work, and entertain themselves."

That year, China fully turned its attention to IoT as one of the nation’s key industries and four years later, tech titans including AT&T, IBM and Intel held a consortium to develop a set of standards.

Since then, everything from smartphones to TVs to more mundane items like barbecue grills and garden sprinklers have become available as internet-connected nodes.

And yet, with many of our devices “always on” – a certain mistrust of technology has emerged amid outrage over data tracking and concerns about eavesdropping on intimate conversations. The FBI just issued a warning about smart TVs saying not only is there the potential that "TV manufacturer and app developers may be listening and watching you" via an internet-connected TV, but these that TV also are ports of entry for hackers onto your home network.

The iPhone was still an infant at the start of the decade, and many gadgets such as Amazon's Alexa smart speaker that fill our homes now didn't even exist. Scoble recalls in 2009, he and friends "were just trying to figure out what our iPhones were good for."

Joel Santo Domingo, a longtime technology reporter who is currently the senior staff writer for The Wirecutter's technology guides, said the biggest change since 2009 is that we are "always reachable now" and no matter where you go, a majority of people are glued to their phones.

"For folks in Gen Z, who were raised on it, the internet being everywhere, it's a natural extension of their arm at this point," he said. "It will hurt them if you take it away from them."

New research, however, linked increased screen time among Gen Z-ers, or those born after 1995, with increased feelings of loneliness and depression.

The same researchers at San Diego State University said that teens spent an average of 8-10 hours a day on their devices and that in 2019 and that the percentage of teens with smartphones also exploded over the past decade. In 2019, 95 percent of teens have smartphones, compared to just 23 percent in 2011.

Santo Domingo reiterated that even tech experts at the time couldn't have imagined the force that Facebook has become.

"Ten years ago, we wouldn’t have predicted that a pet project that someone came up with in his Harvard dorm room so we could meet people face-to-face would turn into this behemoth that is in our thoughts 24/7," Santo Domingo told ABC News.

Call for ‘responsibility’

And as technology and social media have changed so radically to become both intrinsic to people's daily lives and incredibly powerful forces of information dissemination, Scoble says the "free for all" mindset Silicon Valley developed during the early part of the decade has to change.

"Ten years ago, nobody would have talked about social responsibility," Scoble said. "If there is anybody in Silicon Valley that doesn't think there is regulation coming for these things, I think that's not a rational thinking pattern."

"Silicon Valley companies built themselves as free-for-alls," he said. "Partly because they didn't want to pay the human to censor or edit content, and partly because they knew that would be very addictive ... Putting content through some sort of editorial process keeps the noise level down."

The argument "ten, fifteen years ago" was that "we don't want to police content," Scoble said. Now, "there is a deeper responsibility because of the sheer scale of these things."

As we enter a new decade, "Silicon Valley has a responsibility to clean up society," Scoble contends.

Some big tech companies have started to make changes after being faced with criticism, although some critics say it is still not enough, including lawmakers who excoriated Mark Zuckerberg at a recent hearing for Facebook’s political ad policy.

In October, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled a new plan to crack down on election interference ahead of the 2020 presidential elections, promising: "Facebook has changed."

"We have a big responsibility to secure our platforms and stay ahead of these sophisticated new threats," Zuckerberg added, claiming that it is "one of my top priorities for the company."

Executives from Facebook, Google and Twitter also all pledged their commitment to combat the spread of hate and extremism after its online spread was linked real-life incidents of violence at a Senate committee hearing in September.

Most of the major tech giants including Facebook, Google and Twitter have also bolstered their security and content moderation teams in recent years and do more to collaborate with each other about threats than they did before.

Apple and other app makers also unveiled new tools to help you spend less time on your phone, or monitor the amount of screen time you spend in each app.


As more people become aware of not only the benefits but also the threats of emerging technologies, Scoble said he has noticed "there's a lot of resistance to new technology now."

One example is the resistance many are putting up to facial recognition technology. In May, San Francisco became the first U.S. city to block the use of facial recognition tech by all police and city agencies.

Santo Domingo said that one of the issues when it comes to regulation is that technology has moved "way too fast for that."

At the same time, over the past decade, a new social contract of sorts has emerged that remains almost impossible to escape: if you participate in most of the online world, your activity and data will most likely be monitored and stored somewhere, by someone.

"It is a fact of life, it is a fact of our digital life now, that everything we do online now is monitored and someone will find a way to capitalize on it," Santo Domingo told ABC News.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


FILE photo - DeSid/iStock(LONDON) — Have you ever had airline food that was so good that you wished you could get it all the time? Well, now you can.

AirAsia has opened a fast-food restaurant that will -- get this -- only serve airline meals.

The airline and its in-flight menu brand, Santan and T&CO, have partnered to launch what is thought to be the world’s first restaurant based on in-flight meals. The venue opened at the Mid Valley Megamall in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Monday.

“We have seen a significant appetite for our in-flight menu offerings beyond our flights across the region and this is our answer to that demand,” said Catherine Goh, general manager of Santan Restaurant and T&CO Cafe. “We are very proud to extend what started out as an in-flight menu into new markets.”

AirAsia is so confident that its unique establishment will be a massive hit that it already has plans for rapid expansion.

“By the end of 2020, we aim to have five owned Santan restaurants and 100 franchisee-operated restaurants and cafes within the next three to five years with expansions in global markets,” said Goh.

Not only will the food be quick and available on land, but it will be cheap. For just 12 Malayasian Ringgits – or $2.88 – you can get pineapple fish noodles from Cambodia, chicken inasal with garlic rice from the Philippines, as well as locally-inspired dishes like the nasi lemak quinoa wrap and onde-onde cake.

“What started as 'AirAsia Cafe,' simply serving sandwiches and snacks in the sky, Santan was born in 2015 with the vision to create a unique dining experience in the sky,” according to Santan’s website. “Today, many of our meals have become household names in Malaysia and beyond … In 2019, our wildest dreams are finally coming true and we're so happy to have a home right in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.”

The restaurant also plans to enhance the dining experiencing by bringing the establishment into the digital age and offering customers “a personal digital journey.”

“The restaurant and cafe features a smart menu equipped with Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, which is able to recommend popular dishes based on time, past ordering patterns as well as demographic taste,” said Goh.

The question remains whether or not people will end up choosing airline food on the ground over the other options available to consumers.

The CEO and co-founder of AirAsia, Tony Fernandes, said in a recent interview that the ultimate goal is to open a location in New York's Times Square.

“When I was 5 years old, I had two dreams … a vision of having an airline and a fast food restaurant. I have an airline. Now finally a restaurant,” Fernandes said in a post on his LinkedIn page. “People laughed at us when we only had 2 planes. Hey whatever. It’s a worldwide first. First airline to open a quick service restaurant based on airline food.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(NEW YORK) -- The popular wedding-planning sites Pinterest and The Knot announced they are no longer promoting content for "plantation"-style weddings.

"Weddings should be a symbol of love and unity. Plantations represent none of those things," a Pinterest spokesperson told ABC News in a statement Wednesday.

"We are grateful to Color of Change for bringing attention to this disrespectful practice," the statement added, referencing a California-based racial justice advocacy organization.

The company said it's "working to limit the distribution of this content and accounts across our platform, and continue to not accept advertisements for them."

Celebrities including Blake Lively have tied the knot at "plantation" venues, which are popular in the South. The wedding trend has been widely slammed for romanticizing the horrific history of slavery in the U.S.

"The wedding industry, in the past couple of decades, has made millions of dollars in profit by promoting plantations as romantic places to marry," Jade Magnus Ogunnaike, interim senior campaign director at Color of Change, told ABC News' "Start Here" podcast. "Unfortunately, this denies the actual reality."

She went on to say that "plantations were spaces where black people were harmed, raped, beaten and forced to work. They're not romantic places to get married."

Ogunnaike said that oftentimes, the plantations are marketed in a way that glosses over the plantations' dark past, describing them as historic sites, for example.

"We asked ourselves, 'What is some of the language that people are using to describe these plantation venues? ... Some of it might be this plantation is a historic site with a traditional charm and romance of its rich past or an enchanting place that [ends up being] a historic plantation," she told "Start Here." "They might know certain buildings were built in the...1700s by large, land-owning families without also naming that these families also owned human beings."

Beacause of these marketing tactics, Pinterest told ABC News it will limit the distribution of "plantation weddings" content by changing its site's autocomplete, search recommendations, email notifications and SEO. If people search for this content, an advisory will indicate that some results may violate its policies.

Moreover, Pinterest said it won't accept ads for these venues and has taken action so that ads won't appear in search results.

The Knot Worldwide told ABC News in a statement that it's also working with Color of Change to update its guidelines.

"Color of Change brought an issue to light about the way venues with a history of slavery describe their properties to couples," the company said. "We're currently working with Color of Change to create additions to our current content guidelines that will ensure all couples feel welcomed and respected on our sites."

The new guidelines "will prohibit any vendors on The Knot or WeddingWire from using language that romanticizes or glorifies a history that includes slavery," the company's statement said. "We will remove any vendors from our sites that do not comply. By creating these guidelines, we are providing a respectful experience for all couples, wedding professionals, and employees."

Although the ideal outcome would be that no one marries on plantations, Ogunnaike said their focus is really on keeping the advertising honest.

"What we're focusing on is the plantation should not be able to advertise their rich history and tradition, which involved the enslavement of black people, as a marketing tool," she said. "If we were also honest about the fact that [the original owners] also purchased human beings and that...hundreds...or thousands of slaves were beaten and hurt and raped, would people want to still get married in that space? That is what we're able to change; the guidelines in a way that these are being descriptive in popular culture."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Stefonlinton/iStock(NEW YORK) -- With a shortened shopping window before Christmas, retailers are feeling the pressure to deliver on speedy shipping.

The shipping industry has six fewer days than normal between Thanksgiving and Christmas to get what could be more than 2 million packages delivered on time.

E-commerce sales are expected to reach $155 billion this holiday season which will add to the challenge of fulfilling shipments.

"We haven't seen this short of a holiday season since 2013, when e-commerce sales at that time was probably less than half of what what they are today," Cathy Roberson, president of Logistics Trends & Insights, explained to ABC News.

But major shippers said they have been preparing for this all year long.

FedEx said it has worked closely with major retailers to forecast surges in shipments while UPS has expanded its footprint with six new hubs to rapidly sort packages.

Amazon has also staffed up their fulfillment centers with over 300,000 full and part time associates to handle the holiday chaos.

The U.S. Postal Service said that it expects to deliver 800 million packages this holiday season with 28 million per day the week prior to Christmas.

To bolster their efforts the USPS said they have added seasonal staff as well as enhanced technology to help get the job done.

"Customers that are shopping either online or in stores for that matter, should probably do it as soon as possible," Roberson urged in order to ensure people get packages on time.
Key Dates and Cutoffs for Ground Delivery

If you want that present to be under the tree in time by way of ground delivery, here are the last days to send shipments with major carriers.

UPS: December 13
USPS: December 14
FedEx: December 16

Beyond that, prepare for the possibility of expedited shipping fees.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


jahcottontail143/iStock(New York) -- A police department in New York announced a new partnership with Amazon's Ring doorbell to help combat porch pirates just in time for the holidays.

The announcement comes at a time, however, when the smart doorbell has faced intense scrutiny from lawmakers over privacy concerns.

The Nassau County Police Department on Long Island announced the initiative on Wednesday, saying the agency is working with the Ring Neighbors App to help catch package thieves with the help of video footage from neighborhood smart doorbells.

Porch pirates and vehicle break-ins are currently the "the No. 1 crime spree in Nassau County," Police Commissioner Patrick Ryder said at a news conference.

"Most of these crimes get solved because of the information that we receive after a canvas from a doorbell ring, now it will be much more faster," Ryder said.

The partnership works by letting Ring doorbell owners share video from their cameras with law enforcement instantly if they were notified of a crime in their area.

Ring will notify users that "last night at this date, this time, there was a crime in your area, law enforcement is asking for your assistance," Ryder said, adding that the user will then be asked, "Would you like to share that video with law enforcement?"

The Ring doorbell owner can then decide whether to share their video footage or not, according to Ryder.

The announcement comes just weeks after Sen. Ed Markey, D-Mass., released an investigation into Ring's partnership with police departments and slammed the policies as an "open door for privacy and civil liberty violations."

"If you’re an adult walking your dog or a child playing on the sidewalk, you shouldn’t have to worry that Ring’s products are amassing footage of you and that law enforcement may hold that footage indefinitely or share that footage with any third parties," Markey said. His investigation also found that there are no restrictions on law enforcement sharing footage with third parties.

Ryder stressed Wednesday that privacy is a priority, emphasizing: "We do not have access to your cameras."

"At no time will the privacy of your information be given or shared with anybody," he said.

Ryder added that police will not be able to access any of the footage themselves, instead the customer can choose to share video after a crime has been committed.

If the video has no value to law enforcement, "We'll destroy it right away, we won't keep it," he added.  

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Essie(NEW YORK) -- No time for a mani? No problem. Essie has a brand new nail polish that might be the solution for you.

The cult-followed company announced Expressie quick-dry on-the-fly nail polish, which is supposed to be a one-step color and shine lacquer that dries in about a minute, will be launching this month.

The new line is launching with 40 shades in total that include bold reds, greens, blues and more. Essie also will be releasing the brand's first-ever angled brush that allows for a more seamless application.

The vibrant colors have names such as Desk Mani, IRL, and Not So Low-key.

Additionally, the new bottles have a fresh new look that's a slimmer, sleeker version of the classic bottles.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock(NEW YORK) -- Sitting at home on his ranch in Elk, Washington, Sgt. Ben Hayhurst said he feels most at peace when he's outdoors.

"That's why we moved out here. It's honestly where I'm more comfortable," he said.

Watch the full story on "Nightline" tonight at 12:35 a.m. ET on ABC.

A U.S. Army infantryman, Hayhurst, 41, was deployed in 2004 to Iraq, where he and his unit were part of the siege of Sadr City, now infamously known as "Black Sunday."

"There [were] 19 of us and four Humvees that were hit with a large scale ambush. … I think a lot of us believed we weren't going to get out of there," Hayhurst said. "It wasn't just the bullets that hit me. [It] was chunks of concrete and metal. … I figured we would die."

Hayhurst survived the war, but his physical and emotional wounds were nursed with opiates. He became lost, until he said the hemp plant and CBD helped him live his life again.

"I was in a bad place on the pain meds, on and off suicidal," he said. "And without that change, I don't know that I would be here."

CBD -- which stands for cannabidiol -- became the "it" product of 2019. From cafes to fitness centers, health food stores, delis and even pet shops, CBD is sold in various forms including as an oil and in capsule form to beverages, lotions and even gummies.

CBD is in both marijuana and hemp. Both plants are forms of cannabis, but hemp has less than 0.3% THC and doesn't get its user high.

"CBD is cannabidiol. Cannabidiol is one of over 140 cannabinoids in cannabis plants especially in hemp strains that have very low THC," said Dr. Yasmin Hurd, the director of the Addiction Institute at the Mount Sinai Behavioral Health System. "So unlike THC, which when people smoke marijuana cannabis to get high, it's THC that produces the reinforcing effects, the euphoric effects. CBD does not. It's non-intoxicating."

There is a lot experts still don’t know about CBD and CBD products. Hurd, who has been studying the cannabinoid for a decade, said experts know that CBD can affect transmitters in the brain.

"[CBD] modulates… serotonin that we know is important for anxiety and mood," she said. "And it also impacts on inflammatory processes, even in immune-related systems in the brain."

The market for these products is predicted to reach $20 billion by 2024, according to BDS Analytics and Arcview Market Research.

Experts, however, say the frenetic growth of the industry is far outpacing the scientific data around the product, leading skeptics to call it snake oil and believers, including pro-athletes to celebrities, to call it a cure-all.

Whereas marijuana is only legal in 11 states and Washington, D.C., for adults older than 21, President Trump signed the 2018 Farm Bill last year, which legalized hemp and opened the door for the CBD craze.

"The Farm Bill of 2018 that changed CBD from being as a Schedule 1 illegal substance to now being unscheduled and being agricultural has really revolutionized the U.S.," Hurd said. "Therefore, many people have put CBD in water, in coffee, in food, in makeup, in everything."

CBD comes from a variety of sources. In Hayhurst's case, he uses an oil tincture from the brand Warfighter, a CBD company geared specifically toward veterans. He adds the CBD oil to his coffee every morning.

Warfighter hemp comes from a commercial hemp company in Wellington, Colorado, called Colorado Cultivars, one of the largest organic hemp farms in the U.S. with about 3,500 acres of plants.

"Warfighter hemp was looking for really high-quality CBD product that they could see and have very transparent interaction with the producers," said Damien Farris, the director of agronomy at Colorado Cultivars. "They work with a lot of veterans that have PTSD or were trying to get off of opiates."

Farris and his team work to genetically breed new and different strains of hemp to test for higher levels of a variety of the plant's uses, including grain production and fiber, but most importantly for their business: CBD.

"We had kind of an idea where it was going to go, but didn't have a complete idea because a lot of the legality on the federal level was not clear and we didn't have a clear timeline when that would happen," he said. "Since the Farm Bill happened last year, at the beginning of this year, the industry has just exploded."

During harvest, the hemp seeds are separated from the plant's flowers and then sent for processing, where the CBD is extracted. Farris said they go through about 2,000 pounds of hemp an hour.

"So once the dried plant material comes in... we soak it in ethanol and separate the infused ethanol from the dried plant material," Farris said. "We then take infused ethanol, evaporate the ethanol out and we're left with a CBD crude oil that we then further process into distillation."

From there, the oil is sent to the company's facility in Boulder, Colorado, for mixing and packaging.

"We can make our different products, so our tinctures, our lotions," said Janna Geoffrion, a mixologist for Warfighter. "It starts with mixing. We use like a calculator and it all goes by the percent of the CBD. So we have to have the tests done to know what we're using, and how much CBD and THC is in it and then we formulate the mix to dilute it down to [less than] .03 [% THC]."

Currently, there are no established CBD dosage guidelines, so consumers have to figure out how much CBD is right for them.

Most CBD products, even just from hemp, contain trace amounts of THC, which could be a major turn-off or a hindrance for some, such as people who are drug tested for work.

"There's been a lot of debates about whether or not CBD shows up on on toxicology tests because there can be some interactions with THC, for example," Hurd said.

It's something U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe grapples with as CBD has become a mainstay in her recovery routine. Rapinoe said she uses a CBD salve to rub on injuries and also will take CBD gel capsules.

"I use CBD all the time," she said. "Recovery is more and more becoming the most important thing that you can do... as an athlete -- even you know equal to what you're doing on the field."

Rapinoe, who helped lead the women's team to a World Cup victory, said she uses CBD products not just for pain management after a game, but also to deal with the stress of competition.

"It just helps to calm things down a little bit," she said. "There's certain periods in competition where THC is banned but CBD is legal. So CBD [is] off the WAD [World Anti-Doping] list now."

It's why Rapinoe and her twin sister, Rachel Rapinoe, started Mendi. The sisters say it's a THC-free line of CBD products designed specifically with pro-athletes in mind.

"I think a lot of people don't understand what CBD is," Megan Rapinoe said. "They don’t understand that the THC is the sort of psychoactive element of it but that if you are just taking CBD, you're not going to get that sort of high feeling."

"It became very clear that there's like a real fear around testing positive. And just having like any traces of THC," Rachel Rapinoe added. "That way [Mendi] just eliminates any fear of athletes for having any traces of THC in their system."

As entrepreneurs in a young industry, the sisters have had to navigate evolving regulation.

"There are some of us that are trying to do it the right way," Rachel Rapinoe said. "And as the FDA comes out with more regulations around it, we hope that it's going to wean a lot of those bad eggs out because there are definitely some people in the industry that are selling, you know, basically anything under the hood of their car and they're calling it CBD."

While it’s not required by law, companies like Mendi and Warfighter said they are taking it upon themselves to ensure quality by sending their products to third-party labs for testing.

"The good companies are companies that ... have third-party verification of what's in that product, that they've done safety test ... to the very bad with companies not caring what they're really putting in the CBD. In fact, they don't even have CBD so I think that unfortunately, the public have to do their own due diligence because the legislation, the regulations have not been strong enough," Hurd said.

Recently, the Food and Drug Administration has cracked down on the illegal marketing of CBD products in food or as a cure for specific health issues. So far, the agency has only approved one CBD-based drug for a formulation called epidolex, which treats two rare and severe forms of child epilepsy: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.

"Other than that, the FDA has not approved CBD for any indication. Why? Research is needed," Hurd said. "Can CBD help uncertain conditions for certain disorders? Absolutely. But we need more clinical trials to be able to give the FDA evidence for them to make this decision about it."

The agency has also issued notices that CBD could cause health risks, including potential liver injury to male reproductive concerns.

But those who swear by CBD’s benefits are excited to see what the future holds for CBD.

"It's not going to take care of climate change and change your anxiety. It’s not going to do every single thing," Megan Rapinoe said. "But I think that there are a lot of very tangible benefits."

Hayhurst said that while he knows little medical research has been done on the effects of CBD, he plans to continue using it, as long as he sees the benefits for himself.

"[I'm] better every day, I would say," he said. "Whatever happened in my past, it happened because of the situation I was in -- and you slowly get past that. Those memories will never go away."

It's been 15 years since Hayhurst was discharged and he said, "I still deal with daily pain," but the main thing he struggles with is the anxiety.

"I feel like that will always, somewhat, be there," Hayhurst said. "But I feel like I'm learning to deal with it through, you know CBD… and therapy and just learning to accept myself for who I am."

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- The trial over a since-deleted tweet from entrepreneur Elon Musk calling a British diver a "pedo guy" began in a California courtroom Tuesday.

Musk took the stand Tuesday afternoon, calling Twitter a "free-for-all" and saying, "There's everything on Twitter."

The legal saga over the social media post began in September 2018 when the Tesla CEO was sued by diver Vernon Unsworth for defamation.

The suit was the culmination of a public spat between Musk and Unsworth that began earlier that summer when seemingly the whole world tuned in to the rescue of 12 young soccer players and their coach who were trapped in a cave in northern Thailand for 18 days in June and July.

Unsworth was a diver on the ground in Thailand attempting to aid the Thai Navy and first responders with his diving expertise. Musk, meanwhile, built a submarine with a team of engineers and sent it to the Thai Navy to aid in the rescue efforts.

The diver called the submarine a "PR stunt" in an interview with CNN, saying that Musk "can stick his submarine where it hurts."

Musk then lashed out at Unsworth and wrote in the tweet at the center of the lawsuit: "We will make one of the mini-sub/pod going all the way to Cave 5 no problem. Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it."

He admitted in court Tuesday he had never heard of Unsworth until seeing him in the CNN interview and did not know about his involvement in the cave rescue beforehand. Musk called Unsworth's claims an unprovoked attack on a good-natured act.

In the original complaint filed in 2018, attorneys for Unsworth argue that the word "pedo" "is a well-recognized shorthand phrase for the term pedophile."

"As one of the highest-profile and wealthiest individuals in the world, Musk knew that this accusations against Mr. Unsworth would be conveyed to a worldwide audience and would result in the accusations receiving massive publicity," the court documents state.

Under questioning in court, Musk said Tuesday that some people found him influential -- and others do not.

Moreover, lawyers for Unsworth argue that Musk doubled down on the accusation -- emailing a BuzzFeed News reporter and claiming Unsworth has a "child bride," among other allegations, according to Unsworth’s lawyers.

Musk concluded the note to the reporter with: "I f------ hope he sues me," according to the complaint.

Musk defended his tirade in a court declaration filed in September 2019, saying he had watched the CNN interview Unsworth gave and that his tweets were "responding to Mr. Unsworth’s false claims and attack on the effort and character of my team and me."

"By referring to Mr. Unsworth as 'pedo guy,' I did not intend to convey any facts or imply that Mr. Unsworth had engaged in acts of pedophilia," the court filing said. "'Pedo guy' was a common insult used in South Africa when I was growing up. It is synonymous with 'creepy old man' and is used to insult a person’s appearance and demeanor, not accuse a person of acts of pedophilia."

Musk added that his email to the BuzzFeed News reporter was labeled "off the record," and he did not expect them to publish its contents without verifying it themselves.

Unsworth is seeking more than $75,000 in damages, attorney fees, and a court order stopping Musk from making further allegations.

Attorneys for Unsworth and Musk did not immediately respond to ABC News' request for comment on Tuesday.

Ultimately, the 12 boys and their coach stuck in the cave were rescued by a team of international divers. Musk's submarine was not used.

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


iStock/400tmax(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Google's founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin -- who built the tech giant 20 years ago with servers in a garage -- announced on Tuesday that they are stepping down as CEO and president, respectively, from the company.

Sundar Pichai will be the new CEO of Google and its parent company, Alphabet Inc., effective immediately, according to a statement from the company.

Page and Brin co-founded the company in 1998 and led it to becoming the international tech industry leader it is today. The two will remain active at Alphabet Inc. as co-founders, shareholders and board members, the company said.

In a joint open letter announcing their decision to leave, Page and Brin equated Google to their child, who would now be 21.

"Today, in 2019, if the company was a person, it would be a young adult of 21 and it would be time to leave the roost," the letter stated. "While it has been a tremendous privilege to be deeply involved in the day-to-day management of the company for so long, we believe it’s time to assume the role of proud parents - offering advice and love, but not daily nagging!"

The letter added that they believe "Alphabet and Google no longer need two CEOs and a President," and Pichai will take on the role of CEO for both Alphabet and Google, saying they "plan to continue talking with Sundar regularly, especially on topics we’re passionate about!"

The founders added that they could have never imagined what Google would become when they started it in a dorm room and then a garage.

"We are deeply humbled to have seen a small research project develop into a source of knowledge and empowerment for billions - a bet we made as two Stanford students that led to a multitude of other technology bets," the letter said.

It continued: "We could not have imagined, back in 1998 when we moved our servers from a dorm room to a garage, the journey that would follow."

Pichai said in statement that he is "looking forward to continuing to work with Larry and Sergey."

"Thanks to them, we have a timeless mission, enduring values, and a culture of collaboration and exploration," Pichai added. "It’s a strong foundation on which we will continue to build.”

Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


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