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25 sexual harassment complaints and lawsuits filed against McDonald’s

Aaron Katersky and Azure Gilman

Twenty-five lawsuits and federal complaints were filed Tuesday in 20 cities across the U.S. accusing the fast-food company McDonald’s of sexual harassment, gender-based discrimination and subsequent retaliation.

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The new cases are being pushed by the labor group Fight for $15 and funded by the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund, which was founded in the aftermath of sexual assault allegations against movie producer Harvey Weinstein. The cases also have legal support from the ACLU.

In a letter addressed to Padma Lakshmi, an actress and TV host active in the Time’s Up initiative, and shared with ABC News, McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook said the company “is committed to ensuring a harassment and bias-free workplace.”

In the letter to Lakshmi, Easterbrook wrote that the company had started working with RAINN, an anti-sexual violence organization, to provide employee-centered education, and rolled out “third-party facilitated and interactive training” last autumn to create a better workplace environment. Easterbrook added that th

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Misinformation around abortion bills causing confusion and fear for patients

Alexandra Svokos

Dalton Johnson knew that his phone would be ringing off the hook.

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Every time Alabama lawmakers or courts move on a bill that chisels away at abortion rights, patients call in with questions for the Alabama Women’s Center, one of the three clinics that provide abortions in the state, which is owned by Johnson.

That happened in 2013, when lawmakers required that abortion providers have admitting privileges at local hospitals, and again in 2016 when they banned a second trimester method known as dilation and evacuation, and barred abortion clinics within 2,000 feet of public elementary and middle schools. All of those laws — which are known as Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws — were later blocked in court.

“It happens every time one of these TRAP laws happens,” Johnson told ABC News. “There’s always a flood of calls: ‘Are you guys still open?’ ‘Can I get my procedure done?'”

Since the state Senate passed a bill last week that would criminalize providing abortions, without exceptions for cases of rape or incest, the “phone’s been ringing nonstop,” Johnson said, especially since Gov. Kay Ivey went on to sign it.

The signing of that Alabama bill came a week after Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed a so-called “heartbeat” ban. This week, Gov. John Bel Edwards said he’d sign a “heartbeat” ban in Louisiana should it pass the state legislature.

None of these bills have gone into effect, and the Georgia and Alabama bills are both facing legal challenges. Abortion remains legal in all 50 states, and no state has a functioning six-week abortion ban.

The sometimes convoluted procedures for how laws are approved and then challenged in court, coupled with the charged language used by politicians and advocates on both sides of the issue, has at times left patients misinformed.

Employees at abortion clinics in Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana told ABC News they are receiving non-stop calls from patients, mostly with the same concerns: has abortion been outlawed, has the clinic closed its doors, should appointments made for the future

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Dead sperm whale had plastic in its stomach, Greenpeace says

Julia Jacobo

A sperm whale found dead on an Italian beach might have died from consuming too much plastic, according to environmental advocates.

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The whale, estimated to be able 6 years old, washed up on the Cefalu beaches in Sicily on Friday, Greenpeace Italy wrote on Facebook. Sperm whales typically live to be about 70 years old.

A large amount of plastic was found in the whale’s stomach, although it is unclear if the waste caused the whale’s death, according to the organization.

Plastic has been documented at all levels in the marine food web, from the deepest trenches to the most far-flung beaches, according to a study published Thursday by Scientific Repor

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US believes Iran behind vessel attacks as senior officials brief Congress

Luis Martinez and Conor Finnegan

U.S. intelligence now believes that Iran is behind the attacks against commercial vessels off the coast of the United Arab Emirates, a U.S. official told ABC News.

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The new assessment, directly blaming Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps comes as senior Trump administration officials will brief members of Congress about — what they call — a heightened threat from Iran and several U.S. actions in response, including military deployments to the region and the ordered departure of non-emergency U.S. diplomats from Iraq.

The movement of a U.S. aircraft carrier and B-52 bombers to the Middle East have been an effective deterrent against Iran, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said Tuesday, forcing the government to “recalculate” and “put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans” in the Middle East.

“That doesn’t mean the threats that we previously identified have gone away,” Shanahan added.

The acting defense chief will join Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford on Capitol Hill Tuesday afternoon to brief members of Congress on the heightened tensions with Iran, although Democrats are already crying foul over the administration’s intelligence assessment and some of their actions.

PHOTO: A picture taken on May 13, 2019, shows the crude oil tanker, Amjad, which was one of two Saudi tankers that were reportedly damaged in mysterious sabotage attacks, off the coast of the Gulf emirate of Fujairah.Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images
A picture taken on May 13, 2019, shows the crude oil tanker, Amjad, which was one of two Saudi tankers that were reportedly damaged in mysterious “sabotage attacks”, off the coast of the Gulf emirate of Fujairah.

The latest assessment is that Iran’s elite IRGC placed explosive charges at the waterline on four oil tankers that were damaged last week, said a U.S. official. The vessels — two of which belonged to Saudi Arabia, one to the United Arab Emirates and one to Norway — had holes 5 to 10 feet wide in their hulls

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Trump expected to name Ken Cuccinellito immigration ‘czar’ role

Meridith McGraw and John Santucci

President Donald Trump is expected to tap immigration-hardliner and former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli to a new immigration-focused role within the Department of Homeland Security, a source familiar confirmed to ABC News.

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Yemen’s Houthi rebels target Saudi city as tensions are high in the Middle East

Matt McGarry

Air defense crews raced to action in the southern Saudi Arabian city of Najran Tuesday night to intercept an attack from Iran-backed Yemeni Houthi rebels as tensions remain high between Tehran and the United States.

The attack on Najran, about 10 miles north of the Saudi border with Yemen, was carried out by one Qasef K-2 drone armed with an explosive warhead and targeted a Saudi airport and military facility, the Houthi news outlet Al Masirah said. The broadcaster added that the drone struck an “arms depot,” causing a fire.

Najran has repeatedly been targeted by the Houthis since the Saudi-led war in Yemen began four years ago. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are leading a Western-backed coalition of Sunni Muslim states seeking to restore the internationally recognized government ousted from power in Yemen by the Houthis in late 2014.

There were no imme

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Stocks rebound after US eases off China sales restrictions

The Associated Press

U.S. stocks rallied in midday trading on Wall Street Tuesday after the U.S. government temporarily eased off its proposed restrictions on technology sales to Chinese companies.

Technology stocks rallied after taking steep losses Monday when the government announced curbs on technology sales, aimed primarily at Chinese telecom gear maker Huawei. About one-third of that company’s suppliers are American chipmakers and the move would crimp sales for companies including Qualcomm and Broadcom. Both companies posted gains Tuesday, along with other chipmakers.

The U.S. government’s decision to issue a 90-day grace period on technology sales to Huawei, ZTE and other Chinese companies also relieves some worry on Wall Street about yet another escalation in the trade war between the U.S. and China. The heightened tensions over trade have put the market in a rut for the last two we

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Racing legend Niki Lauda dies at the age of 70

Guy Davies

Niki Lauda, the Austrian former Formula One legend and three-time World Championship winner, has died at the age of 70.

“With deep sadness, we announce that our beloved Niki has peacefully passed away with his family on Monday,” his family said in a statement to the Austrian Press Agency. “His unique achievements as an athlete and entrepreneur … his tireless zest for action, his straightforwardness and his courage remain. A role model and a benchmark for all of us, he was a loving and caring husband, father and grandfather away from the public, and he will be missed.”

PHOTO: In this July 7, 2018, file photo former Formula One World Champion Niki Lauda of Austria walks in the paddock before the third free practice at the Silverstone racetrack, Silverstone, England.Luca Bruno/AP
In this July 7, 2018, file photo former Formula One World Champion Niki Lauda of Austria walks in the paddock before the third free practice at the Silverstone racetrack, Silverstone, England.

Lauda was one of the best-known and universally admired figures in Formula One.

The grandson of a wealthy industrialist, Lauda renounced his inheritance in order to pursue a career in racing, according to his Formula One obituary.

He won his first World Championship in 1975 with Ferrari. He would go on to win two more world titles — in 1977 with Ferrari and in 1984 with McLaren.

At the height of his rivalry with fellow Formula One driver James Hunt, Lauda suffered an enormous crash at the world famous Nürburgring track on Aug. 1 during the 1976 German Grand Prix. His Ferrari burst into flames with Lauda left trapped in the cockpit.

Miraculously, Lauda was saved by fellow drivers and nearby marshals but he was left badly burned by the crash.

PHOTO: Racing drivers Niki Lauda (left) and James Hunt after both were involved in a multiple collision and forced to retire at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix , Belgium, May 21, 1978.Keystone/Getty Images
Racing drivers Niki Lauda (left) and James Hunt after both were involved in a multiple collision and forced to retire at the start of the Belgian Grand Prix , Belgium, May 21, 1978.

Lauda, known for his resilience, reappeared at a press conference a few weeks later, wit

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Groups want probe into DeVos stance on states using federal funds to arm teachers

Sophie Tatum

Advocacy groups on Tuesday asked the Education Department’s internal watchdog to investigate Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ handling of states’ requests to use federal funds to arm teachers.

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A letter obtained by ABC News and sent Tuesday to the Education Department’s acting inspector general argues that DeVos broke federal law when she said it was not within the department’s purview to decide how these funds were used by states.

Last month, DeVos appeared before the House Education and Labor Committee where she was pressed by Rep. Jahana Hayes, D-Conn., on the department’s stance regarding states using Title IV-A funds from the “Every Student Succeeds Act” to train and arm teachers.

PHOTO: Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, March 28, 2019.Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE
Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos speaks during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee hearing in Washington, March 28, 2019.

DeVos told the committee that she did not believe it was the department’s responsibility to decide if arming and training teachers was a proper use of the funds, and only said that they had “not advocated for nor against” it.

Hayes, who in 2016 was the National Teacher of the Year, noted during the back-in-forth with DeVos that a previous legal analysis, d

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Abortion-rights protesters descend on Supreme Court in wake of state bans

Kendall Karson

Amid an influx of abortion-rights protests converging on state capitols, town squares and courthouses across the country Tuesday, seeking to counter an onslaught of anti-abortion bills sweeping across state legislatures, a slate of 2020 White House hopefuls may join protesters on the steps of the Supreme Court.

Among the 2020 candidates expected or likely to voice support for abortion rights in the midst of a heated political battle are Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Ohio Congressman Tim Ryan, who once was anti-abortion but flipped his stance as he’s moved further left over the years. California Congressman Eric Swalwell is one of the confirmed speakers for the planned demonstration.

The event is set to begin at noon, as abortion-rights advocates seek to “fight back against this unconstitutional attempt to gut Roe and punish women,” according to the #StopTheBans website. The slew of protests were triggered by GOP-led efforts to pass restrictive anti-abortion measures aimed at fomenting a larger battle over Roe v. Wade in the nation’s highest court.

Several states are seeking to mount legal challenges to Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide, including Missouri, which on Friday passed the most recent ban — state lawmakers charged ahead with an eight-week abortion ban with no exceptions for rape, incest or survivors of human trafficking. M

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