Zac Posen releases genderless wedding band, engagement ring collection with Blue Nile

Blue Nile

(NEW YORK) — Celebrity fashion designer Zac Posen is hitting the fashion scene with a brand new wedding collection.

The former Project Runway judge, along with global jewelry brand Blue Nile, released a curated line of genderless wedding bands and engagement rings.

The ZAC Zac Posen collection is made up of 12 designs that include everything from uniquely designed princess cuts to single-round styles.

The collection also features a variety of ring sizes ranging from 4 to 13 and prices range from just under $1,000 to $6,750.

Posen said that he’s always welcomed the challenge of designing occasion jewelry since he is creating pieces that people look forward to wearing for the rest of their lives.

“Engagement rings and wedding bands are one of the purest and oldest symbols of love and marriage that have crossed over traditions and withstood time,” he said in a statement. “For this collection, it was important for me to create unique and ageless designs that also celebrate love, unity and marriage for all.”

Beloved by celebs, the designer also worked with Blue Nile in 2014 to create other wedding rings and band styles. He says it’s been exciting to watch how Blue Nile continues to support designers who are reimagining the wedding category and the traditional symbols of love and marriage.

“With so many of us celebrating unity and love this month, it felt like the right time to release an inclusive line of engagement rings and wedding bands — a collection that was purposefully designed to represent love, regardless of gender,” Posen said in a statement. “The traditional idea of marriage is evolving, and the wedding category is finally starting to reflect that.”

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Major opioid epidemic trial begins in New York

BackyardProduction/iStock

(NEW YORK) — A dozen drug manufacturers and distributors accused of fueling the nation’s opioid epidemic face a jury for the first time Tuesday during opening statements at what could be the most consequential opioids trial so far.

New York and two of its largest counties, Nassau and Suffolk on Long Island, are seeking to hold Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Endo International, McKesson, Cardinal Health and other corporations responsible for the deadly epidemic, accusing them of contributing to a public nuisance.

Johnson & Johnson avoided this trial by settling Saturday for $230 million. CVS settled with Nassau and Suffolk counties.

There have been similar cases to go on trial in California and in West Virginia. Oklahoma won a $465 million judgment in the nation’s first trial. Unlike those, however, the one taking place in Central Islip is being heard by six jurors who will weigh assertions that both marketing and distribution of narcotic painkillers fostered widespread addiction and abuse.

The trial is unfolding in a 450-seat amphitheater at the Touro College Law Center, rather than a state courthouse, to accommodate a legion of lawyers and spectators.

“The eyes of the world are on New York as we prepare to lay bare the callous and deadly pattern of misconduct these companies perpetrated as they dealt dangerous and addictive opioids across our state,” New York Attorney General Letitia James said in statement provided to ABC News.

If drug companies are found liable for harms in Nassau and Suffolk, they may effectively be liable for harms in dozens of other New York counties. The trial could also be a bellwether for other opioid cases across the country.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

Highest gas prices of 2021 cast shadow over holiday weekend road trips

Hirkophoto/iStock

(NEW YORK) — The average price of gas in the U.S. — $3.10 as of Tuesday, according to the American Automobile Association — is the highest so far in 2021 and there are no indicators it will fall ahead of the holiday weekend.

Spiking global demand for crude oil as the pandemic eases is pushing up gas prices, as well as surging demand for air and road travel as more Americans become vaccinated. Meanwhile, limited but concerning reports of gas outages at stations across the country related to delivery issues are also ringing alarm bells for travelers looking to hit the road this weekend.

Presently, gas outages should not be cause for widespread concern, according to Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis at the fuel-tracking site GasBuddy.

“So far, the problem is very limited and random in nature,” DeHaan told ABC News, adding that stations and truckers are running behind schedule on fuel deliveries “to a very few amount of stations.”

“Most motorists won’t even notice this, but as demand ramps up the nation needs hundreds more tanker truck drivers just from last year, in addition to the long-term squeeze we’ve seen,” he added.

As most Americans have varied enough dates and times that they plan to hit the road, DeHaan said he doesn’t expect shortages to be a major issue for drivers this weekend though they “could be something that a few notice.”

“The good news is there’s plenty of gasoline — the EIA [Energy Information Administration] reported last week that fuel production reached a staggering 10.3 million barrels of gasoline per day — amongst the highest I’ve recently seen and just below the record of 10.7,” he added. “There’s plenty of fuel, but, like many industries are dealing with right now, there remains a labor shortage and for the fuels industry, it’s manifesting itself in stations that can’t stay caught up on gasoline.”

Meanwhile, AAA forecasts a record-breaking 43.6 million Americans will hit the road for travel from Thursday to Monday.

This influx of travelers comes as nearly 90% of U.S. gas stations are selling regular unleaded gas for $2.75 per gallon or more, according to Jeanette McGee, a spokesperson for AAA. McGee added in a statement that motorists will pay the most to fill up this July 4 weekend since 2014.

States that saw the largest weekly price increases, according to data compiled by AAA, include Utah (12 cents per gallon), Indiana (11 cents) as well as Oregon and Washington (each 9 cents).

Separately, McGee told ABC News that major metropolitan areas such as Atlanta, Boston and San Francisco will see traffic three to five times higher than on a typical day, and urged drivers to avoid traveling at peak hours. She recommends avoiding travel between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and to drive earlier in the day on Monday.

Gas prices have been climbing steadily since the beginning of the year. Tuesday’s national average of $3.10 per gallon is some 2 cents more expensive than the average last week, 5 cents more expensive than last month, and 92 cents more expensive than the average price at the same time last year.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.

United places largest aircraft order in its history

Rusell Hendry/iStock

(NEW YORK) — United Airlines is betting big on the post-pandemic travel boom.

On Tuesday, United announced the largest aircraft order in the airline’s history and the largest for the industry by a single carrier in more than a decade.

“Travel is back,” United Airlines CEO Scott Kirby said in an interview with ABC News. “There’s an amazing amount of pent-up demand for people to connect with each other and reunite.”

The 270 narrow-body jet order is potentially worth a reported $30 billion. It includes up to 200 Boeing 737 MAX and 70 Airbus A321neo aircraft. United also announced its going to be retro-fitting all of its narrow-body cabins — adding larger overhead bins, and entertainment screens on all seats.

As a result of adding new planes, United said it expects to create approximately 25,000 well-paying, unionized jobs over the next few years.

“They’re really careers and because you can have a job — even without a college education required, as a flight attendant or a gate agent — you can get to a six-figure salary with a good union job by the time you get to the top of the seniority scale,” Kirby said.

The order is a sign of hope that the dark days of decimated air travel are over.

The Transportation Security Administration on Sunday screened 2,167,380 people nationwide — the highest checkpoint volume since the start of the pandemic. It was just 18% shy of traveler volume on the same day in 2019.

United CEO Scott Kirby revealed on Monday that his airline is now profitable for this first time since the start of the pandemic.

Kirby posted on Instagram saying, “This achievement is a result of our employees’ perseverance and their commitment to our customers — all under the toughest of circumstances.”

U.S. airlines received billions of dollars in federal aid during the pandemic to keep employees on their payroll.

“While we’re not quite out of the crisis yet as we wait for international and business travel to return in more meaningful ways, today’s achievement feels just as good as seeing busy airports once again,” Kirby said.

All of the major U.S. airlines and the TSA have struggled with staffing as air travel has rapidly jumped from historic lows to approaching pre-pandemic levels.

When air travel came to a halt in March 2020, thousands of employees were offered early retirements and buyouts, but now the airlines are desperate to fill these positions again.

American Airlines canceled about 400 flights last weekend, in part due to staffing issues. The airline is now warning hundreds of flights will be canceled in the coming weeks.

United Airlines is desperate for baggage agents.

And at one point over the Memorial Day weekend, Delta Air Lines’ automated service told customers the wait time to talk with a reservation agent was more than 21 hours.

Experts said travel numbers will continue to rise this weekend as Americans celebrate the July 4th holiday.

AAA is projecting 3.5 million people will take to the skies from July 1 to July 5.

American Airlines expects to operate nearly 5,500 daily flights from Thursday to Monday, with the busiest travel days being Thursday and Friday, a spokesperson said.

United Airlines expects to fly 2 million customers from Thursday to Tuesday. The airline said Thursday and Monday will be busiest.

“July 1 is going to be the busiest day since COVID started, but it’ll only have that record for four days because July 5 is going to break it,” Kirby said. “It’s just another indication of how we really are on the road to recovery.”

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.