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When Harry met Meghan: British media reports that Prince Philip told grandson not to marry actress

June 18, 2019

Prince Philip of the UK’s royal House of Windsor warned his grandson against marrying Meghan Markle, telling Prince Harry: “One steps out with actresses, one doesn’t marry them,” a new report by Britain’s The Sunday Times claims.

The straight-talking nonagenarian, who is Queen Elizabeth’s consort, is said to have made the comment in 2017, after Prince William also had advised Harry to think about whether he was “sure” he wanted to rush into marriage to Meghan, The Daily Beast reported on June 17.

The gossip was aired by society journalist Sophia Money-Coutts, a former writer at Tatler.

Harry ignored the urgings of his family and proposed to Meghan in November 2017, six months before they married.

Other friends, such as Tom Inskip, also urged Harry to progress more slowly, and were punished by being excluded from the after party of Harry’s wedding.

According to sources quoted by Money-Coutts: “Anybody who voiced any kind of reservation about Meghan has been sidelined.”

She also quotes another source on the roots of the feud with his brother: “Harry felt like William and Kate didn’t make enough effort when Meghan arrived at Kensington Palace; that they didn’t roll out the red carpet for her.”

Research contact: @thedailybeast

Ruling the roost: Tyson wants a perch in both the poultry and meat substitute markets

June 18, 2019

What “tastes like chicken” (aside from such exotic edibles as frog and snake meat)? It’s no surprise that it’s a new product from Tyson—one of the world’s largest poultry producers—but it is a little odd that it doesn’t originate from something farm-raised and feathered.

Tyson is jumping on the meat substitute bandwagon, the company announced on June 13, with “chicken nuggets” made from pea protein scheduled to be stocked at grocery stores this summer. A blended burger made from beef and pea protein will follow this fall.

Both will be sold under a new brand, Raised & Rooted, which will continue to develop plant-based and blended products for both groceries and restaurants.

In addition, the company’s existing Aidells brand has launched Aidells Whole Blends sausage and meatballs, made with chicken and plant-based ingredients.

It’s clear that Tyson doesn’t want to miss out on the growing global trend toward plant-based eating. U.S. sales of meat substitutes are expected to jump 78%—to $2.5 billionbetween 2018 and 2023, according to Euromonitor. Global sales could reach $23 billion in that same timeframe.

“Today’s consumers are seeking more protein options so we’re creating new products for the growing number of people open to flexible diets that include both meat and plant-based protein,” said Tyson CEO Noel White in a press release.

“For us,” he said, “this is about ‘and’—not ‘or.’ We remain firmly committed to our growing traditional meat business and expect to be a market leader in alternative protein, which is experiencing double-digit growth and could someday be a billion-dollar business for our company.”

Research contact: @TysonFoods

Trump severs ties with three pollsters after bleak numbers are leaked

June 18, 2019

President Donald Trump appears to be stumbling before he is even out of the gate. Although he hasn’t stopped campaigning since his 2016 election—holding rallies nationwide for his political base even while he has been in office—it is now an open secret that the incumbent president is trailing several Democratic contenders … and not just by a trivial amount.

In fact, The Washington Post reported on June 17, President Trump’s campaign severed ties with three members of his polling team late last week following a leak of grim numbers to the media. The polling results showed him trailing former Vice President Joe Biden in several battleground states, as well as failing to match the momentum of other Democratic hopefuls.

Days ahead of Trump’s official launch of his reelection bid today, the campaign is ending its relationships with Brett Loyd, Mike Baselice, and Adam Geller while keeping pollsters Tony Fabrizio and John McLaughlin, the Post said.

The officials, like others interviewed, spoke on the condition of anonymity to freely discuss internal moves. The Trump campaign declined to comment. NBC News first reported on the campaign’s actions.

The news follows reports—first by Politico and later by The New York Timeson a 17-state internal poll conducted by Fabrizio. The data show Trump trailing Biden by double digits in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Michigan, where Trump narrowly edged out Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016. The poll also found Trump behind Biden in several other states that were key to the president’s win — Iowa, North Carolina, Ohio and Georgia — while holding a narrow edge in strongly Republican Texas.

And other polling bears the results out. According to Real Clear Politics, a poll by Fox News posted on June 16 found that Biden would beat Trump by ten points (49-39) in the general election. Sanders would take a nine-point lead (49-40; Warren, a two-point lead (43-41); Harris, a one-point lead (42-41), and Buttigieg a one-point lead (41-40).

As for general job approval, the Fox poll found that 45% of the U.S. population approves of President Trump’s performance, while 53% disapproves.

President Trump spoke to reporters in the Oval Office on June 12, claiming his reelection campaign is leading “in every single state that we polled.”

But, privately, the president was livid that the numbers leaked out, according to White House and campaign officials.

“He is madder that the numbers are out than that the numbers exist,” said one administration source.

On Monday morning, Trump tweeted, “A poll should be done on which is the more dishonest and deceitful newspaper, the Failing New York Times or the Amazon (lobbyist) Washington Post! They are both a disgrace to our Country, the Enemy of the People, but I just can’t seem to figure out which is worse? The good….news is that at the end of 6 years, after America has been made GREAT again and I leave the beautiful White House (do you think the people would demand that I stay longer? KEEP AMERICA GREAT), both of these horrible papers will quickly go out of business & be forever gone!”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Call Dad on Father’s Day!

June 17, 2019

Looking for that last-minute Father’s Day gift? Just don’t forget to pick up the phone. The number-one present that 2,000 U.S. dads said in a recent survey that they wanted for their big day is a phone call from their kid(s), SWNS Digital reports. Fully 47% said they wanted to hear from children and grandchildren—literally.

The new survey, conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Omaha Steaks, found that 57% percent of dads actually admitted that the third Sunday in June is their favorite day of the year.

After the phone call, most Dads thought that a good meal would make them happy. Four in ten American fathers (41%) said a big juicy steak would make their day this year (no surprise, when the survey is by Omaha Steaks!).

In fact, 79% of dads say they like to bond with their children over food. But if it’s a cook-out you’re after, stay off the grill, because one in three dads say that if someone is grilling, it’s gonna be them.

Another no-brainer: Fully 38% said they could really just go with some peace and quiet.

Taking in a ball game with the family also scored high, with another 38% saying that sounded like a lovely Father’s Day treat. And slightly fewer (33%) said they just want to be able to watch what they like on TV.

Finally, when it comes to physical gifts, go light on the ties and socks—and abolish anything imprinted with “World’s Favorite Dad.” In fact, 64% of survey respondents said they never wanted to see anything with those three words again.

Research contact: @OmahaSteaks

Car dealerships offer manicures and movies to draw in maintenance customers

June 17, 2019

Most people who bring a car into the dealership for a tune-up or a repair come prepared with a book or a laptop, a cup of upscale coffee or tea, a smartphone, and as much patience as they possibly can muster.

Progress reports are few and far between, asking plaintive questions at the intake area of the auto service department is frowned upon, and the hours stretch ahead—time you will never get back, but will pay for (in big bucks, for labor and parts).

And the waiting rooms, themselves? They tend to be forlorn places, with cable news on a glitchy TV and last year’s copy of Newsweek, if you’re lucky.

But now, all that is changing, The New York Times reports. Today, you can get blackened chicken or grilled salmon on the lunch menu at Honda of Fort Worth, or a complimentary workout at the fitness center attached to the Lincoln-Mercury/Land Rover-Jaguar store in Merritt Island, Florida, the news outlet informs us—assuming you wouldn’t rather play pool or watch a movie.

This amenity-laden shift can be traced straight to dealers’ bottom lines. Vehicle sales may be down this year, but service revenues continue to be reliable—and promise to grow, if dealers can make vehicle maintenance a more engaging experience.

Already, at the end of 2018, half a typical dealer’s gross profits came from the service department, according to Patrick Manzi, senior economist at the National Automobile Dealers Association.

 “Service and parts are very important to dealerships right now,” Mr. Manzi told the Times. “Cars are selling on the internet, and there’s more competition and more access to vehicle prices than ever before. Margins from selling new cars have been consistently on the decline, so dealers are focusing on service. They’ve realized they can help grow customer loyalty by standing out in the amenities.”

According to the Times report, Lexus might be the pacesetter in this cushy new world— and women are being specially targeted and pampered, with beauty services and childcare.

“In one of our stores in San Antonio, Texas, we have a free coffee bar with snacks, a manicurist and a masseuse,” Kimberly Sherron, the dealer facilities manager and design leader at Lexus, told the news outlet “In Wichita, Kansas, you can drop your vehicle off at the service department, get taken to the airport and then picked up when you come back. In the Tampa area, we have a store that features a manned barista bar, with free macchiatos, croissants, and sandwiches.”

Ms. Sherron added, “They go above and beyond.”

That may be understatement, but this new twist on the waiting room is not just for luxury brands like Lexus. A range of dealerships have been adding amenities.

Toyota— a notch downscale from the same Japanese company—has a play area for children in its Chesapeake, Virginia dealership, as well as (can you believe it?) a movie theater, a hair salon and a shoeshine area. On Wednesdays, it provides free manicures.

What’s more, the Times reports, automakers also are supporting their brands with “experience centers” that are even more over the top. At Intersect by Lexus—dubbed “An Immersive Cultural Space”—in Manhattan, which opened last fall after similar centers in Dubai and Tokyo, there’s an auto parts wall installation, fine dining with rotating chefs (currently, one cooking avant-garde tapas from Chile), a circular bar featuring the same leather used on Lexus car seats, and a third-floor exhibition space.

“It’s an homage to the cars,” Kirk Edmondson, the general manager, told the newspaper. “We reference the brand’s legacy of hospitality, design and craftsmanship — but we don’t scream about it.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Trump to Stephanopoulos: ‘I never suggested firing Mueller’

June 17, 2019

In addition to his assurances that “oppo” research on a political rival would be acceptable to “anyone” inside the Beltway—even if it were offered by a hostile nation such as Russia—President Donald Trump, told ABC News’ Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos last week in an exclusive interview that he had “never suggested firing [Special Counsel Robert] Mueller.”

In doing so, ABC News noted, the president directly disputed the account of a key witness in Mueller’s investigation—former White House Counsel Don McGahn—saying that it “doesn’t matter” what McGahn testified to the special counsel’s team.

Taking it one step further, Trump told Stephanopoulos that McGahn “may have been confused” when he told Mueller that Trump instructed him multiple times to have the acting attorney general remove the special counsel because of perceived conflicts of interest.

“The story on that very simply: No. I was never going to fire Mueller. I never suggested firing Mueller,” Trump told Stephanopoulos, according to the ABC report.

But when Stephanopoulos pushed back and referenced McGahn’s testimony, Trump became defiant. “I don’t care what [McGahn] says, it doesn’t matter,” Trump said.

The rest of the ABC News transcript went as follows

“Why would [McGahn] lie under oath?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“Because he wanted to make himself look like a good lawyer,” Trump said. “Or he believed it because I would constantly tell anybody that would listen— including you, including the media—that Robert Mueller was conflicted. Robert Mueller had a total conflict of interest.”

“And has to go?” Stephanopoulos followed up.

“I didn’t say that,” Trump insisted.

And if Trump has anything to do with it, McGahn will not be asked to set the record straight: At the president’s instruction, McGahn currently is fighting a subpoena from the House Judiciary Committee to testify publicly about those conversations with Trump, among other things, the Times reports.

Research contact: @ABC

The moral high ground: Japanese woman leads worldwide campaign to wear flats at work

June 13, 2019

It’s high noon in the workplace: Women are gunning for a change in office dress codes that would enable them to work—and walk—in comfort.

Indeed, according to a report by The Guardian,  millions of women worldwide, at all levels of the workplace hierarchy, continue to endure their working hours tortured by blisters, bloodied flesh, foot pain, knee pain, back pain and worse, as a result of the pressure to conform to an aesthetic code—sometimes explicitly written into contracts or policy, more often subliminally expected as a societal and cultural standard—that deems it appropriate to wear high heels.

Now they are pushing back, in a campaign called #KuToo—a a play on the words kutsu, meaning shoes, and kutsuu, meaning pain, in Japanese and inspired by the #MeToo movement.

In early June, Japanese actress and freelance writer Yumi Ishikawa told reporters that she and her supporters had met with the Labor Ministry, “Today we submitted a petition calling for the introduction of laws banning employers from forcing women to wear heels as sexual discrimination or harassment.”

Ishikawa had the idea for the campaign after she was forced to wear high heels during a stint at a funeral parlor.  Now, she has everyone debating the politics of footwear—and has received a groundswell of online support.

But not everyone is a fan: Takumi Nemoto, Japan’s health and labor minister, defended the dress codes, telling a legislative committee that he believed it “is socially accepted as something that falls within the realm of being occupationally necessary and appropriate”.

The Guardian notes that a similar petition against high heels at work was signed by more than 150,000 people in the UK in support of the receptionist Nicola Thorp, who was sent home from work on her first day of work at a PwC in 2016 for wearing flat shoes. The case prompted an inquiry on workplace dress codes by a committee of MPs, which highlighted other cases in the UK where women were required to wear heels—even for jobs that included climbing ladders, carrying heavy luggage, carrying food and drink up and down stairs and walking long distances.

However, Britain never changed the law, claiming scope for redress already existed under the Equality Act 2010.

In 2015 the director of the Cannes film festival apologized for the fact that women were being denied access to the red carpet for not wearing high heels. Cannes kept the dress code, despite a protest by the actor Julia Roberts, who went barefoot the next year.

However, in 2017, Canada’s British Columbia province banned companies from forcing female employees to wear high heels, saying the practice was dangerous and discriminatory. That means things might be looking up—err … down.

Research contact: @guardian

Poshmark adds a home décor marketplace to its fashion platform

June 13, 2019

Redwood City, California-based Poshmark—a social commerce marketplace where users can buy and sell new and secondhand fashion items— is moving into home furnishings, as well, where it will compete with the likes of Wayfair and its subsidiaries, Joss & Main, Birch Lane, and AllModern.

The company has announced the launch of Home Market—“an in-app marketplace to buy, sell, and connect around home decor.” Starting on June 11, Poshmark shoppers and sellers began buying, listing, “and discovering” a wide selection of home decor products, in addition to the 75 million listings in apparel, shoes and accessories already on the platform.

“With the launch of the Home Market, we’re taking our first step into broader lifestyle categories and expanding our social marketplace beyond the closet,” said Manish Chandra, founder & CEO of Poshmark, in a company press release. “This market launch reiterates the power of Posh Markets to scale social commerce and enables Poshmark to continue transforming the e-commerce experience.”

The expansion comes as more and more shoppers are turning to secondhand marketplaces like Poshmark, Rebag and TheRealReal to buy used designer handbags or sneakers at lower prices, CNBC reports.

The secondhand apparel market in the U.S. was worth $24 billion in 2018, compared with $35 billion for fast-fashion companies like H&M and Zara, according to data compiled by ThredUp and GlobalData Retail. But by 2028, CNBC notes, the used fashion market is set to jump in value to $64 billion, while fast fashion will only reach $44 billion, the firms said.

Poshmark’s new home vertical will be for things like wall art, pillows, candles and other smaller home goods, but not bulky furniture, Chandra said. Poshmark is still working on perfecting its logistics to be able to handle and ship heavier items, he explained.

Research contact: @Poshmarkapp 

Mick Mulvaney: American public may never see Trump’s ‘secret deal’ with Mexico

June 13, 2019

On June 12, President Donald Trump showed a group of reporters gathered outside the White House a mysterious sheet of paper—claiming it was his new border deal with Mexico. However, he did not disclose its contents, saying he would defer to America’s southern ally to state the terms of the accord.

Now it seems that the big reveal may never happen, according to the White House Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, who declined to discuss details of the arrangement in an interview with CNBC’s Eamon Javers on the same date.

“If I told you, it wouldn’t be the secret part of the deal, right?” Mulvaney told CNBC at the Peter G. Peterson Foundation’s 2019 Fiscal Summit.

Asked when the public would see the secret deal, Mulvaney responded: “Maybe never,” noting, “Because if it works, it doesn’t make any difference.”

Mulvaney added: “The purpose here is not to satisfy your journalistic sort of, you know, inquiries as to what the deal is. The goal is to reduce the number of people crossing the border.”

Javers pressed Mulvaney on whether the United States had agreed to “whatever the terms are in this secret deal? We’ve signed up for something as a country?”

“Yeah,” Mulvaney said. “Again, it’s something that will kick in if the other things don’t work.”

In that case, Mulvaney said, the public would find out about the deal.

On June 7, the United States  and Mexico issued a joint declaration that resolved Trump’s threats to impose tariffs on Mexican imports if the country did not take action to reduce the flow of migrants across its northern border. As part of the deal, Mexico agreed to deploy its national guard to its southern border with Guatemala.

That declaration made no mention of other agreements. Mexico has flatly denied any secret deal.

But Trump has said that a secret element of the deal will soon be public.

“We have fully signed and documented another very important part of the immigration and security deal with Mexico, one that the U.S. has been asking about getting for many years,” the president wrote in a post on Twitter on June 11 . “It will be revealed in the not too distant future and will need a vote by Mexico’s Legislative body!”

Parts of the text on the piece of paper were readable in a photograph taken by the New York Post, and raised the possibility that Mexico had agreed to a “safe third country” arrangement, which would require Central American migrants to request asylum in Mexico, rather than the U.S. The issue has been a sticking point in U.S.-Mexico negotiations.

According to CNBC, Mexico’s Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard. said Tuesday that the country may consider such an arrangement if it cannot reduce unlawful immigration into the United States within 45 days.

Research contact: @CNBC

Report: Brain health supplements are ‘a massive waste of money’

June 12, 2019

Most of us have seen the TV ads for Prevagen and have heard about the protective effects of ginkgo biloba—and those are just a couple of the dietary aids that Americans swallow in the hope and belief that they will make our brains stronger.

In fact, more than one-quarter (26%) of U.S. adults age 50 and older are taking at least one brain-health supplement, according to the findings of the  2019 AARP Brain Health and Dietary Supplements Survey

And research by the Nutrition Business Journal indicates that fully 69% of U.S. adults age 50 and older are taking a dietary supplement at least three times a week—with 8% saying they’re taking one to “reverse dementia.”

But now we are hearing that those supplements are “a massive waste of money”—and that warning comes from people who should know these things: On June 11, the Global Counsel on Brain Health (GCBH) in partnership with AARP released a report concluding that dietary supplements do not improve brain health or prevent cognitive decline, dementia, or Alzheimer’s disease.

Dietary supplements are not regulated by the FDA, yet 49% of older adults believe otherwise, Prevention magazine reports.

“The GCBH reviewed the scientific evidence on various supplements and determined it could not endorse any ingredient, production, or formulation designed for brain health,” the AARP said in a press release.

Under FDA law, it’s illegal for dietary supplement companies to make any claim that their product can treat, prevent, or cure a disease. If a supplement marketer wants to say their product can reduce the risk of a disease, they must notify the FDA first and get authorization before such a claim can go on a product label, Prevention notes.

Yet, the companies continue to market using misleading claims—among those currently in print or on-air:

  • Clinically shown to be safe and support memory and brain function
  • Clinically proven natural ingredients
  • Supports neurotransmitter development to promote a feeling of mental sharpness
  • Helps your brain maintain healthy neurons to support learning and recall
  • 13 scientifically proven nutrients for a healthier brain
  • Keeps your mind sharp and memory strong
  • Has shown statistically significant improvements in memory and recall in as little as four weeks when taken as directed
  • Designed to help improve memory while increasing focus and concentration
  • Comprehensive blend of vitamins, amino acids, and herbal extracts that support the brain’s structure and function to deliver amazing improvements in memory and concentration!
  • Help lessen the frequency of episodes of forgetfulness and brain fog
  • Improve your ability to retain and recall various kinds of information
  • For cognitive health, memory improvement, memory enhancement
  • These key nutrients have a powerful effect at reducing the inflammatory fires that destroy our brain tissue.

In addition, because dietary supplement companies aren’t regulated by the FDA, neither are their ingredients or dosages. The report warns that supplements “may have too much, too little, or, in some cases, none of the ingredients [consumers] think they’re buying.”

This can have dire consequences. The AARP cites a 2013 report from the U.S. government which found that the FDA received more than 6,000 reports of health problems due to dietary supplements between 2008 and 2011. They included 92 deaths and more than 1,000 series injuries. As part of the FDA’s investigation, the agency’s researchers found “dangerous fungi, pesticides, environmental pollutants, and heavy metals in some products.”

Worse yet, the FDA found that more than 700 dietary supplements contained prescription drugs, including steroids and antidepressants.

“It’s tempting to think you can pop a pill and prevent dementia, but the science says that doesn’t work,” Sarah Lenz Lock, AARP SVP for Policy and Executive Director of the GCBH told Prevention. “We know what will keep your brain healthy: exercise, a healthy diet, plenty of sleep, challenging your thinking skills, and connecting with others.”

Research contact: @AARP