Posts tagged with "CNN"

Ten more members of Congress join NAACP lawsuit against Trump, Giuliani for inciting Capitol riot

April 8, 2021

Ten members of Congress who were trapped in the House gallery as rioters breached the Capitol on January 6 are adding their names to a lawsuit first filed in February against former President Donald Trump and his former personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, CNN reports.

The lawsuit—first brought by House Democratic Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi and the NAACP— accuses Trump and Giuliani of conspiring with extremist groups. the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers. to incite the riot at the Capitol.

The amended lawsuit now details the personal stories of each member, describing how they narrowly escaped the mob, and how some still have nightmares and anxiety months later.

“As I sat in my office on January 6th with rioters roaming the hallways, I feared for my life and thought I was going to die,” Representative Steve Cohen of Tennessee said in a statement. “This invasion was a direct result of Donald Trump’s rhetoric and words. His calls to gather in Washington on January 6th and his message to ‘be strong’ thwarted the functioning of our Constitution.” Cohen reveals in the lawsuit that he escaped to his office near the Capitol when the mob invaded it on January 6, sitting with the lights turned off and a baseball bat in his hand for protection for two to three hours.

According to the CNN reports, the members joining the lawsuit are: Cohen, Reps. Karen Bass of California, Bonnie Watson Coleman of New Jersey, Veronica Escobar of Texas, Hank Johnson Jr. of Georgia, Marcy Kaptur of Ohio, Barbara Lee of California, Jerry Nadler of New York, Pramila Jayapal of Washington, and Maxine Waters of California.

Nadler and Waters were especially outspoken and fiery critics of Trump during his presidency. Nadler led the first House impeachment of Trump in late 2019, and, as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, he called for Trump’s impeachment and removal from office the day after the Capitol insurrection. Trump was ultimately acquitted in both Senate impeachment trials.

“Those responsible for placing me and my colleagues in danger must face accountability for their criminality,” Nadler said in a statement. “This violence was anything but spontaneous; it was the direct result of a conspiracy to incite a riot, instigated by President Trump, Rudolph Giuliani, the Proud Boys and the Oath Keepers.”

Waters spoke out forcefully against Trump before the House impeachment vote in January, calling him “the worst President in the history of the United States.” In the lawsuit, Waters discloses that following the January 6 attack she increased the number of security personnel who travels with her to and from her California home.

The lawsuit was the first civil action filed against the former President related to the attack at the U.S. Capitol, and it cited a scarcely used federal statute passed after the to combat violence from the Ku Klux Klan. The law allows civil actions to be brought against people who use “force, intimidation, or threat” to prevent anyone from upholding the duties of their office.

The lawsuit is backed by the NAACP, and its president, Derrick Johnson, accused the former President of inciting “a meticulously organized coup … that placed members of Congress and the integrity of our democracy in peril.”

In addition to Trump and Giuliani, the far-right extremist groups Proud Boys and Oath Keepers are also named as defendants. This newly filed amended complaint additionally names as defendants the Warboys, which operated in conjunction with the Proud Boys; and Enrique Tarrio, the alleged leader of the Proud Boys and Warboys.

Attorneys for Trump and Giuliani have not responded to requests from CNN for comment.

Research contact: @CNN

Here’s how to find out whether your Facebook data has been filched

April 6, 2021

Last weekend, cybersecurity experts revealed that about half a billion Facebook users’ personal information had been breached— a treasure trove of data the includes full names, birthdays, and phone numbers, CNN reports.

Facebook said that the massive hack stems from an issue in 2019, which has since been fixed. Still, there’s no clawing back that data. More than 30 million U.S. accounts were affected– and, CNN notes, the social media company isn’t making it easy to find out if your data was included in the breach.

But a third-party website, haveibeenpwned.com, has come to the rescue: It makes it simple to check whether your feed has been breached by inputting your email. For now, it just checks if your email was among those stolen.

That’s a pretty big catch: Although 533 million Facebook accounts were included in the breach, only 2.5 million of those included emails in the stolen data. So you’ve got less than a half-percent chance of showing up on that website, even though you’ve got about a 20% chance of being hacked if you’ve got a Facebook account. (This author was among those hacked.)

HaveIBeenPwned creator and security expert Troy Hunt said on Twitter that he’s examining whether to add phone numbers.

“The primary value of the data is the association of phone numbers to identities; whilst each record included a phone number, only 2.5 million contained an email address,” Hunt’s website said.

Although this data is from 2019, it could still be of value to hackers and cyber criminals like those who engage in identify theft.

Facebook didn’t immediately respond to CNN on Monday about whether if it will create a way to see if their information was leaked.

Research contact: @CNN

Sales of Bentleys and Lamborghinis are booming because rich people are bored

April 2, 2021

While auto sales as a whole have suffered from factory shutdowns and other disruptions due to the pandemic, sales of super-expensive cars, like Ferraris, Bentleys and Lamborghinis, finished 2020 at a blistering pace.

Indeed, CNN reports, It’s been a great time to be selling really, really expensive cars.  Bentley had its best year ever  in 2020; and Lamborghini had its second best year ever in terms of sales and turned its highest profit

“I’ve been in this business 40 years and I’ve never seen it like this,” said Brian Miller, president of Manhattan Motors, a high-end dealership that sells Bentleys, Lamborghinis and Bugattis, among other ultra-luxury brands.

In the United States, overall passenger car sales were down 10% in 2020, compared to 2019. Even as auto sales recovered strongly in the fourth quarter, they only just matched the pace seen in the fourth quarter of 2019, Tyson Jominy, vice president for data analytics at J.D. Power, told CNN.

But sales of cars costing more than $80,000 were almost double in the fourth quarter over the sales price they went for the year before. And for cars costing more than $100,000, sales in the United States were up 63% that quarter, said Jominy.

“There’s a fairly fantastic wealth effect going on,” Jominy added.

The booming stock market has played a big part, he said. And since the wealthy haven’t been able to spend money on trips, many have turned to luxury goods, like expensive cars.

Customers often order these cars to their exact specifications and wait months for them to be built, Miller said. But he often keeps some on hand to sell to those who want to drive out in their new Rolls-Royce or Lamborghini that day. That’s just not possible right now, he said. He can’t keep the cars on the lot.

Miller credits the boom, in part, to people sitting around with not much else to do but look at expensive cars on the Internet.

One of the more remarkable things about the run-up in sales, said Jominy, is that it has been largely young buyers driving the wave. “[T]he rich Millennial tech employee in Austin is now the archetype,” he said.

Research contact: @CNN

Biden condemns ‘skyrocketing’ hate crimes against Asian Americans in wake of deadly shooting spree

March 23, 2021

President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris flew to Atlanta on March 19 to personally condemn rising hate crimes against Asian Americans in the wake of the mass shooting in the Atlanta area that left eight people dead, including six women of Asian descent, CNN reports.

Biden said hate crimes against Asian Americans have been “skyrocketing” since the coronavirus pandemic began more than a year ago and that the country cannot be silent in the face of the hate and violence.

“Our silence is complicity. We cannot be complicit. We have to speak out. We have to act,” Biden said, speaking from Emory University in Atlanta.

He said Asian Americans have been “attacked, blamed, scapegoated and harassed. They’ve been verbally assaulted, physically assaulted, killed.”

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris met with Asian American leaders in the wake of the deadly shooting. They had originally planned to travel to Atlanta to tout the benefits of the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 economic relief package that Biden recently signed into law—but the White House scrapped plans for a rally after the shooting.

“The conversation we had today with the (Asian American and Pacific Islander) leaders, and that we’re hearing all across the country, is that hate and violence often hide in plain sight. It’s often met with silence,” Biden said. “That’s been true throughout our history, but that has to change because our silence is complicity.”

According to CNN, Biden urged Congress to pass the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act, which he has said would:

  • Expedite the federal government’s response to hate crimes that have risen during the pandemic;
  • Support state and local governments to improve hate crimes reporting; and
  • Make information on hate crimes more accessible to Asian American communities.

Biden and Harris did not explicitly state that they considered the shootings earlier this week a hate crime. But they noted that whatever the motivation of the shooter, the killings come amid rising hate crimes against Asian Americans in the United States.

“Racism is real in America and it has always been. Xenophobia is real in America and always has been —sexism too,” said Harris, who is America’s first Black and South Asian vice president.

The vice president said: “For the last year, we’ve had people in positions of incredible power scapegoating Asian Americans—people with the biggest pulpits spreading this kind of hate. Ultimately this is about who we are as a nation. This is about how we treat people with dignity and respect.”

Stephanie Cho, the executive director for Asian Americans Advancing Justice, said former President Donald Trump’s name came up repeatedly during Biden’s hourlong meeting with the group.

Biden acknowledged Trump’s contributions to a rise in hate against Asian Americans, Cho told CNN’s Jeff Zeleny.

As for what Cho hopes to see from the administration, she said: “I’d like to see it be beyond this moment. And that as much as the former president called it the ‘China virus’ and scapegoated Asian Americans and really fueled this racism around Asian Americans, I would like to see the Biden administration come out just as strongly but in support of Asian Americans.”

Biden said he would work as “much as possible” to roll back that rhetoric.

Research contact: @CNN

Why Apple, Sephora, and Nordstrom are jumping on this trend to pull in shoppers

March 9, 2021

How can big chains like Target and Nordstrom keep consumers coming back to their stores during an ongoing pandemic? One go-to strategy is the store-within-a-store concept. It’s a way for one retailer to join forces with another by setting up a pop-up shop within their stores, CNN reports.

Industry analysts say the approach has benefits for both parties. For instance, department store Kohl’s adding as many as 200 Sephora mini shops inside of its stores in 2021 as a way to expand its beauty and cosmetics category. For Sephora, the deal helps the retailer expand its market to Kohl’s shoppers.

Meanwhile, Target is opening mini Apple shops in a handful of its stores as it strives to become a one-stop shop to meet all of its consumers’ needs.

“From Sephora co-locating in Kohl’s, to Apple in Target stores, these collaborations bring complementary customer traffic and added income, especially for the host retailer,” Burt Flickinger III, managing director of Strategic Resource Group recently told CNN. It’s also a way to get shoppers to visit stores more frequently, he said.

“For stores like Kohl’s or Nordstrom, shoppers maybe go once a month or once a quarter. By adding a store-in-a-store, now you can get a Kohl’s shopper returning more often for their beauty and cosmetics needs,” said Flickinger.

Meanwhile, CNN notes, Nordstrom and at-home fitness startup Tonal have teamed up to launch a handful of Tonal mini shops inside Nordstrom stores. The Tonal-branded pop-up stores are debuting this month in 40 Nordstrom locations across 20 states. The 50-square-foot shops will be located in the women’s activewear department. Nordstrom said shoppers can see a demo of the gym or try a workout for themselves.

And Ulta Beauty is debuting its mini cosmetics shops inside of Target stores in 2021. As with Sephora’s mini shops in Kohl’s, this deal is expected to help Ulta— which sells a mix of drugstore beauty and pricey brands that aren’t normally found in big box stores—to reach younger and more budget-conscious consumers.

For Target, it expands the retailer’s growing beauty business with new brands it didn’t carry before. The 1,000 square-foot mini shops will initially launch in 100 Target locations and on Target.com, and then ramping up to several hundred Target stores.

Research contact: @CNN

‘Neanderthal thinking’: Biden lays into states lifting COVID restrictions

March 5, 2021

President Joe Biden said on March 3 that moves by Texas Governor Greg Abbott and Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves to lift statewide COVID restrictions represented “Neanderthal thinking.”

“I think it’s a big mistake. I hope everyone has realized right now these masks make a difference,” Biden said of the decision to lift mask mandates and other COVID mitigation measures. “We are on the cusp of being able to fundamentally change the nature of this disease because of the way in which we are able to get vaccines in people’s arms.”

According to a report by Politico, the president’s remark came after both Texas and Mississippi issued executive orders on Tuesdayflying in the face of health officials who have urged continued COVID restrictions. Biden has signed an executive order requiring mask-wearing on federal property but has little authority to overrule governors and other state and local officials.

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves (R) laid into Biden after his remarks on Wednesday. “President Biden said allowing Mississippians to decide how to protect themselves is ‘neanderthal thinking.’ Mississippians don’t need handlers,” Reeves wrote in a tweet. “As numbers drop, they can assess their choices and listen to experts. I guess I just think we should trust Americans, not insult them.”

Later in the evening, the governor criticized Biden as being out of touch with people who live outside the Beltway.

“Today I feel the same way as I did the day that Hillary Clinton called all of us in Middle America ‘deplorables,’” he said on Fox News, referencing a comment the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee had made about supporters of Donald Trump. “When President Biden said that we were all Neanderthals, it struck me as someone who needs to get outside of Washington, D.C., and actually travel to Middle America.”

In a statement to Politico, Abbott spokesperson Renae Eze said Abbott was “clear in telling Texans that COVID hasn’t ended, and that all Texans should follow medical advice and safe practices to continue containing COVID.”

“The fact is, Texas now has the tools and knowledge to combat COVID while also allowing Texans and small businesses to make their own decisions,” Eze said. “It is clear from the recoveries, the vaccinations, the reduced hospitalizations, and the safe practices that Texans are using, that state mandates are no longer needed. We must now do more to restore livelihoods and normalcy for Texans.”

On Wednesday evening, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Biden’s top health adviser and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, called these actions “ill advised.“ Although coronavirus numbers have declined since January highs, they have seemingly plateaued at levels that have concerned health officials.

“It‘s just inexplicable why you would want to pull back now,“ Fauci said on CNN. “I understand the need to want to get back to normality, but you‘re only going to set yourself back if you just completely push aside the public health guidelines, particularly when we‘re dealing with anywhere from 55,000 to 75,000 infections per day in the United States. That‘s a very, very high baseline.“

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki earlier on Wednesday called on Americans to continue wearing masks and practice other pandemic mitigation measures even as governors in some states lift COVID restrictions, Politico notes.

“This entire country has paid the price for political leaders who ignored the science when it comes to the pandemic,” Psaki said. “People are starting to feel a little bit better in some cases. You go to the grocery store and there’s Clorox wipes available. A year into this, that feels better, but there’s still more that needs to be done. We need to remain vigilant.”

“We’re not asking people just to listen to the president,” she also said. “Of course, we recommend that, but we ask people to listen to health experts, medical experts, the CDC, to Dr. Fauci, to others who are basing their recommendations on how to save people’s lives.”

Research contact: @politico

Trump’s tax returns and related records turned over to Manhattan district attorney

February 26, 2021

Former President Donald Trump has been forced to put his money where his mouth is. After years of braggadocio about his billions, his real estate deals, and his penchant for “winning,” the “former guy” now has handed over years of tax and business records to the Manhattan district attorney, CNN reports.

Prosecutors obtained the records—which Trump tried to keep secret for years—on Monday, just hours after the US Supreme Court denied Trump’s last-ditch effort to keep the records private, a spokesperson for District Attorney Cy Vance told the cable news network.

The millions of pages of documents, sources say, contain Trump’s tax returns spanning from January 2011 to August 2019; as well as financial statements, engagement agreements, documents relating to the preparation and review of tax returns, and work papers and communications related to the tax returns.

Although the documents handed off from Trump’s long-time accounting firm Mazar’s won’t be released to the public because they’re subject to grand jury secrecy rules, their delivery caps off an extraordinary 17-month quest by the former President and his lawyers to block investigators from obtaining the records.

New York District Attorney Cy Vance is investigating whether Trump and the Trump Organization engaged in tax fraud, insurance fraud and other schemes to defraud, including potentially providing false information to financial institutions or banks about the value of certain buildings and assets.

With the records now in hand, Vance and his fellow prosecutors will be able to dig deeper into investigative theories, pursue interviews with key witnesses, and determine whether they believe any state laws have been violated CNN notes.

In addition to the records from Mazars, Vance’s office has been seeking a slew of other documents. They subpoenaed records and interviewed employees at Deutsche Bank, one of Trump’s creditors, about loans given to him, and insurance broker Aon, according to multiple sources familiar with the investigation. Deutsche Bank has loaned Trump more than $300 million.

Prosecutors have also subpoenaed Ladder Capital, which has loaned the Trump Organization over $100 million, and the Trump Organization for records relating to fees paid to consultants, including Ivanka Trump, these people said.

Mazars’ spokesman didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Research contact: @CNN

Five takeaways from Joe Biden’s CNN Town Hall

February 18, 2021

President Joe Biden took part in his first town hall since entering the White House on February16 —answering questions from CNN’s Anderson Cooper (and audience members) in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

CNN’s Editor-at-Large Chris Cillizza watched—and provided the following takeaways on the president’s performance:

  1. A hard deadline on vaccinations: Less than five minutes into the broadcasst, Biden made a promise that will be the big new—not just today, but for months to come: He said that “by the end of July, we’ll have over 600 million doses, enough to vaccinate every single American.” That pledge sets the clock ticking on Biden and his administration’s efforts to ensure that every single person in America who wants a vaccine will have one by the end of July. Biden also said he expected to have 400 million doses by the end of May. And, Cillizza noted, he set another goal: That things would be largely back to normal in the United States by next Christmas.) It’s worth noting that this is a change from Biden’s previous pledge from last month that everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one by the “spring.”  Biden laid the blame for the need to push that timeline at the feet of the Trump Administration, insisting that his predecessor “wasted so much time” in dealing with the virus.
  1. Clearing up the school reopening question: Biden’s press shop got into a bit of hot water over the past week by claiming that schools opening one day a week would count toward his pledge to open the majority of schools within his first 100 days in office. Critics, rightly, pointed out that it appeared as a bit of a cop-out, since most parents, desperate after almost a year of virtual learning, don’t see one day of school a week as anything close to normal. Biden blamed the confusion on a “mistake in communication,” insisting that he believes that a majority of students from kindergarten to 8th grade would be back in school— with “many” of them going five days a week, he told CNN.
  2. Biden as comforter-in-chief: Perhaps the biggest contrast between Biden and the man he replaced in office is empathy, CNN’s Cillizza says. Former President Donald Trump had none; Biden is all empathy, wearing his heart on his sleeve. The town hall format played to Biden’s strength in that regard—and provided a stark reminder of just how radically different Trump was from anyone who came before (or after) him in the office. Biden told several questioners to talk to him after the town hall in order to help deal with their specific problems. And in one striking exchange, a mother with her eight-year-old daughter stood up and asked Biden what to tell kids who are worried about getting COVID and dying. “Don’t be scared, honey,” the President told the little girl, speaking directly to her as he told her that kids don’t usually get the coronavirus, and, when they do, they very rarely pass it on. It was a grace note—and one that would have been unimaginable during Trump’s presidency.
  3. The end of (talking about) Trump: Biden did his best not to mention the former President by name. (Biden’s preferred way to name Trump without naming him was to refer to the 45th President as “the former guy.”) When asked direct questions about Trump—on his impeachment, on his meddling in the Justice Department—Biden was even more blunt about his views on the man he beat last November. “I’m tired of talking about Donald Trump,” Biden said at one point. At another, he said this: “For four years, all that’s been in the news is Trump. The next four years, I want to make sure all the news is the American people.” (That line drew applause from the socially distanced audience.) What Biden clearly believes is that the best way to deal with Trump is to rob him of the media oxygen he so badly craves. The less Biden talks about Trump, the less attention Trump gets. It’s a solid theory—especially when you consider that Trump has been de-platformed from Twitter and Facebook.
  4. A radical view on polarization: Despite study after study that shows that both Congress and the nation as a whole are more deeply divided along party lines than ever before, Biden insisted that we’re not. “The nation is not divided,” he argued. “You have fringes on both ends.” Er, OK. I know that Biden believes that things will return to normal the longer we get from Trump being president—and that he is uniquely situated to make bipartisanship a thing again. He campaigned on it. And he believes he won, at least in part, on that message. Maybe! But there’s very, very little evidence so far in his term—and yes, of course it’s early!— that suggests the Republican Party’s elected officials are ready to renounce their Trump-y ways, opines Cizzilla. And there’s even less evidence that the GOP base wants anything other than Trump. A Quinnipiac University poll released earlier on Tuesday showed that 75% of Republicans want Trump to play a “prominent” role in the party.

Research contact: @CNN

Mr. Peanut joins the Skippy family in a $3.4 billion acquisition

February 12, 2021

It’s been a tough few years for Mr. Peanut, who died in early 2020 and was reborn as a baby nut as part of a Super Bowl ad campaign.

Now he has a new home: Kraft is selling Planters to Hormel—the parent company  of such brands as SPAM and Skippy—in a $3.35 billion deal, CNN reports.

The sale, which is expected to close this year, will give Hormel ownership of most products included in the Planters brand—among them, mixed nuts, trail mix, Corn Nuts, Cheez Balls, and Cheez Curls. Planters brought in about $1 billion in sales in 2020.

The deal could very well be a win-win for the companies: For Kraft, ditching Planters will offer a chance to focus on its most successful brands (for example, Lunchables), the company said in a news release Thursday. The deal also will help Hormel to expand its snack offerings at a time when people are eating at home more.

Kraft Heinz CEO Miguel Patricio has been leading an effort to turn the company’s prospects around, since he came to the company last July from Anheuser-Busch InBev. Kraft has been selling off lower-margin businesses. Last year, the company announced a sale of its natural cheese business, including Polly-O and Breakstone’s, to the French company Lactalis for $3.2 billion. 

Planters in particular is vulnerable to competition from private label products, said Patricio during an analyst call.

Before the pandemic, Kraft was struggling. Many on Wall Street said it failed to adapt to the changing tastes of consumers, who are shying away from processed foods.

According to CNN, analysts have also questioned the strategic decisions of private equity firm 3G Capital, which partnered with Berkshire Hathaway to first buy Heinz and then merge it with Kraft in a 2015 deal. After Berkshire Hathaway, 3G is the second-largest shareholder of the company. Following the merger, the combined company worked to cut costs—at the expense of much-needed innovation, many Wall Street analysts believe.

However,  the pandemic, which has driven people to stock up on pantry staples and nostalgic foods, has helped boost Kraft’s sales. In the fourth quarter of 2020, net sales grew 6% to $6.9 billion, beating Wall Street’s expectations.

Research contact: @CNN

Trump’s legal team exits after he insists they use election fraud as impeachment defense

February 2, 2021

The former president continues to be his own worst enemy: Last weekend, Trump was dumped by the legal team for his second impeachment trial, as he continued to fixate on arguing that the 2020 election was stolen from him—a defense that they had warned him is ill-conceived and that GOP strategists fear will fuel the growing divide in their party, The Washington Post reports.

South Carolina lawyer Karl S. “Butch” Bowers Jr. and four other attorneys who recently signed on to represent the former president abruptly parted ways with him days before his February 9 Senate trial for his role in inciting the attack on the U.S. Capitol. On Sunday evening, Trump’s office announced two new lawyers were taking over his defense.

Two people familiar with the discussions preceding the departure of the original legal team said that Trump wanted them to make the case during the trial that he actually won the election. To do so would require citing his false claims of election fraud—even as his allies and attorneys have said that he should instead focus on arguing that impeaching a president who has already left office is unconstitutional, the Post said.

Trump’s lawyers initially had planned to center their strategy on the question of whether the proceedings were constitutional and on the definition of incitement, according to one of the sources—who, like others interviewed by The Washington Post for this report, spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the internal conversations.

But the former president repeatedly said he wanted to litigate the voter fraud allegations and the 2020 race—and was seeking a more public defense of his actions. Bowers told Trump he couldn’t mount the defense that Trump wanted, the person said.

“It truly was mutual,” the person said. “The president wanted a different defense. The president wanted a different approach and a different team.”

45 senators have already voted in agreement,” Miller wrote in a text message.

Bowers and the other lawyers who quit Trump’s defense team did not respond to requests for comment. CNN first reported that Trump wanted his attorneys to center his defense on his claims of election fraud.

On Sunday evening, Trump’s office announced in a statement that Atlanta-based trial attorney David Schoen and Bruce L. Castor Jr., a former district attorney in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania, would lead his defense team. The two lawyers will bring “national profiles and significant trial experience in high-profile cases to the effort,” the statement said.

Research contact: @washingtonpost