Posts tagged with "Massages"

Out of office message: Labor Secretary Alex Acosta resigns

July 15, 2019

Labor Secretary Alex Acosta said in a press conference on July 12 that he would resign, amid controversy over a hush-hush plea deal that he and his staff made with billionaire financier Jeffrey Epstein in 2008, while Acosta was U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida.

According to criminal justice sources in the Sunshine State, there was sufficient evidence at that time to prosecute Epstein for sexual assault against dozens of underage girls, but instead Acosta prearranged a pact with the alleged offender—and did not provide details of the settlement to complainants in the case.

Details of the slimy deal—which allowed Epstein to register as a sex offender, but to work in his office six days a week and only to sleep in jail for 13 months—resurfaced on July 6; when the politically connected Epstein, whose friends in high places have included Donald Trump and former President Bill Clinton, was arrested again on sex trafficking charges after he returned from France by private plane to the New York City metropolitan area.

Following the arrest, those same sources accused Acosta of “rewriting history” when he stated, “Now that new evidence and additional testimony is available, the [Southern District of] New York prosecution offers an important opportunity to more fully bring him to justice.”

As the story continued to garner headlines and outrage in the days after Epstein was taken into custody, President Trump remained steadfast in his support of his Labor Secretary, but leading Democratic presidential candidates, including Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren-—as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer—demanded that Acosta quit.

Acosta finally made the announcement on Friday morning to reporters while standing next to the president outside the White House, according to a report by CNBC. Trump said that Acosta had called him that morning, and that it was Acosta’s decision to quit.

“This was him, not me, because I’m with him,” Trump said in a lengthy exchange with the press before departing the White House en route to events in Wisconsin and Ohio, said CNBC. “I said, ‘You don’t have to do this.’”

Acosta told reporters that he did not want his involvement in Epstein’s controversy to overshadow the administration’s accomplishments. Acosta said he will officially resign a week after his announcement; Deputy Labor Secretary Patrick Pizzella will take his place in an acting capacity, Trump said.

According to the CNBC report, Epstein is accused of luring dozens of underage girls to his Manhattan mansion to give him massages that escalated into sex acts. He is charged in New York with one count of sex trafficking of minors and one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking of minors.

Epstein had long been under investigation by both federal and local law enforcement for sex crimes against underage girls that took place from 2002 to 2005 in New York and Florida.

Research contact: @CNBC

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