Posts tagged with "NBC News"

Democrats deploy new impeachment plan of attack after White House refuses to cooperate

October 11, 2019

House Democrats are now saying that they don’t need any help from the White House to make a case for impeachment, NBC News reports.

To circumvent Executive Branch efforts to impede and obstruct the House impeachment inquiry, Democrats have launched a fresh offensive: They intend to inundate the White House with subpoenas; as well as requests for interviews with people who no longer work in the administration.

Democrats issued additional subpoenas for testimony and relevant documents on October 10 to Igor Fruman and Lev Parnas —two associates of the president’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, both of whom are alleged to have helped Giuliani dig for dirt on the Bidens in Ukraine. They were requested to appear for depositions this Thursday and Friday before Congress, but before they could appear on Capitol Hill, they were arrested Wednesday night on charges tied to campaign finance violations, NBC News says.

Since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) formally announced the impeachment inquiry last month, Democrats have so far issued eight subpoenas—including those to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Rudy Giuliani, White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Office of Management and Budget Acting Chief Russell Vought, and U.S. Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland In addition, they have requested documents from Vice President Mike Pence.

However, few, if any, of the current administration leaders are expected to respond to the Democrat’s subpoenas and requests. Just this week, Ambassador Sondland declined to testify, on orders from the State Department and President Donald Trump.

Therefore, the Democrats are targeting former officials,  who are now private citizens, and would not fall under the White House ‘s claims of executive privilege. Kurt Volker, who recently resigned as U.S. special envoy to Ukraine, testified before Congress last week, several days after he left the administration.

On Monday, Trump’s former Russia adviser Fiona Hill, volunteered to meet in a closed-door session with several congressional committees. A letter addressed to Hill, obtained by NBC, requested that she turn over several documents that date back to January 2017.

Congress returns next week from a two-week recess and Democrats are expected to speed up their investigation that could lead them filing articles of impeachment against the president. Two sources told NBC News that Pelosi will hold another caucus-wide conference call on Friday afternoon, so rank and file members can receive an update about the impeachment inquiry.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Have your heard? Never kiss a baby’s ear

September 18, 2019

Most new parents are “playing by ear” when it comes to baby care, but there’s one important thing to know: There’s one place you should never kiss a baby—or anyone else, for that matter—and that’s the ear, according to Professor of Audiology Levi Reiter of Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York.

Indeed, according to a report by NBC News, an innocent kiss right on the ear opening creates strong suction that can tug on the delicate eardrum, resulting in a recently recognized condition known as “cochlear ear-kiss injury.”

Such a kiss can lead not only to permanent hearing loss, but to a host of other troubling ear symptom—among them, ringing, sensitivity to sound, distortion, and aural fullness.

Dr. Reiter has been studying the phenomenon ever since a woman came to him five years ago with a strange story about going deaf in one ear immediately after her five-year-old kissed her there.

“I thought this lady was a unique case,” says Reiter. After a bit of research, though, he discovered another case of ear-kiss injury reported in the 1950s.

Once the so-called “kiss of deaf” was written up in Newsday, however, Reiter started hearing from people worldwide. He now has identified more than 30 ear-kiss victims (and hopes to hear from more).

Ear-kiss patients exhibit a characteristic pattern of hearing loss, Reiter said, with hearing most diminished in the frequency range of unvoiced consonants, such as “ch” and “sh.”

“There are a lot of cases of unknown unilateral hearing loss in kids, and I am sure that a good portion are from a peck on the ear,” he says.

Babies and small children are particularly vulnerable to hearing damage via kiss, simply because their ear canals are smaller. A baby will cry after such a painful kiss, he told NBC News, but “kids cry for a lot of reasons.” Unfortunately, hearing loss usually isn’t identified until years later, during a school screening.

Unilateral hearing loss can be acquired from a blow to the ear, impulse noise (like an exploding firecracker) on one side of the head, or a Q-tip pushed too far.

An ear-kiss is another cause, formerly undiscovered, Paul Farrell, associate director for Audiology Practices at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, told the network news outlet. “It is a fascinating phenomenon,” he said. “I would consider it an emerging topic in the field.”

Reiter believes that the intense suction on the eardrum pulls the chain of three tiny bones in the ear. The third bone, the stirrup-shaped stapes, then tugs on the stapedial annular ligament, causing turbulence in the fluid of the cochlea, or inner ear.

Reiter is full of horror stories of ear-kiss injuries resulting from normal everyday activities: a hairdresser sending a client off with a nice hairdo and a smack on the ear; a relative’s air-kiss going astray after a quick turn of the head; a mother seeing her little girl off to school with a loving smooch.

Still, the prevalence of the injury is unknown.

“People are going to doctors who are pooh-poohing this,” says Reiter. “One reason these people wrote to me in the first place was that they were getting nowhere. The doctors were making fun of them. They felt humiliated.”

“My granddaughter is a kindergarten teacher and I tell her never kiss any of your little tykes on the ear,” he says.

The professor told NBC News that he is preparing to submit his most recent findings to the International Journal of Audiology and the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology.

Research contact: @NBCNews

The Vend at New York City’s 30 Rock offers kimchi, an engagement ring, jade face rollers, and emergency socks

September 6, 2019

If you want to buy a jar of kimchi, an RBG action figure, an engagement ring, a chicken pesto sandwich, and a shaving kit at the same place at the same time, that’s now possible at a new storefront in New York City’s Rockefeller Center.

Located in 30 Rock’s downstairs concourse, The Vend has been created by Tishman Speyer, a major player in the real estate industry and the owner of the famed center.

The store has six self-service vending machines—open 24/7—that carry everything you might need in a pinch, such as jade face rollers, emergency socks, and Brooks Brothers dress shirts.

“It’s a very modern twist on the classic, old school New York automat—the place where you’d go to get all the essential things you needed,” Tishman Speyer Managing Director EB Kelly told News 4/NBC Miami.

The machines are divided into several categories: joy, savory, sundries, sweets, and drinks.

In a city that never sleeps, you can get a yellow rose diamond ring from Fitzgerald Jewelry of Williamsburg (Brooklyn) any time day or night, in case you wanted to spontaneously pop the question. The machines also have Polaroid cameras for you to document the occasion.

On a recent afternoon, several New York City shoppers stopped by to check out The Vend. One of them appeared to be concerned about the freshness of the refrigerated food, according to a report by The New York Post.

“Seared tuna from a vending machine,” said David Lepelstat, who works nearby, scrutinizing a packaged lunch dish priced at $13.95. “That chocolate cookie looks safer to me.”

A Vend associate said the fresh fare from Proper Food — which includes gourmet salads and sandwiches—is delivered every morning and donated to charity at night if it’s not sold.

Shoppers have been weighing in on what else they want stocked, the associate confirmed. They want “more energy drinks,” she told The Post. And “phone chargers.”

Research contact: @NBCNews

Biden: Trump doesn’t have ‘intestinal fortitude’ for gun control; ‘no compromise’ with McConnell

September 4, 2019

Former vice president and current candidate for president Joe Biden said Monday that he sees little hope for a compromise in Washington, D.C., that would tighten restrictions on gun sales—adding that President Donald Trump “has no intestinal fortitude” to follow through on his talk of pushing Congress to act in the wake of yet another mass shooting, NBC News reported.

The still-dominant Democratic frontrunner has made his ability to work with Republicans a touchstone of his presidential campaign, the network said—but he told reporters in Iowa that guns will not be an issue that can be dealt with across the aisle.

“I said I’ll work with {Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell where we can agree. But on this one, he’s not going to agree … so we just have to beat him, flat out beat him,” Biden said a Labor Day picnic in Cedar Rapids. “I think there’s no compromise. This is one we have to just push and push and push and push and push. And the fact of the matter is, I think it’s going to result in seeing some of them [Republicans] defeated.”

Guns are an issue on the agenda for Congress when it returns to Washington this month after the August recess, but Biden said he’s not holding his breath for action.

Part of the problem, he told NBC News, is that Trump has on several occasions voiced some support for new gun safety measures, including universal background checks, only to backtrack later.

“I’ve seen nothing,” he said of a possible solution in Congress this fall. “The president has no intestinal fortitude to deal with this. He knows better. His instinct was to say yeah, we’re going to do something on background checks. What’s he doing? Come on. This is disgraceful. This is disgraceful what’s happening.”

Biden’s head-to-head rival, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), told NBC News, “[W}e know what the pieces are …— universal background checks, assault weapons off our streets, get rid of bump stocks and the ability to fire weapons in a short period of time. There are a lot of things we could be doing. So why doesn’t it happen? And the answer is corruption. It’s corruption. Right now we have a Washington that is held hostage by the gun industry and the NRA. That has to stop.”

Research contact: NBCNews

Universal to build new 750-acre theme park in Orlando, hire 14K workers in central Florida

August 5, 2019

Universal Orlando Resort is building a new 750-acre theme park down the road a few mile from its current attractions, to be called Universal’s Epic Universe, parent company Comcast has announced.

The new theme park will feature an entertainment center, hotels, shops, restaurants, and more. It will nearly double Universal’s total available acreage in Central Florida, Comcast says.

The news breaks just as Universal’s main competition in the area, Disney, is about to open its second Star Wars theme park in Orlando.

According to a statement from Universal, the Epic Universe “will take guests on a journey where beloved stories expand into vibrant lands—and where that journey is as much a part of their adventure as the ultimate destination.”

“Our new park represents the single-largest investment Comcast NBCUniversal has made in its theme park business and in Florida overall,” said CEO Brian Roberts .

Universal Orlando currently employees 25,000 people and will hire an additional 14,000 team members as part of Epic Universe, including professional, technical, culinary, and other specialized positions.  The company currently contributes more than $302 million in annual state and local taxes—a number that will nearly double when the new theme park opens.

The majority of the businesses Universal relies on are either regional firms or national firms with a large regional presence.  An economic impact study for Universal conducted by University of Central Florida Economic Forecasting Professor Sean Snaith found that Universal Orlando’s combined direct and indirect economic benefit to the Florida economy since Universal Studios opened in 1990 is $73 billion.  He also found that construction of the new park, alone, will contribute a total of $11.5 billion in direct and indirect economic benefit into the Florida economy.

According to a report by NBC News, in the last decade, Universal has expanded its two parks to include “Harry Potter”-themed lands Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade. Analysts are speculating that new rides could be based on Universal properties such as Minions, classic monsters, and even Nintendo.

Research contact: @comcast

‘Smart cars’ are too ‘demanding and confusing’ for older drivers

August 2, 2019

“It was a comedy of errors,” said a 71-year-old participant in a recent study conducted by the University of Utah on behalf of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety—during which, among other things, he was asked to program car’s infotainment system.

The new AAA car safety study suggests that tech-laden “smart” cars are too distracting, which can undermine efforts to keep roadways safe, especially when those getting behind the wheel are aged 55 and over, NBC News reports.

Indeed, the researchers say that all of the bells and whistles on new cars may be perceived as demanding and confusing by older drivers.

“The technology we’re putting in cars today [is] unsafe for all of us to use, especially for older adults,” said Jake Nelson, AAA Director of Traffic Safety Advocacy and Research. “Our advice to consumers is that just because technology is built into your car doesn’t mean that it’s safe to do those things.”

In the study, drivers were divided into two groups— a younger group (ages 21 to 36) and an older group (ages 55 to 75). Each participant was asked to drive a 2018 car equipped with a number of “smart” features, including navigation screens and voice activation controls.

Among the tasks drivers were asked to complete: sending a text message, programming music, programming a navigation system, and placing a call.

Overall, the study found, older drivers experienced higher levels of cognitive and visual demand, compared to younger drivers. These differences were even more pronounced for older drivers when completing any in-vehicle information system task, or IVIS. But the study found that older and younger drivers both found some tech features challenging and time-consuming.

“Given the demands associated with IVIS tasks,” the study concluded, “drivers of all ages should use these infotainment technologies only for legitimate emergencies or urgent, driving-related purposes.”

Paul Brown, a 71-year-old retired attorney who resides in Salt Lake City, is one of the drivers who took part in the study. “I don’t need something that is going to do everything for me and distract me while I’m driving,” Brown said. “Quite frankly, when I was driving, I found myself feeling as if I was driving dangerously because of all of those distractions.”

Brown said he found the large display screen situated to the right of the steering wheel in the cars he drove for the study especially distracting.

“If I was driving that kind of car, I would probably put a napkin or blanket or something over that screen so that I could concentrate on driving the car,” Brown said, adding that he prefers older, simpler cars.

Nelson said that making cars more user-friendly for older drivers ultimately makes cars safer for everyone. “If we can design a system to make it so that utilizing a car’s features is no more distracting than tuning your radio, if we can achieve that for the older adult driver, we can all benefit from that,” Nelson said.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Jews take ‘Never Again Action’ at ICE migrant detention facilities nationwide

July 22, 2019

Serena Adlerstein didn’t expect her Facebook status to turn into a nationwide movement—but somehow her words managed to mobilize thousands of young Jews to the streets, protesting the treatment of migrants in U.S. detention, she told NBC News.

“I made an offhand Facebook post like, ‘What if young Jews occupied ICE detention centers and shut them down?’” Adlerstein, 25, she said in an interview with the network news outlet.

People responded, and by that evening, on June 24, she was on the phone with other young Jews from around the country planning a protest, and hundreds of people had signed up on a Google doc expressing interest in joining.

Their motivation was empathy for those seeking asylum and safety—but they also harbored memories and fears that stretched back more than a century: Indeed, as she watched pundits and politicians debate whether to call migrant detention centers “concentration camps”, Adlerstein was reminded of the Holocaust refrain she was raised on: “Never Again.”

“Never Again,” she thought, is now.

A week later, on Sunday, June 30, about 200 protesters under the banner of the newly formed Never Again Action protested outside a detention center in Elizabeth, New Jersey. As of that day, 36 activists were arrested and the demonstration had sparked a burgeoning movement.

My intent wasn’t to start an organization or a long-term movement,” Adlerstein explained to NBC News. But now that Never Again Action has spread across the country, she’s leaning into it.

Since that initial protest, just two weeks ago, Never Again Action has organized more than 10 different protests around the country, in states from California to Rhode Island, and more are scheduled in the coming weeks.

In Boston on July 2, more than 1,000 protesters gathered at the New England Holocaust Memorial, where they marched to a nearby jail where ICE houses detainees. In Philadelphia, 33 people were arrested when they blocked the city’s Fourth of July parade, holding sings like ‘Never Again Means Close the Camps.”

Julia Davidovitz, 25, a preschool teacher in Boston organizing with Never Again, told the network news outlet that people like her need to act and bring the community together because institutional leaders aren’t.

“This is an occasion where we have been moral leaders,” she said. “We have not seen as much moral leadership from the stronghold of the mainstream Jewish leadership.”

Her message: “Join us.”

Davidovitz wants to see entire congregations join upcoming actions, and invited her rabbi and mom to join her in action.

“This is a crisis no matter what language you use to describe it” Davidovitz said. “We are a community that’s been targeted. We can’t stand by while it happens to others.”

Research contact: @NeverAgainActn

Last licks: Woman caught on social media licking store ice cream and putting it back faces years in jail

July 8, 2019

A woman who licked more than her lips at a Walmart store may find herself in the “cooler” soon. The “mystery shopper” (who has not yet been identified by authorities) went viral on social media recently for licking a tub of ice cream and returning it to the frozen food display.

Now police say that, when they find her, she faces up to 20 years in prison for the prank, according to a July 4 report by NBC News.

The footage of the escapade—which already has been viewed more than 11 million times— shows the so-far unnamed woman opening a container, running her tongue across the ice cream; then laughing as she places the violated dessert back in the freezer, in a branch of Walmart in the city of Lufkin, eastern Texas.

She could face a second-degree felony charge of tampering with a consumer product, the Lufkin, Texas, Police Department said in an email statement to NBC News. The charge comes with a two- to 20-year prison term and up to $10,000 in fines, according to Texas state penal code.

Police also want to speak to the man she was with, who is thought to have filmed the incident and can be heard encouraging the woman to “Lick it, lick it.”

According to NBC, investigators also are in discussions with the FDA and additional federal charges could be made.

“Our detectives are working to verify the identity of the female suspect before a warrant is issued for her arrest on a charge of second-degree felony tampering with a consumer product,” a police spokesperson said.

“As that portion of the investigation continues, detectives are focusing on identifying the male (in the green shirt) behind the camera seen in images of the two entering the store together.”

Blue Bell Creameries, the local manufacturer of the ice cream brand the woman licked, has called the incident a “malicious act of food tampering.”

All tubs containing the mix of creamy vanilla ice cream with swirls of chocolate fudge and dark-chocolate-covered roasted peanuts have been removed from the store’s shelves as a precaution, the company said. The specific carton believed to be compromised was found among the lot.

In an earlier statement, the company explained that its cartons are frozen upside down in production, which creates a natural, tight seal by freezing the lid to the tub, meaning consumers would notice if any tampering occurred upon opening a fresh tub.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Harris hits hard at Biden at Miami debate; leaves frontrunner reeling

July 1, 2019

All of the Democratic hopefuls piled on their criticisms of the current frontrunner, former Vice President Joe Biden, during the June 27 presidential debate, hosted by NBC News in Miami—but Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) bested her 19 rivals, a longtime Republican pollster told CNBC on Friday.

“She owned the stage, and Joe Biden should have known it was coming, ” Frank Luntz said in a Squawk Box interview the morning after the second round of debates..

Harris, a first-term U.S. senator and former California attorney general, bashed Biden for his comments at a June 25 New York City fundraiser, at which he reminisced about the atmosphere of political fellowship when he was a senator in the 1970s and 1980s—comparing it to today’s climate, in which political rivals are considered “the enemy.”

At that event, Biden cited his ability to work with such staunch segregationists as Senator James Eastland (D- Mississippi), who Biden said was “one of the meanest guys I ever knew.”

“I was in a caucus with … Eastland,” Biden said and then, imitating a Southern accent, added that the senator “never called me ‘boy,’” a racial epithet used against black men (but not against Caucasians such as Biden).

At Thursday night’s debate, Harris left Biden chagrined and disconcerted after she pressed him on his July 25 comments—as well as on his record on school desegregation.

As the only black candidate on the stage, Harris recounted her own experience with integration and told Biden it was “hurtful” that he had worked with segregationist senators and led anti-busing efforts, NBC News reported.

At the end of her attack, she threw a curveball that knocked both Biden and the audience off their feet: ““There was a little girl in California who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools, and she was bused to school every day, and that little girl was me,” Harris said.

“She was very effective in that moment,” said one of the other candidates, Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colorado).

Biden called Harris’s blitzkrieg “a mischaracterization of my position across the board,” arguing, “I did not praise racists.”

As NBC news reported, the former vice president also reiterated the argument he has made in the past: that the federal government should not have been empowered to force schools to use busing as a means of desegregation..

By the end of the back and forth, the usually loquacious Biden cut himself off. “My time is up,” he said abruptly. “I’m sorry.”

 “That was a brilliant debate performance,” Luntz said to CNBC of Harris. “She’s the winner of both nights.”

So, would Harris be the best adversary to Trump in a future debate?

 “Don’t focus on the national numbers,” said Luntz, who refused to say which Democratic candidate would present the toughest challenge to Trump’s reelection campaign.At this point, it’s all about convincing primary voters in key early-voting states, the pollster said. “What really matters is IowaNew HampshireSouth Carolina. ”

In handicapping Harris’ primary chances, Luntz said, “South Carolina is 40% African American, the Democratic primary. She has now staked a clear claim to that vote. A number of them have been supporting Biden up to this point.”

Research contact: @CNBC

Mum’s the word: Hope Hicks refuses to answer House Judiciary questions about Trump

June 20, 2019

Former Assistant to the President and Communications Director Hope Hicks has followed instructions from Donald Trump and his White House Counsel, Pat Cipollone, not to cooperate with questions from the House Judiciary Committee concerning obstruction of justice by the administration in the Mueller investigation.

In conformity with a subpoena, Hicks appeared on the Hill on June 19 for a closed-door meeting with the committee, chaired by Representative Jerry Nadler (D-New York).

However, Hicks—one of President Trump’s most trusted advisers until she resigned just one day after her previous testimony before the same House panel in February 2018—refused to answer questions Wednesday about her time working in the White House.

Representative David Cicilline (D-Rhode Island) a member of the committee and of Democratic leadership, told reporters Wednesday that Hicks was preventing Congress from doing its oversight work.

“She has answered some and mostly she is hiding behind the facetious claim of complete immunity about anything to do with her service in the White House,” he said, according to a report by NBC News.

“The president’s lawyers are directing her not to answer any questions even as we are recounting stuff she told to the special counsel,” he added. “This will be the beginning of what I presume will be litigation.”

In a letter sent to Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., on June 18, the night before Hicks’s scheduled testimony, White House Counsel Pat Cipollone asserted that Hicks was “absolutely immune from being compelled to testify before Congress with respect to matters occurring during her service as senior adviser to the president.”

But, NBC News reported, Nadler dismissed those claims. “I reject that assertion” regarding blanket executive privilege, he said in a response released late Tuesday night, adding that after the panel posed questions to Hicks, “we will address privilege and other objections on a question by question basis.”

According to the network news outlet, the Democrats on the panel had planned to focus their questions Wednesday on what they say are five crimes of obstruction of justice established by the Mueller Report against Trump, as well as campaign finance violations stemming from alleged election-year hush money payments.

Research contact: @NBCNews