Posts tagged with "NBC News"

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

With online stylists, even shy guys can rate on a date

June 19, 2019

Most dating self-help books, websites, apps, and gurus are sought out by women who are insecure about their beauty, charm, or self-worth.

But now, Connell Barrett, a New York City-based dating coach, is helping the other 50% of the population to finesse the finer points of relationships. Barrett, founder of Dating Transformation, works with male clients for eight-week stretches in what he refers to as a dating boot camp.

“I’m Yoda and I consider my clients young Luke Skywalkers,” Barrett recently told NBC News with a laugh.

Barrett is one of a growing number of dating professionals who are helping singles to spiff up their online dating profiles—taking and selecting new online profile photos, penning new online dating profiles, even initiating online chats and texts with would-be dates—in a bid to help their clients find more and better matches, the network news outlet reports.

“Part of my job as a dating coach is to help my clients create dating profiles that sort of swipe a woman out of her swiping hypnosis and say, ‘Hey, look at that great guy,’” said Barrett.

The dating industry is a $3 billion empire, according to Marketdata, with an estimated 40 million singles looking for love, or at least dates, online. Tinder reports that there are more than a billion swipes recorded on the app every single day.

Barrett said with so much competition, it’s hard for singles looking for real connections to break through the noise and stand out.

“With online dating, the secret sauce is to break her from her swiping pattern, because Tinder and Bumble can become like an endless video game,” Barrett told NBC News.

He gave as an example how he had helped 46-year-old divorced dad Greg Sysak of New Jersey learn to renavigate the dating world and stand out of the crowd. Barrett said he had encouraged Sysak to trash the dimly lit photos and impersonal selfies that populated his old dating profiles, and replace them with brighter photos that showcased his playful personality.

Indeed, NBC reports, the ultimate online dating no-no’s are  bathroom selfies and the gym selfies.

Barrett also encouraged Sysak to rework his biography on dating sites, so that it brought out his personality, quirks, and passions.

“Most men post these very generic dating profiles that say all the same things, like ‘I like long walks on the beach’ or they post their résumé,” Barrett told the network. “Crack a joke. Put your favorite Beatles quote in there. Something that expresses who you are.”

Sysak said he’s uncertain what his romantic future holds, but says, now that he’s working with a dating coach, he feels more optimistic. “Dating can be tough so it can be helpful to have someone there for you,” Sysak said. “It’s nice to have a shoulder to lean on. Somebody to say, ‘You know what? We’re gonna go out there. Here’s what we’re gonna do.'”

Research contact: @NBCNews

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

Biden gets bashed for his support of Hyde Amendment

June 7, 2019

Democratic voters who had backed Joe Biden’s presidential run to date—as well as three national groups that advocate for women’s rights—are criticizing the former vice president over his support for the Hyde Amendment, which blocks federal Medicaid funding for abortion services.

The fallout has occurred in response to a June 5 NBC News report that Biden continues to support the amendment, which allows for exceptions only after rape or incest—or to save the life of the mother.

Biden started the week on a strong roll—with 33% of national poll respondents saying they would support him; in contast to 16.7% for Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), 8.2% for Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts), 7.8% for Senator Kamala Harris (D-California), and 6.8% for Mayor Pete Buttigieg of (D-South Bend, Indiana), according to Real Clear Politics.

However, those numbers could change, in light of his less-than-overwhelming support of a woman’s right to choose.

Indeed, Biden only would back repealing the amendment “if abortion avenues currently protected under Roe were threatened,” his campaign told NBC News.

In a statement released on June 5, Ilyse Hogue, president of the abortion rights group NARAL, said there is “no political or ideological excuse” for Biden’s support for the amendment, which she said “translates into discrimination against poor women and women of color plain and simple.”

She added, “His position further endangers women and families already facing enormous hurdles and creates two classes of rights for people in this country, which is inherently undemocratic.”

Stephanie Schriock, the president of Emily’s List, a political action committee that works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights, also issued a statement, saying, “At a time when reproductive rights are under consistent attack, it’s unacceptable that a major Democratic nominee supports the Hyde Amendment.”

Schriock further stated, “We hope that Vice President Biden will reconsider this position and what it means to millions of women.”

According to a report by The Washington Post, Biden’s stance on the issue puts him at odds with most of the 2020 Democratic presidential field, as well as with the Democratic Party’s platform. In 2016, the party amended its platform to include a plank calling for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, describing it as among the “federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion.”

“The Democratic Party platform is crystal clear in supporting the right to safe, legal abortion and repealing the Hyde Amendment, a position held by the majority of voters,” said Kelley Robinson, executive director of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, on June 5.”

Research contact: @NBCNews

Editor’s note: According to a report by The Wall Street Journal, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden said on the night of June 6 that he now opposes a ban on the use of federal funds for most abortions, reversing his longstanding position amid pressure from fellow Democrats and abortion-rights groups.

Barr tries to provoke Pelosi: ‘Did you bring your handcuffs?’

May 17, 2019

On two occasions within the past month, the U.S. attorney general has, literally, been a scofflaw.

NBC News reports that, after refusing to appear before the House Judiciary Committee several weeks ago and ignoring a subpoena, AG William Barr ribbed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) on May 15 about an impending vote to find him in contempt of Congress.

Barr approached Pelosi at a National Peace Officers’ Memorial Day event outside the Capitol, shook her hand and said loudly, “Madam Speaker, did you bring your handcuffs?” a bystander told NBC News.

Pelosi—whose role it is to schedule the contempt vote against Barr before the full House—remained unperturbed.

She smiled in reply and indicated that the House sergeant-at-arms was present at the ceremony, should an arrest be necessary, the bystander said. Barr chuckled and walked away.

But this is not the first time he has sneered at the situation. Barr also joked about the contempt resolution at a farewell ceremony for former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein last week.

“This must be a record, of an attorney general being proposed for contempt within 100 days of taking office,” Barr said with a smile.

Research contact: @NBCNews