Posts tagged with "NBC News"

Tiger Woods swings back with a Masters win

April 17, 2019

It’s been a long time since Tiger Woods last won a Masters tournament—14 years—but Americans love a comeback.

Branding experts say his single-stroke victory on the 18th green during the final round on April 14 at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia also shows that Woods, at 43, is still a winning investment for Nike and his other sponsors, NBC News reported.

Woods delivered $22.5 million in media exposure for Nike during the tournament on Sunday, according to Apex Marketing Group.

“He’s eclipsed what he provided Nike in brand exposure for the four majors last year with just this one major,” Apex President Eric Smallwood told the network news outlet. “He’s got that drive now and he’s playing the best golf he’s played in recent years. I think he’s going to continue to provide Nike with enhanced exposure because the TV is going to follow him.”

President Donald Trump announced in a tweet on April 15 that he would be awarding Woods the Presidential Medal of Freedom: “Spoke to @TigerWoods to congratulate him on the great victory he had in yesterday’s @TheMasters, & to inform him that because of his incredible Success & Comeback in Sports (Golf) and, more importantly, LIFE, I will be presenting him with the PRESIDENTIAL MEDAL OF FREEDOM!

Bob Dorfman, creative director at Baker Street Advertising in San Francisco told NBC News that Woods’ victory—especially if it is followed by future wins—could go a long way to helping him to re-engage the wide variety of brands he endorsed before a sex scandal and tabloid-ready divorce prompted brands like Gatorade, Accenture, and AT&T to drop him.

“It legitimizes him — there were certainly questions about whether he was still viable,” he said.

This is good news for sponsors seeking a return on their investment, and for Woods’ own bottom line. “I would not be surprised if, in the long run, this win yesterday at Augusta is worth $50 to $100 million in future benefits to Tiger. He will see revenue streams from this win for years to come,” said Rick Burton, the David Falk professor of sport management at Syracuse University.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Just humor him: Trump was joking about loving WikiLeaks, Sarah Sanders says

April 16, 2019

“I love WikiLeaks,” Donald Trump exulted in October 2016 during a campaign rally. “Boy, they are good. You gotta read WikiLeaks!” ended

But on April 11—after WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested by the Metropolitan Police in London and ejected from Ecuador’s embassy following his seven-year asylum there—President Trump told reporters at the White House, “I know nothing about WikiLeaks.”

“It’s not my thing,” he added, according to an April 14 report by NBC News.

And White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was quick to come to his defense. “Look, clearly the president was making a joke during the 2016 campaign,” Sanders told “Fox News Sunday” host Chris Wallace about Trump’s past praise for WikiLeaks.

Sanders spoke about Trump’s WikiLeaks remarks after the Department of Justice charged the website’s fugitive founder Julian Assange with computer hacking following his arrest in London, partly in connection with a U.S. extradition warrant.

The Department of Justice indicted Assange on a charge of conspiring with former Army intelligence officer Chelsea Manning to hack a classified government computer. Manning provided WikiLeaks with a trove of secret government documents that the website published in 2010.

In his own defense, NBC News reports, Assange has insisted that the United States is trying to infringe on journalistic freedom.

Assange and WIkiLeaks were at the forefront of leaking stolen emails during the 2016 presidential campaign, including from 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Tussle over taxes: Mnuchin says Treasury Department won’t release Trump’s returns

April 12, 2019

In a move that bowed to the president rather than American values, the Treasury Department refused to hand over the Donald Trump’s tax returns by the April 10 deadline that had been specified by the House Ways and Means Committee, NBC News reports.

On the one hand, the House committee asserted that § 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code clearly states that it is entitled to receive the tax returns.

Indeed, the law dictates: “Upon written request from the chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Committee on Finance of the Senate, or the chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation, the Secretary [of the Treasury]shall furnish such committee with any return or return information specified in such request….”

On the other hand, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, in a letter to Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Massachusetts), said that the Treasury was continuing to review Democrats’ request in light of “serious issues” about whether the request is proper.

Neal said in a brief statement only that he had received Mnuchin’s letter and that he was consulting with legal counsel, promising a response “in the coming days.”

In filing a formal request with the Treasury Department last week, Neal had said, “I am certain we are within our legitimate legislative, legal and oversight rights.”

Mnuchin said at a Ways and Means hearing last month that he would protect Trump’s privacy.

 His letter went further, according to NBC News, claiming, “”The legal implications of this request could affect protections for all Americans against politically motivated disclosures of personal tax information, regardless of which party is in power.” Mnuchin said he was consulting with the Justice Department about the legality and constitutionality of Neal’s request.

Mnuchin said that “for the same reasons,” he intended to supervise the department’s review personally.

The president, himself, has insisted that his tax returns are under audit and cannot be released for that reasons. However, according to the network news outlet, tax experts have said that, even if he is under audit, there’s nothing to stop Trump from releasing his returns.

Representative Kevin Brady of Texas, the ranking Republican on Neal’s committee, welcomed Mnuchin’s letter, warning that the request “sets a dangerous precedent.”

“The tax code must not to be used for political fishing expeditions,” Brady said. “The Treasury Department is right to carefully review the privacy impact this request would have on every taxpayer.”

If the request continues to be denied, NBC News said, Democrats could consider legal action.

Separately, Democrats in New York, the president’s home state, introduced a bill in the legislature on Monday that would allow the state to release any state tax return requested by the three congressional committees. The bill would apply only to Trump’s state returns—not to the federal returns that Neal is seeking—but because the president’s businesses are based there, his New York returns are thought to be likely to include much of the same information.

Research contact: @NBCNews

Cummings presses for records of ‘Javanka’s’ use of WhatsApp and email for White House business

March 25, 2019

Next to MAGA, it is arguable that President Donald Trump’s favorite slogan during his run for office was “Lock her up!”—in reference to Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her stint as Secretary of State for the Obama administration.

So who would think that anyone who served on his campaign—or within the Trump administration—would consider using private email or texts for government business? Much less individuals from the president’s immediate family?

However, now that it has come to light that Trump senior adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has “has been using the messaging application WhatsApp as part of his official White House duties to communicate with foreign leaders”—a direct quote from his own lawyer, Abbe Lowell— and that Trump senior adviser and First Daughter Ivanka has been using her private email for similar reasons, House Oversight Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) wants an explanation.

He also wants copies of the relevant messages for “a bipartisan investigation into the use of personal email and messaging accounts by non-career officials at the White House in violation of the Presidential Records act and White House policy,” he said in a letter to the president’s counsel, Pat Cipollone, on March 21.

In the letter, Cummings asks that Cipollone indicate by March 28 whether the White House will comply voluntarily, NBC News reports. If not, he says, he will resort to “alternative means” to obtain the information.

In the letter, Cummings accused the White House of “obstructing” his committee’s work and called the officials’ practices a potential violation of federal records laws.

The letter is part of an initial strategy by the committee chairman to use his powers to pursue lines of inquiry that have had past bipartisan support, according to committee aides who spoke with NBC News.

In March 2017, then-Republican Oversight Chair Jason Chaffetz  (Utah)joined Cummings on a letter to the White House requesting information on any use of non-official email accounts being used by its officials.

White House spokesperson Steven Groves acknowledged receipt of the letter. “As with all properly authorized oversight requests, the White House will review the letter and will provide a reasonable response in due course,” Groves said.

In a letter responding to Cummings on March 21, Lowell disputed he ever told the committee that Kushner had communicated with foreign leaders through any app, the network news outlet said. “I said he has used those communications with ‘some people’ and I did not specify who they were,” said Lowell, noting that Kushner has numerous “friends and contacts abroad.”

He also insisted that Kushner “follows the protocols (including the handling of classified information) as he has been instructed to do.”

In addition, Lowell disputed reports that Ivanka Trump continued to use personal after becoming a senior adviser to her father.

The Presidential Records Act prohibits senior White House officials from creating or sending a record “using a non-official electronic message account.”

Cummings’ letter said that in October 2017, White House lawyers briefed committee staff and said several employees had acknowledged failing to forward official records from their personal email accounts within 20 days, but refused to identify who they were.

According to NBC News, the committee’s request for information is part a broad swath of demands Cummings has made of the White House. In his letter, Cummings noted that the White House has not “produced a single piece of paper” on this or any other investigation. The broad range of inquiries include questions about the administration’s immigration policy at the Mexico border, as well as hush money payments Trump made to a porn star during the 2016 election.

Research contact: @HeidiNBC

No sweat? Prolonged use of hormones linked to slightly higher risk of Alzheimer’s disease

March 12, 2019

Hot flashes, mood swings, sleep problems. Many women trade these uncomfortable, annoying—even embarrassing—symptoms of menopause in for a prescription for oral hormone therapy, and never look back.

But now there’s a reason to reevaluate. Researchers reported on March 6 that long-term use of oral hormone therapy may be associated with a small increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease in postmenopausal women.

The study, conducted by researchers affiliated with six Finnish healthcare organizations, looked at nearly 85,000 postmenopausal women, between the ages of 70 and 80, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease between 1999 and 2013.

They found that use of oral hormone therapy for ten or more years in women who started the pills before age 60 had a 9% to 17% increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. Women who used vaginal hormone therapy showed no increased risk.

Interestingly enough, prior research had indicated that hormone therapy reduces the risk of vascular dementia; but the new study found no such good news related to Alzheimer’s.

“It prompted us to do research on Alzheimer’s disease to see if the same results persisted, but it doesn’t look like hormonal therapy provided a protective effect on Alzheimer’s,” lead author Dr. Tomi Mikkola, supervisor for the obstetrics and gynecology doctoral program in clinical research at the University of Helsinki, told NBC News during a recent interview.

The specific reasons behind this increased risk are elusive, but biological differences between Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia may be one reason why, Mikkola said.

“Alzheimer’s is a completely different type of disease, we don’t know the mechanism behind the disease. What we know is that the disease has started decades before we see symptoms of memory loss,” said Mikkola.

It is possible that the hormone therapy speeds up progression of the disease, he added.

Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States. And of the nearly 6 million Americans who have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s; fully  two-thirds (66%) are women—including 200,000 under the age of 65. By 2050, experts predict that this number will rise to nearly 14 million, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

“Given the lack of effective Alzheimer’s treatments and increased prevalence of the disease, medical and public health efforts have focused on primary prevention, including risk factors and preventive strategies, especially to women,” said Dr. JoAnn E. Manson, chief of the Division of Preventive Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, in an editorial written in response to the study.

“But the findings should not be a cause for alarm. For the short-term management of hot flashes, night sweats and disruptive sleep, the benefits of hormone therapy seem to outweigh the risk.”

In recent years, considerable attention has been given to the role of menopausal hormone therapy. Two 2017 studies found that the period when a woman starts to produce less estrogen, usually in her 40s, may be a critical point in whether she’ll go on to develop Alzheimer’s or not. Researchers concluded that the hormone estrogen is protective for a woman’s brain, stimulating growth and keeping it healthy. But the natural drop in estrogen during menopause means women lose that layer of protection, NBC News reported..

Both Mikkola and Manson agree that most women under 60 are safe to use short courses of hormone therapy for menopause symptoms.

 “Women should not use hormone therapy for the expressed purpose of trying to improve memory or reduce cognitive decline, but when used for early menopause the benefits are sure to outweigh the risk for short term treatment,” said Manson.

Because the study was observational, it isn’t definite that long-term hormone therapy causes Alzheimer’s disease. Other risk factors, including cardiovascular disease, diabetes, or having the APOE gene weren’t included in the study — these may have also contributed to many of the women’s increased dementia risk.

“Women should not be scared to use hormone therapy if needed,” Mikkola told NBC News. “Women who use hormone therapy for symptom relief have a much better quality of life.”

Research contact: @NBCNews

About time: Labor Department proposal would make 1.1 million U.S. workers eligible for overtime pay

March 11, 2019

The U.S. Department of Labor has announcedproposed rule that would make 1.1 million American workers eligible to receive overtime pay beginning in 2020.

Under a 2004 currently enforced law, employees with a salary below $455 per week ($23,660 annually) must be paid overtime, if they work more than 40 hours during a given week.

The new proposal—which is subject to a 60-day comment period— would raise the salary cap of workers eligible for overtime from $455 to $679 per week (equivalent to $35,308 per year). 

“Our economy has more job openings than job seekers and more Americans are joining the labor force,” said Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta.  “At my confirmation hearings, I committed to an update of the 2004 overtime threshold, and [the new] proposal would bring common sense, consistency, and higher wages to working Americans.”

“Commenters … overwhelmingly agreed that the 2004 levels need to be updated,” said Keith Sonderling, acting administrator for the Department’s Wage and Hour Division.

The NPRM maintains overtime protections for police officers, fire fighters, paramedics, nurses, and laborers including: non-management production-line employees and non-management employees in maintenance, construction and similar occupations such as carpenters, electricians, mechanics, plumbers, iron workers, craftsmen, operating engineers, longshoremen, and construction workers.

According to an NBC News report, the threshold was last raised in 2004 under President George W. Bush. An Obama-era rule that would have raised it to $47,476 was blocked by a judge mere days before it was due to take effect on December 1, 2016. By that point, many big companies already had made adjustments to worker pay and titles — in some cases raising the pay of employees who were just below the higher threshold to just above it, or reclassifying salaried workers as hourly employees eligible to earn overtime.

In its announcement, the network news outlet said, the department indicated it was seeking a middle ground between a 15-year-old figure that had not kept pace with pay trends and the much higher cap that had been sought by President Barack Obama, which would have impacted 4.2 million workers.

Economists said the working poor would be the primary beneficiaries of the higher threshold, based on the NBC News report. “Expanding overtime eligibility will likely have a positive impact on wage growth for workers with lower wages,” said Daniel Zhao, Glassdoor senior economist.

Research contact: sweeney.megan.p@dol.gov

Amazon backs out of deal for New York City corporate campus

February 18, 2019

Following  three months of sustained opposition from state and local officials, Amazon has cancelled its plan to build a new campus across the East River from Manhattan — and, in the process, withdrawn the offer of 25,000 jobs that the move might have brought to New York City, NBC News reported on February 14..

Among those who fought the plan was high-profile Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D- 14th District, New York) whose district abuts the area in Long Island City where the new Amazon headquarters would have been located.

“It wasn’t any one incident,” Jodi Seth, the head of Policy Communications for Amazon, told the network last Thursday in an interview. “It was that the environment over the course of the past three months had not got any better. There were some local and state elected officials who refused to meet with Amazon and criticized us day in and day out about the plan.”

Seth said it came down to a long-term environment that Amazon did not care to work in, in part because different politicians put forward different reasons for opposing the project.

“If you talk to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, it’s ‘Never Amazon,'” Seth said. “If you talk to [New York City Councilman Jimmy] Van Bramer, [whose district is in Queens], it’s unions.” (New York is still a heavily unionized town, and Amazon’s opposition to unions was frequently cited by those who fought the project.)

According to NBC News, the main frustration for opponents of Amazon’s project was the $3 billion that the company had been awarded in state and city incentives — a cost that opponents said would have been paid for by New York residents. Many also feared that the move would lead to gentrification and higher housing prices.

And a number of residents of the neighborhood protested that the already overcrowded subway and bus transportation systems could not handle the additional onslaught of commuters.

Conversely, small business owners were unhappy with the decision because they had welcomed the extra business it would bring to the area.

Following Amazon’s announcement, Ocasio-Cortez commended “dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbors” for defeating “Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world” on her Twitter site.

Champions of the deal, including New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, said that the creation of those 25,000 new jobs, plus revenue from property taxes, corporate taxes, and personal income taxes, would have benefited Long Island City and New York in the long term.

In a statement Thursday, Cuomo criticized the “small group of politicians” who opposed the headquarters and put their own “narrow interests above their community.”

Even with support from some officials, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his team concluded that it wasn’t worth sticking around for the fight, NBC News reported. Seth noted that a vote on the move by the State Public Authorities Control Board the State Public Authorities Control Board wasn’t scheduled until April or May 2020.

“We wouldn’t have even known if the deal would be approved until a year from now,” she said. “We were pretty confident the deal would be approved, in that the governor was working hard to make it happen, but looking at the opposition and the timeline we decided we don’t want to work in this environment in the long term.”

Amazon offered no plan to find another headquarters in the area, and Seth told the TV network that Amazon has no intention of re-opening talks with New York state and local

Research contact: @DylanByers

Under new U.S. tax code, average family’s refund is down by 8.4%

February 14, 2019

The first tax season under President Donald Trump’s Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is under way—and early filers are saying “Where’s my refund?” according to an NBC News report.

While the White House promised in October 2017, while it was pushing for passage of the law, that the average family “would get a $4,000 raise,” now some taxpayers are discovering that the tax man giveth—but also taketh away. And that’s especially true as it pertains to their annual refund, the network news outlet says.

The average refund this year is down by 8.4%, to $1,865, for the week ending February 1, according to data from the Internal Revenue Service. At that time, the IRS said, the agency already had processed about 16  million returns—down from the 18 million it had received and processed at the same time last year.  That’s down 12.4% from the first week of last year’s tax season.

In a news release on February 8, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin said “filing season has successfully launched with millions of tax returns having been filed.”

Early filers vented their frustrations on Twitter, using the hashtag #GOPTaxScam.

“Last year I was able to get $2700 on tax returns but all my deductions are gone this year and was a net-$350. Only saving grace was increased child tax credit which kept my refund in the positive,” wrote @dexternights.

Indeed, the plan, which Trump said would simplify the tax code, also got rid of many deductions that working class Americans relied on to lower their tax bills—among them, home equity loan interest, moving expenses;and certain job costs, including licensing and regulatory fees.

Research contact: @AlyssaNewcomb 

Who do you trust? Trump claims a wall made El Paso safe; Mayor Margo disagrees

February 12, 2019

As President Donald Trump confirmed plans for a Monday night rally in El Paso, Texas, the city’s mayor, Dee Margo, asserted that the lower incidence of crime that the area has enjoyed in recent years has not been the direct result of fencing at the southern border.

The president is expected to exhort his base for a wall at what amounts to a major campaign event—being held just days ahead of the deadline for Congress to hammer out a deal on the budget and border security, NBC News reported on February 11.

“The border city of El Paso, Texas, used to have extremely high rates of violent crime—one of the highest in the country, and considered one of our nation’s most dangerous cities,” Trump said in his State of the Union Address on February 6 “Now, with a powerful barrier in place, El Paso is one of our safest cities.”

But the statistics don’t back him up. Mayor Margo notes. According to law enforcement data, the city had low crime rates well before a border barrier was constructed between 2008 and mid-2009.

Indeed, NBC News reports, violent crime has been dropping in El Paso since its modern-day peak in 1993 and was at historic lows before a fence was authorized by Congress in 2006. Violent crime actually ticked up during the border fence’s construction and after its completion, according to police data collected by the FBI.

Democratic officials immediately took issue with the picture Trump painted, saying the president was using their city to justify a pointless and unnecessary wall.

“The facts are clear. While it is true that El Paso is one of the safest cities in the nation, it has never been ‘…considered one of our Nation’s most dangerous cities,'” the city’s sheriff, Richard Wiles, a Democrat, said in a statement after Trump concluded his address. “And, El Paso was a safe city long before any wall was built.”

“I believe he was given some misinformation,” Mayor Margo told CNN in an interview, adding the idea that El Paso was a lawless and dangerous place before fencing was built is “not factually correct.”

Margo said he’d correct the president if he reiterated falsehoods about El Paso on Monday. “The geography of Texas won’t allow a fence from El Paso to Brownsville even if you wanted to do it,” Margo said.

When pressed on the inaccuracy of the president’s claims, the White House said the high rate of crime in the city directly across the border—Juarez—proved that the barrier was responsible for the low crime rate in El Paso.

Research contact: @janestreet

House Dems to probe Trump White House security clearance process

January 24, 2019

House Democratic investigators formally launched a probe on January 23 into how the White House “finessed” security clearances for staffers, including those for short-term National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and Senior Adviser (and son-in-law) Jared Kushner—accusing the Trump administration of playing fast-and-loose with the nation’s most guarded secrets, according to a report by Politico.

Oversight and Reform Committee Chairman Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland) laid out several lines of inquiry on the matter in a letter to the White House, specifically naming Flynn and other top officials whom he says should have raised red flags.

“The Committee on Oversight and Reform is launching an in-depth investigation of the security clearance process at the White House and Transition Team in response to grave breaches of national security at the highest levels of the Trump administration,” Cummings aid in the letter to the White House, obtained by NBC News.

The panel will press the White House to provide Congress with information about how and why it issued some security clearances, which Democrats note is required under federal law, Politico said. Democrats say the White House has so far refused to provided that information. Several inquiries on the same issue went unanswered by the administration last year.

The goals of this investigation are to determine why the White House and Transition Team appear to have disregarded established procedures for safeguarding classified information, evaluate the extent to which the nation’s most highly guarded secrets were provided to officials who should not have had access to them, and develop reforms to remedy the flaws in current White House systems and practices,” Cummings wrote.

Cummings specifically cited former Chief of Staff John Kelly’s acknowledgment of “shortcomings” in the security clearance process — and Kelly’s statement that the Trump administration “take a hard look” at how the White House handles clearances, Politico reported.

In addition to Flynn and Kushner, Cummings is requesting information on any problems or issues that arose in the security clearance processes for multiple individuals, including: former Deputy National Security adviser K.T. McFarland; National Security Adviser John Bolton; Rob Porter, the ex-White House staff secretary who left amid allegations of spousal abuse; former National Security Council Senior Director Robin Townley; and ex-deputy Assistant to the President Sebastian Gorka.

Research contact: @rachaelmbade