Posts tagged with "The New York Times"

FDA approves another ‘Viagra for women’

July 3, 2019

Late in June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Vyleesi (bremelanotide)—a libido-booster for premenopausal women.

The drug is injectable, and the manufacturer—Waltham, Massachusetts-based AMAG Pharmaceuticals—says it should be self-administered by placing the needle under the skin of the adbdomen or thigh and pushing the plunger, at least 45 minutes before sexual activity.

But, the pharmaceutical company also advises that patients, themselves, should decide on the “optimal time” ahead of intercourse for the injection because the drug has side effects that can ruin the mood—among them, nausea and vomiting, flushing, injection site reactions, and headaches.

About 40% of patients in the clinical trials experienced nausea, most commonly with the first Vyleesi injection; and 13% needed medications for the treatment of nausea. About 1% of patients treated with Vyleesi in the clinical trials reported darkening of the gums and parts of the skin, including the face and breasts—which did not go away in about half the patients after stopping treatment. Patients with dark skin were more likely to develop this side effect.

How does it work? Vyleesi activates melanocortin receptors, but the mechanism by which it improves sexual desire and related distress is unknown.

Still, the FDA says that this drug represents an advance in treating low sexual desire, for women and their partners affected by this problem.

“There are women who, for no known reason, have reduced sexual desire that causes marked distress, and who can benefit from safe and effective pharmacologic treatment. Today’s approval provides women with another treatment option for this condition,” said Hylton V. Joffe, M.D., M.M.Sc., director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research’s Division of Bone, Reproductive, and Urologic Products.

The approval of Vyleesi by the FDA follows the agency’s 2015 approval of Addyi, which also was designed to boost libido, but which no one really wanted. (Its sales are currently “tepid,” according to a recent report by The New York Times. Addyi also caused fainting when combined with alcohol.)

Research contact: @US_FDA

America may settle for nuclear freeze with North Korea

July 2, 2019

It was a shot seen around the world: Creating just the kind of global drama that he craves, U.S. President Donald Trump took a step into the Demilitarized Zone to shake hands with North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un on June 30, amid a swirl of Eastern and Western cameramen and security staff.

But for weeks before the meeting—which started as a Twitter offer by the president to Kim to drop by and “say hello”—a real idea has been taking shape inside the Trump administration that officials hope might create a foundation for a new round of negotiations, The New York Times reports.

No longer would America negotiate for North Korean denuclearization. The new “ask,” according to the Times, would be for a nuclear freeze—one that would essentially preserve the status quo; and, in doing so, recognize and accept the North as a nuclear state.

And while such an agreement would fall far short of President Trump’s original intention to disarm Korea, it might provide him with a retort to campaign-season critics—who say that Kim has been playing the American president brilliantly by giving him the visuals he craves while holding back on real concessions.

The administration still insists in public and in private that its goals remain full denuclearization; however it is willing to concede to a freeze as a limited first step.

American negotiators would seek to expand on Kim’s offer in Hanoi in February to give up the country’s main nuclear-fuel production site, at Yongbyon, in return for the most onerous sanctions against the country being lifted. Trump, under pressure from And it certainly would look like progress, after three personal meetings—in Singapore, in Hanoi, and now in the DMZ Zone—have accomplished little but smiles and handshakes.

However, according to the Times, on Sunday evening, the State Department’s envoy to North Korea, Stephen E. Biegun, said that this account of the ideas being generated in the administration was “pure speculation” and that his team was “not preparing any new proposal currently.”

“What is accurate is not new, and what is new is not accurate,” he said.

Research contact: @nytimes

Look who’s talking! Mueller agrees to testify for TV cameras in July; Trump vents anger

June 27, 2019

U.S. President Donald Trump flailed out in all directions—at the Democrats, at former Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III, at two former FBI officials—on June 26, after he learned that Mueller had agreed to testify in public before Congress next month about his investigation into Russia’s election interference and possible obstruction of justice, The New York Times reported.

Coming nearly three months after the release of what is commonly referred to as the Mueller Report, two back-to-back hearings on July 17 before the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees promise to be among the most closely watched spectacles of Trump’s presidency to date, the Times said.

For those who have not read the lengthy report—including, in all probability, the majority of Congress and the U.S. population—this will represent an opportunity for the lead investigator on the case to recount what his team found, up-close and personal.

Indeed, unlike the print presentation, the live video will zoom in on Mueller’s demeanor, providing a chance for viewers to evaluate the Special Counsel’s verbal emphasis and body language.

The testimony will have the power to change minds and, potentially, to reshape the political landscape around the president’s re-election campaign and the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry.

In a statement released on the evening of June 25, Chairmen Jerry Nadler (D-New York) of the Judiciary Committee and Adam Schiff (D-California) of the Intelligence Committee noted, “Americans have demanded to hear directly from the special counsel so they can understand what he and his team examined, uncovered, and determined about Russia’s attack on our democracy, the Trump campaign’s acceptance and use of that help, and President Trump and his associates’ obstruction of the investigation into that attack.”

For his part, upon hearing that the former special counsel would respond to the Congressional subpoenas and testify before two committees publicly, President Trump lashed out at Mueller on Wednesday, dredging up false accusations about the conduct of investigators.

The president offered no evidence as he repeated earlier accusations that Mueller destroyed text messages between two former F.B.I. officials, Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, who worked on the Russia investigation and, personally, were not fans of the president. “They’re gone and that is illegal,” the president said of the texts in an interview with Fox Business Network. “That’s a crime.”

According to the Times report, Trump was referring to a December Justice Department inspector general report—which revealed that 19,000 text messages had been lost because of technical problems; not intentionally deleted by Mr. Mueller or anyone.

“It never ends,” Mr. Trump said about Democratic efforts to investigate his conduct. He repeated, as he has done many times, that Mueller’s report found “no collusion with the Russians, “and he again offered a false assertion that he was cleared of obstruction of justice.

In a press conference at the end of May, Mueller emphasized that Mr. Trump has not been cleared of obstruction crimes, remarking, “If we had had confidence that the president clearly did not commit a crime, we would have said so.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Ethics and greed: Would you return a lost wallet?

June 24, 2019

Finders keepers, losers weepers? Most of us would keep a penny (or even a $1 bill) that we found in the street, without even thinking about it. But what if one of us found a notebook with a name and phone number on it? Or a wallet full of money and payments cards? (And there was nobody around to see—and judge—our actions.)

Recently, three researchers—Alain Cohn from the School of Information, University of Michigan, Michael André Maréchal from the Department of Economics a the University of Zurich in Switzerland, and David Tannenbaum of the Department of Management at the University of Utah— conducted a real-world study on ethics and greed.

The results established that we are much more honorable and trustworthy than we might assume.

In fact, most subjects in the three-year study were more apt to return a wallet when there was money and plastic inside it. And the more money, the better the chances that people would return it, The New York Times reported last week in its coverage of the research.

Experts say the study, published June 20 in the journal, Science, suggests that policymakers and businesses might better prevent dishonest behaviors, such as lying on tax returns, by using moral carrots instead of punitive sticks.

“It shows that when we make a decision whether to be dishonest or not, it’s not only ‘What can I get out of it versus what’s the punishment, what’s the effort?’” Nina Mazar, a behavioral scientist at Boston University who was not involved in the study told the news outlet in an interview. “It actually matters that people have morals and they like to think of themselves as good human beings.”

For the study, researchers planted 17,303 wallets in 355 cities on every continent except Antarctica. The American segment, conducted in 2015, involved 25 cities including Albuquerque, Chicago, Memphis, and New York.

The wallets, transparent business card cases with contents instantly visible, contained three business cards with a male name common to that country (e.g., Dimitri Ivanov for Russia, Tono Hendrianta for Indonesia, Peter Kihiga for Kenya). The American names were Brad O’Brien, Brett Miller, and Connor Baker.

Each business card listed an email address and identified the man as a freelance software engineer so people wouldn’t try contacting employers, the Times said.

Each wallet also contained a key and a handwritten grocery list in the native language: milk (or a locally analogous drink), bread, pasta (or rice or noodles), bananas. Some wallets had no money inside; some had $13.45 in local currency, adjusted to a comparable value for each country.

According to the New York Times report, research assistants walked into post offices, hotels, police stations, banks, museums or similar places, approached someone at the reception desk and said, “Hi, I found this on the street around the corner.” They slid the wallet toward the person, saying “Somebody must have lost it. I’m in a hurry and have to go. Can you please take care of it?”

In all but two countries, more people emailed to return wallets containing money than cashless wallets. Only Peru and Mexico bucked that pattern, but those results were too slight to be statistically significant, the researchers said. On average, 40% of people given cashless wallets reported them, compared with 51% of people given wallets with money.

Researchers were surprised, the news outlet noted. But then they ran the experiment again in three countries (Poland, the United Kingdom, and the United States), adding “big money” wallets containing $94.15. The difference was even starker. Way more people emailed to return the wallets with the larger amount: 72% compared with 61% of people given wallets containing $13.45 and 46% of people given cashless wallets.

Why?

“The evidence suggests that people tend to care about the welfare of others and they have an aversion to seeing themselves as a thief,” said researcher Alain Cohn, People given wallets with more money have more to gain from dishonesty, but that also increases “the psychological cost of the dishonest act.”

Overall, different nationalities showed different rates of reporting lost wallets. Switzerland and several Scandinavian countries had the highest rates; China and Morocco had the lowest. The United States was in the middle. Americans were about as likely to report wallets containing money as people in Spain, France and Russia.

Research contact:  adcohn@umich.edu

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

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

Turning tail: Senate Republicans warn White House against Mexico tariffs

June 6, 2019

Et tu, GOP? Even the Senate Republican are starting to doubt the wisdom of Trump’s tariffs—especially those he means to impose against Mexico. After all, Americans like their avocados, tequila, and automobiles.

Indeed, according to a New York Times report, Republican senators sent the White House a clear and compelling message on June 4—warning that they were almost unanimously opposed to the president’s plans to establish tariffs on Mexican imports, just hours after the president said lawmakers would be “foolish” to try to stop him.

The administration’s latest move to intimidate the nation’s southern neighbor in the face of rising illegal immigration at the border will create a “tax” against Americans, the GOP claims (and Democrats agree). Trump has threatened to set 5% tariffs on all goods imported from Mexico, rising to as high as 25%, until the Mexican government stems the flow of migrants, the Times said.

Republican senators emerged from a closed-door lunch at the Capitol angered by the briefing they received from a deputy White House counsel and an assistant attorney general on the legal basis for the president to impose new tariffs by declaring a national emergency at the southern border.

“I want you to take a message back” to the White House, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas), told the lawyers, according to Times sources. Cruz warned that “you didn’t hear a single yes” from the Republican conference. He called the proposed tariffs a $30 billion tax increase on Texans.

“I will yield to nobody in passion and seriousness and commitment for securing the border,” Mr. Cruz later told reporters. “But there’s no reason for Texas farmers and ranchers and manufacturers and small businesses to pay the price of massive new taxes.”

Texas would be hit the hardest by the proposed tariffs on Mexican products, followed by Michigan, California, Illinois and Ohio, according to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. A 25% tariff would threaten $26.75 billion of Texas imports.

In fact, the Chamber notes on its home page, “Imposing tariffs on Mexico is exactly the wrong move. These tariffs will be paid by American families and businesses without doing a thing to solve the very real problems at he border.

“We’re holding a gun to our own heads,” said Senator John Cornyn, (R-Texas).

If Mr. Trump were to declare an emergency to impose the tariffs, the House and the Senate could pass a resolution disapproving them. But such a resolution would almost certainly face a presidential veto, meaning that both the House and the Senate would have to muster two-thirds majorities to beat Mr. Trump.

Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin) said he warned the lawyers  during the closed-door meeting that the Senate could muster an overwhelming majority to beat back the tariffs, even if the president were to veto a resolution disapproving them. Republicans may be broadly supportive of Trump’s push to build a wall and secure the border, he said, but they oppose tying immigration policy to the imposition of tariffs on Mexico.

“The White House should be concerned about what that vote would result in, because Republicans really don’t like taxing American consumers and businesses,” Senator Johnson said.

However, the Times reported, when asked about Senate Republicans discussing ways to block the tariffs during his UK trip, President Trump responded, “I don’t think they will do that. I think if they do, it’s foolish.”

Research contact: @maggieNYT

Elizabeth Warren has a plan: She wants to pass a law clarifying that presidents can be indicted

June 3, 2019

Would Special Counsel Robert Mueller have charged President Donald Trump with a crime if Justice Department policy had not prevented him from doing so? On Friday, May 31, Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) said the answer was “yes,” according to a report by The New York Times.

But Senator Warren—who is among the more than 20 party hopefuls seeking the nomination for president—predictably enough, has a plan for that.

She has proposed legislation aimed at ensuring that “no President is above the law.” Indeed, in a story posted on Medium, she has made her vision clear: “If Donald Trump were anyone other than the president of the United States right now, he would be in handcuffs and indicted …. Mueller’s statement made clear what those of us who have read his report already knew. He’s referring President Trump for impeachment, and it’s up to Congress to act.”

Now, Warren has called on Congress to pass a law clarifying that the DOJ can, in fact, indict the president of the United States, while also renewing her call to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump, the Times reports.

“But impeachment isn’t supposed to be the only way that a President can be held accountable for committing a crime,” she said. “Congress should make it clear that Presidents can be indicted for criminal activity, including obstruction of justice. And when I’m president, I’ll appoint Justice Department officials who will reverse flawed policies so no President is shielded from criminal accountability.”

This is not a new stand for Senator Warren, who declared herself in favor of impeachment about a day after the Mueller report was released on April 18. She also was among several candidates who leveled sharp criticism at Attorney General William Barr for his handling of the report’s release, the news outlet noted.

She renewed her criticism of Barr on May 31, saying he had “disgraced himself by acting like Trump’s personal defense attorney” while also pledging to “appoint an Attorney General who will protect the rule of law.”

She reminded Americans, “No matter what he may think, Donald Trump is not a King. No President is. And our democracy only works if everyone can be held accountable.”

Research contact: @SenWarren

Supreme Court allows antitrust suit against Apple App Store to proceed

May 13, 2019

A divided Supreme Court voted 5-4  on May 13 to allow an enormous antitrust class action suit against Apple to move forward—ruling that the plaintiffs should be allowed to try to prove that the Cupertino, California-based technology giant has monopolized the market for the sale of iPhone apps, The New York Times reported.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who joined the court in October, wrote the majority opinion in the case, Apple Inc. v. Pepper et. al (No. 17-204)., which also was signed by the court’s four more liberal justices—rejecting a plea from Apple to end the lawsuit. Justice Neil Gorsuch, who joined the court in 2017, wrote the dissent.

The syllabus of the case summarized the basis for the suit as follows:

Apple sells iPhone applications, or apps, directly to iPhone owners through its App Store—the only place where iPhone owners may lawfully buy apps. Most of those apps are created by independent developers under contracts with Apple. Apple charges the developers a $99 annual membership fee, allows them to set the retail price of the apps, and charges a 30% commission on every app sale. Respondents, four iPhone owners, sued Apple, alleging that the company has unlawfully monopolized the aftermarket for iPhone apps.

The legal question in the case was whether the suit was barred by a 1977 decision, Illinois Brick Co. V. Illinois, which allowed only direct purchasers of products to bring federal antitrust suits. According to the Times report, Apple argued that it was an intermediary and so not subject to suit.

The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, earlier had  disagreed. “Apple is a distributor of the iPhone apps, selling them directly to purchasers through its App Store,” Judge William A. Fletcher wrote for a unanimous three-judge panel of the court.

Research contact: @nytimes

Edgewell to ‘shave off’ industry disruptor and competitor Harry’s in $1.37B acquisition

May 10, 2019

The dream of many entrepreneurs is to launch a great idea—and then get bought out for millions of dollars. That’s just what happened to Andy Katz-Mayfield and Jeff Raider, who founded New York City-based Harry’s in 2013 because “they were tired of overpaying for overdesigned razors, and of standing around waiting for the person in the drugstore to unlock the cases so they could actually buy them.”

Now, they offer a starter set—a weighted rubberized handle, a five-blade razor cartridge, foaming shave gel, and a travel blade cover—for just $8. Customers can choose to continue buying with a subscription service that will send customized refills every two, three, or five months.

Not only have Katz-Mayfield and Raider disrupted the entire shaving industry—until that time, dominated by just two brands (Gillette and Schick)—but now, they’re joining forces with one of them, The New York Times reports.

Edgewell Personal Care—the company that owns the Schick and Wilkinson razor brands (as well as Hawaiian Tropic)—announced on May 9 that it plans to buy Harry’s for about $1.37 billion in stock and cash. And the founders, Katz-Mayfield and Raider, will stay on to run Edgewell’s operations in the United States.

It is the one of the largest recent examples an established business buying a younger, nimbler competitor born of the Internet and predicated on reaching consumers in new ways, the Times reports. That has included deals like Unilever buying Dollar Shave Club, the other shaving start-up sensation, for $1 billion three years ago; as well as Walmart acquiring the online men’s wear purveyor Bonobos for about $310 million.

In the men’s shaving market, the combined Edgewell and Harry’s will remain a distant second to Procter & Gamble’s Gillette brand, which commanded 47.3% of the American market last year, according to data from Euromonitor. Edgewell’s top brands held about 13.6% of the market, while Harry’s had about 2.6 percent.

But executives from Edgewell and Harry’s said in an interview with The New York Times that they saw a chance to form a big, new consumer products company infused with both global reach and new ways of marketing to customers.

“We’ve had an interesting product portfolio, but we’ve lacked a way to communicate with the consumer,” Rod Little, Edgewell’s chief executive, said.

Talks between the two companies began in earnest shortly after Little was appointed to his post in March, the executives said. The Harry’s management team had considered alternatives, like an initial public offering, but combining with an established brand ultimately made the most sense.

“This got us where we wanted to go more quickly than some alternative route,” Katz-Mayfield said.

Under the terms of the deal, which was approved by both boards on May 8, 79% of Edgewell’s offer—just over $1 billion—would be in cash. The remainder would be in stock, giving Harry’s investors a roughly 11% stake in the combined company.

Katz-Mayfield and Raider will become co-presidents of Edgewell’s American operations, giving them a bigger perch and more brands to oversee and overhaul.  Little will remain chief executive of the combined business.

The deal is expected to close by March 31, 2020.

Research contact: @harry’s