Posts tagged with "USA Today"

Court sides with publisher; Simon & Schuster to release Mary Trump’s tell-all book on July 14

July 7, 2020

Mary Trump’s revelatory book on the Trump family—announced on Monday, July 6 that it would move up its publication date to July 14 due to “high demand and extraordinary interest.”

The president’s niece, who has been embroiled in a legal battle over the book with her uncles, including the president’s brother Robert Trump, issued an email statement to USA Today through her spokesperson, Chris Bastardi.

“The act by a sitting president to muzzle a private citizen is just the latest in a series of disturbing behaviors which have already destabilized a fractured nation in the face of a global pandemic,” the statement said. “If Mary cannot comment, one can only help but wonder: what is Donald Trump so afraid of?”

The book, “Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man,” originally was scheduled to be published by Simon & Schuster on July 28.

A New York appellate court last week ruled the publication could go ahead over the Trump brothers’ attempts to block it.

But a temporary restraining order remains on Mary herself. A lower court judge in New York is due to consider whether to continue or drop that order later this week, USA Today said.

Mary, 55, a psychologist, is the daughter of Trump’s elder brother, the late Fred Trump Jr.

Her book is described by the publisher as  an “authoritative portrait of Donald J. Trump and the toxic family that made him.” She shines a light on the “dark history of their family in order to explain how her uncle became the man who now threatens the world’s health, economic security, and social fabric,” according to the publisher’s description.

Bastardi said Mary will have no further comment at this time. But her statement suggests that the legal furor surrounding her book is further evidence of the problematic behavior in her family she alleges and seeks to illuminate in her book, which left the Trump brothers outraged.

Research contact: @USATODAY

Trump offers dubious conspiracy theory about elderly protester shoved off his feet by Buffalo cops

June 10, 2020

President Donald Trump advanced an unsubstantiated conspiracy theory on Tuesday, June 9, about the 75-year-old protester in Buffalo who suffered head injuries after he was pushed to the ground by police and hit his head on the sidewalk, USA Today reports.

“75 year old Martin Gugino was pushed away after appearing to scan police communications in order to black out the equipment,” Trump said in a morning tweet.

Citing a report on conservative news network OANN, Trump said: “I watched, he fell harder than was pushed. Was aiming scanner. Could be a set up?” He also said Gugino “could be” an anarchist “provocateur,” but provided no evidence for that assertion.

Two suspended Buffalo police officers have been charged with assault and accused of intentionally pushing Gugino, who was seen bleeding from the back of the head after he hit the sidewalk.

Gugino, described by a friends as a man of peace seeking justice, was in serious but stable condition following the incident on Thursday.

Kelly Zarcone, Gugino’s attorney, told The Washington Post on Tuesday that Gugino has always been a peaceful protester who loves his family, and “no one from law enforcement has suggested otherwise.

“So we’re at a loss to understand why the president of the United States would make such a dark, dangerous and untrue accusation against him,” she added.

Critics expressed outrage over Trump’s tweet.

Trump sent the tweet just hours before the funeral of George Floyd, the man whose death at the hands of Minneapolis police triggered protests nationwide, including massive demonstrations in cities like Washington, D.C., and Buffalo.

Research contact: @USATODAY

There’s one hairstyle that’s all the buzz during the pandemic

April 27, 2020

Forget about cutting bangs. Now that they have been cut adrift from their beloved stylists during the pandemic, many Americans are taking more drastic measures to avoid several months of bad hair days.

Take, for example, Macy Leonard of Sherrystown, Pennsylvania, who usually likes her hair to be easily manageable and dyes it “funky fun” colors so frequently that she jokes she doesn’t remember her natural color anymore, according to a report by USA Today.

“I shaved away the ‘old me’ and welcomed this new version of me, the version that quarantine was teaching me to be,” she told the nationwide news outlet. “I felt empowered. I felt determined to stick to my guns and do what I said I was going to do.”

Leonard’s not alone. Searches for “buzz cut,” according to Google Trends, have skyrocketed in recent months, reaching an all-time high in the United States and worldwide.

“The one thing that people don’t want to let go of,” James Axl, head stylist at Canale Salon in Beverly Hills, California, told USA Today, “is themselves.”

Fortunately, Axl, who’s worked as a stylist for 24 years, says the process of doing an at-home buzz cut is “as easy as you think.” “A lot of people are so intimidated,” he said of people buzzing their own hair for the first time. “When the guard is on [the clipper], you can’t mess up — it’s bowling with bumpers. Once that’s on there, as long as it doesn’t pop off, it’s great.”

No matter how short you plan on going, Axl has some basic ground rules for how to buzz cut your own hair. Never start at the front of your head, he advises. In case you change your mind at the very last second, you don’t want to be stuck with a shaved-off spot in the front.

“Start behind the ear and see how short that short is really gonna be,” he said, “especially if someone’s hair is a little bit longer.”

Begin with a larger clipping guard and shave all around your head, said Axl. “That way, you know that it’s already cut the longest you want everywhere.”

Then, to tailor it up, switch to a shorter clipping guard—but make sure it’s not more than two sizes smaller. That may make the blending process more difficult.

“Start at the nape of the neck, but not following the round of the head, and use your neck as a ski slope and go up the occipital bone — where the head meets the beck of your neck,” he told USA Today. “That’s when you want to start sloping out and moving up and out and that will create a more gradual shave.”

Axl suggests practicing the up-and-out motion to ensure the cleanest shave. He also suggests having someone hold a mirror behind you.

But even if it’s not the perfect cut, Axl can relate. “Even I myself got a little screwed up and this is what I do for a living!” he said of a recent trim he gave himself. “If someone doesn’t do this for a living, that’s OK.”

If you’re afraid to bite the bullet, Leonard suggests just taking the risk.

“If the thought of shaving your head has crossed your mind, just do it!” she said. “Hair grows back. If you hate it, wigs are a thing!”

Research contact: @USATODAY

Move over, Airbnb: New home rental platform Golightly caters just to women

January 29, 2020

Traveling alone as a woman, or even in a group of women, shouldn’t be intimidating or dangerous—but it can be. Enter Golightly, a vacation rental platform exclusively for females, which launched this month.

All of the properties are owned or managed by women, and renters must be women, although men can travel with the, USA Today reports.

Victoria O’Connell launched the Austin, Texas-based company after she had  a bad experience renting out her own home in London—which was burglarized and destroyed by a group of men.

“I felt that I would never be comfortable renting out my home again, and I wanted to figure out a way to change that and feel safe again,” O’Connell told USA Today.  “I travel frequently and also stay in vacation rentals often, so I had to find a way to get back to it.”

The rental platform is invite-only and aims to build a community of women. Each member is given five invites to send to other women. But if women want to join and don’t have a referral code, they can fill in an online form to be vetted.

According to the website, “As a private club, Golightly carefully vets each member and property listing. Our goal is to provide a safer and more secure travel experience. Listings and member profiles are only available within the Golightly network to protect the privacy of our community.”

It costs $100 for a lifetime membership, but, the news outlet notes, that fee is being waived through the end of February as the platform aims to grow its membership and add more properties. There’s a 10% transaction fee for guests and a 5% fee for hosts on bookings.

For now the site has hundreds of home rentals, with the majority of them concentrated in the United States and Europe.

Research contact: @USATODAY

‘A distinctly American phenomenon’: Our workers die younger than those in other wealthy nations

November 27, 2019

Americans work hard and die young, according to findings of a study conducted at Virginia Commonwealth University.  In fact, the engine that powers the world’s most potent economy is succumbing at an alarming pace—a “distinctly American phenomenon’’ with no easily discernible cause or simple solution, USA Today reported on November 26.

Specifically, researchers determined that mortality rates for U.S. adults ages 25-64 continue to increase—driving down the general population’s life expectancy for the three consecutive years following 2014.

The report, Life Expectancy and Mortality Rates in the United States, 1959-2017,’’ was published on November 26  in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

According to USA Today, it paints a bleak picture of a workforce plagued by drug overdoses, suicides, and organ-system diseases while grappling with economic stresses.

“This looks like an excellent paper—just what we needed to help unravel the overall decline in life expectancy in the United States’’ said Eileen Crimmins, the AARP Professor of Gerontology at the University of California-Leonard Davis. She’s who’s an expert on the link between health and socioeconomic factors.

In a trend that cuts across racial and ethnic boundaries, America has the worst midlife mortality rate among 17 high-income countries despite leading the world in per-capita spending on health care.

And while life expectancy in those other industrialized nations continues to inch up, ours has been going in the opposite direction—decreasing from a peak of 78.9 years in 2014 to 78.6 in 2017, the last year covered by the report.

By comparison, the news outlet reports, according to the Peterson-Kaiser Health System Tracker, the average longevity in similar countries is 82.2 years. Japan’s is 84.1; France’s, 82.4;and Canada’s, 81.9. They left the United States behind in the 1980s and increased the distance as the rate of progress in this country diminished and eventually halted in 2011.

Steven Woolf, director emeritus of the Virginia Commonwealth University Center on Society and Health and the study’s lead author, said the reasons for the decline go well beyond the lack of universal health care in America—in contrast with those other nations—although that’s a factor.

“It would be easier if we could blame this whole trend on one problem, like guns or obesity, or the opioid epidemic—all of which distinguish [the U.S.] from the other countries,’’ Woolf told USA Today. “But we found increases in death rates across 35 causes of death.’’

They were most pronounced in the industrial Midwest, the 13 Appalachian states, and upper New England, which Woolf attributed partly to the decline in manufacturing jobs and the opioid epidemic.

Of the top 10 states with the highest number of excess deaths in the 25-64 age range —meaning deaths above projections based on U.S. mortality rates—eight were in the Rust Belt or Appalachia. Half of the excess deaths were concentrated in the latter region. The Ohio Valley—comprising Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and Pennsylvania—accounted for one-third.

“Not only are employers more likely to see premature deaths in their workers, but also greater illness rates and greater disability, and that puts U.S. businesses at a disadvantage against businesses in other countries that have a healthier and more productive workforce,’’ Woolf said, adding that employers here are already saddled with high health care costs.

The report showed mortality rates among those younger than 25 and older than 64 have decreased. That might point a finger at the country’s dysfunctional health care system for working adults, because many in those other age groups can be covered by either the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) or Medicare.

Woolf told USA Today that he disputes that notion, saying only 10% to 20% of health outcomes can be attributed to medical care. He said the bigger culprit is a lack of social programs and support systems more common in other wealthy countries for when working families run into difficult times.

Those rough spells, often associated with a job loss, can lead to the kind of unhealthy behaviors – drug and alcohol abuse, smoking, overeating, suicide attempts—that result in what have become known as “deaths of despair.’’

“We’re making a huge mistake if we don’t step back and look at the root causes,’’ Woolf told the news oulet—ncluding a lack of educational opportunities and living wages among the likely causes. “The prescription for the country is we’ve got to help these people. And if we don’t, we’re literally going to pay with our lives.’’

Research contact: @USATODAY

Facebook gets grief for including Breitbart in News tab

October 29, 2019

Can Facebook do anything that doesn’t draw fire from users, regulators, legislators, and the media? After years of complaints from American news outlets that the social media site has The Washington Post reports that Facebook has agreed to compensate at least some news organizations as part of a specialized “News” tab meant to steer users toward curated national and local news stories.

But the project immediately raised new controversy when it became known that Breitbart News—a Web outlet linked to right-wing causes that was once run by former Trump adviser Steve Bannonhad been included among the 200 media outlets participating in the program.

“Given that Facebook is putting actual news outlets in the same category as Breitbart, actual news outlets should consider quickly withdrawing from the program,” Angelo Carusone, the president of Media Matters for America, a liberal nonprofit media watchdog, told the Post.

At an event in New York to launch the project, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended Breitbart’s inclusion. “You want to include a breadth of content to make sure all different topics can be covered,” Zuckerberg said.

Other outlets participating include The Washington Post, The New York Times, News Corp., BuzzFeed News, Business Insider, Bloomberg News, Fox News, NBCUniversal, USA Today and the Los Angeles Times.

The News tab marks the latest iteration of Facebook’s approach to online news, the Post reports. Before January 2018, the company had been a leading distributor of news, but that role was dogged by the presence in its feed of false and misleading information, as well as by allegations that its news feed and other features tilted toward liberal viewpoints

Zuckerberg did not go into specifics about how different publishers would be compensated, and media analysts expressed skepticism that the arrangement will help the small and medium local outlets that have been most seriously undercut by the rise of online news distribution.

“The vast majority of local news outlets are not included, and that is part of the news ecosystem that’s most at risk,” David Chavern, the president and chief executive of the News Media Alliance, a trade association of news publishers, told The Washington Post.

Chavern called Facebook’s agreement to pay at least some news outlets for their content a step in the right direction, noting that tech platforms have been “uniquely unwilling to pay for news and quality journalism.”

The News tab already is available to more than 200,000 Facebook users in the United States, with a broader rollout planned for early next year. The new service, Facebook executives say, should make it easier for users to locate the day’s major headlines, as well as stories geared toward particular topics or locales.

The initiative could reach 20 million to 30 million people over a few years, Zuckerberg said.

 Research contact: @washingtonpost

Americans rally nationwide in support of Mueller probe

November 12, 2018

Americans took to the streets at 5 p.m. on November 8—staging massive rallies from New York to Los Angeles in support of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, whose Russia investigation, they feared, might be curtailed or blocked completely following the resignation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the request of President Donald Trump.

Approximately 900 protests nationwide were mobilized within moments. They stood ready to activate when and if the president “crossed a red line” that would threaten the probe.

According to a report by USA Today, the rallies were part of a coordinated effort by a large number of liberal groups, which had planned a “rapid response” to protect Mueller, if it became necessary. 

The groups’ website, headlined “Nobody is above the law—Mueller protection rapid response,” referred to the appointment of interim Attorney General Matt Whitaker as the impetus for the protests, saying, “Donald Trump has installed a crony to oversee the special counsel’s Trump-Russia investigation, crossing a red line set to protect the investigation. By replacing Rod Rosenstein with just-named Acting Attorney General Matt Whitaker as Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s boss on the investigation, Trump has undercut the independence of the investigation.

“Whitaker has publicly outlined strategies to stifle the investigation and cannot be allowed to remain in charge of it. The Nobody Is Above the Law network demands that Whitaker immediately commit not to assume supervision of the investigation. Our hundreds of response events are being launched to demonstrate the public demand for action to correct this injustice. “

President Trump, who embarked on a trip to Paris on November 9, has given no indication that he would end the investigation, which he has dubbed a “witch hunt.” But, USA Today reported, “the ousting of Sessions will give the president authority to replace him with someone who could attempt to derail the investigation, which is also examining possible obstruction of justice by the president.”

Also on November 8, attorneys general in 17 states and the District of Columbia—Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut , Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Jersey, California, North Carolina, Oregon, Vermont, Rhode Island, Washington, Virginia, New Mexico, and Maryland—sent a formal letter to Whitaker requesting he recuse himself from the investigation due to his previous comments

“Because a reasonable person could question you impartiality in the matter, your recusal is necessary to maintain public trust in the integrity of the investigation and to protect the essential and longstanding independence of the department you have chosen to lead,” the letter reads.

Research contact: CHayes@usatoday.com

Mueller rejects Manafort plea deal before second trial

August 29, 2018

President Donald Trump’s former Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort tried to make a deal with the Special Counsel ahead of his second trial in Washington, D.C., but the talks fell apart, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal.

Manafort’s defense team reportedly held plea discussions with prosecutors last week— hoping to help their client “flip” before he was held accountable for helping Russia interfere in the 2016 elections—but the talks stalled over objections raised by Robert Mueller.

The Journal was unable to determine the nature of those objections, and representatives for Manafort and Mueller declined to comment for the report.

Manafort is facing a second set of charges in D.C. related to his work for a Russia–backed political party in Ukraine, as well as his offer of reports on the campaign to a wealthy Russian to whom he owed money. He is being accused of failing to register as a foreign agent, among other charges.

The former Trump associate was convicted by in an Alexandria, Virginia-based federal jury trial on eight felony counts in the first legal victory for Mueller’s team. The jury found Manafort guilty on five charges of filing false income tax returns, one count of failing to report foreign bank accounts, and two counts of bank fraud. They deadlocked on the other 10 of 18 counts, with one juror holding out.

According to Politico, Mueller’s team in recent days has shortened its estimate of the length of Manafort’s upcoming trial, which is scheduled to start on September 17. The special counsel’s prosecutors wrote it could be completed in around two, rather than three, weeks.

Research contact: @aviswanatha

Missouri becomes first state to regulate use of the word ‘meat’

August 29, 2018

The last time most of us had “mystery meat” was either in school or in the military. On June 1, Missouri—the “Show-Me State”—made sure that its residents would never have to see mystery meat or eat it again when it became the first state in the nation to pass a law that prohibits food providers from using the word “meat” to refer to anything other than animal flesh.

This  new legislation takes direct aim at manufacturers of what has been dubbed “clean,” or “plant-based, or “nontraditional”meat, according to a report by USA Today. Clean meat—also known as lab-grown meat—comprises cultured animal tissue cells, while plant-based meat is generally made from ingredients such as soy, tempeh and seitan.

The state law forbids “misrepresenting a product as meat that is not derived from harvested production livestock or poultry.” Violators may be fined $1,000 and imprisoned for a year.

What’s more, a similar argument is unfolding on the federal level.

The meat-substitute market is expected to reach $7.5 billion-plus globally by 2025, up from close to $4.2 billion last year, based on findings by Allied Market Research.

The Missouri Cattlemen’s Association, which worked to get the law passed, has cited shopper confusion and protection of local ranchers as reasons for the legislation.

“The big issue was marketing with integrity and … consumers knowing what they’re getting,” Missouri Cattlemen’s Association spokesperson Mike Deering told USA Today. “There’s so much unknown about this.”

On Agusut 27, the company that makes Tofurky filed an injunction in a Missouri federal court to prevent enforcement of the statute, alleging the state has received no complaints about consumers befuddled by the term “plant-based meats” and that preventing manufacturers from using the word is a violation of their First Amendment rights. In addition, the company pointed out, “meat” also refers to the edible part of nuts and fruit.

The statute “prevents the sharing of truthful information and impedes competition,” according to documents filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri. “The marketing and packaging of plant-based products reveals that plant-based food producers do not mislead consumers but instead distinguish their products from conventional meat products.”

The co-plaintiff is the Good Food Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group.

MCA spokesperson Deering said he was surprised by the suit because the primary target of the law was lab-grown meat.

Tofurky’s main ingredient is the first two syllables of its name-—tofu.

In June, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced it would regulate lab-grown meat. Traditional animal proteins are the jurisdiction of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Ernest Baskin, an assistant professor of Food Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia told USA Today that consumers use the word “meat,” when applied to nonanimal protein as a “shortcut” to understand how they eat the food they see on supermarket shelves.

“There’s a segment of consumers that doesn’t have to eat alternative products but wants to,” he said. “In those cases, putting those options together in front of consumers gives them the thought that ‘Hey, maybe these two are similar. Maybe I can substitute.’ ”

Research contact:@ZlatiMeyer

‘Dark money’ funds TV ads to defeat Dems

July 16, 2018

So-called “dark money” has funded nearly 44% of TV spots about Congressional candidates during the first six months of this year, according to an analysis of Kantar Media data by USA Today, released on July 13. And more than half of those ads (25%) have not been positive.

In all, nearly 386,000 television spots focused on House and Senate races aired between January 1 and July 8, ranging from ads by candidates to those funded by outside groups. That total surpasses the 355,464 broadcast TV spots that ran at the same point in the last midterm elections for Congress in 2014 and underscores the battle raging for control of Congress.

Leading the way, the news outlet said, were organizations “affiliated with” billionaire industrialist Charles Koch, whose conservative donor network “plows hundreds of millions of dollars into politics” during each election cycle.

Indeed, two groups tied to Koch—Americans for Prosperity and Concerned Veterans for America—accounted for more than 25% of the advertising from groups that don’t disclose their donors. Both broadcast negative ads against five Democratic senators from red and purple states who are up for reelection—among them, Senators Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Jon Tester of Montana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin.

Not only that, but they are only just kicking off their efforts, both to oust candidates who do not support their political agenda—and to advocate for those who are prepared to hold the conservative line.

Americans for Prosperity has announced that it will spend at least $1 million on paid advertising and voter outreach to advance the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, who is President Donald Trump’s pick for the seat on the Supreme Court being vacated by Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy..

The other groups in the top five are One Nation, an issue advocacy group linked to Senate GOP leadership; Vote Vets Action Fund, a Democratic group that aims to elect veterans to office; and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Democrats need to flip 23 seats in order to regain the House majority. But the party has a tougher challenge in the Senate. They’re largely playing defense and protecting ten seats in states Trump won, despite Republicans’ slim 51-49 seat majority

Research contact: fschoute@usatoday.com