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Federal prosecutors propose Jan. 2 trial date for Trump election interference case 2023-08-10 - Federal prosecutors from special counsel Jack Smith's office have proposed a trial date of January 2, 2024 for the case involving former President Trump's alleged attempts to overturn the 2020 election. NBC News' Garrett Haake reports.Aug. 10, 2023
Here are some of the top hip-hop moments in U.S. political history 2023-08-10 - Hip-hop is inherently political. It was born in the Bronx by Black and Latin American artists who came from disadvantaged communities often seen as an afterthought to lawmakers. And from the jump, it was common for emcees to speak about these struggles and use their political predicaments as inspiration for their art. (“The Message” by Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five is often cited as an example of this.) Over time, the genre gained more popularity — and more scrutiny, too. And it eventually became an art form that was impossible for politicians themselves to ignore, for better or worse. For “Hip-Hop Is Universal,” The ReidOut’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, here are some of the most memorable hip-hop moments in U.S. political history. Eazy-E goes to Washington (1991) When Republican Senate leader Bob Dole sent an invite to Eric Wright for a fundraising luncheon with President George H.W. Bush in 1991, he apparently had no clue he was inviting Eazy-E of N.W.A fame. The rapper’s appearances in songs like “F--- tha Police” had made him a pariah among many conservatives, but he told The Washington Post that previous charitable donations might have led to the invite for the event, hosted by a group called Republican Senatorial Inner Circle. What a spectacle. 2 Live Crew prevails in court (1992) Luther Campbell (better known as “Uncle Luke”) and his group 2 Live Crew helped set important legal precedents for artists in the early 1990s. After a federal judge ruled that the “As Nasty as They Wanna Be” album was legally obscene — and after group members faced arrest for performing the songs — the ruling eventually was overturned in federal court in 1992, establishing case law on obscenity in music. The group also won a copyright case at the Supreme Court in 1994, setting precedent for artists to be able to record parody tracks after they dropped “Pretty Woman,” a parody of Roy Orbison’s original song. Check out an explainer on that historic case here: Bill Clinton’s Sister Souljah moment (1992) Clinton’s attack on rapper Sister Souljah at an event for Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition is one of the most infamous hip-hop moments ever. The presidential candidate criticized remarks the artist had made as promoting violence against white people. Today, to say a politician had a “Sister Souljah moment” is essentially synonymous with saying they’re grandstanding. Watch the original Sister Souljah moment below — and then check out her response here. Dan Quayle targets Tupac (1992) Ahead of the 1992 presidential election, Vice President Dan Quayle was crusading against artistic creations he deemed unfit for the American public. And the Republican found an easy target in Tupac Shakur. As The New York Times wrote at the time: Having fired a few value volleys at Murphy Brown — and taken a few hits in return — he [Quayle] now is targeting a rap performer, Tupac Amaru Shakur, and his record company, Interscope Records of Los Angeles. In 1992, a man named Ray Howard fatally shot a police officer during a traffic stop. Howard told authorities that he might have been inspired to kill the officer by a cassette of Shakur’s album “2Pacalypse Now,” which he said was playing in the stolen truck he was driving. Quayle pushed, unsuccessfully, for the record label to pull the album — which includes a song about a violent encounter with police — from stores, saying it has “no place in our society.” Of course, Quayle and President George H.W. Bush went on to lose their re-election bid handily. Orrin Hatch ‘raps’ on the House floor (1996) In 1996, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, railed against record companies during a speech decrying cannabis use among young folks. The late senator’s delivery here was lacking, to say the least. Kanye West goes at George W. Bush (2005) Days after Hurricane Katrina battered Louisiana, Kanye West’s observation that “George Bush doesn’t care about Black people” wasn’t novel — plenty of Black people before him had felt this way and said as much. But West saying so on live television did reignite public discussions about racism. And it prompted an unbelievable response from Bush himself: The architect of the Iraq War claimed that it was “one of the most disgusting moments of my presidency.” ‘MC Rove’ takes the floor (2007) This video of Karl Rove “dancing” around as “MC Rove” is from 2007, which is odd since the White House deputy chief of staff appears to be mimicking hip-hop artists from about two decades prior. Nonetheless, this clip is full of cringeworthy moments. David Banner testifies on Capitol Hill (2007) Rapper/activist David Banner spoke at a House hearing in 2007 about stereotypes in media after radio host Don Imus lost his job over a racist diatribe in which he insulted Black women — and pointed the finger at hip-hop. This excerpt from Banner’s testimony hits the hardest: Traditionally, multibillion-dollar industries have thrived on the premise of violence, sexuality and derogatory content. This capitalistic trend was not created nor introduced by hip-hop. It has been here. It is the American way. And I can admit that there are some problems in hip-hop. But it’s only a reflection of what’s taking place in our society. Watch here: Obama’s brush-off (2008) This is a key moment in Barack Obama’s character arc. In 2008, he upped his coolness in the public eye when — responding to criticism from Hillary Clinton during the Democratic presidential primaries — he channeled his pal Jay-Z, who had released “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” a few years earlier. This was Obama saying, “I’m not sweating Hillary.” And the rest is history. Conservatives go crazy over Common (2011) Republicans lost their damn minds in 2011 when Common, the renowned poet and emcee from Chicago, was invited to perform poetry at the Obama White House. Nothing says “I don’t know about Black culture — or pop culture more broadly” like framing Common as a menace to society, but that’s precisely what conservatives did. Figures like Sarah Palin and Bill O’Reilly falsely claimed he had endorsed violence against law enforcement. And Common was labeled “vile” elsewhere on Fox News, despite the network’s positive portrayal of him less than a year earlier. The GOP’s tantrum was a noteworthy moment in the history of right-wing hysteria. Ben Carson’s rap ad (2015) During Ben Carson’s long-shot Republican bid for president, his team apparently thought tapping a conservative rapper named Aspiring Mogul for an ad would resonate among young Black voters. It did Carson no good, but he can find solace in knowing that it has given me a good laugh ever since. Hakeem Jeffries shouts out Biggie (2017) Outside of emcees dining with the president, Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, D-N.Y., honoring the late, great Christopher Wallace (aka Biggie Smalls) is about as close to a full-circle moment as you’ll find for hip-hop and politics. This post is part of MSNBC’s “Hip-Hop Is Universal” series, which celebrates the genre’s 50th anniversary and examines its future.
On Devon Archer interview, Dems make a plea: ‘Read the transcript’ 2023-08-10 - Congressional Republicans began last week with high expectations. Members of the House Oversight Committee were poised to sit down with a man named Devon Archer, a former Hunter Biden business associate, which raised GOP hopes about explosive revelations. Those hopes were quickly dashed. Archer testified under oath that President Joe Biden wasn’t involved with Burisma, didn’t talk business with his son’s associates, and didn’t take bribes, effectively shredding each of the Republicans’ core claims. We know this for certain because the GOP-led panel released a transcript of the Q&A. That was last week. This week, the same Republican-led Oversight Committee tried to pretend the developments weren’t an embarrassing failure for the party. Here’s a message the panel’s majority published online: “Self-appointed Biden defender [Rep. Dan Goldman] came to the Devon Archer interview with an agenda. Unfortunately for Rep. Goldman, the interview didn’t quite go the way he tried to push it.” Two hours later, the Democratic New York congressman responded with a simple plea: Goldman asked people to simply read the transcript. In fact, historian Heather Cox Richardson soon after responded that she’d taken the congressman’s advice. “I did, in fact, read the transcript, and Goldman is right,” she wrote. “The Republicans on the Oversight Committee are expecting their loyalists won’t read it.” Let's note that last sentence again for emphasis: “The Republicans on the Oversight Committee are expecting their loyalists won’t read it.” Richardson’s point resonated with me because it’s a dynamic that comes up with remarkable frequency. Indeed, it came to the fore just last week, as the editorial page of The Kansas City Star practically begged people, especially Republicans, to read the latest indictment against Donald Trump. Please read it. ... Even if you are among those who say yes, he committed serious crimes and you’ll happily vote for him anyway, you still owe it to your country to acquaint yourself with what crimes it is that you’re willing to overlook. ... If you don’t trust us to characterize what it says, read it for yourself. The Star’s editors added, “If you are right that this is a political prosecution, or that if he did do something wrong it was nothing serious, or was in any case nothing others haven’t done, then this 45 pages will do nothing to challenge that view. If you’re not right, then don’t you want to know that?” Reality-based observers also urged people to read Trump’s first indictment. And the Mueller report. And the Durham report. And the Senate Intelligence Committee’s findings on the Russia scandal. In each instance, Republicans made all sorts of claims about the documents, but they made very little effort to actually read them. Not to put too fine a point on this, but when there’s a political dispute, and one side urges the public to read the original source materials, while the other side doesn’t, it tends to give away the game. This post updates our related earlier coverage.
Massachusetts couple denied foster care application over LGBTQ views, complaint says 2023-08-10 - A Massachusetts couple filed a complaint this week against the state’s health secretary and multiple officials in the Department of Children and Families after their application to become foster parents was denied over their stance on LGBTQ people. Michael and Catherine “Kitty” Burke began the monthslong application process with the DCF to foster or adopt a child in January 2022, according to the complaint. The process involved screenings to gauge the couple’s views on raising children from historically marginalized groups, including LGBTQ children. A social worker’s report attached to the complaint said the couple was asked how they would feel if a child in their care identified as LGBTQ or struggled with their gender identity. Kitty Burke responded by saying “let’s take the T out of it” and called gender-affirming care “chemical castration,” according to the report. She also said, “I’m going to love you the same,” but that the child “would need to live a chaste life.” Both Kitty and Michael Burke expressed hesitation around using a transgender or nonbinary person’s preferred pronouns, the social worker’s report noted. Michael Burke told the social worker he’d been to gay weddings and would “likely attend” his child’s wedding if they were LGBTQ, according to the report, and the couple said they wouldn’t kick a child out of their home for being LGBTQ or subject them to conversion therapy. Following the interview, the social worker issued an “approval with conditions, specifically around religion and LGBTQIA++ related issues.” Their application was later denied by the department’s Licensing Review Team, the complaint states. An official at the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families said the department does not comment on pending litigation and said neither DCF nor the state’s Office of Health and Human Services had been served. The couple cites five violations of their First Amendment rights. One of the Burkes’ attorneys, Lori Windham, senior counsel at Becket Law, a nonprofit legal group focused on religious liberty, told NBC News in a statement that the couple was “shocked” when their application was denied. “The Burkes were devastated to learn that they were denied a license to foster or adopt any child in the Massachusetts child welfare system. They’re asking the court to get rid of that discriminatory denial so that they will not be barred from fostering or adopting children in the future, in Massachusetts or elsewhere,” Windham said. Becket previously represented Sharonell Fulton and Toni Simms-Busch in Fulton v. Philadelphia, a 2021 Supreme Court case that unanimously ruled in favor of a Catholic adoption agency’s right to refuse to place children with LGBTQ couples.
Trump is winning — even as some backers worry he’s a liability in 2024 2023-08-10 - WINDHAM, N.H. — Unlike most of the voters who lined up in the rain for former President Donald Trump's rally at a high school gym here Tuesday, Heather O'Connor had not decided which Republican she will vote for in next year's presidential primary. The 49-year-old physician said she is leaning toward South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, but is also considering Vivek Ramaswamy and Trump — whose policies as president matched up well with her views. Her fear about Trump — shared by some of the die-hards who vow to vote for him come hell, high water or imprisonment — is that the criminal charges he faces could harm his chances of beating President Joe Biden in next year's general election. "If we had a different candidate other than Trump, I think the Republicans might do better in the general," O'Connor said. "That's my concern." While it's clear that Trump's legal troubles have helped him build a commanding lead in the GOP primary, interviews with more than two dozen voters across the country this month revealed a recurring worry that Trump's legal woes could sink the GOP in 2024. But the reactions to that conclusion vary wildly — from fear to indifference to indignance. "I voted for him. I still like him. I think he would do great as in a second term," Karen Scott, a CPR first-aid instructor from New Boston, New Hampshire, said. "But at this moment, for myself, I just feel that this election is so important because it’s either going to be a continuation of a failed nation, or we’re going to get back on track." She is leaning toward Ramaswamy, but is also open to Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, she said. General election polls mostly show a dead heat between Biden and Trump in a hypothetical general election matchup. The former president's lead in the Republican primary expanded to more than 40 points in surveys released this week by Morning Consult and Fairleigh Dickinson University. Any concerns about how the indictments could affect Trump's viability next November have been dwarfed by loyalty to him — and by the failure of any other candidate to gain real traction in the race. "They don't sway me," David Farrell, a 32-year-old Massachusetts voter who made the short trip to New Hampshire to see Trump, said of the criminal charges. "Sure," Farrell said, the indictments could weaken Trump in a general election, "but, I mean, there's always some hiccup for any candidate." There is also a camp of Trump loyalists who say the indictments are not only politically motivated but irrelevant to their view of Trump and his chances. Outside the Trump's rally, John Zampini of Gilmanton, New Hampshire, and Brian Courtney of Haverill, Massachusetts, both told NBC News they would vote for Trump if he's in prison at the time of the election. "Wouldn't matter," said Courtney, who believes Biden should be in prison for retaining classified documents after his time as vice president. The charges Trump faces for retaining classified documents include counts related to an alleged scheme to illegally hide material from federal investigators. In separate cases, Trump has been charged with illegally attempting to overturn his 2020 election defeat and with crimes related to hush money payments to pornographic actress and director Stormy Daniels. Many Republican voters, whether they support Trump or not, are upset by the string of prosecutions. Some believe they are evidence that Biden and Democrats fear facing Trump in a general election, despite overwhelming evidence that they have strengthened Trump in primary polls. "I’m not that concerned about them, I really do believe what a lot of people you know have been reporting that I’ve watched is, you know, this is interference," Bill Neverett, a Republican voter from Florida, said. "They’re trying to find a way — you know, they are afraid to have him run one-on-one with Biden." But some voters who backed Trump in 2016 and 2020 have been permanently turned off either by his performance in the presidency, his efforts to overturn the last election or his personality. "Some of his policies were very good," said former state Sen. Nancy Stiles, who is considering North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, Ramaswamy and former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley. "But his persona is worse than a 5-year-old. He’s just never going to get my vote again." In New Hampshire, where independents have a long tradition of temporarily affiliating with a party to vote in its primary, the audience at former Gov. Chris Christie's town hall meeting in New London Tuesday was decidedly more moderate than Trump's crowd. Jeff Nintzel, 72, a semi-retired photographer, said he tends to vote in the presidential primary that is most interesting each cycle. He said that's the GOP side this time, and, while he hasn't picked a candidate yet, he said Christie "speaks a truth that many, if not most, of the other Republican candidates are [not] willing to state." Nintzel has one primary goal in trying to help pick a GOP nominee. "I don’t want to see Donald Trump anymore," he said. "I wish Donald Trump would simply go away.” That sentiment is shared even by some voters who believe the justice system is being tilted to target Trump. "Everywhere you go, he's getting indicted for something, right?" Ron Kobrenski, an independent who plans to vote in the GOP primary, said at an event featuring former Vice President Mike Pence last week. "And it just seems a little bit strange that the guy running for president against Biden is being attacked so viciously like that right now." But Kobrenski, who backed Trump in the last two elections, wants to make sure that there's fresh blood in the White House in 2025 and worries that nominating Trump could lead to a second Biden term. "He's just too old," the 73-year-old Kobrenski said of Trump. "There's too much baggage. There's too many things going on in his life. And we want a president that can be president, not having to take care of all his legal problems all the time."
CDC data finds that suicides reached all-time high in 2022 2023-08-10 - About 49,500 people took their own lives last year in the U.S., the highest number ever, according to new government data posted Thursday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which posted the numbers, has not yet calculated a suicide rate for the year, but available data suggests suicides are more common in the U.S. than at any time since the dawn of World War II. “There’s something wrong. The number should not be going up,” said Christina Wilbur, a 45-year-old Florida woman whose son shot himself to death last year. “My son should not have died,” she said. “I know it’s complicated, I really do. But we have to be able to do something. Something that we’re not doing. Because whatever we’re doing right now is not helping.” Experts caution that suicide is complicated, and that recent increases might be driven by a range of factors, including higher rates of depression and limited availability of mental health services. But a main driver is the growing availability of guns, said Jill Harkavy-Friedman, senior vice president of research at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Suicide attempts involving guns end in death far more often than those with other means, and gun sales have boomed — placing firearms in more and more homes. A recent Johns Hopkins University analysis used preliminary 2022 data to calculate that the nation’s overall gun suicide rate rose last year to an all-time high. For the first time, the gun suicide rate among Black teens surpassed the rate among white teens, the researchers found. “I don’t know if you can talk about suicide without talking about firearms,” Harkavy-Friedman said. U.S. suicides steadily rose from the early 2000s until 2018, when the national rate hit its highest level since 1941. That year saw about 48,300 suicide deaths — or 14.2 for every 100,000 Americans. The rate fell slightly in 2019. It dropped again in 2020, during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some experts tied that to a phenomenon seen in the early stages of wars and natural disasters, when people pull together and support each other. But in 2021, suicides rose 4%. Last year, according to the new data, the number jumped by more than 1,000, to 49,449 — about a 3% increase vs. the year before. The provisional data comes from U.S. death certificates and is considered almost complete, but it may change slightly as death information is reviewed in the months ahead. The largest increases were seen in older adults. Deaths rose nearly 7% in people ages 45 to 64, and more than 8% in people 65 and older. White men, in particular, have very high rates, the CDC said. Many middle-aged and elderly people experience problems like losing a job or losing a spouse, and it’s important to reduce stigma and other obstacles to them getting assistance, said Dr. Debra Houry, the CDC’s chief medical officer. Suicides in adults ages 25 to 44 grew about 1%. The new data indicates that suicide became the second leading cause of death in that age group in 2022, up from No. 4 in 2021. Despite the grim statistics, some say there is reason for optimism. A national crisis line launched a year ago, meaning anyone in the U.S. can dial 988 to reach mental health specialists. The CDC is expanding a suicide program to fund more prevention work in different communities. And there’s growing awareness of the issue and that it’s OK to ask for help, health officials say. There was a more than 8% drop in suicides in people ages 10 to 24 in 2022. That may be due to increased attention to youth mental health issues and a push for schools and others to focus on the problem, CDC officials said. But even the smaller number masks tragedy for families. Christina Wilbur lost her 21-year-old son, Cale, on June 16 last year. He died in her home in Land O’ Lakes, Florida. Cale Wilbur had lost two friends and an uncle to suicide and had been dealing with depression. On that horrible morning, he and his mother were having an argument. She had confronted him about his drug use, his mother said. She left his bedroom and when she returned he had a gun. “I was begging him not too, and to calm down,” she said. “It looked like he relaxed for a second, but then he killed himself.” She describes her life since as black hole of emptiness and sorrow, and had found it hard to talk to friends or even family about Cale. “There’s just this huge 6-foot-2 hole, everywhere,” she said. “Everything reminds me of what’s missing.” It’s hard to find professionals to help, and those that are around can be expensive, she said. She turned to support groups, including an organization called Alliance of Hope for Suicide Loss Survivors that operates a 24/7 online forum. “There’s nothing like being with people who get it,” she said.
Ron DeSantis says he’s open to drone strikes on Mexican drug cartels 2023-08-10 - CORALVILLE, IOWA — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said on Thursday that he would be open to using drone strikes against Mexican drug cartels if elected president. “We will absolutely reserve the right if they’re invading our country and killing our people,” DeSantis said when asked by a voter if he would be willing to use drones against the cartels. When asked later by NBC News to clarify, DeSantis said, “I said I would use whatever force we need to defend the country.” “We’d be willing to lean in against them, and we reserve the right to defend our country,” he added. DeSantis has been leaning hard into immigration as a theme in his presidential campaign, pushing to the right in an effort to distinguish himself from former President Donald Trump. In June, DeSantis endorsed the use of “deadly force” against migrants suspected of trafficking drugs. He reiterated that policy again on Thursday when speaking to a crowd of more than 150 voters in a packed restaurant here. “We’re authorizing deadly force. They try to break into our country? They will end up stone-cold dead,” the Florida governor said to a rousing round of applause. In a recent interview with NBC News, DeSantis discussed how he would distinguish between migrants who are smuggling drugs and those who are not. “Same way a police officer would know,” he said. “Same way somebody operating in Iraq would know. You know, these people in Iraq at the time, they all looked the same. You didn’t know who had a bomb strapped to them. So those guys have to make judgments.” In May, DeSantis authorized 1,100 members of Florida law enforcement and the National Guard to be sent to the southern border. And long before announcing his run for president, he flew migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts — a stunt he frequently brags about on the campaign trail. “We banned sanctuary cities, we sent support to Texas to help secure the border, and we even helped transport illegal aliens to beautiful Martha’s Vineyard,” DeSantis said Thursday. He’s also pledged to end birthright citizenship, a policy where children who are born in the U.S. automatically become citizens, regardless of whether or not their parents are citizens. A few other Republicans, including Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene and GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, have also said they'd back military attacks on Mexico. The American military has used drone strikes in Syria as early as this spring, retaliating to a deadly Iranian attack. The military has also used drone strikes in Afghanistan in the past but never employed the tactic in Mexico.
9-year-old Chicago girl enjoying ice cream, playing on scooter before neighbor fatally shot her in head 2023-08-10 - A 9-year-old girl in Chicago was playing on her scooter and enjoying some ice cream on Saturday only moments before her adult neighbor walked across the street, shot her in the head and killed her, according to court records. The girl has been identified as Serabi Medina. Michael Goodman, 43, is charged with first-degree murder in the shooting and was held without bond Tuesday. He remained in jail on Thursday, court records said. The child was seemingly enjoying a typical summer night in her Portage Park neighborhood shortly before 9:30 p.m. when a shot rang out across the street from her, according to the bond proffer presented in court Tuesday during a bail hearing for Goodman. According to the bond proffer, after the gun was fired, Serabi’s father, who was holding ice cream given to him by his daughter, instructed her to take her scooter and get inside their apartment. Serabi Medina. Juanita Miranda via NBC Chicago That’s when Goodman appeared with a gun in his hand. He walked toward Serabi near the apartment building’s entrance. The child’s father shouted at Goodman, asking what he was doing, but Goodman ignored him and continued toward the apartment vestibule. Serabi’s father then ran toward his daughter but did not get to her in time — Goodman raised the firearm and shot the child in the head, court records said. The girl’s father managed to tackle Goodman into the vestibule, and as the pair fell to the ground, the gun discharged and struck Goodman in the eye, court records said. A motive for the shooting was not specified in the bond proffer. Police on Monday said Goodman was taken to the hospital and was in critical condition. Megan Kelley, a neighbor and friend of the girl’s family, told the Chicago Sun-Times that the gunman confronted the girl and her father about noise. “Yesterday, when he came out, before he shot her, he had said something about them being too loud,” Kelley said. She also told the newspaper that the suspect had a history of complaining about children playing in the neighborhood. “He would come out just yelling about the noise. It just didn’t make sense. None of it made sense,” Kelley said. “Everybody in the community would just tell him they are just kids having fun playing, just let them be.” Fiona Ortiz, a spokesperson for the Cook County Public Defender’s Office, said on Thursday that Goodman is represented by a public defender. Goodman’s lawyer told the court Tuesday he suffers from severe mental health issues and a mental health care order for immediate psychiatric treatment was entered into the court, Ortiz said. The bond proffer said in addition to the girl’s father, three witnesses also identified Goodman as the gunman. Investigators recovered a 9mm shell casing outside the vestibule, and a 9mm Canik firearm from the vestibule. A search of Goodman’s apartment revealed a 9mm bullet lodged in the wall, the bond proffer said.
Black riverfront worker said he ‘hung on for dear life’ during Montgomery attack 2023-08-10 - In his written deposition to Montgomery police, filed hours after he was attacked at the city’s riverfront last weekend, dock worker Damien Pickett said he “hung on for dear life” as he was pummeled by a group of white boaters who disregarded his requests to move their boat so a dinner cruise vessel could dock. NBC News obtained the handwritten account Pickett filed with law enforcement after the Aug. 5 melee. Pickett, who has yet to speak publicly about the incident and did not respond to a request for comment, detailed the moments leading up to the fracas, which was captured on video. In his statement, he recounts the battle between white disruptive boaters and the cadre of Black people who came to his aid. Mary Todd, one woman who jumped into the melee, was taken into custody Thursday by the Montgomery Police Department and charged with third-degree assault. On Wednesday night, two of the three men initially charged in the altercation — Allen Todd, 23, and Zachary Shipman, 25 — turned themselves in to face third-degree assault charges. Richard Roberts, 48, was already in custody. They did not answer requests for comment about Pickett’s account of events. Pickett wrote that crew members asked the occupants of the pontoon boat, through an intercom, to move it “five or six times.” When Pickett left the cruise vessel, Harriott II, to confront the passengers of the smaller boat, he heard passengers shouting to the rowdy boaters to “move your boat. You’re in the way.” The men on the pontoon responded by “giving us the finger” for about three minutes, Pickett wrote. Eventually, he and a dockhand untied the pontoon boat and moved it “three steps to the right” and tied it back to a post so the Harriott II could dock. “By that time, two people ran up behind me,” Pickett wrote. One of the men, in a red hat, yelled to Pickett, “Don’t touch that boat motherf— or we will beat your ass.” “I told them, ‘No, you won’t,’” he wrote. Pickett said they were unaware that he had given the captain the go-ahead to dock the Harriott II. The men continued to threaten Pickett, he said, and he told them: “Do what you’ve got to do, I’m just doing my job.” One white man called another white man over to the scene. “They both were very drunk,” Pickett wrote. Another man came over to “try to calm them down” and then the boat’s owner came over. Pickett explained that the signs denoting where to park had been taken down by someone, so he had to tell them where to move the boat to make room for the Harriott II. The boat’s owner, wearing a gray shirt and red shorts with a sun visor, “started getting loud … He got into my face. ‘This belongs to the f— public.’ I told him this was a city dock.” Soon, the melee began. “By that time,” Pickett wrote, “a tall, older white guy came over and hit me in the face. I took my hat off and threw it in the air. Somebody hit me from behind. I started choking the older guy in front of me so he couldn’t anymore, pushing him back at the same time. “Then the guy in the red shorts came up and tackled me … I went to the ground. I think I hit one of them.” He said the attackers littered him with threats as they ganged up on him. “I’m gonna kill you, motherf—--. Beat your ass, motherf—--.” “I can’t tell you how long it lasted,” Pickett wrote. “I grabbed one of them and just held on for dear life.” Eventually, Pickett said he looked up and help had arrived. “Two people were pulling them off me.” He described the assistance as coming from a tall Black man and a security guard. After struggling to his feet, Pickett said he looked up and “one of my co-workers had jumped into the water and was pushing people and fighting.” While being held by someone, Pickett asked to be released so he could dock the boat. He gave the necessary orders to the captain to park the vessel. Witnesses say a large brawl that broke out on the riverfront in Montgomery, Ala., on Saturday was fueled by alcohol and adrenaline. Courtesy Christa Owen Meanwhile, “my nose was running … and I could hear passengers and co-workers arguing with the people who attacked me.” The Harriott II docked and when the ramp came down for passengers to disembark, Pickett’s nephew “ran off the boat and went after them. I was screaming for him to come back.” The nephew did not come back and the encounter escalated. “The security guard was trying to get the lady in red to leave; she wouldn’t listen. People from off the boat and spectators were coming down the back end of the dock. The guy who started it all was choking my sister. I hit him, grabbed her and moved her … I turned around and MPD had a taser in my face. I told him I was the one being attacked and could I finish doing my job.” The back of the cruise vessel had not been tied to the dock. Pickett, despite the chaos around him, helped passengers off the boat with the aid of police. He apologized to them “for the inconvenience. They all said I did nothing wrong,” he wrote. “Some of them were giving me cards with their names and numbers on it. Some said they had it all on film, so I pointed them out to MPD.” At some point, Pickett said he was led to a medic, “where I sat for 25 or 30 minutes. My head was hurting. I felt a knot in the back of my head and the front.” With coaxing, he sought treatment in the emergency room, where he was shown to have bruised ribs and bumps on his head, but no broken bones.
Utah man sentenced for attacking family because they were Mexican 2023-08-10 - A Utah man who assaulted a man and his son at their family tire shop in 2018 shouting he hated Mexicans was sentenced to 20 years in prison Tuesday. Alan Dale Covington, 55, was convicted by a Salt Lake City jury in February 2020 of the hate crime of assaulting three men, members of the Lopez family who ran a local tire shop, because he believed they were Mexican, according to the Justice Department. His prison term will be followed by five years of supervised release. Alan Dale Covington in a 2018 booking photo. Salt Lake County Sheriff's office via AP Covington entered the family-owned shop, Lopez Tires, on Nov. 27, 2018, armed with a metal pole and a hatchet. He shouted “I hate Mexicans” and “I’m here to kill a Mexican” before swinging the pole and hitting Luis Lopez, the son of the shop owner, in the head. “I came out to ask if he needed anything and the first thing he said to me was, ‘You guys killed my f------ daughter,’” Luis Lopez, 18, told NBC News in 2018. “I kept saying, ‘You’re not going to kill us. You can’t kill us,’” Lopez said in court, the Salt Lake Tribune reported. “Then he swung at me. That’s the last thing I remember.” Covington attacked Lopez's father, Jose, in the back and eventually turned to the teenager's uncle Angel, who was able to escape the shop without injury and alerted the police, according to the Justice Department news release. Lopez was born in the United States but the family is from Mexico. The family has not responded to a request for comment about the sentencing. Lopez sustained major injuries from the attack and spent a week in the hospital. During his testimony, prosecutors showed the jury photographs of him lying unconscious in the hospital with blood around his right eye where Covington had smashed a pole in his face, and with tubes down his throat, the Tribune reported in 2020. Luis Lopez in the hospital following the attack in 2018. Courtesy of Luis Lopez After the attack, Lopez's sister Veronica raised funds to support his medical treatment. “This man needs to help accountable for what he has done to my family,” she said in 2018. “If my dad would have not used his own body to shield my brother from the other blows, he would have killed him.” Lopez told the jury in 2020 that he had always wanted to inherit the family business and enjoyed spending time at the shop with his father. But the attack impacted him psychologically and left him anxious and afraid, he said. He dropped out of school and had trouble holding down jobs, according to the Tribune. Covington’s defense had claimed that this was not a racially motivated attack because Covington was targeting the Mexican mafia — who he believed had killed his daughter — and not Mexicans in general. The jury heard from Covington’s ex-wife, Mary Orozco, who identifies as Hispanic and had four children from previous relationships whose fathers were from Mexico. She said Covington doted on all of them, according to the Tribune. But prosecutors maintained that Covington’s racial biases motivated the attack. They said he had been searching for Mexican men when he entered Lopez Tires, and he found them. “This was a horrific act of hate-motivated violence and there is no place for it in our state or country,” said U.S Attorney Trina A. Higgins for the District of Utah. “These victims are part of our community, and no one should ever have to fear for their safety because of their race or nationality.” As NBC News previously reported, Utah initially could not charge Covington with a hate crime as well as aggravated assault because the state’s law limited hate crimes to misdemeanor assaults. But the attack on the Lopez family was among the incidents that spurred a change in the state’s law.
Video 8-year-old entrepreneur starts water ice business 2023-08-10 - 8-year-old entrepreneur starts water ice business Chase Anderson and his mom Breonna join ABC News to talk about their sweet business helping residents in Philadelphia beat the heat.
Average long-term US mortgage rate climbs to 6.96% this week, matching highest level this year 2023-08-10 - A home under construction is shown on Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023 in Sudbury, Mass. On Thursday, Freddie Mac reports on this week's average U.S. mortgage rates. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan) A home under construction is shown on Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023 in Sudbury, Mass. On Thursday, Freddie Mac reports on this week's average U.S. mortgage rates. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan) A home under construction is shown on Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023 in Sudbury, Mass. On Thursday, Freddie Mac reports on this week's average U.S. mortgage rates. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan) A home under construction is shown on Sunday, Aug. 6, 2023 in Sudbury, Mass. On Thursday, Freddie Mac reports on this week's average U.S. mortgage rates. (AP Photo/Peter Morgan) The average long-term U.S. mortgage rate rose this week to just under 7%, the latest setback for would-be homebuyers already facing affordability challenges due to a housing market limited by a shortage of homes for sale LOS ANGELES -- The average long-term U.S. mortgage rate rose this week to just under 7%, the latest setback for would-be homebuyers already facing affordability challenges due to a housing market limited by a shortage of homes for sale. Mortgage buyer Freddie Mac said Thursday that the average rate on the benchmark 30-year home loan rose to 6.96% from 6.90% last week. A year ago, the rate averaged 5.22%. It’s the third consecutive weekly increase for the average rate, which now matches its high for the year set on July 13. High rates can add hundreds of dollars a month in costs for borrowers, limiting how much they can afford in a market already unaffordable to many Americans. “There is no doubt continued high rates will prolong affordability challenges longer than expected, particularly with home prices on the rise again," said Sam Khater, Freddie Mac’s chief economist. "However, upward pressure on rates is the product of a resilient economy with low unemployment and strong wage growth, which historically has kept purchase demand solid.” The average rate on a 30-year mortgage remains more than double what it was two years ago, when it was just 2.87%. Those ultra-low rates spurred a wave of home sales and refinancing. The sharply higher rates now are contributing to a dearth of available homes, as homeowners who locked in those lower borrowing costs two years ago are now reluctant to sell and jump into a higher rate on a new property. The lack of housing supply is also a big reason home sales are down 23% through the first half of this year. The latest increase in rates follows an uptick in the 10-year Treasury yield, which climbed to 4.19% last week, it's highest level since early November. The yield, which lenders use to price rates on mortgages and other loans, was at 4.02% in midday trading Thursday. High inflation drove the Federal Reserve to raise its benchmark interest rate 11 times since March 2022, lifting the fed funds rate to the highest level in 22 years. Inflation has come down steadily since last summer, and many analysts believe the Fed has reached the end of its rate hikes. Mortgage rates don’t necessarily mirror the Fed’s rate increases, but tend to track the yield on the 10-year Treasury note. Investors’ expectations for future inflation, global demand for U.S. Treasurys and what the Fed does with interest rates can influence rates on home loans. The average rate on 15-year fixed-rate mortgages, popular with those refinancing their homes, rose to 6.34% from 6.25% last week. A year ago, it averaged 4.59%, Freddie Mac said.
Video Why it's never too late to save for retirement 2023-08-10 - Why it's never too late to save for retirement ABC News business reporter Alexis Christoforous breaks down ways you can save and enjoy your retirement.
A global law firm separates from its Chinese partner, citing cybersecurity and data rules 2023-08-10 - Police officers patrol past visitors seeking information at a special exhibition of legal services during the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) at the Shougang venue in Beijing on Sept. 1, 2022. One of the world's biggest law firms said Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023 it is separating from the Chinese firm that was part of its global network for eight years, citing changes in cybersecurity and other rules that have rattled foreign companies. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) Police officers patrol past visitors seeking information at a special exhibition of legal services during the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) at the Shougang venue in Beijing on Sept. 1, 2022. One of the world's biggest law firms said Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023 it is separating from the Chinese firm that was part of its global network for eight years, citing changes in cybersecurity and other rules that have rattled foreign companies. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) Police officers patrol past visitors seeking information at a special exhibition of legal services during the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) at the Shougang venue in Beijing on Sept. 1, 2022. One of the world's biggest law firms said Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023 it is separating from the Chinese firm that was part of its global network for eight years, citing changes in cybersecurity and other rules that have rattled foreign companies. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) Police officers patrol past visitors seeking information at a special exhibition of legal services during the China International Fair for Trade in Services (CIFTIS) at the Shougang venue in Beijing on Sept. 1, 2022. One of the world's biggest law firms said Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023 it is separating from the Chinese firm that was part of its global network for eight years, citing changes in cybersecurity and other rules that have rattled foreign companies. (AP Photo/Andy Wong) One of the world’s biggest law firms says it is separating from the Chinese firm that was part of its global network for eight years, citing changes in cybersecurity and other rules that have rattled foreign companies BEIJING -- One of the world’s biggest law firms said Thursday it is separating from the Chinese firm that was part of its global network for eight years, citing changes in cybersecurity and other rules that have rattled foreign companies. The decision by Dentons follows warnings by business groups that global companies are postponing or shifting investment away from China due to concern about an expanded anti-espionage law, tighter controls on business, a data security crackdown and raids on foreign consulting firms. Dentons said it was separating from Beijing Dacheng Law Offices due to changes in cybersecurity and data protection but gave no details. Dentons said in a statement Dacheng will be a “separate, standalone firm” that is its “preferred law firm” for clients with needs in China. Dacheng joined the Dentons network in 2015. Dentons, which says it has more than 10,000 lawyers in some 80 countries, added the Chinese characters for Dacheng to its logo used worldwide. The arrangement was unusual in China because it made Dacheng part of an integrated international network, unlike other foreign firms that have contractual relationships with Chinese affiliates that remain separate entities. Such an arrangement might conflict with China’s data controls by giving foreign lawyers or firms abroad access to information, according to Lester Ross, the partner in charge of the Beijing office of Washington law firm WilmerHale. “I suspect that this would have made it very difficult for such firms to continue to operate through such structure,” Ross said in an email. The ruling Communist Party has tightened restrictions on the handling and protection of data about Chinese citizens and companies and what can be sent abroad. The ruling party launched a data-security crackdown on Chinese tech companies in 2020. Consulting firm Bain & Co. said in April its staff in Shanghai were questioned by police. A corporate due diligence firm, Mintz Group, said its Beijing office was raided and five employees detained. Unease about tighter controls has hampered efforts by Chinese leader Xi Jinping’s government to revive foreign investor interest following the lifting in December of anti-virus controls that blocked most travel into and out of China. The British Chamber of Commerce in China appealed in May for “greater clarity” on data restrictions in the auto and other industries. Foreign law firms can operate representative offices in China, but legal representation must be done by Chinese firms, which are tightly controlled by the ruling party. Since 2012, lawyers have been required to give an oath of loyalty to the Communist Party. Every firm must have a party committee. “The presence of the party makes it hard to integrate the cultures and governance of foreign and Chinese firms,” said James Zimmerman, a partner in the Beijing office of Perkins Coie and a former chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, in an email. “In my view, this is the key reason it's incompatible to have a true merger between a foreign and Chinese law firm,” Zimmerman said.
Virgin Galactic's first space tourists finally soar, an Olympian and a mother-daughter duo 2023-08-10 - Virgin Galactic's rocket-powered plane Unity 22, left, flies past its mothership Eve on its way to the edge of space after taking off from Spaceport America, near Truth or Consequences, N.M., Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023. Virgin Galactic is taking its first space tourists on a long-delayed rocket ship ride. (AP Photo/Andrés Leighton) Virgin Galactic's rocket-powered plane Unity 22, left, flies past its mothership Eve on its way to the edge of space after taking off from Spaceport America, near Truth or Consequences, N.M., Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023. Virgin Galactic is taking its first space tourists on a long-delayed rocket ship ride. (AP Photo/Andrés Leighton) Virgin Galactic's rocket-powered plane Unity 22, left, flies past its mothership Eve on its way to the edge of space after taking off from Spaceport America, near Truth or Consequences, N.M., Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023. Virgin Galactic is taking its first space tourists on a long-delayed rocket ship ride. (AP Photo/Andrés Leighton) Virgin Galactic's rocket-powered plane Unity 22, left, flies past its mothership Eve on its way to the edge of space after taking off from Spaceport America, near Truth or Consequences, N.M., Thursday, Aug. 10, 2023. Virgin Galactic is taking its first space tourists on a long-delayed rocket ship ride. (AP Photo/Andrés Leighton) Virgin Galactic has rocketed to the edge of space with its first tourists TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES, N.M. -- Virgin Galactic rocketed to the edge of space with its first tourists Thursday, a former British Olympian who bought his ticket 18 years ago and a mother-daughter duo from the Caribbean. The space plane glided back to a runway landing at Spaceport America in the New Mexico desert, after a brief flight that gave passengers a few minutes of weightlessness. This first private customer flight had been delayed for years; its success means Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic can now start offering monthly rides, joining Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX in the space tourism business. “That was by far the most awesome thing I’ve ever done in my life,” said Jon Goodwin, who competed in canoeing in the 1972 Olympics. Goodwin, 80, was among the first to buy a Virgin Galactic ticket in 2005 and feared, after later being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, that he’d be out of luck. Since then he’s climbed Mount Kilimanjaro and cycled back down, and said he hopes his spaceflight shows others with Parkinson’s and other illnesses that ”it doesn’t stop you doing things.” Ticket prices were $200,000 when Goodwin signed up. The cost is now $450,000. He was joined on the flight by sweepstakes winner Keisha Schahaff, 46, a health coach from Antigua, and her daughter, Anastatia Mayers, 18, a student at Scotland's University of Aberdeen. They high-fived and pumped their fists as the spaceport crowd cheered their return. "A childhood dream has come true,” said Schahaff, who took pink Antiguan sand up with her. Added her daughter: “I have no words. The only thought I had the whole time was ‘Wow!’ ” With the company's astronaut trainer and one of the two pilots, it marked the first time women outnumbered men on a spaceflight, four to two. Cheers erupted from families and friends watching below when the craft’s rocket motor fired after it was released from the twin-fuselage aircraft that had carried it aloft. The rocket ship’s portion of the flight lasted about 15 minutes and it reached 55 miles (88 kilometers) high. It was Virgin Galactic's seventh trip to space since 2018, but the first with a ticket-holder. Branson, the company's founder, hopped on board for the first full-size crew ride in 2021. Italian military and government researchers soared in June on the first commercial flight. About 800 people are currently on Virgin Galactic’s waiting list, according to the company. In contrast to Virgin Galactic’s plane-launched rocket ship, the capsules used by SpaceX and Blue Origin are fully automated and parachute back down. Like Virgin Galactic, Blue Origin aims for the fringes of space, quick ups-and-downs from West Texas. Blue Origin has launched 31 people so far, but flights are on hold following a rocket crash last fall. The capsule, carrying experiments but no passengers, landed intact. SpaceX, is the only private company flying customers all the way to orbit, charging a much heftier price, too: tens of millions of dollars per seat. It’s already flown three private crews. NASA is its biggest customer, relying on SpaceX to ferry its astronauts to and from the International Space Station. since 2020. People have been taking on adventure travel for decades, the risks underscored by the recent implosion of the Titan submersible that killed five passengers on their way down to view the Titanic wreckage. Virgin Galactic suffered its own casualty in 2014 when its rocket plane broke apart during a test flight, killing one pilot. Yet space tourists are still lining up, ever since the first one rocketed into orbit in 2001 with the Russians. Branson, who lives in the British Virgin Islands, watched Thursday's flight from a party in Antigua. He was joined by the country's prime minister, as well as Schahaff's mother and other relatives. "Welcome to the club,” he told the new spacefliers via X, formerly Twitter. Several months ago, Branson held a virtual lottery to establish a pecking order for the company's first 50 customers — dubbed the Founding Astronauts. Virgin Galactic said the group agreed Goodwin would go first, given his age and his Parkinson’s. ___ This story has been updated to correct introductory price to $200,000, not $250,000. ___ Dunn reported from Cape Canaveral, Florida. ___ The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Educational Media Group. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
Number of Americans applying for jobless aid rises, but not enough to cause concern 2023-08-10 - A sign advertising for new drivers adorns the back of a tanker carrying fuel in the southbound lanes of Interstate 25 Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023, in Loveland, Colo. On Thursday, the Labor Department reports on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) A sign advertising for new drivers adorns the back of a tanker carrying fuel in the southbound lanes of Interstate 25 Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023, in Loveland, Colo. On Thursday, the Labor Department reports on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) A sign advertising for new drivers adorns the back of a tanker carrying fuel in the southbound lanes of Interstate 25 Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023, in Loveland, Colo. On Thursday, the Labor Department reports on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) A sign advertising for new drivers adorns the back of a tanker carrying fuel in the southbound lanes of Interstate 25 Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2023, in Loveland, Colo. On Thursday, the Labor Department reports on the number of people who applied for unemployment benefits last week. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski) The number of Americans applying for jobless benefits jumped last week, but not enough to cause concern about a still-strong U.S. labor market The number of Americans applying for jobless benefits jumped last week, but not enough to raise concern about the consistently strong U.S. labor market. U.S. applications for unemployment benefits rose by 21,000 to 248,000 for the week ending August 5, from 227,000 the week before, the Labor Department reported Thursday. That’s the most in five weeks. The four-week moving average of claims, a less volatile reading, ticked up by 2,750 to 228,250. Jobless claim applications are viewed as broadly representative of the number of layoffs in a given week. Applications for jobless aid reached a higher level above 260,000 for a few weeks this spring, causing some concern, but then retreated. Troubling levels of inflation moved the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates at a breakneck pace for the past year-and-a-half: the central bank raised its benchmark rate 11 times to the current 5.4%, a 22-year high. Part of the Fed’s reasoning was to cool the job market and bring down wages, which, in theory, suppresses price growth. Though inflation has come down significantly during that stretch, the job market has remained remarkably strong. Last week, the Labor Department reported that U.S. employers added 187,000 jobs in July, fewer than expected, but still a healthy number. The unemployment rate dipped to 3.5%, close to a half-century low. Also last week, the government reported that job openings fell below 9.6 million in June, the lowest in more than two years. However, the numbers remain unusually robust considering monthly job openings never topped 8 million before 2021. Outside of a flurry of layoffs in the technology sector early this year, companies have mostly been retaining workers. Many businesses struggled to replenish their workforces after cutting jobs during the pandemic, and much of the ongoing hiring likely reflects efforts by many firms to catch up to elevated levels of consumer demand that have emerged since the pandemic recession. While the manufacturing, warehousing, and retail industries have slowed their hiring in recent months, they aren’t yet cutting jobs in large numbers. Economists say that given the difficulties in finding workers during the past two years, businesses will likely hold onto them as long as possible, even if the economy weakens. Overall, 1.68 million people were collecting unemployment benefits the week that ended July 29, about 8,000 fewer than the previous week.
Big fashion is getting bigger. Parent of Coach will buy Versace owner Capri in $8.5 billion deal 2023-08-10 - FILE - This photo shows a Coach retail shop at the Citadel Outlets in Commerce, Calif., on May 3, 2019. Tapestry, parent company of luxury handbag and accessories retailer Coach, is buying the owner of fashion brands including Michael Kors, Versace and Jimmy Choo, Capri Holdings. The approximately $8.5 billion deal puts Tapestry in a better position to take on its big European fashion rivals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File) FILE - This photo shows a Coach retail shop at the Citadel Outlets in Commerce, Calif., on May 3, 2019. Tapestry, parent company of luxury handbag and accessories retailer Coach, is buying the owner of fashion brands including Michael Kors, Versace and Jimmy Choo, Capri Holdings. The approximately $8.5 billion deal puts Tapestry in a better position to take on its big European fashion rivals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File) FILE - This photo shows a Coach retail shop at the Citadel Outlets in Commerce, Calif., on May 3, 2019. Tapestry, parent company of luxury handbag and accessories retailer Coach, is buying the owner of fashion brands including Michael Kors, Versace and Jimmy Choo, Capri Holdings. The approximately $8.5 billion deal puts Tapestry in a better position to take on its big European fashion rivals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File) FILE - This photo shows a Coach retail shop at the Citadel Outlets in Commerce, Calif., on May 3, 2019. Tapestry, parent company of luxury handbag and accessories retailer Coach, is buying the owner of fashion brands including Michael Kors, Versace and Jimmy Choo, Capri Holdings. The approximately $8.5 billion deal puts Tapestry in a better position to take on its big European fashion rivals. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File) Tapestry, parent company of luxury handbag and accessories retailer Coach, is buying the owner of fashion brands including Michael Kors, Versace and Jimmy Choo, Capri Holdings NEW YORK -- Tapestry, the parent company of luxury handbag and accessories retailer Coach, is buying the owner of fashion brands including Michael Kors, Versace and Jimmy Choo, Capri Holdings. Big fashion has been getting even bigger through a spate of acquisitions as U.S. players seek more sway in Europe. The approximately $8.5 billion (7.7 billion euro) deal puts Tapestry in a better position to do just that in going-to-toe with rivals like LVMH and Kering. Tapestry Inc., whose brands also include Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman, said Thursday that the combined company had global annual sales of more than $12 billion (10.9 billion euro) and has a presence in more than 75 countries. Tapestry has a market cap of nearly $10 billion (9.1 billion euro), while Capri's is around $4 billion (3.6 billion euro). Once completed, the new entity will be the fourth largest luxury company in the world, with a combined market share of around 5.1% of the luxury goods market, according to research firm GlobalData PLC. In the Americas, the company will become the second largest luxury player behind LVMH, with a combined share of 6% of the luxury goods market, GlobalData said. “The combination of Coach, Kate Spade, and Stuart Weitzman together with Versace, Jimmy Choo, and Michael Kors creates a new powerful global luxury house,” Tapestry CEO Joanne Crevoiserat said in a prepared statement. Capri Holdings Ltd. shareholders will receive $57.00 (51.9 euro) per share in cash. "By joining with Tapestry, we will have greater resources and capabilities to accelerate the expansion of our global reach while preserving the unique DNA of our brands,” Capri Chairman and CEO John Idol said. French luxury conglomerate Kering reached a deal in July to buy a 30% stake in Italian fashion house Valentino for 1.7 billion euros from Qatari investment firm Mayhoola. Under the agreement, Kering, which owns Gucci, has the option to buy 100% of Valentino no later than 2028. Kering had also tried to snap up Tom Ford, but beauty company Estee Lauder wound up reaching a deal with the luxury goods maker. LVMH, meanwhile, purchased famed jewelry company Tiffany in 2021 after a back-and-forth between the two companies over the agreement. Buying Capri is a strategic move for Tapestry on many levels. Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData, said the acquisition will “create an American fashion giant that, while not quite as prestigious or large as its European counterparts, would wield a significant influence in the luxury market.” “Luxury is facing something of a slowdown, especially in the North American market where consumers, even at the higher income end of the market, are starting to curtail spending," Saunders said. “This has put pressure on Tapestry and Capri, both of which are now looking to international markets to bolster growth.” The boards of Tapestry and Capri have approved the deal, which is expected to close next year. It still needs approval from Capri shareholders. Capri's stock jumped 56%, or $19.35 to $53.96 in early morning trading on Thursday, while shares of Tapestry fell almost 12%, or $4.87, to $36.38.
Alibaba Explodes On Earnings, Inching Toward Triple Digit Prices 2023-08-10 - Key Points Alibaba stock is exploding in the morning hours of Thursday's trading session, reflecting the market sentiment toward the latest quarterly financials. The company is growing massively despite a deflationary situation in the nation, proving the business value proposition to be more of a recession-proof model. Double-digit growth across the board has driven this investor to double his positioning in the company, and valuation drivers are severely disconnected from today's compressed stock prices. Management announces a massive repurchase program, boosting analyst sentiment to double-digit upside. 5 stocks we like better than Amazon.com Current economic environments and wild swings across the data that investors and traders digest, such as inflation and other important drivers, drive a wide wedge regarding where markets prefer to place their hard-earned cash. Chinese equities are - and have been for some time - a subject that most turn their heads to; however, some major investing superstars see massive potential in a few names. Alibaba Group NYSE: BABA shares are exploding in the opening hours of Thursday's trading session, a hugely bullish reaction to the company's release of its second quarter 2023 earnings results, a long-awaited update considering the consumer trends that have affected China's economy as of late. The government's stimulus is beginning to take effect, and Alibaba is standing at the front lines of the changing winds. The Playing Field The Chinese economy reported deflation (negative inflation) earlier this week, scaring some while putting a smile on other faces. As the Asia powerhouse sees its consumption decline, the government may see rising pressure to step in and increase its stimulus initiatives, which are a significant catalyst for consumer-dependent companies like Alibaba. Other China consumer companies like JD.com NASDAQ: JD have followed a similar price action pattern to that of Alibaba, a stratospheric rise during 2020-2021 followed by more than 60% declines to keep prices compressed at today's levels. Markets are typically forward-looking, and investors have a chance to potentially scoop up cheap Alibaba shares before markets realize just how undervalued this company is. Investors like Michael Burry (yes, the guy who called the 2008 bubble) are seeing some potential in Alibaba over some American comparable names like Amazon.com NASDAQ: AMZN. The value investor has doubled his position in Alibaba as of the second quarter of 2023, and perhaps new headlines announcing larger positions will come in after today's earnings results. Explosive Results While the Chinese economy reported deflation, scaring some if not all of Alibaba shareholders ahead of earnings, the company's value proposition and service platform have proved to be a bit of a 'recession-proof' model. Net revenue grew by 14% during the past twelve months, which is only the beginning. Analyzing the financials shown in the earnings release can take a bit of time, so investors can save energy by focusing on the following trends. Gross margins advanced from 36.9% in 2022 to 39.2% in the latest quarter, which speaks to improvements in price dynamics and rising demand; the trickle-down effects will become all the more critical. Operating income rose 70% over the year, a massive push that nobody expected, especially from a consumer company operating in a contracting economy. All of these expansions have come to deliver a total 48% annual increase in earnings per share, which can push for a doubling in the stock price from today's levels. The stock price had only performed by 5.8% during the past twelve months when the company pushed earnings (which drive the stock price) by 48%. This massive disconnect between fundamental performance against technical performance is one of the openings every value investor hopes to see in the market. Management understands this undervaluation better than anyone, so they decided to repurchase as much as $3.1 billion (yes, BILLION) of stock during the period. Not only is this as impressive as it is, these figures pale in comparison with the $16.3 billion war chest that the company has left to buy back even more stock through 2025. Analysts are piling up to provide their sentiment as well, as there is a current 40% upside potential from today's price according to the consensus analyst ratings. The stars have aligned for current investors to kick back and relax. The checks seem to be writing themselves for those new investors jumping into this massive opportunity. As some are aware, the company announced earlier in the year that it would be undertaking a spin-off around its various businesses, and the delays in the process are a strategic decision. By spinning off each business, the company can decrease the likelihood of regulatory crackdowns from officials that see Alibaba as a monopoly, and it also unlocks insane value for shareholders. Understanding that these new trends in the financials will increase the valuation of the business as a whole and significantly push the individual spin-off valuations, investors can be happy to wait another quarter or two until they hear any update on this initiative. The more management waits, the higher the price they can command when it comes time to spin off the businesses. Full of economic catalysts, recession-proof business growth, and front-row seats to the upcoming rise in demand and activity in China, analyst and management screams of undervaluation. Alibaba stock becomes a no-brainer for those who can accept a bit of geopolitical risk. Before you consider Amazon.com, you'll want to hear this. MarketBeat keeps track of Wall Street's top-rated and best performing research analysts and the stocks they recommend to their clients on a daily basis. MarketBeat has identified the five stocks that top analysts are quietly whispering to their clients to buy now before the broader market catches on... and Amazon.com wasn't on the list. While Amazon.com currently has a "Moderate Buy" rating among analysts, top-rated analysts believe these five stocks are better buys. View The Five Stocks Here
Is It Time To Game The Roblox Market? 2023-08-10 - Key Points Roblox had a solid quarter but failed to inspire a rally. User metrics grew by double-digits but the market wanted more. The drop in share prices may not be over but a solid bottom is in sight. 5 stocks we like better than Roblox Roblox NASDAQ: RBLX had a tough quarter in Q2, and the headwinds may not have ceased, but the results are no reason for the stock to fall 20%. The results were tepid relative to the analysts' expectations but reveal mounting leverage for when consumer spending habits shift. The problem facing Roblox today isn’t its operations or business quality but pressure building on consumer spending habits that may curb strength over the next few quarters. The takeaway is that shares of Roblox are trading 20% below the pre-release price on a knee-jerk reaction to the news. Weak hands are selling their shares, bought near the bottom of a trading range supported by analysts and institutions. The analysts haven’t had much to say in the first few hours since the Q2 release. The trend in sentiment ahead of the release is mixed with some up and downward revisions to sentiment and price target, but the takeaway is favorable to shareholders. The consensus of 24 analysts is Hold with a price target of $40. That’s about 33% above the current price action and near the middle of the trading range dominating the price action. The institutional activity also aligns with the trading range, with net activity favoring the bulls over the past 12 months. Assuming these trends continue, the stock should find a bottom soon and may rebound by the end of the year. Roblox Gains Traction In Weak Environment Roblox had a tough quarter but made headway on critical metrics, including user growth and engagement across all age groups and demographics. The company reported $680.8 million in net revenue, a gain of 15% compared to last year. The gain is driven by $789.69 in bookings, up 22% compared to last year and 35 bps better than the Marketbeat.com consensus figure. The top-line strength was driven by a solid 25% increase in daily average users, offset by a 3% decline in bookings. The deleveraging is not good and is expected to weigh on results for the remainder of the year, but user growth is more important over the long term. With daily active users and average monthly unique players rising at near-20% and above 20% paces, the company is positioned for leverage when spending habits (consumer and business) shift. Engagement, another sign of leverage, is up 24%. “We continue to drive high rates of organic growth in DAUs, Hours, and Bookings. We are growing among users of all ages and across all geographies,” said David Baszucki, founder and CEO of Roblox. The margin news is less favorable. The company’s expenses rose across the board, leaving the net loss nearly double compared to last year. The mitigating factor is that much of the increase is attributable to infrastructure spending and R&D, which both support the company’s long-term trajectory. Factoring those increase out of the question, the company’s loss would have narrowed even with increased costs in other areas. The Technical Outlook: Roblox Is At the Bottom, But Range Bound The price action in Roblox is at the bottom relative to the post-IPO implosion and metaverse hoopla but trading within a range. The range has dominated the action for 18 months and may continue for the next few quarters at least. The post-release action has the market down sharply but still well within the range and above critical support levels. Critical support is near $25; a move to it will most likely result in a confirmation of support or an outright rebound. If not, the market could continue lower, but that is not expected. Roblox is facing headwinds but building long-term value for shareholders. The short interest would be much higher if that weren't the case. As of the last report, the stock is running a relatively low 3% short interest, and the availability of shares for shorting is low. This isn’t a hot growth market now but a solid wait-and-see-what-happens market with a promising future. Before you consider Roblox, you'll want to hear this. MarketBeat keeps track of Wall Street's top-rated and best performing research analysts and the stocks they recommend to their clients on a daily basis. MarketBeat has identified the five stocks that top analysts are quietly whispering to their clients to buy now before the broader market catches on... and Roblox wasn't on the list. While Roblox currently has a "Hold" rating among analysts, top-rated analysts believe these five stocks are better buys. View The Five Stocks Here
3 Reasons To Love Snowflake 1 Reason to be Cautious 2023-08-10 - Key Points Snowflake has been partnering with some of the hottest names in AI. Analysts are impressed with their recent updates and near-term growth prospects. The company is still unprofitable, which might be a red flag for some. 5 stocks we like better than Microsoft Having rallied as much as 60% since the start of the year, big data stock Snowflake Inc NYSE: SNOW has been taking a breather for the past month. Shares are down 20%, and while some bears are calling for an even greater dip, we see more reasons to like Snowflake than hate them right now. If you’re thinking about getting involved, here are three reasons supporting the bulls and one supporting the bears to be thinking about. AI Partnerships Sure, their shares are still down big from the heady heights of 2021, but management hasn’t been idle. In fact, the past few weeks have seen them announce several key partnerships that are going to set them up for long-term success in the AI industry. The final week of June saw solid updates on two of these. The first was with Microsoft Inc NASDAQ: MSFT, with Snowflake announcing they were expanding the already existing partnership on both the collaboration and go-to-market fronts. Snowflake is going to be one of Microsoft’s key partners when it comes to delivering their “large scale” generative AI products, a lucrative position to be in, given Microsoft’s leading place in the AI industry already. The second was with NVIDIA Corp NASDAQ: NVDA, with Snowflake announcing a fresh partnership with arguably the hottest name in AI right now. While details remain scarce for now, this partnership is expected to combine NVIDIA’s advanced machine learning and AI technology with Snowflake’s ability to handle vast volumes of data, setting both sides up for success. Bullish Comments Perhaps unsurprisingly, given this new upside exposure to AI, analysts haven’t been quiet on Snowflake’s prospects. Morgan Stanley reiterated their Overweight rating on Snowflake shares on the back of the same investor update that announced the NVIDIA partnership, with a price target of $215 pointing to an upside of 40% from current levels. It echoed the stance taken by the team at William Blair, who also reiterated their bullish stance while highlighting Snowflake’s “best in class” net revenue retention numbers. This metric is widely used among software companies and effectively measures how sticky a platform is with its customers. Oppenheimer also sees Snowflake’s prospects as having grown considerably brighter this year, with their 2029 target of $10 billion in revenue significantly “more attainable” now versus a year ago. So too, does the team at Scotiabank, who sees their total addressable market expanding to $102 billion by 2025. Beating Competition While there can always be more than one winner in an industry as big as data warehousing, it doesn’t hurt to see your closest competition falling behind. To this end, Datadog Inc NASDAQ: DDOG reported Q2 earnings yesterday which saw management cutting their full-year revenue guidance. Stifel immediately cut their rating on Datadog from Buy to Hold while simultaneously slashing their price target by 30%. The 20% drop in Datadog’s shares yesterday effectively put them at that price target, making them hardly an inspiring choice for investors looking to get into the industry. Making matters even worse, the same update from Stifel saw them highlighting Snowflake as a stronger alternative. Still Not Profitable While most of the recent news has been bullish for Snowflake, one sore point remains. And that is the fact that the company is still not profitable. Even the most ardent bulls will struggle to argue that they’re trending in that direction, with their most recent EPS print of -$0.70 matching that from January 2021, despite revenues growing more than 300% in those three years. The bulls will, of course, argue that this is par for the course with software companies as they work towards critical scale, but the more risk-averse investor might be put off by it. The flip side of that, of course, is that Snowflake’s shares are currently trading at a 55% discount to their January 2021 levels, while their revenue has tripled in the meantime. If you’re bullish on the company’s long-term prospects, then this could make it feel like you’re getting in at a bargain price. Before you consider Microsoft, you'll want to hear this. MarketBeat keeps track of Wall Street's top-rated and best performing research analysts and the stocks they recommend to their clients on a daily basis. MarketBeat has identified the five stocks that top analysts are quietly whispering to their clients to buy now before the broader market catches on... and Microsoft wasn't on the list. While Microsoft currently has a "Moderate Buy" rating among analysts, top-rated analysts believe these five stocks are better buys. View The Five Stocks Here