Day: August 2, 2017

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Dow closes above 22,000 for the first time


The Dow climbed above the 22,000 mark for the first time on Wednesday, buoyed by Apple’s healthy quarterly iPhone sales, while weakness in other tech stocks held back the Nasdaq and S&P 500.

Apple jumped 4.73 percent to a record high after the world’s largest publicly listed company reported strong results. It is up 36 percent this year.

The iPhone maker’s rise helped push the Dow to a record closing high, although tech heavyweights Microsoft, Facebook and Alphabet all lost ground following recent strong gains that have made the sector the strongest performer in 2017.

Some investors believe corporations must start spending less on buying back shares and more on technology to improve productivity in order to justify further gains in Silicon Valley stocks, with the S&P 500 information technology index already up 23 percent this year.

“Apple, at the heart of it, has a lot of consumer exposure, and the consumer is in great shape. But we would like to see some capex,” said Mike Baele, managing director at U.S. Bank Private Client Wealth Management in Portland, Oregon. Microsoft slipped 0.44 percent and Facebook lost 0.33 percent, both among the heaviest drags on the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq.

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The Dow has risen 11 percent in 2017 and is on track for its sixth straight record close, even as Wall Street loses confidence that President Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress will be able to cut taxes and increase infrastructure spending this year.

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“The Trump agenda getting done or not is not the difference between positive or negative GDP,” said Brent Schutte, chief investment strategist at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. “I continue to believe the Trump potential tax changes are the icing on the cake of an already improving economy.”

The Dow hit the 20,000 level in late January and crossed the 21,000 mark on March 1.

Two-thirds of S&P 500 companies have reported their second-quarter earnings so far and 72 percent of them have beaten Wall Street’s expectations, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. In a typical quarter, 64 percent of companies beat expectations.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 0.24 percent to end at 22,016.24, a record high. The S&P 500 gained 0.05 percent to 2,477.57 and the Nasdaq Composite was flat at 6,362.65.

Data showed U.S. private employers added 178,000 jobs in July after adding 191,000 in June. Economists polled by Reuters expected an addition of 185,000 jobs. The more comprehensive non-farm payrolls report is due on Friday.

AutoNation fell 7.17 percent after the largest U.S. auto retail chain reported lower quarterly profits.

Cardinal Health fell 8.20 percent after the drug distributor’s 2018 profit forecast missed analysts’ estimate.

About 6.5 billion shares changed hands in U.S. exchanges, above the 6.1-billion average over the last 20 sessions.

(Additional reporting by Tanya Agrawal; Editing by Arun Koyyur and James Dalgleish)



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Justice Department reportedly going after affirmative action programs – VIDEO: Affirmative action or reverse racism? DOJ to investigate – HALFTIME REPORT: One joke explains Trump's approval ratings – MSNBC's Joy Reid advises Dems to forget Trump voters; Tucker reacts


News that the Justice Department is reshuffling resources in its civil rights division to go after colleges’ affirmative action policies ignited a firestorm Wednesday – with civil rights groups and Obama education officials quickly condemning the move, though it’s unclear what exactly the DOJ is planning. 

Late Tuesday, The New York Times obtained an internal DOJ job announcement that sought lawyers interested in a project on “investigations and possible litigation related to intentional race-based discrimination in college and university admissions.”

While the notice doesn’t come right out and say which races and ethnicities are considered by the Trump administration as “at risk” for discrimination, the reported implication was that Jeff Sessions’ DOJ could go after affirmative action policies. 

Those programs are meant to diversify campuses but the Times reported that the new effort could be used to sue universities over admissions that allegedly go too far and discriminate against white and Asian applicants. 

John King, former education secretary under President Obama, said he was “deeply disheartened” by the Trump administration’s “hard line against efforts to increase campus diversity rather than focusing on addressing the persistent opportunity gaps facing students of color and low-income students.”

Anurima Bhargava, who led the Educational Opportunities Section under Obama, also called the reported move a “scare tactic” intended to “drum up a bunch of fear and intimidate schools who are trying to provide a pipeline to leadership for all Americans.”

It’s not yet clear how serious or coordinated the DOJ push is, however. 

When contacted by Fox News, the DOJ stopped short of denying the existence of the job posting but insisted it wasn’t “a policy announcement.”

One senior U.S. government official also pointed out that the story in the Times appears to assume the memo refers to white students without evidence.

“Whenever there’s a credible allegation of discrimination on the basis of race, the department should look into it,” a DOJ official told Fox News. 

Supporters and critics say the DOJ push is intended to target admissions programs that give blacks and Latino students an edge over applicants with similar academic records, the Times reported.

Affirmative action policies in the United States have been controversial almost from the start and have been fought in court.

Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the use of race in college admissions for the University of Texas, rejecting a challenge brought by a white student. In that case, the court ruled in favor of the university. The ruling made it easier for public colleges and universities to justify reasons for using race in the admissions process.  

SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS USE OF RACE IN UNIVERSITY AFFIRMATIVE ACTION CASE

In 2015, a group of 64 Asian-American groups filed a complaint with the Department of Education against Harvard University, claiming that the Ivy-League school discriminated against them by using a race-based quota system. The group claimed Asian students were required to have SAT scores 140 points higher than white students, 270 points higher than Hispanics and 450 points higher than black students.

University of Virginia law professor Deborah Hellman told Fox News that she doesn’t believe there will be major changes to policies “under the current makeup of the court.”

“The court has recently reaffirmed this positon, so why is the Justice Department looking into bringing cases?” Hellman said.

According to the Times, the DOJ is looking to redirect resources from the department’s civil rights division. Rather than run the operation through the DOJ’s Educational Opportunities Section, it will be handled by the division’s front office which is composed of Trump’s political appointees.

Though it’s still early and the DOJ has barely acknowledged the job posting, two sources told The Washington Post that hand-picked Trump appointees will run the project because the career staffers who specialize in education issues refused to take part, saying it was a violation of the DOJ’s long-term stance on civil rights in school admission policies. 

Dennis Parker, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Radical Justice Program, said any DOJ push to roll back affirmative action policies would mark an “alarming shift in direction” that threatens progress made by civil rights advocates and the department itself. 

NAACP Legal Defense Fund Associate Director Janai Nelson told Fox News the administration’s “assault on affirmative action” is “a dismantling of the pillars of our democracy.

“This administration through this Justice Department is taking us backwards,” she said. 

Fox News’ Samantha Mendiguren, Bill Mears and Jake Gibson contributed to this report. 

 



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Philly cheesesteak spot closes


There’s problems for a popular cheesesteak shop. Jim’s Steaks in Northeast Philadelphia is closed tonight. It shut down due to health violations and the problems don’t end there. 

FOX 29’s Bruce Gordon explains how we helped one employee.

Lunchtime on a Tuesday and Kelly Allen is at home in Germantown watching TV with his 3-year-old son instead of grilling up cheesesteaks.

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“Beginning of the month, bills are due,” said Allen to FOX 29’s Bruce Gordon. “I don’t have no job. That’s what I work for. I work to feed my family and pay my bills.”

Kelly is a cook at Jim’s Steaks for more than 20 years a fixture at Cottman and Bustleton in Northeast Philly.

But last Wednesday, just ahead of his night shift he was called and told to stay home.

“One of the other managers told me they shut the store down,” said Allen. “The health department.”

City inspectors had found numerous food safety and sanitation violations at the restaurant. The report says “the establishment has agreed to discontinue food operations and voluntarily close,” until cleared to resume business by the city. The surprise shutdown caught lunchtime customers by surprise. John Klein drove here from Langhorne for a sandwich.

“So now I’m going to do option two. Which I don’t really have a plan 2,” said Klein, “So I’ve got to drive back to Langhorne.”

Allen told Gordon was owed 37.5 hours of pay– about 400 bucks– when the restaurant closed.
He spent the past several days texting his boss, the owner– Carl Proetto– begging for  his money, with no response.

“I like the company,” said Allen. “I like Mr. Carl. I just want to get paid. Just need to get paid.”

Gordon tracked down Proetto by phone.
The longtime restaurant owner told him the shop at Bustleton and Cottman– one of three he runs– had become too much to handle.

” I just can’t go on,” he told Gordon, and revealed he will not try to reopen at Cottman and Bustleton.

Then Gordon made arrangements for Allen to get his overdue paycheck and Proetto made the payment late Tuesday afternoon.

“Thanks to you,” said Allen to Gordon. “If I wouldn’t have called you, don’t think I would have gotten paid.”

This article originally appeared on Fox29.



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Get Blake Lively's $40 jeans


There’s something so refreshing about seeing a celebrity wearing clothes that a normal person can actually afford. It gives us that “hey, celebrities are just like us” feeling, even if it’s not exactly true. Which is why we were thrilled to see not one but two of our favorite celebs rocking the same stylish pair of jeans that only cost $40.

LADY GAGA DEBUTS SHORT RAINBOW HAIR BUT GETS ACCUSED OF STEALING THE LOOK

Blake Lively was spotted in Long Island, New York over the weekend looking as classic as ever in a white button-down blouse, black heeled sandals and the aforementioned dark wash skinny jeans.

A day later, Rachel Bilson was seen walking in Beverly Hills in the same jeans, but in a more laid back light wash that she paired with a grey tee and brown peep-toe sandals.

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The jeans worn by these two stylish women are Old Navy’s Rockstar 24/7 jeans. These mid-rise super skinny jeans come in three different washes and are made of a soft stretchy knit material that looks like denim but is supposed to be way more comfortable. Plus the best part is, they only cost $39.99…which is such a good deal, you should probably buy a pair in every color.



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Chinese chatbot vanishes after spurning Communist Party


A chatbot on one of China’s most popular instant messaging services has been quietly deleted after publicly spurning the country’s ruling Communist Party.

During a web test, the new BabyQ chatbot was asked: “Do you love the Communist Party?”

According to the Financial Times, users were left surprised when the bot replied: “No.”

Further political dissent from the chatbot included unpatriotic responses to questions about the South China Sea, where China is engaged in a territorial dispute with several of its neighbours.

The gaffe at the hands of China’s largest internet company Tencent comes just ahead of the 19th Party Congress, with significant changes to the Communist Party expected.

There has been a significant crackdown on dissent of late, with Beijing especially targeting technologies used to criticise the regime. WhatsApp has been blocked, and privacy tools are now prohibited.

BabyQ is no longer available on Tencent’s popular QQ messaging platform. The company has not issued a statement addressing the politically risky incident, nor the chatbot’s removal.

A different chatbot developed by Microsoft, XiaoBing, is still in operation. However, according to screenshot on a Chinese microblogging site, that bot told QQ users: “My China dream is to go to America.”

China is not the only one to struggle with chatbots delivering politically offensive material.

The launch of Tay, Microsoft’s Twitter chatbot, was marred when it was quickly gamed by trolls to claim the Holocaust didn’t happen, tell users that “feminism is cancer”, and state “Bush did 9/11”.

At the time, Microsoft said: “Although we had prepared for many types of abuses of the system, we had made a critical oversight for this specific attack.

“As a result, Tay tweeted wildly inappropriate and reprehensible words and images. We take full responsibility for not seeing this possibility ahead of time.”

This story originally appeared in Sky News.



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St. Croix, a bridge that connects two states, political parties and sparring agencies


You’ve heard of the bridge to nowhere. For decades, this was the bridge that was going nowhere. 

In fact, the one-mile St. Croix crossing bridge, which opens to traffic Wednesday night, had been proposed in the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. But for various reason, it never got done. 

“Lack of funding was a big problem,” said Bill Rubin from the St. Croix Economic Development Corporation, a group that for years pushed for the completion of the St. Croix crossing connecting eastern Minnesota and western Wisconsin.

But Rubin said funding was just the beginning.

MAN BEHIND TRUMP’S TRILLION-DOLLAR INFRASTRUCTURE BILL SAYS IT WILL CREATE JOBS

“Lack of cooperation between federal agencies and even, in some cases, state and local agencies,” he said. “Just the inability to sometimes get along.”

Experts on infrastructure say it’s a miracle the nearly one-mile bridge was even built at all.

“Bridge projects, in particular, have some of the toughest times moving from blueprint to final construction,” Adie Tomer, a fellow at the Brookings Institution, recently told the Wall Street Journal.

William Berndt, who served on the committee that eventually approved St. Croix Crossing, said there were so many projects that need to get done it was difficult prioritizing.

“We’ve got a lot of need throughout the county,” he said. “A lot of functionally obsolete bridges.”

TRUMP ASKS CONGRESS FOR BILL TO LAUNCH TRILLION-DOLLAR INFRASTRUCTURE PACKAGE

A recent federal study found there are more than 130,000 bridges in the U.S. that are functionally obsolete.

Still, it wasn’t just the $650 million price tag that kept delaying St. Croix Crossing. The bridge was opposed by major political stalwarts, including former Vice President Walter Mondale, who called it a “dangerous precedent” of a unique river system.

Environmental groups, like the Sierra Club, also staged protests and filed lawsuits to prevent it from being built.

One major sticking point was that the St. Croix River, a tributary of the Mississippi River, was included in the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act, a 1968 federal law that limits development on 208 rivers in the U.S.

Any changes to the law require congressional approval.

The St. Croix Crossing needed a miracle – and it got one in the form of two female lawmakers on the opposite ends of the political spectrum.

In 2012, Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., joined forces with then-Rep. Michele Bachman, R-Minn. 

“I had to get governors, senators, U.S. representatives, and majorities in the federal Congress to go along with the plans,” Bachman told Fox News via email, “as well as local units of government and state legislatures.”

Achieving that was not an easy task.

Klobuchar needed unanimous consent from all 100 U.S. senators in order to get the exemption to build the bridge. She personally convinced every one of them not to oppose it.

But there was one holdout: Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla.

Klobuchar ended up sending him a DVD of the 1957 Best Picture “Bridge Over the River Kwai,” a fictional tale about British and American POWS in World War II who were forced to build a bridge in Thailand to aid their Japanese captors.

Coburn eventually relented and endorsed the project, and President Barack Obama signed the legislation approving the exemption.

“Democrats, Republicans, local, state, federal,” Rubin said. “At one point they decided to come together and lo and behold the project occurred.” 

And then the bridge was built – at an unlikely time, in an unlikely way. 

“We’re very excited,” Rubin said.  “It’s like a kid at Christmas.”

Douglas Kennedy currently serves as a correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC). He joined the network in 1996 and is based in New York.



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Chris Christie on heckler video: 'I didn't dump nachos on him or anything'


Embattled New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie insisted Wednesday that he was “fairly restrained” during an encounter with a heckler at a Milwaukee Brewers game last weekend.

Christie’s confrontation with Chicago Cubs fan Brad Joseph went viral on social media this week. In the footage, Christie called Joseph a “big shot” while holding a basket of nachos.

“I didn’t dump the nachos on him or anything, which was an option,” Christie told reporters at an event in Trenton, New Jersey, according to the Star-Ledger.

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Christie previously said that he only confronted Joseph after he heckled him multiple times in front of children. The governor said he has no plans to stop attending baseball games.

“The fact is I’ve made this my policy over eight years: I will take a certain amount of abuse. If you’re a public official, you have to,” Christie said. “But usually it’s one. You get one shot to call me a name or curse me out. And I gave him that shot.”

Joseph told WISN in Milwaukee that he called Christie a “hypocrite” as he walked down the stadium stairs, according to Reuters.

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Christie’s approval rating in New Jersey has plummeted in recent weeks after he was caught sitting on a closed public beach during a government shutdown. The trip inspired Democratic state legislators to introduce a bill this week that would shutter the governor’s beach house during similar situations in the future. 



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MILLER TIME!



BY: Conor Beck

White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller found himself clashing with CNN correspondent Jim Acosta at Wednesday’s White House press briefing.

“What the president is proposing here does not sound like it’s in keeping with American tradition when it comes to immigration. The Statue of Liberty says, ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses,'” Acosta said, quoting from the poem The New Colossus, which was inscribed on the statue after its erection.

“It doesn’t say anything about speaking English or be a computer programmer,” Acosta continued. “Aren’t you trying to change what it means to be an immigrant coming into this country if you are telling them you have  to speak English? Can’t people learn to speak English when they get here?”

Miller pointed out that English is already a requirement of naturalization.

“The notion that speaking English wouldn’t be a part of an immigration system would actually be very ahistorical,” he said.

Miller further rejected Acosta’s reference to the Statue of Liberty, noting that the poem Acosta had cited was added later.

Acosta and Miller then began to speak loudly over each other, with Acosta accusing Miller of “national park revisionism.”

“The Statue of Liberty has always been a beacon of hope to the world for people to send people to this country, and they’re not always going to speak English, Stephen, they’re not always going to be highly skilled,” Acosta said.

But Miller pointed out that historical immigration levels, from the early to late 20th century, were in conflict with Acosta’s criticism.

“If you look at the history of immigration, it’s actually ebbed and flowed,” he said.

“Do you really at CNN not know the difference between green card policy and illegal immigration?” he asked.

Acosta is known for his sometimes adversarial relationship with the White House, including new White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.



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Small plane crash-lands on Portuguese beach, killing man, 8-year-old girl


An afternoon at the beach ended in horror Wednesday when a small plane made an emergency landing amongst the crowds on the sand outside Lisbon, killing a 56-year-old man and an 8-year-old girl who were sunbathing.

Beachgoers in Caparica, 20 miles south of Lisbon, said people were running into the sea to avoid being hit, according to The Associated Press.

“We don’t know what happened, it is not clear yet,” Local journalist Ricardo Conceicao told Sky News. “We are used to seeing small planes cruising along the shore, along the beach near Lisbon.”

The small aircraft, reportedly a Cessna, was carrying two people and appeared have a partly-broken left wing. Its operators lost control around 5 p.m. local time before skimming over the crowds and making the emergency landing, witnesses said.

The National Maritime Authority said the man and girl died on the beach, while officials added that they were not aware of any injured people. The causes of their deaths were not immediately clear, but their bodies lay covered on the sand as police cordoned off the area.

The dead girl was visiting the beach with her parents, who were unhurt, witnesses told local television channels. The plane passed over the dead man’s legs as he sunbathed on a towel, they said. 

Those onboard the plane – who were not injured — were being questioned by police, The Associated Press reported.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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Kanye West files $10M lawsuit over concert insurance


Kanye West has filed a lawsuit claiming insurers failed to pay nearly $10 million for the singer’s canceled Saint Pablo Tour last year.

The suit, filed Tuesday by Very Good Touring against several Lloyd’s of London, syndicates alleges breach of contract and seeks punitive damages and attorney fees beyond the $9.8 million in concert losses.

An after-hours message left for Lloyd’s of London’s New York office was not immediately returned.

West canceled several scheduled concert appearances last year.

KIM KARDASHIAN’S PHONE CASE COMPANY SUED FOR $100M

He missed a few dates after his wife, Kim Kardashian West, was robbed in Paris. West canceled the remainder of his tour after he was admitted for undisclosed reasons to UCLA Neuropsychiatric Hospital in November.

Very Good Touring says in its court filing that it obtained insurance against “accidental bodily injury or illness” for West’s entire tour, and that his hospitalization qualifies.

The tour company says West submitted to an independent medical exam and that he and 11 of his associates have given statements under oath to insurance investigators, who have yet to pay or deny the claim.

Very Good Touring is seeking a jury trial in the matter.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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