Posts tagged with "California"

Storyliving is Disney’s new venture into planned residential communities

February 18, 2022

The Walt Disney Company has announced the launch of a new initiative to develop residential communities called Storyliving by Disney, reports Forbes magazine.

According to Disney, the new communities will feature “distinctively designed spaces, unique amenities, and world-renowned service.” The first community is set to be developed in Rancho Mirage, California, and additional locations around the United States are under exploration.

The master-planned communities are intended to, as Disney says, “Inspire residents to foster new friendships, pursue their interests and write the next exciting chapter in their lives—all while enjoying the attention to detail, unique amenities, and special touches that are Disney hallmarks.”

The first location of Rancho Mirage is a nod to Walt Disney, himself; who once owned a home in the area, where he would spend leisure time with his family. It will be called Cotino, a Storyliving by Disney community.

Homebuyers can choose from estates, single-family homes and condominiums to purchase, along with feature neighborhoods for those 55 years old and over.

Rental units are not anticipated to be available. There will be a voluntary club membership through which Disney will provide access to a variety of curated experiences, entertainment, and philanthropic endeavors. Each location within the community will be operated by Disney Cast Members.

 Disney also has announced that Cotino will have a mixed-use district with shopping, dining, and entertainment. A beachfront hotel and beach park will also be available. The hotel and park will also be able to be accessed by the public with a purchase of a day pass.

Cotino is being developed in collaboration with DMB Development of Scottsdale, Arizona, which is widely known for its execution of planned communities. “Cotino represents the creativity and operational excellence of Disney combined with the extensive community development expertise of DMB Development. We are delighted to collaborate with Disney in this groundbreaking new concept,” said Brent Herrington, CEO of DMB Development.

“As we prepare to enter our second century, we are developing new and exciting ways to bring the magic of Disney to people wherever they are, expanding storytelling to storyliving. We can’t wait to welcome residents to these beautiful and unique Disney communities where they can live their lives to the fullest,” said Josh D’Amaro, chairman, Disney Parks, Experiences and Products in a press release.

Storyliving by Disney isn’t the company’s first dip into the world of real estate and community development. According to Click Orlando, Disney announced plans for Celebration to the public in 1991 and broke ground in 1994. The master-planned community had plenty of homes, schools, shopping, and dining. However, Disney ultimately let go of Celebration in 2004 and sold it to private investors.

Those with millions of dollars to spend and a love for Disney can also live in the private, ultra-luxe neighborhood of Golden Oak set in the heart of Walt Disney World. Prices start at $2 million and go upwards, to well over $10 million for a home in the desirable neighborhood.

Research contact: @Forbes

Commuting by bike is booming in five U.S. cities

January 28, 2022

In 2019, just 0.5% of U.S. commuters rode a bike to work—the smallest share of any mode. But tiny shifts can make a big difference. Data-driven bike plans, safety improvements, and supportive political leadership have helped boost bike commute rates in several cities nationwide in recent years, according to a new report from the League of American Bicyclists, reports Bloomberg.

In Benchmarking Bike Networks, the country’s largest bicycling advocacy organization takes stock of the best infrastructure and policy practices for getting more people pedaling.

The report spotlights Boston; Chicago; Austin, Texas; Oakland, California; and Missoula, Montana—cities of diverse size and geography where bike commute shares are more than twice the national average and have increased over the last decade.

Ken McLeod, the league’s policy director, hopes they can serve as models for other communities. “Benchmarking shows what really good communities are doing and what others can do so that we’re all pushing towards the same goal of safe bike networks that are accessible to everyone,” he said.

Consistent across the five cities was how long local officials have been planning for better cycling facilities—updating their proposals regularly. In Oakland, a suite of improvements focused on a “ladder” of two parallel streets and seven connecting streets on either side of the MacArthur BART station—especially after a 2007 bike plan showed how many more residents lived a short bike ride away from the station versus a short walk.

With a targeted approach, the number of bike lanes and dedicated bike lanes has soared across Oakland, often replacing shared lane marking —also known as sharrows—following best safety practices for high-traffic streets, McLeod said.

The report also identifies street repavement cycles as an efficient way to stripe lanes and add protections. Austin’s faster-than-average repaving schedule, where streets are resurfaced every 10 years rather than the usual 20, has helped to build bike lanes at breakneck speed; the city recently passed the halfway point on building a planned 400+ mile cycling network, marking a 34% increase in miles since 2014.

Political support also played a powerful role in that rollout, with Austin voters approving bond measures in 2016 and 2019 that supplied dedicated funds for biking and walking improvements.

Along the same lines, culture change led by top decision-makers laid important groundwork in nearly every city. In 2015, Missoula’s city council adopted a 30-year growth plan that highlighted needed infrastructure improvements to support its sustainability, affordability and safety objectives. That process led to a citywide goal of tripling the share of commuters who bike, walk, and take transit by 2045, which then guided the creation of a more ambitious bike plan.

“Knowing that policy makers had wanted the mode share to look different in 30 years, it enabled the staff and advocates to push harder,” McLeod said.

Helpful as these examples may be as cities adapt to pandemic-era commuting, they come with a significant caveat: Because the U.S. Census Bureau didn’t release biking and walking commute data from its tumultuous 2020 survey, the report doesn’t capture COVID-19’s effects on cycling—which were complicated, given that overall commuting plummeted at the same time as interest in recreational cycling surged.

While analytics companies have tracked both trends, the lack of standardization from year to year prevents a fair comparison.

This ties into a broader problem that disadvantages the cycling community, McLeod said: The federal government doesn’t routinely collect data on bike facilities the way it does for highways and bridges—making a national assessment of cycling conditions all but impossible. That’s also true for pedestrian networks. McLeod pointed to how data collection and mapping of deteriorating bridges informed President Joe Biden’s recent announcement of a $27.5 billion investment in those spans over the next five years.

“The lack of biking and walking network data means we can’t use similar messaging or provide accurate estimates of needs for bicycle and pedestrian networks,” McLeod said. “I hope this report helps us move towards

Research contact: @Bloomberg

Theranos’ Elizabeth Holmes will be sentenced in September

January 17, 2022

Elizabeth Holmes, the disgraced founder of Theranos, will be sentenced on September 26 in San Jose, California, after a jury found her guilty on Monday, January 4, on four of 11 charges in a case of criminal fraud, reports Vanity Fair.

Holmes founded Theranos in 2003 after dropping out of Stanford University at the age of 19. She went on to become a billionaire on paper after raising more than $900 million from investors, based on the promise that the company’s innovative blood testing technology would be able to diagnose a wide variety of diseases with just a few drops of blood from a patient—rather than the traditional vials of blood drawn from a patient’s vein. 

However, Theranos ultimately ended up shutting down in 2018 after The Wall Street Journal published an exposé in 2015— divulging that the tests were not accurate and that Theranos was using traditional machines for its testing rather than its own technology.

That same year, the 37-year-old entrepreneur was charged by federal prosecutors with nine counts of wire fraud and two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud over allegations that she deceived investors and patients about the company’s technology.

The jury, which comprised eight men and four women, convicted Holmes on one charge of conspiracy and three charges of fraud. They determined she was not guilty of a second conspiracy charge and not guilty on three fraud charges. They were unable to reach a unanimous decision on another three fraud charges, which the U.S. government plans to dismiss, according to a court filing on Tuesday, Janury 11. Each count carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Holmes pleaded not guilty to all charges and took to the stand to defend herself during the trial, during which she admitted to having regrets but denied defrauding anyone. She also placed blamed on her former boyfriend and ex-Theranos Chief Operating Officer Ramesh “Sunny” Balwani for allegedly misleading her about the effectiveness of Theranos’ technology, and she accused him of emotional and sexual abuse.

Balwani will face his own trial beginning in March over his alleged role in defrauding the company’s stakeholders, following delays due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Research contact: @VanityFair

Creepy crawlies: If you live here, prepare to see thousands of tarantulas

August 6, 2021

Catching an unexpected glimpse of a daddy longlegs spider in your home can make even folks who’d barely call themselves arachnophobes jump. A wolf spider sighting outdoors can frighten even the most intrepid explorers. And encountering a hairy tarantula can cause virtually anyone to freeze up.

Unfortunately for folks of one particular area of the United States, there’s about to be an influx of not just a few or a few hundred, but thousands of tarantulas in the very near future, Best Life reports.

Starting in August, Colorado—particularly the southeastern part of the state—will see a sudden uptick in its tarantula population.

The sudden influx of thousands of tarantulas, which typically begins between late August and September, according to the Colorado State University College of Agricultural Sciences (via The Gazette), is part of the arachnids’ annual migration.

For the Aphonopelma vogelae tarantula, more frequently found in the southwestern portions of the state, migration peaks in October.

But take heart: While seeing thousands of tarantulas descend on your area may be disconcerting, their presence is typically short-lived.

According to the Colorado State University College of Agricultural Sciences, following their migration, the tarantulas are active for a short period of time, but “all normally perish within a couple of months.”

And you won’t be the only one watching where you walk and sit. The Colorado-based tarantula migration isn’t the only major shift in habitats these furry arachnids may be making this year, however.

According to Christopher Vitek, PhD, an associate professor of biology at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley during their mating season between March and October, tarantulas frequently emerge from their usual habitats in states including Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah.

While tarantulas are unlikely to do harm to most humans, it’s wise to give them a wide berth if you encounter one in the wild.

“Their venom is of no medical significance, and contrary to popular belief, nobody has ever died from such a bite; most people compare the bite to that of a bee sting and experience no lasting ill-effects other than mild to moderate pain and slight swelling at the site of the bite,” Brent Hendrixson, PhD, chair of biology at Millsaps College, recently told Best Life.

Hendrixson says that if you do find a tarantula somewhere it shouldn’t be—inside your home, for example—and don’t feel comfortable picking it up, gently coax it into a jar with a soft-ended object like a paintbrush and remove it from the premises.

Research contact: @bestlife

Two men charged with conspiracy to attack Democratic HQ in Sacramento

july 19, 2021

On July 16, federal authorities announced they had arrested two men in California who allegedly wanted to organize a movement to overthrow the government—and who had discussed blowing up the Democratic headquarters in Sacramento—in a new, major case of would-be domestic terrorists motivated by former President Donald Trump’s election defeat, CNN reports.

Five days before the presidential inauguration on January 20—which prosecutors believe was to be a key date in the planning of the attack—the Justice Department apprehended one of the men, who had amassed a large arsenal. Ian Benjamin Rogers, 45, of Napa, California, showed strong support for White supremacy and for Trump, and said in text messages he realized he would be labeled a domestic terrorist, according to Justice Department court filings.

A man Rogers communicated with, Jarrod Copeland, 37, of Vallejo, California, was arrested in Sacramento this week, DOJ said.

According to CNN, court records citing extensive encrypted messages between Rogers and Copeland raise the alarm of how the men sought to inspire domestic terrorism toward Democrats—and how their anti-government motivations may still persist.

In January, Rogers had told Copeland, “I want to blow up a democrat building bad,” and Copeland responded in agreement, writing, “Plan attack.”

The pair discussed “war” after President Joe Biden’s inauguration, the Justice Department said. They also discussed attacking George Soros, a billionaire donor who supports liberal causes; and Twitter, which by then had removed Trump from the social media platform.Enter your email to sign up for CNN’s “What Matters” newsletter.”I hope 45 goes to war if he doesn’t I will,” Rogers allegedly wrote.

The larger idea, the FBI and prosecutors say, was for Rogers to become violent near where he lived, to prompt others into similar actions nationwide, according to the court record.

Both men are charged with conspiracy to destroy by fire or explosive a building used or in affecting interstate commerce.

Rogers also faces weapons charges after investigators found 49 firearms, thousands of rounds of ammunition and five pipe bombs at his home and business in January, shortly after they discussed the plan but before January 20, according to court records. One of the guns, investigators noted, appeared to be a replica of a fully automatic machine gun that Nazi troops had used during World War II, according to a charging document for Rogers. Rogers told investigators after his arrest the pipe bombs were for “entertainment.”

Secret Service intel briefings ahead of January 6 concluded there was no indication of civil disobedience

Rogers and Copeland are currently being held in custody and have yet to be arraigned, and a federal prosecutor said Thursday they remain a threat. “All of the political and social conditions that motivated them to plan what they themselves described as a terrorist attack remain,” the prosecutor write in a court filing.

Rogers’ attorney declined to comment, and it was not immediately clear if Copeland had a lawyer. Copeland is due in court in San Francisco on July 20.

Prosecutors, national security officials and politicians have warned that after Trump and his allies ramped up his lies of a stolen election in November and after a mob of hundreds of Trump supporters attacked the US Capitol on January 6, their inflammatory rhetoric could lead to violence.

An FBI agent specializing in domestic terrorism wrote in court about the messages, “I believe that these latter messages indicate Rogers’ belief that Trump (“45″) actually won the presidential election and should ‘go to war’ to ensure he remained in power.”

Prosecutors also say Rogers had written to Copeland months before, in November, that he wanted to “hit the enemy in the mouth” with homemade explosives attacking the Governor’s Mansion and the Democratic headquarters building in Sacramento, according to DOJ.

Copeland had told Rogers he was in touch with an anti-government militia group and also had made contact with a militia leader after Rogers’ arrest, who advised him to delete his communications, which he allegedly did, the Justice Department also said.

In various searches, investigators found Copeland had rifles, a “go bag” with a helmet, elbow and knee pads, ammunition magazines and zip tie handcuffs, and anabolic steroids.

The zip ties, prosecutors say, were intended for the men’s plot. “The fact that he still had them six months later indicates that he still believed a situation would arise where he would need to take prisoners,” a Justice Department court filing said. “His sentiments are deeply felt and long-standing and reflect a belief that the government is illegitimate. He is not likely to obey rules imposed on him by someone he views as part of a tyrannical government.”

Prosecutors note that Copeland served in the military but had deserted in 2016 under an “other than honorable” discharge.

“It doesn’t matter for our purposes whether the steroids make Copeland more violent and aggressive, or he seeks out steroids because he tends to be more violent and aggressive. Either way, he is a greater danger to the community,” prosecutors noted about the steroids.

At first, CNN reports, Rogers’ idea was to use Molotov cocktails and gasoline, and his a “first target” of the governor’s mansion, because he believed it was empty and there would be no casualties. “Would send a message,” Rogers allegedly wrote to Copeland, according to the court record. “That’s the best target I think too,” Copeland responded.

Prosecutors say Rogers then decided to change the target to the Democratic headquarters building in Sacramento. The two men allegedly made plans over the next two months, prosecutors say. The discussed pipe bombs and gallons of gasoline, among other violence at the building, according to their messages included in court records.

Research contact: @CNN

Capitol Police open offices in California, Florida to probe threats against members of Congress

July 7, 2021

The U.S. Capitol Police (USCP) announced on July 6 that the department is in the process of opening regional field offices in California and Florida to investigate threats to members of Congress, as part of enhanced security efforts in the wake of the Capitol insurrection last January 6, The Hill reports.

Capitol Police said in May that threats against members of Congress have more than doubled—increasing 107%— since last year.

“The USCP has enhanced our staffing within our Dignitary Protection Division as well as coordinated for enhanced security for Members of Congress outside of the National Capitol Region,” Acting USCP Chief Yogananda Pittman said in a statement.

She added, “The Department is also in the process of opening Regional Field Offices in California and Florida with additional regions in the near future to investigate threats to Members of Congress.”

“It has been six months since rioters attacked the United States Capitol and our brave police officers and law enforcement partners who fought valiantly to protect elected leaders and the democratic process,”  Pittman said.

“We will never forget USCP Officers Brian Sicknick and Howie Liebengood, who died after the attack, nor the sacrifices of the nearly 150 law enforcement officers who were injured,” Pittman added.

While more than 500 people have been arrested in connection with the attacks, the FBI is still searching for some 300 subjects, including those involved with placing pipe bombs at each party’s national headquarters.

The department said it has been working to implement recommendations from multiple Juary 6 reviews, including those from the Government Accountability Office, the Capitol Police Office of Inspector General, and a House panel.

The various reviews found that the force was operating with aging equipment, failed to follow up on intelligence or widely distribute information to officers, and sidelined the Architect of the Capitol, one of its board members, from assisting with security planning.

Now, the force is expanding wellness services, with an emphasis on psychological trauma and stress; enhancing member protection; increasing training; and enhancing critical incident response training.

According to The Hill, the department also has purchased new helmets and batons for its forces, as well as shields, which its watchdog previously found were improperly stored and damaged.

What’s more, Pittman announced, the Capitol Police will increase its intelligence sharing with officers. “Externally, USCP leadership has increased intelligence sharing and collaboration between all of our local, state, and federal law enforcement partners; as well increased our partnership within the intelligence community and Congressional stakeholders.”

Research contact: @thehill

Move to tax ultra-rich Americans gathers steam, as states and Biden Administration float plans

Narch 17, 2021

Several states are unveiling new tax proposals—adding to a wave of interest in taxing ultra-rich Americans and corporations being led by the Biden Administration and Senate Democrats, reports YahooFinance.

Lawmakers in California are considering a tax on extreme wealth that would impose an annual excise tax of 1% on those who have wealth exceeding $50 million per taxpayer and a 1.5% tax on those with wealth above $1 billion. The tax would raise an estimated $22.3 billion starting in 2023.

New York and Washington State also are looking at new taxation targeting ultra-wealthy individuals, notes Yahoo.

“This is the way that we get back to a California where everybody has an opportunity, and I don’t know a single business leader or moderate who doesn’t believe in that,” Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) said during a press conference on Tuesday, March 16. “It’s time to do something about it and quit bitching, quite honestly.”

On a national level, the Biden Administration and Democratic lawmakers are floating several different tax measures related to higher taxes for wealthy Americans and corporations. Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) recently reintroduced her proposal on taxing the ultra-rich.

“I know Senator Warren has put forward a wealth tax, and the president shares her view that middle-class families are paying more than their fair share and those at the top are not doing their part,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said at a press conference on Monday, March 15. “Certainly he has that shared objective.”

The proposed wealth taxes in California and Washington State are similar to Warren’s plan and would impose an annual tax rate on income above certain thresholds.

“Since the start of the pandemic, billionaires have accumulated an additional $1.1 trillion in wealth,” Assembly Member Alex Lee (D-San Jose) said. “In order for California to really come back roaring, we need sizable investments in our communities… we’re proposing a modest 1% tax on households with net worths of over $15 million, and 1.5% on wealth over $1 billion.”

Critics of the wealth tax say it may be difficult to calculate and be enforced. The revenue generated might not be as much as expected while the costs of administering the tax could be higher than calculated.

“Taxing wealth is something we’ve never done in the United States and that most countries have not done,” Jared Walczak, the Tax Foundation’s vice president of state projects, told Yahoo Money. “They’re complex and they create a lot of economic harm because they’re paid on your assets — which often have to be liquidated to pay them.”

While wealth taxes reached their peak in OECD countries in the 1990s, the number of OECD countries that currently have a wealth tax dropped to five from 12 by 2019 because of the challenges those taxes create.

The proposed plan in New York—which includes raising income taxes, imposing new capital gains taxes, and increasing the estate tax among other measures — is similar to President Joe Biden’s campaign plan to raise the corporate tax rate to 28%, require a true minimum tax of 21% on all foreign earnings on U.S. companies, raise the top individual income tax rate to 39.6% (the current maximum is 37%), and require those who make more than $1 million annually pay the same rate on investment income as they do on their wages.

Research contact: @YahooFinance

Chipotle to open its first digital-only restaurant: No dining room; just advance orders

November 12, 2020

Chipotle Mexican Grill has announced the completion of its first-ever Chipotle digital-only restaurant called the Chipotle Digital Kitchen.

Located just outside of the gates to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in the adjacent town of Highland Falls, New York, the restaurant will open this Saturday, November 14, for pick-up and delivery only, the company said in a release.

The new prototype will enable Chipotle to enter more urban areas that wouldn’t support a full-size restaurant and allows for flexibility with future locations.  It will not offer a dining room or front service line. Guest must order in advance via Chipotle.com, the Chipotle app, or third-party delivery partners for pick-up or delivery.

Orders can be picked up from a lobby that is designed to include all of the sounds, smells and kitchen views of a traditional Chipotle restaurant. The Digital Kitchen also will service large catering orders available for pick up in a separate lobby with its own dedicated entry.

“The Digital Kitchen incorporates innovative features that will complement our rapidly growing digital business, while delivering a convenient and frictionless experience for our guests,” said Chipotle CTO Curt Garner. “With digital sales tripling year over year last quarter, consumers are demanding more digital access than ever before so we’re constantly exploring new ways to enhance the experience for our guests.”

Chipotle’s new design concepts and menu innovation are envisioned at the company’s Cultivate Center in Irvine, California. Located minutes from Chipotle’s corporate headquarters, the new 22,000-square-foot facility features the same natural aesthetic with ecofriendly materials and designs found in Chipotle restaurants. To pay homage to its heritage, the original sign from the first Chipotle restaurant opened in 1993 in Denver, Colorado dons the entryway.

Research contact: @ChipotleTweets

In nine states nationwide, the wealthy are looking at a tax increase

September 28, 2020

Legislators in nine states—among them, New York, California, Massachusetts, and Maryland—have renewed their efforts to hike taxes on high earners. The states are facing multibillion-dollar revenue shortfalls, due to the costs of the coronavirus pandemic; as well as lost revenue from shuttered businesses.

Indeed, Democratic lawmakers are arguing that the wealthy—who have largely have escaped the economic hardships of the pandemic—should pay more of the costs and help those who have suffered most, reports CNBC.

However, Republicans and some Democratic governors say tax hikes at the state level will only cause the wealthy to move to lower-tax states, such as Florida and Texas.

After New Jersey passed its “millionaire’s tax” last September— under which state residents who earn more than $1million per year will face higher income taxes, while 800,000 lower-income families will get a tax rebate—legislators in other states renewed similar efforts with greater vigor.

Along with New York, lawmakers in California, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, Wisconsin, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Vermont have proposed various forms of tax increases on high earners, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Those states account for more than one-third of the U.S. population, and nearly half of the nation’s millionaires, according to population data and wealth surveys.

Research contact: @CNBC

Gallup: 66% of Americans still are ‘worried’ about COVID-19 exposure; 29% are ‘very worried’

June 18, 2020

While about one-third of Americans believe, if you can’t see it, you can’t catch it; the rest of us still are relying on face masks and hand sanitizer. In fact, about two-thirds of Americans continue to say they “are  worried” about being exposed to the coronavirus, as multiple states see a new spike in cases, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday reveals, according to a report by The Hill.

Gallup found that 29% of respondents are “very worried” about exposure to the coronavirus, and 66% are either “somewhat” or “very” worried.

The proportion who are concerned about the coronavirus has risen since Gallup began asking the question in February, The Hill notes. That month, 36% of Americans said they were either somewhat or very worried about exposure—a figure that more than doubled in March; and has plateaued at somewhere between 63% and 67% since then.

Specifically, 37% of black respondents and 50% of Hispanics said they were “very” worried, compared to only 25% of white respondents. A number of studies have indicated that COVID-19 is impacting people of color at disproportionate rates across the country. 

And The Hill says, there are also partisan divides over how concerned Americans are, with 85% of Democrats saying they are at least somewhat worried that they or their family will come into contact with the virus, compared with 47% of Republicans and 66% of Independents.

There have been over 2.1 million confirmed coronavirus cases nationwide, and nearly 117,000 people have died.

The poll comes as several states across the country are seeing new spikes in coronavirus cases, throwing reopening plans into question. California, Texas, Arizona and Florida are among the states reporting the highest daily increases in case counts. In Texas, health authorities on Tuesday registered the state’s highest number of hospitalizations due to COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

The Trump Administration has sought to blame the rise in cases on the increasing number of tests, but experts say there has also been a rise in the percentage of tests that are coming back positive.

The Gallup poll surveyed 1,034 adults from May 28 to June 4.

Research contact: @thehill