Posts tagged with "The New York Times"

Rep. Adam Schiff to run for Senate in California

January 30, 2023

Representative Adam Schiff, the California Democrat who emerged as one of former President Donald Trump’s chief congressional tormentors from his perch atop the House Intelligence Committee, announced on Thursday, January 26, that he would seek the Senate seat long held by Dianne Feinstein, reports The New York Times.

“I wish I could say the threat of MAGA extremists is over,” he said in a video on Twitter. “It is not. Today’s Republican Party is gutting the middle class, threatening our democracy. They aren’t going to stop. We have to stop them.”

Schiff, 62, is the second member of California’s Democratic congressional delegation to join the 2024 race, after Representative Katie Porter.

He enters the campaign with the largest national profile, according to the Times—built from his position as the manager of Trump’s first impeachment trial. He later served on the House committee responsible for investigating the origins of the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.

On Tuesday, Speaker Kevin McCarthy, a Republican, exiled Schiff and Representative Eric Swalwell, another California Democrat, from the House Intelligence Committee in retribution for their actions toward Republicans when Democrats held the majority.

Feinstein, 89, has not said whether she will run again in 2024; but is widely expected not to do so as she faces Democratic worries about her age and ability to serve. Last year, she declined to serve as president pro tem of the Senate, and in 2020 she ceded her post as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee after coming under pressure from her party during the Supreme Court confirmation hearing of Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

In an interview with the Times on Thursday, Schiff said he had first apprised Senator Feinstein of his plans several weeks ago, in person, on Capitol Hill and again by phone on Wednesday.

“She was very gracious,” he said. “I let her know that I wanted to make my announcement, and she could not have been nicer about it.”

Schiff said that he did not want to speculate about whether Feinstein might retire, and that she deserved to set her own schedule for making an announcement about her political future.

“Once more, I have a genuine admiration and affection for her, and wanted to do everything I can to respect that,” he said.

A former federal prosecutor, Schiff served in California’s State Senate before being elected to a Los Angeles-area House seat in 2000.

In Congress, he became a close ally of (former) Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who tapped him to play a leading role in Trump’s impeachment trial and then on the January 6 committee. Last fall, Schiff passed on a chance for a slot on the post-Pelosi House leadership team in order to focus on a planned run for the Senate.

During and after the Trump years, Schiff became one of the most prodigious fund-raisers in Congress. During the 2018 election cycle, he raised $6.3 million, and then his fund-raising surged to $19.6 million in 2020 and $24.5 million in 2022 — without a competitive election of his own to wage. He has not faced a serious challenge since arriving in Congress, winning each of his general elections by at least 29 percentage points.

According to the latest Federal Election Commission reports, Schiff had $20.6 million in campaign money at the end of November; compared with $7.7 million for Porter and $54,940 for Representative Barbara Lee, who has told donors of her plans to run.

While Schiff and Lee’s House seats are safely Democratic, Porter’s is far more contested; she won re-election in November by three percentage points.

California—the nation’s most populous state with nearly 40 million residents—has not hosted a highly competitive contest for an open Senate seat since 1992, when Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, a fellow Democrat, were both elected for the first time.

Feinstein, who is in her sixth term, has been trailed by questions about her fitness to serve. Problems with her short-term memory have become an open secret on Capitol Hill, although few Democrats have been willing to discuss the subject publicly.

She has made no moves to suggest she will seek re-election in 2024. She has not hired a campaign staff and, in the latest campaign finance report for the period ending in September, had less than $10,000 in cash on hand—a paltry sum for a sitting senator.

Not since the early 1990s have both sitting senators from California been men. When asked whether electing a woman might be a priority for some voters after the Supreme Court’s repeal last year of Roe v. Wade, Schiff played down the potential role of gender in the race.

“I’m very proud of my fierce efforts to protect women’s reproductive freedom and my pro-choice record is a stellar one,” he said.

Schiff had earlier suggested that his election to the Senate could be symbolic in another way: “I think a lot of Californians will relish the idea of making Adam Schiff Kevin McCarthy’s home-state senator,” he said.

Research contact: @nytimes

Losing face: Weight loss drugs may cause facial aging

January 26, 2023

How many injections are you willing to endure to preserve the structural integrity of your face and derrière? For a certain segment of the 1%, there’s no such thing as too many pricks, reports The New York Times.

After giving birth to her first child at 41, Jennifer Berger struggled to lose the last 20 pounds of the 50 she gained during her high-risk pregnancy. “I was doing a mix of cardio and weights three to five times a week—tracking everything I ate—and I still couldn’t lose that last bit of baby weight,” said Berger, a fashion merchandiser in New York City.

At her wits’ end, Berger visited a doctor who suggested she try tirzepatide, marketed under the brand name Mounjaro, a buzzy new diabetes drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration in May 2022. Mounjaro regulates blood sugar, suppresses appetite, and—if one is to believe the hushed accounts recently exchanged at an Upper East Side hair salon—makes excess pounds disappear into thin air.

“Everybody is either on it or asking how to get on it,” said Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, a cosmetic dermatologist in New York. “We haven’t seen a prescription drug with this much cocktail and dinner chatter since Viagra came to the market.”

The once-a-week injection works in a similar way to semaglutide treatments like Wegovy and Ozempic—the drug rumored, without evidence, to have helped Kim Kardashian fit into the tiny Marilyn Monroe gown she wore to the Met Gala; Kardashian has denied those rumors. In recent months, these drugs have been prescribed so frequently off-label that shortages prevented some diabetics and obese people from getting their medication.

Many doctors worry that the drugs’ current popularity, fueled in part by social media, has resulted in people taking them without sufficient medical supervision — a risky move considering the possibility of rare but serious side effects like thyroid cancer, pancreatitis, and kidney failure. And drugs like Ozempic can also cause less serious but still debilitating symptoms including nausea, vomiting, and racing heartbeat, as many videos on TikTok attest (see: #ozempic).

Some of the side effects are “extremely rare if the medication is being prescribed at the right dose and with careful medical supervision,” said Dr. Rocio Salas-Whalen, an endocrinologist in New York, who said she has prescribed this family of medication and its predecessors to more than 8,000 patients since 2005.

“Mounjaro is like the Apple 14 of these drugs,” Dr. Salas-Whalen, who did not treat Berger, recently told the Times. Dr. Salas-Whalen said it has the same ability to control blood sugar as Wegovy and Ozempic, but that in her practice, she had seen “almost double the weight loss and close to none of the side effects.”

The FDA has reported that in its clinical trials—which were done on diabetics—patients taking Mounjaro lost, on average, 12 pounds more than those taking drugs like Ozempic. Dr. Salas-Whalen, who has done work for Novo Nordisk, the maker of Wegovy and Ozempic, said she has seen similar results in non-diabetic patients.

While Mounjaro may sound like the closest thing to a weight loss magic bullet since gastric bypass surgery was first performed in 1954, it is not without risk. The Mounjaro packaging contains a black box warning about thyroid C-cell tumors. Like the first generation of these drugs, Mounjaro increased the risk of a rare type of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid carcinoma when it was tested on rodents.

None of these drugs come cheap: Unless a patient is obese and has at least one other “weight-related condition” (such as high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes), insurance usually won’t cover the medications, which can cost upward of $1,000 for a month’s supply. (Mounjaro is $975 per month; Ozempic, $892; Wegovy, $1,350.)

The rise of the ‘Ozempic face’

Berger, who had undergone fertility treatments to get pregnant, said she didn’t think twice about sticking a needle in her abdomen once a week—or shelling out nearly $1,000 a month for the drug. And Mounjaro lived up to its expectations. Within three months, she had lost those last stubborn 20 pounds.

“It was like flipping a switch,” she said. “I would look at food and it wasn’t even appealing, and I am someone who loves food! I almost had to remind myself to eat. It just took away all the cravings.”

Berger was thrilled with her new body. There was, however, a major downside to losing the weight so quickly. Her face suddenly looked gaunt.

“I remember looking in the mirror, and it was almost like I didn’t even recognize myself,” she said. “My body looked great, but my face looked exhausted and old.”

Dr. Oren Tepper, a plastic surgeon in New York, said that it’s common for weight loss to deflate key areas of the face, leading to a more aged appearance. “When it comes to facial aging, fat is typically more friend than foe,” he said. “Weight loss may turn back your biological age, but it tends to turn your facial clock forward.”

Indeed, as Catherine Deneuve is purported to have said: “At a certain age, you have to choose between your face and your ass.” But these days, in certain moneyed circles, that adage no longer seems to apply, with the now common combination of weight-loss drugs and volume-restoring filler.

“I see it every day in my office,” said Dr. Frank, who said he coined the term “Ozempic face” to describe the condition. “A 50-year-old patient will come in, and suddenly, she’s super-skinny and needs filler, which she never needed before. I look at of the time. It’s the drug of choice these days for the 1 percent.”

Dr. Dhaval Bhanusali, a dermatologist in New York whose famous patients include Martha Stewart, has observed the same trend in his office. “We are seeing more and more patients on the medications coming in,” he said. “Generally, it’s people in their 40s and 50s who are losing significant amounts of weight and are concerned about facial aging and sagging that occurs as a result.”

While noninvasive procedures like Fraxel can improve skin texture and wrinkles, Dr. Frank said that fillers are the only noninvasive way to restore volume (cost: $5,000 to $10,000). To bring back a youthful fullness to Berger’s face, Dr. Frank injected Radiesse and hyaluronic acid-based fillers in strategic places all over her face — around the temples, under the eyes, in the buccal hollows and around the jawline, the mouth and lips.

To restore volume, Dr. Bhanusali uses Radiesse in combination with Sculptra, an injectable that stimulates collagen production and can last for up to 24 months. (Dr. Bhanusali has been a consultant to Galderma, the maker of Sculptra.) “The idea is to balance the face to offset the hollowing and downward projections at the cheeks, jowls and other areas,” he said.

‘A high-end luxury drug’

Some people suffering from facial wasting caused by rapid weight loss—40 to 50 pounds, say—may require a more radical approach. “When there is this much weight loss, plastic surgery is sometimes the only way to restore the volume loss,” Dr. Tepper said, noting that more than half of the patients he sees for weight-loss-related surgery are taking these drugs.

“The success rates are astonishing,” he said of the drug treatments. “For many patients, it’s like suddenly winning a lottery Mega Millions. But then they realize there’s a tax that comes with it—the loss of fat in the face—so it may not be quite the windfall they imagined.”

Dr. Tepper said he can eliminate any vestige of “Ozempic face” with a deep plane face-lift, which costs $75,000. He typically combines this with a procedure in which fat is transferred from other parts of the body to the face (an additional $8,000 to $12,000).

While the jaw-dropping prices of these treatments are clearly beyond the reach of the average person, for patients like Berger, who stopped taking Mounjaro after she returned to her pre-baby weight, feeling healthy and confident again is worth every penny she spent.

“I can’t tell you how good I feel about myself now,” she said. “I used to hide from my husband when I came out of the shower. I would literally walk backward so he wouldn’t see my backside. Now I don’t care. Because I feel good. I feel like myself again.”

Some doctors say that most patients who are taking these drugs need to stay on them indefinitely to keep the weight off, but Berger maintained the same strict portion control after she stopped taking Mounjaro. It also helped her ease off wine, which some other people taking the drug have noticed as well.

“I learned to find other ways to deal with my stress because I just didn’t have the taste for it,” she said.

Perhaps most important, the drug allowed her to stop obsessing about food and exercise. “Sure, it was expensive,” Berger said. “But you know what? I saved a lot of money on trainers and not buying wine! To be honest, the most expensive thing so far has been buying new clothes.”

Research contact: @nytimes

Takeaways from Sundance’s secret Brett Kavanaugh documentary

January 24, 2023

“We’re getting more tips,” Amy Herdy announced Friday night, January 20, after the Sundance Film Festival premiere of “Justice,” a documentary she produced about the sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, reports The Washington Post.

The film’s existence was a surprise, with the festival only revealing on Thursday–its opening night—that it was making a very last-minute addition to the lineup: the first documentary from “Swingers” and “The Bourne Identity” director Doug Liman. Within half an hour of the news getting out, Liman said in the post-screening Q&A, the film team started hearing from people who had sent the FBI tips before Kavanaugh’s confirmation, which the agency did not further investigate.

Suddenly, what was finished began anew. The tips were compelling enough for the team to start investigating and filming again with plans to add footage to the completed film, Liman said. In a wild and rare move, the finished documentary had converted back to a work in progress.

“I thought I was off the hook,” said Liman, who self-funded the film to retain independence and keep it secret. “I was like, ‘We’re at Sundance. I could sell the movie.’ … And yesterday, Amy’s like, ‘We’re not done.’ Seriously. Monday morning, they’ll be back at it.”

The film, which Liman said in a news release is meant to “[pick] up where the FBI investigation into Brett M. Kavanaugh fell woefully short,” debuted to a packed house of nearly 300 people. Someone asked if he’d show it to Kavanaugh. The answer was a joking yes. “We’re looking for buyers,” said Liman, “and it had occurred to us that he might buy it.”

The justice’s fall 2018 confirmation process, which took place just before the midterm elections, became chaotic when Palo Alto-based psychology professor Christine Blasey Ford accused the Trump nominee of sexually assaulting her when they were in high school. After the Post published Ford’s story, two more women accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault.

Deborah Ramirez, one of those women, told The New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer that Kavanaugh thrust his penis in her face during a party when they were at Yale University. The FBI interviewed Ramirez, whose attorneys said the bureau never followed up with any of the 20 witnesses who might have been able to corroborate her story. The FBI’s investigation into Kavanaugh generated 4,500 tips that largely went un-investigated.

After reviewing an FBI report compiled in one week, which Democrats decried as rushed and incomplete, the Trump White House declared it found no corroboration of the claims against the justice. Kavanaugh, who was part of the conservative 6-3 majority that overturned Roe v. Wade, has categorically denied all accusations and does not appear in the film outside of archival footage.

The public information office of the Supreme Court did not return The Post’s request for comment on the documentary. The FBI’s national press office did not have a comment on the documentary—but reiterated that their services in a nomination process are limited to fact-finding and background investigations.

“The scope of the background investigation is requested by the White House,” an agency spokeswoman told The Post in a statement. “The FBI does not have the independent authority to expand the scope of a supplemental background investigation outside the requesting agency’s parameters.”

Liman told the Sundance audience he started thinking about making this movie in 2018 while watching the hearings and “knowing that something very wrong was happening.”

After all, the director grew up around the law. His father, Arthur Liman, was chief counsel in the Senate’s investigation into the Iran-Contra Affair and helped lead the investigation into the Attica prison uprising. Doug Liman’s older brother, Lewis, is a federal judge in the Southern District of New York.

Liman and Herdy, an investigative journalist who made the 2015 sexual assault documentary “The Hunting Ground,” kept their Kavanaugh investigation secret for a year by using nondisclosure agreements —an impressive feat in the small world of documentary film.

Liman intersperses archival footage with testimonies from Ramirez, Ford’s friends, and Kavanaugh’s Yale classmates—who said the justice was often severely inebriated—but the film feels unfinished. (Variety called it “an exercise in preaching to the choir.”) Although, one potent moment reveals a previously unheard recording of a tip to the FBI about another accuser.

Liman gives Ramirez the public platform she never got in front of the Senate. A long, emotional interview with the Boulder-based former Yale classmate of Kavanaugh’s forms the movie’s spine. Although the interview doesn’t contain much that hasn’t already been reported, it’s powerful to hear someone who doesn’t enjoy being in the spotlight tell her own story with all the anguished starts and stops that come with trying to recall a nearly 40-year-old traumatic event.

Ramirez discusses her Catholic upbringing and early desire to be a nun. She also talks about entering Yale in 1983 as the shy, half-Puerto Rican daughter of parents who didn’t go to college—and trying to fit in to the predominantly wealthy, White, male institution that only had started admitting women 15 years prior. She offers a detailed recounting of getting inebriated at a party and looking up to find a penis in her face, which—having never touched a penis before— she accidentally brushed with her hand. All her friends began laughing at her.

She’d blocked the memory, but as Farrow interviewed her, she says details resurfaced, and she’s positive Kavanaugh was her assailant.

“The prominent memory is the laughter,” she says in the documentary, echoing what Ford had said in her testimony. “I have never forgotten it in 35 years.”

The film opens, rather curiously, with the camera trained on Liman sitting on a white couch, as a blonde woman asks why he would want to get into something this contentious. The audience only sees the back of Ford’s head in that moment, then a little more of her at her sons’ basketball game right after the opening. Otherwise, she is seen only in footage of her hearing.

Instead, her close friends tell her story. One says Ford told him about the Kavanaugh assault without naming him in 2015, when Stanford University swimmer Brock Turner received a lenient sentence after being convicted of sexually assaulting an unconscious female student, Chanel Miller.

Liman said in the Q&A he felt Ford didn’t need to be subjected to another interview after baring everything on the national stage. He preferred to turn the camera and allow her to ask some questions.

“I felt that Dr. Ford has given so much to this country,” he said. “She’s done enough for ten lifetimes.”

If there’s a smoking gun in Liman’s film, it’s a voice message left on the FBI tip line from Max Stier, the president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, who attended Yale with Kavanagh and Ramirez.

In the previously unheard recording, Stier says classmates told him not just that Kavanaugh stuck his penis in Ramirez’s face, but that afterward, Kavanaugh went to the bathroom to make himself erect before allegedly returning to assault her again, hoping to amuse an audience of mutual friendsv. In the film, Ramirez says she’d suppressed the memory so deeply she couldn’t recall this second incident, even when Farrow explicitly asked her about it.

Stier’s message to the FBI also cites another incident involving a different woman, whom he says he witnessed “firsthand” a severely inebriated Kavanaugh, his dorm mate, pulling his pants down at a different party while a group of soccer players forced a drunk female freshman to hold his penis.

The woman’s friends told The New York Times in 2019 that she did not remember the incident and did not want to come forward after seeing the treatment of Ford. Stier does not appear in the film to elaborate nor did he give further interviews when his tip first surfaced in 2019.

The filmmakers told the audience Friday that they have a website, JusticeFilm.com, where people can send tips. “I do hope that this triggers action,” said Herdy. “I do hope this triggers additional investigation with real subpoena powers.”

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Regulators announce changes to nursing home rating system for safety of patients

January 20, 2023

On Wednesday, January 18, federal regulators said that they will begin penalizing nursing homes that give residents a false label of schizophrenia—a practice that many facilities have used to skirt restrictions on antipsychotic drugs, which can be especially dangerous for older people, reports The New York Times.

In the announcement, officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said that facilities inflating the number of residents with schizophrenia could be punished with a lower ranking in the federal ratings system used to evaluate the quality of nursing homes.

The move—part of a broader effort by the Biden Administration to beef up regulation of nursing homes—could close a loophole that some nursing homes have exploited to sedate dementia patients who would otherwise require expensive round-the-clock care.

Under the federal rating system, nursing homes must report the number of their residents taking antipsychotic drugs. But facilities are allowed to exclude residents who have certain other medical diagnoses, including schizophrenia.

In a 2021 investigation, The New York Times reported that, since 2012, when nursing homes were first required to report how many residents had received such drugs, the share of residents with a questionable schizophrenia diagnosis has soared by 70%. That year, one in nine residents had a schizophrenia diagnosis; in the general population, the disorder, which has strong genetic roots, afflicts roughly one in 150 people.

“We support transparency for consumers and ensuring nursing home residents are properly diagnosed and receive the right care,” said Dr. David Gifford, the chief medical officer at the American Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes, adding, “Our members have been active partners in a national effort to reduce the unnecessary use of antipsychotics in nursing homes, which in the past decade, has decreased by 40 percent,” he added.

A 2021 report by a federal oversight agency concluded that nearly 33% of long-term nursing home residents with schizophrenia diagnoses in 2018 had no Medicare record of being treated for the condition. The Medicare agency, which oversees nursing homes, said it would conduct an audit of medical records in nursing homes to evaluate whether the diagnoses were correct.

Black nursing home residents have been disproportionately affected by the surge in schizophrenia diagnoses. A 2021 study found that Black Americans with dementia have been 1.7 times as likely as white residents to be diagnosed with schizophrenia.

In its latest announcement, the Medicare agency said it already has conducted a handful of audits of nursing homes’ medical records and spotted instances of residents saddled with phony diagnoses. Some nursing homes failed to perform psychiatric evaluations of the residents. Among those that did, some classified symptoms of dementia as signs of schizophrenia instead.

The agency also said it would begin publishing citations against nursing homes even while the facilities were appealing the charges. The New York Times reported that thousands of problems uncovered by state health inspectors had been hidden from public view because they were being appealed by the nursing homes, in a secretive process. In many cases, inspectors had uncovered dangerous conditions that violated federal regulations, but the nursing homes were allowed to keep their high ratings during the appeals, which sometimes had lasted for years.

The Medicare agency said that, although the number of hidden citations is relatively small, the practice has obscured serious charges. Over the past two years, the agency said, 80 citations that placed residents in “immediate jeopardy” went through the appeals process and were not published on the site.

Research contact: @nytimes

 

Barry Diller explores sale of ‘The Daily Beast’

January 16, 2023

The tech mogul Barry Diller was one of the first billionaires to experiment with digital journalism in  the 2000s—teaming up with longtime editor Tina Brown to start The Daily Beast, a scrappy tabloid for the budding online era. Now, Diller’s 14-year run as owner of the Internet muckraker may be coming to an end, reports The New York Times.

IAC, the holding company founded by Diller —which owns digital properties including People, Better Homes and Gardens and Southern Living—has hired the advisory firm Whisper Advisors to explore the sale of The Daily Beast, according to two people with knowledge of the decision, the Times says.

The sale process is in the early stages, the people said, and it may not result in a deal. The price The Daily Beast might command in a sale is not clear.

An IAC spokesperson declined to comment.

The Daily Beast has had journalistic successes, churning out scoops on the media industry, and political and national security issues over the years. Last year, it broke the news that Herschel Walker, the Republican nominee for Senate in Georgia, was the father of children he had not previously mentioned publicly.

But, the Times notes, it hasn’t achieved the financial success of some of Diller’s other investments. The site has been a small part of Diller’s sprawling digital empire—operating independently of his other publishing brands, with its own chief executive and management team.

Like other digital-media companies, The Daily Beast has turned to digital subscriptions to grow its business in recent years. The company charges $4.99 a month for unlimited access to its coverage, while offering an advertising-supported crossword puzzle five times a week. It also takes a cut of online sales for products that it recommends on Scouted, a section of the site dedicated to Internet shopping.

It may be an inopportune time to explore a sale for Diller, whose record in digital media has included successful spinoffs of the dating conglomerate Match Group, the travel business Expedia and the video service Vimeo. Media stocks have fallen sharply over the last year amid a broader market swoon, as skittish investors grew wary of the advertising and video-streaming businesses.

The Daily Beast’s aggressive reporting has also made it an occasional target of lawsuits, which could complicate a sale. In 2020, the former editorial director of Gawker sued The Daily Beast after the site published an article about Gawker’s tumultuous relaunch. The Daily Beast has said its article was accurate, and the lawsuit is still working its way through court.

The Daily Beast, which has a newsroom of fewer than 100 journalists, attracts a sizable audience: The site drew about 15 million visitors in November, according to Comscore, a measurement firm.

Research contact: @nytimes

Twitter said to consider selling user names to boost revenue

January 13, 2023

Twitter is considering selling user names through online auctions to generate new revenue as its owner, Elon Musk, tries to resuscitate the company’s business, according to two people with knowledge of the plan, reports The New York Times.

Twitter employees have held conversations about selling some user names for the service since at least December, the informants said. Engineers have discussed running online auctions where people can bid for the user names, which are the words, numbers—or string of characters that follow the @ sign—by which accounts are identified on the platform. Musk’s user name, for example, is @elonmusk.

It’s unclear if the project will move forward and if the plan would affect all user names or only a subset—but Musk said last month that he wanted to start eliminating inactive accounts on Twitter and free up 1.5 billion user names. Only certain user names—such as those of well-known people, brands, and popular names— may have value.

The social media company has been in turmoil since Musk bought it for $44 billion in October. Given the deal’s high price tag, the billionaire is under pressure to make the purchase a success.

Musk has since slashed expenses at Twitter—ordering layoffscutting other costs, and stopping vendor payments. At the same time, he has tried finding new avenues to make money as Twitter experiences a sharp downturn in ad revenue. He has come up with a revamped subscription plan under which users pay for verification badges, and the company has filed paperwork with the Treasury Department to process payments.

Research contact: @nytimes

Allyson Felix’s Saysh expands to Canada

January 4, 2023

There is no question that five-time track-and-field Olympian (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020) and 11-time Olympic medalist (7 gold, 3 silver, 1 bronze) Allyson Felix is fast on her feet. And now that she’s retired, she knows a little bit about footwear, too, reports Retail Dive.

After raising capital earlier this year, Saysh—the direct-to-consumer women’s footwear brand that she and her brother, Wes Felix, co-founded in 2021—is expanding into Canada. Delivery will be available to all Canadian provinces through the Canada Post.

“As we look to grow Saysh’s footprint, we’re excited about our expansion into Canada,” Wes Felix, and CEO of Saysh, said in a statement. “We often hear from women around the world who identify with our mission and want to support the brand, so meeting even more of our communities’ needs is an exciting step for us and a reinforcement of why we are here: because women deserve better.”

Before its venture into Canada, Saysh raised $8 million in a series A funding round in June from specialist consumer fund IRIS and Gap-owned Athleta. With that deal, Gap acquired an equity stake in Saysh, and Athleta announced plans to carry Saysh footwear on its website.

Allyson Felix’s relationship with Athleta predates the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2019, Athleta named Allyson Felix its first-ever sponsored athlete after she spoke out against Nike’s treatment of pregnant athletes. The brand announced the deal in a letter published in The New York Times and said it would enlist Felix as part of its 2020 “Power of She” campaign.

Support for women has also become a key piece of Allyson Felix’s Saysh brand. The footwear is designed specifically for women, based on the “true proportions” of a woman’s foot. The brand also offers a maternity returns policy, which allows pregnant customers to request a new pair of shoes if their shoe size changes during pregnancy. Saysh recently teamed up with Natalie Holloway, founder of the Los Angeles-based movement company Bala, to promote the maternity returns policy.

Research contact: @RetailDive

McCarthy scrounges for votes as G.O.P. fight over speaker enters second day

January 4, 2023

Representative Kevin McCarthy of California grasped on Wednesday, January 4, for the votes he needs to become speaker after failing three times to win the post, as Republicans began their second day in control of the House without a leader and deadlocked about how to move forward amid a hard-right rebellion, reports The New York Times. 

 

McCarthy’s successive defeats on Tuesday marked the first time in a century that the House has failed to elect a speaker on the first roll call vote, and it was not clear how or when the stalemate would be resolved. After adjourning abruptly on Tuesday with no leader, the House was set to reconvene at noon on Wednesday to try to resolve the impasse. 

 

The Republican leader and his allies were working behind closed doors trying to secure the votes. McCarthy said he had spoken to former President Donald Trump, who had endorsed him but stayed silent on Tuesday throughout his humiliating series of defeats on the House floor.

 

“Some really good conversations took place last night, and it’s now time for all of our GREAT Republican House Members to VOTE FOR KEVIN,” Trump wrote in a social media post on Wednesday. He beseeched Republicans not to “TURN A GREAT TRIUMPH INTO A GIANT & EMBARRASSING DEFEAT.

 

“Kevin McCarthy will do a good job, and maybe even a GREAT JOB—JUST WATCH!” Trump added. 

 

For now, a mutiny waged by ultraconservative lawmakers who for weeks have held fast to their vow to oppose McCarthy has paralyzed the chamber at the dawn of Republican rule—delaying the swearing in of hundreds of members of Congress, putting off any legislative work, and exposing deep divisions that threatened to make the party’s House majority ungovernable.

 

“I’m staying until we win,” McCarthy told reporters between the second and third votes on Tuesday. “I know the path.” 

 

House precedent dictates that members continue to vote until someone secures the majority needed to prevail. But until Tuesday, the House had not failed to elect a speaker on the first roll call vote since 1923, when the election stretched for nine ballots.

 

It was not clear how long it might take for Republicans to resolve their stalemate this time, or whether McCarthy had a strategy for coming back from an embarrassing series of repudiations. His supporters suggested he was willing to drag out the process for some time, recognizing that his political career was on the line. 

 

“I think that Kevin knows that this is his last shot, and so he’s going to play this as long as” he can, said Representative Ken Buck of Colorado, who voted for Mr. McCarthy three times on Tuesday. “He withdrew once so that he would have this chance. He’s not going to have this chance again.”

 

No viable challenger has emerged, but if McCarthy continues to flounder, Republicans could shift their votes to an alternative, such as his No. 2, Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana.On Tuesday, right-wing Republicans coalesced behind Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, a founding member of the ultraconservative House Freedom Caucus, as an alternative to McCarthy, but Jordan—a onetime rival who has since allied himself with McCarthy—pleaded with his colleagues to unite instead behind the California Republican.

 

But the party has so far refused to do so. The failed votes on Tuesday showed publicly the extent of the opposition McCarthy faces. With all members of the House present and voting, McCarthy needs to receive 218 votes to become speaker—leaving little room for Republican defections since the party controls only 222 seats.

 

He fell short again and again, drawing no more than 203 votes—far below a majority and fewer than the votes received by Representative Hakeem Jeffries of New York, the Democratic leader whose caucus remained united behind him.

 

Research contact: @nytimes

Nassau County D.A. Donnelly opens investigation into George Santos

December 30, 2022

On December 28, Nassau County District Attorney Anne T. Donnelly (R) in New York State announced that she would open an investigation into Representative-elect George Santos (R), whose surprise victory in November was quickly followed by revelations that he lied about his business experience, educational background, and family ancestry, reports The Washington Post.

Donnelly said in a statement: “The numerous fabrications and inconsistencies associated” with Santos “are nothing short of stunning.” The residents in the congressional district “must have an honest and accountable representative in Congress” and “if a crime was committed in this county, we will prosecute it.”

Donnelly’s spokesperson, Brendan Brosh, said in a statement, “We are looking into the matter.”

In November, Santos won an open congressional seat on Long Island held by a Democrat. With that victory, Santos made headlines as the first non-incumbent who is an openly gay Republican to be elected to Congress. He also falsely described himself as Jewish and a fantastically successful businessman.

Days after an explosive story ran in The New York Times on December 19, detailing lies Santos told about his background, Santos gave a handful of interviews in which he acknowledged that he was untruthful about having worked at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, and having graduated from Baruch College. He said he never claimed to be Jewish, despite previous public comments about what he now characterizes as his “Jew-ish” heritage.

Also unclear is the exact source of the $700,000 Santos claimed to have loaned to his campaign in 2022—just two years after filing a financial disclosure report during an unsuccessful 2020 congressional run that stated he had no major assets or earned income.

Santos and his representatives did not respond to a request for comment.

News of the investigation came as another detail in Santos’s biography unraveled on Wednesday. During his 2020 congressional race, he told a dramatic story on a podcast about how a prestigious private school he attended refused to help his financially struggling family months before his graduation.

In the October 2020 interview, which resurfaced on social media Wednesday, Santos, referring to his parents, said: “They sent me to a good prep school—which was Horace Mann Prep in the Bronx. And in my senior year of prep school, unfortunately, my parents fell on hard times.” Santos went on to say that, at the time, his family couldn’t “afford a $2,500 tuition” and “I left school [with] four months till graduation.”

However, a spokesperson for the Horace Mann School since has told the Post that the school has no record of Santos attending the institution.

After contacting the school and providing them with several variations of Santos’s name that he has used in public, Ed Adler, a spokesman for Horace Mann, wrote in an email, “George Santos or any of the aliases you [cite] never attended HM.”

Some Democrats have called for Santos not to be seated as a member of Congress next week. House Republican leaders have largely remained silent about the matter, as Representative Kevin McCarthy (R-California) seeks enough votes to become House Speaker when Republicans take control of the chamber when the new term begins Tuesday, January 3.

Members of the House Equality Caucus, which focuses on issues facing the LGBTQ community, said in a statement Wednesday that Santos “does not deserve” to be in Congress and urged him to “step down immediately”—pointing to his unsupported claim that four of his employees were killed in the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando in 2016. Santos later said on WABC that the four people “were going to be coming to work” at his company. He did not elaborate in the interview, nor respond to inquiries from the Post about this.

Bruce Blakeman—the executive of Nassau County—told CNN on Wednesday that Santos needs to address the “emotional issues” that led to his lying. “A normal person wouldn’t do that,” said Blakeman, a Republican.

On Wednesday night on Twitter, Santos ignored the latest developments, but said he is looking forward to working in Congress.

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Hutchinson reveals that Meadows burned documents during transition

December 29, 2022

Former Trump White House aide Cassidy Hutchinson revealed that Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, burned documents in his fireplace roughly a dozen times in the final weeks of the Administration, according to newly released transcripts of her House January 6 select committee depositions, reports The Hill.

FHutchinson, who became a star witness during the panel’s public hearings, told the committee on May 17 that she saw Meadows burn documents once they lit his office fireplace in December 2020.

“The Presidential Records Act only asks that you keep the original copy of a document. So, yes,” Hutchinson said when asked if she saw Meadows use the fireplace to burn documents, adding, “However, I don’t know if they were the first or original copies of anything,” she continued. “It’s entirely possible that he had put things in his fireplace that he also would have put into a burn bag that there were duplicates of or that there was an electronic copy of.”

Politico and The New York Times had previously reported on the testimony. “I want to say once a week or twice—it’s —I can recall specific times that I did,” Hutchinson said. “Maybe a dozen, maybe just over a dozen, but this is over a period December through mid-January too, which is when we started lighting the fireplace.”

Hutchinson suggested that at least two of the occasions took place after Meadows met with Representative Scott Perry (R-Pennsylvania) about election issues.

The House committee has said Perry was “directly involved” in efforts to make Jeffrey Clark the attorney general in order to create a Justice Department aligned with former President Trump’s unfounded claims of mass electoral fraud.

“I know maybe three or four times—between two and four times, he had Mr. Perry in his office right before,” Hutchinson told the committee, although she cautioned that she did not know what documents were burned.

The Hill has reached out to an attorney for Meadows for comment.

Research contact: @thehill