Posts tagged with "The Wall Street Journal"

LeBron James is buying a professional pickleball team

September 30, 2022

Even NBA superstar LeBron James is getting caught up in the pickleball craze. James and his business partner, Maverick Carter, have joined a group of investors that includes NBA players Draymond Green and Kevin Love to purchase a Major League Pickleball expansion team, the league said on Wednesday, September 28, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

Othr investors include investment firm SC HoldingsPaul Rivera, chief marketing officer for the SpringHill Company; and Relevent Sports Group co-owner and CEO Daniel Sillman.

Each member of the new ownership group plays pickleball, the league said.

Anne Worcester, MLP’s strategic adviser, said the team, which has yet to be named, is valued in the seven figures.

“This new ownership group brings extensive experience across sports, media, branding, entertainment,” Worcester told the Journal. “We are excited to work with them to expand and to bring pickleball to new audiences.” 

A spokeswoman for LRMR Ventures, the family office of James and Carter, said both were unavailable to comment.

The new pickleball team marks the latest expansion into sports ownership for James and Carter. Both are partners with Fenway Sports Group, the owners of the Boston Red Sox and Liverpool F.C., the English Premier League soccer team.

James, a newly minted billionaire, also co-founded SpringHill with Carter, who is a childhood friend of the basketball star. The company helped produce “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” which starred James and was released in 2021, and the 2019 HBO documentary “What’s My Name: Muhammad Ali.”

Pickleball, a hybrid of tennis, ping pong and badminton that dates back to 1960s, has taken off in the United States in recent years. There were about 4.8 million players nationwide in 2021, a 39% increase from 2019, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association. Pickleball was officially announced as the fastest-growing sport in America for the second year in a row, the group said.

Other pickleball team owners include former professional football player Drew Brees; Marc Lasry, co-owner of the Milwaukee Bucks; and former professional tennis player James Blake.

The league is in the process of choosing new ownership groups for the final three expansion teams. The league is currently weighing about 20 bids for teams from over 60 groups, Worcester said. MLP expects to choose the final three ownership groups in the next month, she said.

“We are reviewing the rest of the bids internally,” Worcester said. “It’s looking at the resources each group would bring to Major League Pickleball to help us grow the sport at the pro level as well as the grassroots level.”

Research contact: @WSJ

McConnell signals support for Electoral Count Act changes

September 29, 2022

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) has offered qualified support for a Senate bill that would overhaul a 19th-century law that governs the way Congress counts and ratifies presidential elector votes, giving the bipartisan effort a boost, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The House passed its own version last week, 229-203. Both measures are a response to efforts by then-President Donald Trump and his supporters to try to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

“I strongly support the modest changes that our colleagues in the working group have fleshed out after literally months of detailed discussions,” McConnell said on the Senate floor on Tuesday, September 27, before the Senate Rules Committee voted to advance the bill. He said he would “proudly support the legislation, provided nothing more than technical changes are made to its current form.”

The 1887 Electoral Count Act requires Congress to convene for a joint session after a presidential election, on January 6 at 1 p.m., to count and ratify the electoral votes certified by the 50 states and District of Columbia. The vice president, serving as president of the Senate, has the duty to count the votes. Last year, Trump pressured then-Vice President Mike Pence to reject some electors unilaterally, which Pence refused to do.

McConnell said he was convinced of the need for an update to the law following the “chaos that came to a head on January 6 of last year,” when Trump supporters overran the Capitol—temporarily halting the ratification of Joe Biden’s Electoral College win.

The Senate bill already has public support from 11 Republican senators—enough to overcome the chamber’s 60-vote filibuster threshold, if all 50 members of the Democratic caucus vote yes. Negotiations over the measure have been led by Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia).

The legislation would raise the threshold for lawmakers to object to the electoral count to one-fifth of each chamber. The House bill would raise the threshold higher, to one-third.

Both thresholds are higher than the current law, which only requires one House member and one senator to raise an objection, which both chambers then have to debate and vote on.

The Senate bill would clarify that the vice president is merely tasked with a ministerial role of counting the votes publicly and doesn’t have the power to determine the outcome of the election.

Research contact: @WSJ

Hertz, BP partner on electric-vehicle charging stations

September 28, 2022

Car-rental company Hertz and energy firm BP have signed a deal to develop and manage a network of electric-vehicle charging stations across North America, reports The Wall Street Journal.

BP Pulse, which is BP’s EV charging business, would power and manage Hertz’s charging infrastructure under the memorandum of understanding, the companies said. The charging infrastructure will be open to taxi and ride-sharing drivers, as well as the general public, the companies said.

Hertz—which has agreed to buy cars from Tesla, Polestar, and General Motors—said it has tens of thousands of EVs available at 500 locations across 38 states. Its goal is for one-quarter of its fleet to be electric by the end of 2024, Hertz said.

The car-rental company last week said it had signed on to buy 175,000 EVs from GM over a five-year period.

Hertz said it already has invested in thousands of EV charging stations across its locations. The deal with BP will help expand its charging footprint.

Car-rental companies have been adding electric cars to their fleets in order to bulk up their premium offers and to help burnish their environmental credentials with investors.

Demand for electric cars has surged in recent years, but charging infrastructure across the United States has failed to keep pace—prompting some complaints of challenges in using electric cars, particularly on long, interstate trips.

Research contact: @WSJ

Top January 6 committee members propose reforms to 1887 Electoral Count Act

September 21, 2022

Two senior members of the House’s January 6 select committee have introduced a bipartisan bill to reform the counting of presidential electoral votes to prevent another riot at the Capitol over disputed results, reports ABC News.

The Presidential Election Reform Act—from Representatives Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming), and Zoe Lofgren (D-California)—targets some of the perceived nuances in 135-year-old Electoral Count Act that former President Donald Trump and his supporters attempted to exploit in order to overturn President Joe Biden’s victory in 2020.

“Our proposal is intended to preserve the rule of law for all future presidential elections by ensuring that self-interested politicians cannot steal from the people the guarantee that our government derives its power from the consent of the governed,” Cheney and Lofgren wrote in a joint Wall Street Journal column last week.

The full House could vote on the proposal as early as Wednesday.

The revisions would reaffirm the vice president’s ceremonial role over the count, after then-Vice President Mike Pence was pressured by Trump and his allies to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, according to the legislative text and summary of the proposal obtained by ABC News.

The bill would make it more difficult for lawmakers to raise objections to electors from each state, by requiring at least one-third of the members from each chamber to support an objection, rather than one House member and a single senator.

It also would clarify ambiguities in the Electoral College process by requiring governors to transmit state results to Congress and prohibiting election officials from refusing to certify their state’s election results. In either case, the law would allow a presidential candidate to go to court to force compliance with the law.

The proposal would prevent state legislators from undoing the election results in their states—and require that elections be carried out under the state rules on the books on Election Day.

“The Constitution assigns an important duty to state legislatures, to determine the manner in which the states appoint their electors. But this shouldn’t be misread to allow state legislators to change the election rules retroactively to alter the outcome,” Cheney and Lofgren wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

In July, a bipartisan group of senators including Senators Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), and Susan Collins (R-Maine)proposed their own reforms to the Electoral Count Act.

While their proposal also affirms the vice president’s limited role in proceedings, it sets a different threshold requirement for electoral challenges, among other differences.

Research contact: @abcnews

Judge dismisses Donald Trump’s lawsuit against Hillary Clinton

September 12, 2022

A federal judge in Florida has dismissed a sprawling lawsuit filed by former President Donald Trump earlier this year—calling the former president’s complaint a “political manifesto” rather than a viable lawsuit, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The suit had alleged that Hillary Clinton and other prominent Democrats illegally linked Trump to Russia.

In a written order issued late on Thursday, September 8, U.S. District Judge Donald Middlebrooks in West Palm Beach, Florida, said Trump’s various legal theories in the case, including racketeering and conspiracy, “are not only unsupported by any legal authority but plainly foreclosed by binding precedent.”

“Mr. Trump “is not attempting to seek redress for any legal harm; instead, he is seeking to flaunt a two-hundred-page political manifesto outlining his grievances against those that have opposed him, and this Court is not the appropriate forum,” Judge Middlebrooks wrote.

Alina Habba, a lawyer for Trump, said the former president’s team would immediately appeal the decision.

“We vehemently disagree with the opinion issued by the Court today. Not only is it rife with erroneous applications of the law; it disregards the numerous independent governmental investigations which substantiate our claim that the defendants conspired to falsely implicate our client and undermine the 2016 Presidential election,” she said in a statement.

Trump’s lawsuit, originally filed in March, alleged that Democrats tried to rig the 2016 presidential election by accusing him of colluding with Russia. The lawsuit sought compensatory and punitive damages of at least $24 million, asserting that Trump was “forced to incur expenses” including “defense costs, legal fees, and related expenses.”

The defendants in Trump’s lawsuit included former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former FBI Director James Comey, Representative Adam Schiff (D-California), and former British intelligence officer Christopher Steele, the author dossier leaked in early 2017 claiming that then-President-elect Trump had conspired with Russia to steer the U.S. election.

“In the run-up to the 2016 Presidential Election, Hillary Clinton and her cohorts orchestrated an unthinkable plot—one that shocks the conscience and is an affront to this nation’s democracy,” the complaint says. “Acting in concert, the Defendants maliciously conspired to weave a false narrative that their Republican opponent, Donald J. Trump, was colluding with a hostile foreign sovereignty.”

Clinton’s lawyers called the lawsuit a fundraising ploy.

“Whatever the utility of Plaintiff’s Complaint as a fundraising tool, a press release, or a list of political grievances, it has no merit as a lawsuit, and should be dismissed with prejudice,” Clinton’s lawyers said in a May court filing.

Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation found repeated contacts between Russia-linked entities and Trump campaign officials before the election, but did not establish that anyone affiliated with his campaign knowingly conspired with Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential campaign.

Research contact: @WSJ

Biden: Trump and allies threaten America’s democracy

Seeptember 5, 2022

Speaking in Philadelphia on Thursday, September 1, President Joe Biden warned that former President Donald Trump and his allies are threatening to undermine the nation’s democracy—using a prime-time address to lay out his concerns for the country’s future when millions of Americans have questioned the legitimacy of the 2020 presidential election, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Standing in front of Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, Biden directly condemned what he called “MAGA Republicans”—citing the January 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol by Trump supporters and saying, “As I stand here tonight, equality and democracy are under assault.”

The speech came just before the traditional Labor Day start of the midterm election campaign season and was delivered from a key battleground state.

“Too much of what’s happening in our country today is not normal,” he said. “Donald Trump and the MAGA Republicans represent an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic.”

Biden sought to draw a distinction between Republicans allied with Trump and others in the party. He called people from all parties to “unite behind the single purpose of defending our democracy regardless of your ideology.”

Democrats hold narrow majorities in both the House and Senate, and Biden is seeking to turn the elections into a choice for voters between his party and that of Republicans, who have criticized his leadership and have said Democrats are trying to distract from the more central issues of inflation and economic unrest.

The speech came during one of three visits that Biden is making to Pennsylvaniain the course of a week. Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in the state for GOP candidates Saturday.

Responding after the speech, Trump posted the following message on Truth Social: “Someone should explain to Joe Biden, slowly but passionately, that MAGA means, as powerfully as mere words can get, MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN! If he doesn’t want to Make America Great Again, which through words, action, and thought, he doesn’t, then he certainly should not be representing the United States of America!”

Research contact: @WSJ

Liz Cheney says new political group will target Trump allies

August 23, 2022

Representative Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming) said on Sunday, August 21, that her political focus after leaving Congress would go beyond challenging former President Donald Trump’s hold on the Republican Party to include opposing candidates who promote Trump’s false claim that the 2020 election was stolen, reports The Wall Street Journal.

 “I’m going to be very focused on working to ensure that we do everything we can not to elect election deniers,” Cheney said on ABC. “We’ve got election deniers that have been nominated for really important positions all across the country. And I’m going to work against those people. I’m going to work to support their opponents.”

 Cheney, the most prominent of the House Republicans who voted to impeach President Trump on a charge of inciting the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, lost her GOP primary election last week.

 Hours after her loss, she filed with the Federal Election Commission to transfer the remaining cash from her federal campaign account to a new political-action committee. She had more than $7 million in cash on hand at the end of July, according to FEC filings.

 Cheney’s stature as a leading critic of Trump and her presumed ability to raise money have generated broad interest in her next steps in politics. If she took action this year, her comments could translate into support for Democratic candidates in some races. In states including Nevada, Pennsylvania and Arizona, Republican nominees running for Congress, as well as for statewide offices such as secretary of state and governor, have promoted the idea that the 2020 election was stolen and that President Joe Biden is an illegitimate president.

Cheney, in the interview on Sunday, cited as potential targets Senators Ted Cruz of Texas and Josh Hawley of Missouri, as well as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.

, all of whom are Republicans with presidential ambitions. Of the two senators, she said that both “took steps that fundamentally threatened the constitutional order and structure in the aftermath of the last election. So, in my view, they both have made themselves unfit for future office.’’

 The two senators objected in writing to certifying the results of the 2020 presidential contest. A photograph of Hawley with a raised fist earlier that day in solidarity with the Trump supporters surrounding the Capitol has become an iconographic image of January 6.

 A spokesperson for Cruz said, “Senator Cruz doesn’t need or want soon-to-be-former Rep. Liz Cheney’s endorsement, and he wishes her the best of luck in the 2024 Democrat presidential primary.” A spokesman for Hawley said, “We wish her the best.” Representatives for Mr. DeSantis didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Cheney didn’t offer details about the chance that she would run for the presidency in 2024 or, if she did run, whether it would be as a Republican or an Independent. “Any decision that I make about doing something that significant and that serious would be with the intention of winning and because I think I would be the best candidate,” she said.

 

Research contact: @WSJ

Amazon to buy Roomba-maker iRobot

August 8, 2022

Amazon continues to fill the connected-home “vacuum,” as the online retailer announced plans on Friday, August 5, to buy Roomba-maker iRobot  for $1.7 billion, including debt, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The wireless, smart-vacuum learns and maps spaces where it sucks up dust and messes. Roomba was recently a featured product in Amazon’s Prime Day event for the eighth consecutive year

Amazon said it is paying $61 a share for iRobot in an all-cash deal. The price represents a 22% premium to iRobot’s closing price of $49.99 on Thursday.

iRobot Chief Executive Colin Angle will remain in his position upon completion of the acquisition, which requires approval from shareholders.

Roomba would join other Amazon-owned products like the Alexa virtual assistant speaker and Ring video doorbell, which, together, give the retailer more ways to power smart homes.

IRobot would be the fourth-largest acquisition by Amazon—ranking behind the 2017 acquisition of Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, an $8.5 billion purchase of movie studio MGM in March, and last month’s agreement to buy 1Life Healthcare for $3.9 billion.

Research contact: @WSJ

Senate Democrats, including Joe Manchin, (finally) strike a deal

July 29, 2022

On Thursday, July 28, the word was out: Senate Democrats unveiled a surprise, pulled-from-the-ashes $670 billion spending plan that has the blessing of the mercurial centrist Senator Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) It’s an outline to help lower drug prices, give Americans more subsidized health coverage under Obamacare, and mitigate climate change, The Hill reports.

It would be paid for with higher taxes on corporations and the wealthy, which sounds similar to proposals Manchin previously rejected.

Scheduled to become law before the Senate escapes for its August break, the proposed reconciliation package needs all 50 Democrats and a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris, as well as approval by the House. It would be a big win for President Joe Biden—and Republicans have said they are opposed.

“It’s like two brothers from different mothers, I guess. He gets pissed off, I get pissed off, and we’ll go back and forth. He basically put out statements, and the dogs came after me again,”  Manchin told Politico in an interview about talks with Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-New York). “We just worked through it.”

In a shocking development, Manchin struck a deal with Schumer after more than a year of hemming and hawing in talks over a number of proposals that had been unable to garner his backing.

Headlining the rejuvenated bill are $369 billion in funding for energy and climate programs over the next ten yearswith the goal of reducing emissions by roughly 40% by 2030 and an additional $300 billion to reduce the deficit.

According to a summary released by the two senators, the blueprint would raise $739 billion in new revenue through a variety of proposals:

  • $313 billion via a 15% corporate minimum tax;
  • $288 billion from empowering Medicare to negotiate lower drug prices;
  • $124 billion from strong IRS enforcement of tax law; and
  • $14 billion from closing the carried interest loophole for money managers.

The Hill reports that the newly announced proposals will be tacked on to a bill that includes items that were expected to dominate as part of an even-slimmer package—a multiyear extension of Affordable Care Act subsidies aimed at preventing premium increases that is extended through the end of Biden’s first term and provisions aimed at lowering prescription drugs.

According to the two Senate Democrats, the bill will be brought to the floor next week before the upper chamber recesses in August.

The breakthrough hands the party a massive and a seemingly improbable victory that very few, if any, had anticipated. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) told  The Wall Street Journal  that she only learned of the bill while on the way to the chamber to vote on Wednesday evening.

“Holy shit. Stunned, but in a good way,” Senator Tina Smith (D-Minnesota) said.

Research contact: @thehill

Amazon to acquire One Medical for $3.9 billion in healthcare deal

July 22, 2022

Amazon has agreed to acquire San Francisco-based  1Life Healthcare —which operates a primary-care practice under the name One Medical—for $3.9 billion including debt, the retailing giant announced on Thursday, July 21, reports The Wall Street Journal. 

On its website, the company describes itself as “No ordinary doctor’s office. Get 24/7 on-demand virtual care. Or book same/next-day appointments—in our offices or over video—with our app. Most insurance accepted.”

Founded in 2004, One Medical is a membership-based primary care practice with offices in 12 major U.S. markets. It works with more than 8,000 companies to provide One Medical health benefits to their employees.

“We think health care is high on the list of experiences that need reinvention,” said Neil Lindsay, SVP of Amazon Health Services. “We see lots of opportunity to both improve the quality of the experience and give people back valuable time in their days.”

Once the deal closes, One Medical Chief Executive Amir Dan Rubin will remain CEO of the business.

Research contact: @WSJ