BOSTON (AP) — Three people have been charged with running a sophisticated commercial sex ring in Massachusetts and eastern Virginia that catered to well-connected clients such as elected officials and military officers, federal prosecutors said on Wednesday.
Women were featured on websites that falsely claimed to advertise nude Asian models for professional photography, and high-end apartments with monthly rents as high as $3,660 were used as brothels, prosecutors say. Another website allowed clients to rate the women, prosecutors say.
“This commercial sex ring was built on secrecy and exclusivity, catering to a wealthy and well-connected clientele, and business was booming, until today,” Acting Massachusetts U.S. Attorney Josh Levy said.
The Massachusetts brothels were in Watertown and Cambridge, while others were outside of Washington, D.C., in Tysons and Fairfax, Virginia, prosecutors said. Buyers paid upwards of $600 per hour for services, and some even paid a monthly membership fee to be pre-cleared for sex in a process similar to TSA PreCheck, Levy said.
Authorities have not named the people believed to have bought services through the ring, and none of them have been charged. But Levy stressed that the investigation is in the early stages, and said that prosecutors are committed to holding accountable both those who ran the scheme and those who “fueled the demand for this ring.”
Levy said there were possibly hundreds of clients, including government contractors with security clearances, doctors, lawyers, elected officials, military officers, professors and executives at tech companies.
Han “Hana” Lee 41, of Cambridge, Massachusetts, James Lee, 68, of Torrance, California and Junmyung Lee, 30, of Dedham, Massachusetts were arrested Wednesday and charged with conspiracy to coerce and entice others to travel to engage in illegal sexual activity. Prosecutors say they made hundreds of thousands of dollars through the scheme.
An attorney for Han Lee declined to comment and an email seeking comment was sent to a lawyer for Junmyung Lee. There was no attorney listed for James Lee in court records, and a message seeking comment was sent to a number listed as a relative.
Authorities used surveillance and phone records to identify sex buyers and interviewed about 20 of them during the investigation, according to court papers. One buyer told investigators he was directed via text message to an apartment and provided a menu of women, services and the hourly rate.
Han and Junmyung are accused of running the day-to-day operations of the Massachusetts brothels, and Han is also accused of overseeing the daily operations of the Virginia ones, according to court papers. That included arranging for transportation for the women and collecting proceeds, authorities allege. Prosecutors say James Lee also leased several of the current and former brothel locations in Massachusetts and Virginia.
NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump has testified in court as a football owner, casino builder and airline buyer. He bragged in a deposition that he saved “millions of lives” by deterring nuclear war as president. Another time, he fretted about the dangers of flung fruit.
Conditioned by decades of trials and legal disputes, Trump is now poised to reprise his role as witness under extraordinary circumstances: as a former Republican president fighting to save the real estate empire that vaulted him to stardom and the White House.
Trump is set to testify Monday at his New York civil fraud trial, taking the stand in a deeply personal matter that is central his image as a successful businessman and threatens to cost him control of marquee properties such as Trump Tower. His highly anticipated testimony in the trial of New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawsuit follows that of his eldest sons, Trump Organization executives Eric and Donald Trump Jr., who testified last week. His eldest daughter, Ivanka, is set to testify on Wednesday.
As court ended Friday, a state lawyer teased the former president’s appearance. Asked who would be testifying Monday, Andrew Amer told the judge: “The only witness will be Donald J. Trump.”
Trump has testified in court in at least eight trials since 1986, according to an Associated Press review of court records and news coverage. He also has been questioned under oath in more than a dozen depositions and regulatory hearings.
In 1985, he was called to testify before Congress as owner of the USFL’s New Jersey Generals and he testified on behalf of lawyer and friend Roy Cohn at a state disciplinary hearing that led to Cohn’s disbarment. In an early flash of his firebrand persona, in 1986, Trump told New Jersey’s casino commission that plans for highway overpasses near one of his casinos “would be a disaster. It would be a catastrophe.”
Those testimonies, captured in thousands of pages of transcripts and some on videotape, offer clues to the approach Trump is likely to take when he testifies in Manhattan.
They show clear parallels between Trump as a witness and Trump as a president and current candidate for the office. His rhetorical style in legal proceedings over the years bears echoes of his political verve: a mix of ego, charm, defensiveness, aggressiveness, sharp language and deflection. He has been combative and boastful, but sometimes vague and prone to hedging or being dismissive.
Testifying in the USFL’s antitrust lawsuit against the NFL in 1986, Trump denounced allegations that he had spied on NFL officials at one of his hotels, calling the claim “such a false interpretation it’s disgusting.”
In 1988, as he sought to buy Eastern Air Lines’ Northeast shuttle service, Trump turned on the charisma, flashing a wide smile at the judge’s female law clerks and shaking hands with the bailiff during a break in his testimony at a federal court hearing in Washington. Trump testified that his $365 million purchase, later approved, would be a “major boost in morale” for employees.
On the stand in a boxing-related case in 1990, Trump described a Mike Tyson fight he planned for one of his casinos in Atlantic City, New Jersey, as “one of the greatest rematches you could have.” Accused by two men of cutting them out of a riverboat gambling project, Trump professed ignorance, testifying in 1999: “I was shocked by this whole case. I had no idea who these people were.”
Trump was briefly called to the witness stand in the New York case last month to explain comments outside of court that the judge said violated a limited gag order.
Before that, he last testified in a courtroom in 2013, two years before launching his winning presidential campaign. An 87-year-old suburban Chicago widower had sued him over changes to contract terms for a hotel and condominium tower she had bought units in as an investment. Trump grew increasingly agitated as his testimony wore on, at one point raising his arms and bellowing: “And then she sued me. It’s unbelievable!”
Chicago lawyer Shelly Kulwin cross-examined Trump on behalf of the plaintiff, Jacqueline Goldberg. He said the tenor of Trump’s testimony inside the federal courthouse in Chicago echoed the bruising ebb and flow later seen at campaign rallies and on TV.
“His demeanor was calm at first, and then argumentative, defensive, off-topic, speechmaking. Exactly what he does today,” Kulwin said in an interview.
“Based on my experience with him, you better be able to have super tight questions, with documents to support them, so that he cannot wiggle around,” Kulwin added. “I would approach the judge and have him admonished before he even got on the stand: ‘Mr. Trump, this is not a political campaign. These people, you’re not trying to get their vote. This is a judicial proceeding.’”
Goldberg lost to Trump but said she did not regret suing him, testifying: “Somebody had to stand up to him.” She died in August at age 97.
Trump has attended seven days of the New York trial, quietly studying witnesses from the defense table while also lashing out at the case, the judge and state lawyers in front of TV cameras in the hallway. He’s called the case a “sham,” a “scam,” and “a continuation of the single greatest witch hunt of all time.”
Opining about the case on social media, he thrills in what he calls the trial’s “Perry Mason” moments — testimony and arguments he feels have helped his side — as he pays homage to the classic TV courtroom drama.
In 1990, Trump testified in a losing effort in a lawsuit over his company’s failure to make pension contributions on behalf of about 200 undocumented Polish workers hired to tear down a building to make way for Trump Tower. A year later, he was in court again in Manhattan, testifying against a man who claimed he had a contract to develop Trump’s board game and was owed 25% of profits from “Trump: The Game.”
Trump won that one and another lawsuit in 2005, where he testified that a construction company had “fleeced” him by overcharging him by $1.5 million for work at a golf course in New York’s Westchester County.
Trump’s current New York trial hinges in part on how much he and other Trump Organization executives were involved in valuing his properties and calculating his wealth for the annual financial statements that were given to banks, insurers and others to make deals and secure financing.
James alleges the statements inflated Trump’s net worth by billions of dollars, making him appear to lenders as a more worthy credit risk and allowing him to obtain better interest and insurance rates. Trump has denied wrongdoing.
Eric and Donald Trump Jr. testified that they relied on an outside accounting firm and the Trump Organization’s finance team to prepare the statements and that they assumed those statements were accurate.
Trump testified in a deposition in a case in April that he never felt his financial statements “would be taken very seriously,” and that a disclaimer on them warned people doing business with him to do their own homework.
He insisted the banks that James alleges were snookered with lofty valuations suffered no harm, got paid in his deals and “to this day have no complaints.” Trump decried the lawsuit as a “terrible thing,” telling James and her staff “you don’t have a case.”
Before the trial, the judge ruled that the statements were fraudulent. He set in motion punishment that shifts control of some Trump companies to a court-appointed receiver. An appeals court has put that on hold, for now.
The nonjury trial, now into its second month, concerns allegations of conspiracy, insurance fraud and falsifying business records. James, who is suing Trump, his company and top executives, including his eldest sons, is seeking $250 million in penalties and a ban on the defendants doing business in New York.
When questioned in the past about his business and financial dealings, Trump has sometimes deflected responsibility and blame. In a 2013 deposition over a failed Florida condominium project, Trump blamed an employee for paperwork that said he was developing a project when, in reality, he wasn’t.
“I have a woman that does it,” he said. He then started parsing the wording at issue, saying: “But you know, developing, the word develop, it can be used in a lot of different contexts.”
Another refrain in Trump’s depositions is his incredulity that he would be taken so seriously for hyping up his real estate projects.
“You always want to put the best possible spin on a property that you can,” Trump said in a December 2007 deposition in his lawsuit against a journalist he had accused of playing down Trump’s wealth. “No different than any other real estate developer, no different than any other businessman, no different than any politician.”
Trump’s penchant for puffery is sure to come up on Monday. He and his company are accused of inflating his property values and using a variety of methods to maximize the results. For years, he even listed his Trump Tower penthouse in Manhattan as being three times its actual size. He now claims his financial statements undersold his wealth and that his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida is worth more than $1 billion.
Trump is portraying the civil fraud case and his four criminal cases as prongs of political persecution designed to impede his candidacy as the 2024 Republican front-runner for president. He has referenced his political standing in prior legal settings, including during a 2016 deposition when he noted, unprompted, how he had defeated his Republican primary opponents.
“I obviously have credibility because I now, as it turns out, became the Republican nominee running against, we have a total of 17 people that were mostly senators and governors, highly respected people. So it’s not like, you know, like I’ve said anything that could be so bad,” he said.
In his April deposition, Trump soberly described the presidency as the “most important job in the world” before bragging about saving lives by preventing North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un from launching a nuclear attack.
In an October 2021 deposition, Trump waxed about weapons of a different sort, warning of the dangers posed by tomatoes and other fruit, which he feared would be thrown at him on the campaign stage.
“You get hit with fruit it’s — no, it’s very violent stuff,” he said. Trump was testifying in connection to a lawsuit filed by a group of protesters who said they were roughed up by Trump’s private security guards when he was running in 2015.
Trump had been asked about a rally in which he told the crowd: “If you see someone getting ready to throw a tomato, just knock the crap out of them, would you.”
“It was said sort of in jest. Buy maybe, you know, a little truth to it,” Trump said of his remarks.
“It’s very dangerous stuff. You can get killed with those things,” he warned. “I wanted to have people be ready because we were put on alert that they were going to do fruit. And some fruit is a lot worse than — tomatoes are bad by the way. But it’s very dangerous.”
Tucker reported from Washington. Associated Press writer Jill Colvin contributed to this report.
On X, formerly known as Twitter, follow Michael Sisak at x.com/mikesisak and Eric Tucker at x.com/etuckerAP and send confidential tips by visiting https://www.ap.org/tips
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — The start of the commercial Dungeness crab season in California has been delayed for the sixth year in a row to protect humpback whales from becoming entangled in trap and buoy lines.
The state Department of Fish and Wildlife said commercial crabbing will be delayed until at least Dec. 1. The situation will be reassessed on or before Nov. 17.
It’s the latest delay for the start of the commercial season, which traditionally begins in mid-November for waters between the Mendocino county line and the border with Mexico.
“Large aggregations of humpback whales continue to forage between Bodega Bay and Monterey and allowing the use of crab traps would increase the risk of an entanglement in those fishing zones,” said Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham said in a statement Friday.
The recreational take of Dungeness crab using traps will be temporarily restricted in some areas when the recreational season opens Nov. 4, officials said. Recreational crabbers will be able to use other methods, including hoop nets and crab snares.
The commercial crab industry is one of California’s major fisheries and the shellfish is especially popular around the holidays.
Humpback whales can get caught in the vertical ropes connected to heavy commercial traps, which they can drag around for months, leaving them injured, starved or so exhausted that they can drown.
Humpback whales migrate north annually from Mexico’s Baja California peninsula where they birth calves. In spring, summer and fall the humpbacks feed on anchovies, sardines and krill off the California coast before heading back south.
Samuel L. Jackson has become the latest face of UK’s biggest bakery brand Warburtons, joining a series of A-list legends who have taken on the role.
In the new two minute advert the Pulp Fiction star, 74, turns his hand to the top job in the Warburtons business, alongside the bakery’s real chairman, Jonathan Warburton.
While the bread advert may not have the same gravitas as his Oscar-nominated role in Pulp Fiction, Jackson will no doubt have received a hefty cheque for his day of work.
Although bakery boss Jonathan Warburton will not disclose the exact figure he shelled out he confessed the Hollywood partnerships are a ‘huge outlay’ with Robert De Niro, Sylvester Stallone, and George Clooney said to have received six-figure sums when they starred in his campaigns.
Now, MailOnline takes a look at the Hollywood heavyweights who swapped the silver screen for British TV adverts.
Snoop Dogg and Just Eat
In 2020 legendary rapper Snoop Dogg partnered with takeaway service Just Eat, starring in their adverts and recording a new song for the company.
The star gives the jingle ‘Did somebody say Just Eat’ a new twist in the popular advert.
He is said to have been paid £5.3 million for the 30 second clip, with a source explaining: ‘It’s easy money and the adverts have proved a hit with audiences.
‘Snoop is a legendary character so the negotiation took time and plenty of cash. But having him on board has not only driven sales, it’s given the brand a massive boost.’
The music insider added the song has proved very popular on social media and is the company’s most successful advert.
After its success in the UK, the campaign was rolled out across Europe and Australia.
Britney Spears, Kevin Bacon and EE
Golden Globe winner Kevin Bacon has been a brand ambassador for British mobile network operator EE since 2012 and has been featured in several ads for the company.
One notable advert saw him team up with Britney Spears, donning the singer’s iconic red catsuit and dancing around in front of the less than impressed pop star.
EE chief executive Marc Allera said they had chosen Spears for a recognisable and retro feel to the ad campaign, explaining: ‘We were looking for an instantly recognisable star and track with mass appeal, that Kevin could impersonate.
‘We also needed someone willing to embrace the playful nature of our ads and have a bit of fun. Britney was the perfect choice with her red rubber catsuit and her world famous Oops I did It Again track.’
Bacon is allegedly paid in the seven figure range for his EE partnership.
Mr T and Snickers
The A-Team star Mr T starred in one of Snickers’ most memorable and controversial adverts in 2008.
The clip showed the actor in a tank pulling up alongside a man exercising in tight yellow shorts before shouting: ‘Speed walking? I pity you fool. You are a disgrace to the man race. It’s time to run like a real man.’
He then forces the man to break into a sprint by taking pot shots at him with a Snickers machine gun.
It ended with Mr T uttering the slogan to the current Snickers campaign – ‘Get some nuts’.
However, just days after the advert debuted it was taken off the air following strong protests from the U.S. – despite the fact it was never shown on American television.
The U.S. lobby group Human Rights Campaign claimed the advert was homophobic, criticising Mars – which makes Snickers – for condoning ‘the notion that the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community is a group of second class citizens and that violence against GLBT people is not only acceptable but humorous’.
A spokesman for Mars said: ‘This ad is the second in a series of UK Snickers ads featuring Mr T, which are meant to be fun and have been positively received in the UK.
‘However, we understand that humour is highly subjective, and it is never our intention to cause offence. Accordingly, we have pulled the Mr T speedwalker ad globally.’
Nicole Kidman, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Compare The Market
Veteran actor and former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger surprised fans in 2015 when he signed up to promote a two for one cinema offer with price comparison website comparethemeerkat.com.
In the advert, the former action hero Schwarzenegger was seen facing off against the hugely successful marketing campaign’s loveable meerkats Aleksandr and Sergei Orlov.
An insider said of the casting: ‘Arnie has worldwide appeal. He’s not going to come cheap but it will pay off in the long run.’
Later in the year, Arnie was replace by Oscar winning actress Nicole Kidman.
In the 40-second television advert, mother-of-four Nicole was seen arriving at the door of meerkat Aleksandr’s LA mansion – but proceeds to go on a date with his pal, Sergei.
Much to Aleksandr’s annoyance, the Australian actress finds Sergei adorable for using his Meerkat Movies code to take her to the cinema, and is seen stroking his face affectionately.
Gary Oldman and HTC
Three-time BAFTA winner Gary Oldman lent his star power to phone company HTC in 2014.
While Oldman is famously a method actor, he wouldn’t have needed to immerse himself too much for this role, which saw him say just three lines.
In the clip for the HTC handset One M8 smartphone, Oldman said: ‘Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah.
‘It doesn’t matter what I say, because the new HTC is designed for people who form their own opinions.
‘So go on then, ask the internet’.
HTC’s global marketing manager, Fiona Naughton, said of their new campaign. ‘We are investing in marketing talent to create different marketing that is not mainstream because we want people to understand the brand as well as the product.’
While it’s not known how much Oldman was paid for the advert, his predecessor Last year Robert Downey Junior was rumoured to have been paid a staggering $12 million to appear in a quirky commercial for the company.
Ryan Reynolds and BT
In 2016, Deadpool star Ryan Reynolds parodied his Hollywood lifestyle in an advert for BT.
The big budget campaign featured Reynolds jumping out of cars, walking through glass doors and mass signing autographs while being unable to slow down due to his hectic lifestyle.
The advert was rolled out across TV, national press and online but ended up banned following a complaint from rival Virgin Media.
The campaign promoted its ‘up to’ 52Mb Infinity fibre service as the ‘fastest speeds vs standard entry-level fibre products of major broadband providers’, with one ad including a comparison with Sky that used speedometer graphics.
Virgin Media lodged a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority arguing that the ad misleadingly implied BT’s 52Mb Infinity service was the fastest maximum speed service for a lowest-priced package available in the UK.
The ASA concluded that the ads were misleading and had breached the UK advertising code.
Bruce Willis and Sky Broadband
Action man Bruce Willis starred in a comical Sky Broadband advert in 2013, with the star seen sprinting into an office while in his dressing gown.
The Hollywood heavyweight is struggling with his broadband in the clip, and is unable to watch himself in Die Hard without the picture pixelating.
He ultimately ends up deciding to switch to Sky Broadband before landing a date with an attractive office worker.
However, the advert was banned by the Advertising Standards Authority because it didn’t make clear the commitment customers needed to undertake in order to take advantage of their promotional pricing.
Jackie Chan and Woolworths
Martial arts legend Jackie Chan surprised fans when he appeared in an advert for the now defunct Woolworths in 2008.
The advert was in the style of a sitcom and saw the Karate Kid star chatting to puppets of a sheep and sheepdog.
The bizarre clip saw the puppets run to Woolworths to buy clothes while Chan stayed in the house showing off his karate moves.
While it was not revealed how much Chan was paid for the advert, it may have been more than the High Street department store could afford, as the company went bust in the same year.
ATLANTA (AP) — The first new U.S. nuclear reactor to be built from scratch in decades is sending electricity reliably to the grid, but the cost of the Georgia power plant could make it a dead end instead of a path to a carbon-free future.
Georgia Power Co. announced Monday that Unit 3 at Plant Vogtle, southeast of Augusta, has completed testing and is now in commercial operation, seven years late and $17 billion over budget.
At its full output of 1,100 megawatts of electricity, Unit 3 can power 500,000 homes and businesses. A number of other utilities in Georgia, Florida and Alabama are receiving the electricity, in addition to the 2.7 million customers of Southern Co. subsidiary Georgia Power.
“This hadn’t been done in this country from start to finish in some 30-plus years,” Chris Womack, CEO of Atlanta-based Southern Co. said Monday in a telephone interview. “So to do this, to get this done, to get this done right, is a wonderful accomplishment for our company, for the state and for the customers here in Georgia.”
A fourth reactor is also nearing completion at the site, where two earlier reactors have been generating electricity for decades. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission on Friday said radioactive fuel could be loaded into Unit 4, a step expected to take place before the end of September. Unit 4 is scheduled to enter commercial operation by March.
The third and fourth reactors were originally supposed to cost $14 billion, but are now on track to cost their owners $31 billion. That doesn’t include $3.7 billion that original contractor Westinghouse paid to the owners to walk away from the project. That brings total spending to almost $35 billion.
The third reactor was supposed to start generating power in 2016 when construction began in 2009.
Vogtle is important because government officials and some utilities are again looking to nuclear power to alleviate climate change by generating electricity without burning natural gas, coal and oil. But most focus in the U.S. currently is on smaller nuclear reactors, which advocates hope can be built without the cost and schedule overruns that have plagued Vogtle. For its part, Womack said Southern Co. isn’t looking to add any more reactors to its fleet.
“In terms of us making additional investments, at this time is not something that we’re going to do, but I do think others in this country should move in that direction,” Womack said.
In Georgia, almost every electric customer will pay for Vogtle. Georgia Power currently owns 45.7% of the reactors. Smaller shares are owned by Oglethorpe Power Corp., which provides electricity to member-owned cooperatives, the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia and the city of Dalton. Oglethorpe and MEAG plan to sell power to cooperatives and municipal utilities across Georgia, as well in Jacksonville, Florida, and parts of Alabama and the Florida Panhandle.
Georgia Power’s residential customers are projected to pay more than $926 apiece as part of an ongoing finance charge and elected public service commissioners have approved a rate increase. Residential customers will pay $4 more per month as soon as the third unit begins generating power. That could hit bills in August, two months after residential customers saw a $16-a-month increase to pay for higher fuel costs.
The high construction costs have wiped out any future benefit from low nuclear fuel costs in the future, experts have repeatedly testified before commissioners.
“The cost increases and schedule delays have completely eliminated any benefit on a life-cycle cost basis,” Tom Newsome, director of utility finance for the commission, testified Thursday in a Georgia Public Service Commission hearing examining spending.
The utility will face a fight from longtime opponents of the plant, many of whom note that power generated from solar and wind would be cheaper. They say letting Georgia Power make ratepayers pay for mistakes will unfairly bolster the utility’s profits.
“While capital-intensive and expensive projects may benefit Georgia Power’s shareholders who have enjoyed record profits throughout Vogtle’s beleaguered construction, they are not the least-cost option for Georgians who are feeling the sting of repeated bill increases,” Southern Environmental Law Center staff attorney Bob Sherrier said in a statement.
Commissioners will decide later who pays for the remainder of the costs of Vogtle, including the fourth reactor. Customers will pay for the share of spending that commissioners determine was prudent, while the company and its shareholders will have to pay for spending commissioners decide was wasteful.
Georgia Power CEO Kim Greene said the company hasn’t decided how much it will ask customers to pay.
“That will be determined as we move closer and closer to our prudence filing, but we have not made a final determination,” Greene said.
Tesla is ramping up efforts to open showrooms on tribal lands where it can sell directly to consumers, circumventing laws in states that bar vehicle manufacturers from also being retailers in favor of the dealership model.
Mohegan Sun, a casino and entertainment complex in Connecticut owned by the federally recognized Mohegan Tribe, announced this week that the California-based electric automaker will open a showroom with a sales and delivery center this fall on its sovereign property where the state’s law doesn’t apply.
The news comes after another new Tesla showroom was announced in June, set to open in 2025 on lands of the Oneida Indian Nation in upstate New York.
“I think it was a move that made complete sense,” said Lori Brown, executive director of the Connecticut League of Conservation Voters, which has lobbied for years to change Connecticut’s law.
“It is just surprising that it took this long, because Tesla had really tried, along with Lucid and Rivian,” she said, referring to two other electric carmakers. “Anything that puts more electric vehicles on the road is a good thing for the public.”
Brown noted that lawmakers with car dealerships that are active in their districts, no matter their political affiliation, have traditionally opposed bills allowing direct-to-consumer sales.
The Connecticut Automotive Retail Association, which has opposed such bills for years, says there needs to be a balance between respecting tribal sovereignty and “maintaining a level playing field” for all car dealerships in the state.
“We respect the Mohegan Tribe’s sovereignty and the unique circumstance in which they operate their businesses on Tribal land but we strongly believe that this does not change the discussion about Tesla and other EV manufacturers with direct-to-consumer sales, and we continue to oppose that model,” Hayden Reynolds, the association’s chairperson, said in a statement. “Connecticut’s dealer franchise laws benefit consumers and provide a competitive marketplace.”
Over the years in numerous states, Tesla has sought and been denied dealership licenses, pushed for law changes and challenged decisions in courts. The company scored a victory earlier this year when Delaware’s Supreme Court overturned a ruling upholding a decision by state officials to prohibit Tesla from selling its cars to directly customers.
Tesla opened its first store as well as a repair shop on Native American land in 2021 in New Mexico. The facility, built in Nambé Pueblo, north of Santa Fe, marked the first time the company partnered with a tribe to get around state laws, though the idea had been in the works for years.
Brian Dear, president of the Tesla Owners Club of New Mexico, predicted at the time that states that are home to tribal nations and also have laws banning direct car sales by manufacturers would likely follow New Mexico’s lead.
“I don’t believe at all that this will be the last,” he said.
Tesla’s facility at Mohegan Sun, dubbed the Tesla Sales & Delivery Center, will be located at a shopping and dining pavilion within the sprawling casino complex. Customers will be able to test drive models around the resort. and gamblers will be able to use their loyalty rewards toward Tesla purchases.
Tesla also plans to exhibit its solar and storage products at the location.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Virgin Galactic is aiming for early August for its next flight to the edge of space, a trip that is expected to include the first of many ticket holders who have been waiting years for their chance at weightlessness aboard the company’s rocket-powered plane.
The company announced Thursday that the window for the commercial flight from Spaceport America in southern New Mexico will open Aug. 10. The short up-and-down flight will be streamed live on Virgin Galactic’s website.
Virgin Galactic confirmed that three private passengers will be on the flight. The plane has room for six — two Virgin Galactic pilots and four passengers.
Hundreds of people have purchased tickets over the years, including celebrities, scientists and entrepreneurs. The company is expected to release more details about the crew and three passengers next week.
The flight will mark Virgin Galactic’s third this year. The most recent was in June — a research flight during which two Italian Air Force officers and an engineer with the National Research Council of Italy conducted a series of microgravity experiments during their moments of weightlessness.
Virgin Galactic has been working for more than a decade to send paying passengers on short space hops and in 2021 finally won the federal government’s approval. Founder Richard Branson joined Virgin Galactic employees for the first flight that summer.
It usually takes about an hour for the mother ship to carry the plane to an altitude where it is released and fires its rocket motor to make the final push to the edge of space.
Once they reach their highest point, passengers can unstrap from their seats, float around the cabin for a few minutes and take in views of the Earth. Then they strap in for the glide back down to the runway.
Virgin Galactic plans to fly monthly from its outpost in the New Mexico desert.
FRANKFURT, June 21 (Reuters) – A German bank that
finances property worldwide is bracing for a possible hit from
the U.S. office market this year as it looks for “solutions”
with clients to keep loans from souring, its chief executive
Banks and regulators around the world have identified
commercial real estate as a weak link in global finance, with
low occupancy rates after the pandemic and a surge in interest
rates pressuring the sector.
Jochen Kloesges, CEO of German bank Aareal, said
the U.S. office market was challenging, though it should be seen
in shades of grey rather than black-and-white.
“The U.S. is dark grey. You have to be honest about it,” he
told journalists on Tuesday evening.
Aareal has a U.S. office loan portfolio of around 3.9
billion euros ($4.26 billion) across some 50 transactions.
Around 4% of the portfolio is so-called Stage 3 loans that are
“It’s clear that individual cases can hit us in this
portfolio this year. This can result in risk provisions here and
there that are perhaps somewhat higher, or also considerably
higher, than we originally anticipated,” he said.
The bank has previously expected allowances for possible
loan losses this year of between 170 million euros and 210
million euros, but it has said it is comfortable if it exceeds
that level because it is generating healthy interest income.
Aareal has been working with customers over the past year to
deal with the sector’s weakness, Kloesges said.
“It is not our goal to make customers sweat. We try to find
solutions together,” he said.
Aareal will still meet its targets for the year, and the
other property sectors it finances, including hotels, retail and
student housing, are going strong, the CEO said.
($1 = 0.9157 euros)
(Reporting by Tom Sims; Editing by Sharon Singleton)
Spending on big ticket items like cars and houses normalized a while ago. But in Airbnb’s pedestrian outlook, is there finally a sign that revenge travel after the pandemic has reached its peak? More on that later.
Heading into the inflation report, the implied move for the S&P 500 SPX on Wednesday was just 0.9%, tied for the lowest since February 2022. The real question is what the turn in bank lending standards, identified in the Fed senior loan officer survey released on Monday, will mean for the economy.
Michael Darda, chief economist and market strategist at Roth MKM, looked at the historical patterns. He found the tightening that has already occurred is consistent with loan books contracting over the next year, and has previously happened either at or just before a cycle peak, or in the early innings of a mild recession that was about to turn more malignant, in 2008.
The tightening in lending standards is consistent with a 2% year-to-year fall in payrolls over the course of the next year, starting in the middle of the year.
And Darda flags the risks to a part of the market that already has many worried — commercial real estate. He says a sharp tightening in lending standards for commercial real estate is consistent with a sharp decline in non-residential investment spending and a fall in commercial real estate prices. He points out that even though major indexes aren’t showing panic, spreads on BBB-rated commercial real estate are continuing to widen, and there’s been a falloff in 5- and 10-year Treasury inflation protected breakeven spreads.
“A weakening economy and lower inflation will likely pull down long rates and partially reflate banks’ securities portfolios. However, in a recession scenario (Fed policy rate above neutral), trouble will matriculate from securities books to loan books as defaults occur,” he says.
Consumer prices rose an as-expected 0.4% at both the headline and core. The 4.9% year-over-year rise for headline CPI was the smallest since April 2021. U.S. stock futures
turned higher after the report was released, and the yield on the 10-year Treasury
There was no debt-ceiling agreement or even identifiable progress reached in the meeting held between President Joe Biden and top Congressional leaders, though the two sides said they have told their aides to continue to talk.
slumped 14% as the short-term rental company flagged “unfavorable comparisons” while topping first-quarter earnings expectations.
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First Citizens Bancorp
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Speaking of commercial real estate woes, Icahn Enterprises
reported a surprise loss, and also flagged that a significant tenant of a commercial high-rise property was notified of default for non-payment after the quarter ended.
agreed to merge in a $10 billion pact combining lithium producers.
and the Cheesecake Factory
report results after the close.
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Uncovering over assessments can result in significant financial benefits for commercial property owners
— Carlo L. Batts, MAI
PHILADELPHIA, PA, USA, April 27, 2023/EINPresswire.com/ — Rittenhouse Appraisals, a leading commercial real estate appraisal company in the greater Delaware Valley, urges business owners to regularly review their commercial property assessments and related taxes to optimize their financial performance. Property taxes are often one of the largest expense items in a business’s budget, but the property assessments that drive these taxes are not fixed values and can fluctuate based on various factors such as market changes, tenant demand changes, interest rates, and aging finishes.
According to Carlo L. Batts, MAI, Principal Appraiser of Rittenhouse Appraisals, “In our work, we often see properties over-assessed, with owners paying a much higher burden in taxes. It’s important for businesses to understand that assessments should be regularly evaluated to ensure they reflect the true market value of the property and to avoid overburdening or shortchanging the property and its returns.”
Uncovering over assessments and subsequently winning an appeal to change the property taxes, can result in significant financial benefits for commercial property owners. By reducing tax payments on a single property or portfolio of properties, businesses can decrease operating expenses and enhance cash flow, which can in turn improve Debt Service Coverage Ratios (DSCR) – a key metric used by lenders – and provide improved financing opportunities.
Batts further explained, “The savings garnered from successfully appealing property assessments can be used to strengthen the business and improve the asset’s overall value. These savings can be put toward essential purposes such as paying down debt or on necessary maintenance and renovation work, which can ultimately help sell a property quickly and profitably.”
Rittenhouse Appraisals cites examples where their expertise has resulted in significant tax savings for their clients. In one case, an assessment was not reflective of changes happening in a neighborhood, and after a successful appeal, the owner’s tax bill was reduced by $78,000. In another instance, an assessment was based on a previous use during a time when the neighborhood was flourishing, but a shift in population and changes in the building’s purpose warranted a reevaluation, resulting in a lower tax bill and savings of several tens of thousands of dollars annually for the owner.
Rittenhouse Appraisals emphasizes that it is in the best interest of every business to create a plan and actively monitor their property taxes by regularly evaluating property assessments to ensure they accurately reflect the property’s true market value. Taking control of tax expenses and utilizing the savings for strategic initiatives and investments can provide businesses with financial advantages and contribute to overall success.
For more information about Rittehouse Appraisals and their services, please visit rhappraisals.com.