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    Asian shares rebounded Friday on hopes for progress in trade talks between China and the U.S., extending overnight gains on Wall Street. Japan's Nikkei 225 index jumped 1.9% to 21,449.27 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng climbed 1.1% to 28,772.46. The Shanghai Composite index rose 1% to 2,930.58, while in South Korea, the Kospi added 1.2% to 2,092.20. India's Sensex slipped 0.5% to 38,688.30. Shares rose in Taiwan and Southeast Asia. Reports that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer spoke with their Chinese counterparts as planned, with more talks to come, helped ease concerns over the deepening trade war between Washington and Beijing. The standoff over China's longstanding trade surpluses and its policies aimed at building up advanced high-tech industries has added to concerns over slowing demand and weaker Chinese growth. Expectations the U.S. Federal Reserve will move quickly to cut interest rates has also helped buoy sentiment. 'Asia equity markets continue to revel amidst the backdrop of lower U.S. interest rates and a weaker U.S. dollar,' Stephen Innes of Vanguard Markets said in a commentary. Overnight, U.S. stocks reversed course from an early slump, closing higher Thursday as a rally in technology and bank stocks helped break a two-day losing streak. Corporate earnings are in full swing and investors have been cautiously assessing results and company statements. The latest batch of results are providing a better picture of the economy after months of ups and downs in the market because of policy concerns and lingering trade disputes. The S&P 500 index rose 0.4% to 2,995.11. The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 3.12 points to 27,222.97 after falling as much as 151 points earlier. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.3%, to 8,207.24. Market indexes were down most of the day after Netflix plunged 10.3% in heavy trading and took other communications companies down with it. Financial results remain a mixed bag. Only about 13% of S&P 500 companies have reported, according to FactSet, and analysts expect profits to fall 2.4% overall when every report is tallied. ENERGY: Benchmark crude oil advanced 87 cents to $56.17 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It fell $1.48 to settle at $55.30 a barrel on Thursday. Brent crude oil, the international standard, picked up $1.19 to $63.12 per barrel. CURRENCIES: The dollar rose to 107.59 Japanese yen from 107.30 yen on Thursday. The euro weakened to $1.1264 from $1.1279. ___ U.S. Business Writer Damien J. Troise contributed.
  • President Donald Trump has selected lawyer Eugene Scalia, the son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, to be his new labor secretary. Trump tweeted news of the planned nomination on Thursday evening, less than a week after his previous secretary, Alexander Acosta, resigned amid renewed criticism of his handling of a 2008 secret plea deal with wealthy financier Jeffrey Epstein. The financier was indicted earlier this month for sexually abusing underage girls. 'Gene has led a life of great success in the legal and labor field and is highly respected not only as a lawyer, but as a lawyer with great experience' working 'with labor and everyone else,' Trump wrote of Scalia, who is currently a partner in the Washington office of the Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher firm. In private practice, Scalia has been known for his challenges to federal regulations on behalf of corporate clients. Scalia's law firm biography cites his 'success bringing legal challenges to federal agency actions.' If confirmed, Scalia will be returning to the department where he previously served as solicitor in President George W. Bush's administration, overseeing litigation and legal advice on rulemakings and administrative law. He has also worked for the U.S. Department of Justice. From 1992-93, Scalia served as a special assistant to Attorney General William Barr during his first stint as attorney general. Trump had previously announced that Acosta would be succeeded in an acting capacity by his deputy, Patrick Pizzella. Within hours of Trump's announcement, divisions surfaced between Republicans and Democrats about Scalia's nomination. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York tweeted that Trump was 'missing an opportunity to nominate a fighter for workers, like a union member, to be America's next Labor Secretary. Instead, he has again chosen someone who has proven to put corporate interests over those of worker rights.' Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas tweeted that Scalia was 'an outstanding lawyer who has vigorously defended the Constitution over a long career in government and private practice. I'm confident he'll be a champion for working Americans against red tape and burdensome regulation as Labor Secretary.' Scalia did not respond to a request for comment Thursday. Acosta's resignation extended the record turnover at the highest levels of Trump's administration, with acting secretaries at key departments, including Defense and Homeland Security. Roughly two-thirds of the Cabinet has turned over by the two-and-a-half year mark of Trump's term.
  • A revised settlement for Motel 6 guests who say the national chain invaded their privacy by giving their information to immigration authorities is returning to court for a judge's review. A federal judge is to decide Friday on the proposal increasing to $10 million the total amount available for claims. Any remainder will go to non-profit migrant advocacy groups outlined in the settlement. The settlement also expands the class to include guests at Motel 6 between February 2015 and June 2019. The Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund sued Motel 6 in January 2018, saying that giving guests' information to immigration agents without a warrant violated privacy and civil rights laws. The chain's owner G6 Hospitality LLC in Carrollton, Texas, said it later issued a directive banning the practice.
  • When you first lay eyes on the new 2020 Corvette, a modern version of the classic American sports car isn't the first thing that pops into your head. Instead, you think Lamborghini, Lotus, McLaren. The eighth-generation 'Vette, dubbed C8, is radically different from its predecessors, which for 66 years had the engine in the front. This time, engineers moved the General Motors' trademark small-block V8 behind the passenger compartment. It's so close to the driver that the belt running the water pump and other accessories is only a foot away. Also gone are the traditional long hood and large, sweeping front fenders, replaced by a downward-sloping snub nose and short fenders. In the back, there's a big, tapered hatch that opens to a small trunk and the low-sitting all-new 6.2-liter, 495 horsepower engine. So why change the thing? 'We were reaching the performance limitations of a front-engine car,' explains Tadge Juechter, the Corvette's chief engineer, ahead of Thursday night's glitzy unveiling in a World War II dirigible hangar in Orange County, California. With a mid-engine, the flagship of GM's Chevrolet brand will have the weight balance and center of gravity of a race car, rivaling European competitors and leaving behind sports sedans and ever-more-powerful muscle cars that were getting close to outperforming the current 'Vette. 'We're asking people to spend a lot of money for this car, and people want it to be the best performer all around,' Juechter said. GM President Mark Reuss said the C8 will start below $60,000, 7% more than the current Corvette's base price of $55,900. Prices of other versions weren't announced but the current car can run well over $100,000 with options, still thousands cheaper most than European competitors. Corvette sales aren't huge. Through June, the company sold just under 10,000 of them. But industry analysts say the car helps the company's image, showing that it can build a sports car that performs with top European models. GM says the new version, with an optional ZR1 performance package, will go from zero to 60 mph (96.6 kilometers per hour) in under three seconds, the fastest Corvette ever and about a full second quicker than all but one high-performance version of the outgoing Vette. The 'cab forward' design with a short hood looks way different, but GM executives say they aren't worried that it will alienate Corvette purists who want the classic long hood and the big V8 in the front. Harlan Charles, the car's marketing manager, said mid-engine Corvettes had for years been rumored to be the next generation so it wasn't unexpected. GM also is hoping the change will help draw in younger buyers who may not have considered a Corvette in the past. George Borke, a member of Village Vettes Corvette Club in The Villages, Florida, a huge retirement community, said he hasn't heard anyone in the 425-member club complain about the new design. 'I think after 60 years it's time for a change,' said Borke, who owns a current generation 'C7,' bought when the car was last redesigned in the 2014 model year. The new car has two trunks, one in the front that can hold an airline-spec carry-on bag and a laptop computer case. Under the rear hatch behind the engine is another space that can hold two sets of golf clubs. Even though it's a performance car, Juechter said the Corvette can go from eight cylinders to four to save fuel. Some owners get close to 30 mpg on the freeway with the current model, and Juechter said he expects that to be true with the new one. Full mileage tests aren't finished, he said. Engineers also took great pains to make the new car quiet on the highway, with heat shields and ample insulation to cut engine noise. Even though the car has an aluminum center structure and a carbon fiber bumper beam, it still weighs a little more than the current model. It's also slightly less aerodynamic due to large air intake vents on the sides to help cool the engine. The new Corvette comes with a custom-designed fast-shifting eight-speed automatic transmission with two tall top gears. It also will be made with right-hand-drive for international markets. Higher-performance versions are coming, although Juechter wouldn't say if the C8 is designed to hold a battery and electric motor. Workers at a GM plant in Bowling Green, Kentucky, are just starting to build the new cars, which will arrive in showrooms late this year.
  • The Swedes are getting microchip implants to pay for things; Marriott has been sued over astronomically high and deceptive resort fees; Check out this prescription drug tool that could save you money Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Watch the video This article was originally published on Clark.com The post 7.18.19 Microchip implants are here ; Lawsuit over deceptive hotel fees; Discount prescription drug tool appeared first on Clark Howard.
  • The Environmental Protection Agency rejected a key legal challenge Thursday to a pesticide linked to brain damage in children, saying environmental groups had failed to prove that a ban was warranted. The agency's defense of continued use of the widely used bug-killer chlorpyrifos could set the stage for a pivotal federal court decision on whether to overrule the EPA and force the agency to ban it. 'To me, this starts the clock on the use of chlorpyrifos on food crops in the US,' said former senior EPA attorney Kevin Minoli. Scientists say studies have shown that chlorpyrifos damages the brains of fetuses and children. The pesticide has been used nationally on dozens of food crops, but California — the nation's largest agricultural state — and a handful of other states have recently moved to ban it. The agency said the environmental groups had failed to prove that the pesticide wasn't safe. Last summer, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the EPA to ban all sales of the pesticide. The court decided to reconsider that ruling with a slate of 11 judges, who gave the EPA until this month to respond to the environmental groups' arguments for banning chlorpyrifos. The EPA under the Obama administration had initiated a ban, but the agency reversed that decision shortly after President Donald Trump took office. The EPA defense Thursday showed that 'as long as the Trump administration is in charge, this EPA will favor the interests of the chemical lobby over children's safety,' said Ken Cook, head of the Environmental Working Group environmental advocacy organization. In a statement, the EPA said it was separately speeding up a regular agency review of the pesticide's continued use, and expected a decision on that well ahead of a 2022 deadline. The EPA said it also was talking with chlorpyrifos makers about further restrictions on how farmers use the pesticide.
  • Microsoft on Thursday reported quarterly profit of $13.2 billion, powered in large part by a steadily growing cloud computing business that the company says now accounts for almost a third of its total revenue. CEO Satya Nadella even said in a call with investors that 'our commercial cloud business is the largest in the world,' although that's only true if you use Microsoft's unique definition. The company counts its widely-used office software and similar online services as part of its overall cloud business. That's in addition to cloud infrastructure such as data centers and servers, where Amazon is the market leader. Microsoft said it had net income of $1.71 per share in the fiscal fourth quarter, which ended June 30. Earnings, adjusted for non-recurring gains, were $1.37 per share. The results exceeded Wall Street expectations. The average estimate of 14 analysts surveyed by Zacks Investment Research was for earnings of $1.21 per share. The increase in net income was 49% but was affected by a one-time tax benefit of $2.6 billion from transferring some properties from foreign subsidiaries to the U.S. and Ireland. The software maker also surpassed forecasts by posting revenue of $33.7 billion in the period, a 12% increase over the same time last year. Eleven analysts surveyed by Zacks expected $32.7 billion. The company's fastest-growing segment was what it calls the 'intelligent cloud,' which includes server products and its Azure cloud computing platform. The segment's revenue was $11.4 billion, up 19% from a year ago. Synergy Research Group analyst John Dinsdale says Microsoft is still a long away behind Amazon but well ahead of the rest of the pack as a provider of cloud infrastructure services. Microsoft has been gradually gaining share in that market, rising from 6% in 2016 to 16% in the first quarter of this year, he said. But in the 'commercial cloud' as defined by Microsoft, the company said Thursday that cloud business sales accounted for 30% of Microsoft's $125.8 billion in total revenue over the past year, up from 24% the previous year. Nadella said it was a record fiscal year as a result of 'our deep partnerships with leading companies in every industry.' In its latest corporate deal, the company announced this week that it's partnering with AT&T to migrate some of AT&T's 'non-network infrastructure' onto Microsoft's cloud platform. Nadella described it Thursday as a 'very significant deal' and the largest of its kind that the company has signed. Nadella said this was also a 'breakout year' for Microsoft Teams, the tech giant's effort to build a platform for workplace chatting and collaboration to compete with upstart Slack. Microsoft last week revealed its Teams metrics for the first time, showing it has 13 million daily active users, which is more than the 10 million users that Slack reported earlier this year. Microsoft benefits from being able to bundle Teams as part of a software package that includes email and other products. That eliminates 'the need for discrete apps' that can expose a company's security, Nadella said.
  • Boeing said Thursday it is booking a $4.9 billion charge to cover possible compensation to airlines that have canceled thousands of flights since the 737 Max jet was grounded after two deadly accidents. The airplane builder also said the Max-related fallout will cut $5.6 billion from its revenue and pre-tax earnings in the April-through-June quarter. The Chicago-based company said the calculations were based on an assumption that regulatory approval for the plane's return to flying will begin early in the fourth quarter. That timing is earlier than some analysts expected and may have contributed to a rally in Boeing shares in after-hours trading. Boeing is scheduled to report its quarterly results next week. Boeing also raised its estimate of Max production costs by $1.7 billion because output will be curtailed longer than expected. Boeing is still working on fixing flight-control software that appeared to play a role in crashes that killed 346 people off the coast of Indonesia and in Ethiopia. In March, regulators grounded the Boeing 737 Max and the company suspended deliveries of new jets. The $4.9 billion charge does not include amounts that Boeing may pay in the dozens of lawsuits filed by families of crash victims. Boeing this week hired a victims-compensation expert to oversee a $50 million relief fund for families, which the company said was separate from the lawsuits. The $5.6 billion hit to pre-tax earnings is more than half of Boeing's $10.5 billion profit for all of 2018. 'The Max grounding presents significant headwinds and the financial impact recognized this quarter reflects the current challenges and helps to address future financial risks,' Chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in a statement. CFRA Research analyst Jim Corridore said putting a figure on airline compensation and the potential return of the plane in the fourth quarter provided important clarity around the damage inflicted by the grounding. 'We expected a large charge, and this is in the order of magnitude we were expecting,' he said. 'In general, we are happy to have some details.' The plane's return has been pushed back several times, most recently after Federal Aviation Administration pilots found a new flaw while testing Boeing software changes in a flight simulator. That discovery prompted Boeing to say in late June that it expected to present its proposed fix to the FAA 'in the September timeframe.' It would likely take several more weeks for the FAA and other regulators to approve Boeing's work, give pilots additional training, and bring long-parked jets up to flying condition. Boeing says concessions to airlines will be spread over several years but it is taking the entire estimated expense as a charge in the second quarter. Boeing did not specify what form the compensation would take, but hinted that it would not be entirely in cash. Despite the grounding, Boeing has kept building Max jets, although at a reduced rate of 42 per month, down from 52, since April. The company said Thursday that it assumed it can raise production gradually to 57 per month in 2020. Boeing has delivered fewer than 400 Max planes but has unfilled orders for about 4,500. Shares of Boeing Co. rose $7.54, or 2.1%, to $368.65 during after-hours trading. Before the announcement, they fell $8.41 to end regular trading at $361.11. ___ David Koenig can be reached at http://twitter.com/airlinewriter
  • Solar panels on every roof. Parking meters that double as car chargers. Wind turbines towering above farm fields and ocean waves. A new law signed Thursday by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sets the nation's most aggressive targets for reducing carbon emissions and is intended to drive dramatic changes over the next 30 years. It calls for all the state's electricity to come from renewable, carbon-free sources such as solar, wind and hydropower. Transportation and building heating systems would also run on clean electricity rather than oil and gas. 'The environment and climate change are the most critically important policy priorities we face,' the Democratic governor said in announcing his signing of the sweeping climate legislation and the nation's largest offshore wind project. 'They literally will determine the future — or the lack thereof.' But while the legislation's goals are clear, details on how to achieve them have yet to be determined. It isn't clear how much all this change will cost, or even whether it is all technically feasible. Some critics call the plan impractical. 'It would require massive deployment of both onshore and offshore wind, which is going to be enormously costly,' said Robert Bryce, an energy specialist at the Manhattan Institute, a conservative think tank. 'You already have local opposition to onshore wind that has stymied the state's ability to build any new capacity.' The Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act requires the state to cut greenhouse gas emissions to 85% below 1990 levels by 2050 and offset the remaining 15% with measures such as planting forests and capturing carbon for storage underground. A new 22-member New York State Climate Action Council will have three years to recommend mandates, regulations, incentives and other measures. The law will require utilities to get 70% of the state's electricity from renewable sources by 2030. Last year, 26.4% came from renewables, according to a report by New York Independent System Operator, the nonprofit corporation that runs the state's power grid. 'The legislation is going to shape the way we live, work and play going forward,' said Peter Iwanowicz, executive director of Environmental Advocates of New York, which supports the plan. Massive wind farms will play a key role in the transition. Cuomo announced Norway-based Equinor will develop one farm, generating power for New York City, while a joint venture of Connecticut-based Eversource Energy and Orsted A/S, a Danish company, will develop another, off the coast of Long island. Combined, the two farms will have a 1,700-megawatt capacity, enough to power 1 million homes, Cuomo said at the signing, where he was joined by former Vice President Al Gore. 'This is the most ambitious, the most well-crafted legislation in the country,' Gore said. The act calls for 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2035. It also calls for 6,000 megawatts of solar capacity by 2025, five times the current amount. The Climate Action Council will likely call for new building codes to increase energy efficiency and require heating and cooling systems using electric heat pumps that transfer heat between indoors and outdoors. There may be incentives to retrofit existing homes and buildings. The New York City Council this spring passed an aggressive climate bill of its own that would require energy-efficient building retrofits. Since transportation makes up a third of the state's emissions, the climate council will likely push for greater mass transit and an accelerated shift to electric vehicles, which the state now promotes with rebates and investments in charging infrastructure. Ken Girardin, a policy analyst at the Empire Center for Public Policy, a spinoff of the Manhattan Institute, calculates the offshore wind buildout will cost more than $48 billion upfront and $1 billion in annual operating cost. At least 56 square miles (145 square kilometers) of solar panels would be needed to hit the 2025 goal of 6,000 megawatts of solar capacity, Girardin said. But Gerrard said the costs of wind and solar installations have been dropping. 'It's much more economical to build large amounts of wind and solar energy than even three or four years ago,' Gerrard said. Mark Jacobson, an energy expert at Stanford University, led a 2013 study outlining how New York could transition to 100% renewable energy by 2030. It envisioned 4,020 onshore wind turbines spread across 1.5% of the state's land area — 818 square miles (2,119 square kilometers). And solar farms would cover 463 square miles. About a third less land area would be required with today's technology, he said, but the buildout would still be staggering — especially in a state where land is expensive and local opposition has stymied such projects. New transmission lines, which also generate local opposition, would be needed to tie new wind and solar projects to the electrical grid. 'It's definitely going to cost ratepayers a lot more for reliable electricity,' said Gavin Donohue, president of Independent Power Producers of New York, whose members produce three-quarters of the state's electricity. He said efficient, low-emission natural gas plants built in the last 10 years are needed to keep the lights on. 'To say we're not going to have any fossil fuel by 2050 is preposterous,' Donohue said. 'Are we not going to have airplanes or gas-fueled cars? Is everyone going to have to retrofit their houses?' Other Democratic-led states have passed laws to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in response to the Trump administration's efforts to roll back regulations on power plants and vehicles. New York is the sixth state to mandate 100% renewable energy sources in coming decades, after Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Washington and California. But New York's plan would get there first. 'It's one of the strongest climate change laws in the world,' said Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. 'It's a heavy lift, but not as difficult as coping with the effects of severe climate change if action is not taken.' ___ Associated Press writer David Klepper contributed to this report.
  • About 10,000 live-in childcare workers from around the world will share in a class-action settlement in a case that challenged whether they should be treated as employees entitled to minimum wage or members of the family learning about the United States while helping out at home. U.S. District Judge Christine Arguello gave final approval to the $65.5 million deal Thursday during a hearing in Denver, saying the payments to au pairs who filed claims by the May deadline would average $3,500 each. About 160,000 au pairs who came to the United States to work from 2009 to late 2018 under J-1 visas were identified as having the potential to receive money under the deal announced in January. Notices were sent to nearly all of them, but about 10,000 filed claims by the May deadline. About 40 percent of the deal will go to pay for administrative costs, lawyers' fees and other expenses. Lawyers for Towards Justice, a nonprofit Denver law firm that filed the lawsuit in 2014, and the high-profile New York firm of Boies Schiller Flexner were not paid during the case. The settlement also requires that 15 agencies authorized by the U.S. State Department to connect au pairs with families notify both parties going forward that au pairs can negotiate to be paid more than the minimum $195.75 a week required by the department. The minimum pay is based on the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for 45 hours of work minus a 40 percent deduction for room and board. The agencies, the only ones that sponsored au pairs when the suit was filed, did not admit wrongdoing. One other company was later allowed to bring au pairs to the United States, but lawyers for the au pairs thought it was treating its au pairs more fairly, perhaps because of the pending lawsuit. The lawsuit, brought by 11 au pairs from Colombia, Australia, Germany, South Africa and Mexico, claimed the agencies colluded to keep their wages low, ignoring overtime and state minimum wage laws and treating the federal minimum wage for au pairs as the maximum they could earn. In some cases, the lawsuit said, parents pushed the limits of their duties, requiring au pairs to do things like feed backyard chickens and help families move and not allowing them to eat with the family. A handful of former au pairs submitted written comments to the court. Echoing allegations in the lawsuit, Alejandra Guadalupe Franyutti Ramirez of Queretaro, Mexico, said she was fired and given a short time to leave the country when she got sick soon after pushing back about her duties while serving as an au pair in Portola Valley, California. Meanwhile, Eva Bein of Germany, described having a positive experience with her host family said she objected to the settlement's focus on pay, fearing it could hurt the cultural exchange mission. She also said the deal should require sponsors to not only check on au pairs more often but remove host families who mistreat them, noting that agencies now act in the interest of the families who pay them fees to recruit au pairs. The settlement comes amid a movement to protect the rights of domestic workers, who were originally excluded from federal labor protections. A handful of states have passed domestic worker bills of rights, and U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris and Rep. Pramilla Jayapal introduced a federal version this week. The settlement did not address whether au pairs are entitled to higher minimum wages in states and cities that have set them above the federal minimum or whether families should be allowed to deduct room and board expenses, something that is generally not permitted when they are seen as a benefit to the employer. The federal appeals court based in Boston is considering the wage issue in a case challenging Massachusetts' inclusion of au pairs in its domestic bill of rights. David Seligman, executive director of Towards Justice, said the settlement provides important reforms in the industry in addition to the payouts. 'The outcome reaffirms that everyone — including low-wage workers — has the right to a free and competitive marketplace,' he said. The practice of having au pairs — French for 'on par with' — developed in postwar Europe, where young people lived with families in other countries to learn a language in exchange for helping with childcare and some housework. In Europe, au pairs generally are limited to working 30 hours a week. The concept came to the United States in 1986 when the State Department launched it as a cultural exchange program amid a growing demand for childcare. ___ This story has been updated to correct the spelling of the law firm to Boies Schiller Flexner.

News

  • A New Jersey judge who said a teenage boy accused of rape deserved leniency because he came from a 'good family' and got good grades has resigned. >>Read more trending news Monmouth County Superior Court Judge James Troiano resigned Wednesday, the New Jersey Supreme Court announced. The resignation came after weeks of criticism from the public and death threats to Troiano's family, The New York Times reported. In 2018, Troiano, 69, was called out of retirement to hear the case of an alleged rape involving teenagers at a party the previous year, The Washington Post reported. Police said a 16-year-old boy recorded cellphone video of himself sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl. The boy allegedly sent the video to others with the caption, “When your first time having sex was rape.” Both teens were intoxicated during the incident, prosecutors said. Prosecutors in the case pushed for the teen to be tried as an adult, calling his alleged crime 'sophisticated and predatory,' CNN reported. Troiano denied prosecutors' request. He wrote in his July 2018 decision that he didn't think the teen's actions were necessarily rape, because in 'traditional' rape cases there are 'two or more generally males involved, either at gunpoint or weapon, clearly manhandling a person.' Troiano further wrote, “This young man comes from a good family who put him into an excellent school where he was doing extremely well. He is clearly a candidate for not just college but probably for a good college. His scores for college entry were very high.” The Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court reversed Troiano's decision in June, and sent the case back down for further judgement, CNN reported. Monmouth County prosecutors are planning their next move in the case. 'While we have the utmost respect for the Family Court and the judge in this case, we are grateful that the Appellate Division agreed with our assessment that this case met the legal standards for waiver to Superior Court,' Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Gramiccioni said in a statement. 'As with all cases, we are assessing our next steps, which will include discussions with the victim and her family.
  • The first trailer for the upcoming musical film 'Cats' has been released. >>Read more trending news 'Cats' is an adaptation of the 1981 Broadway musical of the same name. Based on a collection of poems by T.S. Eliot and featuring music by Andrew Lloyd Weber, 'Cats' follows a tribe of cats called the Jellicles as they decide which cat will come back to life, according to the film's Internet Movie Database page. The original Broadway production ran for nearly 28 years and won several awards, including the 1983 Tony Award for Best Musical. The movie's star-studded cast includes Judi Dench, Idris Elba, Taylor Swift, Jennifer Hudson, James Corden and others. It introduces ballerina Francesca Hayward in her first movie role. Viewers tweeted their reactions to the trailer. Many reactions were negative, as viewers said they found the appearance of the cat characters unsettling. 'Cats' is set for a December 20 release date.
  • A photo of a dog tied up on the back of a tow truck as it goes down busy Massachusetts highway has upset so many drivers who saw it that they now won't stop calling the tow company. >> Read more trending news The Animal Rescue League and Massachusetts State Police are now investigating the alleged crime. The picture snapped by a Brockton, Massachusetts, man and posted on Facebook drew instant criticism. People quickly began posting their objections and flooding the towing company with calls. Apparently, the two people in the van being towed were in the cab of the tow truck and that's why the dog was chained to the bed. The dog is owned by the driver of the truck. The man who took the picture, Mike Gerry, also has a dog: Molly.  Mike says he saw the dog on the flatbed while driving down Route 128 near Route 2 on Wednesday. He beeped and tried to get the tow truck driver’s attention but had no luck. 'I posted it on Facebook for my buddies to put it out there. and it went unreal, it went ballistic,' Gerry said. 'And ever since then people have been commenting on it, 'you're doing the right thing.'' To be clear the company told WFXT the dog being chained to the back of a flatbed truck is not their policy. The driver has reportedly been fired and the dog is OK.  The company also says it is donating $1,000 to the MSPCA and has set up a call center so it can answer and return every single call about the incident.
  • An Oklahoma man is in custody after allegedly raping a 4-year-old girl in a McDonald’s bathroom while the child was on a field trip with her day care class, according to news reports. >> Read more trending news  It happened Tuesday inside a McDonald’s in Midwest City in metro Oklahoma City when the little girl went to the bathroom alone, WXIN-TV reported. Day care employees told responding officers they went to check on the girl after she had “been gone for a while.”  They said they found the bathroom door locked and when they knocked, a man opened the door.He allegedly came out with his hands up and said, “I was just washing my hands,” the news station reported. The 4-year-old allegedly told police she was touched inappropriately by the man, identified as Joshua Kabatra, 37. Police arrested Kabatra at the scene, according to WXIN. He’s facing two rape charges and a count of lewd acts with a child.
  • Do you feel you’re better focused on the job with a little light background jazz or coffee shop chatter compared to pin-drop silence? Scientists might know why. >> Read more trending news According to Onno van der Groen, a researcher with Australia’s Edith Cowan University school of medical and health sciences, some background noise can actually be beneficial for our senses. This phenomenon is called “stochastic resonance.” First studied in animals, stochastic resonance experiments suggest “sensory signals can be enhanced by noise and improve behaviour in various animals,” van der Groen wrote for The Conversation last week. “For example, crayfish were shown to be better at avoiding predators when a small amount of random electrical currents were added to their tail fins. Paddlefish caught more plankton when small currents were added to the water.” In human experiments, where noise levels were manipulated by getting participants to listen to noisy sounds or feel random vibrations on the skin, people were better able to see, hear and feel at “a certain optimum noise level.” If it were too loud, however, performance dropped. Van der Groen pointed out that stochastic resonance has several real life applications for humans, too. “Adding noise to the feet of people with vibrating insoles can improve balance performance in elderly adults,” he wrote. For patients with diabetes or those recovering from stroke, this can also be used to augment muscle function. His own research has found that when brain currents are applied to participants’ brains with random noise stimulation, “it improved how well they could see a low-quality image.” When he and other researchers applied the same technique to other groups, they noticed “decisions were more accurate and faster when brain cell noise levels are tuned up.” Transcranial random noise stimulation also influenced what participants saw during a visual illusion, suggesting noise could help people approach a situation from multiple perspectives. But the thing about stochastic resonance is it differs from person to person.  The optimal amount of noise for top-notch cognitive function depends on a variety of factors, such as brain variability. Excessive brain variability, van der Groen wrote, is common in those with autism, dyslexia, ADHD and schizophrenia. Elderly folks also tend to have more brain noise (or brain variability) than younger individuals. However, because brain noise can be altered with random noise stimulation, van der Groen believes there are opportunities to explore “interventions or devices to manipulate noise levels, which could improve cognitive functioning in health and disease.”  For example, a study of children with ADHD found white noise delivered specifically through Etymotic earphones at 77 decibels improved memory and concentration. Plenty of downloadable ambient, white and “pink” noise apps have also popped up in recent years. There’s Coffitivity, which plays an infinite loop of coffee-shop sounds — and Noisli, which suggests different sounds for different goals. If you want to improve productivity, you might mix raindrops and train tracks. For those who want to relax, listen to crashing waves. Generally, ambient noise is ideal for creativity, white noise is sound for concentration and pink noise might be most helpful in improving sleep quality. But remember, finding stochastic resonance isn’t a one-size-fits-all process. Play around and see which background noises and volumes work best for you. This guide from Techlicious is a good place to start.
  • An act of kindness extended by three young men has gotten a lot of attention on social media since then.  >> Read more trending news Sean Wetzonis says it all started when he, Pedro and two other friends from Malden planned to attend the game.  But one friend backed out, leaving Pedro with an extra ticket.  'And Pedro's father had suggested, he was like, 'find a girl. Find a girl to take to the game,'' Sean Wetzonis told Boston 25 News. But he said Pedro had another idea.  'He said, 'you know, I'll give it to a homeless person. If I could find a homeless person,' Wetzonis said. Finding a homeless person in Boston is not difficult. Enter John, who was sitting on a stoop near Fenway Park. 'When Pedro asked him if he wanted to go to a Red Sox game, at first I wasn't sure if he was going to get up, but then he said sure and he got up and he seemed pretty excited about it,' Wetzonis said.  He admits he was skeptical about taking a homeless guy to the game. 'I was kind of shocked. Everyone was like, 'dude. You got another ticket. You could try and sell it to make some money back.,' Wetzonis said.  But then he saw something you don't see enough of these days at professional sporting events: a fan actually watching the game.  'Everyone's there sitting on their phones, texting and looking around. He was really immersed in the game. He was there to enjoy the game,' Wetzonis said.  The Red Sox lost Tuesday night. But for three young men from Malden, it was, perhaps, the winningest night at Fenway ever.