Ronald Reagan is Waving to Crowds Again — as a Hologram
A smiling Ronald Reagan waves to a crowd from aboard a rail car during a 1984 campaign stop in a new hologram revealed Wednesday at the late president’s namesake library in Southern California.
“We think we made a good beginning, but you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” the high-tech digital resurrection of the nation’s 40th president exclaims in his steady voice, with a twinkle in his eye.
Reagan also shows up in a suit and tie inside the Oval Office and clutching a lasso at his beloved ranch in two other holograms soon to open to visitors at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library west of Los Angeles.
The audio is edited from remarks Reagan made during his lifetime. The computer-generated imagery comes from photos and video of the former president combined with digitized hand-drawn illustrations that allow for realistic facial expressions and body movements.
“We wanted to make President Reagan as lifelike as possible,” said John Heubusch, executive director of the Reagan Foundation.
The library worked with the same special-effects technicians who helped bring singers like Michael Jackson, Billie Holiday and Roy Orbison back to life on stage.
The Hollywood firm Hologram USA helped create the holograms and the stage on which they’re projected.
As a radio host, television star and movie actor, Reagan understood and appreciated new technologies, company senior vice president David Nussbaum said.
“He always thought many steps ahead,” Nussbaum said. “If he was looking down right now on this project, I think he would give us his seal of approval. I think he would totally get this and support it.”
Trump Signs Bills to Help Patients Stop Overpaying for Drugs
President Donald Trump has signed into law two bills that would allow pharmacists to tell consumers when paying cash would be cheaper than using insurance for their prescriptions.
Under bipartisan legislation he signed Wednesday, health plans or middlemen can no longer prohibit pharmacists from telling customers when they would be better off not using their insurance plans.
Trump complained that drug prices are “way out of whack” and “way too high.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar says the bills give patients the right to know about ways to pay the lowest price.
Under pharmacy “gag” rules, pharmacists have been prohibited from proactively telling consumers when their prescription would cost less if they paid for it out-of-pocket rather than using their insurance plan. Pharmacists who disobeyed faced penalties.
DOJ Approves $69B CVS Health-Aetna Merger
The proposed $69 billion merger between CVS Health and Aetna is getting a greenlight from the Department of Justice, with some conditions.
The Justice Department on Wednesday approved the deal on the condition that Aetna moves ahead with its plan to sell its Medicare Part D prescription drug plan business, resolving some anti-monopoly issues.
Aetna announced last month it’d sell the business for an undisclosed amount.
CVS announced plans to buy Hartford, Connecticut’s Aetna late last year. The deal is expected to give the Woonsocket, Rhode Island, drugstore chain a bigger role in health care, with the companies combining to manage care through CVS stores, clinics and prescription drugs.
After Backlash, Amazon to Boost Pay for Longtime Workers
Amazon, facing a backlash from longtime warehouse workers who say its $15 hourly minimum wage wouldn’t benefit them, will now provide a bigger raise.
The company said Wednesday that “slight adjustments” are being made this week, and workers who already made $15 an hour will get more than the $1 an hour raise promised last week. The company said the raise will differ by warehouse and affect a small amount of employees, but declined to say how many.
A worker at a Maryland warehouse, who spoke to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity for fear of being fired, said employees were told Tuesday that they would now get a raise of $1.25 an hour after Nov. 1. That’s 25 cents more an hour than what they were told last week.
The worker said they were also told they would get cash payouts for reaching certain milestones. They’ll receive $1,500 for staying with the company for five years and $3,000 after reaching their 10-, 15- and 20-year anniversaries. Previously, the company gave those workers one or two shares of Amazon stock after each of those anniversaries.
US Treasury Issues New Rules on Foreign Investments
The Treasury Department has issued new rules on foreign investments into American companies that will give the government more power to block foreign transactions on national security grounds.
The rules represent the latest escalation in an intensifying economic conflict between the United States and China. It will implement a program for tougher reviews of foreign acquisitions that Congress approved this summer.
The new regulations will require foreign investors to alert a Treasury-led interagency committee to all deals that would give the foreign investors access to critical technology covering 27 industries, including semiconductors, telecommunications and defense.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin says the new rules will “address specific risks to U.S. critical technology.”
US Wholesale Prices Rose Just 0.2% in September
U.S. wholesale prices rose a mild 0.2 percent last month, held down by lower food and energy prices, suggesting that inflation remains in check despite the economy’s robust growth.
The Labor Department says its producer price index — which measures inflation before it reaches consumers — rose 2.6 percent compared with a year earlier, the smallest increase since January. Wholesale prices rose in September after two months of flat or declining readings.
Excluding the volatile food and energy categories, core wholesale prices rose 0.2 percent in September and 2.5 percent from a year earlier.
Inflation has crept higher this year, eroding the value of Americans’ paychecks. Yet core prices remain close to the Federal Reserve’s target of 2 percent and have yet to show signs of rapid acceleration.
EU Says ‘Not There Yet’ on Brexit Deal, Warns on Security
European Union commissioners say there’s no breakthrough on a Brexit deal and are stressing the importance of security cooperation once Britain leaves the EU.
Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos told reporters Wednesday that EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and his team “are working day and night to reach a deal” before a crucial EU summit next week. But, he said, “we are not there yet.”
Commissioner Julian King said “there are some issues that will need to be addressed in the context of a future partnership including on security.” He emphasized the importance of continued cooperation on cross-border threats.
Barnier briefed EU commissioners on the state of the talks. EU leaders say major progress is needed at next week’s summit to ensure a deal is finalized before Britain leaves March 29.
Google Appeals $5B EU Fine in Android Antitrust Case
Google is appealing a record $5 billion antitrust fine by European Union authorities, who say the tech giant abused the dominance of its Android operating system to stifle competitors.
A company spokesman, Al Verney, confirmed Wednesday that the company has filed its legal challenge with the General Court of the EU , the bloc’s second highest court.
The EU’s executive Commission issued the fine in July after it found Google forced smartphone makers using Android to install the company’s search and browser apps. The company also paid big phone makers to exclusively pre-install the Google Search app. The bloc’s competition commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, said at the time of the ruling that “companies must compete on their merits.”
Under the ruling, Google must take measures to fix the problem by the end of October or risk further fines.
“The Commission will defend its decision in Court,” the EU body said in an emailed statement.
Google, which had said it would appeal, has argued that its free, open-source operating system has led to lower-price phones and stoked competition with its chief rival, Apple. The company filed its appeal Tuesday just as it was unveiling its latest generation of Pixel smartphones, which undercut iPhones on price.
Android is the most widely used mobile operating system, beating even Apple’s iOS. The fine, which follows a three-year investigation, is the biggest ever imposed by the EU on a company for anticompetitive behavior.
Bloomberg Becomes Democrat Again, Looks at Presidential Run
Former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg is officially a Democrat again.
The global media company founder on Wednesday said he has registered as a Democrat, which would be especially significant if he decides to challenge President Donald Trump in 2020. Bloomberg says on social media he did so “because we need Democrats to provide the checks and balance our nation so badly needs.”
Bloomberg did not say when he might make a decision on running for president. He served three terms as New York City mayor and has variously been a Democrat, a Republican and an independent. He twice flirted with running for president as an independent candidate.
Bloomberg has thrown money and support behind Democrats and is attacking Republicans on abortion and gun policies.
Egypt’s Inflation Rises to 15.4% Amid Price Hikes
Egypt says inflation jumped to 15.4 percent in September, a rise of more than two percentage points over the previous month.
Data released Wednesday by the state statistics bureau shows an increase in food and beverages prices, the single largest component in the basket of goods and services used to gauge inflation. The rate was 12.8 percent in August.
Inflation peaked last year, hovering around 30 percent after the government cut fuel and electricity subsidies. It reached 32.9 percent in September 2017.
Economic reforms have caused the prices of basic goods to spike, hitting poor and middle-class Egyptians especially hard. Egypt cut subsidies and allowed a currency devaluation in order to secure $12 billion in bailout loans from the International Monetary Fund.
Jury’s $289M Award in Roundup Cancer Suit Heads to Court
A San Francisco jury’s $289 million verdict in favor of a school groundskeeper who says Roundup weed killer caused his cancer will face its first court test.
Agribusiness giant Monsanto will argue at a hearing on Wednesday that Judge Suzanne Bolanos should throw out the verdict in favor of DeWayne Johnson. Attorneys for the company say Johnson failed to prove that Roundup or similar herbicides caused his lymphoma, and presented no evidence that Monsanto executives were malicious in marketing Roundup. Bolanos was not expected to rule immediately.
Johnson’s attorneys responded in court documents that the jury was attentive and well-educated and reached a reasonable verdict.
The jury in August awarded Johnson $39 million in compensatory damages and $250 million in punitive damages.
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