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Politics

Trump’s lost his edge on the economy and trails Biden on every other major issue


Overall, the poll gives Biden a 9-point lead among likely voters nationally, 50%-41%, but the strength of Biden’s position is built upon the issues voters care about. 

Likely voter preferences on the issues
BidenTrump
Economy47%48%
Coronavirus52%40%
Unifying America55%36%
law and order50%44%
Choosing a Scotus justice49%43%

Trump has been effectively neutralized on the two issues he has deliberately pushed most over the closing months of the election: the economy and law and order. The poll also found that voters broadly support passage of a new $2 trillion stimulus deal to boost the economy, 72%-21%, but Trump hasn’t had the juice to get that done amid a revolt by Senate Republicans (who would sooner die than do anything to help struggling Americans).  

But Trump’s fall on the economy could be an indication that at least half of voters now view the national economic outlook as inherently linked to how well the country is handling the pandemic. Michael Zemaitis, an independent voter in Minnesota who is supporting Biden, said he clearly believed a Democratic administration would better tackle the coronavirus than Trump has. “Once that is dealt with, the economy will fall back into line,” he said. 

Additionally, most voters reject Trump’s assertion that we’ve “turned the corner” on the pandemic, with 51% saying the worst is yet to come while just 37% believe the worst is behind us.

Trump is also losing important demographics in the poll, with 56% of women holding a “very unfavorable” view of him along with 53% of white college-educated voters. In 2016, Trump lost women by 13 points while the Times poll shows him losing them by 23 points, 35%-58%. Likewise, Trump won white college-educated voters by 3 points last cycle while he is losing them by 19 points now, 37%-56%. 

Trump won his strongest demographic—non-college whites—by 37 points in ’16. The Times poll shows him winning that bloc by just 23 points now, 36%-59%.





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Celebrity Entertaiment

Musical loses edge but reveals tenderness


In 2015, “Hamilton” became Broadway’s first bragging-rights musical in a generation. Everyone was in a clamor to see it, from the corner bodega owner to George Clooney to your college friend who loves volleyball and can’t spell “revolution.” Cramped seats were selling on StubHub for $10,000.

Yes, the whole world dreamed of watching Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop history lesson that was endorsed by President Obama and enthusiastically hawked by Jimmy Fallon like a timeshare. And when viewers stream the new filmed version of the stage show on Disney+, they’ll still dream of really watching it.

That’s not to say the new product is lousy — it’s an exciting record of a moment in time and a special ensemble of actors that will be talked about for decades. We have no such pristine archive of the original casts of “A Chorus Line” or “Rent” at their height, for example.

However, I’m not the Archival Footage Critic. We are all well-aware “Hamilton” is a brilliant show. It took home a trove of Tonys, and broke a record at London’s Olivier Awards, the British equivalent, while being a musical about how fabulous the American Revolution was.

“Hamilton” the film is just OK.

You might be asking, “How can you judge ‘Hamilton’ as a movie but not use the same criteria for other taped theater productions like ‘Live From Lincoln Center: The King and I’?” Well, Disney, Hollywood’s cackling megalomaniac, did not drop $75 million on “The King and I” with pandemic-thwarted hopes of a lucrative theatrical release on a scale we’ve never seen with a filmed stage show. Millions of people will watch this.

And that’s really what this amounts to: a not-particularly-transcendent filmed stage show. It’s directed by the musical’s original director Thomas Kail, and while that gig might seem obvious, it’s actually quite uncommon to do double-duty. For instance, “American Utopia,” the David Byrne musical that was helmed on Broadway by Alex Timbers (“Moulin Rouge”), was filmed by Oscar-winner Spike Lee for HBO. They would’ve been smart to snap up Lee, with his clever cinematic eye, for “Hamilton.”

Kail, whose biggest screen credit to date is the FX miniseries “Fosse/Verdon,” struggles at times with where to put the camera. “Hamilton” is a busy production live, with Andy Blankenbuehler’s nonstop choreography and movement paired with lightning-speed lyrics making for concert-like sensory overload. What’s rousing and transportive at the Richard Rodgers Theatre can be dizzying and confusing on TV

The musical, of course, is the life story of America’s first treasury secretary, Alexander Hamilton (Miranda). (In the interest of full disclosure, Hamilton founded the New York Post in 1801. Lol). Audiences have been packing the theater for nearly five years — not because of a passion for the Federalist Papers, however, but lured in by Miranda’s innovation. The powdered-wig historical figures are played by black, Latino and Asian actors; the stuffy oboes and clarinets of “1776” are swapped for pulsing hip-hop and R&B. It’s cool!

You can’t help but once again admire the level of accomplishment here, only now it comes through best in its solemn moments rather than the flashy showstoppers such as “My Shot” and “The Room Where It Happened.” Our first glimpse of the movie’s potential power is Leslie Odom Jr.’s guttural “Wait For It.” The closeups on the actor — playing Hamilton’s eventual killer Aaron Burr, wincing as he rails against his opponent — reveal the nuance beneath the spectacle. The same is true of Phillipa Soo as Hamilton’s wronged wife Eliza and her anguished ballad “Burn,” as well as Christopher Jackson’s “History Has Its Eyes On You.” Renée Elise Goldsberry’s “Satisfied” is the one big song that still packs a punch in its new medium.

All of Miranda’s numbers as Hamilton get a boost from TV’s intimacy.

Miranda was not lauded as much for his acting as his many co-stars — Daveed Diggs, Okieriete Onaodowan, Jasmine Cephas Jones and more — who emerged from this show like talent Chia Pets. But the camera reveals that, while never showy, the creator’s performance was unfailingly tender and honest. “It’s Quiet Uptown” will crush you.

So, watching “Hamilton” on TV might be best suited to the Lin-Fanuels and Hamil-stans. It’s kind of the Applebee’s to Broadway’s Peter Luger. And you know what? During a sad week where Broadway, the artistic heart of New York City, announced that it’ll remain shuttered until 2021, I’ll take it.

Lin-Manuel Miranda in “Hamilton.”Disney+



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Breaking New

Asian markets edge up as US-China trade deal inches toward the finish line — Asian market latest



Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI) edged up 0.5% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 (N225) rose 0.3%.
South Korea’s Kospi (KOSPI) gained 0.7%, while China’s Shanghai Composite (SHCOMP) was up 0.3%.
Positive trade news continues to be a factor. US President Donald Trump said Monday that the “phase one” deal with China is nearly complete, save for translation.

“I said make sure you have the right translators because you can lose a lot with bad translation. So we’re working on getting that done,” Trump said during a meeting with governors and lawmakers in the United States.

The deal canceled a round of tariffs on Chinese goods that had been set to take effect Sunday. China also agreed to increase purchases of US farm goods. And the United States said it would cut tariffs on Chinese imports that were enacted in September. But details about other aspects of the agreement — including structural changes to intellectual property rights that China is said to have agreed it would make — remain unclear.

Trump said the deal will be finalized “over the next couple of weeks.”

On Monday in Beijing, though, China’s Foreign Ministry did not specify a timeframe to complete the deal.

“China and the United States still need to finish some necessary procedures,” spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters, adding that China will release more details “at the right moment.”

Markets in Asia mostly closed lower Monday.



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Breaking New

“Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance”: Inside the new ride at Galaxy’s Edge


“[It’s] everything that makes Star Wars Star Wars,” he said.

Disney’s new massive and innovative ride acts as the centerpiece of the company’s $1 billion park expansion, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. When the two lands debuted earlier this year at Disneyland in Anaheim, California and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando, Florida, they were packed with authentic Star Wars experiences: You could see, buy, eat, and even drink Star Wars, down to the Blue Milk.
Despite the early headlines, Disney execs have been quick to point out that Galaxy’s Edge has been a financial success, driving increases in per capita food and merchandise sales. “Guest satisfaction is very, very high,” said CEO Iger on a recent earnings call.

Now Disney is finally pulling the curtains off “Rise,” opening on Thursday at Walt Disney World and on January 17 at Disneyland. The stakes are high for this expensive gamble to succeed: Attendance at Disney’s domestic theme parks was down 3% in its latest quarter. The company also recently announced the departure of Catherine Powell, the president of Disney Parks who oversaw Anaheim and Orlando.

Disney is betting it can turn things around with the power of high-tech experiences. The attraction packs dozens of audio-animatronics — and a couple of giant AT-ATs — holograms, lasers, and the most complex ride system Disney’s Imagineers had ever designed: a trackless vehicle that moves laterally, vertically, and at all times unpredictably. At its annual shareholders meeting, Disney CEO Bob Iger called the ride “the most technologically advanced and immersive attraction that we have ever imagined.”

Trowbridge, the creative mind behind Galaxy’s Edge, said he’s been working on “Rise” for more than five years. Yet, even as its opening day approaches, there’s still work to be done.

“We’re still very much in the final tweaking and tuning phase,” said Trowbridge, while sitting outside Ronto Roasters, a Star Wars-themed grill where meat wraps are charred by a podracing engine. “We’re not quite ready to open the flood gates to our guests yet.”

That was two weeks ahead of the launch, when I became the first reporter to experience the attraction. Despite the anticipation and buzz around the ride, no one outside of those who built “Rise” knew what to really expect. But my expectations were certainly met — and then some.

An “E” Ticket Attraction

(Spoilers for “Rise of the Resistance” ahead.)

Disney has been the leading force in theme park innovation ever since Walt Disney practically invented the very concept of the theme park in 1955 with Disneyland. Back then, visitors bought physical tickets for individual attractions with “E” Ticket coupons designated for the most popular rides.

Those admission booklets are long gone, but Disney enthusiasts still refer to epic, technology-pushing rides as E-Ticket attractions. After experiencing nearly 20 minutes of sometimes-intense storytelling, I can confirm “Rise” is every bit an “E” Ticket experience that’s steeped in the Star Wars saga.

The story behind the ride is complex but familiar. My fellow riders, including Trowbridge, and I were recruited to join the Resistance and sent on a mission by a holographic Rey and an animatronic BB-8. From there, we boarded the first ride vehicle, a standing-room only ship, piloted by two aliens in animatronic form — a Mon Calamari and a Sullustan, for those keeping score. As we left the planet Batuu, our ship was intercepted by the First Order, and a tractor beam pulled us on to a Star Destroyer, where a phalanx of fifty intimidating, animatronic Stormtroopers awaited our arrival.

We were then placed in a holding cell and interrogated by the sinister Kylo Ren and General Hux (presented here as projections). Suddenly, we managed to escape the clutches of the First Order — I refuse to say how; it’s a great effect — only to be chased through the ship by Kylo Ren, now in animatronic form, and an army of Stormtroopers. We piled into a First Order Fleet Transport — a seated vehicle, this time — as an astromech droid drove us through the labyrinthine ship, dodging blaster fire, skirting laser cannons, and ducking Kylo Ren’s glowing, cackling lightsaber as it (somehow) melted through the ceiling above our heads. Finally, we were jettisoned off the ship in an escape pod that acts as the ride’s climactic drop. This was exactly the thrill ride I was looking for.

Trowbridge said “Rise” was designed like it has a “three-act structure to it” — and that holds true. At times, it felt more like immersive theatre than a Disney ride — or even more, like real life. When escorted into that First Order holding cell, I immediately thought, “Wait, this isn’t cool,” as though I was actually about to be interrogated.

When people talk about Disney magic, that’s what they mean: environments and experiences created with such commitment to detail that you momentarily lose yourself in the story. The density of characters, sets, vehicles and effects — all driven by a clear narrative arc — condensed the emotions of a whole Star Wars movie into a tidy immersive experience.

The intricacy begged the question: How did Disney do it?

Five million lines of code

Pulling off a technical feat like “Rise” is unsurprisingly difficult. “An attraction like this that has scale and complexity brings challenges that have scale and complexity,” Trowbridge said. “There are things we needed to invent.”

That begins with the massive construction of “Rise,” which required the largest concrete pour in the history of Disney Parks. Once guests enter the attraction, they’ll be immersed by its enormous size, including full-size AT-AT walkers and TIE fighters, both stunning in detail. The ride vehicle that zips you around the spaceship has no track, making every movement feel unscripted. More than five million lines of code were written to choreograph the careful dance of pixels, props, robots, sound effects and simulators.

A movie-style poster for the ride

Characters come to life in different ways. Bad guys such as Kylo Ren and General Hux appear as both projections and animatronics, but it may be hard to decipher which form is which. Disney partnered with Panasonic to develop custom-made projectors and lenses that took several years of development to achieve the right level of sharpness and depth.

The 65 animatronic figures throughout the ride present a different challenge — not to mention the complexity of three high-detailed humanoids known as the A1000 series.

“A lot of energy is necessary to move these things with the speed and agility of a human being,” Trowbridge said.

Conventional motors with enough torque to accelerate an arm or a leg are large and emit a lot of heat. So Walt Disney Imagineering worked alongside a vendor to develop thin “pancake” motors capable of fitting inside the animatronic but still provide the power needed to achieve fluid, human-like movements.

“I often hear people say ‘Is it an actor?'” Trowbridge said.

Disney patented new technologies to bring elements of Star Wars to life, including this blaster prop capable of "repeatable, daylight-viewable muzzle flashes."
To translate essential Star Wars’ elements like laser blasts from the screen to the physical world, the Imagineering team developed proprietary effects, including an apparatus for generating an illusion of a moving beam of light in in the air.

“This idea that laser bolts fly through space … that’s not how lasers work on earth,” said Trowbridge. “So figuring out a way to make laser blasts travel more slowly through space — like a ‘slug’ of laser — took some new technology.”

Do or do not. There is no try

Although “Rise” is a technical masterpiece, unmatched in many ways from any other ride on the planet, Trowbridge hopes visitors won’t notice any of the technology.

“We don’t want our guests thinking ‘How does this work?’ or ‘What’s really happening?’ We just want you to feel like ‘I’m in Star Wars. I’m having a Star Wars experience.'”

Will this be enough to get fans back to the parks? On a recent earnings call, CEO Iger admitted “some people stayed away [from Galaxy’s Edge] just because they expected that it would not be a great guest experience.” He was referencing fears of overcrowding around the land’s initial launch, but some fans were likely, and understandably, holding off for “Rise.”

And I can’t say I blame them: now you can fly the Millennium Falcon and escape from Kylo Ren. It was worth the wait.



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Breaking New

Chicago campus on edge after teen student found fatally strangled in parking garage



Police have detained a person of interest, they say.

After Ruth George’s family reported to police Saturday morning that the sophomore had not been heard from since the night before, authorities tracked her phone to a parking garage near the school’s library, quad and engineering facilities, UIC Police Chief Kevin Booker said in a statement.

“Our investigation has determined that Ms. George was alone when she entered the Halsted Street Parking Garage on Nov. 23 at approximately 1:35 a.m. A person of interest entered the garage shortly after Ms. George,” Booker’s statement said.

The person of interest has no ties to the university, the chief said.

Police say they believe foul play was involved, but they’ve neither named the person of interest nor announced what, if any, charges she or he will face.

George’s cause of death was strangulation, the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office said.

“The traumatic loss of life of one of our community members is very difficult to comprehend and surely invokes a range of emotions for all of us,” university Chancellor Michael Amiridis said. “I hope that this tragic event brings our community together to watch over and care for each other in the days and weeks ahead.”

University police are working with local, state and federal partners in their investigation, Booker said. Anyone with information about the killing should contact authorities.

Students told CNN affiliate WBBM-TV that the incident has left them frightened.

“Now everybody is worrying about their safety and stuff like that,” junior Karan Patel told the station.

“There are students that are still scared about it, of going outside,” senior Parind Petiwale said.

Because final exams begin December 9, a lot of students are staying late studying at the library, and many students park in the deck where George was found because it’s nearby, senior Danielle Perkins told CNN affiliate WLS.

“Could have been any of the students,” she told the station. “Could have been my friends. Could have been me, and that’s the scariest part.”

The school chancellor described George as “a member of our Honors College and a talented kinesiology student with dreams and aspirations to become a health professional and help others.”

George graduated last year from Naperville Central High School in the Chicago suburbs, about 30 miles west of the university.

Located on the city’s Near West Side, the university boasts Chicago’s largest student body with more than 30,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

CNN’s Amanda Watts contributed to this report.



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Breaking New

Asian markets edge up on trade deal optimism — Asian market latest



Japan’s Nikkei 225 (N225) rose 0.4%. South Korea’s Kosp index (KOSPI) edged up 0.2%. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index (HSI) also gained 0.3%. China’s Shanghai Composite Index (SHCOMP) was the outlier, losing 0.5%.

“Asian equities caught a dose of the trade flu at the start of the week and appear to be recovering today,” Jeffrey Halley, senior market analyst for Asia Pacific at Oanda, wrote in a note.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that China’s top trade negotiator Liu He had invited his US counterparts to Beijing for a new round of face-to-face talks, which Chinese officials hope can take place before next week’s Thanksgiving holiday.
Major indexes in Asia tumbled earlier in the week, as investors reacted to multiple media reports that the United States and China may not be able to reach a “phase one” deal until next year. President Donald Trump also told reporters on Wednesday that he is not ready to make a deal with China because he didn’t think China was “stepping up to the level” that he wanted.
But investor optimism appears to have returned slightly after China’s commerce ministry spokesman Gao Feng said on Thursday afternoon that China is willing to work with the United States to tackle the main concerns of both sides to try to reach a deal.

But analysts say an agreement before 2020 is not a given.

“The likelihood of having a deal signed by year-end still looks very uncertain with the slew of mixed news we have had so far,” said Jingyi Pan, market strategist at the IG Group.



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Breaking New

Living on the edge in the homeless encampments of Los Angeles


LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – After years on the street, Kimberly Decoursey spends her nights at a Los Angeles temporary housing site called the Hollywood Studio Club. But by day, she can still be found at a highway off-ramp with her homeless fiance and a less rule-bound street community.

Christina Bojorquez (L), 26, and Everett Gutierrez, 31, who are homeless, pet dog Ordo outside their tent in Los Angeles, California, October 14, 2019. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

Decoursey, 37, who grew up in foster homes, considers the friends who have shared her struggles on the streets of Los Angeles to be her family. She wants them to enjoy what she has now: a bed, regular meals and a shower.

“A lot of them would give their right arm to be inside,” Decoursey said of her comrades inhabiting grimy tents pitched on dirt patches in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles.

Yet only a fraction of the estimated 36,000 homeless in Los Angeles have been housed three years after voters in November 2016 approved a ballot measure that raised $1.2 billion to build housing for street denizens and poor people.

The sheer cost of building permanent homes with social services in one of the priciest real estate markets in the United States is one of the biggest obstacles. There is also opposition from homeowner groups to building such homes in their neighborhoods.

Some homeless people have their own apprehensions about living among strangers and having to follow rules in shelters.

The first project funded by the ballot measure to provide permanent homes with on-site social services is scheduled to open only by the end of the year, officials said.    

The problem is growing. Homelessness spiked by 16 percent in January 2019 compared with the previous year, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority said.

The homeless have set up tents on sidewalks and in neglected corners of nearly every section of the nation’s second-largest city, from wealthy Bel-Air to working-class San Pedro.

Republican President Donald Trump on a visit to California in September said people living on the streets have ruined the “prestige” of Los Angeles and San Francisco and suggested the possibility of federal intervention. That same month, the Democratic-run Los Angeles government petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to ask for legal power to forcibly sweep homeless encampments off the streets.

SOFT COSTS

It costs $531,000 per unit to build permanent homes for the homeless under Proposition HHH, the $1.2 billion bond measure approved by voters three years ago, the Los Angeles Controller’s Office said in a report released in October.

High real estate prices – the median value of a home in greater Los Angeles is currently around $650,000 – were only partly to blame, Controller Ron Galperin said in a telephone interview. The biggest financial drains were “soft costs” such as architectural design fees, permitting and inspections.

“These days, to get almost anything built in Los Angeles you need a small army of lawyers and lobbyists,” Galperin said.

The city’s plan to put homeless centers across the metropolitan area sparked a backlash from some residents concerned it could depress real estate values. In the wealthy, beachside neighborhood of Venice, where the median home price approaches $2 million, some residents have gone to court to oppose a homeless center.

On-site facilities to assist the homeless – medical clinics and office space for case managers and social workers – are another cost-driver, city officials say. Those services average $7,000 per unit per year, to be borne by Los Angeles County government.

People coming off the streets have a lot of needs, homeless advocates say.

Like Decoursey, 15 percent of homeless adults were once in foster care, according to the Homeless Services Authority.

A report released this month by the California Policy Lab in Los Angeles, which crunched survey data from 64,000 single adult homeless people across the country, found half of them reported suffering from some combination of physical, mental and substance abuse conditions.

In Los Angeles County, the mortality rate among homeless people has increased for the last five years, with more than 1,000 dying in 2018 from such causes as heart disease and overdosing on drugs, according to the county Department of Public Health.

While shelters have traditionally forbidden drug and alcohol use, officials have begun dropping sobriety requirements for supportive housing, under a model called “housing first” that has been used in Canada and other parts of the United States.

Los Angeles had already built some permanent housing units with support services even before the infusion of $1.2 billion from Proposition HHH. They fill up quickly and generate long waiting lists, city officials said.

NO PETS ALLOWED

Kenny Miles Bard, 61, who was living in his sedan parked on a hilly street in Hollywood, said he did not like the rules or his companions at a shelter he once tried.

“Out here you’re more in control of your own destiny, so to speak, and if there are people you don’t want to be around, you don’t have to be around them,” he said. “You go somewhere else.”

Such reluctance to stay at a shelter is shared by a portion of the homeless population, said Benjamin Henwood, an associate professor of social work at the University of Southern California.

“If the choice is to go into a shelter, they might say ‘no thank you’ because a shelter can be a place where you can get robbed or assaulted or woken up at certain times or have to go to bed at certain times,” he said. “If you actually offer them a private space of their own, the majority of people will take you up on that offer.”

One in seven homeless people in Los Angeles, however, has a pet and may be reluctant to part with it, Henwood said.

Slideshow (13 Images)

One non-profit in Los Angeles, People Assisting the Homeless, is making the shelters it operates more welcoming by allowing pets for emotional support and stepping up security so residents’ possessions are not stolen, said its associate director, Jesus Torres.

At the Hollywood tent encampment, Decoursey, who said she previously battled a cocaine addiction and has been homeless on and off for much of her adult life, mentioned a “street dad” and other transients she considers brothers, sisters, nephews and cousins.

“The circumstances out here are dangerous,” Decoursey said as she scanned her longtime encampment. “The sooner we all can be housed, the better.”

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Dan Grebler



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