Starbucks to close down all Teavana locations

The Starbucks-owned Teavana brand is closing down all its storefronts, in what is the latest blow to struggling American malls.

Starbucks announced on Thursday that all 379 Teavana stores — which are primarily based in malls across the country — have been “underperforming.” The move will impact 3,300 workers.

“The company concluded that despite efforts to reverse the trend through creative merchandising and new store designs, the underperformance was likely to continue,” Starbucks said in a press release.

Most locations will shut down by Spring 2018, Starbucks said, and people employed at Teavana locations will be invited to apply for jobs at Starbucks locations in order to preserve their jobs.

The coffee giant first announced plans to purchase the struggling tea retailer Teavana in 2012 for $620 million.

Teavana’s announcement is the latest in a wave of store closings inside American malls. Retailers from JCPenney to GameStop have announced plans to shut down brick-and-mortar locations as they struggle to keep pace with e-commerce sites. There were 5,300 store closing announcements in the first six months of the year, triple the number during the same period last year, according to an analysis by Fung Global Retail & Technology.

Between 20% and 25% of American malls will close within five years, Credit Suisse said in a report released last month.

Despite the Teavana closures, Starbucks again said it’s expanding rapidly, with plans to add 240,000 jobs globally over the next five years. However, most of that growth is taking place overseas, particularly in China.

Starbucks said earlier on Thursday that it plans to make another major investment in China.

Currently, Starbucks shops are popping up at a rate of one-per-day.

US health care debate: What you need to know

The political turmoil surrounding U.S. health care policy has reached fever pitch in Washington.

Republicans have been working for seven years to topple Obamacare, and on Thursday, those efforts were dealt a devastating blow after a failed late-night Senate vote.

But why is Obamacare so controversial and health care such a hot-button issue in the United States?

Here’s what you need to know to get caught up.

What is Obamacare and why do Republicans want to overturn it?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare or the ACA, became law under former President Barack Obama in 2010.

It was a massive health care overhaul that made it illegal for private health insurers to deny coverage because of pre-existing conditions. It also expanded Medicaid coverage to adults on low incomes who couldn’t afford to buy health insurance.

It also mandated that all Americans have health insurance — known as the “individual mandate” — or pay a penalty — something the Obama administration believed necessary to make the economics work: young, healthy people needed to pay into the system to offset the costs of the sick and the elderly.

Republicans say the legislation places too many burdens on businesses and hinders job creation. They believed legally requiring Americans to pay for a service they may not want was a gross infringement on individual liberties.

They tried to knock down Obama’s legislation several times but he was able to block their efforts while still in office.

President Donald Trump campaigned on a pledge to repeal and replace “the disaster that is Obamacare” — and Republicans have been doing their best to do this since he took office — but with little progress.

What do Republicans want to replace it with?

Republicans in the U.S. Senate have largely failed at trying to pass a comprehensive plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

In the early hours of Thursday, the Senate voted on a slimmed down plan that would have repealed parts of the Act — known as a “skinny repeal.”

It would have eliminated the “individual mandate” and it would have removed the mandate that requires employers provide affordable coverage for eight years.

But it wouldn’t have touched Medicaid or changed federal subsidies that help low and moderate income Americans pay insurance premiums.

Why is there so much drama?

Thursday night’s dramatic turn of events was the culmination of months of painful negotiations.

It marked a long-awaited opportunity for a legislative victory for Trump that would have fulfilled a seven-year Republican promise to overhaul the Affordable Care Act.

Hours before the failed vote Trump tweeted: “Go Republican Senators, Go! Get there after waiting for 7 years. Give America great healthcare!”

But the last-ditch, late-night efforts — details of the legislation were only revealed just before 10 p.m. on Thursday — unsettled some Republicans. Others indicated they didn’t want the slimmed down bill to become their legacy.

Sen. John McCain, who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, didn’t disclose his vote until the end and was lobbied by Vice President Mike Pence and others on the floor as it became clear he would oppose the plan. Trump also spoke to him in a final, unsuccessful effort to get him to vote yes

The vote ultimately failed 49-51, with Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski the other two Republican no votes.

Heightening the sense of drama, lawmakers had been preparing for a potential vote-a-rama — an exhausting Senate process which allows any senator to introduce any amendment they want, although the no vote removes that prospect from the table.

How does US health care stack up with the rest of the world?

Many outside the U.S. find the health care saga bewildering. In the UK, health care has been free and universal since 1948, when the country’s National Health Service was established, funded via compulsory contributions and taxes.

The U.S. system is the most expensive in the world, with 17.1% of GDP spent on healthcare in 2014 — a far greater slice than other developed economies.

However, U.S. life expectancy is lower than the UK and Germany, the U.S. has fewer primary care doctors per 1,000 people than Germany, France and the UK and nor do U.S. residents see a doctor any more often than their global counterparts.

But all systems have their pros and cons and nowhere is there a perfect solution.

What does it mean for ordinary Americans?

For now, Obamacare remains intact.

The skinny repeal bill, if it had become law, would have likely raised insurance premiums by 20% next year, and left 15 million more people uninsured, according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office, an official body which estimates the cost of proposed legislation.

Kansas police seek help catching rapist

Police in Kansas are asking for the public’s help in catching a rapist who has assaulted female students from the state’s two biggest universities since 2000.

Twelve rapes and one attempted rape occurred between 2000 and 2008 inside residences off the campuses of Kansas State University in Manhattan and the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Brad Schoen, director of the Riley County Police Department, said Thursday at a news conference.

Police put out a warning about a suspect in the series of rapes in 2009, but no arrests were made. There were no other reports of cases fitting the profile of the assailant until July 2015, when a man entered a KSU student’s residence in Manhattan intending to sexually assault her, Schoen said.

“A lengthy investigation into the incident has led us to conclude there is a high probability that the assailant is the same assailant from the previous cases,” Schoen said.

Students have been on edge.

“It’s scary knowing that at any moment any person is capable of doing that and they’re on the loose,” student Walla Ahmad told CNN affiliate KMBC in Lawrence. “I can’t imagine what it’s like to be put in that position and what a person has to go through.”

Police asking victims to come forward

He asked anybody who had been assaulted and not reported it, or who had seen something out of the ordinary, to contact police.

The descriptions of the assailant are not detailed and investigators have not released a sketch. The victims who could describe their assailant said he was white, wore a mask, had a belly and threatened them with a handgun, he said. He was described as being between 5-foot-9 to 6 feet tall.

“In 2015, he was described as a white male, approximately 5-foot-10, and heavier set, most noticeably around the stomach and thighs,” authorities said in a news release. “The prominent stomach was a frequently mentioned characteristic from previous cases. As for age, we believe the assailant was at least 33 years old at the time of the 2015 incident based upon the date of the earliest case.”

Schoen described the many similarities in the attacks.

Almost all occurred between 2 a.m. and 4:30 a.m., while the victims slept, and all but one occurred during breaks in the academic calendar at the schools, which are about 85 miles apart.

All those attacked were students

All the victims were students. Nine cases occurred in Manhattan, five in Lawrence. The residences ranged from apartments to houses and were all located off the campuses. In Manhattan, three cases occurred in the same block of College Avenue and three occurred in the same block of Watson Place.

In the two attempted rapes, a second person was inside the residence, Schoen said.

In some cases, it was unclear how the rapist gained entry to the residences, Schoen said. “Many of the victims reported having locked their door(s), yet there were no signs of forced entry. There were also indications that victims were surveilled by the assailant prior to the incident,” Schoen said.

Police said students should be alert.

“These were all very violent acts carried out by an assailant who did so in a cold, calm, calculated manner,” Schoen said.

Police: 2015 case led to review

When asked why it took police so long to announce the connection between the 2015 case and the previous cases, Riley County police spokeswoman Hali Rowland said, “In some ways, the 2015 (case) had significant similarities to the other cases and in some ways it was dissimilar.

“The 2015 case also (had) a number of investigative leads to follow up on. There was an internal review and discussion of the case and coordination with the Lawrence Police Department.

“The privacy of the survivors was also taken into account and there was a lot of work going on behind the scenes, and while that work is still underway it has progressed to a point where we are now in a position to bring the 2015 case to the public’s attention.”

Police have created a website with information about the investigation.

Man allegedly kills wife on Alaska cruise

A Utah man allegedly killed his wife while on a cruise ship in Alaska, and told a witness he did it because she wouldn’t stop laughing at him, the FBI said.

Kenneth Ray Manzanares, 39, was charged Thursday in the killing of his wife while aboard the Emerald Princess cruise ship. The wife was identified only as K.M. in a criminal complaint.

Security and medical personnel responded to an incident Tuesday in the couple’s cabin, according to the criminal complaint.

When they arrived, they found the wife with a severe head wound and the husband’s hands covered in blood, the complaint states.

A witness saw Manzanares drag his wife’s body toward the balcony of the ship, then bring her back into their cabin shortly after, according to the FBI.

“She would not stop laughing at me,” Manzanares told the witness when asked what happened to his wife, according to the FBI. It did not identify the witness.

While investigators searched him, Manzanares said “my life is over,” according to the FBI.

Manzanares is being detained without bail. His hearing is set for August 10.

CNN has reached out to his court-appointed public defender, but has not heard back.

Princess Cruises, which operates Emerald Princess, said the death was a result of a “domestic dispute” aboard the ship about 9 p.m. Tuesday.

It said its security team is coordinating with the FBI, Coast Guard and other local authorities in the investigation. The FBI, which has conducted about 200 interviews on the case, is investigating because the death occurred in US waters.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family and all those impacted by this tragic event,” Princess Cruises said in a statement.

The seven-day roundtrip cruise left Seattle on Sunday, according to the cruise line. Its scheduled Wednesday trip through the scenic Tracy Arm Fjord was canceled, and the ship sailed directly to Juneau.

The Emerald Princess later departed for Skagway in southeast Alaska, and is continuing with its scheduled cruise.

Did You Hear the One about the Senator Raising Concerns about Indian Health?

Guest Commentary Published July 28, 2017 Mark Trahant / Trahant Reports The Senate is now going through 20 hours of debate on a House Resolution 1628 to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. But the House bill was stripped of every word except the title. Now the idea is to come up with the right […]

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National Native Youth Leadership Conference Breaks Attendance Record

Published July 28, 2017 MESA, ARIZONA – Traveling from tribal and urban communities across the nation, and from far away as the Hawaiian Islands, Alaskan Native villages and the island of Taiwan Republic of China, more than 2,000 registered attendees converged in Denver, Colorado for the United National Indian Tribal Youth’s (UNITY) annual national conference. The […]

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Democratic Senators Offer Amendment to Protect Health Care for Indian Country

Published July 28, 2017 Measure would block devastating cuts to Indian health care from Republican effort to slash Medicaid, rip health care away from Native families and children WASHINGTON — On Thursday, U.S. Senators Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) announced that they offered an amendment to […]

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