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(CNN) - A member of the 15-man team suspected in the death of Jamal Khashoggi dressed up in his clothes and was captured on surveillance cameras around Istanbul on the day the journalist was killed, a senior Turkish official has told CNN.
CNN has obtained exclusive law enforcement surveillance footage, part of the Turkish government's investigation, that appears to show the man leaving the Saudi consulate by the back door, wearing Khashoggi's clothes, a fake beard, and glasses.
The same man was seen in Khashoggi's clothing, according to the Turkish case, at the city's world-famous Blue Mosque just hours after the journalist was last seen alive entering the consulate on October 2.
The man in the video, identified by the official as Mustafa al-Madani, was allegedly part of what investigators have said was a hit squad, sent to kill the journalist during a scheduled appointment to get papers for his upcoming wedding.
Saudi Arabia has presented a shifting narrative of what happened to Khashoggi. After weeks of denying involvement in Khashoggi's disappearance, Saudi Arabia said that he was killed in the Istanbul consulate, saying his death was the result of a "fistfight." A Saudi source close to the royal palace later told CNN that the Washington Post journalist died in a chokehold. On Sunday, its foreign minister, Adel al-Jubeir, went further, describing Khashoggi's death on Fox News as a "murder" and a "tremendous mistake." He also said they "don't know where the body is."
"We are determined to uncover every stone. We are determined to find out all the facts. And we are determined to punish those who are responsible for this murder," he said in the interview.
In the apparent cover-up that followed Khashoggi's death, Madani, 57, who is of similar height, age and build to Khashoggi, 59, was used as a decoy for the journalist, according to the Turkish official.
A senior Turkish official told CNN that the video showed that Madani was brought to Istanbul to act as a body double.
"You don't need a body double for a rendition or an interrogation," the official said. "Our assessment has not changed since October 6. This was a premeditated murder and the body was moved out of the consulate."
A Saudi source would not confirm or deny that Madani was sent to act as a body double, though he emphasized that the killing of Khashoggi was not intentional.
Madani, a decade older than the other members of the 15-man team, exited the consulate building by the back door along with an alleged accomplice. Madani was wearing what the video appears to show to be Khashoggi's dark blazer, gray shirt opened at the collar and trousers.
Four hours earlier Madani had entered the consulate by the front door, alongside an alleged accomplice. Saudi's forensic medicine chief Salah al-Tubaiqi, another key suspect who was identified using facial recognition analysis together with CNN's timeline of events that day, was also present. The video appears to show Madani without a beard, wearing a blue and white checked shirt and dark blue trousers. When he exited the consulate dressed as Khashoggi, the video then appears to show him wearing the same dark pair of sneakers with white soles that he first arrived in prior to the journalist's death.
"Khashoggi's clothes were probably still warm when Madani put them on," the senior Turkish official told CNN.
The journalist's fiancee Hatice Cengiz, who was waiting outside the consulate's front entrance and raised the alarm when he didn't return, was told by a consulate guard that he may have exited the building through the back door, Khashoggi's friend Turan Kislakci told CNN.
This surveillance footage is another piece of evidence in the mysterious case of what happened to Khashoggi after he entered the consulate almost three weeks ago. It forms part of the wider investigation by Turkish officials into the events of that day and the continued interrogation and international questioning of Saudi Arabia's version of how the journalist died.
Turkish officials have been leaking a steady drip feed of details from the investigation to journalists but they have yet to release a key audio recording which sources say exists from inside the Saudi consulate. Turkey has not publicly admitted the existence of the audio.
Below are Madani and his accomplice's movements and actions, according to the video footage obtained by CNN and a senior Turkish official, on the day Khashoggi was killed:
(CNN) - The Duchess of Sussex's wedding dress is set to go on public display for the first time since she wore it during her May 19 wedding at Windsor Castle's St. George's Chapel.
Meghan Markle's ivory silk dress was designed by Clare Waight Keller, the British artistic director for the French fashion house Givenchy. Its bateau neckline, A-line silhouette and three-quarter-length sleeves were praised for their simplicity.
The accompanying 16.5-foot silk tulle veil was hand-embroidered with flora representing the 53 countries of the Commonwealth. The duchess complemented it with Queen Mary's diamond bandeau tiara (borrowed from Queen Elizabeth), a platinum band set with diamonds and framing a detachable brooch.
"I get a really exciting sense of simplicity and blank canvas and 'watch this space,'" Caryn Franklin, a British fashion and identity commentator, told CNN when the dress was first revealed.
"You end up really focusing on her, focusing on the integrity of the woman, not distracted by an exquisite beautiful dress that we're going to talk about for ages."
The dress will be a centerpiece of "A Royal Wedding: The Duke and Duchess of Sussex," a new exhibition hosted by the Royal Collection Trust. The show will be on view at Windsor Castle from October 26 to January 6, and will travel to the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh next June.
An identical copy of Prince Harry's frockcoat uniform of the Household Cavalry, specially commissioned from the bespoke Savile Row tailors Dege & Skinner, will also be on display. (Prince Harry will require the actual uniform he wore on the day for other occasions.) The bride's veil and tiara also will be included in the display.
Royal wedding outfits have proven a hit with visitors in the past. In 2011, more than 350,000 visitors lined up at Buckingham Palace to see the Duchess of Cambridge's wedding dress within the first six weeks it was on display.
(CNN) - A suspicious package targeting billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros was rendered safe in Bedford, New York, a law enforcement source told CNN.
Bedford police say they received a call Monday reporting a suspicious package found in a mailbox. The package appeared to be an explosive device, police said.
An employee had opened the parcel. The employee placed the package in a wooded area and called police, according to a news release.
The package did not detonate on its own, the law enforcement source said.
The case has been turned over to the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force.
A spokesman for Soros declined to comment.
(CNN) - Lewis Hamilton sits on the brink of a fifth Formula One world title, a milestone previously reached by only two other drivers in the sport's history.
With no other driver on the grid seemingly able to match the Brit's relentless excellence -- teammate Valtteri Bottas recently told CNN's The Circuit that Hamilton is the "perfect reference in F1" -- or any other manufacturer able to match Mercedes' reliability, people are beginning to ask: How many?
Can Hamilton surpass the five titles won by Juan Manuel Fangio, the legendary Argentine who tore up the track in the 1950s?
Can he match Michael Schumacher's all-time record of seven world championships, a total that, until recently, seemed untouchable?
It's a question that would have been scoffed at less than two years ago but, with Hamilton on the cusp of winning his fourth title in five seasons, is now arguably looking more likely to happen than not.
"With the trajectory he is on, I don't see why he wouldn't stay and beat that target because not many people in our lifetime are ever going to get the chance to go for it," Lawrence Barretto, senior writer for Formula1.com, tells CNN.
"Lewis (is) clearly as hungry as ever to win and I find it difficult to see how he can't be a contender for at least the next few years -- and when he's a contender it's very difficult to look beyond him as the champion.
"If he can have a shot at beating Michael Schumacher's titles, a record that -- when he got that seventh title -- I didn't think would ever get beaten and here we are, not even 15 years later, talking about it."
Hamilton already has 81 pole positions compared to Schumacher's 68 and is just 20 race wins behind the German legend's all-time record of 91.
Given that he has averaged 10 wins per season over the last five years, it certainly looks to be another attainable target.
A statement in Singapore
With Hamilton leading championship rival Sebastian Vettel by 30 points heading into September's Singapore Grand Prix, the 33-year-old was heavily criticized for his preparation in the build up.
In the days leading up to the race weekend, Hamilton clocked up a staggering 25,000 air miles, flying to Shanghai and New York for the launch of his debut fashion collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger.
Many thought the hectic schedule, lack of rest and, in particular, the jet lag would negatively impact his performance on the track but Hamilton proved the doubters wrong -- and in some style.
"I know there were questions at the start of the week as to whether these things outside of Formula One are a distraction to me," Hamilton said immediately after his victory.
"I came here, and I thought: 'Jeez, if I put one foot wrong, people are going to point to the things I do as a result of it.'
"But you can see that it doesn't affect my performance and, if anything, those things add to the performance. I get a lot of energy from these different things that I do.
"I find it stimulating and I think you'll see that my results have shown that for the past several years."
Barretto says Mercedes' strength comes from their ability to sustain title challenges even when they have the inferior car, as has been the case for much of 2018, but much of this is down to Hamilton's ability to "turn it on" when it really counts.
In Singapore, on a track where Vettel's Ferrari was expected to be strong and dominate, Hamilton put in a scintillating lap in Q3 to snatch an unexpected 79th career pole that left both his team and rivals in shock.
It was arguably one of the greatest laps of Hamilton's career and set him up for a flawless race in Sunday's grand prix.
Few drivers in history have possessed Hamilton's ability to drive to his maximum potential and eek every millisecond out of a track when it really counts, something that inspires his teammate Bottas.
"Lewis being Lewis, a quick driver, he keeps me very motivated," the Finn told CNN's The Circuit last month. "I want to be ahead of him. Me as a driver, you can always learn from another driver, it would be silly not to try.
"I can always learn more. I'm in a car that can win races and I'm next to Lewis, who is the perfect reference in F1 because if I will be able to beat him then: 'Okay, Valtteri can drive', and I know it as well.
"Being alongside Lewis with the new team around, there's a great opportunity to learn much, much more."
Fernando Alonso, a former teammate at McLaren, told reporters before the US Grand Prix that he believes Hamilton is among the five best drivers in F1 history, alongside Schumacher, Fangio, Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.
"If you see the number of championships and the records that he has, he is one of the greatest of the sport," he said. "It is difficult to compare different times and different ways to win those championships.
"Lewis probably winning five now, same as Fangio, it is a great achievement and if one had to do it in our generation, I am happy it is him.
"He showed the talent and commitment. When the car was dominating he won and when it wasn't he still put in performances to show his talent. That is difficult to see these days."
'Let Lewis be Lewis'
Singapore proved to be a defining moment of the 2018 season which, combined with a tactical error from the blundering Ferrari team, left Hamilton a further 10 points clear of his German rival.
That Hamilton is able to travel the world in the days leading up to a season-defining race weekend is a testament to the level of trust he has built with Mercedes since joining the team in 2013.
"One thing Mercedes have done really well, is they've let Lewis be Lewis and I think when Lewis is happiest in his personal life, as well as on track, both sides benefit," Barretto says.
"By Mercedes allowing him to clock up all those thousands of air miles and do his own thing, they know he will manage his time effectively so he's not tired when he gets to a circuit and it won't have a detrimental impact when he gets there.
"He came to Singapore buzzing because it obviously went really well, he'd had a great time and that buzz and momentum carries into that weekend.
"People might criticize him for it and that criticism might be acceptable if he was struggling on track but the thing is, this year, there have been no signs of that."
The Italian manufacturer's season had unraveled before their eyes.
Following a brilliant Vettel victory at the Belgian Grand Prix in the first race back after the summer break, back-to-back wins for Hamilton in Italy and Singapore swung the championship in his favor.
In what felt like the blink of an eye, this year's title race went from a tightly-contested affair into a victory march for Hamilton.
"It's groundhog day in a way," Barretto says. "This happened last year when it was looking pretty good for Ferrari and then they had that problem in the Asian swing of the season with the first-lap crash in Singapore and the problems in Japan.
"Singapore is a track that rewards drivers who take risks and Lewis, if you watch that lap, he was prepared to take a risk at every single corner. He was prepared to do it in a way no other driver was.
"Two circuits, Italy and Singapore, that Vettel really should have won and yet he's walked away without victory and Hamilton has got both. I think that's why the wheels started to come off a little bit.
"Then they went to Russia, a circuit where Mercedes are always strong, and were able to deliver again."
What makes going up against Hamilton on a weekly basis such a daunting prospect is his ability to perform at the highest level in the face of adversity.
His mental strength, or lack there of, in his early career was often thought to be one of the biggest gaps in his armor -- but he has now turned it into one of his greatest assets.
When Nico Rosberg shocked the sport by announcing his retirement just five days after clinching the title in 2016, the German cited the constant battle of fighting Hamilton as one of the reasons behind his decision.
"There have been a number of occasions this year that Vettel has made mistakes," Barretto says. "I can't think of a single mistake Hamilton has made, which is quite rare.
"If you look back over his career that hasn't always been the case. He's managed to, when the pressure is on, hold it all together.
"There have been many times this year when Vettel's led the championship and Hamilton didn't let it get to him, he just kept his head down.
"Whereas when Vettel lost the championship lead and Hamilton moved into the ascendency, Vettel started to make the mistakes."
The Hamilton and Mercedes partnership is an intimidating one and when the pair are at their dominant best, it's sometimes hard to imagine anyone else being crowned world champion come the end of the season.
If Vettel and Ferrari are to stop Hamilton's seemingly inevitable march to matching Schumacher's record, they'll have to erase the inconsistency which has blighted their previous two campaigns.
Or perhaps his biggest threat comes from within his own team, with Bottas finally ready next season to launch his own title challenge.
Whatever happens between now and the end of Hamilton's contract in 2020, nobody would deny him a place among the sport's all-time greats.
(CNN) - President Donald Trump has become increasingly irritated by the fallout from Jamal Khashoggi's death, multiple sources who have heard him voice his frustration told CNN.
In recent days, the President has complained about the negative coverage blanketing cable television and told confidantes he feels betrayed by the Saudis, who have presented shifting accounts about what happened to the journalist after he entered the Saudi consulate in Turkey three weeks ago to obtain a marriage document and never left.
The President, who spoke Sunday with Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, is privately blaming them for making him look badly. At times he has talked about how much he has done so much for the Saudis, complaining that they put him in this position.
Trump doesn't like that he and his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner have been depicted as overly cozy with the Saudis.
Saudi official claim Khashoggi died in a fistfight involving more than a dozen Saudi officials at the country's consulate in Istanbul. Advisers have told him that that explanation for Khashoggi's death does not add up. While departing the White House for a rally Monday in Texas, Trump appeared skeptical of the Saudi explanation and suggested he wouldn't accept the one month the Saudis have requested to complete their investigation into Khashoggi's death.
"I am not satisfied with what I've heard," Trump said. "That's a long time. There's no reason for that much. Be faster."
But White House aides have told the President that Khashoggi's death isn't an issue that resonates with their base and are confident it won't affect Republican's chances in the upcoming midterm elections. Trump is being advised to focus his messaging on the caravan, which officials think is a winning issue for Republicans two weeks before voters go to the polls. Trump hasn't mentioned the Saudi situation at any of his campaign rallies in the past several week.
CIA Director Gina Haspel is on the ground in Turkey Tuesday reviewing evidence in Khashoggi's murder investigation. Vice President Mike Pence, who pledged Tuesday during an interview with The Washington Post that his death "will not go without an American response," said she will brief him and Trump upon her return.
(CNN) - How do you say "frappuccino" in American Sign Language?
That's one of the many questions customers have at the latest branch of Starbucks, which opened on October 23 in Washington, DC.
While this Starbucks looks like every other outlet of the coffee chain -- mermaid logo, mugs for sale, baristas in bright green aprons -- there's one thing that makes it very special. Every single employee here is fluent in American Sign Language (ASL).
Starbucks chose a block of H Street Northeast for its inaugural ASL store because of its proximity to Gallaudet University, the world's only liberal arts university for the deaf and hard of hearing.
Even before you set foot in this Starbucks location, it's clear that something is different. Eagle-eyed pedestrians will notice that the umbrellas in front of the store have "Starbucks" printed on them in English and ASL fingerspelling.
When you walk in, you'll notice that the store, unlike every other Starbucks in the world, doesn't have ambient music.
To the right of the entrance is a bright, colorful mural by a deaf artist. There's a display of mugs exclusive to this Starbucks -- they have the brand's name sign, illustrated with green hands -- and a chalkboard displaying the ASL vocabulary word of the week. (This week's, fittingly, is "coffee.")
At the register, guests often begin to figure out what is going on. Some attempt to point at menu items, while others make use of tablets that Starbucks have provided for people to prefer to write down their orders. There is also a two-way communication tablet in case of questions such as "what kind of milk?"
"At the point of sale, people see [signing] immediately and sometimes stand there in awe," Kylie Garcia, a deaf barista, tells CNN Travel. "They're used to talking to people right away. It's a role reversal."
There are also more subtle ways that deaf space is considered. Most chairs and tables are low to aid visibility. Lights are bright, and surfaces are matte to reduce glare.
One thing that staff members here emphasize is that the store isn't about deaf versus hearing, which doesn't quite capture the community accurately. They prefer "signer" or "nonsigner."
That inclusive language brings in people who are deaf and hard of hearing; CODAs (hearing Children of Deaf Adults, which includes this author); people who are deaf and blind; and also others.
But many of the store's employees -- called "partners" in Starbucksese -- emphasize that language is just one part of what makes this shop friendly to signers.
"This is an opportunity to model what deaf-centric space looks like," says barista Joey Lewis.
Several baristas note that the deaf and hard of hearing community suffers from chronic underemployment, with qualified applicants struggling to find work simply because of language barriers. He gets emotional about how meaningful it was to be taught to make coffee in ASL and be trained for a job in his native language.
News of the store has also been exciting for members of the local deaf and hard of hearing community, especially students from MSSD, the Model Secondary School for the Deaf, a high school which is adjacent to Gallaudet.
"Kids from MSSD say that they can be baristas," Crystal Harris tells CNN. Harris grew up in a nonsigning family and was sent to a mainstream school. She didn't begin to learn sign language until she came to DC at 19 to take classes at Gallaudet. She works part-time at Starbucks while finishing her studies.
"I'm in a deaf environment now. This is a creative opportunity, but it's just the beginning."
And while Garcia is thrilled to work with other signers, she's careful to note that one store is just one store. She sees many other opportunities for Starbucks and other businesses to figure out how to include deaf and hard of hearing customers. "What about a drive-thru?" she points out.
It wasn't only members of the deaf community who were excited to see an ASL-friendly business open up in the neighborhood.
"I think this might be a good place for people to get exposure to ASL and deaf culture and interface with their neighbors in an easy way," Kirsten Schofield, a writer who lives off H Street, told CNN.
Pamela Pipes, a hearing barista who is trained as an interpreter and relocated to the DC area just to work at this Starbucks, nods in assent.
She makes a sign that looks like an open hand closing into a fist next to her neck, which roughly translates to "close up your voice." In other words, even though Pipes is capable of speaking English, she turns her voice off when she gets to work. This store is one of the few places where hearing people can experience what it might be like for a deaf person to get through an everyday experience as common as ordering coffee with a language barrier.
Part of the store's appeal to Schofield is simply access. This new Starbucks is now the closest coffee shop to her apartment. But she has also become interested in learning sign language since moving to the area and seeing so many Gallaudet students talking every day.
It's clear that she isn't the only one in the area who sees the Starbucks as a way to learn more about her deaf neighbors.
Several community groups, including the DC public library system, offer free ASL classes to locals who want to pick up basic vocabulary. Schofield took one after seeing a flyer at Union Market, a food hall near Gallaudet.
Now, she says, the ASL Starbucks has inspired her to brush up. She went online to learn how to sign "coffee" and plans to order her first drink in ASL. Slowly.
For Matthew Gilsbach, the store's manager, the signing Starbucks exemplifies the concept of a "third place" -- a space other than the home or the office where people can gather and socialize. For signers, who often have to learn to get by or manage in hearing-centric spaces, a deaf "third place" is extra special.
"I want to invite people into our world," says Garcia. "We can share a cup of coffee here."
(CNN) - Retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor revealed in a letter on Tuesday that she has been diagnosed with the "beginning stages of dementia, probably Alzheimer's disease."
"I will continue living in Phoenix, Arizona surrounded by dear friends and family," she wrote and added, "While the final chapter of my life with dementia may be trying, nothing has diminished my gratitude and deep appreciation for the countless blessings of my life."
Chief Justice John Roberts praised O'Connor in a statement Tuesday as a "towering figure" and a "role model not only for girls and women, but for all those committed to equal justice under law."
O'Connor, 88, was nominated to the bench by President Ronald Reagan as the first female Supreme Court justice of the United States in 1981. She retired from the bench in 2006, in part to care for her husband, who was ailing from Alzheimer's.
In her retirement, she became an advocate for Alzheimer's disease as well as launching iCivics, a website dedicated to encouraging young people to learn civics.
In her letter, O'Connor also announced that she will be stepping away from public life and her leadership role with iCivics in light of her physical condition.
"It is time for new leaders to make civic learning and civic engagement a reality for all," she wrote, adding, "I hope that I have inspired young people about civic engagement and helped pave the pathway for women who may have faced obstacles pursuing their careers.
The letter was released by the court's Public Information Officer. O'Connor signed it at the bottom writing "God Bless you all."
Roberts said that while he was "saddened to learn" of O'Connor's diagnosis, he "was not at all surprised that she used the occasion of sharing that fact to think of our country first."
"Although she has announced that she is withdrawing from public life, no illness or condition can take away the inspiration she provides for those who will follow the many paths she has blazed," Roberts wrote.
O'Connor inspired generations of female lawyers who admired her path-marking success in a field that had been dominated by men. Over time, on the court she was known as a moderate conservative and often the swing vote on hot-button social issues.
(CNN) - Nintendo has long been synonymous with entertainment. But now the gaming giant is getting into education.
The company announced on Tuesday it is partnering with education nonprofit Institute of Play to bring its popular Switch gaming console and DIY Labo kits to 100 classrooms across the United States. The effort aims to help kids build communication and critical thinking skills in science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM).
The Nintendo Switch, which is both a handheld and home console, sold roughly 10 million units after its launch. In January 2018, the company introduced Nintendo Labo, series of DIY projects that allows kids to build things such as an RC car, a fishing rod and a piano out of cardboard. These cardboard figures are used with Switch video games and can tech basic programming skills through its Toy-Con Garage feature.
Nintendo is bringing the products to 100 schools nationwide for kids ages 8 to 11. A pilot program has already brought kits to 11 schools in the New York City Tri-State area. The program will run through March 2019.
Interested schools can also apply to participate. The Institute of Play said it will eventually create lesson plans for any teacher who wants to introduce it in their classroom.
Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America's president and chief operating officer, told CNN Business the move aims to give back to the community and get the next generation of workers excited about new technology.
"Nintendo thinks in terms of the long-term," he said."The importance of STEM and STEAM for us is core to having great employees in the future."
Arana Shapiro, co-executive director of the Institute of Play, said the response so far has been strong.
"Kids are very excited by it. There's immediate buy-in from them," she said. "Teachers were skeptical at the beginning, but they've gotten excited across the board by the end. The tipping point for them is the Toy-Con Garage part and being able to see kids tweak [the product] and make it their own."
Nintendo's move into the classroom comes at a time when "screen time" is under scrutiny. Studies have shown kids and teens who are addicted to their smartphones tend to be less attentive, get less sleep and are more at risk of depression and suicide.
Although the Labo kit gets students to build things and use their imagination, a screen is still central to the process. But Fils-Aime says Labo kits provide more than just entertainment to pass the time.
"It inspires people, particularly kids to make creations and figure out how they work," he said. "The do-it-yourself, tactile nature really is what drives the experience. Because of the hands-on nature we feel it provides a really compelling experience for kids."
Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush, said the Switch device is less controversial than other devices such as Xbox or PlayStation because most of the content is E-rated and not sensitive for kids.
"You don't feel as bad about your kids spending time using it," he said.
He believes Labo is an attempt to ride the success of Nintendo's Wii, which blended gaming with interaction in the real world, by launching a new product.
Shapiro from the Institute of Play said the value of the kit is in how kids are encouraged to problem solve and think critically in a fun way.
"We are always on the lookout for new tools and technologies that combine the best of learning with the spirit of play," she said. "With Nintendo Labo, we found an inspiring and innovative approach in both areas."
(CNN) - Officials are urging residents of Texas' capital city to cut water consumption by at least 15% so water treatment plants can catch up with demand as historic flooding continues to muck up lakes that supply the region's tap water.
"Immediate action is needed to avoid running out of water," Austin leaders said Monday in a statement. "Emergency conservation now required."
A boil-water advisory remains in effect Tuesday, as the city works to filter "much higher levels of debris, silt, and mud" from the Highland Lakes.
Reservoir water in Texas' fourth-biggest city already was reaching "minimal levels" on Monday, according to the statement. Residents were using 120 million gallons of water per day, or about 15 million gallons more than water treatment plants can produce daily, it said.
"There is an urgent need to reduce water demand to allow treatment plant operations to stabilize," city leaders stated.
Outdoor water use has been prohibited, officials said, and violators may be reported to the city's 311 hotline.
'We want to do our part'
Businesses, especially restaurants, coffee shops and bars, have been hit hard by the boil-water advisory.
Preparing food and keeping facilities -- and employees' hands -- clean is tedious work, said Corona Coffee Company owner Naiman Rigby, who plans to close early to help save water.
"We want to do our part," he told CNN.
Rigby also has been giving bottled water to postal workers and teachers who come in, he said.
University of Texas-Austin student Benjamin Cohen said campus water fountains have been covered with trash bags. He and his roommates are using bottled water, as well as boiling and refrigerating tap water. They've also turned off their ice maker and aren't doing laundry or running the dishwasher.
"We don't want to use excess water," he said, "and also want to make sure the water we use is safe."
Nearby San Antonio also is stepping in to help, sending a 5,000-gallon tanker full of clean water to help Austin residents, officials there said.
More rain forecast
It all comes as the Austin area is set for more rain.
The rain could aggravate already saturated grounds and swollen rivers but is not expected to produce widespread flooding.
(CNN) - We already know Mexico will take a brutal hit from Hurricane Willa. But in the United States, the same monstrous storm could spawn widespread misery, including flooding and even this year's first nor'easter.
Here are three ways Hurricane Willa could wreak havoc from Texas to New England:
Texas will get deluged (again)
The Lone Star State can't take much more rain. But on Wednesday, Willa is forecast to dump up to 4 inches in parts of Texas.
Much of central and eastern Texas has already been soaked this past month, CNN meteorologist Monica Garrett said.
"If rain falls heavy enough, flash flooding could become an issue," Garrett said.
The Southeast will get hit next
Willa will continue its rain-soaked march to the Southeast, where it's expected to drop 1 to 2 inches of rain.
Areas around the Gulf Coast will get drenched the most, Garrett said.
Then we might see a nor'easter
In Willa's dramatic finale, remnants of the former Category 5 hurricane will move into the Atlantic Ocean and get a startling makeover this weekend.
"The storm will encounter colder air, which will transform from a tropical area of low pressure to a more wintertime-like storm system," CNN meteorologist Brandon Miller said.
"If the low pressure tracks up the East Coast of the US, it could become the season's first nor'easter. This would bring significant amounts of rain and wind Saturday and Sunday in cities like Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City and Boston."
The good news: Major cities in the Northeast will probably avoid snow. But inland and mountainous parts of the region might not be so lucky.
"Exact impacts will depend on the particular track the storm takes up the East Coast, and some models take the system farther out to sea, which would minimize the wind and snow/rain amounts," Miller said.
"Either way, it appears that Hurricane Willa will have a second life over the United States, though the impacts will be much different than those it is bringing to the Pacific Coast of Mexico."
(CNN) - A 5-year-old boy's dream of becoming a Ghostbuster and fighting off ghouls became a reality Monday.
London Green spent the day saving the city of Sacramento from spooks thanks to Make-A-Wish Northeastern California and Northern Nevada.
Born with a congenital heart defect, London has undergone four open heart surgeries. His love of the "Ghostbusters" movies, especially the original, have kept him going, CNN affiliate KCRA reported.
"Last year was pretty rough. My wife and my son spent 121 days in the hospital last year, and then January 1 they got out of the hospital," London's father, Stuart Green, told KCRA. "So this year has just been amazing."
On Monday, London donned full Ghostbusters gear -- including a proton pack -- and joined the Sacramento Ghostbusters, a charity cosplay group, for a day of capturing ghouls.
He investigated ghost activity at the California State Railroad Museum and Eagle Theatre and snapped up supernatural creatures at Waterfront Park. London even rode around in style in a Ghostbusters mobile as the group made its way to each location.
At the end of the journey, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinburg gave London a key to the city.
"It's just amazing seeing people come together and do something for someone that they don't even know," Green told CNN affiliate KCRA.
(CNN) - Mexico is bracing for what's expected to be one of the strongest storms to hit its Pacific coast.
Hurricane Willa is aiming for the west-central coast Tuesday afternoon or evening. On Tuesday morning, the storm boasted maximum sustained winds of 125 mph and threatened to bring life-threatening storm surge and torrents of rain ashore, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Willa weakened slightly to a Category 3 hurricane Tuesday and was expected to do so gradually until landfall.
The storm swirled Tuesday morning about 35 miles west-southwest of Islas Maria, an archipelago of four Mexican islands. The largest of the islands, Isla Maria Madre, is home to about 1,200 residents and a federal prison. It will likely be hit first and hardest.
After landfall, Willa is expected to weaken dramatically, becoming a rainmaker by the time it crosses the US-Mexico border Wednesday.
Forming Saturday, Willa went from a tropical storm to a Category 5 hurricane in two days in what the hurricane center called "explosive" strengthening. In one 24-hour period, its winds spiked by 80 mph.
The growth was only slightly hampered by Monday's slowdown.
"While gradual weakening is forecast (Tuesday), Willa is expected to be a dangerous major hurricane when it reaches the coast of Mexico," the hurricane center said.
Storm surge accompanied by "large and destructive waves" are forecast along portions of Mexico's central and southwestern coast. Rainfall ranging from 6 to 12 inches could spawn life-threatening landslides and flash flooding in portions of the Mexican states of Jalisco, Nayarit and Sinaloa.
Willa has been a danger for forecasters as well. An aircraft with the Air Force Reserve's Hurricane Hunters was forced to turn around Monday over concerns for its onboard equipment after a lightning bolt from one of Willa's outer rain bands blasted it, according to the National Hurricane Center.
In a tweet Monday, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto said he has asked the National System of Civil Protection to take all steps necessary to protect those in the hurricane's path as well as those affected by Tropical Storm Vicente, a weaker system tracking south of Willa that's also primed to make landfall Tuesday. Vicente likely will be a tropical depression by the time it comes ashore, the hurricane center said.
Airlines have started moving out of Willa's path. Southwest Airlines has canceled all flights at the international airport in Puerto Vallarta, a resort city in Jalisco state. American Airlines has canceled its flights in Mazatlán, about 275 miles to the north.
Willa's landfall will come three years to the day after the strongest hurricane to hit the Pacific coast, Patricia, a Category 5 storm, made landfall in Jalisco.
The back-to-back systems of Willa and Vicente have helped make the 2018 hurricane season in the northeast Pacific one for the record books.
The season is now the most active hurricane season on record using a measurement called accumulated cyclone energy, which combines the number of storms and their intensity through their lifetimes to give an overall measurement of tropical activity in a given region.
There have been 10 major hurricanes this year, including Willa, tying 1992 as the most major hurricanes in the northeast Pacific in one year.
Increasing numbers of major hurricanes, along with a greater propensity of storms to undergo "rapid intensification" are expected consequences of warmer ocean waters resulting from climate change. The ocean waters off Mexico's western coast are running 1 to 2 degrees Fahrenheit above average for late October.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The number of U.S. drug overdose deaths has begun to level off after years of relentless increases driven by the opioid epidemic, health secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday, cautioning it's too soon to declare victory.
"We are so far from the end of the epidemic, but we are perhaps, at the end of the beginning," Azar said in prepared remarks for a health care event sponsored by the Milken Institute think tank.
Confronting the opioid epidemic has been the rare issue uniting Republicans and Democrats in a politically divided nation. A bill providing major funding for treatment was passed under former President Barack Obama, and two more have followed under President Donald Trump.
More than 70,000 people died of drug overdoses last year, according to preliminary numbers released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this summer- a 10 percent increase from 2016.
Azar said in his speech that toward the end of last year and through the beginning of this year, the number of deaths "has begun to plateau." Azar was not suggesting that deaths are going down, but noting that they appear to be rising at a slower rate than previously seen.
Earlier this month, the CDC released figures - also preliminary - that appear to show a slowdown in overdose deaths in late 2017 and the first three months of this year. From December to March, those figures show that the pace of the increase over the previous 12 months has slowed from 10 percent to 3 percent, according to the preliminary CDC figures.
Despite the slowdown, the nation is still in the midst of the deadliest drug overdose epidemic in its history. Opioids were involved in most of the deaths, killing nearly 48,000 people last year.
While prescription opioid and heroin deaths appear to be leveling off, deaths involving fentanyl, cocaine and methamphetamines are on the rise. Fentanyl is a synthetic opioid much more powerful than heroin, and it's used as an additive in street drugs.
In an interview with The Associated Press this summer, a CDC expert said the overdose death numbers appear to be shifting for the better, but it's too soon to draw firm conclusions.
Month-to-month data show a leveling off in the number of deaths, said Bob Anderson, a senior statistician with the National Center for Health Statistics. However, those numbers are considered preliminary, since death investigations have not been completed in all cases.
"It appears at this point that we may have reached a peak and we may start to see a decline," said Anderson. "This reminds me of what we saw with HIV in the '90s."
Final numbers for 2018 won't be available until the end of next year and things could also get worse, not better.
Johnson reported from Seattle.
ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Lately threats of Facebook hacks have been rampant. And then there are those emails you get that may be a scam. How do you determine a legitimate threat from a hoax? Michael Hawkins and Max Harris are cybersecurity experts who tell you what's real in this interview on 69 News at Sunrise with WFMZ's Jaciel Cordoba.
(CNN) - The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Monday that there are 155 patients under investigation this year for acute flaccid myelitis, a condition that that can cause paralysis and mostly affects children.
Of these, 62 have been confirmed by the CDC in 22 states, and the remainder continue to be investigated.
Acute flaccid myelitis, also called AFM, is a rare but serious condition that affects the nervous system -- specifically, the area of the spinal cord called gray matter. It affects fewer than one in a million people each year across the country, the CDC estimates.
The number of patients under investigation is up from 127 patients a week ago, though no new confirmed cases have been reported.
The average age of patients confirmed to have the condition is just 4 years old, and more than 90% of cases overall occur in children 18 and younger, according to Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the agency's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.
"CDC has been actively investigating AFM, testing specimens and monitoring disease since 2014, when we first saw an increase in cases," Messonnier told reporters last week. "Most AFM cases occur in the late summer and fall," but no geographic clustering has been found and there is no other "unifying factor to explain the peaks," which seem to occur every other year, she added.
The CDC received information on 33 confirmed cases of AFM in 2017, 149 cases in 2016, 22 cases in 2015, and 120 cases in the latter part of 2014.
"There is a lot we don't know about AFM," including the cause in a majority of cases, Messonnier said. While potential causes may include certain viruses, environmental toxins and genetic disorders, the CDC says, "AFM can be difficult to diagnose because it shares many of the same symptoms as other neurologic diseases."
It is also unclear who could be at higher risk of developing AFM, Messonnier said. The CDC does not fully understand long-term consequences or why some patients recover quickly while others continue to experience paralysis and weakness.
The CDC urges parents to be aware of this illness and to seek medical care right away if family members develop sudden weakness or loss of muscle tone in the arms or legs.
"This is a mystery so far, and we haven't solved it yet, so we have to be thinking broadly," Messonnier said.
"What makes it worse is not knowing what caused it," said Erica Palacios, whose 2-year-old daughter, Abigail, began showing signs of AFM last month.
"It was one of the most horrific experiences of my life," said Palacios, of Columbus, Georgia.
All four of her children had come down with a cold at the same time, but young Abigail's condition continued to worsen despite her mother's best efforts to keep her kids healthy.
After a few days, she noticed that Abigail's arm had gone limp and rushed her daughter to the hospital, where doctors initially drew blanks, she said, adding that at one point Abigail couldn't move below the neck.
"They ran every test known to mankind," Palacios said.
Doctors transferred Abigail to Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, where she required breathing and feeding tubes in the ICU. She was later transferred to the healthcare system's Inpatient Rehabilitation Program at Scottish Rite hospital, where she regained some movement in one arm, and can now hold her head up and walk with assistance.
"At this point, she is making almost daily gains," said one of Abigail's doctors, pediatric rehabilitation physician Dr. Laura Jones.
Still, the 2-year-old will be returning home in a wheelchair. Palacios said her daughter wants to get up and play, but gets frustrated and doesn't understand why she can't.
"We don't know a lot about the long-term prognosis of AFM right now. That's something that we're still really learning about," Jones said. "We know that some kids have great recovery and recover really quickly, and other kids continue to have a lot of weakness going forward, but we haven't determined what factors decide which kids fall into which category yet."
Palacios says she wants answers to what causes AFM, and how to prevent and treat it -- for Abigail, and for other families who have been affected by it.
"She was at that age where was just learning how to be independent, and now she's dependent again," Palacios said.
"No parent should ever have to experience that."
(CNN) - In a sharp turn of events, a San Francisco judge slashed a dying cancer patient's $250 million punitive award from Monsanto down to $39 million.
Former school groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson was the first of thousands of plaintiffs to take Monsanto to trial, claiming its popular weedkiller Roundup caused non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
Jurors sided with Johnson and awarded him $250 million in punitive damages (to punish Monsanto) and about $39 million in compensatory damages (for Johnson's lost income, pain and suffering).
The jury's verdict came in August. But on October 10, the tide appeared to turn in Monsanto's favor.
That's when Superior Court Judge Suzanne Bolanos issued a tentative ruling granting Monsanto's request for a JNOV -- a judgment notwithstanding verdict. That's basically when a judge in a civil case overrules the jury's decision.
Bolanos said the plaintiff "presented no clear and convincing evidence of malice or oppression to support an award of punitive damages." In other words, Johnson's entire $250 million punitive award was in jeopardy.
The judge gave attorneys on both sides a few days to respond and further make their cases.
When she issued her final ruling Monday, Bolanos reversed her tentative ruling and denied Monsanto's request for a JNOV.
But it wasn't a complete victory for Johnson. Instead of $289 million in combined damage awards, Johnson is slated to get a total of about $78 million.
Bolanos said the punitive award was too high and needed to match Johnson's $39 million compensatory award.
"In enforcing due process limits, the court does not sit as a replacement for the jury but only as a check on arbitrary awards," Bolanos wrote in her ruling Monday.
"The punitive damages award must be constitutionally reduced to the maximum allowed by due process in this case -- $39,253,209.35 -- equal to the amount of compensatory damages awarded by the jury based on its findings of harm to the plaintiff."
Monsanto had also requested a new trial on the punitive damages. The judge said that request will be denied if Johnson accepts the smaller punitive award. If he does not accept the $39 million punitive award, then a new trial would be set.
The $211 million plummet in Johnson's punitive award caught some legal experts by surprise, including University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias.
"I am somewhat surprised, but the punitive damage award was high even though the (percentage of) reduction was steep," Tobias said. "No one thought the plaintiff would retain the whole (punitive damages) award."
Thousands of cases hang in the balance
What ends up happening with Johnson's case doesn't just affect him. It could set a precedent for more than 4,000 similar cases awaiting trial in federal or state courts.
Johnson was the first cancer patient to take Monsanto to court because in California, dying plaintiffs can be granted expedited trials.
Tobias said the slashing of Johnson's award could be a setback for similar plaintiffs to come. But Johnson's triumphant verdict could also help other plaintiffs.
While the ruling "may take the wind out of their sails," the professor said, "Johnson may also provide a road map for the 4,000 other cases on liability and allow some plaintiffs to win."
Even though Johnson is supposed to get millions of dollars, he "hasn't seen a dime" of that yet because of Monsanto's appeal, said attorney Timothy Litzenburg of Roundup Cancer Firm LLC.
But "I was personally pleased to see (the judge) move in a direction more in line with that of the jury's decision," Litzenburg said.
Bayer, the company that recently acquired Monsanto, had a mixed reaction to Bolanos' ruling.
"The court's decision to reduce the punitive damage award by more than $200 million is a step in the right direction, but we continue to believe that the liability verdict and damage awards are not supported by the evidence at trial or the law and plan to file an appeal with the California Court of Appeal," Bayer said.
The company said hundreds of studies have shown glyphosate, the key ingredient in Roundup, is safe when used as directed.
"Glyphosate-based herbicides have been used safely and successfully for over four decades," Bayer said.
(CNN) - Microplastics have been found in human stools for the first time, suggesting they may be widespread in our food chain.
Austrian scientists monitored and tested stool samples from eight study participants from different countries and all of them tested positive for at least one form of microplastic, with the nine different types discovered ranging in size from 50 to 500 micrometers.
Microplastics -- tiny plastic particles less than 5 millimeters in size -- are usually worn down from larger plastics polluting the oceans, such as bottles and bags.
But experts have urged caution given the small size of the study and highlighted that it cannot be stated with certainty that the microplastics came from people's diets.
The team behind the research called for more work to be done to investigate what the findings could mean for human health.
"This is the first study of its kind and confirms what we have long suspected, that plastics ultimately reach the human gut," said lead researcher Dr. Philipp Schwabl, a researcher at the Medical University of Vienna.
The eight participants came from across the globe: Finland, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Poland, Russia, the UK and Austria. They kept diaries of their food intake for a week before having their stools tested.
The diaries showed that all eight had been exposed to plastic-wrapped foods, while six had eaten seafood. On average, 750 milliliters of water was drunk from plastic water bottles by the participants, of whom none were vegetarians.
The stools were tested for 11 kinds of microplastics, of which up to nine were identified in each participant. An average of 20 microplastic particles per 10 grams of stool were found, with polypropylene (PP) and polyethylene terephthalate (PET) -- major components of plastic bottles and caps -- found in all of the participants. The research did not indicate that plastics were accumulating and remaining in the body.
"Of particular concern is what this means to us, and especially patients with gastrointestinal diseases," Schwabl said. "While the highest plastic concentrations in animal studies have been found in the gut, the smallest microplastic particles are capable of entering the blood stream, lymphatic system and may even reach the liver."
"Now that we have first evidence for microplastics inside humans, we need further research to understand what this means for human health," he added.
Further research needed
The study was presented Monday at a United European Gastroenterology conference in Vienna.
Experts said they were not surprised by the findings, which provide further evidence of the widespread presence of microplastics in our environment and the damaging effects of plastic pollution in the world's oceans.
"We know that microplastics are endemic in the environment, in consumer products we all use, and in many different species of animals that we consume directly or indirectly, so it would be more surprising if they had not detected microplastics in human stools," said Peter Jenkinson, managing director at environmental consulting firm CEHTRA.
"There isn't evidence of microplastics in the body, but that they have been in the body and travelled through, and as such this does not show any evidence of accumulation," added Stephanie Wright, a research fellow at King's College London.
The researchers are hoping to secure funding to conduct wider studies.
"This is very much a preliminary study," said Alistair Boxall, professor in environmental science at the University of York in England, who called for more work to be done to understand where ingested microplastics originate.
"We don't have exact evidence from where this is coming from -- it could be that most of these materials may be coming from house dust and the use of plastic containers and packaging or, for example, nylon fibers from our tumble dryer -- and this could potentially outweigh the environmental routes of exposure," he noted.
Boxall added that "to truly understand the sources of exposure we need much more thorough studies where we monitor closely people's day-to-day activities and the media they are exposed to."
The European Parliament voted last month to support a ban on the use of microplastics in cosmetics, for which they are specially designed.
But an estimated 150 million tons of plastic are floating in the world's oceans, with an additional eight million tons entering every year, according to the World Economic Forum.
(CNN) - Is this the night someone makes US lottery history?
That's the value if the winner or winners select annuity payments. The one-time cash option is estimated at $905 million -- still nothing to sneeze at.
The current US lottery jackpot record is $1.586 billion, split by three winning Powerball tickets in January 2016.
And speaking of Powerball: That game's next drawing is Wednesday, for an estimated jackpot of $620 million.
That puts the jackpots for the nation's two largest lotteries at more than $2.2 billion.
"It's hard to overstate how exciting this is -- but now it's really getting fun," Gordon Medenica, lead director of the Mega Millions Group and director of Maryland Lottery and Gaming, said over the weekend.
Mega Millions has already smashed its own jackpot record, which was $656 million, shared by winners in three states in March 2012.
The nation's largest lottery jackpots have rolled for a few months.
No one has won the Mega Millions jackpot since July 24 when 11 co-workers in California split $543 million.
Powerball has climbed since there was a winner in New York on August 11.
Each Powerball or Mega Millions ticket is $2. The games are played in 44 states, Washington, D.C., and the US Virgin Islands. Powerball also is played in Puerto Rico.
(CNN) - The Supreme Court blocked a deposition of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Monday in a case challenging the decision to reinstate a citizenship question on the 2020 census.
The action is a partial victory for the Trump administration that argued such a deposition of a cabinet official is "rarely, if ever justified." The court did, however, allow the deposition of a top Department of Justice official in the case, acting Assistant Attorney General John M. Gore of the Civil Rights Division, as well as other discovery to proceed at least for now.
Justices Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas wrote to say they would have also blocked the deposition of Gore as well as related discovery.
Blocking the Ross deposition is a partial loss for a coalition of states and the ACLU, who are going to trial on November 5 and sought the deposition to bolster their argument that adding the question is unlawful and unconstitutional.
It took five justices to grant the government's request. There was no recorded vote attached to Monday night's unsigned order.
The Justice Department hailed the Supreme Court's decision, calling it a "win for protecting the rights of the Executive Branch."
"The intrusive and improper discovery in this case disrupts the orderly functioning of our government and is, as Justices Gorsuch and Thomas noted, 'highly unusual,'" the department's statement continued. "The Department of Justice is committed to protecting the rule of law and looks forward to further proceedings before the Supreme Court."
A panel of judges on the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals had upheld a district court order allowing the depositions to go forward. That opinion was temporarily put on hold by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg while the justices considered the case.
In papers filed with the court, Solicitor General Noel Francisco told the justices the lower courts were wrong to allow the depositions to proceed.
"The balance of harms weighs strongly in favor of an immediate stay," Francisco wrote, as he sought to block the effect of the lower court order. He noted that the challengers intended to depose Ross, as well as acting Assistant Attorney General John M. Gore of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division.
"Absent a stay, these high-level Executive Branch officials will be forced to prepare for and attend these depositions, and those harms cannot be undone by an eventual victory on the merits," Francisco wrote.
When announcing his decision to reinstate the question last March, Ross said the Department of Justice had requested the change in order to provide data to determine whether there were violations of the Voting Rights Act. Not since 1950 has the census asked respondents whether they are US citizens.
"The decennial census is mandated in the Constitution and its data are relied on for a myriad of important government decisions, including apportionment of Congressional seats among states, enforcement of voting rights laws, and allocation of federal funds," Ross wrote in a memo on March 26, 2018.
Challengers, led by New York's attorney general and groups such as the ACLU, charge that the Trump administration's real reason for adding the question was to reduce the representation of immigrant populations.
They said the question would harm the response rate for noncitizens who may be too afraid to come forward. In court papers they wrote that "the addition of the citizenship question is a naked act of intentional discrimination directed at immigrant communities of color that is intended to punish their presence, avoid their recognition, stunt their growing political power, and deprive them and the communities in which they live of economic benefits."
Attorney General Jeff Sessions weighed in on the case Monday night, criticizing the lower court decision during a speech at the conservative Heritage Foundation.
"But the census question -- which has appeared in one form or another on the census for over a hundred years -- is either legal or illegal. The words on the page don't have a motive; they are either permitted or they are not," Sessions said. "But the judge has decided to hold a trial over the inner workings of a cabinet secretary's mind."
(CNN) - Walmart, Kroger, and Target are rolling out premium wines for cheap. They're trying to copy Trader Joe's success with "Two-Buck Chuck" and capitalize on America's love affair with wine.
The big-box players have recently tried a variety of tactics — new brands, partnerships, and delivery choices — to prove their wine bona fides and attract the growing number of Americans replacing beer with wines and spirits.
In May, Walmart introduced 10 private-label wines for $11 a bottle. The line, "Winemakers Selection," featured rosés and vinos from Italy, France, and California. Nichole Simpson, Walmart's senior wine buyer, told USA Today that they "drink like a $30 to $40 bottle."
Winemakers Selection is a part of Walmart's attempt to upscale its brands in stores and online. The label is targeted at middle-income shoppers thinking about spending on a bottle of vino. The design doesn't bear Walmart's logo, making it more acceptable to wine connoisseurs who want to trade down.
"Consumers want to indulge within their means," said Catherine Lang, an analyst at Kantar Consulting who has researched discount grocers and convenient stores like 7-Eleven expanding their wine selections. "The challenge and the opportunity for brands in wine is the ability to convey quality with their private label."
The wine play is working for Walmart so far. The company has gotten a bump in sales from Winemakers Selection and plans to release 11 more wines in the spring: "It's been a real winner for us," Steve Bratspies, Walmart's chief merchandising officer, said last week.
Quality wine for low prices fits into a broader strategy at Target, too. The company has renewed its focus on selling its own brands to bolster its chic 'Tar-zhay' image.
Target introduced its $5 California Roots brand last year and added California Roots Rosé earlier this year. In a separate move, Target became a retail partner for Yes Way Rosé, a brand that caught fire on Instagram and goes for $12.99 a bottle at stores.
Target said alcohol was the fastest-growing unit in its food and drinks division last year. To meet increasing demand, the company has been gaining more liquor licenses and expanding alcohol aisles in stores. It aims to offer alcohol in 80% of its stores by the end of 2018.
For Kroger, wine is also a "growth category." Kroger sells 80 wine lines, including exclusive brands like Storyteller for $2.99 to $29.99. Last week, Bloomberg reported that it was piloting a wine home-delivery service in a handful of markets.
Kroger won't sell the wines under its own label, but it's trying to tap into an expanding online alcohol delivery market. Online beer, liquor, and wine sales grew 33% last year, according to analytics firm Slice Intelligence.
These big-box players have taken their wine cues from Costco, Lidl and Trader Joe's, rivals that discovered years ago that selling cheap vino could be another way to win shoppers.
Costco sells $2 billion a year worth of wine at its warehouses. There are blogs dedicated to ratings, reviews, and deals on malbecs, merlots, and cabernets at Costco.
Costco has started offering more wine under its popular private label, Kirkland Signature, over the past few years to gain higher profit margins off the sales.
"The wine and spirits thing has caught us off guard in a positive way," Costco's chief financial officer Richard Galanti said last year of the response to Kirkland Signature wines.
Yet Trader Joe's has set the retail standard for bargain wines with its Charles Shaw private-label brand, known as "Two-Buck Chuck." Trader Joe's struck gold with the brand, claiming awards at wine shows and earning a cult-like following among shoppers.
"Trader Joe's showed that if you make a decent wine and you price it well, it will be a draw," said Victor Martino, president of Third Wave Strategies, a California food and grocery consulting firm. "It's a phenomenal seller."
Allentown, PA 18102
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Reading, PA 19605
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- 29.97 in
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42°F Patchy Clouds and Breezy
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|Record||87°F October 23, 1920||24°F October 23, 1997|