Mixed reactions from fans as Chiefs, Texans observe pre-game moment of unity


The Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans made headlines before they kicked off the 2020 NFL season on Thursday.

The Texans elected to return to their locker room ahead of the singing of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” — Chiefs players locked arms in the end zone during what is known as the Black National Anthem — and returned after “The Star-Spangled Banner” was played.

During the national anthem, Chiefs players stood together on the sideline, with defensive end Alex Okafor kneeling while raising his fist in the air.

Both teams lined up along the middle of the field, linking arms for what was announced as “a moment of silence dedicated to the on-going fight for equality in our country.”

Mixed reactions from fans were heard on the NBC broadcast, with boos and claps from the crowd at Arrowhead Stadium — a limited number of patrons were allowed in to keep with social distancing protocols.

Players from both teams had “been in talks about a joint demonstration” before the game that “makes a statement on racial injustice and shows unity,” according to NFL Network.

It is likely far from the last form of social-justice messaging from players and the NFL this season. The police-involved deaths of several Black persons in recent months have caused several players to speak out and saw many of the league’s most prominent voices, including commissioner Roger Goodell, change their stances on the subject.

Before kickoff, the Miami Dolphins announced in a video that they would be staying in the locker room for both anthems before their Sunday opener against the New England Patriots in Foxborough, Mass.

“Before the media starts wondering and guessing, they just answered all your questions,” coach Brian Flores stated. “We’ll just stay inside.”

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick drew a heavily mixed reaction when he kneeled for social justice reform during the 2016 season. Numerous players have revealed plans to do so this season.

This report originally appeared on NYPost.com.



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Peloton produces profit for the first time amid pandemic-demand spike, stock pushes toward new record


Peloton Interactive Inc. reported fiscal fourth-quarter earnings Thursday afternoon.


MarketWatch photo illustration/iStockphoto

A year after its initial public offering, Peloton Interactive Inc. is pedaling toward new highs amid a pandemic that is forcing people into their homes and away from gyms, creating demand for at-home fitness equipment.

Peloton
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on Thursday wrapped up its fiscal year by reporting that sales and subscribers roughly doubled in the 12-month period, and revealed its first profitable quarter as a public company and record quarterly revenue a little less than a year after its September 2019 IPO. Shares fell 3.8% Thursday from Wednesday’s record closing price of $91.17 — more than three times the IPO price of $29 a share — but pushed back toward record highs in after-hours trading following the release of the report, with gains of more than 7%.

Peloton reported fiscal fourth-quarter profit of $89.1 million, or 27 cents a share, on sales of $607.1 million, up from $223 million a year ago. Peloton reported a net loss of $47 million in the fiscal fourth quarter a year ago, just ahead of its IPO. Analysts on average expected earnings of 10 cents a share on sales of $586 million, according to FactSet.

“It has been another staggering year of growth, and I know all parts of the organization have had to work together to do everything possible to meet the incredible demand for our products and services,” Chief Executive James Foley said in a conference call Thursday. “The strong tailwind we experienced in March as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold has continued to propel demand for our products into the fourth quarter and first couple of months of Q1 fiscal year 2021.”

While still attempting to catch up to a flood of orders amid the COVID-19 pandemic — Peloton said Thursday it does not expect order-to-delivery times to normalize until around the end of the calendar year — the company is also looking to expand its customer base. On Monday, Peloton announced that it will reduce the price of its standard exercise bike and introduce a lower-priced treadmill, which could clear a path for potential buyers who were not willing to pay the large upfront costs for its products. It will also introduce a premium bike for fans who want top-of-the-line equipment.

Wedbush analysts noted that in a previous survey of 1,200 people, they found that Peloton could “dramatically improve” sales at a lower price point, especially in treadmills.

“42% of non-Peloton owners that were interested in fitness and familiar with the brand showed some level of interest in a $2,500 Tread, compared to just 30% showing interest in the current Tread,” the analysts wrote in a Sept. 9 note, after Peloton announced its new lineup. “Among existing Peloton bike owners, the number of respondents saying they would be ‘very interested’ in owning a treadmill from Peloton doubles based on the lower price, from 14% based on the $4,295 price point to 28% assuming a theoretical (at the time) $2,500 price point.”

While lower sales prices could hurt hardware margins and average selling prices, much of Peloton’s long-term prognosis focuses on the subscriptions for interactive workout media that owners continue to pay after they have received the equipment. Peloton announced Thursday that it now has 1.09 million subscribers, nearly doubling the 511 million that it reported at the end of its last fiscal year, topping its forecast of 1.04 million to 1.05 million.

In total for the fiscal year, Peloton collected revenue of $1.46 billion from the sale of equipment and $363.7 million from subscription services, up from $719 million and $181 million, respectively, in the previous fiscal year. Combined with other revenue from merchandise and other offerings, Peloton ended the year with $1.83 billion in sales, up from $915 million.

“By the end of FY 2020 our Peloton membership base grew to approximately 3.1 million, compared to 1.4 million members in the prior year,” Peloton detailed in a letter to shareholders Thursday. “Fueled in part by the challenges associated with COVID-19, member engagement reached new highs with 164 million Connected Fitness Subscription workouts completed in FY 2020.”

For the current fiscal year, which began in August, Peloton predicted htat subscribers and revenue would roughly double yet again. The company guided for revenue of $3.5 billion to $3.65 billion, with connected subscribers swelling to 2.05 million to 2.1 million. Analysts on average were predicting revenue of $2.74 billion and subscribers of 1.78 million ahead of the report, according to FactSet.

Peloton stock has gained more than 260% since its IPO; the S&P 500 index
SPX,
-1.75%

has returned 17.7% in that time. In after-hours trading Thursday, shares topped $94 following the release of the report.



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Harris promises to offer free tuition for low-income students at public and historically Black colleges


Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris welcomed by a marching band at Florida Memorial University, a historically Black private university, on Thursday.


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Democratic vice-presidential nominee Sen. Kamala Harris promised Thursday that a Biden-Harris administration would make college tuition free at public schools and private historically Black colleges and universities for students whose families’ income is below $125,000 a year, and pledged student-loan debt forgiveness for some graduates of HBCUs.

“In relation to the history of HBCUs, [students] decide to take on a profession of service, which often does not pay as well as if they go into the private sector and do other things,” Harris said at a roundtable discussion held at Florida Memorial University, a historically Black private university. “So for those students who come out and have jobs that pay less than $125,000, student-loan debt will also be forgiven.”

Harris also promised to invest $70 billion in historically Black colleges and universities.

Additionally, she said that two-year college programs would be free for low-income Americans.

“We want to support our young people for whatever they pursue by way of education after high school,” Harris said. “For some that will be a college and university, for some it will be a two-year program, or an apprenticeship, or something of that nature, and we want to make sure that we support them in that quest.”

Harris made the remarks in response to Jaffus Hardrick, president of Florida Memorial University, who said that “we are literally working on a shoestring budget” amid the economic decline caused by the pandemic that has forced many students to reconsider attending college.

During her short-lived presidential campaign, Harris proposed making community college free.

Her remarks came in the key swing state of Florida, where 29 electoral votes are up for grabs, the most among any of the major swing states. Former President Barack Obama claimed the state by a thin margin in the 2008 and 2012 elections. President Donald Trump, however, won it in the 2016 election.

In a RealClearPolitics moving average of polls focused on top swing states that are likely to decide the election, Democrat Joe Biden had an edge of 3.9 percentage points over Trump as of Thursday, but his edge in Florida was just 1.2 points.

Before addressing the roundtable, Harris took a jab at Trump, citing the interview he had with Bob Woodward where he said “I wanted to always play it down,” referring to the threat of the looming pandemic.

“He suggested that to wear a mask is a sign of weakness as opposed to a sign of strength,” she said. “This is the president of the United States.”

Earlier in the day, Harris visited Doral, a neighborhood of Miami with a high concentration of Venezuelans.

Two days prior, Trump also visited South Florida, where he signed an order extending a moratorium on offshore drilling around Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Biden is scheduled to visit the Sunshine State on Sept. 15.



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Homeland Security whistle-blower says he was pressured to alter intelligence on Russia and white supremacists to match Trump preferences


Acting U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Chad Wolf testifies during a hearing before Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.


Alex Wong/Getty Images

WASHINGTON (AP) — An official at the Department of Homeland Security said in a whistle-blower complaint released Wednesday that he was pressured by agency leaders to suppress details in his intelligence reports that President Donald Trump might find objectionable, including intelligence on Russian interference in the election and the threat posed by white supremacists.

Brian Murphy says in a whistle-blower complaint filed with the agency’s inspector general that he was demoted for refusing to alter his intelligence reports in an “illegal and improper” manner.

The former FBI agent and Marine Corps veteran had served as principal deputy under secretary in the Office of Intelligence and Analysis.

In August, he was demoted to assistant to the deputy under secretary for DHS Management.

“Mr. Murphy is, put simply, a dedicated public servant who has had a laudable career prior to the recent events that have led to the submission of this package to the OIG,” his complaint states. “Prior to his current circumstances, he had never had so much as a negative fitness report in his professional career with the U.S. Government.”

In his complaint, he alleges that former DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, current acting Secretary Chad Wolf and his deputy, Ken Cuccinelli, repeatedly pressed him to change intelligence assessments in ways that would support administration policies or avoid offending the president.

In one example, he said Nielsen and her deputies pressed him to exaggerate the number of migrants with links to terrorism who have been detained at the Southwest border. Murphy said she falsely used a higher figure in testimony to Congress.

The complaint says Wolf, who has been nominated to be secretary by Trump, directed Murphy to cease providing intelligence assessments on the threat of Russian interference to the U.S. because it “made the President look bad.” Murphy said he declined because it would be a violation of his duties not to do it.

He said Cuccinelli directed him to modify a section of a report on white supremacy to make the threat appear less severe, and to include information on left-wing groups to echo administration talking points around civil unrest following the protests over the killing of George Floyd.

A copy of the complaint was released Wednesday by Rep. Adam Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee. Schiff says he has asked Murphy to testify to Congress.

DHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment by The Associated Press.



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The best midsize luxury SUVs of the year, ranked


The midsize luxury SUV segment is extremely competitive. This is an area where almost every luxury brand has a seat at the table and they all have different sets of strengths and weaknesses. Some are better off-road, some are all about on-road performance and some are more family-oriented with roomy 3-row seating. Whatever you’re looking for in a midsize luxury SUV, you’ll find something perfect for your wants, your needs and your budget on this list.

Here are the best midsize luxury SUVs for 2020, ranked.

1. Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class

Score: 4.8 / 5

The 2021 Mercedes-AMG GLE 63 S


Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz has been working on midsize luxury SUVs for quite some time and the all-new 2020 Mercedes-Benz GLE-Class is the closest that the brand has come to truly perfecting this formula.

In classic Mercedes-Benz fashion, the GLE-Class seamlessly combines high-end luxury with engaging performance and in this case, it’s wrapped in a practical and stylish SUV that’s just the right size. The interior is arguably the nicest in this class and it’s packed with the latest technology in both safety and infotainment. One of its few faults is a cramped optional third row of seats.

This SUV makes more sense with the standard 2-row configuration. We admit, sometimes the technology can get in its own way. If you prefer just the basics when it comes to lowering the interior temperature, you might not like the Benz setup here. Still, this is an excellent midsize luxury SUV. It’s a little pricey for this class with a starting MSRP of $54,250, but it’s so good that the price tag is justified. The GLE was on our list of the best cars of 2019. 

2. Audi Q8

Score: 4.8 / 5

When a luxury brand comes out with an “SUV coupe,” it usually means making big compromises on practicality to get a more stylish body. However, the Audi A8 is a sleek SUV with a sloping roofline that also manages to have generous passenger space and plenty of cargo space. Its interior is breathtaking, with a high-end design and quality materials throughout, and its sharp handling makes it feel like a smaller car. All-wheel drive is standard, which improves all-season traction.

Many of us prefer the equally spectacular Q7 but that’s largely a matter of individual taste. The starting price is high at $68,200, but it comes generously equipped with standard features, delivering a truly luxurious experience.

3. BMW X5

Score: 4.8 / 5

The BMW X5 is one of the original midsize luxury SUVs and in 2020, it’s still one of the best. We know it’s cliché to call it “the BMW of SUVs,” but it’s an accurate way to describe this luxurious crossover with agile handling and a powerful engine lineup. A third row of seats is optional, but they’re a bit cramped and we’d recommend a different SUV on this list if you need extra seats.

Where this BMW
BMWYY,
+1.62%

  excels is in the fun-to-drive factor while also serving up practicality with its roomy cargo hold and its intuitive infotainment system. The starting price of $58,900 puts it on the expensive side, but it’s well worth it for the right driver. 

4. Audi Q7

Score: 4.7 / 5

The Audi Q7 is right up there with its chief competitors from BMW and Mercedes-Benz in terms of interior opulence, stately styling and agile handling. The Q7 features standard 3-row seating, but like most of its competitors, space in the third row is quite tiny. The Q7 received a nice mid-cycle refresh for 2020 which includes updated styling, a dual-screen infotainment system, a new mild-hybrid setup for the V6 engine and the debut of the high-performance SQ7 for drivers looking for some extra punch under the hood. Like the Q8, AWD is standard on the Q7. Pricing is a little steep starting at $54,800, but like its other German competitors, it’s worth it for drivers who appreciate the finer things in life.

5. Acura MDX

Score: 4.6 / 5

The 2020 Acura MDX


Acura

The Acura MDX is arguably the strongest value of any SUV on this list with its attractive starting MSRP of $44,500. It’s also a family-friendly choice, with standard 3-row seating that actually has some decent room in the third row. The interior design is getting a little dated and it’s not quite as premium as many of its rivals, but it’s nice considering the price tag.

Don’t miss:The best small luxury cars of the year

The standard V6 engine delivers an excellent balance of performance and fuel economy, but if you’re looking for something even more efficient, there’s a Sport Hybrid variant available which improves both performance and efficiency and throws in standard AWD. The hybrid starts at $52,800, which is still more affordable than many non-hybrid rivals. Find an Acura MDX for sale

6. Volvo XC90

Score: 4.6 / 5

The Volvo XC90


Volvo

In terms of interior quality, the 2020 Volvo XC90 is just as nice as more expensive German rivals while carrying a competitive starting MSRP of $48,350. That price is even more attractive when you consider the long list of standard technology and safety features in this handsome Volvo
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 .

This is a great 3-row luxury crossover for families with its roomy cabin with standard 3-row seating and a generous cargo area to boot. The XC90 gets some slight tweaks for 2020, including revised styling and, finally, available seating for six with second-row captain’s chairs. The base engine is good on gas but a bit lacking in performance and we prefer the T6 powertrain setup. Find a Volvo XC90 for sale

7. Porsche Cayenne

Score: 4.5 / 5

Porsche Cayenne GTS


Porsche

The 2020 Porsche Cayenne is still fresh off a 2019 redesign and introduces a new “coupe” body style for 2020. The Cayenne checks every box you would expect from a Porsche SUV. It’s fast, it’s luxurious and it carries styling that makes it unmistakable as a Porsche.

Check out: 9 smart dog accessories for your car

You could upgrade to one of the hotter available engines, but most drivers will be more than satisfied with the standard turbocharged engine and standard AWD. Unsurprisingly for a Porsche, the Cayenne is toward the top of the price range in this segment with a starting MSRP of $66,800, making it good for drivers to prioritize performance over value. 

8. Lexus RX

Score: 4.5 / 5

The 2020 Lexus RX is a favorite among drivers looking for a midsize luxury SUV that is safe, comfortable, reliable and efficient. There aren’t a lot of surprises with the RX and for many drivers, that’s a good thing. The interior is very nice and the ride is gentle, making it a good commuter with the versatility of an SUV. A third row of seats is available in the form of the RXL, but the optional extra seats don’t offer much legroom. The RX is a great family SUV as long as you don’t really need a third row. Value is the name of the game with a starting MSRP of $44,150, while the thrifty RX Hybrid starts at just $46,245. 

9. Land Rover Range Rover Sport

Score: 4.3 / 5

The Land Rover Range Rover Sport


Land Rover USA

If you’ve always wanted a Range Rover but you also want available three-row seating and a more affordable price, then the 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Sport is the luxury SUV for you. With standard 4-wheel drive, the Range Rover Sport doesn’t skimp on the off-road performance that its name promises, and its range of powerful engines gives it outstanding on-road performance as well.

The interior is comfortable and nicely designed, but the cargo area is a bit tight. Mild-hybrid and plug-in hybrid options were added for 2020, making this SUV a little greener. Base price for a Range Rover Sport is just under $70,000. 

10. Infiniti QX60

Score: 4.2 / 5

Looking for a luxury midsize SUV with third-row seating you can actually use? The 2020 Infiniti QX60 isn’t as opulent or sporty as some of its rivals, but it’s one of the most family-friendly crossovers in this class with a standard third row that is easy to access thanks to sliding second-row seats.

Don’t miss:Four electric and hybrid SUVs that can tow some serious weight

Adding to its family-friendliness is good cargo space, an available rear-seat entertainment system and a coveted Top Safety Pick+ from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The standard V6 is strong and good for family-hauling while also being pretty good on gas. It’s also a strong value, with a starting MSRP of $44,350. Even upgrading to the Luxe AWD model still keeps the price under $50k.

11. Land Rover Range Rover Velar

Score: 4.2 / 5

Sitting above the Evoque and below the Range Rover Sport in the Range Rover lineup is the 2020 Land Rover Range Rover Velar. This 2-row midsize SUV exudes elegance inside and out with posh styling and a composed ride. A new V8 engine making a whopping 550 horsepower joins the Velar lineup for 2020, making this Range Rover more competitive with high-performance German luxury SUVs. Four-wheel drive is standard and its off-road capabilities are better than you might expect for such a fashionable SUV. Its starting price of $56,300 is a bit steep considering some of its more modern German rivals with nicer interiors and similar prices.

12. Lincoln Aviator

Score: 4.1 / 5

The Lincoln Aviator


Lincoln

The roomy 2020 Lincoln Aviator is another family-friendly choice in midsize luxury SUVs with standard 3-row seating. It’s one of the most stylish SUVs in this segment with a gorgeous exterior and a more opulent interior than you might expect. It’s also quite advanced technologically with one of the best infotainment systems in this class.

The ride is comfy and the standard twin-turbo V6 engine pumping out 400 hp is fantastic, but when it comes to handling, some rivals are more agile. It starts at a reasonable $51,100 and the higher-performance Grand Touring plug-in hybrid variant starts at $68,800. The all-new Aviator is the only vehicle from a luxury brand to earn a spot on our Best New Cars for 2020 list. 

13. Maserati Levante

Score: 4.1 / 5

The 2020 Maserati Levante


Maserati USA

Maserati performance and style come in a versatile midsize SUV in the form of the 2020 Maserati Levante. The Levante offers two incredible Ferrari-built engines under the hood, a 345-hp twin-turbo V6 and a 590-hp twin-turbo V8. Think of it like a high-end sport sedan but with an SUV body. The Levante also has sharp handling and it just might have the most satisfying exhaust note of any SUV on this list. However, its $72,990 base price makes the interior quality feel a bit lacking. The Porsche Cayenne is arguably a better value for a performance-oriented midsize luxury SUV. 

See: 10 SUVs that are really fun to drive

14. BMW X6

Score: 4.0 / 5

The BMW X6


BMW USA

All-new for 2020, the BMW X6 has a sleek coupe-like body that looks cool but results in a compromise of practicality. The seats are super-comfortable, but the steep roofline cuts into the cargo area quite a bit while also hurting rear visibility. That said, the cabin is extremely well-designed and full of high-end materials plus a long standard features list. It has a lineup of very strong engines, but as comfortable and as fast as it is, its 6-figure starting MSRP of $108,600 is hard to justify. The BMW X5 M is slightly cheaper, much more practical and delivers 567 hp that you’re unlikely to get bored with. 

15. Cadillac XT5

Score: 4.0 / 5

The Cadillac XT5 is a competitively priced midsize 2-row luxury SUV that takes the fight directly to the Lexus RX but can’t quite match its Japanese rival. The XT5 is a good SUV with a sharp aesthetic, a comfortable ride and a strong predicted reliability rating from J.D. Power. It got some nice updates for 2020 including a new infotainment system, a new turbocharged base engine that is good on gas and a stylish new Sport trim. Where the XT5 is lacking is interior quality and tight back seat headroom for a midsize SUV. It’s attractively priced starting at $44,095, but similarly-priced Japanese luxury SUVs are better buys. 

16. Lincoln Nautilus

Score: 3.9 / 5

The Lincoln Nautilus is another American 2-row luxury SUV that takes a shot at the Lexus RX and makes a good effort but falls a bit short of greatness. It’s a nice, comfortable, practical crossover, but there’s nothing that makes it really stand out in this class.

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In Black Label form, it does eclipse the RX in terms of interior materials, color choices and textures, but that’s nearly a $60,000 car. You do get a host of concierge-level service but it’s a pricey option. Its most competitive factor with the Nautilus is actually at the other end of the spectrum — its price, which starts at $41,040, making this Lincoln a strong value for anyone looking for a comfy, quiet cruiser with SUV versatility. Both available engines are efficient and upgrading to the twin-turbo V6 adds more power, but the handling of the Nautilus isn’t what we’d call athletic. 

Also see: 8 new luxury SUVs for under $50,000

17. Cadillac XT6

Score: 3.9 / 5

The 2020 Cadillac XT6 is an all-new entry in the competitive 3-row luxury crossover segment and fails to stand out compared with the best midsize luxury SUVs. It has a dignified appearance, and its interior is roomy and family-friendly with plenty of room in its standard third row of seats, but that’s about where its virtues end. The sole engine choice is a naturally aspirated V6, which has enough guts for family-hauling duty, but there isn’t much of a fun-to-drive factor here. The interior quality is good but not great, which kind of sums up this whole SUV. This Cadillac is moderately priced starting at $52,695. 



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