Nation roundup for December 7


Tech companies boost Wall Street

NEW YORK (AP) — Apple and other technology companies led the stock market up for the second day in a row Thursday.

The gains came a day after Apple took its worst fall in four years. In separate interviews, CEO Tim Cook said Apple will produce one of its Mac computers in the United States next year and will spend $100 million in 2013 to shift production of the line from China.

The tech giant’s stock gained $8.45 to $547.24

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 39.55 points to close at 13,074.04. Intel led the Dow, rising 31 cents to $20.16.

Investors’ biggest concern remains the automatic tax increases and federal spending cuts scheduled to start Jan. 1. “Everybody is paying close attention to the soap opera in Washington,” said John Canally, investment strategist and economist at LPL Financial.

President Barack Obama said Wednesday that the White House and Republicans could reach an agreement “in about a week” if the Republicans drop their opposition to raising taxes on making more than $250,000 a year. Most investors believe a budget deal to avoid this “fiscal cliff” before the year is out will be made.

Some Macs to be made in the U.S.

NEW YORK (AP) — Apple CEO Tim Cook says the company will move production of one of its existing lines of Mac computers to the United States next year.

Industry watchers said the announcement is both a cunning public-relations move and a harbinger of more manufacturing jobs moving back to the U.S. as wages rise in China.

Cook made the comments in part of an interview taped for NBC’s “Rock Center,” but aired Thursday morning on “Today” and posted on the network’s website.

In a separate interview with Bloomberg Businessweek, he said that the company will spend $100 million in 2013 to move production of the line to the U.S. from China.

“This doesn’t mean that Apple will do it ourselves, but we’ll be working with people and we’ll be investing our money,” Cook told Bloomberg.

That suggests the company could be helping its Taiwanese manufacturing partner Foxconn Technology Group to set up a factory in the U.S.

Apple representatives had no comment Thursday beyond Cook’s remarks.

U.S. attorney quits amid probe

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — New Orleans’ corruption-busting federal prosecutor resigned Thursday after two top deputies became embroiled in a scandal that threatens to undermine some of his biggest cases and damaged his standing as one of the most popular public officials in a city with a rich history of graft.

U.S. Attorney Jim Letten, whose successful prosecution of a former Louisiana governor and numerous other officials won him bipartisan praise for more than a decade, had been under mounting pressure ever since two veteran prosecutors admitted anonymously posting criticism of judges and comments about cases on a newspaper website.

New Fantasyland officially opens

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — Derrick Weitlich and his friend Leslie Martinez arrived at the Magic Kingdom at 5:40 a.m. Thursday, wanting to be among the first to visit the park’s New Fantasyland.

Getting up early was worth it, said these Melbourne, Fla., Disney fans, who estimated that they have visited the park some 180 times.

“I love Beauty and the Beast,” said Martinez, while standing in front of the new Gaston’s Tavern restaurant. “And I’m very picky when it comes to details about Beauty and the Beast.”

Martinez and Weitlich weren’t disappointed. From the antlers lining the walls in the tavern to the animatronic Ariel in the Under the Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid ride, they were impressed with the New Fantasyland.

It’s the largest expansion project in the park’s 41-year history. The new spaces are built on what was once the site of the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea experience, and the expansion doubles the size of the original Fantasyland. The central Florida theme park near Orlando is blending classic Disney characters (like Dumbo, the flying elephant) and newer, popular hits (like “The Little Mermaid”) with the multimillion dollar expansion.

“It’s really about immersing people in a number of stories, characters and music that they love,” said Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs.

New Fantasyland sits just past Cinderella Castle, with two sections: Enchanted Forest, where visitors will find Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” and Ariel from “The Little Mermaid,” and Storybook Circus, which is inspired by the Disney film “Dumbo.”

Among the highlights: a ride called Under the Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid, which tells Ariel’s story, and Enchanted Tales With Belle, a walk-through experience that features a magical mirror and costumed characters.

Staggs said that the expansion allows families to “be a little more relaxed” while in the park, calling the spaces “more enjoyable.”

Thursday’s grand opening happened twice: once for media and bloggers in front of Gaston’s Tavern and then again on the steps of Cinderella Castle, with cheering park visitors. Staggs was joined by actress Ginnifer Goodwin, singer Jordin Sparks and, of course, Mickey Mouse. Sparks sang a medley of songs from Disney movies.

Two of New Fantasyland’s highlights have yet to open. A ride called Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is still under construction, as is Princess Fairytale Hall — where guests can go to meet all of their favorite Disney princesses at once. Disney officials said the princess experience will open next year and the ride is expected to open in 2014.

For Disney traditionalists, never fear: Many of the park’s longstanding beloved attractions like Cinderella Castle, and rides based on “It’s a Small World” and “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” remain open.

Be Our Guest Restaurant is new, and offers a different Disney concept. Folks who eat lunch will be served at the counter, while dinner guests will be served tableside. It will also serve wine and beer with dinner, which is the first time alcohol is being sold at the Magic Kingdom. The meals at Be Our Guest are French-themed.

Some old favorites have been improved. An additional Dumbo ride was added — one Dumbo carousel goes clockwise, the other counter-clockwise — two castles were built and the Barnstormer rollercoaster was remodeled. Other areas were spruced up and redecorated.

“I think they did the themes so well, the transitions from one area to another,” said Weitlich, who is 31. He and Martinez, who is 29, come to the park at least twice a month.

On Thursday, they bought T-shirts that said “A Brand New Happily Ever After,” posed for photos and drank LeFou’s Brew, a sweet drink based on apple juice and toasted marshmallows. The pair said they were going to get to know New Fantasyland just like the rest of the park.

“For not being cast members, we’re pretty good,” said Martinez.

 

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