unusually high injury rates, among other safety issues. The facility was evacuated after a cardboard compactor caught fire last week, two days after the JFK8 fire, which was similar.

“The timeline to fix things is before something tragic happens,” Ms. Goodall said.

She accused Amazon of running an aggressive anti-union campaign, including regular meetings with employees in which it questions the union’s credibility and suggests that workers could end up worse off if they unionize.

Mr. Flaningan, the company spokesman, said that while injuries increased as Amazon trained hundreds of thousands of new workers in 2021, the company believed that its safety record surpassed that of other retailers over a broader period.

“Like many other companies, we hold these meetings because it’s important that everyone understands the facts about joining a union and the election process itself,” he said, adding that the decision to unionize is up to employees.

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Kentucky School Shooter Parole Decision Delayed Until Monday

Michael Carneal is seeking to be freed from his life sentence for fatally shooting three students and wounding five more at Heath High School in 1997.

A Kentucky man who killed three students and wounded five more in a school shooting 25 years ago will have to wait another week to learn his fate in a high-stakes hearing that could see him released or denied the chance to ever leave prison.

Michael Carneal was a 14-year-old freshman on Dec. 1, 1997, when he fired a stolen pistol at a before-school prayer group in the lobby of Heath High School, near Paducah, Kentucky. School shootings were not yet a depressing part of the national consciousness, and Carneal was given the maximum sentence possible at the time for someone his age — life in prison but with the possibility of parole. A quarter century later, in the shadow of Uvalde and in a nation disgusted by the carnage of mass shootings, Carneal, now 39, is trying to convince the parole board he deserves to be freed.

At a hearing on Tuesday, a two-person panel of the Kentucky Parole Board said they had not reached a decision and were referring his case to the full board, which meets on Monday. Only the full board has the power to order Carneal to serve out his full sentence without another chance at parole.

Speaking on a videoconference from the Kentucky State Reformatory in La Grange, Carneal told the panel that at the time of the shooting, “I was hearing in my head to do certain things, but I should have known that stealing guns … was going to lead to something terrible.” He said that he has been receiving therapy and taking psychiatric medications in prison, however he admitted that he continues to hear voices. As recently as a couple of days ago, he heard voices telling him to jump off the stairs.

Parole Board Chair Ladeidra Jones told Carneal that his inmate file lists his mental health prognosis as “poor” and says that even with mental health services, he is still experiencing paranoid thoughts with violent imagery, she said.

Asked how the board could be assured that he would not act on those thoughts, he said that he has learned to ignore them and hasn’t acted on them for many years. Carneal said he would be able to do good in the world if he were released, but he did not offer any specific plans.

“It doesn’t have to be something grand,” he said. “Every little thing you do affects somebody. It could be listening to someone, carrying something. I would like to do something in the future that could contribute to society.”

Carneal said the shooting happened because of a combination of factors that included his mental health and immaturity, but he added that it was “not justified at all. There’s no excuse for it at all.”

His parole hearing began Monday with testimony from those injured and close family of those killed, several of whom had considered Carneal a friend.

Missy Jenkins Smith, who was paralyzed by one of Carneal’s bullets and uses a wheelchair, said there are too many “what ifs” to release him. What if he stops taking his medication? What if his medication stops working?

“Continuing his life in prison is the only way his victims can feel comfortable and safe,” she said.

Killed in the shooting were 14-year-old Nicole Hadley, 17-year-old Jessica James, and 15-year-old Kayce Steger. Jenkins Smith said it would be unfair to them and their loved ones for Carneal to be set free.

“They will forever be a 17 year old, a 14 year old, and a 15 year old — allowed only one full decade of life. A consequence of Michael’s choice,” she said.

Also testifying Monday was Christina Hadley Ellegood, whose younger sister Nicole was killed in the shooting. Ellegood has written about the pain of seeing her sister’s body and having to call their mom and tell her Nicole had been shot.

“I had no one to turn to who understood what I was going through,” she said Monday. “For me, it’s not fair for him to be able to roam around with freedom when we live in fear of where he might be.”

The two-person panel of the full parole board only has the option to release him or defer his next opportunity for parole for up to five years. Because they could not agree on those options, they sent the case to a meeting of the full board next Monday.

Hollan Holm, who was wounded that day, spoke Monday about lying on the floor of the high school lobby, bleeding from his head and believing he was going to die. But he said Carneal was too young to comprehend the full consequences of his actions and should have a chance at supervised release.

“When I think of Michael Carneal, I think of the child I rode the bus with every day,” he said. “I think of the child I shared a lunch table with in third grade. I think of what he could have become if, on that day, he had it somewhere in him to make a different choice or take a different path.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Detroit Auto Show Returns After 3 Years, Focus On Electric Vehicles

President Biden announced $900 million to install EV chargers along 53,000 miles of U.S. highways, as the show returned after a COVID-19 hiatus.

The Detroit Auto Show is back after a three year pit stop due to COVID.  

The big focus this year is electric cars.

American Road Trip is going to be fully electrified, whether you’re driving coast-to-coast along I-10. Or on I-75 in Michigan. Charging stations will be up and easy to find as gas stations are now. 

President Biden helped jump-start the electric fanfare, announcing $900 million to install EV chargers along 53,000 miles of U.S. highways across 35 states.

They’ll need to be built quickly. EV sales are shocking analysts. They’re up 60% in the first quarter of the year. They account for about five percent of the sales, but they only make up one percent of the 250 million cars on the road.

But sales are kicking into overdrive. EV sales are expected to make up 30% of all car sales by the end of the decade, almost half by 2035 and the majority of sales in less than 30 years. 

Whether you prefer a sports car, truck, or SUV, there’s an electric version of everything. 

The big auto makes, like GM, are focusing on electric and pledging to only sell electric cars by the middle of the next decade.

One of the big deterrents, though, is cost.

The average gas-powered car costs about $48,000  while the average EV costs about $66,000.  

GM is trying to get cars into middle-class driveways, unveiling its new fully electric Equinox for just $30,000.

“We really think this is going to be a key point for EV adoption,” Equinox EV Chief Engineer Matt Purdy said. And we’re going to see that we’re priced right in the right segment with the right vehicle.”

All of the big automakers are betting big on electric.

GM is spending $7 million on new electric battery planes in Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. Ford is writing a $11 billion check for EV plants in Tennessee and Kentucky, that will employ 11,000 people. Meanwhile, Telsa is building a new plant in Austin, Texas. And Stellantis is dropping more than $2 billion on a battery plant in Indiana.   

Ford basically split its company in half — half gas, half electric — and it’s already paying off.  

Last month, its EV sales jumped 307%, driven by its electric F-150 pick-up and Mustang models. It will sell 600,000 EVs this year and two million annually in just four years.  

Not to be left out in the dark, Stellantis, which owns Jeep, announced its new hybrid Jeep Grand Cherokee.

But not everything is electric. This year, they will also debut the Farwell Edition of the Chrysler 300, which is a large gas-powered sedan. 

Source: newsy.com

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Kentucky Residents Work To Rebuild 9 Months After Deadly Tornado

Local construction groups, along with other community groups, helped build 20 tiny homes for families in need.

It’s the sound of progress, as the city of Mayfield, Kentucky rebuilds.  

Nine months later, things are looking up after an EF4 tornado ripped through Mayfield, destroying historic buildings and homes in the small city of about 10,000 people.  

Several organizations are helping families affected by the deadly tornado get back on their feet.  

Samaritan’s Purse is one of them. The plan is to build around 100 new homes, free to homeowners.  

Samaritan’s Purse dedicated it’s second home this week.  

Angela Taylor and Ricky Jones are the proud owners.  

“This is like a dream come true,” said Taylor. “I’m so happy to have this home.”

Every home is equipped with a bathroom that also serves as a storm shelter.

Nine months later, lots of people are still rebuilding their homes, waiting to move back in.

About five minutes away from downtown Mayfield, there is temporary housing for some of those affected families. They’re called “tiny homes” and families can stay there until they can get into permanent housing.

Local construction groups, along with other community groups, helped build 20 tiny homes for families in need.

They come fully stocked with food and other necessities. The only thing families are responsible for is paying the electricity bill.  

The goal is to get as many families in and out of these tiny homes as possible.

Shamber Carrico and her family were among the first to move into a tiny temporary home back in March. Her tiny home is located near their actual home, currently under construction.    

“My husband went upstairs and pretty much the whole top floor was almost gone on one side of the house,” said Carrico.

Living in a temporary home allows her to stay in her community.

“When you lose your house and you get displaced somewhere so far from your town, your community, and then you get to come back, it’s very overwhelming. Very overwhelming,” said Carrico.

As for the city itself, it is still in clean up mode. Many buildings still need to be torn down, streetlights put back in working order, debris swept off the streets.

Mayfield Rebuilds, a group of volunteers helping the city, is looking for input from the public on how they want to rebuild the city.  

Members of the community sat down with urban planner Mark Arnold to talk about Mayfield’s future. Residents say they are excited to build back better.

“I’d like to see the diverse groups be more melded together and not so much division. And I think this is a great opportunity,” said Judith Tuggle, a Mayfield resident.

“I would love to see even our rebuild efforts of downtown urban allow us to have opportunities to spend time together, you know, be together, not just go to appointments, but really cross paths with people,” said Pastor Al Chandler, of Northside Baptist Church. “We need to spend time together. And that’s what the community needs.”

Lifelong resident Jill Celaya is leading the effort.   

“Every day we face that destruction. And it’s just so nice to be talking about the future and something hopeful,” said Celaya. “I would love for this to be a place that our children want to perhaps go off to college, but then come back and live here and raise their families here because it is a perfect place to raise a family.”

Source: newsy.com

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

White House Flags Fly At Half-Staff To Honor Queen Elizabeth II

President Biden expressed gratitude for the queen’s consistency with the 14 U.S. presidents throughout her 70-year reign.

There’s a storied history between Queen Elizabeth II and U.S. presidents that reflects a deep bond between the two countries.

Over her 70-year reign, she met with 13 of 14 sitting presidents — with Lyndon Johnson being the exception.

“Queen Elizabeth II was a stateswoman of unmatched dignity and constancy who deepened the bedrock alliance between the United Kingdom and the United States. She helped make our relationship special,” President Joe Biden said in a statement after her passing.

Her official visits to the U.S. go back to 1951, when then-Princess Elizabeth was greeted by President Harry Truman in Washington.

“I think your visit will improve, if that’s possible, the cultural relations which exist between our two great countries,” he said.

Then in 1957, she visited as queen hosted by President Eisenhower at the White House. In 1976, during America’s bicentennial celebration, she attended a state dinner hosted by President Ford.

“Mr. President, the British and American people are as close today as two peoples have ever been,” the queen stated.

In 1991, she visited President George H.W. Bush and attended a state dinner. During her visit they planted a tree on the South Lawn of the White House, replacing one previously planted in honor of her father. Then in 2007, she visited the White House again meeting with his son, President George W. Bush.

“Administrations in your country and governments in mine may come and go but talk we will, listen we have to, disagree from time to time we may, but united we must always remain,” the queen stated during a toast.

Through the years, the queen was the constant.

“Queen Elizabeth really represents to our country the manifestation of the special relationship between the U.S. and Great Britain and for seven decades she has been the embodiment of that friendship,” said Anita McBride, former chief of staff to first lady Laura Bush and former assistant to George W. Bush, and a staff member in the George H.W. Bush administration. “The relationship I think she had with each of our presidents was one of great admiration and respect on their part, vis-a-vis her.”

McBride said of the relationship between the queen and the Bushes: “I think there was a long friendship, a bond that was very special.”

She recalled the care and attention that went into making the White House shine, and the excitement in the months of planning the visit with all hands on deck, down to coordinating colors of dresses.

“I think the other thing I remember about Queen Elizabeth’s visit in 2007 that was really meaningful to the Bushes was Queen Elizabeth and President George H.W. Bush visited the World War II memorial together,” said McBride. “Here are these two world leaders; of course, she was still a sitting world leader, he was a former, but who so much of their life, you know, was formed by that incredible pivotal, historical, dramatic event in world history.”

She said Laura Bush had a great respect for the queen, noting in private moments they had a sense of humor and laughed over their dogs. The 2007 visit was timed with the Kentucky Derby, which the queen attended. Laura Bush invited the winning jockey to White House for the state dinner, as the queen was an avid horse rider.

“What I particularly am grateful for, too, was Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip were very gracious to those of us on the staff of the White House who really had been deeply involved in the planning of her visit. And she invited us to come over to Blair House, so she could say thank you to us. And I felt it was my time to say thank you to her for what she meant, what she represented the great respect I had for her and, and really the privilege that it was to work on her visit. So I’ll always be grateful for that,” McBride said.

Over the years, Queen Elizabeth also welcomed U.S. Presidents to Great Britain, including the Nixons, Reagans, Kennedys, Clintons, Obamas, Trumps and President Biden, and met presidents in other locations — George H.W. Bush at a Baltimore Orioles game and the Reagans at their ranch in California.

“They, I think, in some ways were the closest relationship of a president and the Queen of England,” said Barbara Perry, the presidential studies director at the University of Virginia Miller Center, about the Reagans and the queen. “She asked if she could come visit them there because she wanted to go horseback riding with President Reagan as they had done at Windsor.”

Perry said each president seemed to find their own relationship with the queen.

“I really do think it went from this father-daughter relationship to a, perhaps, a son-and-mother or son-and-grandmother relationship, and that each president seemed to find sort of a special link with her and vice versa,” Perry said.

But it reflected a significant and important relationship for the countries.

“Well, for example, in the case of the Reagan administration, particularly important as the cold war comes to its height, and ends then with the vice president under Reagan, when he becomes president Bush 41 was the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Soviet Union,” Perry said. “But again, to maintain that Atlantic Alliance that is embodied in NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, that had been conceived by FDR and Winston Churchill, who was the first prime minister that that the queen served with, was really important to keep that alliance going particularly at the height and peak of the Cold War.”

Following Queen Elizabeth’s death, President Biden ordered flags to fly at half staff and visited the British embassy in Washington, D.C., where people had placed flowers outside.

“Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was more than a monarch. She defined an era,” the president said in a statement.

Former American presidents reflected on her legacy.

“Her dignity, graciousness, and sense of duty have been an inspiration,” former President Jimmy Carter stated.

“Throughout her remarkable 70-year reign, she led Britain through great transformations with unfailing grace, dignity, and genuine care for the welfare of all its people.  In sunshine or storm, she was a source of stability, serenity, and strength,” former President Bill Clinton stated.

“Queen Elizabeth ably led England through dark moments with her confidence in her people and her vision for a brighter tomorrow. Our world benefited from her steady resolve, and we are grateful for her decades of service as sovereign. Americans in particular appreciate her strong and steadfast friendship,” stated former President George W. Bush.

“Back when we were just beginning to navigate life as President and First Lady, she welcomed us to the world stage with open arms and extraordinary generosity. Time and again, we were struck by her warmth, the way she put people at ease, and how she brought her considerable humor and charm to moments of great pomp and circumstance,” former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama stated.

“Her leadership and enduring diplomacy secured and advanced alliances with the United States and countries around the world. However, she will always be remembered for her faithfulness to her country and her unwavering devotion to her fellow countrymen and women,” stated former President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump.

Source: newsy.com

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

The Supply Chain Broke. Robots Are Supposed to Help Fix It.

The people running companies that deliver all manner of products gathered in Philadelphia last week to sift through the lessons of the mayhem besieging the global supply chain. At the center of many proposed solutions: robots and other forms of automation.

On the showroom floor, robot manufacturers demonstrated their latest models, offering them as efficiency-enhancing augments to warehouse workers. Driverless trucks and drones commanded display space, advertising an unfolding era in which machinery will occupy a central place in bringing products to our homes.

The companies depicted their technology as a way to save money on workers and optimize scheduling, while breaking down resistance to a future centered on evolving forms of automation.

persistent economic shocks have intensified traditional conflicts between employers and employees around the globe. Higher prices for energy, food and other goods — in part the result of enduring supply chain tangles — have prompted workers to demand higher wages, along with the right to continue working from home. Employers cite elevated costs for parts, raw materials and transportation in holding the line on pay, yielding a wave of strikes in countries like Britain.

The stakes are especially high for companies engaged in transporting goods. Their executives contend that the Great Supply Chain Disruption is largely the result of labor shortages. Ports are overwhelmed and retail shelves are short of goods because the supply chain has run out of people willing to drive trucks and move goods through warehouses, the argument goes.

Some labor experts challenge such claims, while reframing worker shortages as an unwillingness by employers to pay enough to attract the needed numbers of people.

“This shortage narrative is industry-lobbying rhetoric,” said Steve Viscelli, an economic sociologist at the University of Pennsylvania and author of “The Big Rig: Trucking and the Decline of the American Dream.” “There is no shortage of truck drivers. These are just really bad jobs.”

A day spent wandering the Home Delivery World trade show inside the Pennsylvania Convention Center revealed how supply chain companies are pursuing automation and flexible staffing as antidotes to rising wages. They are eager to embrace robots as an alternative to human workers. Robots never get sick, not even in a pandemic. They never stay home to attend to their children.

A large truck painted purple and white occupied a prime position on the showroom floor. It was a driverless delivery vehicle produced by Gatik, a Silicon Valley company that is running 30 of them between distribution centers and Walmart stores in Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas.

Here was the fix to the difficulties of trucking firms in attracting and retaining drivers, said Richard Steiner, Gatik’s head of policy and communications.

“It’s not quite as appealing a profession as it once was,” he said. “We’re able to offer a solution to that trouble.”

Nearby, an Israeli start-up company, SafeMode, touted a means to limit the notoriously high turnover plaguing the trucking industry. The company has developed an app that monitors the actions of drivers — their speed, the abruptness of their braking, their fuel efficiency — while rewarding those who perform better than their peers.

The company’s founder and chief executive, Ido Levy, displayed data captured the previous day from a driver in Houston. The driver’s steady hand at the wheel had earned him an extra $8 — a cash bonus on top of the $250 he typically earns in a day.

“We really convey a success feeling every day,” Mr. Levy, 31, said. “That really encourages retention. We’re trying to make them feel that they are part of something.”

Mr. Levy conceived of the company with a professor at the M.I.T. Media Lab who tapped research on behavioral psychology and gamification (using elements of game playing to encourage participation).

So far, the SafeMode system has yielded savings of 4 percent on fuel while increasing retention by one-quarter, Mr. Levy said.

Another company, V-Track, based in Charlotte, N.C., employs a technology that is similar to SafeMode’s, also in an effort to dissuade truck drivers from switching jobs. The company places cameras in truck cabs to monitor drivers, alerting them when they are looking at their phones, driving too fast or not wearing their seatbelt.

Jim Becker, the company’s product manager, said many drivers hade come to value the cameras as a means of protecting themselves against unwarranted accusations of malfeasance.

But what is the impact on retention if drivers chafe at being surveilled?

“Frustrations about increased surveillance, especially around in-cab cameras,” are a significant source of driver lament, said Max Farrell, co-founder and chief executive of WorkHound, which gathers real-time feedback.

Several companies on the show floor catered to trucking companies facing difficulties in hiring people to staff their dispatch centers. Their solution was moving such functions to countries where wages are lower.

Lean Solutions, based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., sets up call centers in Colombia and Guatemala — a response to “the labor challenge in the U.S.,” said Hunter Bell, a company sales agent.

A Kentucky start-up, NS Talent Solutions, establishes dispatch operations in Mexico, at a saving of up to 40 percent compared with the United States.

“The pandemic has helped,” said Michael Bartlett, director of sales. “The world is now comfortable with remote staffing.”

Scores of businesses promoted services that recruit and vet part-time and temporary workers, offering a way for companies to ramp up as needed without having to commit to full-time employees.

Pruuvn, a start-up in Atlanta, sells a service that allows companies to eliminate employees who recruit and conduct background checks.

“It allows you to get rid of or replace multiple individuals,” the company’s chief executive, Bryan Hobbs, said during a presentation.

Another staffing firm, Veryable of Dallas, offered a platform to pair workers such as retirees and students seeking part-time, temporary stints with supply chain companies.

Jonathan Katz, the company’s regional partnerships manager for the Southeast, described temporary staffing as the way for smaller warehouses and distribution operations that lack the money to install robots to enhance their ability to adjust to swings in demand.

A drone company, Zipline, showed video of its equipment taking off behind a Walmart in Pea Ridge, Ark., dropping items like mayonnaise and even a birthday cake into the backyards of customers’ homes. Another company, DroneUp, trumpeted plans to set up similar services at 30 Walmart stores in Arkansas, Texas and Florida by the end of the year.

But the largest companies are the most focused on deploying robots.

Locus, the manufacturer, has already outfitted 200 warehouses globally with its robots, recently expanding into Europe and Australia.

Locus says its machines are meant not to replace workers but to complement them — a way to squeeze more productivity out of the same warehouse by relieving the humans of the need to push the carts.

But the company also presents its robots as the solution to worker shortages. Unlike workers, robots can be easily scaled up and cut back, eliminating the need to hire and train temporary employees, Melissa Valentine, director of retail global accounts at Locus, said during a panel discussion.

Locus even rents out its robots, allowing customers to add them and eliminate them as needed. Locus handles the maintenance.

Robots can “solve labor issues,” said Nathan Ray, director of distribution center operations at Albertsons, the grocery chain, who previously held executive roles at Amazon and Target. “You can find a solution that’s right for your budget. There’s just so many options out there.”

As Mr. Ray acknowledged, a key impediment to the more rapid deployment of automation is fear among workers that robots are a threat to their jobs. Once they realize that the robots are there not to replace them but merely to relieve them of physically taxing jobs like pushing carts, “it gets really fun,” Mr. Ray said. “They realize it’s kind of cool.”

Workers even give robots cute nicknames, he added.

But another panelist, Bruce Dzinski, director of transportation at Party City, a chain of party supply stores, presented robots as an alternative to higher pay.

“You couldn’t get labor, so you raised your wages to try to get people,” he said. “And then everybody else raised wages.”

Robots never demand a raise.

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

How Abbott Kept Sick Babies From Becoming a Scandal

But in any individual case, it can be hard to prove what caused an infection. The potentially deadly bacteria resides in dirt and water; studies have found it in kitchens. Because the bacteria can clump together in formula containers, it’s possible for a sample to test negative even if Cronobacter was in the powder that went into a baby’s bottle.

Nick Stein, a lawyer with a small practice in Indiana, recalled the first time he encountered a case involving contaminated formula. A woman walked into his office with her toddler, limp in her arms, and explained that the child had suffered brain damage after being fed formula. Mr. Stein negotiated a settlement. More cases followed, and they, too, resulted in settlements that required Mr. Stein and his clients to keep quiet.

In 2005, Mr. Stein received an email from Kimberly Sisk in rural Pisgah Forest, N.C. Her son, Slade, had suffered debilitating brain damage after consuming Abbott’s Similac powdered infant formula in 2004. Ms. Sisk, who lived in a mobile home and worked as a house cleaner, faced a lifetime of medical costs. In February 2007, Mr. Stein and a colleague, Stephen Meyer, sued Abbott in state court in North Carolina.

The ensuing seven-year battle would become a case study for how firms like Jones Day use their mastery of the legal system to grind down — and in some cases attack — plaintiffs who have limited money and time on their hands.

The first volley came in late 2007. Jones Day filed a motion seeking to remove Mr. Stein and Mr. Meyer from the case. The rationale was that, in an unrelated infant-formula case in Kentucky, Mr. Meyer had been in touch with an expert witness that Abbott had used in a different case. It turned out the expert had an ongoing relationship with Abbott. None of this had anything to do with Ms. Sisk’s case. But the trial judge concluded that the contact with the expert “constitutes the appearance of impropriety” and granted Abbott’s motion. An appeals court reversed the decision. Then, in 2010, the State Supreme Court upheld the initial ruling.

More than three years had passed since Ms. Sisk’s lawsuit was filed, and the case hadn’t progressed. Now she had no lawyers. Mr. Stoffel, the Abbott spokesman, denied that the company was trying to delay the legal proceedings, but Ms. Sisk was skeptical. “Time is on their side,” she said. “It behooves them to stretch it out.”

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Some States Could Tax Biden’s Student Loan Debt Relief

Some states tax forgiven debt as income, which means borrowers who are still paying down student loans could owe taxes on money taken off their bill.

President Joe Biden’s student loan forgiveness plan could lift crushing debt burdens from millions of borrowers, but the tax man may demand a cut of the relief in some states.

That’s because some states tax forgiven debt as income, which means borrowers who are still paying down student loans could owe taxes on as much as $10,000 or even $20,000 that was taken off their bill. In Mississippi, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Arkansas and North Carolina, forgiven student loans will be subject to state income taxes unless they change their laws to conform with a federal tax exemption for student loans, according to a tally by the Tax Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

That dismays Cathy Newman, a Louisiana State University graduate who just took a job teaching freshman biology at the University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg. She figures she could end up owing a few hundred dollars of money that she could have kept had she stayed in Louisiana.

Newman said she can come up with the cash because she has a good job, but she knows of a lot of other borrowers who will still be stuck in difficult financial positions even with their loans forgiven.

“If they stay in the state, they could end up with a pretty hefty tax burden if things don’t change,” Newman said. “I won’t be happy if I have to do it. I can do it. But a lot of people can’t.”

More than 40 million Americans could see their student loan debt cut or eliminated under the forgiveness plan President Biden announced late last month. The president is erasing $10,000 in federal student loan debt for individuals with incomes below $125,000 a year, or households that earn less than $250,000. He’s canceling an additional $10,000 for those who also used federal Pell Grants to pay for college. But it only applies to those whose loans were paid out before July 1, which leaves out current high school seniors and students who will follow them.

Although having $10,000 or $20,000 in loan payments eliminated will be a boon over the long term to borrowers who qualify, those in the affected states might be required to declare that as income. Depending on a state’s tax rates, the taxpayer’s other income and the deductions and exemptions they’re able to claim, that could add up to several hundred extra tax dollars that they’ll owe.

Spokespeople for tax agencies in several states — including Virginia, Idaho, New York, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Kentucky — told The Associated Press that their states definitely won’t tax student loans forgiven under President Biden’s program. Revenue officials in a few other states said they needed to do more research to know.

Newman, 38, went into debt to pay for graduate school. She had already set herself up for relief under the federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness program, though that requires five more years of teaching on top of the five she already taught at the University of Louisiana Monroe. President Biden’s program would cut $10,000 off her debt load when it takes effect, but under existing Mississippi tax law, the relief won’t come free.

“It’s not a huge burden for me, but it could be for a lot of other people, which is what I’m worried about, especially if it’s unexpected, and I think a lot of people don’t realize that,” Newman said.

Any relief in states that would tax the forgiven debt would have to come from their Legislatures. Leaders of the Minnesota Legislature and Democratic Gov. Tim Walz have indicated in recent media interviews that there’s broad support for a fix, which could come during the 2023 session, or even earlier on the remote chance of a special session.

In Wisconsin, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ administration plans to propose a fix in the state budget next year, but that would have to be approved by the Republican-controlled Legislature. And Evers needs to get reelected in November before he can formally make that request. Republican legislative leaders and Evers’ GOP challenger, Tim Michels, did not reply to messages seeking comment on the student loan tax issue.

However, in Mississippi, the chairman of the state Senate committee in charge of taxes said he’s willing to take a look when the Legislature convenes next year. Republican state Sen. Josh Harkins, of Brandon, said he needs to learn more about what his state’s tax laws say on debt forgiveness.

“I’m sure people will want to look at adjusting that or making some changes in the law, but a lot of factors have to be considered,” Harkins said, noting that Mississippi enacted its biggest-ever tax cut earlier this year and adding that he wants to gauge the impact of inflation before making big tax policy decisions. “This all just hit in the last week.”

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Trump Moves To General Election Mode With Pennsylvania Rally

The stakes are particularly high for Trump as he lays the groundwork for an expected 2024 presidential run amid a series of legal challenges.

Larry Mitko voted for Donald Trump in 2016. But the Republican from Beaver County in western Pennsylvania says he has no plans to back his party’s nominee for Senate, Dr. Mehmet Oz — “no way, no how.”

Mitko doesn’t feel like he knows the celebrity heart surgeon, who only narrowly won his May primary with Trump’s backing. Instead, Mitko plans to vote for Oz’s Democratic rival, Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, a name he’s been familiar with since Fetterman’s days as mayor of nearby Braddock.

“Dr. Oz hasn’t showed me one thing to get me to vote for him,” he said. “I won’t vote for someone I don’t know.”

Mitko’s thinking underscores the political challenges facing Trump and the rest of the Republican Party as the former president was shifting to general election mode with a rally Saturday night in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, the first of the fall campaign.

While Trump’s endorsed picks won many Republican primaries this summer, many of the candidates he backed were inexperienced and polarizing figures now struggling in their November races. That’s putting Senate control — once assumed to be a lock for Republicans — on the line.

Among those candidates are Oz in Pennsylvania, author JD Vance in Ohio, venture capitalist Blake Masters in Arizona and former football star Herschel Walker in Georgia.

“Republicans have now nominated a number of candidates who’ve never run for office before for very high-profile Senate races,” said veteran Republican pollster Whit Ayres. While he isn’t writing his party’s chances off just yet, he said, “It’s a much more difficult endeavor than a candidate who had won several difficult political races before.”

The stakes are particularly high for Trump as he lays the groundwork for an expected 2024 presidential run amid a series of escalating legal challenges, including the FBI’s recent seizure of classified documents from his Florida home. Investigators also continue to probe his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

This past week, President Joe Biden gave a prime-time speech in Philadelphia warning that Trump and other “MAGA” Republicans — the acronym for Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan — posed a threat to U.S. democracy. President Biden has tried to frame the upcoming vote, as he did the 2020 election, as a battle for the “soul of the nation.” President Biden’s Labor Day visit to Pittsburgh will be his third to the state within a week, a sign of Pennsylvania’s election-year importance.

While Republicans were once seen as having a good chance of gaining control of both chambers of Congress in November amid soaring inflation, high gas prices and President Biden’s slumping approval ratings, Republicans have found themselves on defense since the Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade decision protecting abortion rights.

Some candidates, like Doug Mastriano, the GOP’s hard-line nominee for governor in Pennsylvania, are sticking with their primary campaign playbooks, hoping they can win by turning out Trump’s loyal base even if they alienate more moderate voters.

Mastriano, who wants to outlaw abortion even when pregnancies are the result of rape or incest or endanger the life of the mother, played a leading role in Trump’s effort to overturn the 2020 election and was seen outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, as pro-Trump rioters stormed the building.

But others have been trying to broaden their appeal, scrubbing from their websites references to anti-abortion messaging that is out of step with the political mainstream. Masters, for instance, removed language from a policy section of his website that labeled him “100% pro-life,” as well as language saying, “if we had had a free and fair election, President Trump would be sitting in the Oval Office today.” Others have played down Trump endorsements that were once featured prominently.

The shifting climate has prompted rounds of finger-pointing in the party, including from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who last month cited “candidate quality” as he lowered expectations that Republicans would recapture control of the Senate in November.

Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who leads the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said those who complain about the party’s nominees have “contempt” for the voters who chose them.

“It’s an amazing act of cowardice, and ultimately, it’s treasonous to the conservative cause,” he wrote in an op-ed in the Washington Examiner.

Trump, too, fired back, calling McConnell a “disgrace” as he defended the party’s candidate roster.

“There’s some very good people,” he said in a radio interview. “You know, takes a lot of courage to run and they spend their wealth on it and they put their reputations on the line.”

Democrats have also piled on.

“Senate campaigns are candidate versus candidate battles and Republicans have put forward a roster of deeply flawed recruits,” said David Bergstein, the Senate Democratic campaign committee’s communication director. He credited Trump with deterring experienced Republicans from running, elevating flawed candidates and forcing them to take positions that are out of step with the general electorate.

“All those factors have contributed to the weakness of the slate of Republican candidates they’ve been left with,” he said. A Trump spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

In Pennsylvania, Republicans are hoping Oz’s shortcomings as a candidate will be overshadowed by concerns about Fetterman, who suffered a stroke just days before the primary and has been sidelined for much of the summer. He continues to keep a light public schedule and visibly struggled to speak at a recent event.

Republicans acknowledge that Oz struggles to come off as authentic and was slow to punch back as Fetterman spent the summer trolling him on social media and portraying him as an out-of-touch carpetbagger from New Jersey.

While Fetterman, whom Republicans deride as “Bernie Sanders in gym shorts,” leads Oz in polls and fundraising, Republicans say they expect the money gap to narrow and are pleased to see Oz within striking distance after getting hammered by $20 million in negative advertising during the primaries.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee is helping finance a new round of Oz’s television ads, and the Senate Leadership Fund, a McConnell-aligned super political action committee, says it added $9.5 million to its TV buy — boosting its overall commitment to $34.1 million by Election Day.

“Regardless of what people may have heard in the primary, they’re going to realize that Oz is the best choice for Pennsylvania,” said Pennsylvania Republican National Committeeman Andy Reilly.

A super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., says it has made $32 million in television ad reservations in the state.

Oz has won over some once-skeptical voters, like Glen Rubendall, who didn’t vote for the TV doctor in his seven-way primary — a victory so narrow it went to a statewide recount — but said he’s come around.

“I’ve been listening to him speak, and I have a pro-Oz view now,” said Rubendall, a retired state corrections officer.

Traci Martin, a registered independent, also plans to vote for Oz because she opposes abortion, despite ads that aired during the primary featuring past Oz statements that seemed supportive of abortion rights.

“I hope he is (anti-abortion),” Martin said, “but the sad part is we live in an age when we see politicians say one thing and do another.”

 Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Mississippi Governor Declares Water Emergency For Jackson

By Associated Press
August 30, 2022

Excessive rainfall has worsened problems in a water treatment plant in the capital city.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves said Monday night that he is declaring a state of emergency after excessive rainfall exacerbated problems in one of Jackson’s water-treatment plants and caused low water pressure through much of the capital city.

The low pressure raised concerns about firefighting and about people’s ability to take showers or flush toilets.

Reeves said that on Tuesday, the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency will start distributing both drinking water and non-potable water in the city of 150,000 residents, and the National Guard will be called in to help. The governor said he understands people in Jackson don’t want to have water system problems.

“I get it. I live in the city. It’s not news that I want to hear,” Reeves said. “But we are going to be there for you.”

A swollen Pearl River flooded streets and at least one home in Jackson on Monday, days after storms dumped heavy rain, but water levels were starting to recede. Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba said the water did not rise as high as expected. Earlier projections showed about 100 to 150 buildings in the Jackson area faced the possibility of flooding.

“We thank the Lord most of all for sparing so many of our residents,” Lumumba said Monday, hours before the governor spoke about the water system.

The National Weather Service said the Pearl River had crested at about 35.4 feet. That is short of the major flood stage level of 36 feet.

Jackson has two water-treatment plants, and the larger one is near a reservoir that provides most of the city’s water supply. The reservoir also has a role in flood control.

Lumumba — a Democrat who was not invited to the Republican governor’s news conference — said flooding has created additional problems at the treatment plant, and low water pressure could last a few days.

“What I liken it to is if you were drinking out of a Styrofoam cup, someone puts a hole in the bottom of it, you’re steady trying to fill it while it’s steady running out at the bottom,” Lumumba said.

Jackson has longstanding problems with its water system. A cold snap in 2021 left a significant number of people without running water after pipes froze. Similar problems happened again early this year, on a smaller scale. The city has been under a boil-water notice since late July because tests found a cloudy quality to the water that could lead to health problems.

Legislative leaders reacted with alarm to Jackson’s latest water system problems.

“We have grave concerns for citizens’ health and safety,” Republican Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann said in a statement Monday, suggesting the state take a role in trying to solve the issue.

The Republican House speaker, Philip Gunn, said he has been contacted by hospitals, businesses and schools “pleading that something be done to address the water crisis in Jackson.”

As the Pearl River started to rise last week, some Jackson residents started moving furniture and appliances out of their homes, and others stocked up on sandbags. Two years ago, torrential rain caused the river to reach 36.7 feet and Jackson homes in the hardest-hit neighborhoods were filled with dirty, snake-infested floodwaters.

Suzannah Thames owns a three-bedroom rental home in northeast Jackson that flooded with about 3 feet of water in 2020. Thames hired a crew to move appliances, furniture and other belongings out of the home Friday. She said Monday that the home flooded with about 3 to 4 inches inches of water late Sunday.

“I thought it was going to be a lot worse,” Thames said. “I feel very fortunate. I feel very blessed.”

Andre Warner, 54, said Monday that his family had put all their furniture up on cinderblocks inside their home to prepare for possible flooding in another northeast Jackson neighborhood.

Warner said the family had to leave home for two weeks during the 2020 flood. Water did not enter their house then, but electricity was off in their neighborhood because other homes were inundated.

“We had to wait for it to drain and dry out for them to cut the grid back on,” Warner said.

The Mississippi flooding was less severe than flooding that caused death and destruction in Kentucky last month. Those floods left at least 39 dead and robbed thousands of families of all of their possessions. Nearly a month later, residents are wrestling with whether to rebuild at the place they call home or to start over somewhere else.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<