being repeatedly told that the American election process is deeply corrupted.

In fact, Mr. Mastriano’s candidacy has from its inception been propelled by his role in disputing the 2020 presidential election lost by Mr. Trump.

county by county, but election experts say they do not reflect factors as benign as changes in addresses.

“They’re in search of solutions to a problem that doesn’t exist,” Kyle Miller, a Navy veteran and state representative for Protect Democracy, a national advocacy organization, said in an interview in Harrisburg. “They are basing this on faulty data and internet rumors.”

Some Republican lawmakers have leaned on false claims to call for changes to rules about mail-in ballots and other measures intended to make it easier for people to vote. Several counties have already reversed some of the decisions, including the number and location of drop boxes for ballots.

Mr. Miller, among others, warned that the flurry of false claims about balloting could be a trial run for challenging the results of the presidential election in 2024, in which Pennsylvania could again be a crucial swing state.

In Chester County, a largely white region that borders Delaware and Maryland that is roughly split between Republicans and Democrats, the effort to sow confusion came the old-fashioned way: in the mail.

Letters dated Sept. 12 began arriving in mailboxes across the county, warning people that their votes in the 2020 presidential election might not have counted. “Because you have a track record of consistently voting, we find it unusual that your record indicates that you did not vote,” the letter, which was unsigned, said.

The sender called itself “Data Insights,” based in the county seat of West Chester, though no known record of such a company exists, according to county officials. The letters did include copies of the recipients’ voting records. The letters urged recipients to write to the county commissioners or attend the commission’s meetings in the county seat of West Chester, in September and October. Dozens of recipients did.

The county administrator, Robert J. Kagel, tried to assure them that their votes were actually counted. He urged anyone concerned to contact the county’s voter services department.

Even so, at county meetings in September and October, speaker after speaker lined up to question the letter and the ballot process generally — and to air an array of grievances and conspiracy theories.

They included the discredited claims of the film “2000 Mules” that operatives have been stuffing boxes for mail-in ballots. One attendee warned that votes were being tabulated by the Communist Party of China or the World Economic Forum.

“I don’t know where my vote is,” another resident, Barbara Ellis of Berwyn, told the commissioners in October. “I don’t know if it was manipulated in the machines, in another country.”

As of Oct. 20, 59 people in Chester County had contacted officials with concerns raised in the letter, but in each case, it was determined that the voters’ ballots had been cast and counted, said Rebecca Brain, a county spokesman.

Who exactly sent the letters remains a mystery, which only fuels more conspiracy theories.

“It seems very official,” Charlotte Valyo, the chairwoman of the Democratic Party in the county, said of the letter. She described it as part of “an ongoing, constant campaign to undermine the confidence in our voting system.” The county’s Republican Party did not respond to a request for comment.

Disinformation may not be the only cause of the deepening partisan chasm in the state — or the nation — but it has undoubtedly worsened it. The danger, Ms. Valyo warned, was discouraging voting by sowing distrust in the ability of election officials to tally the votes.

“People might think, ‘Why bother, if they’re that messed up?’”

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Impac Mortgage Holdings, Inc. Announces Completion of Exchange Offers Relating to its Preferred Stock

IRVINE, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Impac Mortgage Holdings, Inc. (NYSE American: IMH) (the “Company”) today announced the completion of its previously announced offers to each holder of the Company’s 9.375% Series B Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Stock, par value $0.01 per share (“Series B Preferred Stock”) and each holder of the Company’s 9.125% Series C Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Stock, par value $0.01 per share (the “Series C Preferred Stock,” and together with the Series B Preferred Stock, the “Preferred Stock”) to exchange all outstanding shares of Preferred Stock for certain stock and warrant consideration (the “Exchange Offers”).

In conjunction with the closing of the Exchange Offers, the Company will issue approximately (A) (i) 6,142,213 shares of Common Stock and (ii) 13,823,340 shares of the Company’s 8.25% Series D Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Stock, par value $0.01 per share (the “New Preferred Stock”) in exchange for the shares of Series B Preferred Stock tendered in the Exchange Offer for the Series B Preferred Stock, and (B) (i) 1,188,106 shares of Common Stock, (ii) 950,471 shares of New Preferred Stock, and (iii) 1,425,695 Warrants to purchase the same number of shares of Common Stock in exchange for the shares of Series C Preferred Stock tendered in the Exchange Offer for the Series C Preferred Stock.

In addition, in connection with the petitions (the “Plaintiff Series B Award Motions”) for a court award of attorney’s fees, expenses or other monetary award to be deducted and paid from the Company’s payment of distributions or other payments to the holders of the Company’s Series B Preferred Stock in the matter Curtis J. Timm, et al. v Impac Mortgage Holdings, Inc. et al. (the “Maryland Action”), the Company will deposit, no later than November 2, 2022, approximately (i) 13,311,840 shares of New Preferred Stock and (ii) 4,437,280 shares of the Company’s Common Stock in the custody of a third party custodian or escrow agent (the “Escrow Shares”). The allocation of the Escrow Shares will be made by instruction from the Circuit Court of Baltimore City upon final disposition of all outstanding matters in the Maryland Action, including the Plaintiff Series B Award Motions.

D.F. King & Co., Inc. served as the Information Agent and Solicitation Agent for the Exchange Offers and the accompanying solicitation of consents from the holders of Preferred Stock, and American Stock Transfer & Trust Company, LLC served as the Exchange Agent.

This announcement is for informational purposes only and shall not constitute an offer to purchase or a solicitation of an offer to sell the shares of Preferred Stock, an offer to sell or a solicitation of an offer to buy any shares of the Company’s Common Stock, par value $0.01 per share, warrants to purchase Common Stock, or shares of the Company’s 8.25% Series D Cumulative Redeemable Preferred Stock, par value $0.01 per share, or a solicitation of the related consents. The Exchange Offers were made only through, and pursuant to the terms and conditions set forth in, the Company’s Schedule TO, Prospectus/Consent Solicitation and related Letters of Transmittal and Consents.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Forward-looking statements, some of which are based on various assumptions and events that are beyond our control, may be identified by reference to a future period or periods or by the use of forward-looking terminology, such as “may,” “capable,” “will,” “intends,” “believe,” “expect,” “likely,” “potentially,” “appear,” “should,” “could,” “seem to,” “anticipate,” “expectations,” “plan,” “ensure,” “desire,” or similar terms or variations on those terms or the negative of those terms. The forward-looking statements are based on current management expectations. Actual results may differ materially as a result of several factors, including, but not limited to the following: acceptance of a plan for regaining compliance with the NYSE American’s listed company standards; impact on the U.S. economy and financial markets due to the outbreak and continued effect of the COVID-19 pandemic; our ability to successfully consummate the contemplated exchange offers for our outstanding preferred stock and receive the requisite consents for the proposed amendments to our charter documents to facilitate the redemption from holders of our outstanding preferred stock who do not participate in the exchange offers; any adverse impact or disruption to the Company’s operations; changes in general economic and financial conditions (including federal monetary policy, interest rate changes, and inflation); increase in interest rates, inflation, and margin compression; ability to successfully sell aggregated loans to third-party investors; successful development, marketing, sale and financing of new and existing financial products, including NonQM products; recruit and hire talent to rebuild our TPO NonQM origination team, and increase NonQM originations; volatility in the mortgage industry; performance of third-party sub-servicers; our ability to manage personnel expenses in relation to mortgage production levels; our ability to successfully use warehousing capacity and satisfy financial covenants; our ability to maintain compliance with the continued listing requirements of the NYSE American for our common stock; increased competition in the mortgage lending industry by larger or more efficient companies; issues and system risks related to our technology; ability to successfully create cost and product efficiencies through new technology including cyber risk and data security risk; more than expected increases in default rates or loss severities and mortgage related losses; ability to obtain additional financing through lending and repurchase facilities, debt or equity funding, strategic relationships or otherwise; the terms of any financing, whether debt or equity, that we do obtain and our expected use of proceeds from any financing; increase in loan repurchase requests and ability to adequately settle repurchase obligations; failure to create brand awareness; the outcome of any claims we are subject to, including any settlements of litigation or regulatory actions pending against us or other legal contingencies; and compliance with applicable local, state and federal laws and regulations.

For a discussion of these and other risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements, see our latest Annual Report on Form 10-K and Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q we file with the SEC and in particular the discussion of “Risk Factors” therein. This document speaks only as of its date and we do not undertake, and expressly disclaim any obligation, to release publicly the results of any revisions that may be made to any forward-looking statements to reflect the occurrence of anticipated or unanticipated events or circumstances after the date of such statements except as required by law.

About the Company

Impac Mortgage Holdings, Inc. (IMH or Impac) provides innovative mortgage lending and real estate solutions that address the challenges of today’s economic environment. Impac’s operations include mortgage lending, servicing, portfolio loss mitigation, real estate services, and the management of the securitized long-term mortgage portfolio, which includes the residual interests in securitizations.

For additional information, questions or comments, please call Justin Moisio, Chief Administrative Officer at (949) 475-3988 or email Justin.Moisio@ImpacMail.com.

Website: http://ir.impaccompanies.com or www.impaccompanies.com

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Beazer Homes USA, Inc. to Webcast Its Fourth Quarter and Full Year Fiscal 2022 Financial Results Conference Call on November 10, 2022

ATLANTA–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Beazer Homes (NYSE: BZH) (www.beazer.com) has scheduled the release of its financial results for the quarter ended September 30, 2022 on Thursday, November 10, 2022 after the close of the market. Management will host a conference call on the same day at 5:00 PM ET to discuss the results.

The public may listen to the conference call and view the Company’s slide presentation on the “Investor Relations” page of the Company’s website, www.beazer.com. In addition, the conference call will be available by telephone at 800-475-0542 (for international callers, dial 517-308-9429). To be admitted to the call, enter the pass code “8571348.” A replay of the conference call will be available, until 10:00 PM ET on November 18, 2022 at 888-566-0411 (for international callers, dial 203-369-3041) with pass code “3740.”

About Beazer Homes

Headquartered in Atlanta, Beazer Homes (NYSE: BZH) is one of the country’s largest homebuilders. Every Beazer home is designed and built to provide Surprising Performance, giving you more quality and more comfort from the moment you move in – saving you money every month. With Beazer’s Choice Plans™, you can personalize your primary living areas – giving you a choice of how you want to live in the home, at no additional cost. And unlike most national homebuilders, we empower our customers to shop and compare loan options. Our Mortgage Choice program gives you the resources to easily compare multiple loan offers and choose the best lender and loan offer for you, saving you thousands over the life of your loan.

We build our homes in Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Nevada, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. For more information, visit beazer.com, or check out Beazer on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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EXCLUSIVE Fed’s Bullard favors ‘frontloading’ rate hikes now, with wait-and-see stance in 2023

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WASHINGTON, Oct 14 (Reuters) – A “hotter-than-expected” September inflation report doesn’t necessarily mean the Federal Reserve needs to raise interest rates higher than officials projected at their most recent policy meeting, St. Louis Fed President James Bullard said on Friday, though it does warrant continued “frontloading” through larger hikes of three-quarters of a percentage point.

In a Reuters interview, Bullard said U.S. Consumer Price Index data for September, which was released on Thursday, showed inflation had become “pernicious” and difficult to arrest, and therefore “it makes sense that we’re still moving quickly.”

After delivering a fourth straight 75-basis-point hike at its policy meeting next month, Bullard said “if it was today, I’d go ahead with” a hike of the same magnitude in December, though he added it was “too early to prejudge” what to do at that final meeting of the year.

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If the Fed follows through with two more 75-basis-point hikes this year, its policy rate would end 2022 in a range of 4.50%-4.75%.

In what were tempered remarks for one of the Fed’s most hawkish voices recently, Bullard said that at that point he would let further increases rest on incoming data.

“I do think 2023 should be a data-dependent sort of year. It’s two-sided risk. It is very possible that the data would come in a way that forces the (Federal Open Market) Committee higher on the policy rate. But it’s also possible that you get a good disinflationary dynamic going, and in that situation the committee could keep the policy rate and hold it steady,” Bullard said a day after the U.S. government reported that consumer price inflation remained above 8% last month.

The possibility of a fifth larger-than-usual increase in December is “a little more frontloading than what I’ve said in the past,” he added.

But the trajectory mapped out by Bullard would still leave the target policy rate at the median level that Fed officials projected last month they would need to reach – evidence of a broad consensus at the central bank around at least a temporary stopping point after a year in which they have ratcheted rate expectations steadily higher.

Even if some of Bullard’s colleagues want to reach that point in smaller interim steps and not until early next year, Bullard said he regards faster increases as warranted because the U.S. labor market remains strong, and “there’s just not much indication that we’re getting the disinflation that we’re looking for.”

Though some investors and economists expect the Fed will need to lift its policy rate even further, to 5% or higher, Bullard said, “I wouldn’t predict that now … If that happens it will be because inflation doesn’t come down the way we’re hoping in the first half of 2023 and we continue to get hot inflation reports.”

The level he has penciled in for the end of the year is adequate, he believes, to lower the Fed’s closely-watched core personal consumption expenditures inflation index to below 3% next year, a long way back to the central bank’s 2% target.

‘SOFT LANDING’

Bullard said that despite the sense of turbulence in financial markets, there was “still a fair amount of potential for a soft landing,” with the United States likely to avoid a recession and companies reluctant to lay off workers who have been hard to hire during the post-pandemic economic reopening.

Warnings about recession risk may be distorted in part by inflation itself, Bullard said, with short-term bond yields driven higher than longer-term ones not for lack of faith in the economy, an “inversion” of the yield curve that shows investors betting on a recession, but because of the premium charged for the inflation taking place now.

Volatility in markets is to be expected when rates rise, he said, but may settle after a period of adjustment.

“It’s the transition that throws everybody for a loop,” Bullard said. But after that, the economy “could grow just as fast at the higher interest rates,” he said.

Asked about the sense that overseas events, such as the tension between the Bank of England and the current British government, may risk broader financial problems, Bullard said that his regional bank’s index of financial stress showed it to be low.

Compared to the sorts of serious market seizures seen during the financial crisis in 2008 or the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in early 2020, “I don’t think we’re in a situation where global markets are facing a lot of stress of that type.”

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Reporting by Howard Schneider; Editing by Dan Burns and Paul Simao

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Howard Schneider

Thomson Reuters

Covers the U.S. Federal Reserve, monetary policy and the economy, a graduate of the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University with previous experience as a foreign correspondent, economics reporter and on the local staff of the Washington Post.

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Bank of England governor has ‘meeting of minds’ with Hunt

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  • Bailey says he talked to new finance minister on Friday
  • ‘Very clear and immediate meeting of minds’ on fiscal challenge
  • Rates likely to rise by more than thought in August – Bailey
  • Recent bond-buying not about targeting yields

WASHINGTON, Oct 15 (Reuters) – Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey said there was an “immediate meeting of minds” when he spoke with finance minister Jeremy Hunt about the need to fix the public finances after the tax cut plans of Hunt’s predecessor unleashed market turmoil.

Bailey, speaking in Washington where British officials attending International Monetary Fund meetings have been put on the spot about the crisis engulfing the country, said he had spoken to Hunt on Friday after he replaced Kwasi Kwarteng.

“I can tell you that there was a very clear and immediate meeting of minds between us about the importance of fiscal sustainability and the importance of taking measures to do that,” Bailey said.

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“Of course there was an important measure taken yesterday,” he said at an event where he also hinted at a big interest rate rise by the central bank next month.

Prime Minister Liz Truss, seeking to save her term in office which is barely a month old, said on Friday that Britain’s corporation tax rate would increase, reversing a key pledge made during her bid for Downing Street.

Hunt said earlier on Saturday that some taxes might have to rise and others might not fall as much as planned, signalling a further shift away from Truss’s original plans.

Bailey, speaking at an event organised by the Group of Thirty, which comprises financiers and academics, welcomed the role that Britain’s independent budget watchdog would have in assessing the budget plan that Hunt will publish on Oct. 31.

The Office for Budget Responsibility was not tasked with weighing up the impact of Kwarteng’s “mini-budget” which set off a slump in the value of the pound and government bonds when he announced it on Sept. 23.

“Flying blind is not a way to achieve sustainability,” Bailey said.

Truss criticised the BoE during her leadership campaign, saying she wanted to set a “clear direction of travel” for the central bank. BoE officials pushed back at those comments saying their independence was key to managing the economy.

‘STRONGER RESPONSE’ WITH RATES

Bailey said the BoE might raise interest rates by more than it previously thought because of the government’s huge energy bill support – which could lower inflation in the short term but push it up further ahead – and whatever it decides to do on tax cuts and spending.

“We will not hesitate to raise interest rates to meet the inflation target,” Bailey said. “And, as things stand today, my best guess is that inflationary pressures will require a stronger response than we perhaps thought in August.”

The BoE raised rates by half a percentage point in August – at the time its biggest increase in 27 years – and then did so again in September with inflation around 10%, far above the BoE’s target of 2%.

It is due to announce its next decision on Nov. 3 and many investors think it will either raise them from their current level of 2.25% to 3% or possibly 3.25%.

In the shorter term, the BoE will be keeping a close eye on how financial markets behave on Monday after it ended its emergency bond-buying programme on Friday.

Bailey said the now-completed intervention was “not about steering market yields towards some particular level, but rather preventing them from being distorted by market dysfunction”.

He said the BoE had acted after the violent market moves which exposed the “flaws in the strategy and structure” of a lot of pension funds.

The intervention was different to the much bigger and longer-running bond-buying that the BoE undertook during the coronavirus pandemic and earlier as a monetary policy tool.

“In these difficult times, we need to be very clear on this framework of intervention,” Bailey said.

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Reporting by Howard Schneider in Washington and William Schomberg in London; Additional reporting by Michael Holden in London; Editing by David Clarke

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Howard Schneider

Thomson Reuters

Covers the U.S. Federal Reserve, monetary policy and the economy, a graduate of the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University with previous experience as a foreign correspondent, economics reporter and on the local staff of the Washington Post.

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Maryland Quietly Shelves Parts Of Genealogy Privacy Law

Maryland set limits on police access to ancestry websites. But state leaders stopped rolling out some of the new law, a Newsy investigation finds.

State leaders in Maryland quietly stopped implementing key parts of a landmark privacy law meant to protect ancestry data online, a Newsy investigation has discovered. 

The law, enacted last year, was seen as a model for other states looking to set standards for when law enforcement can tap into DNA uploaded by Americans researching their heritage.

“States that don’t have a law like ours, it’s kind of the Wild West,” said Natalie Ram, law professor at the University of Maryland.

The state’s law set some of the first limits in the nation on forensic genetic genealogy, a technique used occasionally to help crack the toughest murder and rape cases. 

Authorities take DNA from a crime scene, and if they can’t find a match to known offenders in law enforcement databases, they compare the sample to profiles of millions of Americans whose DNA is online from ancestry research.

“Like where I would go to try to find my long-lost relatives, we would use exactly those same publicly available tools to try to find out, whose DNA is this?” said Ray Wickenheiser, director of the New York State Police Crime Lab System. 

Forensic genetic genealogy has become a more popular practice after 2018, when it was used to help catch Joseph DeAngelo, the notorious “Golden State Killer.”

But unlike a police search of a home or car, there were virtually no standards for when and how law enforcement could dip into genetic genealogy data online. 

Maryland’s law set some of the nation’s first guardrails on the investigative tool. 

“It is comprehensive,” Ram said. “It regulates the initiation of forensic genetic genealogy, how it is conducted.”

Newsy’s investigation found, almost a year after the law became active in October 2021, key pieces of it have yet to roll out. 

The Maryland Department of Health has yet to publish best practices and minimum qualifications for people using forensic genetic genealogy.

In a required annual report, a branch of the governor’s office failed to disclose how often law enforcement accesses ancestry data, as well as the number of complaints. 

The health department also suspended a task force working on the new regulations, without providing an explanation even to members of that task force, including Wickenheiser. 

The Maryland Department of Health would not answer Newsy’s detailed questions about the lack of progress. 

But emails obtained through state open records requests show by March, a decision had been made to stop implementing major parts of the law.

Dr. Tricia Nay, director of the health department’s Office of Health Care Quality, wrote in a March 16 email, “Unfortunately, OHCQ did not receive any staff or funding for this bill, so we are unable to implement it at this time.”

A health department spokesman confirmed there are no funds to support the law this fiscal year, which runs through June 2023. 

That came as news to Ram, who worked with legislators to get the pioneering law on the books. 

“That concerns me,” Ram said. “I’d like to see this law implemented, and I hope that resources are available to do so.”  

The law has faced other challenges, including concern and opposition from a key health department leader.

In an email dated June 13, 2021, Paul Celli, public˙health administrator for clinical and forensic laboratories, wrote: “I am just not sure how to go about getting started on all of this. The bill tasked OHCQ with all this with zero consultation on it … I don’t even agree with most of what’s in it …”

Emails show that by this summer, communication appeared to break down between the Maryland Department of Health and Maryland State Police, another agency also required to help roll out the law. 

“I still don’t know what MDH’s plan is in regard to the regulations. They have gone silent and I’ve tried every avenue available to me to get some resolution without success,” reads a July 13 email from Dan Katz, lab director for Maryland State Police.

Katz declined a request to be interviewed for this story.

Maryland Department of Health spokesman Chase Cook sent a statement responding to Newsy’s findings: “The Maryland Department of Health has actively been working internally and with our partner state agencies on implementation of this law, which we understand has not been implemented anywhere else in the United States. We will provide further updates as they become available.”

For now, ancestry websites are setting their own privacy rules. 

User terms of service for ancestry.com and 23andme.com say they won’t voluntarily share data with law enforcement. 

There are looser restrictions on GEDmatch.com, a free online ancestry database used to find the Golden State Killer.

The site has 1.8 million profiles.

Users must opt out if they don’t want to share data with police.

“For me, it’s critical that Maryland continue this,” Wickenheiser said. “The sooner we can have these discussions and have these laws put in place, the better it is. We want to prevent and solve crime, and we also want to make sure that we respect people’s rights.”

A major test of how things are going in Maryland is just weeks away: The law requires the health department to establish licensing requirements for labs using forensic genetic genealogy by Oct. 1.

Source: newsy.com

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U.S. Northeast faces potential energy shortages as rails start to shut

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Unused oil tank cars are pictured on Western New York & Pennsylvania Railroad tracks outside Hinsdale, New York August 24, 2015. Picture taken August 24, 2015. REUTERS/Lindsay DeDario/File Photo

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NEW YORK, Sept 14 (Reuters) – Some trains carrying fuel components to the U.S. Northeast have been halted in preparation for a possible railroad shutdown in the coming days, two sources familiar with the situation said on Wednesday.

The northernmost East Coast states rely on railroad shipments to supplement pipeline deliveries from the U.S. Gulf. The region is among the largest fuel consumers in the nation, where U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) data shows that in July inventories of heating oil and diesel reached the lowest levels in at least three decades.

Major railroads, including Union Pacific (UNP.N) and Berkshire Hathaway’s (BRKa.N) BNSF, must reach a tentative deal with three unions representing 60,000 workers before 12:01 a.m. on Friday to avert a shutdown.

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Unit trains to the Northeast that carry commodities including ethanol and crude oil have already stopped, two sources told Reuters on the condition of anonymity.

All railroads are preparing to wind down operations in the next day, said a spokesperson at Norfolk Southern (NSC.N) who declined to comment further. Passenger rail operator Amtrak has already canceled all long-distance routes nationwide as their trains run largely on freight lines outside of the U.S. Northeast. read more

Nationwide, stocks of distillates, which include heating oil and diesel, are at their lowest levels seasonally since 2000, according to EIA data.

The situation is more dire in New England and the Central Atlantic states. In that region, stretching from Maine to Maryland, stocks are at 16.6 million barrels, lowest seasonally since the EIA started keeping the data in 1990.

Fuel distributors generally have inventories to last several days and those markets can also receive imports, but prices would be expected to rise in anticipation of a possible shortage.

Some shippers, anticipating a shutdown, have already stopped transporting hazardous materials around the United States, including fuel blending components.

“I already have companies that have been limiting their production knowing this was coming and now they’ll have to face the music and shut down,” said Tom Williamson, a railcar broker and owner of Transportation Consultants, which manages over 2,000 railcars.

He said he has been busy the past few days communicating with clients who are starting to shut down production of hazardous materials.

The upper Northeast relies on rail for shipments of crude oil, natural gas and fuel products more than other regions because of a lack of pipelines. New England receives most of the natural gas it uses to heat homes and light stoves by rail, according to consultancy RBN Energy, making it vulnerable to a stoppage.

“Over the past 20 years, regional imbalances between where products are produced and where they are demanded has increased,” said Debnil Chowdhury, vice president, Americas head of refining and marketing, S&P Global Commodity Insights. “This has increased the need to transfer products from the Gulf Coast to the (Northeast).”

Pipelines carrying fuel and natural gas from Texas and other oil and gas-producing states of the U.S. South are already full, Chowdhury said, leaving little room to increase flows on the lines if a shutdown happens.

“All sorts of stuff is going to grind to a halt,” said one executive familiar with the region’s rail operations, who asked not to be named. “It’s going to be brutal.”

In July, governors of New England states wrote a letter to U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm warning her that the region faced surging winter heating bills due to lack of natural gas pipeline connectivity.

They also asked the Biden Administration to suspend the Jones Act, which requires goods moved between U.S. ports to be carried by ships built domestically and staffed by U.S. crew, for the delivery of LNG for at least a portion of the upcoming winter.

In 2021, the six-state New England region got most of its power, or 46%, from natural gas, according to ISO New England, the region’s power grid operator. On the coldest winter days, the grid relies on oil as well to fuel a much bigger percentage of power generation.

Nationwide, shippers for oil and chemical companies are making contingency plans.

“We are starting to see impacts already,” said Chris Ball, chief executive officer of Quantix, a Houston-based company that provides trucks and trailers to transport chemicals for companies including Exxon Mobil, Dow and LyondellBasell.

“They (railroads) have already restricted what they’re taking and so we’re getting a fair amount of trucking orders across our whole network,” Ball said.

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Reporting by Laila Kearney, Laura Sanicola and Jarrett Renshaw; Additional reporting by Arathy Somasekhar in Houston and Scott DiSavino in New York; Editing by David Gregorio and Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Laura Sanicola

Thomson Reuters

Reports on oil and energy, including refineries, markets and renewable fuels. Previously worked at Euromoney Institutional Investor and CNN.

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Cases Of West Nile Virus Rising In Some Parts Of The U.S.

Though the chances of getting infected are low, officials are trying to make the public aware of the virus and how to protect against it.

Cases of the West Nile virus are increasing in some parts of the country.

Officials in Los Angeles County have confirmed the first human cases there, while cases have also popped up in Maryland and Massachusetts.

In Arizona, there were a dozen cases of West Nile before heavy rains this summer. Now the state is reporting twice that, as rains coast-to-coast threaten to make outbreaks worse.

“If we keep experiencing more storms, more water, more accumulation of water and that water remains stagnant for around three to five days, that would be conducive to mosquito breeding, especially as we get warm temperatures,” said Johnny Dilone, Maricopa County Arizona Environmental Services community relations manager.

While the chances of a person actually getting the virus are low, it’s not a chance one should take.

Barbara Puls is still watching her brother-in-law recover from a case last year.

“Their prognosis for walking again is not very good because like his feet have sort of atrophied,” Puls said of her brother-in-law.

Mosquitoes get the virus from feeding on infected birds. Then they pass the virus on to people through bites.

Across the U.S., preventing breeding in part relies on keeping the bugs away, and spraying for them is booming.

Source: newsy.com

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Pres. Biden Rallies For Democrats, Slams ‘Semi-Fascism’ In GOP

President Joe Biden compared Republican ideology to “semi-fascism” at a rally ahead of midterm elections.

President Joe Biden called on Democrats Thursday “to vote to literally save democracy once again” — and compared Republican ideology to “semi-fascism” — as he led a kickoff rally and a fundraiser in Maryland 75 days out from the midterm elections.

Addressing an overflow crowd of thousands at Richard Montgomery High School in Rockville, President Biden said: “Your right to choose is on the ballot this year. The Social Security you paid for from the time you had a job is on the ballot. The safety of your kids from gun violence is on the ballot, and it’s not hyperbole, the very survival of our planet is on the ballot.”

“You have to choose,” President Biden added. “Will we be a country that moves forward or a country that moves backward?”

The events, in the safely Democratic Washington suburbs, were meant to ease President Biden into what White House aides say will be an aggressive season of championing his policy victories and aiding his party’s candidates. He is aiming to turn months of accomplishments into political energy as Democrats have seen their hopes rebound amid the legacy-defining burst of action by Biden and Congress.

From bipartisan action on gun control, infrastructure and domestic technology manufacturing to Democrats-only efforts to tackle climate change and health care costs, President Biden highlighted the achievements of the party’s unified but razor-thin control of Washington. And he tried to sharpen the contrast with Republicans, who once seemed poised for sizable victories in November.

Just months ago, as inflation soared, President Biden’s poll numbers soured and his agenda stalled, Democrats braced for significant losses. But the intense voter reaction to the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and a productive summer on issues of core concern to Democrats have the party feeling like it is finally on the offensive heading into the Nov. 8 vote, even as the president remains unpopular.

Ahead of the rally, President Biden raised about $1 million at an event with about 100 donors for the Democratic National Committee and the Democratic Grassroots Victory Fund in the backyard of a lavish Bethesda home.

After his speech at the rally, President Biden lingered with the largely mask-free crowd for nearly 30 minutes, diving back into the style of campaigning that had been disrupted for Democrats for more than two years by the COVID-19 pandemic. The president, who was identified as a close contact of first lady Jill Biden on Wednesday when she was diagnosed with a “rebound” case of the virus, did not appear to wear a face covering as he posed for selfies and hugged supporters.

President Biden’s Thursday events come a day after the president moved to fulfill a long-delayed campaign pledge to forgive federal student loans for lower- and middle-income borrowers — a move that Democrats believe will animate younger and Black and Latino voters.

Republicans, though, saw their own political advantage in the move, casting it as an unfair giveaway to would-be Democratic voters.

“President Biden’s inflation is crushing working families, and his answer is to give away even more government money to elites with higher salaries,” said Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell. “Democrats are literally using working Americans’ money to try to buy themselves some enthusiasm from their political base.”

President Biden on Thursday expanded on his effort to paint Republicans as the “ultra-MAGA” party — a reference to former President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan — opposing his agenda and embracing conservative ideological proposals as well as Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election.

“What we’re seeing now is either the beginning or the death knell of an extreme MAGA philosophy,” President Biden told donors at the fundraiser. “It’s not just Trump, it’s the entire philosophy that underpins the — I’m going to say something, it’s like semi-fascism.”

“I respect conservative Republicans,” President Biden said later. “I don’t respect these MAGA Republicans.”

The Republican National Committee called President Biden’s comments “Despicable.”

“Biden forced Americans out of their jobs, transferred money from working families to Harvard lawyers, and sent our country into a recession while families can’t afford gas and groceries,” said spokesperson Nathan Brand. “Democrats don’t care about suffering Americans — they never did.”

Since the June Supreme Court ruling removing women’s constitutional protections for abortion, Democrats have seen a boost in donations, polling and performance in special elections for open congressional seats. The latest came Tuesday in a Hudson Valley swing district that, in a Republican wave year, should have been an easy GOP win. Instead, Democrat Pat Ryan, who campaigned on a platform of standing up for abortion rights, defeated Republican Marc Molinaro.

“MAGA Republicans don’t have a clue about the power of women,” President Biden said, noting the resonance of the abortion issue with women voters as some in the GOP push a national ban on the procedure. “Let me tell you something: They are about to find out.”

The shift is giving Democrats a new sense that a Republican sweep of the House is no longer such a sure bet, particularly battle-tested incumbents polling better than President Biden work their districts.

Meanwhile, Democrats have benefited from Republican candidates who won primaries but are struggling in the general campaign. Trump-backed Senate candidates have complicated the GOP’s chances in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona, while several Trump-aligned candidates in House races were not always the party’s first choice.

Trump’s grip on the GOP remains strong and has perhaps even become tighter in the aftermath of the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago home.

JB Poersch, the president of Senate Majority Project, an outside group that is working to elect Democrats to the Senate, said the Republican candidates are “getting caught up in the Trump tornado once again — that is exactly what voters of both parties don’t want.”

President Biden’s political event, sponsored by the Democratic National Committee, comes as the president and members of his Cabinet are set to embark on what the White House has billed as the “Building a Better America Tour” to promote “the benefits of the President’s accomplishments and the Inflation Reduction Act to the American people and highlight the contrast with Congressional Republicans’ vision.”

Meanwhile, the White House has benefited from a steady decline in gasoline prices, which, while still elevated, have dropped daily since mid-June.

“Our critics say inflation,” President Biden said, dismissing GOP attacks that his policies resulted in inflation being at a 40-year high. “You mean the global inflation caused by the worldwide pandemic and Putin’s war in Ukraine?”

In Maryland, President Biden was joined by gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore and a host of other officials on the ballot. Moore, introducing President Biden, said his Trump-backed rival “Dan Cox is not an opponent. He’s a threat.”

Months ago, Democratic lawmakers facing tough reelection fights sought to make themselves scarce when President Biden came to town, though White House aides said Biden could still be an asset by elevating issues that resonate with voters and sharpening the distinction with Republicans.

Now, allies see the fortunes beginning to change and the president as more of a direct asset to campaigns.

“Joe Biden is not the ballot technically,” said House Majority Leader Rep. Steny Hoyer. “But Joe Biden is on the ballot, and Joe Biden needs your support.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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President Biden Kicks Off Midterm Rally As Democrats See Opening

Democrats have seen their political hopes rebound in recent months amid a legacy-defining burst of action by Congress and the president.

Aiming to turn months of legislative accomplishments into political energy, President Joe Biden will hold a kickoff rally Thursday to boost Democrats’ fortunes 75 days out from the midterm elections.

The event, in the safely Democratic Washington suburb of Rockville, Maryland, is meant to ease President Biden into what White House aides say will be an aggressive season of championing his policy victories and aiding his party’s candidates. It comes as Democrats have seen their political hopes rebound in recent months amid a legacy-defining burst of action by President Biden and Congress.

From bipartisan action on gun control, infrastructure and domestic technology manufacturing to Democrats-only efforts to tackle climate change and health care costs, President Biden is expected to highlight the achievements of the party’s unified but razor-thin control of Washington. And he will try to sharpen the contrast with Republicans, who once seemed poised for sizable victories in November.

Just months ago, as inflation soared, President Biden’s poll numbers soured and his agenda stalled, Democrats braced for significant losses. But the intense voter reaction to the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade and a productive summer on issues of core concern to Democrats have the party feeling like it is finally on the offensive heading into the Nov. 8 vote, even as the president remains unpopular.

Democrats, said Biden pollster John Anzalone, are “in a better position to compete because Joe Biden put us there.”

“It doesn’t mean that the wind’s at our back,” he added. “But we have more of a breeze than what felt like a gale hurricane in our face.”

President Biden’s Thursday event comes a day after the president moved to fulfill a long-delayed campaign pledge to forgive federal student loans for lower- and middle-income borrowers — a move that Democrats believe will animate younger and Black and Latino voters.

Republicans, though, saw their own political advantage in the move, casting it as an unfair giveaway to would-be Democratic voters.

“President Biden’s inflation is crushing working families, and his answer is to give away even more government money to elites with higher salaries,” said Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell. “Democrats are literally using working Americans’ money to try to buy themselves some enthusiasm from their political base.”

Biden aides said he would continue to paint Republicans as the “ultra-MAGA” party — a reference to former President Donald Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan — opposing his agenda and embracing conservative ideological proposals on abortion and Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election.

Since the June Supreme Court ruling, Democrats have seen a boost in donations, polling and performance in special elections for open congressional seats. The latest came Tuesday in a Hudson Valley swing district that, in a Republican wave year, should have been an easy GOP win. Instead, Democratic Ulster County executive Pat Ryan, who campaigned on a platform of standing up for abortion rights, defeated his Republican counterpart from Duchess County, Marc Molinaro.

The shift is giving Democrats a new sense that a Republican sweep of the House is no longer such a sure bet, particularly as polling better than President Biden and battle-tested incumbents work their districts

Meanwhile, Democrats have benefited from Republican candidates who won primaries but are struggling in the general campaign. Trump-backed Senate candidates have complicated the GOP’s chances in battleground states like Pennsylvania, Georgia and Arizona, while several Trump-aligned candidates in House races were not always the party’s first choice.

Trump’s grip on the GOP remains strong and has perhaps even become tighter in the aftermath of the FBI search of his Mar-a-Lago home.

JB Poersch, the president of Senate Majority Project, an outside group that is working to elect Democrats to the Senate, said the Republican candidates are “getting caught up in the Trump tornado once again — that is exactly what voters of both parties don’t want.”

President Biden’s political event, sponsored by the Democratic National Committee, comes as the president and members of his Cabinet are set to embark on what the White House has billed as the “Building a Better America Tour” to promote “the benefits of the President’s accomplishments and the Inflation Reduction Act to the American people and highlight the contrast with Congressional Republicans’ vision.”

It comes as the White House has benefited from a steady decline in gasoline prices, which while still elevated have dropped daily since mid-June.

Months ago, Democratic lawmakers facing tough reelection fights sought to make themselves scarce when President Biden came to town, though White House aides said President Biden was still an asset to them by elevating issues that resonate with voters and sharpening the distinction with Republicans.

Now allies see the fortunes beginning to change and the president as more of a direct asset to campaigns.

In Maryland, President Biden was set to be joined by gubernatorial candidate Wes Moore and a host of other officials on the ballot. Sen. Chris Van Hollen, who is up for reelection, was missing it, according to a spokesperson, because of a long-planned wedding anniversary trip with his wife, but he recorded a video welcoming President Biden to his state that would play at the rally.

Cedric Richmond, the former Louisiana congressman and Biden senior adviser who now advises the Democratic National Committee, said if he were a candidate, he’d rush to have President Biden at his side.

“I’d get in front of the van and become the drum major and talk about all the accomplishments that have happened under the leadership of Biden,” Richmond said Wednesday. “You have a president who just keeps his head down and gets the work done and I think voters, as we kick off this campaign season, will see and appreciate that.”

He acknowledged some Democrats might opt against “bringing Washington to their district.”

“There are probably a few cases where that may make sense when you don’t even want to be associated with Washington,” Richmond said. “That has nothing to do with the president. That has everything to do with the typical dysfunction of Washington.”

He added, “The important point to stress is you don’t have that dysfunction right now because of President Biden.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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