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.

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Car Thefts Are On The Rise

The day thieves stole his truck and trailer, Alex Gonzalez nearly lost his entire business. 

Inside was thousands of dollars’ worth of lawn care equipment that fueled Gonzalez’s livelihood. 

“It’s a cutthroat business,” said Gonzalez, owner of Havana Gardens Lawn & Landscaping. “If you’re not there on a certain day that you tell your customers you’re gonna be there, they look for someone else.” 

Thieves made off with machinery and truck parts worth $65,000.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau found car thefts rose 17% from 2019 to 2021. But certain regions saw massive spikes over those two years.  

Like in Washington D.C., New York and Wisconsin — and up to a 79% spike in Colorado. 

Some officials there worry punishments aren’t severe enough, which encourages car thieves to strike again. 

In another staggering statistic, carjackings spiked triple digits in some parts of the country: 286% in New York and 238% in Philadelphia. 

David Glawe, the head of the National Insurance Crime Bureau, says chop shops are turning mostly to juvenile carjackers to help feed the hungry, illicit market. 

In New Jersey, authorities believe adults are paying minors as much as $1,000 per vehicle, knowing they won’t get in as much trouble when they’re caught. 

Glawe told Congress they’re stealing more cars because the secondary market needs them. 

Federal lawmakers are now calling for a national auto-theft task force — especially in port cities, which are often hubs for shipping stolen cars overseas. 

In the first half of 2020, U.S. and Canadian law enforcement tracked down stolen cars bound for Europe, Africa and the Middle East totaling nearly $3 million. 

Savvy crooks are also targeting the most precious parts of the cars.

Between 2020 and 2021 catalytic converter thefts more than quadrupled, with 65,000 stolen nationwide.

The converters are partly made with rhodium, one of the rarest metal on earth.  

Every ounce of it can top $15,000 and is also valuable for jewelry, high-end mirrors and electrical devices. 

In Tampa, police busted one recycler last year who advertised on social media he was paying cash for converters and seized his paperwork. 

It showed that he had made well over $800,000 in about a year’s time just with the receipts. 

One way people are trying to prevent theft is having their car’s VIN etched onto the converters. 

Chicago is trying a pilot program that will spray paint the converters hot pink and mark them with a Chicago Police Department stencil. 

But Joe Dipasquale, who works for Auto Zone, says criminals are targeting pretty much everything car-related right now. 

“They’ll put their hands on anything they can turn around and flip,” Dipasquale said. “Tools are one of the things that go really quickly because they’re expensive.” 

Officials have this advice: Keep your auto policy up to date, roll up your windows, lock your doors, park in well-lit areas and never leave behind your keys or any valuables.

Source: newsy.com

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How the Car Market Is Shedding Light on a Key Inflation Question

In a recent speech pointedly titled “Bringing Inflation Down,” Lael Brainard, the Federal Reserve’s vice chair, zoomed in on the automobile market as a real-world example of a major uncertainty looming over the outlook for price increases: What will happen next with corporate profits.

Many companies have been able to raise prices beyond their own increasing costs over the past two years, swelling their profitability but also exacerbating inflation. That is especially true in the car market. While dealerships are paying manufacturers more for inventory, they have been charging customers even higher prices, sending their profits toward record highs.

Dealers could pull that off because demand has been strong and, amid disruptions in the supply of parts, there are too few trucks and sedans to go around. But — in line with its desire for the economy as a whole — the Fed is hoping both sides of that equation could be on the cusp of changing.

data, and several industry experts said they didn’t see a return to normal levels of output for years as supply problems continue. Prices are still increasing swiftly, and dealer profits remain sharply elevated with little sign of cracking.

Ford Motor said on Monday that it would spend $1 billion more on parts than it was planning to in the third quarter because some components had become more expensive and harder to find.

By contrast, the supply of used cars has rebounded after plunging in the pandemic, and prices have begun to depreciate at a wholesale level, where dealers buy their stock. But, so far, those dealers aren’t really passing those savings along to consumers. The price of a typical used car has stabilized around $28,000, up 9 percent from a year ago, based on Cox Automotive data. Official used-car inflation data is easing, but only slightly.

Why consumer used-car prices — and dealer profits — are taking time to moderate is something of a mystery. Jonathan Smoke, chief economist at Cox Automotive, said dealers might be basing their prices on what they paid earlier in the year, when costs were higher, for the cars sitting on their lots.

“Dealers are feeling it,” Mr. Smoke said of the price moderation. “But because they price their vehicles based on what they pay for them, the consumer isn’t seeing the price discounts yet.”

Some early instances of discounting are showing up. At the Buick and GMC dealership that Beth Weaver runs in Erie, Pa., demand for used cars has begun to slow down, and the business has sold a few vehicles at a loss.

rolling lockdowns in China.

The Fed could raise rates so much that it snuffs out demand, but given how much pent-up car-buying appetite exists, Mr. Murphy thinks it would take a lot.

“You probably would have to go farther on rates than they have so far, or even than they are expected to go,” he said. “There may be a point at which you have enough pain that you see a pause on demand.”

If demand continues to outstrip new-car supply and dealers continue to reap big profits, that could limit how quickly inflation will ease. If the mismatch is large enough for sellers to keep pushing up prices without losing customers, it could even continue to fuel inflation.

While the car market is just one industry, the uncertainty of its return to normal holds a few lessons for the Fed. For one thing, new-car production makes it clear that supply chain disruptions are improving but not gone.

More hopefully, the car industry could offer evidence that the laws of economics are likely to reassert themselves eventually. Used-car prices have at least stopped their ascent as inventory has grown, and experts say discounting is likely around the corner. If that happens, it could be evidence that companies won’t be able to keep prices and profits high indefinitely once supply catches up with demand.

But cars reinforce the prospect that the readjustment period could last a while.

Automakers are flirting with the idea of keeping production lower so there are fewer cars in the market and price cuts are less common. Mr. Smoke is skeptical that they will hold that line once it means ceding market share to competitors — but the process could take months or years.

“I’m hesitant to say that we won’t have discounting again,” Mr. Smoke said. “But it’s going to take a while to get back to that world.”

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Oil dips on weak demand fear, strong dollar

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General view of oil tanks and the Bayway Refinery of Phillips 66 in Linden, New Jersey, U.S., March 30, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar

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  • U.S. railroad strike averted by late-night deal
  • Strong dollar weighs as Fed decision looms over broader markets
  • IEA says oil demand growth to slow in Q4
  • Armenia-Azerbaijan clashes lend support -analyst

NEW YORK, Sept 15 (Reuters) – Oil futures fell over 3% to a one-week low on Thursday on a tentative agreement that would avert a U.S. rail strike, expectations for weaker global demand and continued U.S. dollar strength ahead of a potentially large interest rate increase.

Brent futures fell $3.26, or 3.5%, to settle at $90.84 a barrel, while U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude ended $3.38, or 3.8%, lower at $85.10, the lowest closes for both benchmarks since Sept. 8.

Major U.S. railroads and unions secured a tentative deal after 20 hours of intense talks brokered by President Joe Biden’s administration to avert a rail shutdown that could have hit food and fuel supplies across the country and beyond. read more

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The prospect of a strike lent the market some support on Wednesday.

That rail deal also helped pressure U.S. diesel and gasoline futures to drop more than 5% during the session.

“The oil complex is drafting back down on U.S. dollar strength and the tentative agreement that would avert a U.S. rail workers strike,” analysts at energy consulting firm Ritterbusch and Associates said, noting crack spreads were weak.

The U.S. 3:2:1 crack spread – a measure of refining profit margins – was on track for its lowest close since early March.

Downside risks continue to dominate the global economic outlook and some countries are expected to slip into recession in 2023, but it is too early to say if there will be a widespread global recession, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). read more

World Bank Chief Economist Indermit Gill said he was concerned about “generalized stagflation,” a period of low growth and high inflation, in the global economy, noting the bank had pared back forecasts for three-fourths of all countries. read more

Wall Street indexes (.SPX), (.IXIC) were in the red while the dollar (.DXY) held near the 20-year high it hit on Sept. 6 as a slew of economic data pointed to resilience in the U.S. economy which could keep the Federal Reserve on track for aggressive interest rate hikes. [nL4N30M33J] read more

A strong dollar reduces demand for oil by making the fuel more expensive for buyers using other currencies.

“Oil fundamentals are still mostly bearish as China’s demand outlook remains a big question mark and as the inflation fighting Fed seems poised to weaken the U.S. economy,” said Edward Moya, senior market analyst at data and analytics firm OANDA.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) said this week that oil demand growth would grind to a halt in the fourth quarter.

Crude prices have dropped substantially after a surge close to its all-time highs in March after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine added to supply concerns, pressured by the prospects of recession and weaker demand.

Other factors weighing on oil prices included an increase in U.S. crude inventories and an expected reduction in energy use by the Ethereum blockchain. [EIA/S] read more

The European Union’s executive, meanwhile, plans to raise more than 140 billion euros ($140 billion) to shield consumers from soaring energy prices by skimming off revenue from low-cost electricity generators and making fossil fuel firms share windfall profit. read more

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Reporting by Scott DiSavino in New York
Additional reporting by Alex Lawler in London and Muyu Xu in Singapore
Editing by Marguerita Choy and Matthew Lewis

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Scott Disavino

Thomson Reuters

Covers the North American power and natural gas markets.

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Former MLB Pitcher Turned Police Officer Varvaro Dies In Car Crash

By Associated Press

and Newsy Staff
September 12, 2022

37-year-old Anthony Varvaro was an officer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey after a career with the Mariners, Braves and Red Sox.

Anthony Varvaro, a former Major League Baseball pitcher who retired in 2016 to become a police officer in the New York City area, was killed in a car crash Sunday morning on his way to work at the Sept. 11 memorial ceremony in Manhattan, according to police officials and his former teams.

Varvaro, 37, was an officer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. He played baseball at St. John’s University in New York City before a career in the majors as a relief pitcher with the Seattle Mariners, Atlanta Braves and Boston Red Sox from 2010 to 2015.

“We are deeply saddened on the passing of former Braves pitcher Anthony Varvaro,” the Braves said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and colleagues.”

The crash happened Sunday morning in New Jersey. Messages seeking details about the crash were left with New Jersey state police.

St. John’s head baseball coach Mike Hampton said he was “at a loss for words” over Varvaro’s death.

“Not only was he everything you could want out of a ball player, he was everything you could want in a person,” said Hampton, who was an assistant coach at St. John’s during all three of Varvaro’s seasons there. “My heart goes out to his family, friends, teammates and fellow officers.”

Port Authority officials said in a statement that Varvaro “represented the very best of this agency, and will be remembered for his courage and commitment to service.”

“On this solemn occasion as the Port Authority mourns the loss of 84 employees in the attacks on the World Trade Center — including 37 members of the Port Authority Police Department — our grief only deepens today with the passing of Officer Varvaro,” said the statement by Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole and Executive Director Rick Cotton.

Raised in Staten Island in New York City, Varvaro was drafted by Seattle in the 12th round in 2005. He played for the Mariners in 2010 and Atlanta from 2011 to 2014.

Varvaro was traded to the Red Sox in late 2014 and pitched 11 innings for Boston early in the 2015 season. In May 2015, the Chicago Cubs claimed him off waivers from Boston, but returned him to the Red Sox after testing showed he had an elbow injury in his right pitching arm, which resulted in season-ending surgery.

For his major league career, he pitched 183 innings in 166 games, compiling a 3.23 earned run average, 150 strikeouts and one save.

In 2016, he appeared in 18 games for Boston’s top minor league affiliate before retiring in June and beginning his police training.

Varvaro, who studied criminal justice at St. John’s and graduated in 2005, told the student newspaper, The Torch, in December 2016 that he inquired about police jobs at the Port Authority while pitching in the majors.

“I figured that I had a pretty successful career in baseball, I had played a number of seasons, and I was fine moving on to the next step of my life,” he told the newspaper.

Port Authority officials said Varvaro became a police officer in December 2016 and was assigned to patrol for nearly five years before transferring to the Port Authority Police Academy to become an instructor.

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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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

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Mickey Mantle Baseball Card Breaks Record As Sports Memorabilia Soar

The Mantle baseball card dates from 1952 and is widely regarded as one of just a handful of the baseball legend in near-perfect condition.

A mint condition Mickey Mantle baseball card sold for $12.6 million Sunday, blasting into the record books as the most ever paid for sports memorabilia in a market that has grown exponentially more lucrative in recent years.

The rare Mantle card eclipsed the record just posted a few months ago — $9.3 million for the jersey worn by Diego Maradona when he scored the contentious “Hand of God” goal in soccer’s 1986 World Cup.

It easily surpassed the $7.25 million for a century-old Honus Wagner baseball card recently sold in a private sale.

And just last month, the heavyweight boxing belt reclaimed by Muhammad Ali during 1974’s “Rumble in the Jungle” sold for nearly $6.2 million.

All are part of a booming market for sports collectibles.

Prices have risen not just for the rarest items, but also for pieces that might have been collecting dust in garages and attics. Many of those items make it onto consumer auction sites like eBay, while others are put up for bidding by auction houses.

Because of its near-perfect condition and its legendary subject, the Mantle card was destined to be a top seller, said Chris Ivy, the director of sports auctions at Heritage Auctions, which ran the bidding.

Some saw collectibles as a hedge against inflation over the past couple years, he said, while others rekindled childhood passions.

Ivy said savvy investors saw inflation coming down the road — as it has. As a result, sports memorabilia became an alternative to traditional Wall Street investments or real estate — particularly among members of Generation X and older millennials.

“There’s only so much Netflix and ‘Tiger King’ people could watch (during the pandemic). So, you know, they were getting back into hobbies, and clearly sports collecting was a part of that,” said Ivy, who noted an uptick in calls among potential sellers.

Add to that interest from wealthy overseas collectors and you have a confluence of factors that made sports collectibles especially attractive, Ivy said.

“We’ve kind of started seeing some growth and some rise in the prices that led to some media coverage. And I think it all it all just kind of built upon itself,” he said. “I would say the beginning of the pandemic really added gasoline to that fire.”

Before the pandemic, the sports memorabilia market was estimated at more than $5.4 billion, according to a 2018 Forbes interview with David Yoken, the founder of Collectable.com.

By 2021, that market had grown to $26 billion, according to the research firm Market Decipher, which predicts the market will grow astronomically to $227 billion within a decade — partly fueled by the rise of so-called NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, which are digital collectibles with unique data-encrypted fingerprints.

Sports cards have been especially in demand, as people spent more time at home and an opportunity arose to rummage through potential treasure troves of childhood memories, including old comic books and small stacks of bubble gum cards featuring marquee sports stars.

That lure of making money on something that might be sitting in one’s childhood basement has been irresistible, according to Stephen Fishler, founder of ComicConnect, who has watched the growing rise — and profitability — of collectibles being traded across auction houses.

“In a nutshell, the world of modern sports cards has been going bonkers,” he said.

The Mantle baseball card dates from 1952 and is widely regarded as one of just a handful of the baseball legend in near-perfect condition.

The auction netted a handsome profit for Anthony Giordano, a New Jersey waste management entrepreneur who bought it for $50,000 at a New York City show in 1991.

“As soon as it hit 10 million I just turned in. I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore,” Giordano, 75, said Sunday morning. His sons monitored the auction for him. “They stayed up and called me this morning bright and early to tell me that it reached where it reached.”

The card was one of dozens of sports collectibles up for auction. In all, the items raked in some $28 million, according to Derek Grady, the executive vice president of sports auctions for Heritage Auctions.

“Sports collectibles are finally getting their due as an investment,” Grady said. “The best sports items are now starting to rival artwork, rare coins and rare artifacts as a great investment vehicle.”

The switch-hitting Mantle was a Triple Crown winner in 1956, a three-time American League MVP and a seven-time World Series champion. The Hall of Famer died in 1995.

“Some people might say it’s just a baseball card. Who cares? It’s just a Picasso. It’s just a Rembrandt to other people. It’s a thing of art for some people,” said John Holden, a professor in sports management law at Oklahoma State and amateur sports card collector.

Like pieces of art that have no intrinsic value, he said, when it comes to sports cards, the worth is in the eye of the beholder — or the pocketbook of the potential bidder.

“The value,” Holden said, “is whatever the market’s willing to support.”

Additional reporting by The Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Taylor Swift Wins Top Prize, Announces New Album At MTV VMAs

The pop star’s upcoming album “Midnights” drops Oct. 21.

Taylor Swift took home the top prize at the 2022 MTV Video Music Awards on Sunday before she closed out the show with a surprisingly big announcement: Her new album.

“I thought it would be a fun moment to tell you that my new album comes out Oct. 21,” said Swift after she won video of the year for her project “All Too Well: The Short Film” (10 minute version), which claimed best long form video and direction. “I will tell you more at midnight.”

Swift said on social media that her upcoming 10th studio album would be called “Midnights,” which she says will involve “stories of 13 sleepless nights scattered throughout my life.” Her upcoming album comes after she released “Folklore” and “Evermore.” Both projects came out five months apart two years ago. “Folklore” won album of the year at the 2021 Grammy Awards.

The pop star’s reveal came at the end of her acceptance speech where she praised the other women in the category — which included Doja Cat and Olivia Rodrigo.

“I know with every second of this moment that we wouldn’t be able to make this short film if it weren’t for you — the fans,” she said. “I wouldn’t be able to re-record my albums if it wasn’t for you. You emboldened me to do that.”

Swift spoke earlier about creating her first short film, giving thanks to several including actors Sadie Sink and Dylan O’Brien, who starred in the project.

“We put our entire hearts into this,” Swift said.

Rapper Jack Harlow made his mark throughout the entire show. He kicked off the show with a performance inside a mock airplane walking down the aisle while performing his hit song “First Class,” which samples Fergie’s “Glamorous.” The rapper was joined onstage by Fergie — who wore a sparkling silver dress with the red words “First Class” — while she sang her 2006 jam.

“Thank you to Fergie for coming out with me tonight and clearing this song,” said Harlow after “First Class” won the award for song of the summer later in the show. “The beauty of this song is that people don’t realize it’s so hip-hop because of the sampling. To bring Fergie into the mix in this way means the world to me. It’s truly full circle. ‘Glamorous’ was one of the most important songs of my childhood.”

During the show, Johnny Depp made a surprise appearance as the Moon Man nearly three months after the verdict in his defamation trial with his former wife Amber Heard. The 59-year-old actor appeared to float from the ceiling while wearing the iconic astronaut outfit with his face digitally inserted into the helmet.

“And you know what? I needed the work,” Depp told the audience at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.

Lizzo had Taylor Swift dancing out of her seat while she performed her new single “2 Be Loved (Am I Ready).” Lizzo won the video for good award for “About Damn Time.”

Harlow’s name was called to come right back onstage to collect the show’s first award for his guest appearance on Lil Nas X’s song “Industry Baby,” which won for best collaboration, art direction and visual effects. Harlow, Lil Nas X and Kendrick Lamar each entered the awards tied for leading nominees with seven apiece.

“This one is for the champions,” said Lil Nas X before Harlow thanked him for the collaboration on the chart-topping single.

Harlow, in addition to performing and winning awards, joined LL Cool J and Nicki Minaj as the show’s hosts.

Minaj performed a medley of her career’s biggest hits: “Roman’s Revenge,” “Chun-Li,” “Moment 4 Life,” “Beez in the Trap,” “Anaconda” and “Super Bass.” After her set, the rapper accepted the show’s Michael Jackson Video Vanguard award, which MTV has said she’s receiving for her artistry, barrier-breaking hip-hop and status as a global superstar. 

During her acceptance speech, Minaj paid tribute to other music icons such as Jackson, Whitney Houston and Lil Wayne. She spoke about the importance of mental health.

“I wish people took mental health seriously, even when you think they have the perfect lives,” said Minaj, who later won best hip-hop for her song “Do We Have a Problem?” featuring Lil Baby.

Harry Styles won album of the year for “Harry’s House.” He was unable to attend the awards due to his show at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Bad Bunny performed his hit “Titi Me Pregunto” from Yankee Stadium after he won artist of the year.

“I have been saying it and I always believed from the beginning that I could become great,” he said. “That I could become one of the biggest stars in the world without having to change my culture, my language, my jargon. I am Benito Antonio Martínez from Puerto Rico to the whole world, thank you!”

Eminem and Snoop Dogg brought the metaverse to the VMAs as the duo performed “From the D 2 The LBC,” which was featured on Eminem’s greatest hits album “Curtain Call 2.”

The Red Hot Chili Peppers took the stage as the recipients of the Global Icon award after being introduced by Cheech & Chong as their “favorite band of all time.” The band — which consists of Anthony Kiedis, Flea, Chad Smith and John Frusciante — performed several songs including their classic “Can’t Stop” from the group’s 2002 album “By the Way” and their recent hit “Black Summer,” which won best rock.

Flea made a speech about his love for human beings along with cockroaches, trees and dirt. Smith, the band’s drummer, dedicated the award to Taylor Hawkins, the Foo Fighters drummer who died earlier this year.

“I dedicate this to Taylor and his family,” he said. “I love them and I miss him every day.”

Madonna, who is the most awarded artist in MTV history with 20 wins, became the only artist to receive a nomination in each of the VMAs’ five decades. She earned her 69th nomination for her 14th studio album “Madame X.”

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.

Source: newsy.com

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Planning for Your Retirement, and for a Child’s Special Needs, All at Once

Rachel Nagler, 39, has worked part time since she was 22, but she will never be financially independent, according to her father. She is legally blind with a seizure disorder and mild cognitive impairment, the result of birth trauma.

For her parents, Sam and Debra Nagler of Concord, Mass., planning for retirement required them to focus on Rachel’s future as well as their own.

“She has very limited earning capacity,” Mr. Nagler, 70, said. “The concern is, is this sufficient for her for the rest of her life?”

His wife, who is 68, has been their daughter’s primary caregiver since her birth.

“Nobody knows Rachel, and takes care of Rachel, and knows every need of Rachel, and is on top of everything other than my wife,” Mr. Nagler said. “That’s a worry because she’s not going to live forever.”

For parents of children who have serious disabilities or special needs, the challenges of growing and preserving their wealth are magnified exponentially, and the stakes are much higher. While they are trying to plan for their own retirements, these parents need to simultaneously secure the ‌ stability of a son or daughter who will be dependent on them‌ until — and even after — their deaths.

“We want to make 100 percent sure that after we’re gone, there’s no issue,” Mr. Nagler said.

Under the best of circumstances, caring for an adult child with special needs is physically and emotionally taxing. As these parents age, the question of who will house, feed and drive their son or daughter after they no longer can becomes an urgent one.

But not all parents in this situation are aware of the myriad challenges they face. “Getting them to understand that they need to think differently about their retirement in this scheme of things is a key step. And it’s not simple,” said Mary Anne Ehlert, a certified financial planner and founder of Protected Tomorrows, a financial planning firm that specializes in families with special needs.

For example, Ms. Ehlert said, she has to consider a multigenerational time horizon for these clients’ portfolios. “We might be a little more conservative, but we still need growth. We need growth longer,” she said. But a conservative-leaning asset mix has drawbacks, too. “Conservative doesn’t always give us the growth we need,” she said. In addition, many families opt for a portion of their portfolio to be in cash or cash-like liquid investments in the event that their child suddenly needs a new piece of expensive equipment, like a speech-assistive device.

Often, one spouse will sideline a career or leave the work force entirely to provide care, reducing their own ability to save for retirement. These families find their budgets strained by a host of ancillary costs: paying for gas to drive their children to therapy appointments and day programs; buying supplies like adult diapers and waterproof bedding, compression tights to promote circulation, specialized diets — the list goes on.

Even when the disabled individual qualifies for public health assistance, finding affordable, adequate housing is especially difficult. Some people require supervised care in a group home, while others need in-home care in a dwelling modified to accommodate physical limitations. In both cases, waiting-list times are measured in years.

As a result, many parents feel they have no choice but to keep their son or daughter at home, said Harry Margolis, an estate planning lawyer near Boston who works with families with special needs. “Often, they’re still living with parents even when everybody’s getting older,” he said.

This can be expensive in terms of lost opportunity costs. To spare their child the upheaval, parents might forgo the opportunity to downsize into a less-expensive or more accessible home while they are still healthy enough to do so.

Since most of the public benefits available to special-needs and disabled people are administered at the state level through Medicaid, parents of a special-needs child might not be able to move to a state with a lower cost of living. Doing so could mean the adult child would lose access to their benefits and be placed at the bottom of waiting lists for services in a new state.

Some families, however, move to states that offer more generous benefits, even if it means a higher cost of living. “That’s a real struggle for these families, particularly as Mom and Dad age,” said Debra Taylor, founder of Taylor Financial Group in Franklin Lakes, N.J. “Some look to relocate to different states because some states are more hospitable than others.”

Douglas and Susan Rohrman moved out of the Chicago area five years ago, alarmed at the declining health of their daughter Liz, who suffered a traumatic brain injury just before the age of 2. Now, 38, the younger Ms. Rohrman has a host of physical challenges, including partial paralysis that impairs her mobility and ability to swallow and cognitive impairment.

“Liz was not getting great care in Illinois, so it was time to sell the house and move everything,” Ms. Rohrman, 74, said. “I researched this up the wazoo.”

The Rohrmans moved to the San Diego area because resources such as housing and day programs were more readily available. But when Covid struck, the couple felt that the only way they could keep their daughter safe — she had been hospitalized with pneumonia three times in 2019 — was to take her out of the care home they had moved her into just a few years earlier, the one they’d uprooted their lives for.

It was an enormous adjustment in responsibilities, but also in finances.

“When we were doing our taxes, I sort of sat down to see where my money was going. And Liz is a large part of it,” Ms. Rohrman said, ticking off items for which she has to pay out of pocket now that her daughter is living at home.

For example, swallowing difficulties mean that the younger Ms. Rohrman has to have a thickening agent added to her water. That alone costs several thousand dollars a year, her mother said, and there are a host of other unique expenses, such as for stabilizing footwear that helps her daughter walk. “I came up with like $9,000, not counting everything I buy at the grocery store and Walmart,” she said.

Mr. Rohrman, 80, had deferred his retirement at a law firm several years to keep earning income, but he stopped working when the family moved. The combination of much higher expenses, a drop in income and a flagging stock market demanded they re-evaluate their finances.

These financial struggles are magnified for single parents. “Care is inevitably more expensive when you have a single parent,” Ms. Taylor said, because they have to rely much more on paid caregivers.

Laura Weinberg, 59, became the sole caregiver for her son Will, who is autistic and nonverbal, when her husband, a lawyer for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, was killed in the Sept. 11 attacks.

“I was in the weird situation of being widowed when I was 38, dealing with a 4-year-old who was a danger to himself,” she said. She was also a caregiver for her ailing mother and maintaining the family home in northern New Jersey. “I was overwhelmed,” she said.

“Estate planning was confusing and extremely expensive when I started to put a toe in the water,” she said. “I got all kinds of wrong information.”

Ms. Weinberg said she would like to have speech-assistive equipment for her son so that he can communicate, but the cost is prohibitive. Instead, she has pieced together a solution with an iPad and specialized apps. “It’s more modest than it might have been, but some of them are in the many thousands of dollars,” she said.

For parents of special-needs children, retirement planning and estate planning have to take place in tandem. Special-needs trusts and life insurance policies in one or both parents’ names are two of the most commonly used tools. Both have to be structured in compliance with the complex eligibility regulations for public health benefits, since many are means-tested.

Mr. Margolis said that even wealthy families have to navigate the byzantine landscape of government benefits, because many of the services available, including housing, are administered entirely through these programs. “In order to qualify for S.S.I. and Medicaid, in most cases you’re limited to $2,000 in countable assets,” he said.

“For a disabled individual, a lot of time, maintaining eligibility is critical,” said Joellen Meckley, executive director of the American College of Financial Services’ center for special needs. “I can’t tell you how many times family members, with the best of intentions, will name a disabled adult child as a beneficiary, not understanding that getting that money could immediately jeopardize their ability to access public benefits,” she said, referring to parents’ wills, retirement plans or life insurance policies.

This makes it imperative that money intended for a disabled individual be held in a specialized financial instrument such as a special-needs trust.

The money in a trust can go toward quality-of-life enhancements for the special-needs individual like cable TV, a cellphone or computer, better food, care providers and rent or utilities, without jeopardizing their public benefits, Mr. Margolis said.

There are two main categories of special-needs trusts. First-party trusts are established with assets that belong to the individual. The drawback is that these trusts have a payback clause: After the individual dies, any money remaining in the trust goes to reimburse the state for the cost of their care over the years.

Third-party special needs trusts are established and funded by someone else for the benefit of the disabled individual. “A third-party one takes in the assets of other people, like gifts, inheritances or life insurance proceeds,” said Brian Walsh, senior manager of financial planning at SoFi.

These trusts are often funded or supplemented with parents’ life insurance proceeds. “A lot of times, life insurance can be used to kind of create a funding source when one or both of them passes away,” Mr. Walsh said.

A “second-to-die” life insurance policy is a frequently used tool. Both members of a couple are covered under it, and the policy pays out after the second spouse dies, providing a more affordable option than insuring each parent separately.

“The purpose of this policy is that it’s going to pay out a death benefit to fund the child’s remaining needs no matter when the parents die,” Mr. Walsh said.

Since the funds in these trusts are generally conservatively invested, experts say the final challenge is making sure that the amount in the trust will provide an adequate income stream.

Getting that balance right is something that the Rohrmans, in California, struggle with.

When Mr. Rohrman stopped working, that meant not only paring back household spending, but revisiting their investing strategy as well.

“We’re financially very conservative. We know we can’t be like we were in our 30s and 40s in terms of our investment mix, spending and so forth,” Mr. Rohrman said. “We think about it a lot. We don’t let it dominate us.”

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