Monday, January 4, 2021

Workers in 20 states got a pay hike on January 1 thanks to cost-of-living adjustments and other scheduled increases

Later in the year, another four states and Washington, D.C. will raise their baseline pay, which means that low-wage workers in almost half the nation could see higher pay next year. Below are the names and new pay rates of states boosting their minimum wage in 2021:

  • Alaska, to $10.34 an hour on January 1
  • Arizona, to $12.15 an hour on January 1
  • Arkansas, to $11 an hour on January 1
  • California, to $14 on January 1
  • Colorado, to $12.32 on January 1
  • Connecticut, to $13 on August 1
  • Florida, to $8.65 on January 1
  • Illinois, to $11 on January 1
  • Maine, to $12.15
  • Maryland, to $11.75 on January 1
  • Massachusetts, to $13.50 on January 1
  • Minnesota, to $10.08 for employers with an annual gross revenue of at least $500,000 and $8.21 for employers with less than $500,000, on January 1
  • Missouri, to $10.30 on January 1
  • Montana, to $8.75 on January 1
  • Nevada, to either $8.75 or $9.75 on July 1, with the higher rate effective for employers who don’t provide health insurance to workers
  • New Jersey, to $12 on January 1
  • New Mexico, to $10.50 on January 1
  • New York State, to $12.50 on December 31, 2020, while Long Island and Westchester will increase to $14 on December 31, 2020
  • Ohio, to $8.80 on January 1
  • Oregon, to $12 on July 1, although it will increase to $13.25 for the Portland region and to $11.50 in non-urban counties
  • South Dakota, to $9.45 on January 1
  • Vermont, to $11.75 on January 1
  • Virginia, to $9.50 on May 1
  • Washington state, to $13.69 on January 1
  • Washington, D.C. will increase its $15 per-hour minimum wage in July to adjust for the change in the cost of living for the previous 12 months

(CBS News)


U.S. Department of Interior confirms that Yellowstone bison cannot fly

When photographer a snapped a picture of a young bison jumping in the air, many on social media were commenting that bison in Yellowstone may have some kind of “Santa’s reindeer-like magic.” This prompted a response from the U.S. Department of Interior via social media; “No, the bison at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming haven’t learned to fly. Yet. Despite weighing as much as 2,000 pounds, bison are agile and can run up to 35 miles per hour. They can jump over objects 5 feet high and have excellent hearing, vision and sense of smell. Photographer Alex Walczak witnessed their power when he took this wonderful picture, “There was a whole group of them rolling around and I noticed a young bison running all over the place on the hill. I got this photo while it was in the middle of jumping and kicking like a bronco. After about 5 minutes of racing around, this young bison calmed down.” We guess it just needed to burn off some energy.” (U.S. Department of Interior)


Iowa State Patrol clocks driver at 114 mph during winter storm, says he was ‘in a hurry to get back to college

The Iowa State Patrol was busy across the state during the winter storm. One of the incidents troopers encountered was a driver clocking in at 114 mph on Interstate 35 during the snowstorm. According to the Iowa State Patrol’s Facebook page, Troopers stopped a vehicle and the driver’s excuse was: “In a hurry to get back to college in Minnesota.” “First responders were busy helping many motorists stranded during this storm- speeding like this is NOT being responsible,” said ISP officials. The Iowa State Patrol says between the hours of 6am and 9pm last Tuesday (12/29) troopers responded to 91 crashes, 84 reports of property damage, 7 personal injury reports and 372 motor assists. (KWWL)


Agility is work’s new superpower

The future of work will require many skillsets, but most important among these is agility. With the continued pressures of remote working, endless virtual meetings and economic challenges, an agile mindset will allow flexibility and adaptability to changeable work conditions. The principles of agility include valuing people over process, collaboration and responsiveness to change instead of strictly following a plan. Technology can help to bridge communication gaps and easily adjust budgets and outcomes when a project veers off course. (Inc)


How to beat information overload

Technology has allowed an exponential rise in the delivery of information while working remotely, but the downside is a rise in so-called “knowledge obesity.” Employees bombarded by Zoom, Skype, Slack, email, phone calls, virtual hangouts and podcasts may be overwhelmed, which can lead to feelings of under-performance, anxiety and affect mental health. Leaders must help staff to apply, share and process relevant knowledge through critical thinking, shared devices and software, and park the rest, advise experts. (Human Resources Director


Man who built secret tunnel between his home and married lover’s house is busted by her husband

A Bricklayer in Mexico who built a secret tunnel between his home and that of his married lover has been caught by her husband. The episode unfolded in the neighborhood of Villas del Prado, Mexico in the northwestern town of Tijuana. The construction worker, also married, reportedly built the passage to allow him to visit a neighbor with whom he had been having an affair. The scheme had worked until one day the woman’s husband arrived home early from his job as a security worker. After becoming suspicious, he checked under the bed in his bedroom but didn’t find anyone there. He then spotted his wife’s lover hiding behind a couch, but after moving the couch found that the man had disappeared. He then found a hole in the floor that led to a concealed underground secret tunnel beneath his home. He climbed into the passage to pursue the man, and after crawling along it found that it led to the man’s home. It is not currently clear how long the tunnel was, but the couples were reportedly neighbors. Photos showed a stable-looking concrete tunnel around two feet in width. Floor tiles can also be seen around the entrance. After the husband emerged from the secret tunnel, the other man reportedly pleaded with him not to disclose the affair to his own wife, who was asleep in the house at the time. Regardless, the cheated husband found the other man’s wife and told her. The two men then entered a fist fight, prompting somebody to phone the police. After arriving at the scene, police escorted the neighboring husband away to prevent any further violence. (Maza Inside)


Former hospital worker accused of intentionally spoiling vaccine vials arrested

Police have arrested a fired pharmacist who is accused of intentionally spoiling more than 500 COVID-19 vaccines at Aurora Medical Center in Grafton, Wisconsin. The FBI and the Food & Drug Administration are investigating after 57 vials of the Moderna vaccine were left out of a pharmacy refrigerator on December 26th at Aurora Medical Center-Grafton. Advocate Aurora Health now says it was an intentional act. The person in question admitted they intentionally removed the vaccine from refrigeration. After an internal investigation, it was first believed to be human error. The Moderna vaccine can be out of refrigeration for 12 hours. Officers said the value of the spoiled vaccines was between $8,000 and $11,000. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services said before any facility becomes a COVID-19 vaccine provider, they require extensive registration and training for storing and handling the vaccine. State health officials said they were now working with Aurora to make sure an incident like this never happens again. (WISN)


China will grab the spotlight in 2021

China had a blockbuster 2020. Despite a global pandemic originating on its shores, its economy quickly rebounded, growing by 4.3% in the third quarter of 2020. The U.S. and Europe, meanwhile, are set to spend 2021 containing waves of infections. Experts believe that China is in a prime position to secure a spot as the world’s dominant superpower. (CNN)


New State Laws Starting At The Beginning Of The New Year

As Americans ring in 2021, an array of new laws will take effect from coast to coast.

  • Voters in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota approved measures legalizing recreational marijuana.
  • A new Connecticut law requires pharmacists to dispense a 30-day emergency supply of diabetes-related drugs and devices, with a price cap, for diabetics who have less than a week’s supply.
  • Connecticut employers must begin taking deductions from their employees’ paychecks for a new paid family and medical leave program, under a state law passed in 2019. The state’s estimated 100,000 businesses will be responsible for withholding half a percent from worker wages. Qualified employees can begin receiving benefits on January 1, 2022.
  • States including California, Delaware, Iowa, New York, Oregon and Utah passed bans on police chokeholds.
  • California will require companies based there to have at least one board director by the end of 2021 who is a racial or sexual minority, with larger numbers required by 2022. Companies with 100 or more employees also must start sending information on employees’ race, ethnicity and gender to the state.
  • A new law in Georgia aims to limit consumers from getting stuck with surprise medical bills by requiring insurers in many cases to pay for care by a doctor or at a hospital not within their network of providers. The law protects patients from financial responsibility beyond what they would normally have to pay. Instead, insurers and providers can take disputes to the state insurance commissioner.
  • Georgia will require an audit starting in 2021 before movies and television productions are awarded the state’s generous tax credit, which has allowed the highest subsidies of any state. The credit, which rebates up to 30% of a production’s value, cost nearly $900 million in foregone tax revenue in 2019 as movie and TV production boomed in Georgia.
  • Minnesota also has what’s being called a continuity of care law.
  • Medicaid expansion is coming to Oklahoma after voters narrowly approved a constitutional amendment expanding the federal-state insurance program to an additional estimated 215,000 low-income residents. It takes effect in July.
  • Oklahoma will extend a property tax exemption for religious institutions to include property owned by a church if it conducts instruction of children from pre-K through grade 12.
  • Voters made Oregon the first state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of street drugs such as cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine. The Oregon drug initiative will allow people arrested with small amounts of hard drugs to avoid going to trial, and possible jail time, by paying a $100 fine and attending an addiction recovery program. 
  • Colorado will prohibit landlords from refusing to show, rent or lease housing based on a person’s source of income or involvement in the type of contract required to receive public housing assistance. 
  • New Hampshire will make multiple changes to state laws regarding sexual assault. Starting January 1, the definition of sexual assault will be expanded to include any sexual contact between school employees and students between the ages of 13 and 18. Other legislation taking effect in mid-January increases protections for sexual assault victims and requires colleges and universities to adopt sexual misconduct policies. The bill requires colleges to provide free access to medical and legal support services, anti-retaliation protections, confidential advising services, data on sexual violence, and prevention and response training.
  • Massachusetts also begins a new paid family medical leave program in the new year. It offers a 12-week benefit in most cases, extending to 26 weeks for those caring for a military member undergoing treatment.
  • A Washington measure caps the monthly out-of-pocket cost of insulin at $100 until January 1, 2023, and requires the state Health Care Authority to monitor the price of insulin.

(CBS News)


Iran has informed the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that it intends to enrich uranium to up to 20% purity, the highest level since the signing of the Iran nuclear deal in 2015

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, as the deal is known, says that Iran can’t enrich uranium above 3.67%, though it began violating that agreement after the Trump administration withdrew the U.S. from the deal in 2018. Iran’s decision could heighten tensions in the Middle East – Israel considered targeting Iran’s nuclear facilities when it began enriching to 20% nearly a decade ago. Iran’s parliament passed a bill approving the increased enrichment, aimed at pressuring Europe into decreasing sanctions. The enrichment will take place at Iran’s Fordo nuclear facility, the site of new construction spotted via satellite a few weeks ago. (Reuters)


Supporters have raised thousands of pounds for an ancient U.K. church that was “trashed” after hundreds of people broke in for an illegal party on New Year’s Eve

Partygoers at the All Saints Church in East Horndon, east of London, England were dispersed by police on New Year’s Eve and three people were arrested. But a volunteer group called the Friends of All Saints has thus far raised the equivalent of $22,849.86 (well above a target goal of $2,735.20) to help clean up and repair the 500-year-old church. The money will go to repair damaged walls and windows, and to replace the locks, which someone had apparently made a copy of to gain access to the building. The group says it is overwhelmed by the outpouring of generosity. (Just Giving)


A three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals reinstated the execution date for the only woman on federal death row ruling that a lower court was wrong for vacating the execution date

A U.S. District Judge had previously delayed the execution after her attorneys say they plan to file a petition with the appeals court. The 52-year-old woman was sentenced to death for the murder of a 23-year-old pregnant woman in Missouri in 2004. Her attorneys have argued that she suffers from significant mental illness and should not face execution. Pending further appeals, The woman is set to be executed eight days before Joe Biden, who has said he wants to end the death penalty on the federal level, becomes president. (CNN)


Man threatens to kill his child’s mother over Wi-Fi password, police say

A Georgia man was arrested Monday after threatening to kill the mother of his child if she did not give him the new password to their Wi-Fi system, police said. Decatur, Georgia police said the man grabbed a bottle of Pedialyte the woman was feeding their child and poured it over her head as he threatened her life for internet access. The man became upset with her that she would not tell him the password to the wifi and grabbed the bottle from her, according to the arresting Officer. “He then dumped the bottle of water on her which she advised was insulting/provoking. He told her to stop playing games and threatened to kill her if she didn’t give him the wifi password.” A family member at the apartment called police. The man was leaving the complex as officers arrived. The man, who has not been identified, was arrested and charged with domestic battery. He was released on $1,000 bond. He is prohibited from contacting his ex-girlfriend while out on bail. (Herald & Review)


Monday Captivates Us With:

  • Blue Monday (First Monday of the Year, But It Can’t Fall on New Years Day.) 
  • Congress Assembles (First Monday of the Year, But It Can’t Fall on New Years Day.)
  • Dimpled Chad Day
  • Divorce Monday (First Monday of year which is when most feel that divorces are filed)
  • Handsel Day (First Monday)
  • Missouri Day
  • Pop Music Chart Day
  • Spaghetti Day
  • “Thank God It’s Monday” (First Workday Monday and holidays don’t count.)
  • Tom Thumb Day
  • Trivia Day
  • Weigh-In Day (Always First Monday after New Years)
  • World Braille Day
  • World Hypnotism Day

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