Thursday, May 13, 2021

NRA bankruptcy filing blocked by Texas judge, forcing group to face New York AG’s lawsuit

A federal judge in Dallas, Texas dismissed the National Rifle Association’s bid to seek bankruptcy protection and reorganize in Texas, finding that the petition was filed to gain an “unfair litigation advantage” in a lawsuit brought by the New York attorney general’s office. New York Attorney General sued the NRA last year seeking to dissolve the gun rights advocacy group and accusing top executives of “years of illegal self-dealings” that funded a “lavish lifestyle.” The NRA has called the suit an “unhinged and political attack.” The NRA filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January at the direction of its CEO, unbeknownst to some members of the organization’s board of directors and other top officials. (NBC News)


A Sherpa guide climbed Mount Everest for a record 25th time last week

The 51-year-old, named Kami Rita, already held the record for the most Everest climbs but added a notch to his belt as he reached the top of the world’s tallest mountain together with 11 other Sherpa guides. Rita has been climbing the 29,032-foot mountain every year since he first reached the top in 1994. Last week, he and the other Sherpas fixed ropes along the route to ensure that hundreds of foreign climbers can reach the summit this year. Nepal canceled Everest climbing last year due to the pandemic and even though it is currently facing a devastating outbreak it has issued climbing permits to 408 foreigners this year. China has also opened access to the mountain and plans to allow a few dozen mountaineers up the northern route. (Associated Press)


The Biden administration has approved the country’s first large-scale wind project

Vineyard Wind will be built 15 miles off the coast of Massachusetts and will have an installed capacity of 800 megawatts, allowing it to produce enough electricity to power 400,000 homes. In a bid to reduce carbon emissions from the energy sector, the White House plans to authorize at least 16 offshore wind projects along the East Coast that would generate enough electricity to power 10 million homes nationwide. Vineyard Wind will consist of 84 wind turbines. The $2.8B project is a joint venture between Spain’s Iberdrola and Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners. The companies are expected to start construction in a few months and the wind farm will likely start producing electricity in 2024. Offshore wind projects will help post-pandemic economic recovery by generating some 44,000 jobs, the government said. Compared to Europe, the U.S.’s offshore wind energy sector is underdeveloped. (The Guardian)


Panic-buying in the Southeast U.S. has intensified fuel demand as Colonial Pipeline plans to release a timetable for restoring service following a ransomware attack

Gas stations throughout Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, and other southern states saw long lines and attempts to hoard fuel this week following news that it might take through the weekend for the pipeline to resume operations. More than 1,000 gas stations in the region have run out of fuel. Officials are looking for alternate routes to deliver gasoline to the South. There is currently no shortage of fuel in the U.S., though supply disruptions could continue if Colonial Pipeline is not restored in the next few days. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said it will take several days to restore plentiful fuel to the area, but assured Americans that “we have gasoline…we just have to get it to the right places.” Major cities are seeing the biggest crunch. More than 70% of stations in Charlotte and Raleigh, North Carolina, are now without fuel. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission tweeted the warning: “Do not fill plastic bags with gasoline.” (The New York Times)


Consumer prices jumped 0.8% from March to April, the largest single-month increase in more than a decade

The Labor Department’s consumer price index, a measure of how much consumers pay for a cross-section of goods and services, increased by 4.2% from a year earlier, the most in a 12-month period since September 2008. Those price increases show a surge in demand as the U.S. economy rebounds from the pandemic, but some economists fear that inflation might hamper economic growth. Prices increased the most for new automobiles. The 10% surge is the largest increase in a single month on record. The cost of plane tickets increased by 9.6% and overall food prices rose 2.4% (from the same month a year ago). The single greatest increase from April 2020 came in the category of car and truck rentals, prices were up by 82%. The Federal Reserve says it expects the sharp inflation to be temporary and would wait for more data before determining a policy change. (The Wall Street Journal)


The number of Americans facing food insecurity reached a pandemic-era low last week

The percentage of U.S. households who “sometimes or often” didn’t have enough to eat dropped to 8% from 11% in March. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows food insecurity began to sharply decline soon after the federal government sent out direct stimulus checks in March. Food insecurity during the pandemic in the U.S. peaked in December, when nearly 14% of U.S. households did not always have enough to eat. It’s down more than 40% since then. The pandemic was the first time the Census Bureau began asking U.S. families about food insecurity on a biweekly basis. (Business Insider)


Here’s why banks aren’t happy

Americans are paying down their debt, and credit-card issuers are getting the short end of the stick. Following the government’s pandemic response, which included stimulus checks, expanded unemployment benefits, and pausing student loan payments, the projected delinquency rate that banks were counting on fell sharply. Paid-off card balance levels in the first quarter were the highest since 2000, said Discover, while Synchrony Financial, the largest store credit card issuer in the United States said payment rates have been higher than pre-pandemic averages. (The Wall Street Journal)


Google dips toe into creator wars

The video view wars, or more precisely, the battle for creators, is heating up. YouTube, owned by Google’s parent Alphabet, is the latest platform to offer creators compensation, in this case $100 million, to post content to its TikTok competitor YouTube Shorts. YouTube says “thousands” of creators could get paid each month and anyone who posts to the platform is eligible. With so much content out there, the creator economy is thriving. Social media platforms, which previously hadn’t paid users, are figuring out creative ways to do so. Snapchat announced a similar initiative in January and Twitter recently announced a tipping feature. (The Verge)


Biden brings back job-search rules

Responding to criticism of expanded unemployment benefits, President Joe Biden has said job-search requirements suspended during the pandemic will be reinstated. Recipients will again need to show they’re actively searching for work and will be told that turning down a suitable offer could cost them benefits. But Biden also rejected claims that benefits were keeping workers on the sidelines, saying child care and school closures, as well as fears of contracting the virus, were to blame and companies needed to assist with vaccination efforts and to consider raising pay. (CNS News)


Summer jobs are back, kinda…

Summer jobs are coming back, but not in every industry. While retailers and restaurants are hiring, many young workers who traditionally sought jobs in these sectors are applying to more competitive roles, such as paid internships. With many college students looking to gain experience in positions in their chosen fields, business owners are concerned they won’t be able to fill necessary roles, like cashiers and camp counselors. To lure workers, businesses have been offering signing bonuses and freebies to new employees, hoping they won’t need to raise wages and that the labor market will pick up again by September. (Fatherly)


Resort wants to use treated wastewater to supplement snow

An exclusive Montana resort wants to turn sewage into snow so that its rich and famous members can ski its slopes in a winter season that’s shrinking because of climate change. The Yellowstone Club, a ski and golf resort just north of Yellowstone National Park, has asked the Montana Department of Environmental Quality for a permit to allow it to use wastewater for snowmaking operations on its ski slopes. About a dozen other ski areas across the U.S. have used wastewater to make artificial snow before, but the Yellowstone Club would be the first in Montana. The technique has also been used in Europe and Australia. Officials at the club say the program would not only ensure the slopes can open on time, usually in late November and early December, but also replenish the area’s watershed and keep streams running longer into the season. And it would allow the growing Big Sky resort area to handle its increasing wastewater volumes. (NBC Montana)


Florida Bank Robbery Suspect Used Taxicab as Getaway Car

A Florida man called a taxi to take him to a bank, had the driver wait outside while he allegedly robbed the place, then took the cab home from the scene of the crime. The 24-year-old man ordered the ride last week from Johnny on the Spot Taxi service, which picked him up at his Niceville, Florida, residence, Santa Rosa County Sheriff said. Once the man arrived at a nearby bank, he demanded money, and got about $8,300. He then walked back outside to the waiting taxi, which ferried him back to his house. “Needless to say we apprehended him pretty quickly,” the Sheriff said. “We haven’t recovered the money but we definitely recovered him so that’s all that matters.” The man was booked into jail and is being held on $260,000 bond and faces charges of robbery, grand theft, and drug possession. (WKRG)


2 Out Of 3 Americans Say Facebook And Twitter Are Hurting The Country

According to a recent nationwide survey, most Americans declare they use social media at least once a day, but they still think Facebook and Twitter are doing more to divide the country than pull it together. In fact, 2 out of 3 Americans think social media outlets fracture us more than they unite us, and that is across the board, with majorities of Republicans, independents, and Democrats, as well as majorities of whites, Latinos, young people, and seniors. African-American social media users were split down the middle. Additionally, more than 1 out of 3 social media users said social media sites make their lives worse. The poll was conducted from April 17 to April 20, with the majority of the survey data published in late April. (NBC News)


Thursday Flirts Back With:

  • Apple Pie Day
  • Crouton Day
  • Children of Fallen Patriots Day
  • Frog Jumping Day
  • Fruit Cocktail Day
  • Hummus Day


Historical Events

1861 – American Civil War: Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom issues a “proclamation of neutrality” which recognizes the breakaway states as having belligerent rights.

1912 – The Royal Flying Corps (now the Royal Air Force) is established in the United Kingdom.

1917 – Three children report the first apparition of Our Lady of Fátima in Fátima, Portugal.

1939 – The first commercial FM radio station in the United States is launched in Bloomfield, Connecticut. The station later becomes WDRC-FM.

1954 – The anti-National Service Riots, by Chinese Middle School students in Singapore, take place.

1958 – May 1958 crisis: a group of French military officers lead a coup in Algiers demanding that a government of national unity be formed with Charles de Gaulle at its head in order to defend French control of Algeria.

1989 – Large groups of students occupy Tiananmen Square and begin a hunger strike.

1994 – Johnny Carson makes his last television appearance on Late Show with David Letterman.

2005 – The Binh Bridge opens to traffic in Hai Phong, Vietnam.

2008 – The Jaipur bombings in Rajasthan, India results in dozens of deaths.