More than 18 months into this pandemic, shortages and delays are still everywhere.
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — KDKA has learned that Amazon is planning to hire hundreds of new workers as it expands in the Pittsburgh area.
Amazon prides itself on the fast delivery of online orders. But to do that, the world’s largest online retail store has to have fulfillment and distribution centers in most major markets. Pittsburgh is no exception.
With the opening of its newest facility in Imperial last week, Amazon says it needs more people on its payroll in Pittsburgh. The company told KDKA’s Jon Delano that it will announce Tuesday the total number of workers it will be hiring, and it will be “substantial.”
CARLISLE, Pa. (AP) —
More than $104 million in Pennsylvania Turnpike tolls went uncollected last year as the agency fully converted to all-electronic tolling, with the millions of motorists who don’t use E-ZPass having a nearly 1 in 2 chance of riding without paying under the “toll-by-plate” license plate camera system.
An internal turnpike report issued in July and obtained by The Associated Press through a Right-to-Know Law request showed nearly 11 million out of the total of about 170 million turnpike rides generated no revenue for the agency in the year that ended May 31.
“We take this issue very seriously. It is a big number, there’s no question,” turnpike Chief Executive Mark Compton said. “But we, as an organization, are leaving no stone unturned in the way in which we’re going after that leakage.”
Toll revenue “leakage” – an industry euphemism for uncollected tolls – has become the focus of turnpike agencies across the country as the use of E-ZPass transponders and license plate cameras continues to spread.
It is a particular problem for the debt-strapped Pennsylvania Turnpike, where more than half of its total revenue goes to pay borrowing costs and tolls have more than quadrupled in 12 years for the minority of motorists who don’t have E-Z Pass to pay for rides.
Last year, license plates could not be identified in 1.8 million Pennsylvania Turnpike rides, bills were undeliverable in just over 1 million instances, and motor vehicle agencies failed to provide vehicle owner addresses more than 1.5 million times. An additional 6.7 million transactions were marked as “not paid.”
After tolls and fees go uncollected for about three years, the turnpike writes them off.
The owner of an Illinois retail and wholesale meat store told FOX Business he has been increasing prices for his products as the industry grapples with higher raw material costs, global supply chain challenges and a rebound in demand.
This as the Biden administration announced it plans to take a tougher stance toward meatpacking companies the White House argues are causing higher prices for meat at grocery stores.
Richard Whittingham, the owner of R. Whittingham & Sons Meat Co., told Jeff Flock during an interview on “Cavuto: Coast to Coast” on Thursday that he doesn’t blame the processors for the spike in prices, but acknowledged that “competition never hurts anybody,” noting that “that is what built our country.”
In the post, the aides acknowledged that “factors like increased consumer demand have played a role” in higher prices, but argued that “the price increases are also driven by a lack of competition at a key bottleneck point in the meat supply chain: meat-processing.”
The aides wrote that “Just four large conglomerates control the majority of the market for each of these three products, and the data show that these companies have been raising prices while generating record profits during the pandemic.”
The post pointed to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which noted that just four firms “control approximately 55-85% of the market” for beef, pork, and poultry, pointing out that the figure reflects “dramatic consolidation of the industry” over the last 50 years.
It is Sept. 7, and El Salvador’s Bitcoin Law has officially come into effect three months after its parliament passed the historic vote. The Central American nation is now the first country to recognize Bitcoin (BTC) as legal tender.
Tweeting earlier in the day, El Salvador President Nayib Bukele remarked “3 minutos para hacer historia — In 3 minutes, we make history.”
However, day one of El Salvador’s Bitcoin experiment has been somewhat marred by server capacity errors suffered by the state-issued Chivo wallet.
Addressing the situation, President Bukele remarked:
“For a few moments it won’t work @chivowallet, we have disconnected it while increasing the capacity of the image capture servers. The installation problems that some people had were for that reason. We prefer to correct it before reconnecting it.”
As previously reported by Cointelegraph, El Salvador has purchased 200 BTC, taking its Bitcoin holdings to 400 “coins.” The country’s parliament recently passed a $150-million Bitcoin fund to facilitate conversions from BTC to United States dollars.
With the push and pull of a 25-foot claw attached to heavy equipment stationed on South Pennsylvania Avenue in Greensburg, workers started the laborious task of bringing down a dilapidated former restaurant building Sunday morning. The three-story building that once housed the former Derby’s Delicatessen but has been vacant for a decade.
The bill’s Senate passage will be a major step for Democrats as they try to push through a sprawling economic agenda.POINTS
- The Senate is expected to pass a $1 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill Tuesday as Democrats move ahead with their economic agenda.
- The chamber will next move to pass a budget resolution that would allow Democrats to approve their $3.5 trillion spending bill without Republican votes.
- The House is waiting to take up either plan until the Senate approves both.
New members of the U.S. Postal Service Board of Governors expressed concerns with the plan, but it’s moving ahead.
Two of the newly confirmed members of the U.S. Postal Service’s Board of Governors spoke out Friday against Postmaster General Louis DeJoy’s plan to slow delivery of first-class mail.
But the board took no steps to stop or even modify the 10-year plan despite the concerns expressed by the board members and regulators.
Ronald Stroman, one of three new governors named by President Biden, said that intentionally slowing first-class mail and package delivery by changing service standards is “strategically ill-conceived, creates dangerous risks that are not justified by the relatively low financial return, and doesn’t meet our responsibility as an essential part of America’s critical infrastructure.”
Stroman, a former deputy postmaster general, noted at the Board of Governors open meeting that the country was “only beginning to emerge from a global pandemic” and is now struggling with the delta variant and that mail delivery was below pre-pandemic levels.
Washington (CNN)The Biden administration is extending the pause on federal student loan payments one last time until January 31.The pandemic relief benefit was set to expire on September 30 after an unprecedented 19-month suspension. The freeze was initially put in place by Congress and then extended by both the Trump and Biden administrations.“As our nation’s economy continues to recover from a deep hole, this final extension will give students and borrowers the time they need to plan for restart and ensure a smooth pathway back to repayment,” said Education Secretary Miguel Cardona in a statement.Borrower balances have effectively been frozen for more than a year, with no payments required on federal loans since March 2020. During this time, interest has stopped adding up — saving the average borrower about $2,000 over the first year — and collections on defaulted debt have been on hold.
Dozens of Pittsburgh Public School teachers could be furloughed in just a few weeks.
According to Pittsburgh Public, 33 teachers and one non-professional are impacted. The furloughs would start on Aug. 18, less than two weeks from now.
The district notified the 34 people by the first of the month. The Pittsburgh Federation of Teachers said this has some feeling nervous.
“They have families, homes, mortgages, rents and things to pay,” Union Parliamentarian and Staff Representative Harold Grant said.
He said the notices went to teachers who started working in the district within the past couple of years.
“This is something that we would never want for anyone,” Grant said.
PITTSBURGH — Washington, D.C.-based ibex, a business process outsourcing firm, announced expansion plans for the Pittsburgh region as it looks to open a new customer experience delivery center in Wilkins Township. It marks the second expansion in the region for the company, which currently maintains offices near Pittsburgh International Airport.
Ibex said it is looking for 400 new workers to fill the various roles it needs at the 33,000-square-feet of space the new center will occupy when it opens on Oct. 1 at 500 Penn Center Blvd. It operates a total of 31 of these centers across the U.S. as well as in Jamaica, Nicaragua, Pakistan, the Philippines and Senegal.
“We are excited to open our new site here in the greater Pittsburgh region, strengthening our commitment to the city, while bringing hundreds of diverse career opportunities to the area,” Greg Rajchel, executive vice president, commercial and client operations, ibex, said in a press release. “Since 2004, Pittsburgh has been a critical driver of the growth and success ibex is experiencing as a leader in the BPO industry and the CX partner of choice for digital-first Blue Chip and New Economy clients.”
U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar introduced two guaranteed income bills on Friday aimed at sending $1,200 monthly checks to most Americans before the end of the decade, according to reports.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has revealed for the first time that his firm SpaceX owns Bitcoin (BTC).
The company is yet to officially announce how much Bitcoin it has purchased, however Musk’s other company Tesla purchased $1.5B of the cryptocurrency earlier this year which sparked a major Bitcoin price rally.
That rally came to an abrupt end after Tesla stopped taking Bitcoin payments due to environmental concerns, but speaking at “The ₿ Word” — a virtual Bitcoin (BTC) event — the erratic tech billionaire suggested Tesla was on the verge of accepting the cryptocurrency again following promising signs the percentage of renewable energy used for mining was increasing.
The changing narrative of Bitcoin going “green” may help reignite a rally, with Coin Metrics co-founder Nic Carter telling CNBC a few hours ago that BTC’s fundamentals are getting better in terms of sustainability.
Musk appeared alongside Ark Invest CEO Cathie Wood, and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, and moderator Steve Lee from Square Crypto. Musk did not reveal any additional details about SpaceX’s purchase apart from saying:
“I do own Bitcoin, Tesla owns Bitcoin, SpaceX owns Bitcoin, and I do personally own a bit of Ethereum and Dogecoin of course.”
Regent Seven Seas Cruises released the fares for sale at 8:30 a.m. ET Thursday. By 11 a.m., all the spots had been snapped up by people eager to spend more than four months on a cruise ship. The strong interest may be a positive sign for the cruise industry as it tries to rebound from the pandemic.
The voyage, which will span 34,500 nautical miles, includes 66 ports of call, as the Seven Seas Mariner will visit 31 countries and four continents. Passengers will also see 61 UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The child tax credit had always been an empty gesture to millions of parents like Tamika Daniel.
That changed Thursday when the first payment of $1,000 hit Daniel’s bank account — and dollars started flowing to the pockets of more than 35 million families around the country. Daniel, a 35-year-old mother of four, didn’t even know the tax credit existed until President Joe Biden expanded it for one year as part of the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package that passed in March.
Previously, only people who earned enough money to owe income taxes could qualify for the credit. Daniel went nearly a decade without a job because her eldest son is autistic and needed her. So she got by on Social Security payments. And she had to live at Fairfield Courts, a public housing project that dead-ends at Interstate 64 as the highway cuts through the Virginia capital of Richmond.
But the extra $1,000 a month for the next year could be a life-changer for Daniel, who now works as a community organizer for a Richmond nonprofit. It will help provide a security deposit on a new apartment.
“It’s actually coming right on time,” she said. “We have a lot going on. This definitely helps to take a load off.”
Biden has held out the new monthly payments, which will average $423 per family, as the key to halving child poverty rates. But he is also setting up a broader philosophical battle about the role of government and the responsibilities of parents.
Democrats see this as a landmark program along the same lines as Social Security, saying it will lead to better outcomes in adulthood that will help economic growth. But many Republicans warn that the payments will discourage parents from working and ultimately feed into long-term poverty.
Some 15 million households will now receive the full credit. The monthly payments amount to $300 for each child who is 5 and younger and $250 for those between 5 and 17. The payments are set to lapse after a year, but Biden is pushing to extend them through at least 2025.
The president ultimately would like to make the payments permanent — and that makes this first round of payments a test as to whether the government can improve the lives of families.
Biden invited beneficiaries to the White House to mark the first round of payments, saying in a Thursday speech that the day carried a historic resonance because of the boost it will give families across the nation.
“This would be the largest ever one-year decrease in child poverty in the history of the United States of America,” the president said. “Millions of children and their families, starting today, their lives are about to change for the better. And our country would be better off for it as well.”
Annual benefit hike could top 6% due to fast-rising inflation. But retirees would have to wait until 2022 to see it.
The 69 million Americans who collect Social Security are on track to get the biggest cost-of-living hike since 1983, with one advocacy group for senior citizens projecting a 6.1% increase to benefits due to surging inflation.
The bad news: Recipients will have to wait for that bump because the Social Security Administration adjusts its payments only once a year, starting with December benefits that are paid in January. That means seniors and other Social Security beneficiaries wouldn’t receive a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) until January 2022.
In the meantime, prices forto at a time when Social Security recipients got what was among the meagerest of COLA adjustments in recent years — a 1.3% increase for 2021. As the pandemic eases, a rapid reopening of the economy is fueling pent-up spending for goods and services that in many cases remain in short supply, prompting inflation to compared with a year earlier.
Former Minnesota Congresswoman Michele Bachmann told “Watters’ World” Saturday that the federal government wants Americans to “check our Bill of Rights” at the door when it comes to COVID vaccines.All of America is based upon the fact that we have rights against the government. And they want us, just as a matter of idea, [to] give up all of our first 10 Bill of Rights, our civil liberties, and say, “We’ll take it from here, we’re the federal government.” Because don’t let anybody suffer any delusions about this. There is a database. There will be a database, and everybody will be in that database. And it’s not just vaccine status, it will be your entire medical history. It will be connected to your finances. This is going to get bigger, bigger, bigger, so you stop it now, and you don’t give any information to any government questioner at your door.
The Department of Education canceled an additional $55.6 million in student loan debt for 1,800 student who were victims of a for-profit college fraud, bringing the total amount of canceled student loan debt by the Biden administration to $1.5 billion.
“Today’s announcement continues the U.S. Department of Education’s commitment to standing up for students whose colleges took advantage of them,” Miguel Cardona, the secretary of education, said in the department’s statement released Friday.
The latest loan cancellation is for students who attended Westwood College, Marinello Schools of Beauty and the Court Reporting Institute. This is the first time the department approved loan forgiveness to students who attended schools other than Corinthian Colleges, ITT Technical Institute and American Career Institute since 2017.
The White House is scheduled to issue an executive order Friday to promote competition throughout the U.S. economy in the most ambitious effort in generations to reduce the stranglehold of monopolies and concentrated markets in major industries.
The order — whose details POLITICO first reported last week — marks a major push by President Joe Biden’s administration to focus on competition as part of the economic recovery from the pandemic. It also offers a response to progressives’ criticisms that the federal government has focused too much on supporting banks and other corporations without concern about the effect on consumers, who have watched their choices dwindle over the years.
The credit lines usually allowed customers to borrow anywhere from $3,000 to $100,000, according to CNBC. In a FAQ portion of the letter, the bank explained that the account closures “may have an impact on your credit score,” adding that they could not be reviewed or reversed. “We apologize for the inconvenience this Line of Credit closure will cause,” the bank said, according to CNBC. “The account closure is final.”
In a statement sent to CNBC after its initial report was published, a Wells Fargo spokesman said, “We realize change can be inconvenient, especially when customer credit may be impacted,” adding that the bank was “committed to helping each customer find a credit solution that fits their needs.”
According to the news outlet, Wells Fargo said customers will be given a notice 60 days before their account is shut down, with remaining balances requiring minimum payments at a fixed rate. The Hill has reached out to Wells Fargo for additional information.
AAA and the Oil Price Information Service says the average price for a gallon of self-serve regular gasoline in Los Angeles County is now at $4.285, nearly 10 cents higher than a month ago. In Orange County, the same gallon of gas is at $4.239.
Gas prices typically rise as summer travel ramps up and California phases in its higher-cost summer blend. Demand may be even higher this year due to a pent-up desire to hit the road after more than a year of lockdowns and travel restrictions.
As pandemic life recedes in the U.S., people are leaving their jobs in search of more money, more flexibility and more happiness. Many are rethinking what work means to them, how they are valued, and how they spend their time. It’s leading to a dramatic increase in resignations — a record 4 million people quit their jobs in April alone, according to the Labor Department.
In normal times, people quitting jobs in large numbers signals a healthy economy with plentiful jobs. But these are not normal times. The pandemic led to the worst U.S. recession in history, and millions of people are still out of jobs. Yet employers are now complaining about acute labor shortages.
The Biden administration on Wednesday ordered a ban on U.S. imports of a key solar panel material from Chinese-based Hoshine Silicon Industry over forced labor allegations, two sources briefed on the matter said.
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Asian stocks were broadly steady Thursday after U.S. shares moved in narrow ranges as traders digested commentary from Federal Reserve officials on the outlook for stimulus. Treasuries held a retreat.
Stocks were little changed in Japan, climbed in Hong Kong and edged lower in China, where the central bank increased its injection of short-term cash into the financial system. U.S. futures advanced, following a modest drop in the S&P 500 despite gains among firms that benefit from economic reopening. A rally in Tesla Inc. helped the Nasdaq Composite eke out another record. The benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury yield remained below 1.50%.
Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan, who’s penciled in a rate hike next year, said the economy will likely meet the Fed’s threshold for tapering asset purchases sooner than people think. His Atlanta counterpart Raphael Bostic said the central bank could decide to slow such purchases in the next few months. Neither are currently voting members of the Fed’s rate setting committee.
The dollar was little changed, while the yen held a slump, in part as the rebound from the pandemic dents the allure of haven currencies. Traders were monitoring for any impact from news that the U.S. is poised to bar some solar products made in the Xinjiang region over alleged human rights abuses.
The Coalition to Reimagine Public Safety gathered at the steps of the Pittsburgh City County building on June 19 to discuss their goals towards decreasing the Pittsburgh Police budget, and instead funneling those funds to invest in resources for numerous efforts to combat problems stemming from violence, homelessness, drug use, and mental health. The goal of these policy changes, the coalition said, is to make Pittsburgh more safe and livable for minority communities.
Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto took office in 2014, and the Pittsburgh Police budget during that year was $74 million. Since then, the Pittsburgh Police budget has increased almost 60% to a budget of $115 million according to a recent report conducted by the Abolitionist Law Center. This number equates to one-fifth of the city’s annual budget. The Coalition to Reimagine Public Safety conveyed at a press conference the desire to decrease the police budget, at minimum, by $40 million to put into other community investments.
Jasiri X, founder of 1Hood Media, discussed the structural and systematic violence that minority communities face, and that violent crimes are often a result of these issues. Without available resources to these communities, the issue cannot be resolved, Jasiri X explained.
The record volume of cargo has overwhelmed longshoremen, truck drivers, warehouses and railroads. Vessels are waiting up to five days just to get into port, and it can take 10 more days for a container to be loaded on a train.
The store has reopened and there are “Now Hiring” signs posted.
Officials said Wilkinsburg residents would see a steep cut in their property tax bill, and Pittsburgh would benefit from a 15,000-person gain in population.
Property taxes in Wilkinsburg are among the highest in Allegheny County. Wilkinsburg officials said that hurts homeowners and hinders redevelopment.
“If you’re a homeowner who makes $20,000 per year and your house is worth $45,000, you pay 35 percent more in Wilkinsburg than you do in the city so it’s really difficult for people in Wilkinsburg to absorb those costs,” said Tracey Evans, of Wilkinsburg Community Development Corp.
“There are a lot of people who want to stay here, and people who want to move into Wilkinsburg, but the taxes are too much of a burden to promote homeownership or to promote entrepreneurship,” said Wilkinsburg Mayor Marita Garrett.
Garrett said Pittsburgh already provides fire service and trash pickup for the borough.
Garrett said she supports a merger even though it would eliminate her job.
“As a public servant, it’s not about us, it’s about the public if you’re getting into it for the right reasons,” Garrett said.
The petition needs about 340 signatures of Wilkinsburg residents in order to go on the November general election ballot. Pittsburgh City Council must also approve the proposal.
The referendum would not affect Wilkinsburg School District, but officials said it may prompt a school merger with Pittsburgh. Wilkinsburg students from grades 7 through 12 currently attend Pittsburgh Public Schools.
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) —
The owner of three coal-fired power plants in Maryland, Pennsylvania and Ohio said Thursday that it will shut them down.
Houston-based GenOn Holdings LLC said it will shut down a generating unit at both Avon Lake station on Lake Erie near Cleveland and Cheswick station on the Allegheny River outside Pittsburgh by Sept. 15.
It said it will shut down two generating units at the much larger Morgantown station on Maryland’s Cobb Neck peninsula by next June 1.Combined, the four coal-fired units can provide up to 2,421 megawatts.
In a statement, GenOn blamed “unfavorable economic conditions, higher costs including those associated with environmental compliance, an inability to compete with other generation types and evolving market rules that promote subsidized resources.
”Coal power has fallen out of favor in the climate change era amid a push for cleaner power sources that produce less pollution and greenhouse gases. U.S. coal production has been in steady decline, down by about one-third over the past decade.
Coal also has been buffeted by a flood of cheaper natural gas from shale formations, including the vast Marcellus Shale reservoir underneath Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.
Shutdown of the units is subject to a 90-day reliability review period by the regional electric grid operator PJM, GenOn said.
The embattled project to carry oil from Canada to Nebraska had been on life support since President Biden’s first day in office and stalled by legal battles for years before that.
The Canadian pipeline company that had long sought to build the Keystone XL pipeline announced Wednesday that it had terminated the embattled project, which would have carried petroleum from Canadian tar sands to Nebraska.
The announcement was the death knell for a project that had been on life support since President Biden’s first day in office and had been stalled by legal battles for years before that, despite support from the Trump administration.
On the day he was inaugurated, Mr. Biden, who has vowed to make tackling climate change a centerpiece of his administration, rescinded the construction permit for the pipeline, which developers had sought to build for over a decade. That same day, TC Energy, the company behind the project, said it was suspending work on the line.
On Wednesday, the company wrote in a statement that it “will continue to coordinate with regulators, stakeholders and Indigenous groups to meet its environmental and regulatory commitments and ensure a safe termination of and exit from the project.”