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Saturday, October 21, 2017

Milford Woman Struck & Killed Running Across Route 1

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01-PedKilled-Emergency Vehicle at Night © Copyright Barbol/Shutterstock

Delaware State Police are investigating a crash on Route4 1 north of South Frederica Road that has left a pedestrian dead.  Police say a car driven by a 33 year old Milford Man was southbound on Route 1 just after midnight when he saw a woman running across the southbound lanes into the path of his car.  The driver tried to avoid the woman but she was struck and thrown into the roadway.  She was pronounced dead at the scene.  Police say the 54 year old woman from Milford, whose name has not yet been released, was wearing all black clothing and did not carry a light.  Alcohol is a possible factor on the woman’s behalf.


 

Morocco recalls envoy over Algeria official's hashish claims

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Morocco has recalled its ambassador to Algeria after the Algerian foreign minister claimed Moroccan banks launder money from hashish trafficking.

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In a statement issued Saturday, Morocco’s Foreign Ministry called Foreign Minister Abdelkader Messahel’s remarks “very serious,” ”false” and “of an unprecedented level of irresponsibility in the history of bilateral relations.”

Messahel said during a debate with business leaders in Algeria’s capital Friday that neighboring Morocco’s banks were “laundering money from hashish.” He also said Morocco’s national airline, Royal Air Maroc, “carries something other than passengers.”

Algeria and Morocco have tense diplomatic relations, mainly over the Western Sahara. Morocco annexed the former Spanish colony in 1975, but the independence-seeking Polisario Front is trying to claim the territory with Algeria’s help. The borders separating the North African countries have been closed since 1994.

Harvey Weinstein disputes Lupita Nyong'o's sexual harassment claims

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Disgraced Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein responded to Academy Award-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o claims that she was sexually harassed by the movie mogul.

Weinstein, through a representative, denied the allegations in a statement released Friday, the AV Club reported.

“Mr. Weinstein has a different recollection of the events, but believes Lupita is a brilliant actress and a major force for the industry. Last year, she sent a personal invitation to Mr. Weinstein to see her in her Broadway show Eclipsed,” the statement read. 

Weinstein is reportedly in Arizona completing a rehab program for “sex addiction,” the AV Club reported. 

LUPITA NYONG’O DETAILS HARASSMENT FROM HARVEY WEINSTEIN: ‘I THOUGHT HE WAS JOKING AT FIRST’

The “12 Years a Slave” star detailed her experience with Weinstein in a lengthy op-ed to The New York Times that was published Thursday.

Nyong’o wrote Weinstein invited her to his Connecticut home in 2011 while she was a student at the Yale School of Drama.

After having lunch with him and meeting his young children, they entered his private screening room with a large group. Eventually, he asked her to go to a bedroom with him and propositioned her for a massage.

“I thought he was joking at first. He was not,” the actress wrote.

Nyong’o said she gave him a massage instead but when he tried to remove his pants, she insisted she leave.

She described several other encounters with him over the years, including some propositions.

It was not until she became an Oscar winner in 2014 for her role in “12 Years a Slave” that Weinstein apologized for his behavior and agreed to show her the respect she deserves.

HARVEY WEINSTEIN EXPELLED FROM MOTION PICTURE ACADEMY 

She said she later declined an offer to appear in one of his movies.

Nyong’o was the latest A-list star to speak out against the disgraced movie mogul. Recently, The New York Times and The New Yorker Magazine released exposes detailing Weinstein’s sexual misconduct spanning over decades.

Weinstein was fired from the company he founded with his brother Bob, the Weinstein Company and was expelled from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences last week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Trump suggests he'll allow release of classified files on Kennedy assassination

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President Trump said Saturday that he intends to allow the release of long-classified files on the assassination of former President John F. Kennedy, a move that could shed light on a tragedy that has stirred conspiracy theories for decades.

The National Archives has until Oct. 26 to disclose the remaining thousands of never-seen government documents on the 1963 assignation, unless Trump changes course and tries to block their release.

“Subject to the receipt of further information, I will be allowing, as President, the long blocked and classified JFK FILES to be opened,” Trump tweeted Saturday morning.

However, to what additional information the president was referring was unclear.

The CIA and FBI, whose records make up the bulk of the batch, won’t say whether they’ve appealed to the Trump administration to keep them under wraps.

“The American public deserves to know the facts, or at least they deserve to know what the government has kept hidden from them for all these years,” Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia Center for Politics and author of a book about Kennedy, said in an email to The Associated Press.

It’s unlikely the documents contain any big revelations about Kennedy’s killing, said Judge John Tunheim, who was chairman of the independent agency in the 1990s that made public many assassination records and decided how long others could remain secret.

Sabato and other JFK scholars believe the trove of files may provide insight into assassin Lee Harvey Oswald’s trip to Mexico City weeks before the killing.

During the trip, Oswald visited the Soviet and Cuban embassies.

His stated reason for going was to get visas that would allow him to enter Cuba and the Soviet Union, according to the Warren Commission, the investigative body established by President Lyndon B. Johnson. However, much about the trip remains unknown.

Among the protected information up for release is details about the arrangements the U.S. entered into with the Mexican government that allowed it to have close surveillance of those and other embassies, said Tunheim, a federal judge in Minnesota.

Kennedy experts also hope to see the full report on Oswald’s trip to Mexico City from staffers of the House committee that investigated the assassination, said Rex Bradford, president of the Mary Ferrell Foundation, which publishes assassination records.

The White House didn’t immediately respond to emails seeking comment.

The FBI declined to comment on whether it has asked Trump to keep the files hidden. A CIA spokeswoman would say only that it “continues to engage in the process to determine the appropriate next steps with respect to any previously-unreleased CIA information.”

Congress mandated in 1992 that all assassination documents be released within 25 years, unless the president asserts that doing so would harm intelligence, law enforcement, military operations or foreign relations. The still-secret documents include more than 3,000 that have never been seen by the public and more than 30,000 that have been released previously, but with redactions.

The files that were withheld in full were those the Assassination Records Review Board deemed “not believed relevant,” Tunheim said. Its members sought to ensure they weren’t hiding any information directly related to Kennedy’s assassination, but there may be nuggets of information in the files that they didn’t realize was important two decades ago, he said.

“There could be some jewels in there because in our level of knowledge in the 1990s is maybe different from today,” Tunheim said.

The National Archives would not say whether any agencies have appealed the release of the documents.

The Archives in July published online more than 440 never-before-seen assassination documents and thousands of others that had been released previously with redactions.

Among those documents was a 1975 internal CIA memo that questioned whether Oswald became motivated to kill Kennedy after reading an AP article in a newspaper that quoted Fidel Castro as saying “U.S. leaders would be in danger if they helped in any attempt to do away with leaders of Cuba.”

“Oswald might have had a clear motive, one that we have never really understood for killing Kennedy, because he thought that by killing Kennedy he might be saving the life of Fidel Castro,” said Philip Shenon, a former New York Times reporter who has written a book about Kennedy’s assassination.

Some of the files will likely remain under wraps, experts say.

It’s unlikely the National Archives will release some IRS records, including the tax returns of Jack Ruby, the man who killed Oswald, Bradford said.

Sabato said he also suspects that some key records may also have been destroyed before the 1992 law ordered that all the files be housed in the National Archives.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Is Citigroup’s Stock a Buy for Value Investors?

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Over the past year, shares of Citigroup (NYSE: C) have climbed 47%. That’s more than double the return on the S&P 500, and it comfortably exceeds other big banks as well, with the KBW Bank Index returning 38% since this time last year.

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Given this performance, it’s reasonable for investors to ask: Is Citigroup’s stock still a buy for value investors?

Citigroup’s price-to-book value ratio

The conventional way to measure a bank stock’s valuation is to use the price-to-book value ratio. You calculate this by dividing a bank’s price per share by its book value per share. This tells you how much investors think a bank is worth relative to how much the bank says its worth on its balance sheet.

If a bank has a price-to-book value ratio higher than 1.0, it’s said to trade for a premium to book value. The implication is that investors think the bank will create value beyond its current net worth.

Conversely, a bank priced below its book value per share is said to trade at a discount to book value. This suggests that investors expect the bank’s value to erode — as a consequence of loan losses, for instance.

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In Citigroup’s case, its stock trades for 0.93 times its book value per share. That equates to a 7% discount to book value.

Citigroup comes across as reasonably priced based on this. The average bank stock on the KBW Bank Index is valued at 1.41 times its book value, or well above the $1.8 trillion bank.

One could thus be excused for concluding that Citigroup’s stock is still a bargain, at least compared to other bank stocks, despite the fact that it has climbed 47% in 12 months.

Citigroup’s price-to-earnings ratio

A second way to capture a bank stock’s valuation is to use the price-to-earnings ratio, or P/E ratio. This is calculated by dividing a bank’s share price by its earnings per share.

You can interpret the P/E ratio like this: It calculates how much it costs an investor to buy $1 worth of a company’s earnings. If the P/E ratio is 35, then it costs $35. If the ratio is eight, it costs $8.

There is no set threshold for what constitutes a good P/E ratio for a bank stock. That said, you can compare a bank’s P/E ratio to other stocks, both within the bank industry and outside of it. This is a key benefit of the P/E ratio over the price-to-book value ratio.

In Citigroup’s case, its stock trades for 14.2 times its earnings. That compares to a median P/E ratio on the KBW Bank Index of 16.8 and a median ratio on the S&P 500 of 23.2.

By both measures, then, Citigroup’s stock seems reasonably priced, at least on a relative basis.

An important caveat

It’s important to appreciate that just because Citigroup’s stock trades at a lower valuation than the typical bank stock in terms of the price-to-book value and price-to-earnings ratios doesn’t mean that its share price won’t fall in the future, even by a large margin, because it can.

This is especially true right now, given the multiyear bull market in equities since the financial crisis. But holding all else equal, if you’re going to buy a bank stock in this environment, it wouldn’t hurt to buy one that’s selling at a discount to others, as Citigroup’s is.

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Erick Erickson: Stop weaponizing gold star families

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Editor’s note: The following column originally appeared in The Resurgent.

The brouhaha over President Trump’s phone call to the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson has gotten even worse in recent days. After Chief of Staff John Kelly inserted himself in the debate, Kelly, himself a Gold Star father, became the subject of attacks from the left.

What have we become as a country when we use the families of fallen soldiers as weapons to attack political opponents? Or attack these families to protect politicians on our own side?

Not all of the families of fallen soldiers are going to say things that patriotic Americans agree with. Cindy Sheehan, the mother of Spc. Casey Sheehan, who was killed in Iraq in 2004, is a prime example of a Gold Star mother who says things that are offensive to many other Americans.

The bottom line, however, is that they have the right, as American citizens, to express their opinions. As Americans who have sacrificed a family member, they have paid an unusually high price for the right to speak their minds freely. Their opinions should be respected, if not necessarily agreed with.

Can we resolve the issue of the phone call to Mrs. Johnson without calling either President Trump or Cowanda Jones-Johnson a liar? Yes. It’s surprisingly easy to guess what happened when we lay aside political grudges and preconceptions.

Keep in mind that first-person witnesses to an event are notoriously unreliable. This is especially true in cases where the individuals are under stress and distracted. Neither side recorded the call so both only have their fallible human memories and impressions to fall back on.

My best guess as to what happened is that President Trump made the call to Sgt. Johnson’s widow in good faith and went off script, as he tends to do. What seemed to be an innocuous comment to the president and Gen. Kelly was taken differently by the Johnson family and Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-Fl.).

One of my favorite philosophies is Hanlon’s Razor, which advises, “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.” This advice applies to both sides in the current debate.

First, liberals should acknowledge that Donald Trump would not intentionally act so callously toward the widow of a fallen American soldier. The fact that Gen. Kelly now backs up Trump’s claim is a powerful argument that Trump’s statement may have been misheard or misinterpreted.

Second, Trump supporters should not assume that the family is intent on using the death of Sgt. Johnson to embarrass and attack the president. To assume that a grieving family would lie about what they heard the president say, knowing that it would cause Sgt. Johnson’s name to be dragged through the mud and that family members would be subjected to personal attacks in their time of grief, defies logic.

Kelly’s statement seems to support the idea that the president unintentionally misspoke. Recalling the words of Gen. Joseph Dunford after the death of his own son in Afghanistan, Kelly said, “He was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that one percent. He knew what the possibilities were because we were at war. And when he died he was surrounded by the best men on this earth, his friends. That’s what the President tried to say to the four families the other day.”

That’s what the President tried to say.

Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor. He is host of “Atlanta’s Evening News” and founder/editor of The Resurgent. He is the founder of RedState.com. Follow him on Twitter @EWErickson.

What's the Maximum I Can Get in Social Security in 2018?

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After reviewing inflation data this year, the Social Security Administration has decided on a cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) of 2% for 2018. The increase means that the maximum amount of money that a retired worker can collect in monthly Social Security benefits is heading higher next year, but qualifying for that maximum Social Security benefit won’t be easy.

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Crunching the numbers

Most Americans qualify for Social Security after about 10 years of working. Once you qualify, the amount of money you receive in Social Security benefits depends on a complex formula that converts your historical wages into current dollars and then adjusts that number lower at specific income levels, or “bend points.”

Specifically, Social Security bases your benefit on your highest 35 years of adjusted income divided by 420 (the number of months in 35 years). This gives them your average indexed monthly earnings (AIME).

They then use the bend point multipliers to figure out your maximum monthly Social Security benefit at your full retirement age. Full retirement age varies depending on a person’s birth year, but if you were born in 1956 it’s 66 years and four months, and if you were born in or after 1960, it’s age 67.

In 2017, all that number-crunching works out to an average monthly Social Security check of $1,377 and a maximum benefit of $2,687 per month. In 2018, however, Social Security’s COLA and an increase in income that’s subject to payroll taxes will expand the average and maximum Social Security benefit to $1,404 and $2,788, respectively. 

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Getting the biggest check possible

Generally, Social Security replaces about 40% of your pre-retirement income, so if you earn less than the maximum amount of money that’s subject to payroll taxes, a pay raise is the single best way to get the biggest benefit possible.  In 2017, payroll taxes are collected on income earned up to $127,200, but in 2018, they’ll be collected on income up to $128,700.

If you’re already receiving Social Security and you’ve reached your full retirement age, then a pay raise can still give your benefit amount a nudge higher because Social Security recalculates your benefit amount every year.

If your income is already at the maximum taxable income limit, then the next question is: How long have you been working? Social Security uses the highest 35 years of work history to figure your benefit, so if you’ve worked fewer than 35 years, continuing to work will replace any zeros in Social Security’s calculation. Similarly, if you’ve worked 35 years but your income currently is higher than it was at the beginning of your career, continuing to work can eliminate low-income years that are weighing down your benefit amount.

Taking advantage of delayed retirement credits is another option. If you delay collecting benefits until after your full retirement age, these credits can increase your payment by 8% per year, up until age 70. Delayed retirement credits can be used to increase your benefit above the maximum Social Security payment, so if you’re one of the lucky few who qualifies for the maximum amount, delaying Social Security for a few more years can pay off. For instance, if you’re eligible for the maximum $2,788 in 2018, you’ll get 129.33% of that amount if you wait to claim benefits until you reach age 70. That will net you $3,605 per month.

Overall, it’s important to remember that maximizing your Social Security shouldn’t be your only consideration when evaluating your options. You’ll want to balance your desire to get the most out of Social Security with you and your spouse’s health and retirement goals.

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Why High-Yield Investors Shouldn't Keep Overlooking This Commodity Stock

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Alliance Resource Partners L.P. (NASDAQ: ARLP) has a distribution yield of 9.7%. That number should grab your attention because it’s huge. Alliance, however, is a coal miner, which will probably make you assume it’s a yield trap. But don’t make the mistake of dismissing it before doing some more homework; you could be overlooking a great opportunity in this specialized miner.

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The lone survivor

The U.S. coal sector was a tough place to operate for a few years. The risks were highlighted by the high-profile bankruptcies of giant coal miners like Peabody Energy (NYSE: BTU) and Arch Coal. Others such as Cloud Peak Energy (NYSE: CLD) saw their bottom lines fall deep into the red. So it’s reasonable to be concerned about Alliance.  

However, Alliance was — and still is — different. It wasn’t forced into bankruptcy and never saw its earnings fall into negative territory. In fact, it has a strong balance sheet even after suffering through the coal industry’s darkest days. For example, at the midpoint of 2017, long-term debt made up a modest 25% of the capital structure and Alliance had a solid current ratio of 1.1. There’s really little risk of it finding itself in the type of financial trouble that pushed so many of its peers to the brink, and beyond.  

But coal is dead

You might also be tempted to overlook this high-yield opportunity because coal appears to be on its way out as a fuel source. That’s actually a legitimate concern, but coal’s death has been greatly exaggerated. It still supplies around a third of the power in the United States, and the U.S. Energy Information Administration expects that percentage to hold relatively stable through 2025. The fundamental issue is that you can’t just pull that much power-generating capacity off the grid rapidly.  

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But it’s important to understand the real problem the coal industry was facing. It wasn’t renewable power, it was economics. Low natural gas prices led utilities to shift away from coal. That transition was material since it involved building gas-fired power plants. Coal won’t get the market share it’s lost back. However, most of the oldest, dirtiest, and least-efficient coal plants have been retired at this point. With the low-hanging fruit largely gone, further declines in U.S. coal demand are likely to be less severe.

Alliance, however, is particularly well positioned even in a more competitive environment because it operates almost exclusively in the Illinois Basin. While demand has fallen for the coal produced in other regions, demand for Illinois Basin coal has actually been holding up because of its low cost relative to the power it provides. And the future looks equally bright.  

Between 2016 and 2025, Alliance expects demand for Illinois Basin coal to increase by 30% — in the worst case scenario. It could increase by as much as 50% if environmental regulations that favor cleaner fuel options are rolled back. This, however, is just one of the puzzle pieces. A key reason Illinois Basin coal is so desirable is because it’s relatively cheap compared to other coal options and, more important, natural gas. Moreover, Alliance owns some of the least-expensive coal mines in the industry when you look at coal costs compared to the power provided by the fuel.    

Giving back to unitholders

If you step back just a little, you can see that Alliance is really a different type of coal miner and a solid high-yield opportunity. But there’s a little bit more to keep in mind here. Alliance increased its distribution by 14% in the second quarter, following through on an earlier comment that the partnership’s outlook was improving.    

To sum up, Alliance has held up better than its peers, has a solid financial foundation, is well positioned in the industry it serves, and it is returning value to unitholders via distribution hikes. Now that the worst of the coal downturn appears to be over, you would be well served to take some time to do a deep dive here.

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Reuben Gregg Brewer has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Alliance Resource Partners. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Trump calls Rep. Wilson 'wacky' in ongoing feud about call to military widow

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President Trump resumed his feud with Democratic Rep. Frederica Wilson over his condolence phone call to the widow of a recently killed U.S. soldier, urging the news media on Saturday to keep reporting on the “wacky” Florida congresswoman.

“I hope the Fake News Media keeps talking about Wacky Congresswoman Wilson in that she, as a representative, is killing the Democrat Party!” Trump tweeted.

The feud started after Wilson listened to a phone call Trump made Monday to Myeshia Johnson, the widow of fallen Army Sgt. La David Johnson, then claimed that the president said told Johnson that her deceased husband “knew what he signed up for.”

Johnson was one of four Americans killed in an Oct. 4 ambush in Niger.

After several Trump tweets and Wilson TV interviews earlier this week, White House Chief of Staff retired Gen. John Kelly on Thursday publically criticized Wilson’s involvement in the call, suggesting she’s trying to politicize the matter.

“I feel very sorry for him because he feels such a need to lie on me and I’m not even his enemy,” Wilson said Friday about Kelly’s remarks, in a New York Times interview. “I just can’t even imagine why he would fabricate something like that. That is absolutely insane. I’m just flabbergasted because it’s very easy to trace.”

Wilson didn’t label Kelly a racist in the interview but claimed that others in the White House are.

“They are making themselves look like fools,” she also said. “They have no credibility. They are trying to assassinate my character, and they are assassinating their own because everything they say is coming out and shown to be a lie.”

Kelly said he was “broken-hearted” by Wilson’s involvement in the call. During his remarks, Kelly also criticized Wilson by recalling her comments during the 2015 dedication of a FBI field office in Miramar, Fla.

He said Wilson “talked about how she was instrumental in getting the funding for that building, and how she took care of her constituents because she got the money, and she just called up President Obama, and on that phone call, he gave the money, the $20 million, to build the building, and she sat down.”

“And we were stunned, stunned that she’d done it,” Kelly said of Wilson’s remarks during the event. “Even for someone that is that empty a barrel, we were stunned.”

But video of that event, released on Friday, showed that Wilson did not talk about the building’s funding, but instead spoke of her own efforts getting legislation passed that named the building after the fallen agents.

Prosecutors: Driver in hit-and-run that killed 2 arrested

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Authorities say the driver of a vehicle who struck and killed two teenagers on a bicycle in Jersey City has been arrested.

The Hudson County prosecutor’s office said that 20-year-old Rashaun Bell was arrested on Friday.

Authorities say the Jersey City resident and three passengers abandoned a car after hitting 15-year-old Elionel Jimenez and 16-year-old Alexander Rosas-Floras. Two of the passengers returned to the scene.

Jimenez died at the scene and Rosas-Floras died at a hospital on Thursday.

Bell will appear in front of a judge Monday. It wasn’t immediately known if he had an attorney to comment on his behalf.

Abducted female Pakistani journalist returned home

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The mother of a Pakistani journalist who was abducted in 2015 and freed this week, says her daughter is under extreme mental pressure and unable to tell much about her ordeal.

Kaneez Bibi said Saturday that her daughter Zeenat Shahzadi arrived when she was not there and she does not know who dropped her off at the home in the eastern city of Lahore.

She said the family is joyous on her return but concerned over her mental health. Bibi said Shahzadi, 26, told her that Taliban fighters kept her in a mountainous area.

Retired Justice Javed Iqbal, head of the commission for missing persons, told reporters that Shahzadi was recovered Wednesday night from near the Afghan border.

Iqbal said tribal elders played an important role in her recovery.

Catalonia's push for independence from Spain: What to know

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The Spanish central government moved Saturday to invoke a never-before used constitutional article that would strip Catalonia of its autonomous power, calling it a last resort to “restore order.” 

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he wants his Senate to give him direct power to dissolve the regional Catalan government and to call an early election as soon as possible. The Senate is likely to approve Rajoy’s request.

Rajoy’s Cabinet met in a special meeting Saturday morning to approve measures to take direct control of the Catalan region under Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution.

Rajoy proposed the powers of Catalan officials be taken over by central government ministers. 

The meeting came almost three weeks after a controversial referendum seeking the region’s independence which was ruled illegal by the country’s Supreme Court.

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has argued the referendum result gave him the mandate to move forward with independence.

A woman holds an estelada or independence flag on a motorcycle after taking part on a protest against the National Court's decision to imprison civil society leaders without bail, in Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2017. Protesters were gathering for a fresh round of demonstrations in Barcelona Tuesday to demand the release of two leaders of Catalonia's pro-independence movement who were jailed in a sedition probe. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

A woman holds a Catalan independence flag on a motorcycle after taking part in a protest against the National Court’s decision to jail civil society leaders without bail in Barcelona, Spain.  (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

What is Catalonia?

Located in the northeast region of Spain, Catalonia is largely independent with its own culture and language. It’s one of the richest and most industrialized areas of the country with a heavy emphasis on manufacturing, according to the BBC.

The region, which includes Barcelona, is home to about 7.5 million people.

Valuing its autonomy, Catalonia has its own parliament and executive, called “Generalitat” in its language.

“What’s being contested between Spain and Catalonia … is different visions of what defending democracy looks like.”

Why do they want independence?

Because of its own cultural identity, those in favor of Catalan independence have pushed for the region to become separate from Spain. Supporters also believe that they have given more to the Spanish government than they have gotten back.

The push for independence “raises questions of the future of democracy and democratic rule,” Pamela Radcliff, a University of California, San Diego professor and modern Spain historian, told Fox News. “What’s being contested between Spain and Catalonia, one of the things is different visions of what defending democracy looks like.”

TOP EU OFFICIALS RALLY BEHIND SPANISH PM OVER CATALAN POLL

The push for independence is led by Puigdemont, the president of Catalonia. The region held a referendum on Oct. 1.

How did the vote go?

About 90 percent of the 2.3 million people who cast votes chose independence, Catalan officials said of the disputed referendum. However, fewer than half of eligible voters participated.

About 900 people were treated for injuries after voting turned violent when Catalan civilians and Spanish police clashed earlier this month.

Andrew Dowling, an expert in Catalan history at Cardiff University in Wales, said that any independence declaration by the Catalan parliament would be symbolic without border and institutional control and no international support.

Such a declaration “will see the fracture between hardliners and the pragmatic people in Catalonia who are already seeing an economic fallout,” Dowling told The Associated Press.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont signs a declaration of independence at the Catalan regional parliament in Barcelona, Spain, October 10, 2017. REUTERS/Albert Gea TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY - RC1559AC0B30

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont signs a declaration of independence at the Catalan regional parliament in Barcelona on Oct. 10.  (Reuters)

What has been Spain’s response?

Spain’s top court declared the independence referendum illegal.

Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Saenz de Santamaria accused Puigdemont of putting the Catalan people “in the greatest level of uncertainty seen yet.”

And Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said the referendum was part of a strategy “to impose independence that few want and is good for nobody.”

CATALONIA VOTERS PROTEST AGAINST VIOLENT POLICE TACTICS AFTER INDEPENDENCE VOTE

Rajoy has reportedly refused help from outside civil-society groups and lawyers to mediate negotiations between the two factions. He has also declined to engage in talks with Catalan leaders.

“There is no possible mediation between democratic law and disobedience and unlawfulness,” Rajoy said.

Spain had given Puigdemont two deadlines – which have come and gone – on whether the independence referendum is serious.

Radcliff said that “it’s very possible” that neither side has “much incentive to compromise.”

Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy speaks during a news conference at the Moncloa Palace in Madrid, Spain, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. The Spanish government moved to activate a previously untapped constitutional article Saturday so it can take control of Catalonia, illustrating its determination to derail the independence movement led by separatist politicians in the prosperous industrial region. (AP Photo/Paul White)

Spain’s Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has called for an early election.  (AP)

What is Article 155?

Spain has threatened to invoke a clause of its constitution should Catalonia forge ahead with its plans to secede from the country that would take away the region’s autonomy.

A refusal to backtrack from its independence threats would trigger Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution, the government has said, which would allow central authorities to take over control of any of the country’s 17 regions. It’s a provision that hasn’t been used in the four decades since democracy was restored in the European nation.

An English translation of the constitution states that should an autonomous community break the law or disregard the constitution, the Spanish government can – after following certain procedures – “take the measures necessary in order to compel the [community] forcibly to meet said obligations, or in order to protect [Spain’s] general interests.”

Rajoy’s cabinet met in a special meeting Saturday morning to approve measures to take direct control of the Catalan region under Article 155. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a Reporter for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter @K_Schallhorn.

Bannon slams former President Bush as most 'destructive' president in ongoing attack to GOP establishment

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Former White House adviser Steve Bannon widened his assault on the Republican establishment Friday night, saying former GOP President George W. Bush had the most “destructive” presidency in U.S. history.

Bannon scathing comments at the annual California Republican Party convention came about a week after Bush denounced bigotry in Trump-era American politics and warned that the rise of isolationism and “nativism,” which Bannon espouses, have clouded the nation’s true identity.

“There has not been a more destructive presidency than George Bush’s,” Bannon said.

He also said Bush has no idea whether “he is coming or going, just like it was when he was president,” amid boos in the crowd at the mention of Bush’s name.

Bannon made the remarks in a speech thick with attacks on the Washington status quo, echoing his earlier calls for an “open revolt” against establishment Republicans. He called the “permanent political class” one of the great dangers faced by the country.

Bannon, a late-arrival to Trump’s presidential campaign who was ousted last month from his White House post, got a standing ovation at the conclusion of his speech in Anaheim.

Since leaving the White House at Trump’s top political adviser, Bannon has returned to Breitbart News and embarked on an effort to unseat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other congressional Republicans whom he thinks have slowed or blocked Trump’s legislative agenda.  

Bannon has for weeks basked in the victory of social conservative Roy Moore over establishment candidate Sen. Luther Strange in Alabama’s GOP Senate runoff.

And at a speech last weekend in Washington to social conservatives, Bannon declared “war” on establishment candidates, particularly lose seeking reelection next year.

A small group of protesters gathered outside the Southern California hotel where Bannon spoke, chanting and waving signs including one with a Nazi swastika. The protesters were kept behind steel barricades on a plaza across an entrance road at the hotel, largely out of view of people entering for the event. No arrests were reported.

Bannon also took aim at the Silicon Valley and its “lords of technology,” predicting that tech leaders and progressives in the state would try to secede from the union in 10 to 15 years. He called the threat to break up the nation a “living problem.”

He also tried to cheer long-suffering California Republicans, in a state that Trump lost by over 4 million votes and where Republicans have become largely irrelevant in state politics. In Orange County, where the convention was held, several Republican House members are trying to hold onto their seats in districts carried by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential contest.

“You’ve got everything you need to win,” he told them.

While Bannon is promoting a field of primary challengers to take on incumbent Republicans, the GOP has been fading for years in California.

The state has become a kind of Republican mausoleum: GOP supporters can relive the glory days by visiting the stately presidential libraries of Ronald Reagan and Richard Nixon, but today Democrats control every statewide office and rule both chambers of the Legislature by commanding margins.

Not all Republicans were glad to see Bannon. In a series of tweets last week, former state Assembly Republican leader Chad Mayes said he was shocked by the decision to have the conservative firebrand headline the event.

“It’s a huge step backward and demonstrates that the party remains tone deaf,” Mayes tweeted

Political scientist Jack Pitney, who teaches at Claremont McKenna College, said he doubted the speech would color the 2018 congressional contests, which remain far off for most voters.

More broadly, he said Bannon’s politics would hurt the GOP, including among affluent, well-educated voters who play an important part in county elections.

“Inviting him was a moral and political blunder,” Pitney said in an email.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Gas prices continue sliding down in New Jersey

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Motorists are paying a few cents less at the pumps in New Jersey.

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AAA Mid-Atlantic says the average price of a gallon of regular gas in the state on Friday was $2.45. That’s down 3 cents from last week.

Motorists were paying $2.03 for gas in New Jersey at this time last year. A 23-cents-per-gallon gas tax increase went into effect last November.

This marks the sixth straight week that gas prices have fallen in New Jersey.

The national average gas price Friday was $2.46, down 2 cents from last week. That’s higher than the national average from a year ago, when motorists were paying $2.23.

Analysts say gas prices will likely keep dropping as demand continues to fall.

Las Vegas police officer killed in massacre left funeral notes: 'Remember me for who I was'

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A Las Vegas police officer and U.S. Army veteran who was among the 58 people killed in the worst mass shooting in modern U.S. history provided instructions ahead of his death.

Charleston Hartfield, 34, was buried Friday following private graveside services. His burial came after a funeral that drew more than 2,000 family members, friends and police and military officers, with honors that included a motorcade down the Las Vegas Strip.

The married father of two was off-duty and attending the Oct. 1 concert where a gunman opened fire from a hotel room.

LAS VEGAS SHOOTING DETAILS STILL MURKY AS MANDALAY BAY ORDERED TO KEEP EVIDENCE

However, a year before his death, Hartfield began a computer file detailing the instructions for his funeral.

The funeral procession for Las Vegas police officer Charleston Hartfield passes the Mandalay Bay hotel on the Las Vegas Strip Friday, Oct. 20, 2017, in Las Vegas. The off-duty police officer was one of 58 people killed when a gunman fired from the hotel into a crowded outdoor concert on Oct. 1. (AP Photo/Isaac Brekken)

The funeral procession for Las Vegas police officer Charleston Hartfield passed by the Mandalay Bay hotel on the Las Vegas strip.  (AP)

“If you’re reading this, then I’ve been called home,” Hartfield’s note read. The file was found by his wife, Veronica, following his death.

“Nothing I type will make this any easier, so I will get to the facts. My largest request: Please do not allow anyone to wear black. Black is totally depressing and I don’t want anyone expressing their sorrow over my passing,” Hartfield’s instructions read.

Hartfield asked that Nina Simone and Johnny Cash songs also be played during his funeral.

“I would like for everyone to enjoy themselves. And remember me for who I was. The truth only. None of that stuff about how great I was. Only real stories,” the officer wrote.

Everyone broke that rule over the next hour.

Friends, his cousin, brother and sister, and police and military officials including Brig. Gen. Zachary Doser, the head of the Nevada Army National Guard, characterized the man most called “Chucky” as an inspiration, a mentor and a quick wit.

Doser praised Hartfield, who at age 34 had accumulated 17 years of military service in Iraq and with a quartermaster unit in the Nevada Guard, as the epitome of “everything good about being an American.”

Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo called Hartfield, an 11-year police veteran, a “remarkable officer” killed by “an unremarkable person.”

COUNTRY STARS HONOR LAS VEGAS SHOOTING VICTIMS AT CMT ARTISTS

Investigators have not determined what motivated the shooter, Stephen Paddock, 64, a retired accountant, real estate investor and high-stakes gambler, to plan and execute his attack.

Lombardo said Hartfield ‘s death was considered on-duty because he tried to shield, protect and shepherd people in a concert crowd from danger.

Family members listen during a funeral for Las Vegas police officer Charleston Hartfield, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017, in Henderson, Nev. Hartfield was killed by a gunman shooting from a hotel into a crowded outdoor concert October 1 in Las Vegas. (Chase Stevens/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP, Pool

Family members listen during a funeral for Las Vegas police officer Charleston Hartfield.  (AP)

“That night, in a hail of gunfire, Charlie’s last actions spoke for him,” Lombardo said. “He took actions to save lives.”

Hartfield asked to be buried in a veteran’s area so he could continue to “protect” the U.S. with the other buried veterans.

“The only way I would like to be placed in the ground is if it’s in a veteran’s area. That way myself and the crusty old vets can hold formations and continue to protect and serve our great country once more,” Hartfield wrote.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Foreigners who joined IS faced almost certain death in Raqqa

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The forces fighting the remnants of the Islamic State in Syria have tacit instructions on dealing with the foreigners who joined the extremist group by the thousands: Kill them on the battlefield.

As they made their last stand in the northern Syrian city of Raqqa, an estimated 300 extremists holed up in and around a sports stadium and a hospital.

No government publicly expressed concern about the fate of citizens who joined the Islamic State fighters plotting attacks at home and abroad.

In France, which has suffered repeated violence claimed by the Islamic State, Defense Minister Florence Parly was among the few to say it aloud. “If the jihadis perish in this fight, I would say that’s for the best,” Parly told Europe 1 radio last week.

5 Mistakes That Will Keep You From Getting Hired

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Sometimes you have all the skills needed to land a job, but somewhere in the process, everything falls apart. Maybe you never even land an interview, or maybe you do, but you never hear from the company again.

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It can be frustrating when it feels like you’ve done everything right, but you still don’t get hired. Sometimes there’s nothing you did wrong, and any of a thousand things could have resulted in someone else landing the position.

In many cases, though, people torpedo their own candidacy by making little mistakes. This can happen anywhere in the hiring process, and it’s easier to make a fatal error than you might think.

1. You moved too slow

Back when I hired people, I would post an ad, then interview the first three people who sent a resume that made them appear qualified. Anyone applying after the initial three got put into a “no,” “maybe,” and “next best” pile.

Not every company works that way, but if the need to fill the opening is pressing, then time will be important. Even when it’s not, it’s generally best to apply as soon as a job gets listed. That makes it clear you are engaged and serious about landing a new position.

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2. You messed up in applying

A lot of qualified people never get an interview because their cover letter and resume were not up to snuff. That could be because of something obvious like spelling errors, but it can also be because you didn’t address the specific job in your cover letter.

Customize each application, and make sure you address anything asked for in the ad. If the company wants information you don’t want to share — like salary range — at least make a comment acknowledging the request and why you have chosen not share.

3. You left a bad taste

Sometimes I have interviewed someone and most of it went well, but one line or comment stood out to me afterward. Maybe they badmouthed a past employer or said something that raised a red flag or suggested that the personality being shown was perhaps not who the person truly is.

Keep your interview positive and upbeat. Be yourself, but be your best self, and show that you’re a pleasant person who would be good to work with.

4. You didn’t say thank you

It sounds silly, but when someone fails to send a thank you note after an interview, it causes me to question their basic competence. It’s easy to do and is simply proper manners. Not doing so may not always kill your chances, but it could be the deciding factor if you’re facing a rival for the job.

In addition, a thank you note gives you a chance to reinforce something said in the interview or make a new point. That can be an important way to show how you plan to address a fault or deficiency that came up during the interview.

5. You did not ask your references

Back in my job application days I always let my references know to expect a call, giving them some basic information on the job. I also gave them the option to opt out. In one case, a good friend asked me not to use him because he was traveling remotely for multiple weeks. He knew he may not be able to return a call and did not want that held against me.

In another case, I was asked to be a reference for an employee who wasn’t all that reliable. I liked her, and she did a good job when she was there, but she had trouble making it into work every day. There were reasons for that — good ones, that explained why I did not fire her — but I made it clear when she asked that I would answer all questions honestly.

She chose to use me anyway, and the hiring person never asked me about her reliability. She got the job, but things easily could have gone the other way.

Cover your bases

Getting a job is essentially a job in and of itself, and you need to treat it like one. That means preparing for each step of the process and making sure you give yourself the best chance possible. That won’t always result in getting what you want, but it will improve your success rate.

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Egyptian officials say 54 police killed in Cairo shootout

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At least 54 policemen, including 20 officers and 34 conscripts, were killed when a raid on a militant hideout outside of Cairo escalated into an all-out firefight, authorities said Saturday.

It was one of the largest losses of life for Egyptian security forces since militants began targeting government forces after the 2013 military ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, whose one-year rule proved divisive.

The officials said the exchange of fire began late Friday in the al-Wahat al-Bahriya area in Giza governorate, about 84 miles from the capital after security services moved in.

The officials say the death toll could increase. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Egypt’s Interior Ministry issued a statement on the raid late Friday but didn’t provide a death toll. The police also deployed aircraft to confront the militants late Friday, officials said.

The clashes continued after nightfall, Egypt’s state TV reported on its official website. State-run MENA news agency also reported the attack but provided a lower death toll, saying three policemen were killed.

No militant group immediately claimed involvement in the firefight.

Egypt has been struggling to contain an insurgency by Islamic militants led by an affiliate of the Islamic State group, centered mostly across the Suez Canal in the northern region of the Sinai Peninsula, but attacks on the mainland have also recently increased.

The country has been under a state of emergency since bombings and suicide attacks targeting minority Coptic Christians killed scores earlier this year. Those attacks were claimed by ISIS.

Egypt’s Grand Mufti Shawki Allam condemned the killing in a statement Friday.

Spain to strip Catalonia of autonomous power, call for early election, prime minister says

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The Spanish central government moved Saturday to trigger a never-before used constitutional article that would strip Catalonia of its autonomous power, calling it a last resort to “restore order.”

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said his government will seek to dissolve the prosperous region’s government and call for an early election. He blamed separatists from pushing the central government to take the unprecedented measures.

Rajoy’s Cabinet met in a special meeting Saturday morning to approve measures to take direct control of the Catalan region under Article 155 of the Spanish Constitution.

The meeting came almost three weeks after a controversial referendum seeking the region’s independence which was ruled illegal by the country’s Supreme Court.

CATALONIA’S PUSH FOR INDEPENDENCE FROM SPAIN: WHAT TO KNOW

Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont has argued the referendum result gave him the mandate to move forward with independence.

However, the Spanish government disagreed.

Under Article 155, central authorities are allowed to intervene when one of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions fails to comply with the law. It has never been used since the 1978 Constitution was adapted.

On Saturday, Rajoy said the early election seeks to remove the regional officials who violated the country’s laws by actively promoting the referendum bid.

Such actions are expected to spark angry opposition from supporters of independence and moderate Catalans who will see them as an attack on their autonomy.

The slow-burning constitutional crisis over secession escalated this month when regional government officials claimed a disputed independence referendum held Oct. 1 gave them a legal basis for separating from Spain.

The country’s Constitutional Court has so far ruled against all moves toward secession, including the controversial referendum. The court’s website appeared to be offline Saturday, and a spokeswoman said it had been affected by vandalism of unknown origin.

Spain’s National Security Department had warned of potential digital vandalism Friday and said slogans supporting independence for Catalonia had popped up on a number of government websites.

The Constitutional Court spokeswoman said Saturday only the court’s website was not working and no internal information was compromised. She requested anonymity in line with internal rules.

The referendum vote itself was marred by sporadic violence as police took action to shut down some polling locations. The central government says the results have no legitimacy.

Opposition parties have agreed to support the prime minister in revoking Catalonia’s autonomy as a way to thwart the independence drive.

Although the ruling Popular Party has a strong enough majority to get the specific measures passed by the country’s Senate, Rajoy has rallied the support of the opposition to give his government’s actions more weight.

Puigdemont has threatened to call a vote in the regional parliament for an explicit declaration of independence from Spain.

Catalan activist groups called for another protest Saturday in Barcelona over the jailing of two pro-independence leaders who are being investigated on possible sedition charges.

A National Court judge had Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Cuixart, the heads of grassroots organizations Catalan National Assembly and Omnium Cultural, preventatively held on Monday.

The prominent activists are accused of orchestrating earlier demonstrations in mid-September that allegedly hindered a judicial probe of preparations for the Oct. 1 referendum after it had been declared unconstitutional and got in the way of police carrying out orders to prevent the vote.

Barcelona resident Rosa Isart said the Spanish government’s determination to prevent Catalonia from leaving Spain reminded her of the dictatorship of Gen. Francisco Franco four decades ago.

“It seems unbelievable that I have to see this again because of the incompetence of these politicians who don’t know how to speak or dialogue,” Isart said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Social Security's 2018 Raise May Not Reach Up to 70% of Its Beneficiaries

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For tens of millions of Americans, Social Security provides a financial foundation that they simply couldn’t live without. Data from the Social Security Administration (SSA) in 2016 finds that 62% of retired workers — and there are more than 42 million of them receiving a monthly stipend from the SSA — relies on their monthly payment for at least half of their income.

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Social Security’s 2018 raise is announced

Given how important Social Security income is for a majority of seniors, last week’s inflation data release from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) bore particular importance. The BLS’s September inflation announcement was the last piece of the puzzle needed to figure out what the cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) would be in the upcoming year. Think of COLA as nothing more than the “raise” that Social Security beneficiaries receive from one year to the next as a result of inflation.

Social Security’s COLA is tethered to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers, or CPI-W. The average reading of the CPI-W during the third quarter (July, August, and September) of the previous year acts as the baseline figure, while the average reading from the third quarter of the current year acts as the comparison. If the average price of the eight major spending categories tracked by the CPI-W rises, then Social Security recipients receive a raise that’s commensurate with the percentage increase from the previous year, rounded to the nearest 0.1%. If prices fall year over year, benefits remain the same. Thankfully, they can never fall because of deflation.

The Oct. 13 data release from the BLS allowed us to determine that Social Security beneficiaries are on track to receive a 2% raise in 2018. Considering that the August snapshot from the SSA shows the average retired worker receives $1,371.14 a month, it means a little more than $27 extra a month in the pockets of the average beneficiary. 

However, there’s quite the caveat to this year’s Social Security raise: Most beneficiaries may not get it.

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A majority of Social Security recipients may not receive their raise

Most Social Security recipients fall into two groups. First there are those who are eligible to receive Medicare, are currently enrolled in the program, and have their monthly premiums deducted from their Social Security payout. The second category includes those who aren’t enrolled in Medicare and brand-new Medicare enrollees for 2018. This group also includes those who prefer to be billed directly by Medicare for their monthly premiums as opposed to having their premiums automatically deducted from their monthly Social Security check.

Over the past couple of years, brand-new enrollees to Medicare, people who prefer to be directly billed for premiums, and those enrolled (age 65 and up) in Medicare who are waiting to sign up to receive Social Security benefits, have taken the brunt of Part B premium increases. Medicare Part B covers outpatient services and prescription medicines administered in an outpatient setting. With healthcare costs having risen rapidly in recent years, these folks have seen their monthly Part B premiums rise by a high-single-digit, or perhaps low-double-digit, annual percentage.

Meanwhile, the majority of folks, comprising about 70% of people who are receiving both Medicare and Social Security, have been protected from these rapid increases by the “hold harmless” clause. Put simply, the hold harmless clause ensures that existing Medicare members don’t see their Part B premiums rise at a faster pace than their Social Security COLA. Thus, Social Security’s 2017 raise of 0.3%, the smallest on record, kept Part B premiums from rising by more than 0.3% in 2017 for about 70% of people. The bulk of the increase was passed along to the aforementioned group.

In the upcoming year, we’re going to see a reversal. Part B premiums aren’t expected to move higher, meaning brand-new retirees, those who prefer to be directly billed, and those holding off on claiming Social Security until a later age, shouldn’t see their premiums increase relative to the 2017 levels. Comparatively, those who’ve been protected by hold harmless could see some, or all, of their raise gobbled up by Medicare Part B in order to “catch up” for the lower premiums they’ve paid in recent years.

The salt in the wound

If this weren’t enough salt in the wound for most retired workers, there’s more. Despite receiving a 2% COLA, which is the highest raise in six years, there’s a decent chance that the purchasing power of your Social Security dollars will continue to decline.

Earlier this year, The Senior Citizens League released a study that showed seniors’ Social Security benefits have lost 30% of their buying power since the year 2000. What $100 would have bought in Social Security dollars in 2000 now buys just $70 worth of goods and services.  This is a result of rising medical care costs and higher rental or home expenditures. Even with medical care costs looking tamer in 2018 than in previous years, it doesn’t mean other costs, including housing expenses, won’t eat up seniors’ Social Security raise and some.

In other words, many seniors might be saying “Thanks for nothing, Social Security” once again in 2018.

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Here’s How Apple Inc. Could Price New iPhone Models in 2018

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Next year, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is expected to launch three new iPhones. The lowest-cost model appears to be a phone with a 6-inch liquid crystal display, the mid-priced model should be a direct successor to this year’s iPhone X with a 5.85-inch display, and the highest-priced iPhone should be a larger version of the mid-priced phone, sporting a 6.46-inch display.

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Let’s consider how Apple might price these new iPhones, and why such a pricing structure would make a lot of sense for Apple’s business.

The pricing

I expect the LCD iPhone to come in the same two storage configurations that all three of this year’s iPhone come in: 64GB and 256GB. I also expect the baseline model to start at $799 — the same price Apple’s asking for the baseline iPhone 8 Plus this year — with the higher-end storage configuration to go for $949. In other words, next year’s cheapest new iPhone would be priced as the iPhone 8 Plus is today.

Next, I could see Apple retaining the same pricing structure for the next 5.85-inch iPhone X: $999 for the configuration with 64GB of storage and $1,149 for the variant with 256GB of storage.

The first two iPhones in the lineup are priced similarly to this year’s models, but where things have the potential to get interesting is in how Apple prices the rumored 6.46-inch iPhone X.

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It may be tempting to think Apple will follow the same basic pricing pattern in going from the iPhone 8 Plus to the iPhone X, but after giving it some thought, I’m not convinced that it makes sense for Apple to release both 64GB and 256GB variants of an ultra-ultra-premium iPhone. Instead, I think it’s more likely that the 6.46-inch iPhone X will be a device targeted at the most enthusiastic of iPhone enthusiasts. To that end, I expect storage configurations of 256GB and 512GB for the 6.46-inch iPhone X.

If I’m right, then the 256GB model could be priced at $1,299, a $150 premium to the 5.85-inch iPhone X with the same amount of storage, and the 512GB model could come in at $1,499.

Boosting Apple’s iPhone business

I think this product stack has the potential to help Apple’s iPhone business in several important ways. First, with the presence of iPhone X models that start at $999 and $1,299, the LCD iPhone, which I think Apple will simply market as “iPhone” with no suffixes, starts to look like a good deal, especially if it shares the same basic internal specs as the higher-end models — an A12 applications processor, Wi-Fi and cellular capabilities, a TrueDepth camera, and so on.  If Apple can successfully convince people that an iPhone that starts at $799 is a good deal, then that’s a pretty big win for the company.

However, this product stack would do more than that. I think the introduction of a $1,299-plus large-screen iPhone has the potential to boost Apple’s iPhone average selling prices and revenue in a big way. Indeed, such a device would cater to customers who want something like the iPhone X, but bigger. Given the continued industry shift toward larger-screen designs, I’d say this isn’t a small market.

In addition, while Apple gave its engineers a lot of freedom to build something great with this year’s iPhone X by increasing the asking price, allowing the engineers and designers to use more expensive and more premium technologies and materials, a hypothetical $1,299-plus large-screen iPhone X could give Apple’s teams still more freedom.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see, in addition to the larger display, some unique camera and display features in the 6.46-inch iPhone X to differentiate it from the 5.85-inch model. This could help push customers who want the absolute best iPhone technologies and user experience to pay even more for the larger 6.46-inch iPhone X.

Apple really has an incredible opportunity to grow iPhone average selling prices in the years ahead, which could serve to mitigate the fears that industrywide smartphone unit growth has peaked.

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DEVELOPING: Police Investigating Overnight Shooting Near Salisbury VFW

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01-Police Investigation-Emergency Vehicle at Night © Copyright Barbol/Shutterstock_276524096
01-Emergency Vehicle at Night © Copyright Barbol/Shutterstock_276524096

Salisbury Police are investigating a shooting incident that occurred just before 1 this morning.  The shooting took place in the area of the VFW on Main Street.  Reports on social media say police were looking for two black men who are involved.  WGMD will have more information as it becomes available.


 

Questions and answers on proposed ban on laptops in luggage

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First the U.S. government temporarily banned laptops in the cabins of some airplanes. Now it is looking to ban them from checked luggage on international flights, citing the risk of potentially catastrophic fires.

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The Federal Aviation Administration recently recommended that the U.N. agency that sets global aviation standards prohibit passengers from putting laptops and other large personal electronic devices in their checked bags.

The FAA says in a filing with the International Civil Aviation Organization that the lithium-ion batteries in laptops can overheat and create fires.

Some questions and answers about the shifting U.S. policy.

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WHY IS THE FAA WORRIED ABOUT THIS DANGER NOW?

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The FAA has long been concerned about the potential hazardous of lithium batteries. The agency’s tests of the risks of shipping large quantities of batteries as cargo on airliners showed that when a single battery overheats, it can cause other nearby batteries to overheat as well. That can result in intense fires and the release of explosive gases.

Based on those test results, the FAA was able to convince ICAO two years ago to ban cargo shipments of lithium batteries on passenger planes and to require that batteries shipped on cargo planes be charged no more than 30 percent. The risk of overheating is lower if the battery isn’t fully charged.

More recently, the FAA conducted 10 tests of fully charged laptops packed in suitcases. In one test, an 8-ounce aerosol can of dry shampoo —which is permitted in checked baggage — was strapped to the laptop. A heater was placed against the laptop’s battery to force it into “thermal runaway,” a condition in which the battery’s temperature continually rises. There was a fire almost immediately and an explosion within 40 seconds with enough force to potentially disable the fire suppression system.

Other tests of laptop batteries packed in suitcases with goods like nail polish remover, hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol also resulted in large fires, although no explosions.

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ISN’T THE GOVERNMENT CONTRADICTING ITSELF BY FIRST SAY LAPTOPS SHOULD BE CHECKED, THEN SAYING THEY SHOULDN’T?

The different messages are the result of two agencies with different missions: security versus safety.

Last March, the Department of Homeland Security imposed a ban on laptops in the cabins of planes coming into the U.S. from 10 Middle Eastern airports to prevent them from being used as a tool in an attack. Many passengers put their laptops in their checked bags instead. The ban was fully lifted in July after airports in the region took steps to improve security.

This ban is being sought by the FAA, which is focused on the risk of an accidental explosion more than the prospect of a terrorist attack.

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WHEN WILL THIS GO INTO EFFECT?

There are no guarantees that there will be ban on packing laptops in checked bags.

The FAA is presenting its case at a meeting this week and next of ICAO’s dangerous goods panel. European aviation safety regulators, aircraft manufacturers and pilots’ unions have endorsed the proposal.

Even if the panel were to agree with the proposal, it would still need to be adopted at higher levels of ICAO. And it would only apply to international flights.

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WILL THE U.S. IMPOSE A BAN ON CHECKING LAPTOPS ON DOMESTIC FLIGHTS?

This is unclear. Individual countries can decide whether to implement domestic bans. The United States has not indicated if it will do so.

The effect of such a ban may not be great, since many passengers don’t check bags to avoid surcharges, and those that do often prefer to carry on electronics.

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WILL THE U.S. CONTINUE TO PUSH FOR THE INTERNATIONAL BAN?

This is also unclear. The FAA, which favors the ban, is handling negotiations for the U.S. at the ICAO meeting. But, for future meetings, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is having another agency, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, take the lead.

It’s not clear if that agency, known as PHMSA, will share the FAA’s position.

PHMSA previously led dangerous goods negotiations, but the Obama administration put the FAA in charge after congressional Democrats complained that PHMSA officials were too cozy with the industries they regulated.

The Transportation Department said in a statement that PHMSA “has a unique and highly effective” approach to regulating the transportation of hazardous materials, and that it will consider what impact any change in aviation rules might have on transportation. The statement also said PHMSA will collaborate with the FAA.

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Knife-wielding man injures at least four in Munich; suspect arrested

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A knife-wielding man attacked four people in Munich on Saturday and then fled, police said. A suspect was arrested a few hours later, and authorities were working to determine whether he was the assailant.

Police received initial reports of an attack in the Haidhausen area, just east of downtown Munich, a spokesperson said. Authorities determined that a lone attacker apparently had gone after passers-by with a knife.

REJECTED ASYLUM SEEKER CONVICTED OF RAPE IN GERMANY AMID VICTIM INSULTS 

The assailant attacked six people – five men and one woman – at different sites in the area, with four of them wounded and none seriously, police said.

Police guard the area at Rosenheimer Platz square in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. Police say a man with a knife has lightly wounded several people in Munich. Officers are looking for the assailant. Munich police called on people in the Rosenheimer Platz square area, located close to the German city's downtown, to stay inside after the incident on Saturday morning. (Andreas Gebert/dpa via AP)

German police took a suspect into custody but it was not immediately clear if it was the man who carried out the stabbing attack.  (AP)

Following the attack, police took to Twitter to warn people in the Rosenheimer Platz area to stay indoors and cautioned them to avoid the area around Ostbahnhof railway station and a nearby park. Police were not immediately certain to which direction the suspect fled.

GERMANY’S ENTIRE U-BOAT FLEET IS OUT OF ACTION

Police described the suspect to be about 40 years old and was wearing gray pants, a green jacket and a backpack. He also had a black bicycle.

Police guard the area at Rosenheimer Platz square in Munich, Germany, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017. Police say a man with a knife has lightly wounded several people in Munich. Officers are looking for the assailant. Munich police called on people in the Rosenheimer Platz square area, located close to the German city's downtown, to stay inside after the incident on Saturday morning. (Andreas Gebert/dpa via AP)

Police say a man with a knife wounded at least four people in Munich.  (AP)

About three hours after the stabbing, police arrested a man matching that description who initially tried to evade officers.

“We can’t yet confirm whether he is the perpetrator,” da Gloria Martins said.

There was no immediate word on a possible motive.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Egyptian officials say 55 police killed in Cairo shootout

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Egyptian security officials say at least 55 policemen, including 20 officers and 34 conscripts, have been killed in a shootout during a raid on a militant hideout near Cairo.

The officials said Saturday that the exchange of fire took place late Friday in the al-Wahat al-Bahriya area in Giza governorate, about 135 kilometers (84 miles) from the capital after security services moved in.

The officials say the death toll could increase.

They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Egypt’s Interior Ministry issued a statement on the raid late Friday but didn’t provide a death toll.