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Saturday, October 21, 2017

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 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.

The $16,122 Social Security bonus most retirees completely overlook
If you’re like most Americans, you’re a few years (or more) behind on your retirement savings. But a handful of little-known “Social Security secrets” could help ensure a boost in your retirement income. For example: one easy trick could pay you as much as $16,122 more… each year! Once you learn how to maximize your Social Security benefits, we think you could retire confidently with the peace of mind we’re all after. Simply click here to discover how to learn more about these strategies.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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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Ashraf Eassa has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple and short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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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Follow Joan Lowy on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AP_Joan_Lowy

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.

Tech Q&A: Recovering from Equifax, improving passwords, throwing Google off your scent and more

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Equifax security

Q: With the Equifax breach, I am worried that hackers can steal money from my bank account. What can I do?

A: The sheer number of victims is massive, and it keeps climbing with every new report. Meanwhile, Equifax has done a miserable job of comforting its customers, and the fallout has left far more questions than answers. The best thing you can do for your security is to establish two-factor authentication on your bank account. Click here for the steps you can take to stop thieves from emptying your bank account.

Password help

More on this…

Q: What’s the deal on passwords? I heard they needed to be long. Then I heard they could be short. Help!

A: The prevailing wisdom is to make a password as difficult as possible. The problem with complicated passwords is that they are very hard to remember, especially if they use an array of eccentric punctuation marks, like ampersands and pound signs. But the most current advice is actually a relief, especially if you have a poor memory. Believe it or not, hackers will have a devil of a time trying to figure your password out. Click here for three ways to craft great passwords based on the latest research.

Stalked by Google

Q: Is it true that Google keeps track of every place you go?

A: It stands to reason that your phone’s GPS can (a) track all your movements and (b) keep track of all your movements. Once you figure out just how meticulously Google records your every movement, you may be horrified enough to toss your Android in the nearest lake. All of this geographic documentation is probably harmless, but it’s definitely unnerving, no matter how comfortable you are with a never-ending data stream. So how might you turn this feature off, ensuring that no one at Google is following you around? Click here to learn which setting to change, and the rest is a walk in the park.

Monitor color

Q: My photos look different colors when printed than they show on my monitor. Is my monitor bad?

A: A picture is only as strong as its weakest technical element, and problems are sometimes hard to pinpoint: Maybe your camera lens is malfunctioning, or you’re using cheap software, or your printer doesn’t do certain colors very well. Every little piece can affect how an image turns out. But if you’re pretty sure that your monitor isn’t showing its best colors, click here for a very simple way to fix it.

What Alexa hears

Q: I heard you say that Alexa and other gadgets are recording everything I say. Is this true?

A: The point of a hands-free device like Amazon Echo is that you don’t have to press a button or flip a switch to activate the voice recognition software; you just say, “Alexa.” So what can you do to prevent your device from cataloging all of these audio files? And what other devices are eavesdropping on your every private conversation?

Click here to stop your devices from listening to everything you say.

What questions do you have? Call my national radio show and click here to find it on your local radio station. You can listen to the Kim Komando Show on your phone, tablet or computer. From buying advice to digital life issues, click here for my free podcasts.

Copyright 2017, WestStar Multimedia Entertainment. All rights reserved.

Learn about all the latest technology on the Kim Komando Show, the nation’s largest weekend radio talk show. Kim takes calls and dispenses advice on today’s digital lifestyle, from smartphones and tablets to online privacy and data hacks. For her daily tips, free newsletters and more, visit her website at Komando.com.

Think You're Ready for Social Security? Not Until You Read This

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If you’re between the ages of 62 and 70, you can take Social Security retirement. And depending on your situation, now might be the perfect time to do so. However, it’s really important to review some critical things that could make now the wrong time to claim your benefit. 

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This includes your health, wealth, other sources of income, and how a few things can compound and really impact your retirement. Keep reading to make sure you’re truly ready before you make the call to claim your Social Security benefit. 

Will you outlive your other retirement savings if you claim too early?

If you’re considering taking Social Security soon, you’re probably close to age 65 or over. Some important statistics to consider first:

  • The average 65-year-old American will live beyond age 80.
  • 40% of single and 20% of married 65-plus Americans get 90% of their income from Social Security. 
  • The median 65-plus American has less than $61,000 in their 401(k)
  • Your Social Security benefit is cut as much as 6.67% for every year you claim early. 

The most popular age to claim Social Security is 62. Unfortunately, far too many of those who claim early don’t have enough retirement savings to offset the benefit cut if you claim before your full retirement age. When this is paired with life expectancies for men and women that have most of us living into our 80s, it makes it far more likely that you’ll run out of money and be wholly dependent on your monthly Social Security check late in life, just when your care needs could be at their highest and most expensive. 

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Plan to keep working? Not so fast

Plenty of early Social Security filers plan to continue earning a paycheck for at least a few years before fully retiring. However, there’s a big fat catch that could backfire on you. If you claim Social Security before you reach your full retirement age (between 66 and 67 depending on when you were born), there is a relatively low cap to how much you can earn before your Social Security check starts getting cut

For 2017, every $2 you earn above $16,920 will cost you $1 in Social Security payments. Here’s how that looks in plain math: If you earn $26,920 this year ($10,000 above the earnings limit) and haven’t reached full retirement age, your Social Security benefit will be cut by $5,000. 

There’s plenty of reason why it could make sense to work some after taking Social Security. Just make sure you understand the income limits before taking an unexpected hit to the income you were expecting to get. 

How will you pay for healthcare?

You can start Social Security retirement at 62, but you probably won’t be eligible for Medicare before age 65. With healthcare costs rising and private insurance cost-prohibitive for many people in many places, the loss of employer-sponsored group coverage could make health insurance far more expensive than you think. That’s before the impact of the Trump administration’s recent decision to end cost-sharing reductions that provided nearly $9 billion in funds to support insurance costs for lower-income Americans. 

All of these things combined could make a huge impact

When you factor in higher healthcare expenses, caps to how much you can earn before your benefit starts getting cut, and the risk of outliving your retirement savings and other financial assets, there are plenty of reasons why filing right now might be a big mistake. That’s certainly the case for many Americans (many of whom will still file early). 

Retiring as early as possible might sound great, but it could cause years of pain later in life. Instead of taking Social Security now just so you can retire early, you might be far better off waiting a little longer so that you can retire well. 

The $16,122 Social Security bonus most retirees completely overlook
If you’re like most Americans, you’re a few years (or more) behind on your retirement savings. But a handful of little-known “Social Security secrets” could help ensure a boost in your retirement income. For example: one easy trick could pay you as much as $16,122 more… each year! Once you learn how to maximize your Social Security benefits, we think you could retire confidently with the peace of mind we’re all after. Simply click here to discover how to learn more about these strategies.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

What to Watch for in Chipotle's Upcoming Earnings Report

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It was a rough summer for Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG), as a July norovirus outbreak at a Virginia restaurant sent the stock reeling. Then an all-natural queso was released in several test markets before being rolled out nationwide in mid-September, causing some to swoon, but also sparking mockery.

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Now it’s fall and Chipotle is set to report third-quarter results on Oct. 24. There are several moving parts to this report and here’s what investors should look for.

A different way to look at things

As always, analysts will be on the lookout for comparable-store sales, which track how much the average restaurant earned compared with last year. Obviously, only restaurants that are at least a year old qualify for the calculation.

The norovirus incident may well have put a crimp in Chipotle’s sales in the quarter, although perhaps the late-quarter rollout of queso could offset the blemish. On the last earnings call, on July 25, Chipotle management said the outbreak had decreased same-store sales by 5.5% over the past several days.

Since we’re now two years removed from the infamous 2015 E. coli incident, investors may wish to look at the “two-year stack,” or comparable-store traffic compared with two years ago (pre-E.coli).

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Here’s how that two-year stack looks over the past three quarters:

Period Two-Year Stack
Q4 (18.7%)
Q1 (17.2%) 
Q2 (17.4%) 

As you can see, the “stack” ain’t pretty. Though the metric showed marked improvement in the first quarter, it dropped back again in Q2 and is still well below 2015 levels. This could have been due to the data breach announced on the first-quarter earnings call, or merely be a bump on the way to an uneven recovery. Still, things weren’t exactly going great, even before the July norovirus incident.

Can queso save?

There’s been a lot of hype about this summer’s queso rollout, which did seem to overwhelm the news around the norovirus incident. But at least one analyst, Andrew Charles of Cowen, whose note was quoted by CNBC, was skeptical:

In our prior analysis we saw the Week 1 queso lift progressively decelerate through Week 2. This trend of a deteriorating lift from queso intensified through Week 3 to end 3Q. … We view the data as supportive in our belief that queso is unlikely to be a sustainable driver of sales.

Chipotle reacted fairly strongly to Charles’ commentary, as well as to the ongoing narrative (on social media, at least) that people don’t like Chipotle’s queso. Company spokesperson Chris Arnold released a statement saying:

… we moved queso from marketwide testing to a national rollout because we were encouraged by the results, both in terms of feedback in consumer research and sales … What we have seen in terms of brand health and consumer sentiment is quite different than what the Cowen report suggests. … Rather than providing a look at any single moment in time, that research provides an indication of where consumer sentiment stands on an ongoing basis. What we are seeing there is that we are closer to the levels we were seeing in early or mid-2015 (pre-crisis) than we are to the troughs, with many metrics at or near pre-crisis levels.

That may be true, but if Chipotle’s internal research is showing sentiment is back to mid-2015 levels, it hasn’t led to mid-2015 traffic…at least not yet.

Look for fourth-quarter commentary

Chipotle shareholders shouldn’t exactly panic, however. Consider what happened when Amazon.com took over Whole Foods in August and promptly cut prices: Initial research showed a huge increase in interest when the cuts were introduced, but then a deceleration over the next two weeks. Three weeks later, Whole Foods had retained a mid-single-digit increase in year-over-year traffic. In other words, I think it’s inevitable that traffic decelerates after the immediate spike when a hyped product is unveiled.

On Chipotle’s earnings calls, management usually comments on traffic trends for the first three weeks of the current quarter, so that — not this war of words — is where investors should focus.

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David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the 10 best stocks for investors to buy right now… and Chipotle Mexican Grill wasn’t one of them! That’s right — they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.

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*Stock Advisor returns as of October 9, 2017

Billy Duberstein owns shares of, and The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends, Amazon and Chipotle Mexican Grill. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

What Career Weakness Have You Had to Overcome?

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Even the most qualified, well-respected employees have their weaknesses. And while we can all do our best to rise above those shortcomings, sometimes, we have no choice but to acknowledge them.

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Case in point: According to Glassdoor’s rundown of the most common interview questions asked, there’s pretty much no getting around discussing your greatest weakness or weaknesses. Rather than shy away from talking about your personal shortfalls, you’re better off owning up to them. Here are some of the career weaknesses my fellow Fools and I have had to overcome — and how we’ve managed to learn from them.

Wanderlust

Daniel B. Kline: In the first years of my career, I changed jobs about once a year. Part of that was due to the work climate at the time. It was the first digital boom, and companies came and went fairly quickly. That did contribute, but mostly, I had a “grass is always greener” attitude and a healthy dose of wanderlust. If I hit a problem at a job, or didn’t get something I wanted, I immediately began looking for new employment. That kept me from learning how to resolve problems, and eventually, it turned my resume into one big red flag.

Leaving for a better opportunity is almost never a bad idea, but leaving just to experience change is risky. It’s a fine thing to do when you’re young, or if you’ve been at the same place for a few years, but leaving a job just because you like change, or have grown restless, runs the risk of making you less employable, as companies won’t trust that you’ll stay if they hire you.

It’s also important to develop the ability to improve where you are, or at least exhaust all methods of trying. I’m not sure if my wanderlust ever cost me a job, but it came up in multiple interviews.

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Now, since I’ve been a writer with The Motley Fool for about four years, I’ve put my wanderlust into other areas. I work from different locations, have dramatically changed where I live, and try to collect experiences that are new to me. I still have the instinct that says “run” when I don’t get my way, but I’ve grown enough to know that the grass is not only not always greener, but sometimes, it’s full of snakes. 

Shyness

Selena Maranjian: My first real job after college and my first grad school stint was teaching high school history. It proved to be quite a challenge for me because while I’m not an extreme introvert, I am on the shy side. That’s not a great recipe for teaching high school, where you need to keep 20 or 30 kids — including at least a few rambunctious ones — focused and learning. I did my best, in part by speaking much more loudly than I typically did, in order to get their attention and have a shot at keeping it. Still, it wasn’t always enough. I was only in my early 20s, so I had a lot to learn.

Budget cuts and systemwide layoffs cut my teaching career short, but in my next jobs, I also found that assertiveness and self-confidence were much more preferable than being soft-spoken. I worked on boosting those attributes in myself, and found that they just increased on their own over time, too. Once I had more years in a job, I just knew more, and didn’t hold back as much when contributing ideas and working on teams.

For most people, it’s very worthwhile to overcome shyness at work and learn to be assertive. You’ll get more respect carrying yourself with confidence and jumping into conversations when you have something to say. To get ahead, you want others to hear you and to appreciate your value.

Women, in particular, are often used to apologizing when it’s not really necessary — (“Sorry if this isn’t the best idea, but what if we…”). They also use hedging language more, too (“It might be a good idea if we…”). Spend a few minutes thinking about whether you might want, or need, to be more assertive and less shy at work.

Impatience with others

Maurie Backman: I’ve always been the go-getter type in any work environment I’ve been at. Need someone to handle that upcoming team presentation? You got it. Want a report churned out quickly? I’m your person. It’s that same can-do attitude, however, that’s also come back to bite me — especially since it’s been known to translate into a lack of patience with others.

For better or worse, I’m used to getting things done a certain way, and at the risk of sounding boastful, usually, when I set out to do something, I manage to do it efficiently. In the past, when I’ve been faced with situations where I need to collaborate with or train others, I’ve been quick to let my impatience be known.

One time, for example, my colleague and I were asked to recap, in writing, an interdepartmental meeting we’d attended on our team’s behalf. My coworker, though smart, was not a particularly good or fast writer, so halfway through the assignment, I got frustrated and asked to take over. My colleague acquiesced, but when our boss called us in later to discuss the write-up, it came out that I’d basically taken over what was supposed to be a joint effort. That didn’t go over well.

These days, I’m generally a lot more patient, even if said patience is sometimes a bit forced. I know that I still like things done a certain way, but I’ve learned to be more of a team player. And that’s helped my career on multiple levels.

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The Latest: Munich police arrest suspect, say motive unknown

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The Latest on the stabbings in Munich, Germany (all times local):

12:10 p.m.

Police say they’ve arrested a suspect after four people were lightly wounded in Munich by a man with a knife. They’re not yet sure whether he is the assailant.

Police spokesman Marcus da Gloria Martins said the man was arrested about three hours after Saturday morning’s incident in an area near downtown Munich. He says the man’s appearance was in line with a description witnesses gave of the knife attacker.

Da Gloria Martins says the assailant attacked six people at different locations in the area but only four of them were wounded. He says there were no serious injuries.

There’s also no information yet on a possible motive.

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10:15 a.m.

Police say a man with a knife has lightly wounded four people in Munich. Officers are looking for the assailant.

Munich police called on people in the Rosenheimer Platz area, located close to the German city’s downtown, to stay inside after the incident on Saturday morning.

The perpetrator fled the scene. Police said he appeared to be about 40 years old and had a black bicycle, gray trousers, a green jacket and a backpack.

The police department said on Twitter that officers are looking for the assailant “with all available police forces.”

It said the motive for the attack was not immediately clear.

None of the injuries were considered life-threatening.

WGMD Fishing Report 10-21-17

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Friday was a great weather day, but the only good inshore reports we had were from tog fishermen.

Tommy at Lewes Harbour Marina said the only fish that came in were tog.  He expects pretty much the same report for Saturday because tog are the only fish in season that are around in any great numbers.

At Hook ‘em and Cook ‘em the report was a single private boat came in from offshore with a good catch of dolphin and one tuna.  The head boats did not run on Friday, but plan to be out on Saturday and Sunday.

Sunday will see the reopening of sea bass season and there should be lots of activity over wrecks, reefs and the Old Grounds.  The further offshore you go the better your chance of putting some big sea bass in the cooler.

Surf fishing should be good for tiny blues with the occasional king and red drum in the mix.  A keeper rockfish is not out of the question.  The inlet will give up small tog and the occasional keeper.

Don’t forget the Boo-Que at the Inlet.

This is Eric Burnley with your WGMD fishing Report.


 

Wet weather to precede colder air in northeastern US next week

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A change in the weather pattern will bring the return of rain and cool air to the northeastern United States next week, while elevating the risk for travel disruptions.

Those who have yet to check out the fall foliage or go pumpkin picking will find the weather this weekend ideal to take part with plenty of sunshine and high temperatures in the 70s F.

A storm first set to bring severe weather to the Plains on Saturday and soaking rain to the Southern states on Sunday and Monday will then cut through the dry and mild conditions in the Northeast by Tuesday.

Soaking rain will march from west to east across the Ohio Valley and into the mid-Atlantic and eventually New England spanning Monday to Tuesday night.

Tue/Tue night Rain East 10.20 AM

The advancing rain may be accompanied by strong, gusty winds and even a few rumbles of thunder.

“Across much of this region, it has been and will continue to be dry for the next few days, which should mean that the ground can absorb most of the rainfall,” AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok said.

The storm will begin to move at a swifter pace when compared to its slower track across the South. This will limit the period of heaviest rain and the flood threat to a localized level.

“[However], watch for street flooding,” Pastelok said.

Removing fallen leaves from storm drains can help limit the potential of standing water on streets.

At the very least, the rain can trigger major delays during the busy commute times along the I-95 corridor from Washington, D.C., to New York City and Boston spanning Tuesday to Wednesday.

Motorists should be wary of slick spots from oil buildup and fallen leaves during the dry spell.

Cooler and drier air will follow the rain at midweek.

Wednesday Northeast 10.21 AM

The core of the below-normal temperatures will center from the Ohio Valley to the central Gulf coast next week, according to Pastelok.

The air will not pack as much of a sting by the time it makes it to the mid-Atlantic and New England coasts, where temperatures will only drop back to seasonable levels during the middle and latter part of next week.

Temperatures in the 50s F are in store from the Great Lakes to the Tennessee River Valley, with 60s expected along the Eastern Seaboard.

As the chilly air dives across the warm Great Lakes, lake-effect rain showers can occur downwind. Waterspouts could even be a concern over the lakes, posing a hazard to boaters.

The cool air will not stay for an extended period in the Northeast. Temperatures are projected to quickly rebound by the last weekend of October.