Bad News: Some Americans are Paying Back Their Stimulus to the IRS


Here’s What You Need to Remember: If the money was already direct deposited into a bank account, then one can mail off a personal check or money order to an IRS location. Just make it payable to “U.S. Treasury” and write “Third EIP” and a personal taxpayer identification number on the check.

Amid another hectic tax season, the Internal Revenue Service has been working around the clock to disburse tens of millions of coronavirus stimulus checks to struggling Americans.

But in the effort to fast-track these $1,400 payments under the American Rescue Plan, some of the checks ended up heading into the bank accounts or mailboxes of certain individuals who didn’t necessarily deserve them.

One particular situation that the IRS has taken time to point out is if a deceased person received a payment. In fact, the agency has sent out a notice that spouses or relatives will need to return the stimulus checks to one of its offices.

However, the IRS added that this notice only affects taxpayers who passed away before January 1, 2021. Moreover, the extra $1,400 per dependent is also not to be spent for a parent who died before that date.

If the deceased spouse, though, was part of a joint return, then the surviving individual may keep the cash. Keep in mind that the same holds true if the deceased was a married member of the U.S. military. And if a stimulus payment has both of the husband and wife’s names on it, the surviving spouse may keep the funds but must include a letter requesting a new check be reissued with only his or her name on it.

If one chooses to return the stimulus funds, it is relatively straightforward. Just write “void” in the endorsement section on the back of the check and then mail it via USPS to a local IRS location. Don’t forget that they should also write a brief explanation stating the reason for returning the payment.

If the money was already direct deposited into a bank account, then one can mail off a personal check or money order to an IRS location. Just make it payable to “U.S. Treasury” and write “Third EIP” and a personal taxpayer identification number on the check.

Also, take note that for the expanded child tax credits heading out in July, an overpayment of these funds may force taxpayers to pay up come tax season next year. Understand that these credits are advanced payments that are largely based off the IRS’ estimates on available data, such as overall income, marital status, and number and age of qualifying dependent children.

But if any outdated or inaccurate data are used, they could potentially generate an overpayment of credit—meaning that the impacted individual will be responsible for any difference in the final amount.

The IRS has announced that a portal will eventually be launched for the child tax credit payments so that taxpayers’ information can be added or updated more conveniently.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

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Give Americans Cash and Prizes for Getting Vaccinated


Most of the official responses to this problem have been tepid. “Clergy can play a great role as well as your own family doc,” Fauci told an interviewer this week, “because most people really trust a doctor that’s been taking care of their family for a long time.” California is running public-service announcements.

Boring!

Don’t blame the public-health officials. They are who they are. But with every passing day, their instincts will yield diminishing returns: The Americans they are best suited to reach have already been vaccinated. Cold, hard cash would sway some of the rest. In a UCLA survey, a third of unvaccinated Americans said they would be more likely to get a shot for $100. That’s a bargain.

And in my estimation, a cash-for-shots program would be powerfully complemented by a three-legged stool of free beer, free bacon, and free lottery tickets in exchange for getting two shots of Pfizer or Moderna or the Johnson & Johnson one-shot. Don’t woo Americans with mere common sense or cash, but with spectacle.

This approach will horrify many a county-health official. I beg them to wring their hands. My targets will revel in whatever irks these bureaucrats, because they view them as smarmy scolds. “Smarm is a kind of performance—an assumption of the forms of seriousness, of virtue, of constructiveness, without the substance,” Tom Scocca wrote in a 2103 Gawker essay. “Smarm is concerned with appropriateness and with tone. Smarm disapproves.” America needs to reach the subset of its residents who’ve found pandemic messaging to be off-puttingly smarmy.

A small experiment in free beer is already showing promise. In Buffalo, New York, a local brewery offered a pint to anyone who came in for a first shot and ultimately distributed vaccines to more people in a single day than all of the Erie County clinics had, combined, the prior week. If I have any criticism of the effort, it’s the open enthusiasm of the public-health officials. Grudging acquiescence might be more effective.

The typical American has a sense that public-health types want them to eat less salty, fatty processed meat. How powerful, then, if the message from the most dour public-health bureaucrat in each city was “I’m loath to think of you eating a Baconator at Wendy’s, but getting a COVID-19 vaccine is so important that we’ll give you a coupon for a free one if you get your jab before July 4.”

At the Heart Attack Grill in Las Vegas, customers weighing more than 350 pounds eat free and menu items include the Quintuple Bypass Burger, which has almost 20,000 calories. If I were the face of public health in Clark County, I’d be on the local evening news with a representative of the Heart Attack Grill telling him that his establishment embodies everything I find repellent … but that if Vegas gets to 85 percent vaccinated, I’ll order and eat the Quintuple Bypass.

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What to do about Skid Row


TANYA MCNICHOLS moved to Los Angeles from Cincinnati when Eartha Kitt died. She says she is on a mission from Jehovah. Asked how she spends her days, she fires off four words: “Shower, wash, read, pray.” Ms McNichols lives surrounded by her possessions on the street in front of the Union Rescue Mission, a non-profit that serves the homeless of Los Angeles’s Skid Row. Reverend Andrew Bales, who runs the Mission, sees Skid Row as a humanitarian disaster. “It couldn’t be a worse situation”, he says, “unless it was hell itself.” He has experienced this hell first-hand. While delivering water in the area, Reverend Bales contracted a painful infection that resulted in the partial amputation of both legs.

On April 20 a federal judge ordered the city and county to clean up Skid Row. In a flowery 110-page injunction, Judge David Carter chronicled the century-plus of history that culminated in Los Angeles’s contemporary homelessness crisis. In its final pages, he made his decree. Los Angeles must set aside $1bn to tackle homelessness. By mid-July, the city and county must offer shelter to all unaccompanied women and children on Skid Row. By October 18, the county must offer shelter to all of the homeless people in the area. The city and county are appealing against the order.

Los Angeles has long fought a losing battle against…

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The GOP’s Post-Trump Trauma – WSJ


What is to become of the Republican Party? It will either break up or hold together. If the latter, it will require time to work through divisions; there will be state fights and losses as the party stumbles through cycle to cycle. But in time one side or general tendency will win and define the party. Splits get resolved when somebody wins big and nationally. Eisenhower’s landslides in 1952 and ’56 announced to the party that it was moderate. Reagan’s in 1980 and ’84 revealed it was conservative. The different factions get the message and follow the winner like metal filings to a magnet.

The future, according to this space, is and should be economically populist and socially conservative.

The future GOP, and the current one for that matter, is a party of conservatism with important Trumpian inflections. The great outstanding question: Will those inflections be those of attitude—wildness, garish personalities and conspiracy-mindedness? If so, the party will often lose. Or will the inflections be those of actual policy, in which case they will often win?

In terms of policy the future GOP will be more Trumpian, meaning more populist and nationalist. High spending will continue (and will not much be acknowledged!) but it will be high spending with a more conservative bent—more for cops, for instance. The party will be preoccupied neither by the capital-gains tax nor by what’s good for corporations. It won’t cut entitlements.

Skepticism about great international crusades will continue. The modern GOP has been internationalist and interventionist. (The Democrats too.) The future GOP will be internationalist up to a point—the world has a way of forcing you to think about it; trade deals need to be made. But it won’t be like it was, all flags unfurled.

Conservative social thinking—against what used to be called political correctness, against being pushed around by faculty-lounge Robespierres—will continue. It will be antiradical on race. Republicans are and will be with

Sen. Tim Scott

: America is not a racist country, but can always benefit from remembering that racism is a sin and a vice of the ignorant. The argument against wokeness is powerful: We are our souls and our character; we are not only our color and our country of origin.

Do Trump supporters even care to institutionalize their policy ascendance, or do they just want to obsess on the sage of Mar-a-Lago and insist people bow to him? Never mind

Liz Cheney,

why do they insist on putting him at the immovable center of things? Some part of it would be that they interpret respect for

Donald Trump

to be respect for themselves. They may be “the deplorables,” but they changed the priorities of a great party. There’s something to that.

But if they are serious they have to wake up. They can’t win elections without classic GOP voters. They can win with Trumpism, but they’ll lose with Trump. As they just did.

He is a waning figure. It is the way of things that a former leader becomes former, even him. He pays the finaglers around him to tell reporters how powerful he is, and reporters are only too eager to headline it, but how true is it, and for how long? He is distracted by investigations, lawyers, age and golf. His new social-media empire is a blog. What power he has is wielded brutishly but not cleverly or thoughtfully.

One of the scoops of the Cheney drama was when the Washington Post reported that in a briefing at an April GOP retreat the National Republican Congressional Committee hid from its members polling information on battleground districts. That information showed Mr. Trump’s unfavorable ratings were 15 points higher than his favorable ones: “Nearly twice as many voters had a strongly unfavorable view of the former president as had a strongly favorable one.” Bad numbers had been covered up before. Ms. Cheney concluded party leadership was willing to hide information from their own members to avoid acknowledging the damage Trump could do to Republican candidates.

An NBC News poll last month had only 32% of respondents with a favorable impression of Mr. Trump. More interesting, it had his numbers falling among Republicans themselves. Only 44% of them said they were “more a supporter of Donald Trump” than “of the Republican Party”; 50% said the other way around.

Mr. Trump’s trend is downward. He is losing air, like a deflating

Macy’s

Thanksgiving Parade balloon that’s going to wind up wrapped around a light pole.

House leaders should stop being mesmerized by this guy and building him up in their heads. They are way too dazzled by his supposed powers. They shouldn’t be going on missions to Mar-a-Lago. He’s merely a force to be factored in.

They think Ms. Cheney should pay him less attention. They should pay him less attention.

It was good for the party to have someone who opposed him, and said it, in the leadership. It didn’t cause trouble in America, and made those who noticed what she was doing feel represented. If Minority Leader

Kevin McCarthy

hadn’t been so afraid Mr. Trump would come for him too, he would have stood by her and averted a crisis.

As I’ve written, in running in fear from him, they are running from a corpse. Because the insurrection changed everything. They say, “Trump got 74 million votes,” but many Republicans held their noses and voted for him. Jan. 6 forced many of them to say Basta!—“Enough!” It’s not true 74 million are Trumpists. You could as well call them 2020’s Not Democrats.

If the Republicans don’t take an honest stand on 1/6, they’re saying what happened that day was allowable, and there will be more attempts to overthrow elections. An honest stand on what happened after the election separates the party from evil. It’s not a question of aligning with Mr. Trump, it’s a question of aligning with that. Not being truthful invites half your base to go live in Crazytown and never come back, not even to vote in your elections.

What could help the Republicans unify? Normally it would be the Democrats. Their policies are always the GOP’s great unifying factor. The Biden administration is doing a good job of providing the issues. Inflation is rising; the southern border has been ruptured. The administration is silent in the face of the progressive cultural revolution with its antipolice fervor, and silent about teachers not having to teach because they have a powerful union. All this is part of the reason the Republicans may still take back the House.

You’d think a healthy party could oppose all that with documents that are thoughtful, stands that are clear, votes that are pertinent. Instead of just going on cable and scoring points off Ms. Cheney.

This week more than 100 former Republican officeholders and activists signed a letter suggesting they might form a third party. Their grievances are real but it won’t work. At the end of the day our two big incompetent behemoths function as a unifying force in a nation with too few. You’re a Democrat or a Republican, take your choice and find your place in the coalition. Give people three parties and they’ll take seven, and America will fracture.

Grit your way through this hard time. Stay and fight.

Wonder Land: By paying people not to work, the Biden Democrats will damage the U.S. work ethic for a generation. Images: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Copyright ©2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved. 87990cbe856818d5eddac44c7b1cdeb8

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Florida AG slams Biden for holding first Supreme Court commission meeting virtually


Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody ripped the Biden administration on Thursday after officials announced that the first meeting of the president’s Supreme Court commission would take place in a virtual format.

Moody targeted Biden in response to a notice from General Services Administration, which described the commission’s meeting as a “public virtual meeting” to be held May 19. The Florida attorney general called on the president to allow public access to the commission’s proceedings.

“.@JoeBiden, America is not fooled,” Moody wrote on Twitter. “You cannot legitimize a gross partisan attack on our nation’s highest court by assembling a group on ZOOM! Our country deserves more than a basement broadcast.”

Dubbed the Presidential Commission on the Supreme Court of the United States, the group consists of 36 bipartisan law experts. The commission will examine “the length of service and turnover of justices on the Court; the membership and size of the Court; and the Court’s case selection, rules, and practices.”

FLORIDA ATTORNEY GENERAL DEMANDS BIDEN MAKE SUPREME COURT COMMISSION MEETINGS PUBLIC

Moody and other Republicans criticized Biden’s decision to form the commission. Critics pointed to the move as a sign that Biden supports a push among Democratic lawmakers to add additional justices to the Supreme Court.

In April, Moody called the commission “alarming.” She warned of potential legal action if the meetings were not made public.

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“We must be allowed to observe and challenge any and all undemocratic, un-American policy recommendations that threaten our democracy,” Moody said in a video message at the time. “If the president ignores this request and chooses to keep any of these proceedings secret, I’ll utilize the full power entrusted to me by the voters of Florida to preserve the integrity of America’s judicial system.”

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White House Is Said to Quietly Push Change to D.C. Statehood Bill


WASHINGTON — The Biden administration has quietly approached congressional Democrats about a potential change to their high-profile but long-shot effort to transform most of the District of Columbia into the nation’s 51st state, according to executive and legislative branch officials.

The bill, which passed the House last month but faces steep odds in the Senate, would admit the residential and commercial areas of the District of Columbia as a new state and leave behind a rump federal enclave encompassing the seat of government, including the Capitol, White House, Supreme Court, other federal buildings and monuments.

The deliberations center on the Constitution’s 23rd Amendment, which gives three Electoral College votes in presidential elections to the seat of government. If it is not repealed after any statehood, the bill would try to block the appointment of the three presidential electors. But the administration is said to have proposed instead giving them to the winner of the popular vote.

Officials familiar with the discussion spoke on the condition of anonymity, citing the political delicacy of the matter at a time when Republicans have been raising legal and policy objections to granting statehood to the District of Columbia’s 700,000 residents. Such a step would create two additional Senate seats that Democrats would most likely win, as well as grant a vote to the lone representative in the House.

But a White House lawyer acknowledged the interbranch dialogue among Democrats, saying: “Admitting D.C. as a state is comfortably within Congress’ power — arguments to the contrary are unfounded. But we also think there are ways to allay the concerns that have been raised, and that’s why we’re working with Congress to make the bill as strong as possible.”

In late April, the White House endorsed the statehood bill in a policy statement. But a little-noticed line also hinted that part of the legislation, known as H.R. 51, had given President Biden’s legal team pause.

“The administration looks forward to working with the Congress as H.R. 51 proceeds through the legislative process to ensure that it comports with Congress’ constitutional responsibilities and its constitutional authority to admit new states to the Union by legislation,” it said.

If political conditions ever shift enough that the Senate someday approves granting statehood to the District of Columbia — which would become the smallest state by land area, though its population exceeds Vermont and Wyoming — Republican-controlled states are widely expected to sue to challenge its constitutionality.

The Supreme Court might dismiss such a case on the grounds that it raises the sort of question that the politically elected branches must decide. In 1875, it rejected a case challenging the 1845 retrocession to Virginia of a former part of the district partly on such logic. But if the justices were to reach the legal merits, they would confront several novel issues.

Democrats are said to generally agree that two legal objections Republicans have raised to the bill — that Maryland might have to approve statehood because the land was in that state’s jurisdiction before 1790, and that it might be unconstitutional to shrink the size of the federal enclave holding the seat of government — are less serious threats. They see those arguments as not supported by the explicit text of the relevant portions of the Constitution.

But how best to navigate the 23rd Amendment if it is not repealed gave the administration legal team greater pause, officials said. The amendment says the seat of the federal government “shall” appoint three presidential electors.

It is not clear how many, if any, potential voters would be left there. The only residence in the rump federal enclave would be the White House; presidential families traditionally choose to vote in their home states, but nothing forces them to do so. In theory, homeless people might also claim residency in the envisioned enclave.

As a fallback if the amendment is not swiftly repealed, the statehood bill would make two changes by statute: Legal residents of the enclave — if there are any — could vote by absentee ballot in their previous states, and legal procedures for appointing any electors would be rescinded.

But an opponent of the bill, Roger Pilon, a former Reagan administration official and a legal scholar at the libertarian Cato Institute, argued that this mechanism would not work. Congress, he said in prepared House testimony this year, cannot use a statute to eliminate a constitutional directive, nor to take away people’s constitutional rights.

Democrats are discussing changing the bill to use a different mechanism. Instead of trying to block the appointment of electors for the federal seat, Congress would enact a law designating them in a particular way. (The 23rd Amendment says the federal seat’s presidential electors shall be appointed “in such manner as the Congress may direct.”)

One possibility is to add those three votes to the total of whichever candidate has otherwise won the Electoral College. Another is to award them to the winner of the national popular vote, which in a very close election might change the outcome.

It is unclear whether such a change would reflect legal concerns or the notion that it would be a wiser policy approach.

As a matter of political reality, giving the electors to the winner of the popular vote might spur Republican-controlled state legislatures to cooperate in swiftly repealing the amendment rather than obstructing the effort out of partisan pique: Since 2000, Republican presidential candidates have twice won the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote.

The popular vote idea was proposed last year by two Columbia University law professors, Jessica Bulman-Pozen and Olatunde Johnson.

Ms. Bulman-Pozen, who worked in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel during the Obama administration, said that she thought the Supreme Court would hold that the existing bill was constitutional, but that she did not believe it was as “elegant” as bestowing those electoral votes on the winner of the popular vote.

“I don’t think it’s the best fit with the text,” she said of the bill’s current approach, adding, “Congress has other options it should consider — even if it hopes for repeal of the 23rd Amendment.”

But Mr. Pilon expressed skepticism about the proposed revision, too, arguing that it would undercut the spirit of the 23rd Amendment.

“The whole deal is an extraordinarily convoluted effort to get around the fact” that the District of Columbia “was never contemplated to be the source of a future state,” he said.

The deliberations are playing out against the backdrop of growing — yet incomplete — support in the Democratic Party for statehood. Advocates are trying to shore up that support to lay groundwork for someday passing the bill if conditions change.

“I am actively engaging with my Democratic and Republican colleagues to make the case for D.C. statehood because this is not a partisan issue, but an issue of basic fairness and equal representation for all citizens,” said Senator Thomas R. Carper, a Delaware Democrat who has picked up the mantle for the cause in the Senate.

A chief obstacle is the Senate filibuster rule; the votes of 10 Republicans and all 50 Democrats would be needed to overcome it. Even as the bill has a record number of Democratic co-sponsors, including Senator Jeanne Shaheen of New Hampshire this week, four lawmakers have not signed on, according to Mr. Carper’s office. Those four include Senator Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who sits on the evenly divided committee responsible for processing the legislation.

Another, Senator Joe Manchin III, Democrat of West Virginia, recently told a radio show that he believed a constitutional amendment was needed to admit the District of Columbia as a state. He cited the history of debate over ways to give full representation to its residents, including comments by some prominent Democratic legal officials in the 1960s and 1970s.

Other Democrats, however, have pointed out that the context of those historical comments centered on proposals that were different than this era’s idea.

On the day of Mr. Manchin’s remarks, the district’s nonvoting representative and the chief sponsor of the bill in the House, Eleanor Holmes Norton, a delegate, issued a statement that sought to rebut the idea that amending the Constitution was necessary. As part of that argument, she raised the alternative approach that the Biden team has been privately urging.

“Congress could choose, for example, to award the electors to the winner of the Electoral College or the national popular vote to prevent the reduced federal district from controlling electoral votes,” she declared.

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Pfizer vaccine recommended for kids 12-15; Ohio vaccine lottery


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US cities see surge in deadly street racing amid pandemic


Jaye Sanford, a 52-year-old mother of two, was driving home in suburban Atlanta on Nov. 21 when a man in a Dodge Challenger muscle car who was allegedly street racing crashed into her head-on, killing her.

Sanford was remembered by friends as kind and thoughtful, but now she will also be remembered for something else: a new state law that requires jail time for all convictions for drag racing and stunt driving.

Street racers block roads and even interstates to keep police away while they tear around and perform stunts, often captured on videos that go viral. Packs of vehicles, from souped-up jalopies to high-end sports cars, roar down city streets, through industrial neighborhoods and down rural roads.

Experts say TV shows and movies glorifying street racing had already fueled interest in recent years.

Then shutdowns associated with the pandemic cleared normally clogged highways as commuters worked from home.

Those with a passion for fast cars often had time to modify them, and to show them off, said Tami Eggleston, a sports psychologist who participates in legal drag racing.

“With COVID, when we were separated from people, I think people sort of bonded in their interest groups,” said Eggleston, who is also the provost of McKendree University, a small college in suburban St. Louis. “So that need to want to socialize and be around other people brought the racers out.”

But people have been killed. The snarl of engines and traffic tie-ups have become huge annoyances. Racers have been reported wielding guns and strewing beer cans in parking lots.

Now, police in many cities are stepping up enforcement, and states are fighting back with new laws.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill named for Sanford last week after it passed the General Assembly. Besides mandating at least 10 days of jail time for all drag racing convictions, the measure requires people convicted a third time within five years to forfeit their vehicles.

“This illegal activity is very dangerous,” the Republican governor said at a bill-signing ceremony. “Our goal is simple: to protect every family in every community.”

In New York City, authorities received more than 1,000 drag racing complaints over six months last year — a nearly five-fold increase over the same period in 2019.

“Illegal street racing puts lives at risk and keeps us up at night,” said New York state Sen. Brad Hoylman. “While there’s been less traffic during the pandemic, some drivers have used this as an opportunity to treat our streets like a NASCAR speedway.”

The Democratic lawmaker has introduced legislation that would authorize New York City to operate its speed cameras overnight and on weekends in hot spots for illegal street racing. The Senate Transportation Committee recently unanimously approved the measure, setting it up for a floor vote.

In Mississippi, Republican Gov. Tate Reeves signed into law in March a bill that allows state troopers to respond to incidents in cities. On New Year’s Eve, drivers blocked traffic on an interstate highway in Jackson, the state capital, for an hour while they spun out and did donuts, etching circles in the pavement.

Even though the highway patrol headquarters was nearby, troopers couldn’t respond because they were prohibited from handling incidents in cities with over 15,000 people. That prohibition will be lifted when the new law takes effect July 1.

In Arizona, the state Senate has passed a bill to impose harsher penalties. It now awaits a House vote. Under an ordinance approved in March by the Phoenix City Council, police can impound a car involved in street racing or reckless driving for up to 30 days.

Meanwhile, the death toll climbs. On the night of May 2, a 28-year-old woman was killed in Phoenix when a street racer crashed into her car. A man was arrested on suspicion of manslaughter.

Police in Albuquerque, New Mexico, handed out thousands of tickets for speeding and racing since a crackdown began in October.

“Racing up and down our streets is so deadly, especially while more kids, seniors, pedestrians and cyclists are out during this pandemic,” said Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller.

Street racing in an industrial neighborhood of Portland, Oregon, scares people who work there. A motorcyclist was killed last month in a crash that police said apparently involved racing. Business owners on April 2 wrote to the mayor and city commissioners, asking them to take action.

Kathryn, an employee in the neighborhood’s Portland French Bakery, says the roadside and its 2-mile (3.2 kilometer) straightaway are littered with alcohol containers on Mondays after weekends of racing and stunts. Spray-painted lines mark start and finish lines. Parking lots are scarred by circular tire tracks or completely eroded in places by spinning tires.

“A lot of the employees are afraid to go anywhere near them, honestly. There’s been a couple of shootings,” said Kathryn, who didn’t want her last name used because she was worried about possible retaliation from street racers.

Portland police say they’re too overwhelmed to do much about it.

“The city of Portland has experienced an enormous increase in our shooting rate, a staggering amount of volatile demonstrations, while our staffing numbers have dwindled,” said acting Lt. Michael Roberts, who is tasked with addressing illegal street racing. “We often do not have the bandwidth to address the street racer calls.”

In Denver, police have deployed a helicopter to track races, closed lanes often used by racers and sent officers to places where racers meet. On April 3, a mother was killed when a street racer broadsided her car in downtown Denver.

In one of the most notorious incidents, hundreds of street racers clogged a stretch of interstate in nearby Aurora on March 7 while they raced and cruised. Police warned other motorists to stay away amid reports of guns being brandished and fireworks going off.

The events have given more urgency to a long-standing effort by the Colorado State Patrol to lure street racers to a safer environment. The agency’s “Take it to the Track” program features weekly contests at Bandimere Speedway, in the foothills west of Denver.

“You can bring out whatever you have, be it a supercar or mom’s minivan, grandpa’s Buick,” Trooper Josh Lewis said at the racetrack last week. “And you can race a cop, and do so legally.”

Lewis then beat a Toyota SUV on the quarter-mile track, reaching 88 mph (142 kph) in his Dodge Charger.

Ray Propes, 58, started street racing when he was 16 but now prefers Bandimere Speedway for its traction and safety.

“You don’t have to worry about accidents, animals, kids, birds, anything,” he said.

———

Associated Press reporters Thomas Peipert in Denver; Maria Villeneuve in Albany, New York; Emily Wagster in Jackson, Mississippi; Susan Montoya Bryan in Albuquerque, New Mexico; and Jonathan J. Cooper in Phoenix contributed to this report.

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U.S. regulators should demand banks to hold more cash for climate risks -think tank



FILE PHOTO: Federal Reserve Board building is pictured in Washington, U.S., March 19, 2019. REUTERS/Leah Millis

May 11, 2021

By Pete Schroeder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The U.S. Federal Reserve and other bank regulators should force banks to hold more cash to guard against potential losses due to climate change and possible steps to fight it, one of Washington’s top liberal think tanks said on Tuesday.

The plan https://www.americanprogress.org/?p=498976, published by the Center for American Progress and seen first by Reuters, is likely to inform a looming debate about exactly how far bank regulators should go in policing climate change as the Biden administration looks to tackle the issue on all fronts.

The paper argues that regulators could move quickly to bolster banks’ capital cushions by establishing several new safeguards, including a new capital surcharge directly tied to how much pollution banks directly finance and heightened stress tests of big banks that incorporate climate risks.

Several of the changes are likely to be strongly opposed by Wall Street, and regulators, led by the Fed, have taken a much more deliberate approach to climate than sought by progressive Democrats.

After lagging European counterparts on climate change under the Trump administration, the Fed has ramped up efforts in recent months, including devoting new staff specifically to exploring how climate change could affect the economy and the financial system.

But the Fed has yet to adopt any new policies in response to climate change, which some argue are already overdue.

“It’s positive they at least have acknowledged the severity or potential severity of these risks,” said Gregg Gelzinis, a senior policy analyst who wrote the paper. “I give them credit for that, but it’s not going to provide a lot of comfort if we don’t see action.”

The paper argues regulators should move quickly, directing banks to hold more capital if they are exposed to more heavily polluting industries, saying they could lose value as the world moves toward cleaner industries.

It adds the Fed should go farther with the largest banks, imposing a new capital surcharge directly tied to how much carbon they finance with their activities.

The report also called on the Fed to create a new exercise to test banks’ resilience to climate change over the long term, as well as integrate near-term climate risk into the existing annual stress test of bank finances.

(Reporting by Pete Schroeder; Editing by David Gregorio and Steve Orlofsky)



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Tesla owner arrested after repeatedly riding in the back seat while it was on autopilot | US News


A motorist who was spotted in the back seat of his Tesla as it travelled down a San Francisco Bay Area freeway has been arrested for reckless driving.

California Highway Patrol said Param Sharma, 25, has also been cited for disobeying an officer.

Police were alerted after receiving a number of calls describing a person seated in the backseat of a Tesla Model 3 without anyone in the driver’s seat while travelling on Interstate 80 across the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

Image:
Sharma, 25, has also been cited for disobeying an officer (Pic: Instagram/goldcollarlavish)

A motorcycle officer spotted the Tesla, confirmed the only occupant was in the backseat, took action to stop the car and saw the person inside move to the driver’s seat before coming to a halt.

Authorities said they cited Sharma, of San Francisco, on 27 April for a similar offence.

In an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday, Sharma said he did nothing wrong, and he will keep riding in the back seat with no one behind the steering wheel.

“It was actually designed to be ridden in the back seat,” Sharma said.

(Pic: Instagram/goldcollarlavish)
Image:
He believes his Model 3 can drive itself (Pic: Instagram/goldcollarlavish)

“I feel safer in the back seat than I do in the driver’s seat, and I feel safer with my car on Autopilot, I trust my car Autopilot more than I trust everyone on the road.”

He believes his Model 3 can drive itself, and does not understand why he had to spend a night in jail.

He said he started riding in the back seat of autonomously driving Tesla vehicles in 2018 and has gone about 40,000 miles without being in the driver’s seat.

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