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Colin Powell Has Died of COVID-19 Complications, Family Says

In an announcement on social media, the family said Powell had been fully vaccinated.
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Supreme Court Can Easily Survive Gutting Roe, Despite Sotomayor's Warning, Polls Show
A recent survey found that just 1 percent of Americans considered abortion the country's most important problem.
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NYPD responding to reports of man appearing to have a shotgun outside the United Nations
Police are responding to reports of a man with what appears to be a shotgun near the United Nations in New York, and personnel and delegates within the headquarters are being asked to shelter in place, authorities say.
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Videos Found on Ethan Crumbley's Phone 'Horrendously Disturbing,' Oakland Co. Sheriff Says
During Crumbley's arraignment police said they found a journal in his backpack "detailing his desire to shoot up a school to include murdering students."
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Amy Schneider Hopes 'Jeopardy!' Success Will Inspire 'Nerdy Little Trans Kid'
Engineering manager Amy Schneider's debut "Jeopardy!" episode aired during Trans Awareness Week, and she has since proved herself to be a formidable force.
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Everyone’s wondering why Drake was at the most random NBA game
Fans were surprised to see Drake sitting courtside in Oklahoma City on Wednesday night to watch two of the worst teams in the NBA.
New report says US should make less plastic to save oceans
If the current rise in plastics pollution continues, the world by 2030 will be putting 58.4 million tons (53 million metric tons) into the oceans each year, or about half the weight of the fish caught in seas, the report said.
Burger King is returning the Whopper to its original price
Burger King's Whopper is turning 64 years old, and it's giving the breakfast sandwich a price to match.
Ocean plastic pollution is being colonized by coastal species
Researchers still have questions about these new plastic-living communities, but the discovery could change ocean ecosystems on a global scale.
Second U.S. case of Omicron spotted in Minnesota, after NYC travel
The Minnesota man attended a convention where organizers had apologized to 53,000 attendees for long lines.
Biden toughens his tone on Republicans. A bit.
The real heat is coming from outside the White House.
In Wake of Oxford School Shooting, Parkland Survivor Opens Up About His Regrets
Cameron Kasky reflected on the key role he's taken on in the youth-led movement on gun violence prevention, writing "I wish I could have done it all right."
Kourtney Kardashian slammed over 9-year-old daughter Penelope’s fake nails
"At that age I was lucky enough to wear eyeshadow," one outraged TikTok user commented on Penelope's latest video with her reality star mom.
Seth Rogen smoked a ‘ton of weed’ before Adele’s CBS concert special
Adele may be rolling in the deep, but Seth Rogen was rolling up a joint before he attended her “One Night Only” concert last month. The “Superbad” star appeared on “The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon” on Wednesday discussing how he ended up at the big gig, which took place at the Griffith Observatory in...
Teresa Giudice, 49, roasted for ‘childish’ clothes on Instagram
The "RHONJ" star showed off sparkling designs from her new collaboration with Electric Yoga, though some wanted to hate, hate, hate.
Germany Bans Unvaccinated From Nonessential Stores, Could Enact National Mandate
"The situation in our country is serious," said outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a press conference.
Phoenix Suns defense powering historic win streak
Arizona Republic's Duane Rankin breaks down the key to the Suns' success this year.
Dakota Johnson reveals she gave Olivia Colman her first tattoo
“Maybe it was me being completely seduced by this gorgeous person and wanting her to think I was cool,” Colman said of the impromptu decision. “Or maybe it was my midlife crisis.”
Study finds Atlantic hurricanes becoming more frequent, destructive
Hurricane are the most costly disasters for the United States and study suggests they’re increasing in number and ferocity
US imposes new sanctions on Belarus over migrant crisis, ongoing human rights abuses
The United States imposed a wide new tranche of sanctions on Belarus in response to the migrant crisis on the border with Poland and ongoing human rights violations by the Lukashenko regime.
The interminable government shutdown cycle 
Government workers rally to end a government shutdown in 2019. | Scott Eisen/Bloomberg via Getty Images Why it feels like the US is always on the verge of another shutdown. Every December it seems the US government finds itself in the same place: Desperately trying to avoid yet another government shutdown, and all of the economic and political problems that would bring. This year has been no different. This week, Congress is scrambling to pass a continuing resolution (CR), or short-term spending bill, in order to avoid a government shutdown before existing funding runs out on Friday. Lawmakers are broadly expected to do so: Democrats and Republicans on Thursday said they reached a deal that will extend government funding through February, but the measure still needs to pass both the House and Senate. The threat of a government shutdown seems to loom on an annual basis, and some years, comes every few months in the fall and winter. Because the deadline to pass annual spending bills is the end of September, when Congress misses that deadline, it usually passes a short-term funding bill that goes until December — setting up a government shutdown fight right before the new year.Official shutdowns didn’t begin happening until the 1980s, when US Attorney General Benjamin Civiletti concluded that federal agencies couldn’t spend money if it hasn’t been approved by Congress. If it seems like shutdowns have been happening more in recent years, that’s because they have. Since 2013, there have been four government shutdowns; prior to that, the last one was in 1996. (In the 1980s and 90s, there were also multiple shutdowns, but Congress shied away from this tactic in the years that followed.) Threats of shutdowns, and actual shutdowns, are symptoms of how polarized Congress has become. Increasingly, Democrats and Republicans have found it difficult to agree on pretty much anything, including spending bills. In part, that’s because spending bills have increasingly been used as vehicles for partisan priorities lawmakers were unable to pass earlier in the year. These provisions are added to spending bills because they’re generally considered must-pass legislation; when they aren’t successful, federal agencies go unfunded and key services like immigration courts, national parks, and airport security don’t have enough money to keeprunning at full capacity. Prior to 2013, a government shutdown hadn’t happened for more than a decade. That’s partly due to the political fallout Republicans experienced when they forced a lengthy 21-day shutdown in 1996. After a wave of new Republicans, including more conservative Tea Party members were elected in 2010, however, the party opted to use a shutdown again in 2013 to try to defund the Affordable Care Act. That effort ultimately failed, but since then, some lawmakers have seen funding deadlines as good opportunities to send a political message. In part that’s because although Republicans were blamed for the 2013 shutdown, it played well with certain members of the party’s base, underscoring how these deadlines could be an opportunity to energize GOP voters. That has left lawmakers eager to use spending bills — and shutdowns — to score political points and show their party’s voters that they are fighting for voters’ priorities. This year, for example, members of the Freedom Caucus are calling on Senate Republicans to shut down the government in order to protest federal funding being used for President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandates. Why the threat of a shutdown has become so common Overall, Congress has become more divided in recent years, making it tougher to find compromises across many bills. That fact has also made it more difficult to pass spending legislation, and not just because lawmakers want to make political stands. Because polarization has led to lawmakers approving fewer bills overall, spending legislation is also often used to address other policy issues, which can make these measures more contentious. “As Congress has consolidated more of its legislative work into fewer large, must-pass bills, those bills bear more of Congress’s political conflicts,” says Molly Reynolds, a senior fellow of governance studies at Brookings. For example, in this round of appropriation negotiations, Republicans have taken issue with Democrats’ attempts to boost funding for climate-related measures. Add to this polarization Congress’s known penchant for procrastinating, and Americans get a situation in which many of these key spending votes end up coming down to the wire each time there’s a shutdown deadline. With their backs against the wall, lawmakers then often try to avoid shutdowns with CRs. But those are just another form of procrastination, and one that also exacerbates the original problem. Since Congress uses CRs as short-term spending patches with set expiration dates, each time a CR expires it provides another opportunity for grandstanding and pandering to a party’s base. Those efforts, in turn, once again distract from the negotiation necessary needed to find a compromise that would allow the spending bill to be passed, leading to yet another last minute CR, and the cycle repeating itself again. This year, for instance, Congress passed a CR in September and is set to do another one this week. When that second CR expires again next year, lawmakers could threaten a shutdown then, too. And because the government has shut down before, the possibility of doing so again no longer seems like as much of a nuclear outcome as it once did. “For each side, it plays to their political base to fight for what they think is important. There isn’t a loud upswell from the American public that says compromise, move forward, keep the government open,” says Mark Harkins, a senior fellow at the Government Affairs Institute at Georgetown University. “There is a loud upswell from conservative Republicans who say shut down, keep our priorities.” That loud upswell was evident in 2013, when grassroots anger over Obamacare led House Republicans to refuse to vote for a spending bill if it included money for the Affordable Care Act. That forced a shutdown, and GOP lawmakers successfully made their opposition to the law clear, though they eventually caved and funding for the ACA passed. That opposition became an important part of the party’s midterm messaging in 2014, a year in which they successfully regained control of the Senate and kept the House. In early 2018, Democrats repeated this strategy, refusing to vote for spending legislation because they wanted more protections for DACA recipients, once again using the spending bills for political leverage. And in late 2018, President Donald Trump refused to approve a spending package unless it contained money for his border wall, money he ultimately found other ways to appropriate. While members of both parties have historically utilized shutdowns, Republicans have been more likely to because of a broader interest in reducing government services. And when there are tight House and Senate majorities, as is currently the case, the incentive for lawmakers to use must-pass bills as a means to make a political statement, is even higher. As Republicans learned just a few years ago, doing so could bolster their messaging for upcoming elections — and allow the minority to retake control. “If you’re focused on getting back in the majority ... it provides an incentive for parties to be less cooperative. It provides an incentive to be a little difficult,” says UT Austin government professor Alison Craig. But it’s important to remember that such maneuvers, while political in nature, can have real consequences. During the last shutdown, 800,000 federal workers went without pay for more than a month, and the US permanently lost $3 billion in GDP. Even when the government doesn’t actually shut down, the threat of one adds huge uncertainty to federal agencies and forces employees as they struggle to plan for potential closures. There is a way to take the shutdown threat away There is a way to neutralize the threat of a shutdown, but it could have some downsides, too. In the wake of the 35-day 2019 shutdown, which was the longest that the country has ever experienced, several lawmakers — including Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Mark Warner (D-VA) — introduced bills that would set up “automatic continuing resolutions,” or short-term funding bills that would go into effect immediately if Congress doesn’t pass appropriation measures by October 1. The idea is that automatic CRs could serve as a safety net, ensuring that federal agencies never run out of funding, and that the government never shuts down. In order to make sure that lawmakers would still be motivated to pass new spending bills and not rely on automatic CRs in perpetuity, both Portman and Warner’s bills also have safeguards. Portman’s bill would cut 1 percent in total government spending if lawmakers don’t pass full-year legislation within 120 days and Warner’s would cut funding for the executive and legislative branches. One of the potential downsides of automatic CRs is that they could make Congress complacent and uninterested in negotiating larger spending packages if they are able to keep relying on CRs. “A CR, while it’s certainly better than a shutdown, is pretty much the next worst thing,” Shai Akabas, the associate director of the Economic Policy Project at the Bipartisan Policy Center, previously told NBC News. “If we make it easier to do a CR by making it automatic, we’re probably going to have a lot of CRs.” Additionally, the threat of a government shutdown has historically forced lawmakers to attempt to compromise on certain policy priorities; for example, past spending deals have included agreements on pay raises for federal employees and aid for farmers. Without sharp deadlines to find such deals, there could be a reduced impetus to do so. “No one likes government shutdowns per se, of course, but the ability to withhold funding — whether from specific programs, specific departments, or, at the extreme, from the entire government — can be a very powerful part of the congressional toolkit,” Cornell law professor Josh Chafetz previously told Vox. “Nothing brings various parts of the executive branch to the table like threats to their funding, and anything that decreases Congress’s ability to hold up that funding correspondingly decreases its ability to force the executive to negotiate and make concessions.” For now, automating the CR process doesn’t seem to be on the table. So the threat of a shutdown will continue to loom both over this week’s negotiations and future ones as well.
U.S. and China Top Military Officials Set to Meet Over Increasing Arms Race
Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported that talks were agreed on during last month's highly watched summit between Joe Biden and Xi Jinping.
Republicans Hope Their Assault on Democracy Will Stop a Post-Roe Backlash
Women’s constitutional right to decide whether to bear children appears to be hanging by a thread. At yesterday’s oral argument in the case of ​​Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the Supreme Court’s Republican-appointed justices displayed an eagerness to overturn Roe v. Wade, the legal precedent that prevents states from banning abortion. This is no surprise—the conservative legal movement fought a decades-long political battle to achieve just this objective. The case, which will decide the constitutionality of Mississippi’s ban on abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, offers a clear opportunity to do so.I should caution that the back-and-forth of arguments before the Court can be deceiving. The Obama administration’s difficulty arguing its case in favor of the Affordable Care Act led observers to declare it would be struck down—that didn’t happen. An oral argument can be a preview of how the justices will rule, but it is not always, and so the decision in this case remains unknown until it is handed down. That said, conservative activists had not spent decades attempting to strike down Obamacare. Ending legal abortion in America, though, has long been the main goal of the conservative legal movement.[Mary Ziegler: The end of Roe]Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a Trump appointee, compared the “infringement on bodily autonomy” of forcing a woman to carry to term to vaccine mandates, an argument foiled by the obvious reality that pregnancy and abortion are not contagious. Justice Samuel Alito implicitly compared Roe to Plessy v. Ferguson, the decision holding racial segregation constitutional, as he suggested that cases that had been wrongly decided should be reversed without regard for precedent. Given that Roe and Plessy take opposite views of states’ authority to deny basic liberties to their residents, it was a strange comparison. Justice Brett Kavanaugh, another Trump appointee, made Alito’s invocation of Plessy even more ironic when he offered that the problem was that the Court had been “forced” to “pick sides on the most contentious social debate in American life,” rather than leaving it “to the people, to the states, or to Congress.” Plessy applied this argument to racial segregation, arguing that the states were “at liberty to act with reference to the established usages, customs, and traditions of the people.” Black voters in Louisiana were soon entirely disenfranchised; they were not among “the people” who could determine what those customs and traditions were.The flowery paeans to democracy began early in the oral argument. Mississippi Solicitor General Scott G. Stewart, defending his state’s strict ban on abortion, began by declaring that precedents guaranteeing abortion rights had “damaged the democratic process” and that “when an issue affects everyone and when the Constitution does not take sides on it, it belongs to the people.”Perhaps, at first glance, that seems fair. But even setting aside the question of whether people’s fundamental constitutional rights should be settled by popularity contests, and the fact that the Court has previously ruled that the Constitution does take sides on the question of whether women can be forced by the state to carry a pregnancy to term, this argument for democracy is offered in bad faith. Religious freedom is also a contentious issue, and the Roberts Court has shown little modesty in settling such debates as it pleases, in accordance with the customs and traditions of its conservative majority. Furthermore, the Mississippi law’s proponents understand that they have the tools to limit any popular backlash to overturning Roe, and the justices know this because they helped forge those tools themselves.In 2019, the Supreme Court continued its long streak of antidemocratic rulings, holding that partisan gerrymandering was not unconstitutional. Given the racial polarization of American politics, it is a simple matter for Republican legislators to draw districts that systematically disenfranchise Black voters, and then insist they were discriminating on the basis of party, not race. Plessy is more popularly known, but perhaps the 1898 decision in Williams v. Mississippi is more germane here. In Williams, the Court held that infamous devices intended to disenfranchise Black voters, such as the poll tax, grandfather clause, and literacy test, did “not on their face discriminate between the races.” This case rarely gets included when justices list the Court's more noxious rulings, not only because it is less well known, but because most of the Republican appointees would rather not acknowledge that they have explicitly echoed its reasoning.[Adam Serwer: The lie about the Supreme Court that everyone pretends to believe]The Roberts Court’s jurisprudence has set off a bipartisan race to the bottom, with Democrats and Republicans seeking to rig maps to their advantage in states they control, insulating themselves from popular discontent. This is grim but rational: Under this system, legislative and congressional majorities rest on the ability of lawmakers to disempower their own constituents.Republicans control more states, however, and geographic polarization allows them to easily draw maps to maintain their power in state legislatures and federal House districts. Should they lose a statewide election, such as a governorship, they can simply strip the Democratic governor of key powers and then wait until a Republican is back in office. If a state referendum goes the wrong way, Republicans can rely on the legislature, or the courts, to nullify it, as they have with Florida’s poll tax (a device explicitly barred by constitutional amendment) or marijuana legalization in South Dakota.The Court’s gutting of the Voting Rights Act’s preclearance powers means lawmakers are entitled to impose burdens on voting to narrow the electorate where gerrymandering fails. The people can do less and less to ensure that lawmakers’ decisions reflect their preferences, unless the people are consistent Republican voters. Nor are states given a free hand when implementing policies they believe would strengthen democracy—those are not among the contentious issues the Court’s conservative majority feels should be left to the people. If Democrats wish to compete in this environment, they need simply alter their stances to reflect the views of voters whose ballots actually count.To paraphrase Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—whose decision not to retire under President Barack Obama was an important factor in this outcome—the Court has turned democracy on its head, allowing lawmakers to choose their electorate, rather than the electorate choosing its lawmakers. Democracy, for our august justices, is just another way of saying: Heads we win, tails you lose. Democrats in Congress have failed to use their fragile trifecta to change this system, and Republicans believe it ensures that the correct people will rule. And so Americans will be governed by it for the foreseeable future.If the Republican-appointed justices—only one of whom was appointed by a president who originally won the popular vote—sound somewhat cavalier about stripping half the country’s population of a fundamental constitutional right, well, they have good reason to be confident. They have engineered a system that allows “the people,” whose will they invoke with venomous cynicism, little power to respond.
Israel to Use Phones to Track Individuals Confirmed to Have Omicron Variant
Israel had been using the technology on and off since March 2020 to curb the spread of the pandemic, but civil rights groups blasted the measure.
In Defense of 'Gossip Girl' on HBO Max — Why We Need to Cut the Reboot Some Slack
In a world of "Selling Sunset", "Grey's Anatomy", "Sex/Life'" and not to mention "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series", please, can we just let the "Gossip Girl" Reboot live?
Massachusetts teacher fired over TikTok school board campaign video on CRT files federal lawsuit
A Massachusetts teacher who was fired over her TikTok posts defying critical race theory and transgenderism is now suing the school principal and district superintendent.
South Korea Has Record Number of COVID Patients Deemed Serious or Critical
In South Korea, there are 733 patients who are deemed to be in serious or critical condition and the COVID-19 ICU's are at 90 percent capacity.
Traveling to Uruguay during Covid-19: What you need to know before you go
If you're planning a trip to Uruguay, here's what you'll need to know and expect if you want to visit during the global coronavirus pandemic.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, wins latest stage of her privacy dispute with a publisher
A U.K. court backed the former Meghan Markle in her long-running lawsuit against a British newspaper publisher over its publication of parts of a letter she wrote to her estranged father.
Suspect in shooting death of Temple University student arrested for carjacking in July then released
The 17-year-old suspect in the murder of a Temple University student over the weekend was arrested and charged earlier this year for a “gunpoint carjacking” -- but he ended up being released after prosecutors withdrew the case because a key witness failed to testify in court, a report says.
The Brutal Celebrity Breakup That Proves Being a Wife Guy Is Risky Business
Let the messy demise of the Hamilton “it” couple be a lesson for us all.
How to Overcome Mass-Shooting Despair
At first, the video offers a perspective we’ve seldom seen: an inside-the-classroom view of high-school students trying to evade an active shooter. Kids crouch below their desks and strategize in hushed tones. The lights are off. Fearing that the voice on the other side of the door is that of a killer, they flee. Then, as teenagers push open a window and thrust themselves to safety, the footage starts to look familiar.The scene at Oxford High School on Tuesday afternoon evoked the April 20, 1999, Columbine massacre with eerie symmetry. Twenty-two years ago, such events were deemed “unthinkable.” Columbine yielded wall-to-wall news coverage in a way that this week’s Michigan shooting, and many others over the past two decades, have not. Even the ones that register as more than a blip eventually fade from the national conversation and public consciousness. Nearly four years have passed since Parkland—the school shooting that many (falsely) believed would finally catalyze American gun reform. December 14 will mark the ninth anniversary of the day first graders were annihilated with an assault weapon inside Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.Back then, Senator Chris Murphy was a House Democrat, representing the state’s Fifth Congressional District. The Newtown parents were his constituents. One of the Sandy Hook moms, Jackie Barden, told Murphy that she used to pretend that her dead son, Daniel, was off playing at a friend’s house, and that he would soon come home. By telling herself this, Barden could momentarily find the mental strength to complete basic tasks like vacuuming her house. “It was just so terrifying to me that she needed to create this world in which Daniel was still alive in order to just get through a few hours,” Murphy told me yesterday.[Read: Americans don’t really understand gun violence]On Tuesday, Murphy took to the Senate floor, attacking his colleagues’ inaction on gun control. Murphy’s speech racked up retweets and praise, the liberal equivalent of thoughts and prayers. His message was more or less in line with the one he’s been delivering for nearly a decade. Still, there was something different about his tone on Tuesday: rage.“It happens here, in America, because we choose to let it happen,” Murphy said in his address. “We’re not unlucky; this is purposeful. This is a choice made by the United States Senate to sit on our hands and do nothing while kids die.” He paced behind the lectern, shaking his head in disgust, furrowing his brow, waving his right hand as if trying to swat the problem away in the ether. “Make no mistake about it: There is a silent message of endorsement sent to would-be killers, sent to individuals whose brains are spiraling out of control, when the highest levels of the U.S. government does nothing, shooting after shooting.Earlier that day, in advance of a Supreme Court case that may eventually overturn Roe v. Wade, some of Murphy’s Republican colleagues had spoken about the sanctity of human life. Later, after Murphy had left the Capitol for the night, he seethed over what he saw as GOP hypocrisy. Murphy figured the Michigan shooting might have been prevented had Republicans not spent years blocking gun reform at the federal level. So he turned around and drove back to the Senate to say as much.“My anger [Tuesday] night was real—it was visceral,” Murphy said. “It comes from a parent who’s sick and tired of having his kids go through active-shooter drills. But it also comes from a policy maker who doesn’t want his country to start to think that this is something we have to live with. This is in our control. We still have the ability to pass laws that change the trajectory of gun violence in this nation. Sometimes you need to show emotion to wake people out of their complacency.”We talked about the unnerving student videos that had been ricocheting around TikTok, Snapchat, and Twitter. It’s one thing to see a screenshot of an “I love you” message that a fearful teenager texts to family members; it’s another to watch a shaky cellphone video of a scrum of high schoolers running for their lives. Still, even those images are of survivors. Sheriff Michael Bouchard of Oakland County, Michigan, told CNN yesterday morning that he had reviewed the school’s security-camera footage, and that the 15-year-old suspect was firing at close range, aiming for his victims’ head or chest. The public will likely never see graphic crime-scene photos from this or other mass shootings—a thorny issue that has divided gun-control advocates for years.“I wonder if this country would accept school shootings the way we do if they saw pictures of what those kids looked like in Sandy Hook after their little bodies were riddled with holes,” Murphy said. “I don’t want to overstate the images that I’ve seen, but I’ve certainly seen images from Sandy Hook that others haven’t, and those images are motivating. No parent wants their dead child’s picture on the news. But, you know, it was Emmett Till’s open casket that changed the civil-rights movement. And maybe it’s that viral video from [Tuesday] that starts to make people think whether they really want their kid to experience something like that.”Sometimes, even the experience of being shot is not enough to change a person’s mind about guns. I asked Murphy whether he’s spoken with people like his old House colleague Steve Scalise of Louisiana, the Republican minority whip who was wounded in the 2017 congressional-baseball shooting.“What's discouraging about the baseball shooting is that it seemed to harden people’s beliefs, in part because there were good guys with guns,” Murphy said. “I think for Steve, it hardened his belief that we need to have more guns rather than less guns. I can’t put myself in his shoes, but that certainly is discouraging for those of us who look at the data and see that where more guns exist, more gun crimes exist.” (Four years after the failed attempt on his life, Scalise advertises his strong support of the Second Amendment, concealed-carry reciprocity, and an A+ rating from the NRA on his government website.)[Read: Why the AR-15 is so lethal]That lawmakers are at odds over whether students should have to crawl through classroom windows on random afternoons to avoid being shot to death illustrates the bleak state of the gun-reform conversation. I wanted to know what advice Murphy would offer parents. How are you supposed to combat feelings of cynicism over America’s epidemic of gun deaths? If Newtown wasn’t a turning point, will there ever be one?“I contest the narrative that the only sentiment you can have is despair, because a lot of progress has been made,” he said. “I understand the focus is rightly on the lack of action federally. But, from Washington State to Florida to Connecticut to California to Nevada, in purple states and blue states, we’ve passed laws that are tightening up the nation’s gun laws. We’ve seen more anti-gun-violence laws passed in the last 10 years than in any 10-year period in my lifetime. That’s good news, but it’s not enough.”Last month, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that could radically reshape nationwide gun policy, loosening state-level restrictions against concealed-carry permits. Many mass shooters opt for an AR-15 or a similar semiautomatic weapon in order to slaughter the largest number of people in the shortest possible time, but this week’s suspect in Michigan allegedly used a 9-mm Sig Sauer that his father had purchased on Black Friday—the kind of gun that fits inside a backpack or jacket pocket.I thought back to something Murphy had said earlier in our conversation, when he told me that he viewed the Connecticut families who have lost children to gun violence as a distinct constituency within his state. “I care very deeply about whether they think that I’ve measured up to this mission or not,” he said. “If I end my public-service career and haven’t passed a significant federal firearms-reform bill, I’ll consider my time in public service a failure.”
UFC on ESPN 31's Brendan Allen wants Darren Till next, but Sean Strickland rematch is key
Brendan Allen had more choice words for Sean Strickland ahead of UFC on ESPN 31.       Related StoriesUFC on ESPN 31's Brendan Allen wants Darren Till next, but Sean Strickland rematch is key - EnclosureDana White on Justin Gaethje fighting for lightweight title: 'It should be him' after UFC 269Video: What was said during Colby Covington and Kamaru Usman's wholesome moment at UFC 268
Nearly half of Americans say inflation is causing them hardship: poll
Some 45 percent of households said they experience either severe or moderate hardship as a result of the price increases that have roiled the economy in recent months.
Woman Stole Over $300K Worth of Items, Including Gucci, Prada, to Sell Online, Police Say
Police say they found 2,333 stolen items totaling around $330,000 in the woman's home, which was "packed wall to wall in every room" with bags.
Cops shot, killed in line of duty hits record high in 2021
The number of cops shot and killed in the line of duty across the United States this year has hit a new high, the National Fraternal Order of Police revealed Wednesday.
Teacher arrested for 'threatening notes'
Man suspected of shooting girlfriend and children
The case for rent control 
People march in Chicago, Illinois, on March 20 during a demonstration in support of Illinois lifting the ban on rent control. | Max Herman/NurPhoto via Getty Images From St. Paul to Boston, rent control is making a comeback. Renting has a stability problem. As a renter, you don’t know if your landlord might sell your home, turn it into condos, or evict you. You don’t know if you can make any lasting ties in a community. Part of this stability problem is a cost problem. Renting can already be very expensive in America. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the share of households who are rent-burdened (or who spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent) has been increasing; in 2017, nearly half of all renter households in the US fit in the category. If your rent suddenly becomes unaffordable, you often have just a few short weeks to find alternative accommodations and move. Now tenant advocates and officials in some cities across the US are reconsidering an oft-maligned policy: rent control. As Bloomberg’s Kriston Capps notes, the policy is “making a comeback.” Santa Ana, California, adopted a rent control ordinance; in Boston, voters elected a new mayor who ran in part on rent control; and in St. Paul, Minnesota, “voters enacted one of the most stringent rent control policies in the nation.” Not all rent control policies are alike: Some programs cap annual rent increases or put limits on the absolute price of a unit; it can be granted to certain low-income people or applied to all buildings of a certain type. Voters are backing these measures in response to the skyrocketing price of housing. But all of these policies share a problem if enacted as the exclusive solution to rising rents. As economists often stress, rent control fails to address the core issue of why housing is so expensive to begin with: lack of supply. In particular, states and cities have a bevy of rules and regulations regarding what kind and size of new homes can be built that overwhelmingly make it illegal or unprofitable to build small single-family homes, multi-family homes, and dense neighborhoods. Despite economists’ consternation, demand for rent stabilization policies is growing, in particular in high-cost-of-living cities where a greater share of rent-burdened tenants are higher-income young people with political power. As historian Suleiman Osman explained in his book The Invention of Brownstone Brooklyn, New York City’s history of rent control can be explained in part because a “large number of white professional renters gave the [tenants] movement muscle unmatched in other cities.” As higher-income professionals stay renters for longer, renters in America’s biggest cities are gaining in political power. According to the National Multifamily Housing Council, as of September 2020, California, New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Oregon, and Washington, DC, have some form of rent control either at the state level or below. (The number of units covered in each of those places could vary wildly.) It’s clear that these areas share something else in common: They have high-demand labor markets — superstar cities —where the rising cost of housing is largely due to localities’ reluctance to allow more housing to be built even as demand has shot through the roof. Rent control should be understood as a remedy for displacement, rather than a solution to the spiraling cost of housing. It’s best as a measure that can help keep current tenants from being displaced from their neighborhoods, andas part of the long-term project of solving America’s housing shortage. Both the case for and against rent control are more nuanced than their opponents give them credit for. There’s also little empirical research on rent control. While economic theory indicates that rent control’s costs are high (more on this later) — it was only a few decades ago when the field was largely unified in opposition to minimum wage policies. Basic economic theory held that the costs of implementing a minimum wage (namely, fewer jobs) would largely outweigh the benefits of higher wages. But after a flurry of empirical research was conducted, researchers just didn’t find the large costs to employment opportunities that they expected and minimum wage became a lot more popular among experts. Rent control could be next. It’s become abundantly clear that even if states do begin to build more homes, it will take years if not decades to rebalance supply and make housing more affordable, and in the meantime millions of families will continue to suffer. Economists are right to be worried about the ways rent control could worsen the housing crisis, but rent control can work. The case against rent control The fastest way “to destroy a city, other than bombing.” This quote about rent control has been attributed to the late Assar Lindbeck, a Swedish economist who once chaired the prize committee for the economics Nobel, and it’s the dominant sentiment of most economists. This statement is purposely hyperbolic, but Lindbeck wasn’t kidding about economists’ instinctive disdain for the idea. University of Chicago Initiative on Global Markets The University of Chicago’s Initiative on Global Markets surveys top economists at American universities. This 2012 poll shows that the vast majority disagreed with the statement that rent control has had a “positive impact” on affordable housing. The logic is simple: If you set a price ceiling below what the market price would be, you will reduce the incentive for people to supply that good. If you’re a hatmaker and the government says you’re not allowed to charge more than $5 for hats you’ve been able to sell for $10, you’ll probably stop making as many. Of course, here we’re not talking about hats, we’re talking about housing. If fewer hats are produced, that’s not great, but if fewer homes are produced, that’s catastrophic. We’re facing a national housing shortage of 3.8 million homes, and it’s the leading contributor to the spiraling cost of housing and modern homelessness. It also could induce landlords to reduce their investment or upkeep of properties if they see their profits being slashed. Scarcity empowers the people in control of the scarce resource, and rent control does nothing to make housing less scarce. Landlords can still find ways to extract income more in line with the true price of the apartment in a housing-scarce city. In Berlin, despite the city’s rent control laws, renters are being asked to pay thousands of euros for furniture or appliances in order to get a lease. Bloomberg’s Alice Kantor reports that “one ad recently asked 25,000 euros ($28,300) up front for kitchen equipment, a TV and furniture.” The ad was for a one-bedroom apartment renting at 930 euros a month. At best, critics say, rent control empowers one small group of people: the tenants who were living in buildings when the law was enacted.Arpit Gupta, a professor of finance and economics at New York University who said he is a “little skeptical of rent control,” explains that these policies often act as “a one-time transfer of equity from landlords to current tenants.” That is, instead of helping make renting permanently affordable, rent control policies just transfer the benefit of housing scarcity fromthe landlord to the current tenant. The problem is that there are a lot more “future tenants” than there are current tenants, and at some point even current tenants will likely move. So while there is a clear benefit to existing renters when a rent control ordinance is passed, it’s important to look at what happens to rents and renters in aggregate. That’s what Stanford economists Rebecca Diamond, Tim McQuade, and Franklin Qian did in a 2019 paper focused on rent control in San Francisco. They found that the policy did make beneficiaries 10 to 20 percent more likely to remain in their homes in the medium to long term than tenants who weren’t covered by rent control. They also note that “the effects of rent control on tenants are stronger for racial minorities, suggesting rent control helped prevent minority displacement from San Francisco.” However, landlords directly affected by rent control pivoted away from providing rental units towards other types of real estate, like condos (this could lead to more evictions as landlords seek to avoid rent control policies). Overall, the authors find it reduced the available rental housing by 15 percent and that the policy“likely drove up citywide rents, damaging housing affordability for future renters.” Alternatively, Brigham Young University economist David Sims’s 2006 paper on rent control in Massachusetts found that there was basically no effect on the construction of new housing. Economists also have distributional concerns. When landlords cannot discriminate based on price, they discriminate in other ways, for instance on their religious preferences, in favor of people who are members of their own race and class, or even against families with children. There is evidence this happens in the housing market already, to be fair. While there are laws on the books to prevent this sort of discrimination, almost no one is even attempting to enforce them. Even with a robust enforcement apparatus, it would be very hard to catch. In another paper, Sims’s findings indicate that relatively richer people are more likely to benefit from rent control policies, and according to a review of the literature by the Urban Institute, Black and Hispanic residents are underrepresented in rent-controlled units. The authors ultimately conclude that rent control’s “benefits are concentrated among wealthier, whiter households.” Economists are right that rent control does not fix the fundamental problem of the rising cost of housing and its application to that problem is wrongheaded. Rent control needs to be seen not as a tool for addressing the cost of housing (we know how to do that!) but as a stabilization tool for tenants and communities that are continually shunted from neighborhood to neighborhood by economic forces they often have no say in. The case for rent control — or how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb In a world where housing is a scarce resource, some tenants have to lose. There aren’t enough homes, so how do we decide who gets them? Without rent control, the losers arepeople with less money; those who cannot afford increases in rent are forced out of their neighborhoods, and people who can afford them get to stay or move in. Rent control gives policymakers a chance to redistribute the pains of scarcity in the near term. Even research that concludes rent control is on net harmful to tenants in the long term concedes that it reduces displacement for current tenants. This is especially important because fixing the underlying issue in America’s high-cost cities and suburbs is a long-term solution that will require millions of new homes to be built. Even if everyone agreed right now to pursue the goal of housing abundance, it could still take decades for the housing markets to rebalance. Jeff Chiu/AP People hold up signs at a rally in favor of more housing in January 2020 in Oakland, California. Sowhat is to be done for the tens of millions of rent-burdened families before we can reach housing abundance? Should we simply allow the cycles of displacement and segregation to occur without any policy intervention? Rent control is the answer. Of course, it’s not the whole answer. A well-designed rent control policy exists in tandem with eliminating exclusionary zoning laws, reducing the cost of housing construction, and providing universal vouchers to help low-income tenants afford their rent. Even research that is done by those skeptical of rent control finds that it is at least successful at reducing displacement of current tenants, in particular the Stanford study that found rent control reduced displacement by up to 20 percent. According to the Urban Institute review, “If rent control is judged on its ability to promote stability for people in rent-controlled units, evidence has generally found it to be successful.” Then the question becomes the policy design. There,the devil is in the details. To encourage people to still build more homes, it is important to exempt future construction from rent control and to allow landlords to increase rents annually by a moderate sum tied to inflation. Policymakers also want to make sure there are incentives to keep existing rental stock well-maintained; one way to do so is by allowing for vacancy decontrol so that when a tenant moves out, a landlord can upgrade the unit and charge a higher rent to the next tenant. When it comes to worries that rent control policies might increase evictions (both formal and informal) as landlords are motivated by profit to convert to condos or force their tenants to vacate so they can renovate, the answer is that, similarly to all types of abuses of power in the market, there needs to be more oversight. A few policies that cities and states should enact are: Just cause eviction statutes, which would require the landlord to justify kicking a tenant out of the property. The government can define what a reasonable justification is, including but not limited to failure to pay rent, desire to add another tenant to the renter’s lease, violation of lease terms, illegal activity, etc. Right to counsel to ensure that tenants are not just getting steamrolled in these types of hearings. Numerous studies have pointed to the fact that the vast majority of tenants are going unrepresented by counsel. A rental registry to keep track of tenants and landlords. One of the biggest factors leading to informal evictions is that the power imbalance between very low-income tenants and landlords leads the former to simply comply when told to leave their home, even if they have the right to stay. By creating a rental registry, landlords will know that their lease terms are being monitored by local officials and that they will be easily caught if they informally or illegally evict tenants in order to get around rent control laws. Skeptics will correctly note that implementing all these ideas would increase the costs of renting out properties, which might push some landlords toward condo conversions or away from developing new units. That’s why it’s important to simultaneously make it cheaper and easier to build and renovate housing. As almost all urban economists have noted, the primary constraint on housing supply in America’s cities and suburbs is the regulatory morass that drives up the cost of developing and producing new homes and makes it nearly impossible for a landlord to extract multiple rents from a single lot by building multi-family housing. “The limits on housing construction are basically about land use,” explained J.W. Mason, an economics professor at John Jay College. “In an exurban setting, you have a lot of vacant land and developers are deciding ‘is it profitable enough to build something here,’ and that’s what determines whether new housing gets built. So you could imagine in an environment like that, rent control might [have] a significant effect on new construction. ... In a dense, major city ... the limit on housing is not how profitable developers expect to be but on the amount of land that’s available for developing housing.” There is, of course, the NIMBY problem. Rent control might insulate its beneficiaries from rising rents leading to greater opposition to new housing development. But there’s evidence that some renters oppose new housing out of fears of displacement and will change their minds once rent control insulates them from quickly rising rents. Opponents of rent control might chafe under the insinuation that there are no alternatives to rent control. One of the best ideas is a social insurance program, proposed by Diamond and endorsed by economist Noah Smith, that would entailthe government compensating renters via tax credits or direct payments if they see inordinate rent hikes. Itcould be funded by taxes or fees levied on landlords, reducing the distortionary effects of rent control that is not equally applied. Instituting demand-side programs like this under conditions of extreme scarcity comes with baggage of its own. Namely, the increased money in tenants’ pockets is passed through to the landlord in the form of higher rents. However, a social insurance program in tandem with making it easier to build new housing units could also be a good idea, though the policy design of such a program is more complicated than a rent control policy. Rent control does not and will not fix the underlying cost problem, and in a vacuum, a new rent control policy would likely exacerbate the supply crisis. But rent control as a tool for reducing displacement and as a part of a broader housing policy in high-cost cities and suburbs is necessary. Economists may be wary now, but if they don’t get on board and help design these policies, cities may be doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past.
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