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Florida passes hardline anti-theft law

“If you steal in Florida, we will catch you and we will prosecute you.” That was the warning issued loud and clear by Florida governor Ron DeSantis after he signed into effect a new law that increases penalties for retail theft and porch piracy in the Sunshine State. The Republican governor said the new law will “distinguish” Florida from “lawless jurisdictions” like California and New York, where organized retail crime is out of control and thieves are running rampant. “You see stores closing down in different parts of the U.S.,” DeSantis said in a press conference about the hardline anti-theft bill. “Whether that’s Target closing nine stores in Portland and Seattle, Walmart closing stores in Chicago, Nordstrom closing stores in San Francisco. “That is a direct result of a lack of commitment to the rule of law and holding criminals accountable. We’re not going to do that in the state of Florida. We’re going to make sure that our retailers are able to sell products, that consumers are able to benefit and that people are held accountable when they break the law.”

By Bethan Moorcraft | 04.17.24

“If you steal in Florida, we will catch you and we will prosecute you.” That was the warning issued loud and clear by Florida governor Ron DeSantis after he signed into effect a new law that increases penalties for retail theft and porch piracy in the Sunshine State. The Republican governor said the new law will “distinguish” Florida from “lawless jurisdictions” like California and New York, where organized retail crime is out of control and thieves are running rampant. “You see stores closing down in different parts of the U.S.,” DeSantis said in a press conference about the hardline anti-theft bill. “Whether that’s Target closing nine stores in Portland and Seattle, Walmart closing stores in Chicago, Nordstrom closing stores in San Francisco. “That is a direct result of a lack of commitment to the rule of law and holding criminals accountable. We’re not going to do that in the state of Florida. We’re going to make sure that our retailers are able to sell products, that consumers are able to benefit and that people are held accountable when they break the law.”

By Bethan Moorcraft | 04.17.24

Calif. McDonald’s franchisee's focus is 'survival'

It's now been a few weeks since California increased the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $20 an hour. The new law, which applies to restaurants part of a chain of at least 60 establishments nationwide, is meant to make life in the famously expensive state more affordable for roughly half a million workers. For McDonald’s franchise owner Scott Rodrick, however, this adjustment has proven difficult. Rodrick, who owns 18 McDonald's locations in California, shared his complaints about the new minimum wage during a recent interview with Fox Business. “The last 12 days since this unprecedented law impacted franchisees in California has literally been a whirlwind, frankly it feels like an eternity,” he said. In response to the higher minimum wage, some restaurant owners and companies have reportedly raised their menu prices. However, Rodrick cautions that there is a limit to how much customers are willing to pay when dining out. “I realized that my customers’ appetite for higher prices is not unlimited. So when I take price to relieve margin pressure, it has to be done thoughtfully with a plan. Charging $10 for an Egg McMuffin or $20 for a Big Mac, for me, is a nonstarter,” he explained.

By Jing Pan | 04.17.24

It's now been a few weeks since California increased the minimum wage for fast-food workers to $20 an hour. The new law, which applies to restaurants part of a chain of at least 60 establishments nationwide, is meant to make life in the famously expensive state more affordable for roughly half a million workers. For McDonald’s franchise owner Scott Rodrick, however, this adjustment has proven difficult. Rodrick, who owns 18 McDonald's locations in California, shared his complaints about the new minimum wage during a recent interview with Fox Business. “The last 12 days since this unprecedented law impacted franchisees in California has literally been a whirlwind, frankly it feels like an eternity,” he said. In response to the higher minimum wage, some restaurant owners and companies have reportedly raised their menu prices. However, Rodrick cautions that there is a limit to how much customers are willing to pay when dining out. “I realized that my customers’ appetite for higher prices is not unlimited. So when I take price to relieve margin pressure, it has to be done thoughtfully with a plan. Charging $10 for an Egg McMuffin or $20 for a Big Mac, for me, is a nonstarter,” he explained.

By Jing Pan | 04.17.24

The middle class is calling 2-1-1 for help

Samantha Daley suffered a miscarriage in November — and received a $2,500 hospital bill on her sixth day of recovery. “Literally, as I’m reading this bill, I’m like, ‘Well, I’m going back to work tomorrow. There’s just no other option,’” Daley told The Wall Street Journal. “I’m getting the extra-heavy sanitary pads ready so I can walk into work as half a human.” Daley, a high school administrative assistant and her husband, a machinist at an aerospace engineering firm, rake in a combined annual salary of $95,000 and have health insurance to boot. However, the couple says their income covers their monthly expenses — including rent for their two-bedroom condo in Windsor, Connecticut, utilities, groceries and gas — and not much else. A $500 emergency-room visit for one of their young sons drained most of their savings as well. Although the family previously applied for child care assistance under Connecticut’s Care 4 Kids program for low- to moderate-income families so that Daley could return to work, they were repeatedly denied. Now, they’re unsure how they’ll find room in their budget to cover summer camp for their kids. They’re not the only “middle-class” household that is struggling. According to Wall Street Journal reporting, workers at “2-1-1” emergency helplines across America have been sounding the alarm over a fast-growing group of people who earn too much to qualify for social services — but not enough to cover all their expenses.

By Serah Louis | 04.15.24

Samantha Daley suffered a miscarriage in November — and received a $2,500 hospital bill on her sixth day of recovery. “Literally, as I’m reading this bill, I’m like, ‘Well, I’m going back to work tomorrow. There’s just no other option,’” Daley told The Wall Street Journal. “I’m getting the extra-heavy sanitary pads ready so I can walk into work as half a human.” Daley, a high school administrative assistant and her husband, a machinist at an aerospace engineering firm, rake in a combined annual salary of $95,000 and have health insurance to boot. However, the couple says their income covers their monthly expenses — including rent for their two-bedroom condo in Windsor, Connecticut, utilities, groceries and gas — and not much else. A $500 emergency-room visit for one of their young sons drained most of their savings as well. Although the family previously applied for child care assistance under Connecticut’s Care 4 Kids program for low- to moderate-income families so that Daley could return to work, they were repeatedly denied. Now, they’re unsure how they’ll find room in their budget to cover summer camp for their kids. They’re not the only “middle-class” household that is struggling. According to Wall Street Journal reporting, workers at “2-1-1” emergency helplines across America have been sounding the alarm over a fast-growing group of people who earn too much to qualify for social services — but not enough to cover all their expenses.

By Serah Louis | 04.15.24

Man slapped with $24K bill for overpaid benefits

Nothing stings quite like having to pay for something you didn’t know you were on the hook for. That’s the struggle Mike Cooper is currently facing as he fights the Tennessee Department of Labor over a $24,000 bill for overpaid unemployment benefits — which he claims he was eligible for — during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I’m eligible. I did everything that was required of me,” Cooper told WATE 6 On Your Side — explaining that he was self-employed and without work at the time, so he applied for benefits under the stte’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program. Cooper received $720 a week in state unemployment benefits and federal stimulus money during the pandemic, according to documents shared with WATE. At the time, that money was a vital lifeline for the single dad of a teenage daughter — but in a twist of fate, he’s since been told he has to repay all the money he received in unemployment benefits and cough up 10% of the $24,000 immediately. How did this situation come about?

By Bethan Moorcraft | 04.12.24

Nothing stings quite like having to pay for something you didn’t know you were on the hook for. That’s the struggle Mike Cooper is currently facing as he fights the Tennessee Department of Labor over a $24,000 bill for overpaid unemployment benefits — which he claims he was eligible for — during the COVID-19 pandemic. “I’m eligible. I did everything that was required of me,” Cooper told WATE 6 On Your Side — explaining that he was self-employed and without work at the time, so he applied for benefits under the stte’s Pandemic Unemployment Assistance Program. Cooper received $720 a week in state unemployment benefits and federal stimulus money during the pandemic, according to documents shared with WATE. At the time, that money was a vital lifeline for the single dad of a teenage daughter — but in a twist of fate, he’s since been told he has to repay all the money he received in unemployment benefits and cough up 10% of the $24,000 immediately. How did this situation come about?

By Bethan Moorcraft | 04.12.24

Biden admin forgives further student debts

The Biden administration just announced another round of relief for 277,000 student loan borrowers amid legal challenges from Republicans. The latest wave cancels $7.4 billion in student loans, bringing the total debt relief approved by the Biden administration to $153 billion, according to the White House. But not everyone’s celebrating. “You’re incentivizing people to not pay back student loans and at the same time penalizing and forcing people who did to subsidize those who didn’t,” Rep. John Moolenaar is reported to have said during a hearing earlier this week, where Education Secretary Miguel Cardona testified about the Education Department’s budget request for next year. “I don’t see it as unfair. I see it as we’re fixing something that’s broken,” Cardona responded. “We have better repayment plans now so we don’t have to be in the business of forgiving loans in the future.”

By Serah Louis | 04.12.24

The Biden administration just announced another round of relief for 277,000 student loan borrowers amid legal challenges from Republicans. The latest wave cancels $7.4 billion in student loans, bringing the total debt relief approved by the Biden administration to $153 billion, according to the White House. But not everyone’s celebrating. “You’re incentivizing people to not pay back student loans and at the same time penalizing and forcing people who did to subsidize those who didn’t,” Rep. John Moolenaar is reported to have said during a hearing earlier this week, where Education Secretary Miguel Cardona testified about the Education Department’s budget request for next year. “I don’t see it as unfair. I see it as we’re fixing something that’s broken,” Cardona responded. “We have better repayment plans now so we don’t have to be in the business of forgiving loans in the future.”

By Serah Louis | 04.12.24

Ed Yardeni predicts a second roaring 20s

The 2020s began as a tumultuous period for the economy, marked by a pandemic-induced recession. Nevertheless, the subsequent economic recovery was rapid, leading to continued growth to this day. According to Ed Yardeni, market veteran and president of Yardeni Research, the current decade is on a trajectory for significant economic wins. “I’ve been kind of looking at previous decades for analogies, and I'm still thinking this will turn out to be the roaring 2020s, kind of similar to the 1920s where we had tremendous productivity growth and tremendous prosperity,” Yardeni said in a recent interview with CNBC. Of course, what came after the last roaring '20s was far from prosperous. The stock market crash of 1929 marked the onset of the Great Depression, a severe economic downturn characterized by massive unemployment and widespread poverty. Yardeni acknowledged the historical outcome, remarking, “Obviously, it didn't end well, but for a good time there, it was a good time.”

By Jing Pan | 04.12.24

The 2020s began as a tumultuous period for the economy, marked by a pandemic-induced recession. Nevertheless, the subsequent economic recovery was rapid, leading to continued growth to this day. According to Ed Yardeni, market veteran and president of Yardeni Research, the current decade is on a trajectory for significant economic wins. “I’ve been kind of looking at previous decades for analogies, and I'm still thinking this will turn out to be the roaring 2020s, kind of similar to the 1920s where we had tremendous productivity growth and tremendous prosperity,” Yardeni said in a recent interview with CNBC. Of course, what came after the last roaring '20s was far from prosperous. The stock market crash of 1929 marked the onset of the Great Depression, a severe economic downturn characterized by massive unemployment and widespread poverty. Yardeni acknowledged the historical outcome, remarking, “Obviously, it didn't end well, but for a good time there, it was a good time.”

By Jing Pan | 04.12.24

What is the current US inflation rate?

The current annual inflation rate is 3.5%, compared to 3.2% last month. Inflation rose 0.4% month-over-month in March, after increasing 0.4% in February, according to the latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released on April 10, 2024. Back in June 2022, inflation hit a 40-year high of 9.1%.

By Dina Al-Shibeeb | 04.12.24

The current annual inflation rate is 3.5%, compared to 3.2% last month. Inflation rose 0.4% month-over-month in March, after increasing 0.4% in February, according to the latest report from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released on April 10, 2024. Back in June 2022, inflation hit a 40-year high of 9.1%.

By Dina Al-Shibeeb | 04.12.24

Spotify employees reportedly blast lavish spending

Some current and former Spotify employees have reportedly slammed the tech giant for splurging on swanky parties and exclusive events despite announcing mass layoffs in order to cut down on costs. Take Spotify’s “Intro Days” in Stockholm, for example — where the popular music streaming provider is headquartered. During these events, new hires are brought to the Swedish capital to network, hear from speakers and learn more about Spotify culture. However, one former employee described it as the company "spending tons of money flying people to Sweden to drink the Kool-Aid," according to Business Insider. "You literally just sit in a room and listen to executives talk back-to-back for three days, and then there's a party at the end," another person told the publication. "It's just such a stupid waste of money." In total, Business Insider says it spoke with 14 current and former employees about the extravagant parties thrown by the company. Each one asked to remain anonymous

By Serah Louis | 04.11.24

Some current and former Spotify employees have reportedly slammed the tech giant for splurging on swanky parties and exclusive events despite announcing mass layoffs in order to cut down on costs. Take Spotify’s “Intro Days” in Stockholm, for example — where the popular music streaming provider is headquartered. During these events, new hires are brought to the Swedish capital to network, hear from speakers and learn more about Spotify culture. However, one former employee described it as the company "spending tons of money flying people to Sweden to drink the Kool-Aid," according to Business Insider. "You literally just sit in a room and listen to executives talk back-to-back for three days, and then there's a party at the end," another person told the publication. "It's just such a stupid waste of money." In total, Business Insider says it spoke with 14 current and former employees about the extravagant parties thrown by the company. Each one asked to remain anonymous

By Serah Louis | 04.11.24

Biden announces new loan forgiveness plan

President Joe Biden is set to unveil his new student debt relief plans today in Madison, Wisconsin — which could rally more support amid election season. Other members of the Biden administration are traveling to important swing states to announce the plan as well, with Vice President Harris speaking in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff in Phoenix, Arizona and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in New York City. “Today’s announcement shows that we are continuing to fulfill our promises,” Miguel Cardona, the secretary of education, told reporters. “We’re delivering as much relief as possible, for as many borrowers as possible, as quickly as possible.” The White House says its newly proposed plan would completely wipe away the accrued interest for 23 million, cancel the student debt burden for over 4 million and provide more than 10 million borrowers with at least $5,000 in relief.

By Serah Louis | 04.08.24

President Joe Biden is set to unveil his new student debt relief plans today in Madison, Wisconsin — which could rally more support amid election season. Other members of the Biden administration are traveling to important swing states to announce the plan as well, with Vice President Harris speaking in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff in Phoenix, Arizona and Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona in New York City. “Today’s announcement shows that we are continuing to fulfill our promises,” Miguel Cardona, the secretary of education, told reporters. “We’re delivering as much relief as possible, for as many borrowers as possible, as quickly as possible.” The White House says its newly proposed plan would completely wipe away the accrued interest for 23 million, cancel the student debt burden for over 4 million and provide more than 10 million borrowers with at least $5,000 in relief.

By Serah Louis | 04.08.24

Closing store cites California's minimum wage hike

California's decision to increase the minimum wage for fast food workers to $20 an hour is primarily aimed at improving the standard of living for these workers in a state that's notoriously expensive. However, there's concern that this new law, which went into effect on April 1, may have a more complicated impact on the local economy. A Fosters Freeze outlet in Lemoore shut down on Monday — the same day the new minimum wage kicked in — and its workers are now out of a job. Some employees initially thought it was an April Fool’s joke. “We had gotten a text in the group chat that we were shutting down, and I completely thought it was an April Fools joke,” former employee Jason Boado told KMPH Fox 26 News. Unfortunately, it was not a joke. In a text to KMPH, Loren Wright, the owner of the Fosters Freeze, wrote, “Last thing I ever wanted was to close down. By Friday night I knew I was most likely not gonna be able to stay open but I didn't want to ruin their Easter Sunday.”

By Jing Pan | 04.05.24

California's decision to increase the minimum wage for fast food workers to $20 an hour is primarily aimed at improving the standard of living for these workers in a state that's notoriously expensive. However, there's concern that this new law, which went into effect on April 1, may have a more complicated impact on the local economy. A Fosters Freeze outlet in Lemoore shut down on Monday — the same day the new minimum wage kicked in — and its workers are now out of a job. Some employees initially thought it was an April Fool’s joke. “We had gotten a text in the group chat that we were shutting down, and I completely thought it was an April Fools joke,” former employee Jason Boado told KMPH Fox 26 News. Unfortunately, it was not a joke. In a text to KMPH, Loren Wright, the owner of the Fosters Freeze, wrote, “Last thing I ever wanted was to close down. By Friday night I knew I was most likely not gonna be able to stay open but I didn't want to ruin their Easter Sunday.”

By Jing Pan | 04.05.24