Empty Closed Florida Beach

Coronavirus Hits Spring Breakers

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the world, and it has hit the world hard. Yet while the world has closed down in a bid to halt the spread of covid-19, spring breakers continued to head to locations including Cabo throughout March to party with their friends.

Fast forward to April and the partygoers are starting to feel the effects of their decision to defy the advice from White House officials that gatherings of over ten people should be avoided, as well as all non-essential air travel.

In Austin, Texas around 70 students – all in their twenties – decided to charter a plane so they could celebrate spring break in Mexico. Out of those passengers 44 have since tested positive for coronavirus. The students are all studying at the University of Texas at Austin and the university have valid fears that these individuals have spread the virus throughout the campus.

Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen had a message for those who chose to party instead of stay home: “Quit being an a**. Whether you think this is an issue or not, it is. Whether you think it could affect you or not, it does. The reality of it is, if I’m a college kid who’s going to spring break in Mexico, you’re affecting a lot of people. Grow up.”

Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott announced: “The virus often hides in the healthy and is given to those who are at grave risk from being hospitalized or dying. While younger people have less risk for complications, they are not immune from severe illness and death from COVID-19”.

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Although the group chartered their plane from Austin airport to Cabo San Lucas, it is understood some chose to return home using several commercial flights, meaning other passengers on those flights are now having to be monitored.

All passengers have been contacted by the relevant authorities while the University of Texas at Austin is continuing to work with public health officials to locate and isolate all known cases.

“The university is working closely with Austin Public Health to assist in contact tracing,” university spokesman J.B. Bird said. “The incident is a reminder of the vital importance of taking seriously the warnings of public health authorities on the risks of becoming infected with COVID-19 and spreading it to others.”

While all students who have tested positive are now in self-isolation, the Department of State Health Services has had to be alerted.

According to reports, the trip was organized by college trip planner JusCollege who had emailed those traveling before the trip regarding the pandemic. One email, sent on 12 March, informed travelers that “we’re currently in our 2nd week of Cabo and have had almost 5,000 travelers, all with no issues.” However a statement was later posted to their website informing all visitors that all remaining spring break trips had been postponed until later in the year.

The university’s president Gregory L. Fenves has called for all students to think about how what they do can affect the greater community saying it “is our responsibility to follow local, state and national public health orders, and use good judgment during this crisis. Our conduct and the decisions we make have direct ramifications on our own health and the health of everyone in our city and beyond. We must do everything we can to limit the spread of this virus — the consequences of reckless actions at this time could not be clearer.”

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Although Mayor Steve Adler had issued a stay-at-home order on 24 March for Austin, Mexico did not have any federal travel advisories in place at the time. However an announcement to suspend all nonessential travel between America and Mexico had been announced on 19 March by the United States.

It is not only those from Texas that flouted the guidelines. Students attending the University of Tampa have also been tested positive after they too continued with their spring break getaways. Meanwhile New York dad Peter Levine has refused to allow his 21-year-old son Matt to return home after he headed to South Padre Island in Texas with friends for their spring break. Even though Levine contacted his son several times asking him to come home, Matt continued to party with his friends. When he returned home he was shocked his dad would not allow him and his friends into the house.

Spring breakers have been heavily criticized for defying warnings and have been spotted continuing to party on crowded beaches in Cabo, Texas, Florida and even in The Bahamas. In fact, there are reports that they see the social distancing rules as just another way to ruin their trip, with Matt Levine himself announcing he felt like the police “were trying to ruin our good time”.

Shocking as it is, Matt is not alone in his thinking. Jawontae Rodgers, 21, claimed he did not believe the virus was a ‘big deal’. Partying in Panama City Beach, Rodgers said that he did not want to ‘stop living my life because you only have one. YOLO: You only live once”.

Sadly, it is attitudes like this that are spreading the virus and causing many to lose their lives.

US Mexico Border

Second Drugs Tunnel in As Many Months Discovered on US/Mexico Border

Illegal drugs worth an estimated $29.6 million have been discovered in a tunnel that criminals have been using to smuggle drugs from Mexico into America.

The tunnel, located near San Diego, has lighting, ventilation and even an underground rail system, making the cross-border passageway one of the most sophisticated ever discovered by federal agents.

It is believed the tunnel’s entrance is close to the border wall in Otay Mesa, visited by President Donald Trump in September last year.

The San Diego Tunnel Task Force confirmed that the discovery included 3,000 pounds of marijuana, 1,300 pounds of cocaine, 17 pounds of heroin, over two pounds of fentanyl and 86 pounds of methamphetamine.

Made up of agents from the Drug Enforcement Administration, Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the task force first discovered the tunnel – running 2,000 feet – on 19 March.

D.E.A. special agent John W. Callery confirmed the discovery in a statement saying:

“These tunnels show the determination of drug trafficking organizations to subvert our border controls and smuggle deadly drugs into our community.”

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Although no-one was arrested at the scene, authorities have claimed the discovery was part of an on-going investigation and confirmed that due to the sum of drugs involved the seizure was one of the biggest found in a single tunnel.

However the problem of illegal drug smuggling does not seem to be improving. The latest find comes only two months after another tunnel – measuring 4,309 feet – was also discovered in the area. Again, nobody was arrested at the scene. That tunnel was believed to be the longest tunnel ever discovered under the US/Mexico border, although no drugs were in the tunnel at the time of the discovery.

Chief Border Patrol agent Aaron M. Heitke confirmed the discovery saying, “Cross-border tunnels represent one of the most significant threats to our national security. Criminal organizations can use these tunnels to introduce anything they want into the U.S. This is especially concerning during a global pandemic.”

It is believed these tunnels are also used for people smuggling although this has not been confirmed as yet.

These tunnels are not the first to be discovered. Although 70 tunnels have been discovered since 1993, authorities have discovered 16 similar tunnels – each with railway tracks, lighting, ventilation and hydraulic lifts – since 2006. Every tunnel was discovered in the Otay Mesa area and it is believed that the area was chosen due to the soil that is clay-like and perfect for digging tunnels. It is also believed the number of warehouses in the area are the ideal cover to stop authorities investigating large numbers of people in the area.

The latest tunnel had an average depth of 31 feet, and was only found after intelligence found that there was a transnational criminal organization running a drug smuggling operation. Although the organization was not named it is believed the tunnel had been in use for many months.

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Robert S. Brewer Jr. is the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of California and released a statement confirming that “if cartels keep spending millions of dollars building tunnels, we will keep finding and filling them”. Under federal law, American authorities are required to fill in the US side of the tunnels with concrete.

It has been made public that the tunnel was found close to a double-layered wall system, which had been put in place in March 2018 and had been scheduled to be completed in the second half of 2020. It is still not confirmed as yet whether the tunnel was constructed before or after the new section of the border wall was put in place.

It has been well publicized that President Trump wanted a border built between America and Mexico, with the issue being a mainstay of his presidential campaign in 2016. However many have slammed the idea of the wall, insisting that it is an “ineffective” way to increase security at the border. The discovery of two tunnels in as many months’ highlights these claims.

Trump’s visit to the area in September was supposed to be one of success, of promoting the build of the wall, with boasts that the steel slats in the new border would make it the most impassable border throughout the world.

At the time, Trump met with construction workers and Border Patrol agents and announced “the wall has a ways to go, but we’re building it at breakneck speed. When this is completed, there won’t be a border anywhere like this.”

The wall is not just over ground but continues underground too, although only for several feet. This is to reduce the amount of small tunnels – more commonly known as ‘gopher holes’ – that are constantly being discovered. However this latest tunnel, along with the one a few months ago, shows that the wall is not going deep enough, with both tunnels being dug at far deeper depths.

Pills 2

Rising Drug Prices Stoke National Debate, and a Bold Plan in California

Paloma Marolf had an active childhood with no major health concerns until she went into a diabetic coma at age 15. Her diagnosis with type 1 diabetes meant Marolf’s already struggling family gained a new financial burden, a monthly cost that ranged up to $2,000. There were times the University of Arizona freshman held off buying insulin for a day.

“My pancreas doesn’t produce insulin like everyone else’s,” the 19-year-old said, “so the fact that I have to worry about if I’m going to get my insulin for next month and if my parents are going to be able to afford it is a huge stressor because it’s life or death for me.”

To save money, 25% of diabetics take less insulin than they are prescribed, and one-third didn’t tell physicians or families they were doing so, according to a 2019 survey published by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Insulin isn’t the only drug that patients struggle to afford these days. In Arizona, a survey of pharmacies in Phoenix, Tucson and Holbrook found drug prices are on the rise, with users of one SSR antidepressant, sertraline, reporting prices that are nearly 800% more than the national average price, according to a 2019 Arizona Public Interest Research Group report.

The issue of drug pricing took center stage at Tuesday’s State of the Union address, when President Donald Trump called for a national strategy to solve a problem that has inspired a few state-based proposals – including a recent proposal for California to contract directly with pharmaceutical companies for generic insulin and other drugs.

Gov. Gavin Newsom wants California to reduce costs by shaping the generic drug market. In his annual budget proposal last month, Newsom called for the creation of a single market for drug purchasing that would additionally require manufacturers to contract with the state for generic drug production and set statewide prices.

“We are already in active conversation with some of the major purchasers in this state,” Newsom said during the Jan. 10 news conference addressing his proposal. “I can assure you things like insulin are top of mind in terms of that prescription generic program and strategy.”

Those priorities aside, there are few details about how California would become the first state in the U.S. to license the manufacture of generic drugs, and some experts say they can not endorse the proposal without more details.

One skeptic of the plan is the Association of Accessible Medicines, a Washington, D.C., trade association representing drug manufacturers and distributors. They don’t expect Newsom’s plan to work because it only targets generic drugs and ignores the affordability of expensive branded drugs, said Rachel Schwartz, the organization’s spokeswoman.

Low-income families like Marolf’s and minority communities are expected to benefit most from Newsom’s proposal, proponents and some health experts say.

Native Americans and Hispanic people, and people of lower economic status, are diagnosed with diabetes at a higher rate than the average, according to a 2017 report by the federal Centers for Disease Control.

“It’s low-income families who fall through the cracks,” said Geoffrey Joyce, director of health policy for the University of Southern California’s Schaeffer Center, which studies health policy and economics. For many, prescription coverage hinges on whether they qualify for Medicaid, the government-funded health insurance for low-income people of any age.

“If you’re on Medicaid, for example, drug coverage is quite generous and cost sharing is minimal,’ Joyce said, “but those who don’t qualify for Medicaid are the ones who are more vulnerable to high drug costs.”

Maintaining steady insurance coverage to deal with chronic diseases can be difficult for consumers. For Marolf, whose family is low-income, some of her biggest challenges arose when private insurance companies would stop covering her medication without notifying her family, forcing her mother to pay out of pocket.


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Coronavirus Symptoms

US Coronavirus Cases: What We Know So Far

There are at least six confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus in the US. The most recent case, confirmed Thursday, was the first case of person-to-person transmission of the virus in the US.

The World Health Organization declared the outbreak a public health emergency. The risk to Americans, as of now, is low, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

The novel coronavirus, which has sickened thousands and killed more than 200 people in China, belongs to a large family of viruses that mostly sicken animals. But this coronavirus, like SARS and MERS, “jumped the species barrier” to infect people on a large scale, the CDC said.

“Given what we’ve seen in China versus other countries, CDC experts have expected to find some person-to-person spread in the United States,” CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said Thursday.

Five of the US patients had all recently returned from Wuhan, the CDC said. The sixth patient did not leave the US but became ill after his wife visited Wuhan.

In a research paper published Thursday, scientists described a case in which a patient might’ve transmitted the virus before she showed developed symptoms. The authors wrote the findings “warrant a reassessment of transmission dynamics” in the current outbreak.

The first confirmed coronavirus patient in the US, a man in his 30s, sought treatment at an urgent care center in the state after returning from Wuhan. The urgent care center sent his samples to the CDC, which confirmed he had the coronavirus.

He entered isolated care at a hospital in Everett, about 30 miles north of Seattle, on January 23. He’s receiving treatment in an isolated gurney designed for patients with highly contagious diseases, and a robot takes his vitals.

He’s in stable condition, said Dr. George Diaz, the man’s physician and an infectious disease expert. He’ll undergo additional testing until he’s no longer contagious.

A woman in her 60s in Chicago was diagnosed a few days after she returned from Wuhan on January 13. She’s in stable condition and “doing quite well,” her doctors said.

She’ll stay in the hospital to control the infection.

On Thursday, the CDC confirmed that the woman transmitted the illness to her husband, who had not traveled to China. He was in close contact with his wife during a long period of time when she was symptomatic, the Illinois Department of Public Health said.

There are two patients in California: One in Los Angeles County and another in Orange County.

Details are sparse about the Los Angeles county patient. They’re currently being treated at a local hospital, though the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health didn’t disclose how long they sought treatment after exposure to the virus.

The risk to Los Angeles County is low, the department said.

An Orange County man in his 50s flew into Los Angeles International Airport in Wuhan earlier this month. The county found out January 23, and the CDC confirmed his results on Saturday. He’s in a local hospital.


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3D Gun

California And 19 Other States Filed A Lawsuit Over Rules Governing 3D-Printed Guns

Attorneys general in 20 states and the District of Columbia filed a lawsuit Thursday challenging a federal regulation that could allow blueprints for making guns on 3D printers to be posted on the internet.

New York Attorney General Tish James, who helped lead the coalition of state attorneys general, argued that posting the blueprints would allow anyone to go online and use the downloadable files to create unregistered and untraceable assault-style weapons that could be difficult to detect.

The lawsuit, joined by California, Washington and 17 other states, was filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle. It is likely to reignite a fierce debate over the use of 3D-printed firearms and is the latest in a series of attempts by state law enforcement officials to block the Trump administration from easing the accessibility of the blueprints.

Proponents have argued there is a constitutional right to publish the material, but critics counter that making the blueprints readily accessible online could lead to an increase in gun violence and put weapons in the hands of criminals who are legally prohibited from owning them.

Washington state’s attorney general Bob Ferguson said a previous multi-state lawsuit led a federal judge last year to strike down the administration’s earlier attempt to allow the files to be distributed.

For years, law enforcement officials have been trying to draw attention to the dangers posed by the so-called ghost guns, which contain no registration numbers that could be used to trace them.

A federal judge in November blocked an earlier attempt by the Trump administration to allow the files to be released online, arguing that the government had violated the law on procedural grounds. But the administration published formal rules on Thursday that transfer the regulation of 3D-printed guns from the State Department to the Commerce Department, which could open the door to making the blueprints available online.

The state attorneys general argue the government is breaking the law and say such deregulation will “make it far easier for individuals ineligible to possess firearms under state or federal law to obtain a deadly weapon without undergoing a background check,” according to the lawsuit. They also argue that the Commerce Department lacks the power to properly regulate 3D-printed guns.

“Ghost Guns endanger every single one of us,” James said in a statement. “While the president and his Administration know these homemade weapons pose an imminent threat, he continues to cater to the gun lobby — risking the lives of millions of Americans.”

In 2015, Cody Wilson and his company Defense Distributed sued the federal government after it told him to remove online blueprints of a 3D-printed gun. The State Department reached a settlement with the company in 2018 and removed the 3D gun-making plans from a list of weapons or technical data that are not allowed to be exported. But a coalition of state attorneys general filed a lawsuit to stop the maneuver, arguing that undetectable plastic guns pose a national security risk.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit filed Thursday.

“We successfully challenged the Trump administration’s first reckless attempt, and we will continue to fight against this latest attack on the safety of our communities,” California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said in a statement.


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Crowd of People

Protesters Form Flash Mob Outside Harvey Weinstein Trial in New York

Dozens of women dressed in black gathered Friday outside the New York City courthouse where disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein is standing trial for rape, loudly chanting anti-assault anthems inspired by a Chilean feminist collective.

“It’s not my fault — not where I was, not how I dress,” the protesters can be heard shouting in unison in a video clip tweeted by The New York Times journalist Jodi Kantor, who won a Pulitzer Prize with her colleague Megan Twohey for their reporting on sexual misconduct allegations against Weinstein.

“The rapist is you,” the assembled women said, apparently pointing directly at the courthouse where the Oscar-winning producer faces charges that he raped a woman in a Manhattan hotel room in 2013 and performed a forcible sex act on another woman in 2006.

Weinstein, 67, has pleaded not guilty in the case and denied any allegations of nonconsensual sex. He also faces a sex crime case in Los Angeles, where he is charged with raping one woman and sexually assaulting another in separate incidents on two consecutive days in 2013.

Donna Rotunno, one of Weinstein’s defense attorneys, said in the New York court on Tuesday that she believed the timing of the new charges was “orchestrated,” but she did not provide evidence to substantiate her claim.

The women who formed the flash mob Friday chanted slogans that appeared to be derived from a feminist movement in Chile, where in recent months demonstrators have reportedly rallied against inequality and what some see as the failure of the criminal justice system to protect victims of sexual violence.

Andrea Suarez told NBC News that she and her fellow demonstrators were “showing our support for all survivors of sexual violence, for all women in general.

When asked if she had a message for Weinstein, Suarez simply stated: “We know what you did.”

Pepper Binkley, another demonstrator, said the flash mob participants were “recreating” the Chilean feminist collective’s style of public protest.

The flash mob formed on the fifth day of the Weinstein trial, which is still in the jury selection phase. Following the protest, many of the demonstrators relocated to Trump Tower in midtown Manhattan, where they railed against the “patriarchy … that imprisons us at birth.”

In all, more than 80 women have accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct going back decades, but the New York criminal trial centers on allegations from two women.


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Gold Nuggets

Gold Approaches 6-Year High as US-Iran Tensions Send Traders Fleeing to Safety

Gold traded as much as 1.5% higher in early Friday trading, nearing a six-year high after a US airstrike killed one of Iran’s most powerful military leaders on Thursday and spiked tensions between the two nations.

The safe-haven asset rocketed as high as $1,551.30 per ounce, less than a 1% gain away from its highest price since April 2013. Gold typically surges in the wake of rising geopolitical tension, as unexpected volatility often drives investors away from the stock market and into hedge assets.

President Donald Trump ordered the strike that killed Qassem Soleimani, the leader of Iran’s elite Quds Force. Iran’s supreme leader warned a “harsh retaliation is waiting” for the US in the wake of the attack, and an advisor to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said the US crossed a “red line” with the attack.

The Pentagon claimed Soleimani was planning attacks on US service members and diplomats abroad, and that the general and his forces were responsible for “the deals of hundreds of American and coalition service members.”

“This strike was aimed at deterring future Iranian attack plans,” the Pentagon added.

The Friday morning surge helped prop gold up higher following its biggest yearly gain in nearly a decade. The precious metal passed its $1,500 per ounce psychological level on December 26 and ended the year up 18.8%, driven higher by a weakening dollar and global economic slowdown.

Gold serves as a traditional safe-haven asset for traders looking to flee unpredictable markets. The precious metal’s allure, scarcity, and historic value solidify its status as a popular hedge bet.

Other haven assets, including Treasury bonds, platinum, and silver, rose on news of the US strike.

Though the attack prompted fresh fears of war between the two nations, a full-scale conflict is unlikely, Pantheon Macroeconomics chief economist Ian Shepherdson said in a Friday note. Global oil markets face the greatest threat should the Thursday attack drive any retaliation, Shepherdson said.

“Our base case here is that a full-blown war between the U.S. and Iran is unlikely, though we appreciate the old adage that nothing brings a country together more effectively than an external threat, and Iran’s government right now is extremely unpopular,” the economist wrote. “The infrastructure of the oil sector, though, is a likely target in the event of tit-for-tat escalation.”

Gold traded at $1,543.70 per ounce at 8:40 a.m. ET Friday. Oil also soared on news of the attack, up about 5.7% at the same time.


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Home Security

Amazon’s Ring Cameras Are Vulnerable To Hackers, Lawsuit In U.S. Claims

Amazon.com Inc and its Ring home security camera unit have been sued by an Alabama homeowner who said the cameras’ defective design leaves purchasers vulnerable to cyberattacks.

In a proposed class action filed on Thursday, John Baker Orange said an unknown hacker recently accessed his Ring camera while his children, ages 7, 9 and 10, were playing basketball on the driveway, and through its speaker system encouraged them to move closer to the camera.

Orange, who said he paid $249 for his camera in July, said the cameras work only when connected to the internet, and are “fatally flawed” because they do not protect against cyberattacks, despite Ring’s assurances of “peace of mind” and “smart security here, there, everywhere.”

A spokeswoman for Ring said the Santa Monica, California-based company does not discuss legal matters.

The complaint filed in Los Angeles federal court seeks unspecified damages from Ring and Seattle-based Amazon, as well as improved security for new and existing Ring cameras.

It followed several reported incidents of hackers accessing homes through Ring cameras, including when a man repeatedly called an 8-year-old Mississippi girl a racial slur and claimed he was Santa Claus.

“A company that sells a device that is supposed to protect occupants of a home shouldn’t become a platform for potentially endangering those occupants,” John Yanchunis, a lawyer for Orange, said in an interview.

Ring’s main product is a doorbell that contains a security camera and lets homeowners monitor and communicate with visitors through a phone app even if they are not at home.

Amazon has said it bought Ring in April 2018 for $839 million in cash.

Orange, who lives in Jefferson County, Alabama, said he changed his “medium-strong” password and began using two-factor authentication for his camera after learning about the incident involving his children.

“So many devices are tethered to the Internet, and consumers simply don’t have a realization of how that can be so easily exploited,” Yanchunis said.


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American Capitol Building

US Governor Issues 428 Pardons During Final Days In Office

Former Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin issued 428 pardons in his final days in office, a list that includes multiple violent offenders.

The Republican pardoned a convicted child rapist as well as a convicted murderer whose brother raised money for Mr Bevin’s election campaign.

Mr Bevin was defeated by Democrat Andy Beshear in November after a contentious election.

The flurry of pardons sent shockwaves through the state’s legal system.

State prosecutors told local media they had not been consulted on Mr Bevin’s decision, and families of the victims were not notified in advance.

“I’m a big believer in second chances,” Mr Bevin said in a statement to the Washington Post newspaper. “I think this is a nation that was founded on the concept of redemption and second chances and new pages in life.”

Mr Bevin’s spate of pardons includes Dayton Jones, convicted of sexually assaulting a 15-year-old boy, Brett Whitaker, convicted of killing a pastor and his wife while drink-driving, and a woman who was sentenced to life in prison for throwing her newborn in the trash after giving birth in a flea market outhouse.

He also pardoned a man who was sentenced to 23 years in prison last year for raping a 9-year-old child.

The extensive list includes Patrick Brian Baker, convicted in 2017 of reckless homicide, robbery, impersonating a police officer and tampering with evidence linked to a 2014 home invasion that resulted in the death of Donald Mills.

Mr Baker’s brother and sister-in-law held a political fundraiser for Mr Bevin last year, raising $21,500 (£16,100) and donating an additional $4,000 to his campaign at the same event, first reported by the local Courier Journal newspaper.

Mr Baker had served just two years of his 17-year sentence when Mr Bevin pardoned him on 9 December. His co-conspirators in the robbery and homicide were not pardoned.

In his decision to pardon Mr Baker, Mr Bevin called him “a man who has made a series of unwise decisions in his adult life”, including his drug addiction, and called the evidence him “sketchy at best”.

State lawmakers have now called on the Kentucky attorney general to investigate Mr Bevin’s pardon of Mr Baker, according to local media.

It is typical for governors to give pardons on their way out of office. Former Governor of California Jerry Brown is thought to sit near the top in terms of numbers, issuing 1,189 pardons and 152 commutations while in office from 2011-2018. Most of these pardons erased historic conviction records for drug crimes and non-violent offences.

The violent nature of some crimes forgiven by Mr Bevin have fuelled disapproval.

“What this governor did is an absolute atrocity of justice,” Commonwealth Attorney Jackie Steele, who prosecuted Baker, told the Washington Post. “He’s put victims, he’s put others in our community in danger.”

Some critics of the pardoning spree suggest it contrasts with Mr Bevin’s decision while in office to scrap an order restoring the right to vote for offenders who have completed their sentences for non-violent crimes.

On Thursday, the newly elected Mr Beshear signed an executive order to restore the vote for more than 140,000 convicted felons who have served their sentences.

In a tweet on Thursday, the Democratic Governors Association said Mr Bevin “kept standing with special interests until the very end – even at the expense of Kentuckians’ safety and wellbeing”.

Polls suggested Mr Bevin left office as one of the least popular governors in the country, following high-profile battles with unions and teachers.

But others celebrated Mr Bevin’s actions, including Amanda Hall, an organiser for the American Civil Liberties Union, who had her 2009 drug trafficking conviction pardoned by Mr Bevin this month.

“I hope that governors to come see the example that you have given us about redemption and second changes,” Ms Hall said in in a video posted to Twitter. “This is one of the best days of my life.”

Past presidents have also been criticised over their use of pardons, and critics accuse President Donald Trump of using his powers of pardon to address what he believes are political wrongs.


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Economy Stock Market

Strong US Jobs Report Sends Stocks Surging

A stronger-than-expected November U.S. jobs report sent stocks soaring Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average rallying over 300 points intraday on word that the economy added 266,000 jobs last month, mainly in education and manufacturing. Economists polled by Dow Jones expected closer to 187,000 nonfarm payroll additions.

Economic and market professionals largely see the results as yet another catalyst for the U.S. stock market’s record bull run.

Here’s what five of them — two economists, two strategists and one investment chief — see ahead for stocks.

Andy Green, managing director of economic policy at the Center for American Progress, was a bit less enthusiastic about the report than others on Wall Street:

“What we’re seeing is a result of a tremendous crash and a very long recovery. You saw the real wealth of the average middle-class American family collapse by 49% between 2001 and 2010. It was a deep financial crash and recession. It’s taken a long time to come back, and that’s great. But the real point is this recovery is an Obama-Yellen recovery. It is in spite of everything that [President Donald] Trump is doing, not because of it. If it were because of it, we would see higher gross private investment. … I think there’s a lot of caution signs out there, and so I obviously am not quite as rosy as … others.”

Douglas Holtz-Eakin, president of the American Action Forum, figured the U.S. could do “even better” in terms of growth:

“If you take a look at our best indicator of wage gains, which is the employment cost index, which has both benefits and cash compensation, that’s rising, in real terms, at about 1.1%. That’s about the rate of productivity growth, that’s exactly what you would expect, and it’s 50% higher than it was in 2016. And, hopefully, it will get stronger. Everyone, I think, would agree: We can do even better. This is a good report; we could do better.”

J.P. Morgan Asset Management’s Oksana Aronov, who leads the firm’s market strategy and alternative fixed income divisions, said this report didn’t give the Federal Reserve cause to alter its monetary policy just yet:

“We certainly have a long way to go until inflation sort of enters the narrative in any meaningful way, but I think that we’ve, as a marketplace, certainly in the fixed-income space, we’ve completely discounted it as a risk. … A stronger-than-expected print is not going to bring the Fed in, but it can change the expectations in a market where yields are so depressed.”

Jason Trennert, the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Strategas Research Partners, found the economic strength somewhat ironic:

“It’s just hard to get inflation, in my opinion. All of the inflation is in financial assets, it’s not in goods and services. … Listen, I think the irony here is that despite the duration of the expansion, which is the longest expansion in postwar history, we’re not particularly late in the business cycle. Everyone has been saying that we’re late in the cycle. This suggests that … we’re not as late in the cycle as we think.”


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