Top 6 reasons Gas Prices have spiked above $3 per gallon

Thought gas prices couldn’t go any higher? The average cost of a gallon of gasoline just reached a threshold Americans haven’t seen in over six and a half years — and prices have kept on going.

With a major pipeline shut down, apparently by a group of Russian hackers, the typical U.S. gas price hit $3.01 per gallon on Wednesday and $3.03 on Thursday, says auto club AAA. It’s the first time since October 2014 that prices have jumped past $3.

The pipeline hack has sparked shortages and some hoarding; GasBuddy.com says 7 in 10 North Carolina service stations are out of fuel, according to multiple media reports. But the hacking isn’t the only cause of that worsening pain at the pumps.

Here are six reasons the cost of gas is going up, plus predictions for how high prices are likely to go — and tips on ways to save money, to help pay for your costlier fill-ups.

1. Colonial Pipeline hack throttles supply

Colonial Pipeline shutdown due to hackers

On Friday, a cyberattack carried out by a group of Russian hackers known as DarkSide brought operations at the largest gas pipeline in the U.S. to a complete standstill. Obviously, that has been a huge deal.

The Texas-to-New-Jersey Colonial Pipeline provides about 45% of the fuel used by the Eastern Seaboard. According to Colonial’s own data, each day the pipeline is down removes about 100 million gallons of gas from the marketplace.

Technicians restarted operations late Wednesday afternoon, but Colonial said it would take several days for its delivery system to return to normal. To beat potential fuel shortages, drivers in some states have rushed to fill up — causing service stations to run out of gas.

Though gas prices are going up, mortgage rates remain historically low — meaning if you’re a homeowner, one way to offset the rising cost of fuel is by refinancing your home loan. The mortgage data and technology provider Black Knight recently said 13 million homeowners could save an average $283 a month by refinancing.

2. Crude oil prices were already going up

As with gasoline, the cost of crude oil tanked in 2020 while COVID-19 was wrecking economies and stopping people from traveling. To prop up oil prices, the OPEC cartel and its allies slashed oil production.

OPEC has been slow to boost output again, and crude prices have responded by surging higher. After a year of soft prices, West Texas Intermediate crude has been trading around $60 a barrel for months now, and Goldman Sachs expects Brent crude prices to hit $75 by the end of June

OPEC and the allies announced on April 1 that they’d gradually raise production, which could help stabilize prices.

The cartel boosted output to a three-month high during April as Iran cranked up its production to a level not seen since May 2019, according to a survey by Argus Media.

3. Vaccinations are likely to boost travel

Covid Vaccine

As more Americans are vaccinated and life begins to return to something closer to normal, people are likely to drive and fly more. And that activity will contribute to rising fuel costs.

“As COVID-19 impacts continue to subside with improved mitigation and vaccination efforts, vehicle miles traveled will increase, resulting in more gasoline demand,” the Energy Information Administration says in its summer fuels outlook.

A good way to fight higher gas costs is by shopping around for lower prices, because what you pay can vary by up to $1 a gallon within the typical metro area, according to GasBuddy.

Also, you might want to consider replacing your vehicle with a more fuel-efficient model. This tax season, you could turn your tax refund into a new set of wheels.

4. Stimulus checks have pumped up spending

Stimulus Check Spending

Since President Joe Biden signed his $1.9 trillion COVID relief package two months ago, Americans have been receiving a third round of stimulus checks, for up to $1,400 each. The aid was expected to help lift gas prices by prompting consumers to get out and shop.

Goldman Sachs has estimated that $2 trillion in economic stimulus spending over 2021 and 2022 could pump up U.S. oil demand by roughly 200,000 barrels a day. If supplies don’t keep up, that higher demand will mean higher fuel prices.

With gasoline already more expensive, another way to balance out those higher costs is by spending less on other purchases.

You might download a free browser add-on that will point you in the direction of lower prices and other savings every time you shop online.

5. The pandemic closed a bunch of refineries

oil refineries closed due to pandemic

Plummeting fuel sales triggered by COVID had the oil and gas industry reeling last year. By late 2020 there were more than a dozen refinery closures that reduced U.S. production by more than 1 billion barrels per day.

“It’s possible some capacity could come back online in the 2022-2023 timeframe, but by and large, we think these closure announcements will mostly prove permanent,” Raymond James analyst Justin Jenkins said about the refinery shutdowns in a December report.

U.S. oil and gas producers lost tens of thousands of jobs last year, and laid-off workers were left scrambling to make ends meet.

Many struggling Americans have been leaning on credit cards more than usual, to get by during the pandemic. If that’s you, a lower-interest debt consolidation loan can cut the amount you pay in interest charges each month — and help you afford the higher prices at the pump.

6. Summer gas blends cost more

Summer gas blends cost more

Gasoline that costs over $3 a gallon may be the norm once people start heading out on their summer road trips. Both AAA and GasBuddy had predicted $3-a-gallon gas even before the Colonial Pipeline hack.

In early April, GasBuddy’s Patrick De Haan warned we could see “a run at a national average of $3 per gallon in the months ahead.”

The forecasts factored in the transition to pricier summertime blends of gasoline. Higher-grade gasoline is used in summer months to reduce emissions that cause smog; those blends can cost up to 15 cents more per gallon, according to the service station trade group NACS.

Looking for ways to save on the cost of driving will be a smart strategy — but, then again, it’s always a wise practice. For example, regular comparison shopping for car insurance can save you as much as $1,100 a year, various studies have found.

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Caleb Kennedy will no longer be on American Idol after a controversial video surfaces

“American Idol” finalist Caleb Kennedy is exiting the ABC show after a social media post resurfaced depicting him sitting next to and filming someone wearing what appears to be a Ku Klux Klan hood.

With 16-year-old Kennedy no longer in the competition, Sunday’s episode will feature the show’s top four singers with one contestant elimination.

The video in question shows a younger Kennedy sitting next to a person who is wearing a white hood similar to those adopted as a symbol of hate by the white supremacist domestic terrorist group Ku Klux Klan.

In a statement on his social media, Kennedy, native of Roebuck, South Carolina, addressed the video and his elimination from “American Idol.”

“Hey y’all, this is gonna be a bit of a surprise, but I am no longer gonna be on ‘American Idol.’ There was a video that surfaced on the internet and it displayed actions that were not meant to be taken in that way,” Kennedy wrote. “I was younger and did not think about the actions, but that’s not an excuse. I wanna say sorry to all my fans and everyone who I have let down. I’ll be taking a little time off social media to better myself, but saying that, I know this has hurt and disappointed a lot of people and made people lose respect for me. I’m so sorry! I pray that I can one day regain your trust in who I am and have your respect! Thank you for supporting me.”

In a statement to the Herald-Journal, Kennedy’s mother, Anita Guy, said that the video was taken when Kennedy was 12, after watching the film “The Strangers: Prey at Night,” in which a character wears a hood over his head.

“I hate this has happened and how Caleb is being portrayed by people online,” Guy said. “This video was taken after Caleb had watched the movie ‘The Strangers: Prey at Night’ and they were imitating those characters. It had nothing to do with the Ku Klux Klan, but I know that’s how it looks. Caleb doesn’t have a racist bone in his body. He loves everyone and has friends of all races.”

Kennedy is a country singer, performing covers of Willie Nelson and Jason Aldean on “Idol,” as well as a few of his own original songs. He survived the latest cut on the show, from seven to five finalists, on Sunday night.

California bar owner arrested for selling fake Covid-19 Vaccination Cards

Undercover agents were able to buy the fraudulent cards for $20 each at a bar in Clements, Calif., according to the authorities. Federal officials say the problem has grown during the pandemic.

A California bar owner was arrested this week on charges that he had sold fake Covid-19 vaccination cards at his business, prosecutors said.

The owner, Todd Anderson, 59, of Acampo, Calif., was arrested on Tuesday and charged with identity theft, forging government documents, falsifying medical records and having a loaded unregistered handgun, Tori Verber Salazar, the San Joaquin County district attorney, said in a statement this week.

“It is disheartening to have members in our community show flagrant disregard for public health in the midst of a pandemic,” Ms. Salazar said in the statement. “Distributing, falsifying or purchasing fake COVID-19 vaccine cards is against the law and endangers yourself and those around you.”Mr. Anderson declined to comment on Friday. His arraignment is set for May 18.

Agents from the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control began their investigation into Mr. Anderson after they received a complaint stating that fake cards were being sold at his business, the Old Corner Saloon in Clements, Calif., which is about 40 miles southeast of Sacramento.

In April, undercover agents were able to buy fraudulent cards four times, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control said.

The cards were sold for $20 each, according to the district attorney’s office.

“A number of the cards were found for distribution during a search warrant executed at the bar,” the department said. The search, it said, also uncovered more supplies, including 30 blank cards and a laminating machine, which were confiscated.

The Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control and the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office took part in Mr. Anderson’s arrest.

Each of the charges that Mr. Anderson faces is a felony carrying a maximum penalty of three years in prison except falsifying medical records, which is a misdemeanor carrying a maximum term of six months in jail.

Fake vaccination record cards have become a growing problem during the pandemic, according to the authorities. Vaccination cards provide proof that someone has been inoculated against Covid-19 in the United States and list the type of vaccine.

A screenshot from CBS showing the Old Corner Saloon in Clements, Calif.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General and the F.B.I. recently published a public service announcement warning the public that selling fake vaccination cards with a government logo on them is a crime.

The advisory warned the publicabout those who sell fake Covid-19 vaccination cards and encourage others to print fake cards at home. The cards have been advertised on social media sites as well as e-commerce platforms and blogs.

“If you did not receive the vaccine, do not buy fake vaccine cards, do not make your own vaccine cards, and do not fill in blank vaccination record cards with false information,” the announcement said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also said it is “aware of cases of fraud regarding counterfeit Covid-19 vaccine cards.” It has asked people not to share images of their personal information or vaccine cards on social media.

In addition to the criminal charges against Mr. Anderson, the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control said it would file disciplinary action against the bar. That action can include a suspension or revocation of its Alcohol Beverage Control license.

According to the bar’s website, Mr. Anderson is a Minnesota native who has lived in San Joaquin County since 1986 and has owned the business since 2005.

SOURCE: https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/07/us/fake-covid-vaccination-card-california.html

Unreasonable Force: Chauvin held his knee in a 14 year old kids neck for 17 minutes in 2017

Prosecutors are seeking to include body camera footage from the arrest, which they say shows a pattern of excessive force by Chauvin.

Prosecutors of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin want to include at his upcoming trial body camera footage from a 2017 arrest that shows him kneeling on the back of a 14-year-old boy who says he couldn’t breathe.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree unintentional murder and manslaughter in connection to George Floyd’s May 25 death. Video of the moments before Floyd died showed Chauvin kneeling on him for several minutes, during which Floyd said multiple times he couldn’t breathe. 

Prosecutors filed a memorandum of law Monday in Hennepin County District Court in hopes of getting the 2017 bodycam footage from the separate alleged incident included at trial. They say the video rebuts the defense team’s argument that Chauvin used reasonable force in his interaction with Floyd nearly three years later and helps show a pattern of excessive force by Chauvin. 

“This incident shows that, when faced with a suspect who does not immediately comply with his demands, Chauvin intentionally uses a level of unreasonable force to accomplish subdual and restraint,” assistant state Attorney General Matthew Frank wrote in the filing.

Prosecutors detail the Sept. 4, 2017, arrest in the court filing, saying Chauvin and another officer named Wells responded to a domestic assault call in which the mom said she’d been assaulted by her son and daughter. 

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After 33 seconds of talking to the boy, telling him he was being arrested, both officers grabbed him and when he resisted, Chauvin hit him with a flashlight twice, at which point the boy called out for his mom and said they were hurting him, prosecutors say.

Chauvin then asked the other officer to Taser the boy, but he didn’t have one, so Chauvin applied a neck restraint that caused the boy to lose consciousness and go to the ground, prosecutors said. The officers handcuffed him behind his back while Chauvin knelt on him for about 17 minutes until after paramedics arrived and they put him in an ambulance. 

During the time Chauvin’s knee was on his back, the boy – whose ear was bleeding – repeatedly told officers he couldn’t breathe and asked to be placed on his back, which didn’t happen, prosecutors said.

The filing says: 

“As was true with the conduct with George Floyd, Chauvin rapidly escalated his use of force for a relatively minor offense. Just like with Floyd, Chauvin used an unreasonable amount of force without regard for the need for that level of force or the victim’s well-being. Just like with Floyd, when the child was slow to comply with Chauvin and Walls’ instructions, Chauvin grabbed the child by the throat, forced him to the ground in the prone position, and placed his knee on the child’s neck with so much force that the child began to cry out in pain and tell Chauvin he could not breathe. And just like with Floyd, Chauvin ignored those pleas and refused to provide medical assistance. Instead, Chauvin held the child down with his knee on the child’s neck and back for nearly 17 minutes.”

Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson responded to the state’s motion, arguing the video shouldn’t be admissible because the force Chauvin used in the 2017 arrest was in line with the department’s policy on dealing with uncooperative suspects, adding that Chauvin’s use of force was “reported to supervisors and cleared.” 

“The state makes a point of noting that the suspect was rolled onto his stomach and cuffed while Mr. Chauvin used his knee and body weight to pin the suspect to the floor. As noted previously, this is how MPD officers are trained to handcuff individuals — particularly suspects who are resisting,” Nelson wrote, adding that there is “no marked similarity” between this incident and the Floyd incident. 

The Minneapolis Police Department has since changed its use of force policy. In June, after Floyd’s death, it banned chokeholds and neck restraints. 

Part of a pattern

Monday’s filing comes after the state previously filed motions to introduce evidence (called Spreigl evidence) related to 18 different incidents involving the four officers charged in Floyd’s death. Seven of the incidents – including the 2017 arrest – involved Chauvin, with prosecutors saying these prior incidents show the former officer’s pattern of excessive force. 

The bodycam footage from the 2017 arrest was not included in the previous Spreigl evidence filing because prosecutors said they only recently obtained the footage. Prosecutors want the video included at trial because the video is a “far more violent and forceful treatment of this child than Chauvin describes in his report. The videos show Chauvin’s use of unreasonable force towards this child and complete disdain for his well-being.”

Chauvin’s report on the incident says the 14-year-old boy “displayed active resistance to efforts to take him into custody,” noting he was “flailing his arms around,” court documents state. Chauvin felt that if the boy wasn’t arrested, the boy would “escalate his efforts to not be arrested.” Due to his large size (6-foot-2 and 240 pounds), Chauvin struck him a few times and then applied a neck restraint, using his body weight to pin him to the floor while they waited for an ambulance.

[Video] Trigger happy tyrant cop shoots man begging for his life.

Video shows tyrant cop fatally shooting an unarmed man who was begging for his life.

After the officer involved was acquitted of second-degree murder charges, officials in Arizona released graphic video showing Daniel Shaver crawling on his hands and knees and begging for his life in the moments before he was shot and killed by police in January 2016.

Daniel Shaver
Daniel Shaver

Shaver died in one of at least 963 fatal police shootings in 2016, according to a Washington Post database. And his death was one of an increasing number of such shootings to prompt criminal charges in the years since the 2014 protests in Ferguson, Mo. following the death of Michael Brown. Yet charges remain rare, and convictions even more so.

Earlier this week, an ex-South Carolina officer, Micheal Slager, was handed a 20-year federal sentence for violating the civil rights of Walter Scott, an unarmed, fleeing suspect he shot in the back. Slager had previously been charged with murder at the state level, but a mistrial was declared after the jury could not reach a verdict.

Chicago police Officer Jason Van Dyke is currently charged with murder in the 2014 fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald.

The Arizona shooting, by Philip “Mitch” Brailsford, then an officer with the Mesa Police Department, occurred after officers responded to a call about a man allegedly pointing a rifle out of a fifth-floor window at a La Quinta Inn. Inside the room, Shaver, 26, had been doing rum shots with a woman he had met earlier that day and showing off a pellet gun he used in his job in pest control.

The graphic video, recorded by Brailsford’s body camera, shows Shaver and the woman exiting the hotel room and immediately complying with commands from multiple officers.

After entering the hallway, Shaver immediately puts his hands in the air and lays down on the ground while informing the officer that no one else was in the hotel room.

“If you make a mistake, another mistake, there is a very severe possibility that you’re both going to get shot. Do you understand?” an officer yells before telling Shaver to “shut up.”

“I’m not here to be tactical and diplomatic with you. You listen. You obey,” the officer says.

For the next five minutes, officers give Shaver a series of instructions. First, an officer tells Shaver to put both of his hands on top of his head, then he instructs him to cross his left foot over his right foot.

“If you move, we’re going to consider that a threat and we are going to deal with it and you may not survive it,” the officer said.

The officer then has the woman crawl down the hallway, where she is taken into custody. Shaver remains on the ground in the hallway, his hands on his head.

The officer tells Shaver to keep his legs crossed and push himself up into a kneeling position. As Shaver pushes himself up, his legs come uncrossed, prompting the officer to scream at him.

“I’m sorry,” Shaver says, placing his hands near his waist, prompting another round of screaming.

“You do that again, we’re shooting you, do you understand?” an officer yells.

“Please do not shoot me,” Shaver begs, his hands up straight in the air.

A police officer (right) who was acquitted of murder after he killed an unarmed man (left) in an Arizona hotel will get thousands of dollars a month for the rest of his life

At the officer’s command, Shaver then crawls down the hallway, sobbing. At one point, he reaches back – possibly to pull up his shorts – and Brailsford opens fire, striking Shaver five times.

According to the police report, Brailsford was carrying an AR-15 rifle with the phrase “You’re F-ed” etched into the weapon. The police report also said the “shots were fired so rapidly that in watching the video at regular speed, one cannot count them.”

Brailsford testified in court that he believed Shaver was reaching for a gun.

“If this situation happened exactly as it did that time, I would have done the same thing,” Brailsford said during the trial. “I believed 100 percent that he was reaching for a gun.”

No gun was found on Shaver’s body. Two pellet rifles used in Shaver’s pest-control job were later found in the hotel room.

After two days of deliberation, jurors found Brailsford not guilty of second degree murder as well as of a lesser charge of reckless manslaughter.

“The justice system miserably failed Daniel (Shaver) and his family,” said Mark Geragos, an attorney for Shaver’s widow, according to the Arizona Republic.

Attorneys for the officer had petitioned to keep the video from being released, and a judge agreed to block its release to the public until after the trial had concluded.

Brailsford’s attorney, Mike Piccarreta, told The Post in a previous interview that he thinks the body camera footage clears his client.

“It demonstrates that the officer had to make a split-second decision when [Shaver] moved his hands toward the small of his back after being advised that if he did, he’d be shot,” Piccarreta told The Post in 2016.

Piccarreta also said he wasn’t sure his client would be interested in trying to get his police job back.

Shaver’s widow and parents have filed wrongful-death lawsuits against the city of Mesa.

SOURCE: https://www.chicagotribune.com/nation-world/ct-daniel-shaver-police-video-20171208-story.html

[Polk County, Florida] 3 Sheriff Deputies Arrested for Evidence Tampering

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office says three deputies are facing charges for evidence tampering in relation to a December arrest.

According to a press release, the three deputies were arrested Friday night after an investigation began March 15. The deputies are John Raczynski, 24, Jamal Lawson, 29, and Garrett Cook, 26.

Sheriff Judd said the investigation into the deputies started on March 15 when a suspect who was arrested on December 21 called about her missing cellphone and $723 in cash.

Judd said the suspect was originally arrested during a traffic stop in Winter Haven, which was conducted by Raczynski. Cook and Lawson responded at the time as backup.

The suspect was arrested after drugs and cash we found in her vehicle and on her person, according to a press release. Raczynski documented the drugs and the cash in his report from the arrest.

Two days after the arrest, a release says Raczynski submitted 13 items into evidence but the cash was not one of them.

According to Judd, the deputies said they realized a few days after the arrest that the money was missing and decided to replace it with their own money. Judd said that never happened and the deputies never reported the missing money to their superiors.

Judd said officials don’t believe the money was ever lost, but that one of the three men stole it. The sheriff said he doesn’t know which one but added that it appears Raczynski had the money last before it disappeared.

Judd said he was “mad beyond words.”

“They risked everything over a tiny amount of money,” Judd said during a press conference. “If we’re going to hold the community accountable, we’re going to hold ourselves even more accountable.”

According to the release, after the suspect contacted the sheriff’s office on March 15 detectives found a supplemental report Raczynski created on March 16 adding the cash as an item of evidence. The release says Raczynski used Cook’s login information to fraudulently sign the report as if Cook was an official witness.

After the suspect contacted the sheriff’s office, the press release says Raczynski called Lawson. Lawson sent Raczynski $500 through CashApp, and the plan was for Raczynski to add the remaining $223 of his own money and submit it to evidence. That attempt failed and Lawson asked for the money back, according to the release.

The investigation was started after a PCSO Property & Evidence Officer reported a suspicious phone call from Raczynski on March 15.

According to the press release, Raczynski called the officer at work and asked her to call him on her personal phone. When she did he asked if there was anything he could to replace the money. The officer reported the call to her supervisor, who reported it to Raczynski’s Sergeant.

Raczynski’s Sergeant asked him about the call and the missing money. According to the release, Raczynski said he and Lawson were going to “make it right” by submitting their own money. The Sergeant told Raczynski to take no other action and the internal investigation was started.

Lawson, Cook and Raczynski were all interviewed on March 19.

Lawson confirmed that the money was removed during the initial arrest and gave conflicting stories on where it was placed after being seized, according to authorities.

Cook also confirmed that the money was removed and said he last saw the bag of evidence sitting in the truck of a vehicle but didn’t say which vehicle. The release says when Raczynski told Cook a few days after the arrest that the money was missing, Cook said they should tell their Sergeant but Raczynski was worried about getting in trouble.

Authorities say Cook knew over the next few months of the plan to replace the money but took no steps to stop it.

Raczynski also confirmed the details of the original arrest. Authorities say he told them Lawson took the evidence and he took the suspect to jail. He told detectives the next day he noticed the money was missing and said the three searched for it but couldn’t find it, so they created the plan to replace it. He also admitted to using Cook’s password to fake the witness signature on the supplemental report he created on March 16.

Cook is charged with:

  • Conspiracy to commit tampering with evidence, for conspiring with Lawson and Raczynski in unlawful tampering or fabricating evidence (F3)

Lawson is charged with:

  • Conspiracy to commit tampering with evidence, for conspiring with Cook and Raczynski in unlawful tampering or fabricating evidence (F3)
  • Official misconduct, for knowingly and intentionally causing another person to falsify an official record to cover up the loss of evidence (F3)
  • Tampering or fabricating evidence, by transferring money to Raczynski via the CashApp, knowing it was to be unlawfully submitted as evidence (F3)

Raczynski is charged with:

  • Conspiracy to commit tampering with evidence, for conspiring with Lawson and Cook in unlawful tampering or fabricating evidence (F3)
  • Official misconduct, for knowingly and intentionally falsifying an official record to cover up the loss of evidence (F3)
  • Tampering or fabricating evidence, by obtaining money to submit into evidence, knowing it was to be unlawfully submitted (F3)
  • Forgery, for forging another deputy’s signature to his report (F3)
  • Uttering forged instrument, for publishing as true a false and forged record (F3)

Raczynski and Lawson were hired by the department as detention deputies in 2017, and both later transferred to deputy sheriffs that same year. Cook was hired as a deputy sheriff in 2016. Sheriff Grady Judd said Lawson and Cook were also members of the SWAT team.

All of the deputies have resigned from the department when they were arrested on March 19.

Judd added that the charges against the suspect in the initial case have been dropped and that she will get her money back.

3rd Stimulus and when will you get it

A third round of stimulus payments is expected to be on the way later this month.

The payments are included in a sweeping $1.9 trillion COVID relief package that was approved by the Senate on Saturday and could be signed by President Joe Biden soon after the House takes a final vote, now expected to be on Wednesday.

Roughly 90% of American households will be eligible, according to an estimate from the Penn Wharton Budget Model.

Here’s what you need to know:

How much will you get?

The payments are worth up to $1,400 per person, including dependents. So a couple with two children could receive up to $5,600. Unlike prior rounds, families will now receive the additional money for adult dependents over the age of 17.

The full amount goes to individuals earning less than $75,000 of adjusted gross income, heads of households (like single parents) earning less than $112,500 and married couples earning less than $150,000. But then the payments gradually phase out as income goes up.

Do you make too much money to be eligible?

Individuals who earn at least $80,000 a year of adjusted gross income, heads of households who earn at least $120,000 and married couples who earn at least $160,000 will be completely cut off from the third round of stimulus payments — regardless of how many children they have.

On what year are the income limits based?

The income thresholds will be based on a taxpayer’s most recent return. If they’ve already filed a 2020 return by the time the payment is sent, the IRS will base eligibility on their 2020 adjusted gross income. If not, it will be based on the 2019 return.

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When can you expect the money?

People could start seeing the payments hit their bank accounts within days of Biden signing the bill — which is expected to happen soon after the House votes on Wednesday on the $1.9 trillion COVID relief package.

For the previous pandemic stimulus bill, the IRS started sending out the second round of payments three days after then-President Donald Trump signed that legislation in late December. But it’s possible that tax filing season, which is underway, could slow down the process this time.

The payments do not all go out at once. Those whose bank information is on file with the IRS would likely get the money first, because it would be directly deposited into their accounts. Others may receive paper checks or prepaid debit cards in the mail.

You got the last stimulus check. Will you get this one?

Not necessarily. While the same people who received the full amounts in the previous two rounds of stimulus payments will likely get the full amount this time, the checks will phase out faster now — cutting off people at a lower income level.

The first round, which was worth up to $1,200, excluded individuals who earned at least $99,000, head of household filers with one child who earned more than $136,500 and married couples without children earning more than $198,000 — but families earning a little more were still eligible if they had children. About 160 million payments were delivered, with 94% of families receiving the money.

The second round, which was worth up to $600, also phased out a little faster because the full amount was smaller. It phased out entirely at $87,000 for single filers without children and $174,000 for those married filing jointly without children. Again, those earning a little more were still eligible if they had children. About 158 million payments went out, with 92% of families receiving them.

The payments have been based on a taxpayer’s most recent tax return. So those who have filed new returns since last March could fall into or out of eligibility if their incomes changed.

Who else isn’t eligible?

Undocumented immigrants who don’t have Social Security numbers remain ineligible for the payments. But their spouses and children are eligible as long as they have Social Security numbers. They were excluded from the first round.

Will you owe back some money to the IRS if you earned more in 2020?

No. If your 2019 income was less than your pay in 2020 you will not owe back any money.

But if your income fell in 2020, filing your tax return now — before the payments go out — may mean you’ll get a bigger check.

What if you never got the last payment but believe you’re eligible?

Most people receive the payments automatically, but there are many who missed out — for a variety of reasons. An estimated 8 million eligible people didn’t get the first round of payments that were delivered last year.

Many of these people have very low incomes and are not normally required to file tax returns. Last year, the IRS set up an online portal where they could register for the money. It’s not yet clear whether the agency will open up the portal again for the third round of payments.

People who have moved or changed bank accounts since the last time they filed tax returns may have also missed out.

Those who were due money during the first two rounds of payments and did not receive it can claim it as a tax credit, known as the Recovery Rebate Credit, on their 2020 tax returns.

Time to buy stocks in FORD .. NEW Mustang Mach-E is taking over Tesla Sales.

Tesla is starting to lose market share among US buyers of electric vehicles, and Ford’s Mustang Mach-E appears to be the beneficiary.Analysis by Morgan Stanley shows that Tesla’s share of the US EV market fell to 69% in February, down from 81% a year ago.Tesla’s US sales are still climbing, according to this analysis, due to the increased appetite among US car buyers for electric vehicles. Morgan Stanley estimates that industrywide US EV sales rose 34% in February, compared to a year earlier, even as sales of traditional internal combustion engine vehicles fell by 5.4%, according to the analysis.Tesla (TSLA) reports only global quarterly sales, not monthly or US sales as do many other automakers. Tesla likely enjoyed a 5.4% gain in US sales in February, according to Morgan Stanley’s analysis.

The new electric offerings from traditional automakers resulted in their combined US EV sales more than doubling to 9,527 vehicles. And Ford’s Mach-E, which won SUV of the year honors this year and started deliveries in late January, accounted for 3,739 February sales, according to figures from Ford (F).”Mach-E accounted for nearly 100% of the [Tesla] share loss,” said Adam Jonas, Morgan Stanley’s auto analyst, in a note earlier this week.

Ford Mustang Mach-E

Other experts said they also believe that Tesla is losing some of its share of the EV market.”We’ve been expecting this for a while,” said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at AutoTrader. “Tesla was the only game in town. Now it’s not. We expect that Tesla sales will increase as the market increases, but there will also be stealing of Tesla’s market share.”A spokesman for Ford would not comment directly on Morgan Stanley’s analysis. The company did say that 70% of the Mach-E buyers were new to Ford, making the car that much more valuable to the automaker. More than 20% of Mach-E sales came in California, where Tesla is particularly popular.Tesla is facing competition from automakers such as Porsche, BMW, Audi and Jaguar for its luxury Model S sedan and Model X SUV, along with competition from Chevrolet, Hyundai, Kia, Volkswagen, Nissan and now Ford for its lower priced Model 3 sedan and Model Y SUV.But the Model 3 and Model Y are now the mainstay of Tesla’s sales, accounting for about 90% of its global sales in the fourth quarter.Tesla did not respond to a request for comment on the Morgan Stanley analysis.Tesla has already fallen behind Volkswagen (VLKAF), the world’s No. 2 automaker, in sales of electric vehicles in many European markets, including Norway, where EVs now make up the majority of new vehicle sales.And it is facing new competition from General Motors (GM), which just debuted a compact SUV version of its US EV, the Chevrolet Bolt. The Bolt EUV will go on sale by early summer, along with a new version of the current Bolt hatchback. Both will be priced below the Model 3 and Model Y.

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And this is just the start of a wave of new EVs promised by traditional automakers in the years ahead. Volvo announced this week it will offer only electric vehicles by 2030, while Ford said it will sell only electric passenger cars in Europe by 2030. GM said it expects to sell only emissions-free vehicles by 2035.The aggressive targets on electric vehicles are driven both by tougher environmental regulations around the world as well as the growing appetite for EVs among buyers.

And although EVs are now more expensive to build than comparable gasoline-powered engines, improvements in economies of scale will likely lower the cost of parts, including the large batteries, making it less expensive and thus more profitable to build EVs. Electric vehicles have fewer moving parts and, according to an estimate from Ford, require 30% fewer hours of labor to assemble than traditional cars.

ex-Philly cop on a mission to expose shootings of black people

On a recent Saturday morning, Terence Jones paced a dead-end street in a public-housing complex in Wilmington as if coaxing answers from the wind whipping by. He dragged a tape measure across the street, noting its dimensions. He stooped to examine each loop of orange spray paint on the pavement. He scrutinized video on his phone from TV news reports on a police shooting of an unarmed Black man, including footage of a Nissan Altima riddled with bullet holes. Then, he videotaped an identical Nissan trying to drive the route that police had described, and finding it physically impossible.

For Jones, the facts all added up to one conclusion: “This shooting of Lymond Moses, it’s a false narrative,”he said. “Lymond Moses was murdered.”

Moses’ fatal shooting by two New Castle County, Del., police officers on Jan. 13 is still under investigation, according to the department. But, the NCCPD’s initial news release summarized the official account: Officers were investigating a “suspicious vehicle” when it “took off and fled down a dead-end road. The vehicle then made a U-turn and drove at a high rate of speed directly at the officers.”

That didn’t ring true to Moses’ family — which is why they called Jones.

A former Philadelphia police officer, Jones is the founder of Total Justice, a nonprofit organizationthat for the moment consists of Jones, operating alone and unfunded.

Despite, or perhaps because of, his own past in law enforcement — a sometimes controversial history — Jones has become a one-man army fighting to expose police shootings of Black men. He handled an independent investigation into the death of Freddie Gray in Baltimore, alleged a cover-up in the police shooting of Radazz Hearns in Trenton, and organized support for Trent Brewer Jr., one of a string of people attacked by Atlantic City police dogs.

According to Jones and those he has helped, his combination of on-the-ground investigation and in-your-face grandstanding has been effective in getting answers and, in some cases, justice.

The shooting of Moses is his latest case, and one he said follows a familiar pattern of staging the scene to cover up an unwarranted shooting. Jones believes eyewitness accounts tell the true story. One neighbor told Fox 29 she heard a crash, looked out her window to see police ordering Moses out of the stopped car — “but I’m like, how could he get out if all his airbags are deployed?” — and then heard about five gunshots. (She did not respond to messages this week.)

New Castle County’s police chief, Col. Vaughn Bond Jr., declined an interview request, saying the investigation is ongoing.

Lashonnah Nix, Moses’ sister, lives feet from where he was shot, and struggles with the daily pain of seeing those spray-painted crime-scene markers on the street. She said her family wants answers.

“I’ve seen the story of what the police said on the news, but we don’t agree with that. We don’t believe it. It doesn’t make sense.”

‘He shed a whole lot of light’

This corner of Wilmington might seem an odd destination for Jones, who lives in rural southern New Jersey and served 10 years with the Philadelphia Police Department in the 1990s.

He describes himself as a “highly decorated” officer who set records for arrests and who served on demanding elite units. Hesaid he reluctantly left the department because of an on-the-job injury.

He also has firsthand experience with police shootings, having shot two men during his time on the force.

He shot and paralyzed one man, Carlos McLeod, while responding to a convenience-store robbery in 1992. McLeod told investigators he was trying to help the store clerk; Jones told them McLeod had pointed a gun at him. In the end, an internal investigation found Jones acted within departmental guidelines — but McLeod won a civil settlement of $2.2 million.

The other man, 20-year-old Thomas Webb, was killed when Jones, who was off duty, believed Webb was stealing his car in 1998. Then-District Attorney Lynne Abraham declined to file charges, finding the shooting “was unintentional, during a struggle over the [officer’s] gun.”

But Webb’s family saw the outcome as a cruel injustice. And in the years since, Webb’s younger brother, Brenton Webb, has watched Jones’ organizing efforts in the media with a measure of disgust.

“He’s a … hypocrite,” he said. “He did exactly what he’s trying to prosecute. He is that person. Whether it’s money-motivated or out of guilt, I don’t know.”

Jones, 57, noted he was cleared of wrongdoing. He said his past does inform his work, though: He wants all police who shoot civilians to undergo the same scrutiny he did. “They took it to the grand jury. They did a fair and impartial investigation.”

He self-funds his work, which takes him all over the country to investigate questionable shootings. He said all of what he does is as a volunteer — as he puts it, a “concerned citizen.”

He has been pushing for racial justice for more than a decade, taking a vocal approach that has rankled some officials.

That fire was sparked in 2007 and 2008, when he found himself involved in back-to-back court cases. In the first, he was slated to testify against a man who assailed him in a racist road-rage attack. The defendant, previously convicted in a cross-burning incident, pleaded guilty to two counts of bias intimidation.

In the second case, Jones was the defendant, accused by Woolwich Township police of filing a false report, after he said an officer racially profiled him, tailed him for five miles, pulled him over without cause, and illegally searched his car without a warrant. But he was acquitted, and a judge called the case “chilling,” adding that it was the police officer, not Jones, who ought to have been investigated. He ended up suing the department and settling out of court.

After that, he decided: “I’m going to spend the rest of my life fighting for justice so that no other Black man would go through what I went through.”

Since then, Jones has conducted numerous independent investigations, assisting various law firms, as well as chapters of the NAACP, at the request of shooting victims or their families.

“I only get involved in cases if someone gives me a call,” he said.

His goal is to create a force to be reckoned with in Total Justice, which is based in Delaware, where he sees grave concerns about police shootings of unarmed Black people. By his count, there have been close to 60 shootings by police since 2005, and no officer has ever been criminally charged.

In 2019, he assisted the family of Yahim Harris, a teen who was shot by police four times as they chased him in connection with a carjacking in Wilmington. Harris survived, and faced criminal charges.

“Terence came and did an investigation and found out that there was lot covered up in his shooting,” Harris’ mother, Jonda Brown, said. “He found out what actually took place that day.”

After it was revealed that the officer who shot Harris had secretly exchanged the barrel of his service weapon, prosecutors dropped charges against Harris, the Delaware News Journal reported. The Delaware Department of Justice — which had found that the police response was appropriate — now has an open investigation into the officer, who is no longer with the department, a spokesperson said.

Wilmington Mayor Mike Purzycki, through his deputy chief of staff, John Rago, said in a statement that the officers’ response to the violent carjacking was “reasonable and justified.” Now that Harris has filed a civil lawsuit, Rago added, “we look forward to fully refuting the baseless allegations as this matter proceeds to court, and look forward to setting the record straight.”

Jones is also advocating for another Delaware man, Jabri Hunter, 22, who was passed out in a parked car on the roadside in Wilmington until police surrounded the car and ended up shooting him on April 12, 2020. Hunter, too, survived. He remains incarcerated on drug and gun charges — which Jones calls “the usual how you do a Black man when you want to cover up a shooting.”

In his investigation, Jones got a neighbor to turn over doorbell camera footage — but according to Jones, there was a 12-minute gap at the time of the shooting. Jones believes police tampered with the video and crime scene.

Jabri’s mother, Classy Hunter, has been frustrated by the official silence, as her son has remained in jail, where he caught COVID-19. “It’s been a year since my son was shot and I have no answers as to what happened, why he was shot. I’m just left with this blank.” For her, Jones has been a crucial resource. “He shed a whole lot of light” on the situation, she said.

Wilmington and Delaware Department of Justice representatives declined to comment because the investigation into Hunter’s shooting is open.

For the NAACP in Delaware, Jones’ assistance has empowered it to challenge the official narrative.

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“Terence is an amazing investigator. When we take this to legislators, to the police, we need to have that investigation and that research,“ said Coby Owens, a Delaware civil rights organizer. “Black people are being killed at an astonishing rate. We need for police to view us as civilians.”

As Owens spoke, a surveillance drone buzzed overhead, an armored truck rumbled by, and a half-dozen police SUVs, lights flashing, stood sentry at the New Castle County Police headquarters.

It was a few weeks after Moses’ death, and Jones had organized a small protest outside the building, about 40 minutes southwest of Philadelphia.

The protest was designed to pressure the department to shed light on the incident. Moses’ wife, parents, and sisters gathered with NAACP leadership. A niece carried a plaintive sign reading, “Why y’all kill him?”

For Jones, this is part of a multipronged initiative that includes pursuing his independent investigation and helping the family request information including, in order of urgency, the names of the officers who shot Moses, their body camera footage, the recording of the 911 call that prompted police to investigate, and the full autopsy report. After a few weeks, they succeeded in getting Moses’ death certificate, which confirmed he was fatally shot in the head.

Jones believes his investigation shows another case where police tampered with the crime scene and falsified a story about aggressive driving to justify a needless killing.

“This is something I never would have expected, them killing my son,” said Rozzlie Moses. Though her son had drug convictions in his past, his family said he had recently held restaurant and construction jobs. “He harmed no one,” his mother said.

Moses’ family described him as a devoted father, son, and brother, who routinely stopped by to visit his mother and sister when he had free time. He was shot just outside their apartment. They don’t believe that he was doing anything suspicious, or illegal. He had a habit of sitting in his car watching YouTube videos; they figure he fell asleep doing so, exhausted from caring for his 3-month-old baby.

Lakeisha Nix, one of Moses’ sisters, said talking through what happened with his children has been devastating. “They are all so sad like, ‘Why did they have to kill my dad?’”

Her nephew, who is 8, volunteered to help with the Islamic burial rituals, including helping dig a grave. “He was very courageous, doing stuff we know his dad would want him to do.”

By: Samantha Melamed

Source: https://www.inquirer.com/news/terence-jones-total-justice-police-officer-shootings-killings-race-black-lives-matter-20210217.html