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Friday, 3 February 2023

The 10 US cities worst hit by inflation: Miami, Phoenix, Seattle and Atlanta have seen the highest rate increases - with buyers priced out of the housing market as grocery bills rocket

 Inflation has rocked the United States in the past year, with Miami being hit hardest as the Federal Reserve desperately struggles to corral the soaring cost of living.

Miami, Phoenix, Seattle, Atlanta and Philadelphia finished 2022 with the highest annual inflation rate increases.

Higher energy, rising food prices and housing costs have been cited as the top drivers of inflation, including in Florida, which may be a victim of its own success, as the state is home to four of the top ten most moved to cities in 2022. 

Federal data listed Phoenix's rent increase at 21.9 percent, with Miami at 18.6 percent, after the city saw the highest inbound population increase of any city since the pandemic began. 

Miami was one of four Florida cities to make the top ten among cities with a population of over 150,000 with a move-in rate of 55.2 percent  

Inflation has rocked the United States hard in the past year, with Miami being hit hardest as consumers continue to get priced out

Inflation has rocked the United States hard in the past year, with Miami being hit hardest as consumers continue to get priced out

The top ten was rounded out by New York/Newark, Baltimore, Detroit, St. Louis and Chicago. 

Los Angeles and San Francisco had some of the lowest inflation rates, which may be due to a slowing of people moving to those areas. 


Dallas, the Twin Cities, and Baltimore are suffering some of the country's highest rates of inflation for food prices, which rose 14.1%, 13.7%, and 13.5% in those cities respectively, according to an Axios analysis. 

The news comes after the Federal Reserve raised its target interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point, and signaled that even though inflation is easing, it remains high enough to require further hikes. 

The increase announced Wednesday set the US central bank's benchmark overnight interest rate in the 4.50-4.75 percent range, the highest since November 2007, when rates were slashed at the onset of the financial crisis.

Though this increase was smaller than its previous hike - and even larger rate increases before that - the Fed's latest move will further raise the costs of many consumer and business loans, and could increase the risk of a recession. 

In a policy statement, the Fed continued to promise 'ongoing increases' in borrowing costs, a signal that policymakers intend to raise their benchmark rate again when they next meet in March and perhaps in May as well.  

Still, the major stock indexes, which had spent the day in the red, rallied to positive territory as Fed Chair Jerome Powell spoke after the decision, with the S&P 500 gaining 1.59 percent late in the session. 

Miami's inflation rate is at 18.6 percent, after the city saw the highest inbound population increase of any city since the pandemic began

Miami's inflation rate is at 18.6 percent, after the city saw the highest inbound population increase of any city since the pandemic began

Seattle finished 2022 with the second-highest annual inflation rate increase

Seattle finished 2022 with the second-highest annual inflation rate increase

The Federal Reserve has raised its target interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point, slowing down from the rapid hikes implemented last year

The Federal Reserve has raised its target interest rate by a quarter of a percentage point, slowing down from the rapid hikes implemented last year

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said 'the job is not fully done' in bringing down inflation, noting policymakers are 'strongly committed to bringing inflation back down to our 2% goal'

Fed Chair Jerome Powell said 'the job is not fully done' in bringing down inflation, noting policymakers are 'strongly committed to bringing inflation back down to our 2% goal'


'We will need substantially more evidence to be confident that inflation is on a long, sustained downward path,' said Powell.

"It would be very premature to declare victory or think that we really got this," Powell added. "We have to complete the job." 

Fed policymakers hope to avoid triggering a recession, and economic data since their last policy meeting in December generally has moved in the right direction.

Though inflation remains painfully high, it is slowing under the impact of higher interest rates, while the economy continues to grow and create jobs at a reasonable pace.

'The Fed isn't done fighting inflation,' said John Leer, chief economist at decision intelligence company Morning Consult. 'Anyone who thought the Fed had won the war on inflation needs to buckle up for a protracted battle.'

Although the labor market remains tight, Leer said it 'remains premature to conclude American workers will emerge unscathed from this hiking cycle' as the full impact of higher interest rates on the job market has yet to play out.

The Fed is attempting to tame inflation by slowing the economy with higher interest rates, but hopes to avoid triggering a recession.

For consumers, the rate hike will likely mean higher interest payments for credit cards and variable-rate loans. 

Mortgage rates, however, remain near 6 percent after peaking above 7 percent in October, and experts expect them to remain relatively stable or fall further. 

Generally, mortgage rates follow yields on the 10-Year Treasury note, which have fallen significantly in the past month amid signs of slowing inflation.  

The Fed is attempting to walk a tightrope by raising rates enough to battle inflation, without tipping the economy into a full-blown recession.

Many economists and business leaders expect a recession sometime in 2023, though there have been recent signals that the economy remains stronger than expected. 

'She was a woman of deep faith': Republican councilwoman gunned down outside her New Jersey home in 'targeted' attack

 The bright political future of a young New Jersey councilwoman was cut short after she was shot and killed outside her home earlier this week.

Around 7:20 p.m. on Wednesday, police in the borough of Sayreville, New Jersey, about 25 miles south of Newark, received a call about shots fired. When they arrived, they found 30-year-old Eunice Dwumfour slumped over in her white Nissan SUV, which had also crashed into her residence. Dwumfour had sustained multiple gunshot wounds and was pronounced dead at the scene, FOX 5 NY reported.

Witnesses reported seeing the suspect flee the apartment complex, and police believe that Dwumfour was the victim of a "targeted" attack." However, police have not shared a possible motive for the crime and have not made any arrests.

By all accounts, Dwumfour was a rising star in local politics. She and a fellow Republican challenger had ousted two Democrat incumbents on the six-member borough council in a shocking upset in November 2021, and Dwumfour seemed to possess the poise and temperament necessary for the contentious political arena.


Local leaders are "always the focus of slings and arrows," said borough administrator Glenn R. Skarzynski, "and to be able to maintain that composure and smile in the face of adversity [as Dwumfour did] is a very important attribute."


Skarzynski also called Dwumfour "a very lovely person" who "always had her constituents' best interest in mind."

Sayreville Mayor Victoria Kilpatrick, a Democrat, expressed deep "sorrow" for Dwumfour's untimely passing. "Beyond her dedication to our community, I can share that [Dwumfour] was a woman of deep faith and worked hard to integrate her strong Christian beliefs into her daily life as a person and a community leader," Kilpatrick said in a statement. "On a personal note, I can’t adequately express my feeling of sorrow at the loss of a friend."

Dwumfour, a mother of one child, was also very active in her church, which has strong ties to Nigeria. "I remember saying to her I'll see you at the HRC meeting tomorrow not knowing tonight was going to be the end of her life," Pastor Doctor Nelia Rodriguez posted online. "I can't stop crying. She was 30 years young and full of life. You will be missed my dear, precious friend."

Dwumfour grew up in Newark and graduated from William Paterson University with a degree in women's studies. She was the director of churches for the Nigeria-based Champions Royal Assembly and was also a part-time EMT. InsiderNJ.com had named Dwumfour to its African American Power list in 2022.

Sayreville Republican Chair Karen Bailey Bebert released a statement following Dwumfour's death: "We remember Eunice for how she lived, not for how she died. She was the embodiment of Sayreville, living the American Dream, overcoming challenges with grit and a smile. And always giving of time and love to others. She embodied Sayreville and will be terribly missed by all who were fortunate enough to know her."

Martha Stewart sharpens sword in bizarre Pfizer booster commercial: 'You know that unwelcome guest everyone wishes would just leave already?'

 Pfizer and BioNTech recently released a bizarre commercial that starred 81-year-old Martha Stewart and showed her sharpening a sword and slashing a pineapple while advertising the pharmaceutical companies' COVID booster shot.

The advertisement campaign was launched on January 11 and was created to run on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


In the 30-second spot, Stewart is seen calmly sharpening a sword on a grinding wheel in a dimly lit kitchen. Sparks fly from the blade as she describes COVID as an "unwelcome guest."

"You know that unwelcome guest everyone wishes would just leave already?" Stewart asks in the advertisement. "That's COVID-19. That's why I got the new updated booster. Designed to help protect against recent Omicron variants."

Stewart then effortlessly slashes off the top of a pineapple and tosses it into the garbage.

"Got it?" Stewart asks while resting the sword on her shoulder and lowering her sleeve to show a bandage on her arm.

The tagline "Got booster?" appears on the screen towards the end of the commercial, mimicking the iconic "Got Milk" campaign from the 1990s. The ad then directs viewers to visit vaccines.gov to schedule their next booster shot.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, only 15.5% of the United States population has received that latest "updated (bivalent) booster dose."


Some Twitter users questioned Pfizer's odd commercial.

Elon Musk wrote about the new commercial on Twitter, stating, "Once again, parody & reality are indistinguishable."

Rogan O'Handley — known on Instagram and Twitter as DC Draino — posted the ad on social media with the caption, "I can't believe this is real Pfizer made a commercial with Martha Stewart to advertise its new booster shot. Aren't Big Pharma commercials legally required to list all the 'may cause myocarditis' side effects at the end and say 'check with your doctor'?!"

Pfizer recently came under scrutiny after Project Veritas released an undercover video allegedly featuring an employee stating that the pharmaceutical company was exploring mutating the COVID virus through "directed evolution" to release additional vaccines.

Pfizerreplied to the accusations, "In the ongoing development of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Pfizer has not conducted gain of function or directed evolution research."

However, Pfizer then explained that "it is important to routinely assess the activity of an antiviral" and states that "most of this work is conducted using computer simulations or mutations of the main protease–a non-infectious part of the virus."

"In a limited number of cases when a full virus does not contain any known gain of function mutations, such virus may be engineered to enable the assessment of antiviral activity in cells," Pfizer stated.

‘I’ve Been Black For A Long Time’: Wesley Hunt Torches Biden Admin For Making Everything About Race

 Rep. Wesley Hunt (R-TX) made it clear that he had no patience left for anyone who attempted to make every issue into a divide along racial lines.

Hunt delivered his remarks during Wednesday’s hearing on border security, taking particular issue with President Joe Biden’s administration for labeling Republicans as “racists” because they objected to open border policies.

“Last time I checked, I’ve been black for a long time. I’ve been a minority for a long time,” Hunt tweeted along with a clip of his remarks. “Am I racist for calling what’s happening at the southern border, an invasion? No. I’m a Congressman who is tired of this administration using racism as a scapegoat for everything.”

WATCH:

“This is actually not about race. This is an issue on public safety,” Hunt said, adding that his concerns about the amount of deadly fentanyl that was crossing the southern border had nothing to do with race.

“Fentanyl doesn’t care where you’re from,” he continued. “Fentanyl doesn’t care about race. Fentanyl kills indiscriminately.”

Hunt then pivoted to address how border policies had changed since Biden had taken office — conceding first that there had been problems prior to Biden’s arrival but then pointing out how much worse the situation at the U.S.-Mexico border had become under his watch.

Part of the problem, he explained, was the Biden administration’s penchant for using race “as a scapegoat for everything.”

“As somebody that wants to make sure that we do attack racist issues when they do occur, we can’t be the boy who cried wolf and blame racism all the time,” Hunt added. “I am here to hold this administration accountable to understand that there are issues of race that need to be addressed — and sir, this ain’t one of them.”

Hunt expounded on the topic further during a Thursday appearance on Fox News.

WATCH:

Trump Claims About DeSantis: ‘There Were Tears Coming Down From His Eyes’ As ‘He Begged Me’ For Endorsement

 Former President Donald Trump claimed during an interview this week that Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) “begged” him for an endorsement in the state’s gubernatorial primary election in 2018 and that DeSantis was crying when he asked.

Trump made his latest unprovoked attack against the 44-year-old governor during an interview with radio host Hugh Hewitt on Thursday while also ripping other potential 2024 presidential candidates, including former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R-VA).

“Ron DeSantis got elected because of me. You remember he had nothing. He was dead. He was leaving the race,” Trump claimed. “He came over and he begged me, begged me for an endorsement. He was getting ready to drop out. I gave him an endorsement, and as soon as I gave that endorsement, in fact, I said you’re going to have a hard time.”

“He said if you endorse me, I’ll win. And there were tears coming down from his eyes,” Trump claimed. “He said if you endorse me, I’ll win. I said, ‘You know what, Ron was one of 150 people that was on television.’ I mean, Jim Jordan was the best, and others were great. But he was one of 150, Hugh, that was on television, and he was supporting me on the impeachment hoax number one, and a little bit on the impeachment hoax number two. And I said I don’t know Adam Putnam, so we’ll do it.”

Trump has repeatedly sought to brand DeSantis as “very disloyal” for thinking about running for president in 2024.

DeSantis, who is believed to be considering a White House run, has not engaged Trump as he rides a wave of popularity that extends well beyond the Sunshine State. A recent poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire has DeSantis leading Trump 42% to 30% among likely Republican voters in the important Granite State. No other potential Republican challengers are in double digits.

Trump’s other recent attacks on DeSantis have included trying to give him a nickname and attacking the governor for his actions during the COVID pandemic.

DeSantis responded to a reporter’s question this week about the attacks by indicating that he was unfazed by the remarks of critics as his primary focus remains serving the people of Florida.

The attack on DeSantis over his COVID policies was curious, given that DeSantis reopened Florida schools and businesses long before other big states and was an early and vocal opponent of mask and vaccine mandates.

“I roll out of bed, I have people attacking me from all angles. It’s been happening for many, many years,” DeSantis said, adding that “in a crisis situation like COVID, the good thing about it is when you’re an elected executive, you have to make all kinds of decisions, you’ve got to steer that ship.”

“And the good thing is, is that the people are able to render a judgment on that, whether they reelect you or not,” DeSantis said. “And I’m happy to say, you know, in my case, not only did we win re-election, we won with the highest percentage of the vote that any Republican governor candidate has in the history of the state of Florida.”

“We won by the largest raw vote margin, over 1.5 million votes, than any governor candidate has ever had in Florida history. And in fact, we almost doubled the previous record, which I think was like 780,000 vote margin,” DeSantis added. “And so what I would just say is, that verdict has been rendered by the people of the state of Florida.”

British Columbia Becomes the First Canadian Province to Legalize Heroin, Fentanyl, Cocaine, and Other Dangerous Narcotics to Fight Overdose Crisis

 

As part of Justin Trudeau’s effort to reduce the number of fatal drug overdoses, the province of British Columbia on the country’s Pacific coast is the first province to adopt a policy of decriminalizing possession of small amounts of fentanyl, cocaine, heroin, and other narcotics.

The solution that Trudeau provided to the problem of people dying from drug overdoses is not to ban the use of illegal narcotics but rather to make them legal to use.

Possession of up to 2.5 grams of opioids (such as heroin, morphine, and fentanyl), crack and powder cocaine, meth, and ecstasy will no longer be a crime.

Instead, residents who are caught with narcotics in their possession will be offered information on health and social services. 

“Adults found in personal possession of any combination of these illegal drugs that adds up to a combined total of 2.5 grams or less are not subject to criminal charges and the drugs are not seized. Instead, they are offered information about health and social supports. This includes support with making a referral to local treatment and recovery services, if requested,” said the BC government.

The exemption started on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023, and will last for three years.

“The decriminalization of people who possess certain illegal drugs for personal use is a critical step in B.C.’s fight against the toxic drug crisis,” BC government said.

“It will help reduce the barriers and stigma that prevent people from accessing life-saving supports and services. Substance use is a public health matter, not a criminal justice issue,” it added.

“Decriminalizing people who use drugs breaks down the fear and shame associated with substance use and ensures they feel safer reaching out for life-saving supports,” said Jennifer Whiteside, the British Columbia minister for mental health and addictions, per FOX News.

“[This is] a monumental shift in drug policy that favors fostering trusting and supportive relationships in health and social services over further criminalization,” said Carolyn Bennett, Canada’s federal minister of mental health and addictions.

National Post reported:

Oregon’s own experiment with drug decriminalization has largely failed

Not far below B.C.’s southern border is the state of Oregon, a jurisdiction of similar size that pursued a near-identical approach to drug decriminalization just two years ago. The reviews are not great.

A recent audit by the Oregon Health Authority said the measure has been largely ineffective at addressing fatal overdoses and rates of drug abuse, both of which have gotten worse.

The concept pitched to Oregonians in 2020 was that decriminalization would drug users out of the cold to seek help at government harm reduction facilities such as needle exchanges and clinics handing out Naloxone. From there, they could then be urged into treatment.

But a report card found that fewer that one per cent of known Oregon drug users – about 136 people – ever opted to enter rehab in the post-decriminalization era.

Thursday, 2 February 2023

Biden’s Energy Crackdown Ended Up Fueling Big Oil’s Record Profits

 The Biden administration raged Tuesday against record-breaking profits for U.S. oil companies like Exxon, even though its own policies have helped cause prices to rise, experts told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The White House’s backlash came after major oil companies released their 2022 earnings, with Exxon and Chevron making $55.7 and $35.5 billion respectively. Experts told the DCNF that Biden’s efforts to curb the use of fossil fuels and reduce emissions have led to increased prices. 

“We think the White House’s oil policy has been paradoxical and disruptive, and has distorted markets in order to lower oil prices for short term political gain, without accepting that lowering emissions requires higher oil and gas price,” energy analyst Paul Sankey, founder of Sankey Research, told the Daily Caller News Foundation.

The White House accused these big companies, specifically Exxon, of being insensitive by raking in cash when everyday Americans struggle to buy gas.

“The latest earnings reports make clear that oil companies have everything they need, including record profits and thousands of unused but approved permits, to increase production, but they’re instead choosing to plow those profits into padding the pockets of executives and shareholders while House Republicans manufacture excuse after excuse to shield them from any accountability,” the White House said in a statement.

The Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act added higher royalty rates, more regulations and various fees on fossil fuels. The drop in employees resulting from COVID-19 policies took an additional toll on these companies, increasing prices, according to The Heritage Foundation.

It’s the “same old, same old, with team Biden,” Thomas Pyle, president of the Institute for Energy Research, told the DCNF. From the very first day of their administration, “they’ve made it absolutely clear that they’d like to stifle domestic energy production of oil and gas.”

Pyle went on to say that the White House should take the blame for the high prices, along with their “green lobby” friends. “This is exactly what they want,” he said, to discourage people from using traditional energy sources.

“Every time the price goes up, the very politicians who have inaccurately and openly made it harder to produce in the United States, then turn around and try to blame it on the producers that they themselves are creating,” Pyle told the DCNF. 

While the pandemic’s uncertainty might have caused the onset of rising oil prices, Biden’s crackdown on oil and other fossil fuels certainly amplified the problem, according to the Joint Economic Committee Republicans. These regulation-heavy policies also discouraged investors from giving to U.S. oil companies, the committee said.

Biden remains adamant that he has reduced prices and places the blame solely on “Big Oil.”

The only thing stopping Big Oil from increasing production is their decision to pay shareholders billions instead of reinvesting profits. Instead of demanding accountability, Republican officials are blaming us. I’m doing my part to lower prices, it’s time Big Oil did theirs,” Biden tweeted in response.

“When Exxon and other large companies generate profits, it enables them to hire more workers, find and develop more oil, conduct research, and ensure a secure energy supply,” said Kathleen Sgamma, president of the Western Energy Alliance.