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Caucus chaos: Utah GOP election leads to confusion, delayed results

Wed, 03/06/2024 - 15:36

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The Utah Republican Party chose to hold a caucus for the Super Tuesday primary instead of an ordinary election. Voters had to go to neighborhood caucus meetings, and in some instances, there was chaos and confusion.

At one location, the meeting was supposed to start at 7 p.m. But the phone registration process to get the ballot became a fiasco — so much so that members of the party were yelling back at the chairman.

There was also nothing distinguishing the volunteers from normal voters — not even a lanyard or neon vest.

"When you’re 59 and you didn’t grow up with this stuff, this technology, and you’re not ready for it — and I would say most of these people are over the age of 60 and some of them don’t have phones," said Utah voter Lynn Parker. "Nobody’s here to tell them how to do it. There’s a young lady who was sitting here who out of the goodness of her heart came over and said, ‘Try this different website,’ So I did, and I’m still getting kicked out. So I’m probably going to have to go home."

SEE MORE: State-by-state Super Tuesday results

The GOP spent $100,000 on advertising for the caucus and $60,000 on the preregistration system. Despite blunders, the party's chairman was still optimistic about the turnout.

"I believe that the American public and the Utah citizenry here in our state are smart enough to get involved," Chairman Robert Axson said. "We appreciate the patience and I can appreciate, too, being confused on a moment, but we’ll try to get those questions answered. But ultimately the engagement you can get at the precinct level is incredibly valuable; it’s worthwhile." 

SEE MORE: Nikki Haley suspends Republican presidential campaign

The Utah GOP said they went with the caucus route to promote community engagement and save taxpayers money from administering an election. But as late as 10:30 p.m., two and a half hours after polls closed, there were no tabulated results yet available from the caucus.

Meanwhile, Democrats had a traditional primary election. Polls opened at 7 a.m., and every registered Democrat received a ballot in the mail to vote for their preferred candidate for president of the United States.

Incumbent President Joe Biden won all 34 of Utah's Democratic delegates, with a landslide victory of 88% so far in the count. The race was called by Decision Desk HQ within just minutes of the polls closing.

This story was originally published by Emily Tencer at Scripps News Salt Lake City.

Caitlin Clark attracts largest regular-season TV audience in 25 years

Wed, 03/06/2024 - 15:19

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There is no denying Caitlin Clark has made an indelible impact on college basketball this season, and her most recent performance exemplified the star power she brings. 

Sunday's regular-season finale between Iowa and Ohio State attracted the largest television audience for a women's college basketball game since 1999, Fox said. The game garnered 3.39 million viewers, setting a record for the network for any women's college basketball game. 

The contest's viewing peaked between 3-3:14 p.m. ET when 4.42 million viewers tuned in. 

Sunday's game was notable as Clark passed Pete Maravich as the all-time leading scorer in men's or women's Division I college basketball. Her 35-point performance helped the Hawkeyes defeat the Buckeyes 93-83. 

She was named the Big Ten Player of the Year after Sunday's game. 

"Everything that's gone on the last couple weeks and even the past couple months, I feel like I’m so focused on helping this team win and be so great that it’s hard for me to wrap my head around everything that’s going on," Clark said. "I think I'm just trying to soak in the moment. A record is a record. I don’t want that to be the reason people remember me. I hope people remember me for the way I play with a smile on my face, my competitive fire."

SEE MORE: Who is Lynette Woodard, woman who blazed path for Caitlin Clark?

According to Sports Media Watch, Sunday's Ohio State vs. Iowa contest garnered more than double any other college basketball television audience, regardless of gender. The second-most watched game of the week was between Tennessee and Alabama in men's basketball, which drew an audience of 1.6 million fans.

When Ohio State and Iowa faced off in January, that game garnered an audience of over 1.8 million people on NBC, marking the most-watched regular season women's college basketball game in 14 years. 

Suze Orman: Why many women struggle to save money

Wed, 03/06/2024 - 14:53

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While women make up the majority of the college-educated workforce, data shows they continue to fall behind men in saving for the future.

Even in 2024, the gender pay gap remains an issue for working women in America, which leads to a lack of retirement savings and fewer options.

So we turned to nationally recognized personal finance expert Suze Orman for possible solutions. She told us, “Women say yes to everybody but themselves.” 

The host of the "Women and Money" podcast says many women contact her for help only after going through a breakup and realizing their finances are a mess.

“I have thousands of emails about this," she said. "Women say, 'I have credit card debt for the first time in my life. I don't have anything in savings.'"

SEE MORE: Do women spend more than men? Untangling gender-based money myths

Alex Gailey, an analyst for Bankrate, agrees that part of the problem is the gender pay gap.

“Women earn 82 cents for every dollar a man earns,” she said.

A recent Bankrate survey found:

- 57% of women feel they are behind saving for retirement

- 26% haven’t contributed to their accounts in a year

Gailey says the data paints a troubling picture, with more women focusing their earnings on paying household expenses and citing a lack of confidence in investing.

“Women are trying to build wealth and secure their financial future in a system that wasn't really built for them in the first place," she said.

Gailey says the impact adds up to “hundreds of thousands of dollars over their lifetime.” 

How to save more for the future

So what can you do?

“You need to put the financial oxygen mask on your face first if you really want to save your kids,” Orman said, in reference to flight attendant instructions before a flight.  

Orman says passing on good financial habits to your children, especially girls, is essential. She suggests you start small, contributing a few dollars at a time.

“You get in the habit of saving, you get rewarded for it, and then you continue to do it," Orman said.

Gailey agrees and encourages all women to take advantage of employer-sponsored retirement contributions, typically through a 401(k).

“You can secure financial freedom down the line," she said, "so that you feel good when it's time to step away from work.” 

The presidential rematch fewer Americans want moves closer to reality

Wed, 03/06/2024 - 14:08

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Former President Donald Trump didn't get the sweep his team was hoping for on Super Tuesday. But he didn't seem to care much after winning nearly every state up for grabs.

"There has never been anything so conclusive," Trump told a group of supporters Tuesday night. "Our cities are choking to death. Our states are dying, and frankly, our country is dying. And we're going to make America great again, greater than ever before."

Trump failed to mention his top Republican competitor, Nikki Haley, who dropped out of the race on Wednesday after a weak showing on Super Tuesday. Instead, Trump focused exclusively on taking more jabs at President Joe Biden.

"He's the worst president in the history of our country," Trump continued. "There's never been anything like what's happening to our country."

SEE MORE: Nikki Haley to suspend Republican presidential campaign Wednesday

Trump's delegate count is now within striking distance of the 1,215 needed to officially secure the GOP nomination. His campaign officials say they expect to sew things up during the next round of primary voting on March 12, when voters in Georgia, Washington, Mississippi and Hawaii will head to the polls. 

The former president can now shift his focus entirely to the general election in November, in what is now almost certain to be a rematch between him and President Biden. But political expert Dr. Susan MacManus says it's a rematch that many Americans don't want.

"Both campaigns are stressing over how do they get over this voter disinterest, voter distrust in the system, voter fatigue, voter complacency, that their vote isn't going to count," MacManus told Scripps News. "That's the rub."

It's a challenge both President Biden and Trump will likely have to toil over as Super Tuesday's results mean the two are all but certain to square off on the November ballot. 

US warship downs missile and drones launched by Yemen's Houthi rebels

Wed, 03/06/2024 - 12:56

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A U.S. destroyer shot down drones and a missile launched by Yemen's Houthi rebels toward it in the Red Sea, officials said Wednesday, as the Indian navy released images of it fighting a fire aboard a container ship earlier targeted by the Houthis.

The assault Tuesday apparently targeted the USS Carney, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer that has been involved in the American campaign against the rebels, who have launched attacks over Israel's war against Hamas in the Gaza Strip. Another suspected Houthi attack on shipping was reported Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Iran announced Wednesday it would confiscate a $50 million cargo of Kuwaiti crude oil for American energy firm Chevron Corp. aboard a tanker it seized nearly a year earlier. It marks the latest twist in a yearslong shadow war playing out in the Mideast's waterways even before the Houthi attacks began.

The Houthi attack on the Carney on Tuesday involved bomb-carrying drones and one anti-ship ballistic missile, the U.S. military's Central Command said.

The U.S. later launched an airstrike destroying three anti-ship missiles and three bomb-carrying drone boats, the Central Command said.

Brig. Gen. Yahya Saree, a Houthi military spokesperson, acknowledged the attack, but claimed its forces targeted two American warships, without elaborating.

The Houthis "will not stop until the aggression is stopped and the siege on the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip is lifted," Saree said.

Saree did not acknowledge the later U.S. airstrikes. The Houthis have not offered any assessment of the damage they've suffered in the American-led strikes that began in January, though they have said at least 22 of their fighters have been killed.

Since November, the rebels have repeatedly targeted ships in the Red Sea and surrounding waters over the Israel-Hamas war. Those vessels have included at least one with cargo bound for Iran, the Houthis' main benefactor, and an aid ship later bound for Houthi-controlled territory.

Despite more than a month and a half of U.S.-led airstrikes, Houthi rebels have remained capable of launching significant attacks. They include the attack last month on a cargo ship carrying fertilizer, the Rubymar, which sank on Saturday after drifting for several days, and the downing of an American drone worth tens of millions of dollars.

SEE MORE: US, British strikes hit Houthi targets in Yemen after Red Sea attacks

The Houthis have been hailing ships over the radio in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden as well since launching their attacks. The British military's United Kingdom Maritime Trade Operations center reported Wednesday that a new round of similar radio messages went out to a ship, and urged crews to report any suspicious activity.

A short time later, the UKMTO reported a suspected attack in the area. Private security firm Ambrey said an explosion was reported near the vessel apparently hailed in the radio call, but there were few other details immediately known.

Meanwhile, the Indian navy released a video of its sailors from the INS Kolkata fighting a fire aboard the MSC Sky II, which had been targeted by the Houthis in the Gulf of Aden on Monday. Smoke poured out of one container aboard the vessel, which also showed scorch marks from the impact of a Houthi missile.

The Mediterranean Shipping Co., a Switzerland-based company, said the missile struck the ship as it was traveling from Singapore to Djibouti.

"The missile caused a small fire that has been extinguished while no crew were injured," the company said.

Iran separately announced the seizure of the crude oil aboard the Advantage Sweet through an announcement carried by the judiciary's state-run Mizan news agency. At the time, Iranian commandos rappelled from a helicopter onto the vessel, which it alleged collided with another ship, without offering any evidence.

The court order for the seizure offered an entirely different reason for the confiscation. Mizan said it was part of a court order over U.S. sanctions it alleged barred the importation of a Swedish medicine used to treat patients suffering from epidermolysis bullosa, a rare genetic condition that causes blisters all over the body and eyes. It did not reconcile the different reasons for the seizure.

The Advantage Sweet had been in the Persian Gulf in late April, but its track showed no unusual behavior as it transited through the Strait of Hormuz, where a fifth of all traded oil passes. Iran has made allegations in other seizures that later fell apart as it became clear Tehran was trying to leverage the capture as a chip to negotiate with foreign nations.

Chevron, based in San Ramon, California, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Ship seizures and explosions have roiled the region since 2019. The incidents began after then-President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew the United States from Iran's nuclear deal with world powers, which saw Tehran drastically limit its enrichment of uranium in exchange for the lifting of economic sanctions.

The U.S. Navy also has blamed Iran for a series of limpet mine attacks on vessels that damaged tankers in 2019, as well as for a fatal drone attack on an Israeli-linked oil tanker that killed two European crew members in 2021. Tehran denies carrying out the attacks.

Nikki Haley suspends Republican presidential campaign

Wed, 03/06/2024 - 11:59

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After a weak showing in Super Tuesday contests, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley has suspended her bid for president, leaving former President Donald Trump as the only remaining GOP candidate in the race. 

Haley made the announcement Wednesday morning with a short speech, calling for unity in the Republican party. However, she fell short of endorsing Trump, at least for now.

"It is now up to Donald Trump to earn the votes of those in our party and beyond who did not support him, and I hope he does that," she said to a crowd of supporters. "At its best, politics is about bringing people into your cause, not turning them away. And our conservative cause badly needs more people. This is now his time for choosing."

SEE MORE: Exit polls show differences between Trump, Haley Super Tuesday voters

Haley did manage to notch one win in Vermont on Super Tuesday, but fell to Trump in all other Republican contests that were held. The former president lauded his dominant performance on social media, saying Haley was "TROUNCED" as he moves closer to securing the GOP nomination. 

"I'd like to thank my family, friends, and the Great Republican Party for helping me to produce, by far, the most successful Super Tuesday in HISTORY," Trump said in a statement. "And would further like to invite all of the Haley supporters to join the greatest movement in the history of our Nation."

Haley, who was the United Nations ambassador under Trump, was the last person standing between the former president and the Republican presidential nomination and had vowed to stay in the race through at least Super Tuesday. However, despite the $115 million her campaign and allied group have spent in the race, Haley's message about being the next generational leader in the Republican Party has failed to resonate with most voters.  

Her decision to drop out of the race also comes a week after she lost financial support from one of her most influential donors. The billionaire-backed Koch Network, founded by brothers Charles and David Koch, withdrew support for Haley's campaign after a disheartening primary loss to Trump in her home state of South Carolina.

SEE MORE: The presidential rematch fewer Americans want moves closer to reality

To win the GOP nomination, a candidate must secure 1,215 delegates in primary races. After Super Tuesday, Decision Desk HQ projects Trump is now just 200 short of the delegates needed to win the nomination, with 1,015, while Haley had secured just 88 so far.

The Trump campaign has predicted they will secure those 1,215 during a group of primaries held March 12 — the first day on which a majority of Republican delegates will have been chosen. 

It remains unclear what plans Haley has for her political future. There have been rumors about the possibility of her launching an independent third-party bid for the White House, but it's an idea she has repeatedly rejected.

"I’m a conservative Republican. I have said many, many times I would not run as an independent," she said Tuesday in an interview with Fox News. "I would not run as No Labels because I am a Republican, and that’s who I’ve always been. That’s what I’m going to do. And so that’s my focus."

Rep. Colin Allred to face Ted Cruz after Texas Democratic primary win

Wed, 03/06/2024 - 04:28

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Texas Rep. Colin Allred is the projected winner of the state's Democratic Senate primary, locking him into what's expected to be a closely watched fight against incumbent Republican Sen. Ted Cruz come November.

Allred was considered a front-runner in both fundraising and polling ahead of the Super Tuesday race, which landed him with almost 60% of the vote among eight other Democrats.

The former NFL player and three-term congressman from Dallas had touted himself as the most electable candidate of the crowded field, while his runner-up, State Sen. Roland Gutierrez, ran as a more progressive voice in the race. The attorney, who garnered 17% of the vote, had been the most vocal about gun control in the state, particularly after the Uvalde school shooting in his district. 

SEE MORE: LIVE RESULTS: Biden, Trump dominate Super Tuesday

As for Cruz, the two-term senator officially snagged the GOP nomination away from two other Republican hopefuls earlier Tuesday after an uncompetitive race — a stark difference from Cruz's last reelection campaign in 2018, which ended in a less-than-three percentage point win over Democrat Beto O'Rourke.

That was the closest the Democratic Party has come to winning a statewide race in Texas in 30 years, and despite a lack in momentum since, the party is hoping this will finally be the year voters come through to secure a flip. 

Though Cruz has been in office since 2013, Democrats see his waning favorability, as evidenced by the Texas Politics Project, as one of the best opportunities to add a number to their 51-49 Senate majority. However, recent polling shows Cruz still leads Allred by 14 points, and the Republican's backers argue he still holds high approval ratings among state officials.

If elected though, it won't be the first time Allred has beaten out a longtime GOP incumbent. His first election to his post in 2018 came after besting Republican Pete Sessions, who had represented the 32nd district since its creation in 2003. A win would also make Allred the first Black senator in Texas' history.

So far on the campaign trail, the Democrat has proudly touted his bipartisan accomplishments in Congress, but that's also opened him up to criticism, particularly from Gutierrez who criticized the nominee for leaning toward the political right. This came after Allred was one of 14 Democrats to support a Republican resolution that denounced the Biden administration's border policies — a vote he said was tough for him to make. 

Who is Jason Palmer? He just beat President Biden in American Samoa

Wed, 03/06/2024 - 03:31

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President Joe Biden had a big Super Tuesday, but he didn't sweep every contest. In somewhat of a surprise, Jason Palmer won the Democratic presidential caucuses in American Samoa. 

HIs campaign had forecast a strong showing in American Samoa, saying on March 1 that he was experiencing a "surge in momentum" ahead of Tuesday's vote. 

Palmer's campaign secret? According to a post on X, he visited the U.S. territory. 

“Washington D.C. is long overdue for a president who will be an advocate for American Samoa. The Meet & Greet in Malaeimi was a perfect way to learn more about what locals need the most. As a Democratic Candidate on the ballot, I’m here for the fight,” he tweeted Monday.

Palmer, 53, is a self-described businessman from Baltimore who says his politics are guided by his Quaker values.

The American Dream needs a serious upgrade. I am entering the 2024 presidential race to pass the torch to a new generation of Americans. Together, we can rebuild the American Dream.https://t.co/fRkVZCd24u#palmerforpresident2024 #RebuildTheAmericanDream #presidentialrace pic.twitter.com/HTQWRhpvtc

— Jason Palmer (@educationpalmer) November 10, 2023

He served as an investment partner at Baltimore-based New Market Venture Partners, an official of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, an organization executive at Microsoft and founder or investor in a series of education-related technology firms, according to his campaign.

American Samoa is a U.S. territory whose residents are U.S. citizens represented in Congress by a non-voting delegate. It has no votes the Electoral College.

American Samoa consists of a small cluster of islands in the Pacific Ocean colonized by the U.S. starting in the 19th century.

Biden won 40 votes to Palmer’s 51, giving Palmer 4 voting delegates to this summer’s Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Despite the one victory in American Samoa, Palmer poses little threat to Biden's path to the Democratic nomination. Palmer's campaign says that he is only on the ballot in 16 states and territories. 

President Biden has also secured easy victories in every other contest so far this election cycle. 

Georgia lawmaker introduces Laken Riley Act following her death

Wed, 03/06/2024 - 02:17

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The brutal murder of a nursing student in Georgia less than two weeks ago is igniting a call for change. Today a Georgia Republican congressman presented the Laken Riley Act, a bill seeking stricter laws against migrants in the country illegally who face charges for theft. The move comes after a Venezuelan migrant was charged with the murder of 22-year-old Laken Riley.

Republicans accused the White House of immigration policies that allow dangerous criminals to enter the U.S. and roam the streets, pointing to the death of 22-year-old Laken Riley as an example. U.S. Democratic Rep. Jim McGovern struck back, accusing Republicans of using the murder to score political points and of campaigning on a terrible tragedy.     

If passed, the Laken Riley Act would require the secretary of homeland security to mobilize and take into custody people living illegally in the U.S. who commit or admit to theft, burglary or shoplifting. The law would also open up the federal government to lawsuits from states and residents if the government fails to enforce immigration laws.  

On Feb. 22, Laken Riley's body was found at the University of Georgia campus in a forested area. Authorities say the suspect, Jose Antonio Ibarra, a Venezuelan immigrant, is facing several charges including felony murder. He was arrested back in October for stealing food and clothing from Walmart. 

Georgia Republican Rep. Mike Collins introduced the bill, adding that the family of Riley supports his efforts.

Scripps News' Adi Guajardo spoke with an immigration attorney who called the bill a knee-jerk reaction, adding that Ibarra has not been convicted of Riley's murder. 

"It is literally a representation of the Jim Crow past that we survived over 70 years ago and they've reanimated it into our public discourse today where even an accusation that leads to a person's arrest, could cause them to lose their, their liberty rights and their possible eligibility for relief in the future," said attorney Casey Antonio Williams.

The bill is expected to be voted on by the full House as early as Thursday. 

SEE MORE: Court documents show new details in killing of Georgia nursing student

Biden administration announces $8 cap on credit card late fees

Wed, 03/06/2024 - 01:54

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The Biden administration's new rule will cap credit card late fees at $8. It's the latest White House effort to crack down on what it calls "junk fees."

"We estimate banks are generating five times more in late fees than it costs to collect late payments," said President Biden during the announcement. 

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau estimates banks make about $14 billion a year in credit card late fees, with the average fee at $32. 

Regulators estimate capping the fee at $8 would save consumers up to $10 billion a year.

"The average household will save $220 a year for the 45 million that pay late fees. So it's really going to help people who are struggling, including many people living paycheck to paycheck who are having trouble keeping up with their credit cards," said Chuck Bell, financial policy advocate at Consumer Reports.

"These can be like whack-a-mole sometimes, one goes down and another one comes up," said Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst at Bankrate.com. 

Critics say there could be downsides to lowering the fees, like higher interest rates, lower credit lines or less access to credit cards in general.

"When it comes to late fees, I really think the best way to avoid it is to pay on time, or if it's an occasional mix-up, there's a good chance you can plead your case to the card company and they'll take that fee off," said Rossman.

Consumers who are habitually 30 days or more late paying their credit card bills face damaging their credit scores.

"Nobody wants to be late in making their payments, but they have other pressing things like rents and groceries to pay for. So people who are occasionally late shouldn't get clobbered by a fee of, you know, $41 or $32," said Bell. 

It's a win for consumers, but with some cautions. 

SEE MORE: Deadline looms to apply for part of $3M Credit Karma settlement

Delta Air Lines just raised its baggage fees by 17%

Wed, 03/06/2024 - 01:31

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Time to learn how to pack a little lighter — unless you're willing to fork over some extra cash to check a bag.

Nearly all major U.S. carriers have recently announced price hikes for their baggage fees, with Delta Air Lines being the latest to jump on the bandwagon.

The company said Tuesday that effective immediately, the price for its travelers' first and second checked bags will increase by $5 for most domestic and short-haul international routes. This is a 17% increase from its previous prices of $30 for your first checked bag and $40 for a second.

The new rule won't apply to tickets purchased before March 5, and customers with status perks — such as Delta SkyMiles Medallion members, first-class customers and people with eligible co-branded Delta SkyMiles American Express Cards, will continue to receive the same number of complimentary checked bags as before.

This is the first time Delta has increased its baggage fees since 2018 and is, according to the airline, due to rising industry costs.

It's the same reason Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and JetBlue gave, in part, for also raising their baggage fees in recent weeks. 

SEE MORE: Over 100 US airports will get upgrades thanks to government funding

In January, Alaska added $5 to both its first and second checked baggage rates. Then in late February, American Airlines made its baggage fees $5 higher when purchased online and $10 more at the airport. Days later, United Airlines raised its baggage rates by $5. Sometime in the middle of the month, JetBlue quietly increased its baggage fees too, costing $10 more for both first and second checked bags.

Baggage prices have become a key source of revenue for airlines. In the first three quarters of 2023, U.S. airlines took in nearly $5.5 billion in checked-bag fees, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. And when the full revenue is in, it'll likely be higher than in 2022, which totaled $6.8 billion.

So how much will checked bags now cost, without perks, per major airline after the changes?

    Delta Air Lines: $35 for the first checked bag, $45 for the second

    American Airlines: $40 for the first checked bag ($35 when purchased online 24 hours before departure), $45 for the second (both at the airport and online)

    United Airlines: $40 for the first checked bag ($35 when purchased online 24 hours before departure), $50 for the second ($45 prepaid online)

    JetBlue: $45 for the first checked bag ($35 when purchased online 24 hours before departure), $60 for the second ($50 prepaid online)

    Alaska Airlines: $35 for the first checked bag, $45 for the second

    Southwest Airlines: First and second checked bags are free.

Schiff, Garvey projected to advance in California senate race

Wed, 03/06/2024 - 01:29

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Scripps News and Decision Desk HQ project Democratic U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff and Republican candidate Steve Garvey will advance to California's general election for a U.S. Senate seat in November.

All Senate candidates from California are on the same primary ballot, regardless of their party affiliation. The two that receive the most votes then advance to November's general election. 

Schiff is a longtime member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Garvey, a Major League Baseball National League MVP, is a political newcomer running as a Republican.

Garvey's showing introduces competition that Democrats in the state haven't faced for a Senate seat since 1988. While Democrats are still widely expected to retain the seat, Garvey being on the ballot raises the stakes for Democrats' narrow majority in the chamber.

This is the first open election California has held for a U.S. Senate seat since 2016.

SEE MORE: State-by-state Super Tuesday results

Also vying for a spot on the November ballot were Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee and Katie Porter. Porter won Orange County in 2018 in a new advance for Democrats. 

Exit polls show differences between Trump, Haley Super Tuesday voters

Wed, 03/06/2024 - 00:39

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As Republicans went to the polls in 15 states, the party’s two remaining major presidential candidates drew starkly different coalitions of voters.

Supporters of former President Donald Trump tended to be self-identified Republican voters, with Haley drawing her strongest support from self-described independents, as well as self-described Democrats who chose to vote in the Republican primaries.

A major split demonstrated the difference between Haley’s more traditional “Reagan” conservatism and Trump’s nationalist populism — Trump won the support of 76% of Republican primary voters without a college degree, compared to Haley’s 19%. That’s according to an exit poll by Scripps News partner Decision Desk HQ. Scripps uses DDHQ, a national election analytics provider, for exit polling, vote data and analysis of race calls.

Among college-educated voters, those with at least a bachelor’s degree, Haley drew 36% of the votes — stronger, but still below the 57% supporting the front-runner.

Scripps News is not calling election results before polls close in each state and sufficient votes are counted to make a reliable prediction.

SEE MORE: State-by-state Super Tuesday results

Biden nearly uncontested

With an essentially uncontested Democratic primary, the question for incumbent President Joe Biden has been how many voters turn out to cast protest votes for fringe candidate Marianne Williamson, vote "undecided," or write in “cease-fire” to express dissatisfaction with the Biden administration’s support for Israel’s war in Gaza.

Tuesday marks the first test of whether the administration’s changing stance on Israel’s war against Hamas in the Gaza strip would have an effect on those in the party’s leftmost flank, who have sought the U.S. to push for an unconditional cease-fire amid the humanitarian suffering there.

In Michigan’s  Feb. 27 primary, “undecided” captured 1.6% of the vote and 2 of the state’s 117 delegates — part of a campaign organized by progressives and members of the state’s Arab American community opposed to the administration’s support for Israel.

Vice President Kamala Harris made the administration’s strongest public comments Sunday — explicitly calling for a cease-fire — and met with a political rival of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House Monday.

Exit polling showed those voters did not show up in large numbers Tuesday, with only 9% of Democratic primary voters rating any foreign policy concern as their top issue.

The DDHQ poll of 2,520 Republican and Democratic primary voters was conducted Feb. 27 through March 5, and results were weighted to account for demographic factors.

Bitcoin price briefly hits an all-time high

Wed, 03/06/2024 - 00:07

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Bitcoin has hit an all-time high less than two years after the collapse of the crypto exchange FTX severely damaged faith in digital currencies and sent prices plunging.

The world's largest cryptocurrency jumped 4% this week and briefly surpassed $68,800 Tuesday, according to CoinMarketCap. That's just above bitcoin's previous record set in November 2021.

The volatile asset soon fell some, standing at just under $62,000 as of 3 p.m. ET, but the price is still up more than 175% from one year ago.

Gains in recent months have been fueled by the anticipation, and eventual U.S. approval, of bitcoin exchange traded funds earlier this year, which provided access to a much broader class of investors. The price for bitcoin has surged about 60% since the approval of bitcoin ETFs in January, an easy way to invest in assets or a group of assets — like gold, junk bonds or bitcoins — without having to directly buy the assets themselves.

Also driving prices is what is known as bitcoin "halving" which is anticipated in April. Halvings trim the rate at which new coins are mined and created, thus lowering the supply.

Here's what you need to know.

In January, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission approved the first spot bitcoin ETFs from asset managers including Blackrock, Invesco and Fidelity. These newly approved ETFs hold actual bitcoin — unlike previous bitcoin-related ETFs that were invested in contracts related to future price bets, but not on the cryptocurrency itself.

While regulators have pointed to persisting risks and maintained reluctance around January's decision, the greenlight marked a major win for the crypto industry.

Institutional demand for bitcoin shows "no signs of slowing down," H.C. Wainwright's Mike Colonnese and Dylan Scales wrote Tuesday — adding that bitcoin's popularity "is likely to accelerate in the coming months as more wealth management platforms make spot [bitcoin] ETFs accessible to their clients."

SEE MORE: What's next for crypto?

Using data from crypto platform BitMEX, Colonnese and Scales estimated that the 10 bitcoin ETFs averaged $302 million in net daily inflows for the month of February. Last week alone, these spot ETFs booked record inflows of $1.7 billion — bringing total net inflows to $7.5 billion since their Jan. 11 launch.

Increased demand is also aligning with bitcoin's next halving event, which is expected at the end of April.

Bitcoin halving, which occurs every four years, is when the reward for bitcoin mining is cut in half. This reduces how fast new coins are created — making supply scarcer.

While analysts say that constrained supply in a time of high demand can push bitcoin's price higher over time, others point to significant volatility that has resulted before and after halving events — and the possibility of sizable declines.

"Past history may not be a reliable guide to predict how the upcoming halving of bitcoin will influence its value," Rajeev Bamra, senior vice president of digital finance at Moody's Investors Service, noted. "Various external factors, market sentiment shifts, and regulatory developments can influence the trajectory of Bitcoin's price."

Bitcoin has a history of drastic swings in value — which can come suddenly and happen over the weekend or overnight in trading that continues at all hours, every day.

Bitcoin rocketed from just over $5,000 at the start of the pandemic to its November 2021 peak of nearly $69,000, in a period marked by a surge in demand for technology products. Prices crashed during an aggressive series of Federal Reserve rate hikes intended to cool inflation, slow money flows and make risky investments potentially riskier. Then came the 2022 collapse of FTX, which significantly undermined confidence in crypto.

At the start of last year, a single bitcoin could be had for less than $17,000. Investors, however, began returning in large numbers as inflation started to cool. And 2023's collapse of prominent tech-focused banks actually led more investors to turn to crypto as they bailed out of positions in Silicon Valley startups and other risky bets.

Despite the recent excitement around bitcoin, experts still maintain that crypto is a risky bet with wildly unpredictable fluctuations in value. In short, investors can lose money as quickly as they make it.

"It's essential to exercise caution and acknowledge that the road ahead for the digital finance ecosystem, particularly the crypto markets, is expected to navigate through a period marked by volatility," Bamra noted — pointing out the importance of "cautious optimism."

Scott Peterson claims new evidence exonerates him in 2002 murder

Tue, 03/05/2024 - 23:47

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It was one of the most notorious crimes of the early 2000s.

Scott Peterson was convicted and sentenced to death for killing his wife, Laci, and their unborn child. Now, a judge in San Mateo County, California, may let Peterson make the case that newly discovered evidence could exonerate him, according to a report by ABC News.

The report indicates that a remote status hearing has been scheduled after the case was taken up by the Los Angeles Innocence Project, which provides pro bono legal services to incarcerated individuals. So far no date for the hearing has been made public.

Court filings obtained by ABC News state that attorneys representing Scott claimed his state and federal constitutional rights were violated and "new evidence now supports Mr. Peterson's longstanding claim of innocence and raises many questions into who abducted and killed Laci and Conner Peterson."

Laci Peterson, who was 27 years old at the time, was eight months pregnant when she disappeared on Christmas Eve, 2002. Her body was found in the San Francisco Bay four months later.

Scott, 51, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder for Laci's death and second-degree murder for the baby's death. He was convicted in 2004 and sentenced to death in 2005. However, his death sentence was overturned in 2020, and he is now serving a life sentence without parole. 

Haley wins Vermont GOP primary, but path forward uncertain

Tue, 03/05/2024 - 23:32

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Former South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley walked away from Super Tuesday with one victory. 

She clinched the Republican primary in Vermont, giving her a 17 delegate boost, well behind former President Donald Trump. 

Despite losing almost every contest, Haley did not concede Tuesday night. 

"In state after state, there remains a large block of Republican primary voters who are expressing deep concerns about Donald Trump. That is not the unity our party needs for success. Addressing those voters’ concerns will make the Republican Party and America better," said Haley's national campaign spokesperson Olivia Perez-Cubas.

Prior to Tuesday, Haley had only secured a primary win in the Washington, D.C., Republican contest on March 3.

Haley has not recently commented on long-term plans for her campaign. She previously said she planned to stay in the race at least through Tuesday's contests and told reporters she will evaluate where she stands once Super Tuesday's results are in.

Haley did not have any events scheduled for Tuesday, choosing instead to watch results from Charleston, South Carolina. 

Haley's campaign also has no future campaign events scheduled.

To win the party's nomination, a Republican candidate must secure 1,215 delegates in primary races. Decision Desk HQ projects Trump now has at least 951, while Haley has secured just 80 so far.

SEE MORE: LIVE RESULTS: Biden, Trump dominate Super Tuesday

Haley's message about being the next generation leader in the Republican Party has failed to resonate with most voters. 

“We need a young, new generational leader that can go and put in eight years of day-and-night work and get solutions done for the American people," Haley said. "No drama, no vendettas. Just results for the American people.”

In a Feb. 29 interview with Scripps News, Haley also took issue with Trump's policies.

"The Republican Party used to be the party of fiscal discipline," she said. "We used to be the party of smaller government. The problem is under Donald Trump, he changed all that he put us $8 trillion in debt in just four years, more than any other president."

You can soon buy an over-the-counter continuous glucose monitor

Tue, 03/05/2024 - 23:26

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The Food and Drug Administration will allow DexCom to begin marketing its Stelo Glucose Biosensor System, the first over-the-counter continuous glucose monitor.

The continuous glucose monitor is intended for those with diabetes ages 18 and up who do not use insulin, including those with diabetes who use oral treatments. The continuous glucose monitor can also be used by those without diabetes who "want to better understand how diet and exercise may impact blood sugar levels," the FDA said. 

The FDA said the system is not intended for diabetics who use insulin, nor is the system designed to alert users to problematic hypoglycemia. 

“CGMs can be a powerful tool to help monitor blood glucose. Today’s clearance expands access to these devices by allowing individuals to purchase a CGM without the involvement of a health care provider,” said Jeff Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Giving more individuals valuable information about their health, regardless of their access to a doctor or health insurance, is an important step forward in advancing health equity for U.S. patients.”

SEE MORE: Weight loss medicine may also reduce blood pressure, study finds

DexCom claims continuous glucose monitors are associated with "clinically meaningful improvement in time in range, A1c and quality of life." The company said it intends to have units available for the public this summer. 

“Use of CGM can help empower people with diabetes to understand the impact of different foods and activity on their glucose values,” said Dr. Tamara Oser, director in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Colorado School of Medicine. “For people newly diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes or not taking insulin, these devices are often not covered by insurance and Stelo presents an opportunity to provide valuable information that can impact their diabetes management.”

The American Diabetes Association says continuous glucose monitors allow users to see in real-time if their blood sugar is trending too high or low and take preventative measures against hypo- and hyperglycemia.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 38.4 million Americans, representing 11.6% of the population, have diabetes. Of those, 8.7 million have not been diagnosed. An additional 97.6 million Americans have prediabetes.

USPS offering $250K reward after its mail carrier was fatally shot

Tue, 03/05/2024 - 23:14

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A mail carrier was fatally shot in Ohio over the weekend in what police believe was a "targeted attack" by someone the victim knew, and now his employer is offering a hefty reward for information.

Officers with the Warren Police Department were responding to a shots fired call around 1:44 p.m. Saturday when they found 33-year-old Jonte Davis suffering from a gunshot wound inside his U.S. Postal Service van.

Officers said they administered first aid until Davis was transported to Trumbull Regional Medical Center, where he died from his wounds.

Hours later, police said they found the suspected vehicle from which the gunman shot Davis located in a driveway on Maryland Avenue NE. Authorities obtained and served a search warrant for the vehicle and the home, and evidence was recovered, including the vehicle.

Warren police said "several individuals" were taken to the station to be interviewed, but no one was in custody. 

SEE MORE: Police officer and process server killed in shooting in Missouri

The U.S. Postal Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are assisting the Warren Police Department in investigating the "targeted" shooting.

Anyone with information about the case is being asked to contact Warren Detective John Greaver at 330-841-2723 or at jgreaver@warren.org.

Additionally, the U.S. Postal Inspection Service is offering up to a $250,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the shooter. Tips can be called in at 1-877-876-2455. Say "law enforcement" at the prompt and reference case No. 4262416-WPV. Tips are confidential.

A GoFundMe has also been set up to help the Davis family pay for funeral expenses. Click here for more information.

100,000 families to have child care costs capped, White House says

Thu, 02/29/2024 - 16:56

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A new Biden administration order will cap child care costs for numerous low-income Americans. 

According to the White House, the Biden administration issued a new rule to cap child care costs for nearly 100,000 families participating in the Child Care and Development Block Grant program. 

The new rule goes into effect at the end of April.

The program is intended to help low-income families manage the cost of child care, but in 32 states, the program does not have a cap on child care costs. In those states, some families spend up to 27% of their income on child care costs. 

The White House says the new rules will cap child care costs to 7% of a family's household income for those enrolled in the Child Care and Development Block Grant. As of November 2022, 1.3 million American children were in the program. 

The Biden administration says this new rule will save affected families an average of $200 a month. 

“President Biden and I believe that every family in our nation should be able to access affordable child care,” said Vice President Kamala Harris. “Today, we are taking another important step forward by lowering the cost of child care for more than 100,000 working families that receive federal child care assistance. President Biden and I will continue fighting to cap child care costs at $10 a day for millions of American families and make preschool free for all four-year-olds as we once again call on Congress to get it done.”

SEE MORE: Study finds 1 in 10 US children don't have a primary care doctor

According to the Annie E. Casey Foundation, the average cost of child care in 2021 was over $10,000 per child. For couples, child care could cost over 10% of a family's household income. For single parents, child care could take 35% of a person's income. 

The Annie E. Casey Foundation said in a 2023 report that not enough eligible families are enrolled in the government program. 

"Governments do little to help families afford child care," the report read. "The main federal mechanism for subsidizing care, the Child Care and Development Block Grant, partially offsets costs for only 1.3 million of the more than 12 million kids in child care. These payments also are difficult and time-consuming to access for child care businesses and for families: Of children eligible for subsidies under federal rules, only one in six receives them, and research indicates providers serving predominantly Black communities face disparities in subsidy amounts."

Although the Child Care and Development Block Grant is federally funded, it is up to states to implement eligibility criteria and administer payments. 

The Biden administration also said it will begin requiring states to pay providers on time. Federal officials say 4% of home-based Child Care and Development Block Grant providers and 11% of center-based providers are paid on time.

'ChiefsAholic' pleads guilty in connection to string of bank robberies

Thu, 02/29/2024 - 16:30

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A Kansas City Chiefs superfan better known as “ChiefsAholic" has pleaded guilty in connection to various bank robberies across several states. 

Xaviar Michael Babudar, 29, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one count of money laundering and one count of transporting stolen property across state lines. Wednesday’s plea also included a guilty plea to a bank robbery case out of Oklahoma.

As part of the agreement, Babudar must bay $523,675 in restitution and forfeit an autographed painting of Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

A sentencing hearing is set for July 10. Babudar faces up to 50 years in federal prison on the charges. Wednesday’s plea includes both parties agreeing that the sentences run concurrently.

Babudar admitted to 11 bank robberies across seven states as part of his plea.

“His violent crime spree across the Midwest and beyond traumatized bank employees and victimized financial institutions in seven states,” U.S. Attorney Teresa Moore said in a press release. “The defend tried to conceal hundreds of thousands of dollars in stolen cash by using it to gamble online and at casinos, but the odds caught up with him.”

At the same time of his crime spree, Babudar earned his reputation as a Chiefs super fan by attending games dressed as a wolf in Chiefs clothing.

"While Babudar garnered significant national attention, his criminal actions were reckless — intimidating and victimizing bank employees and the institutions themselves," FBI Special Agent in Charge Stephen A. Cyrus said in the release. "Significant law enforcement resources were utilized across multiple sates to locate and arrest Babudar."

This story was originally published by Sam Hartle at Scripps News Kansas City.

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