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A beehive-like structure built deep underground in Jerusalem is providing an innovative solution for the holy city’s chronic shortage of burial space for the dead. Tunnels stretching more than a kilometer (half mile) in length beneath Jerusalem’s main cemetery have been carefully excavated over the past two years to make room for some 22,000 graves — enough space to meet the city’s needs for the next decade. A 50-meter (55-yard) elevator shaft will connect the world above with the world below. “We came up with this idea to provide a solution under the cemetery with burial structures, but also hidden from the eye,” said Arik Glazer, chief executive of Rolzur Tunneling. “There is not enough land and we take advantage of this.” Glazer called the planned city of the dead deep below ground both aesthetic and respectful. Cemetery overcrowding presents a challenge the world over, particularly in cramped cities and among religions that forbid or discourage cremation, such as Judaism. The reality of relying on finite land resources to cope with the endless stream of the dying has forced many to look about for creative ways to resolve the problem. Israel, for instance, has been at the forefront of a global movement building vertical cemeteries in densely populated countries. In parts of Israel, elevated cemeteries are now the default option for the recently departed. After some initial hesitations, and rabbinical rulings that made the practice kosher, Israel’s ultra-Orthodox burial societies have embraced the concept. Glazer said that his project also required rabbinic approval. Israel’s rabbinic authorities oversee burial practices for the country’s Jewish majority. He said one of Israel’s chief rabbis even visited the site. “Everyone really appreciated it,” he said, saying it revived a practice that was popular centuries ago. “Burials like this existed in ancient times, 1,600 to 2,000 years ago, and we have we have revived this tradition because of the lack of burial space,” he said. In a city where archaeological digs unveil findings of international historic value, Glazer’s operation took extreme precautions not to disturb ancient ruins or graves. The $50 million project, funded by Chevra Kadisha, a Jewish burial society, is expected to be completed in late 2018. When it is done, families will be able to enter the tunnels on foot or with elevators. Platforms will be built at various levels to allow easy access to the stacks of graves. “It’s the first of its kind in the world, at least in the modern world,” Glazer said. Experts seem to agree. This week the project was nominated for an award by the International Tunnelling and Underground Space Association, or ITA. The tunnel finished as a runner-up in the “Innovative Underground Space Concept of the Year” category. The 74-nation ITA encourages the use of the subsurface for sustainable development and promotes advances in planning, construction and safety of underground construction. (AP)
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After more than a decade of making cars and SUVs — and, more recently, solar panels — Tesla Inc. wants to electrify a new type of vehicle: big trucks. The company unveiled its new electric semitractor-trailer Thursday night near its design center in Hawthorne, California. CEO Elon Musk said the semi is capable of traveling 500 miles (804 kilometers) on an electric charge — even with a full 80,000-pound (36,287-kilogram) load — and will cost less than a diesel semi considering fuel savings, lower maintenance and other factors. Musk said customers can put down a $5,000 deposit for the semi now and production will begin in 2019. “We’re confident that this is a product that’s better in every way from a feature standpoint,” Musk told a crowd of Tesla fans gathered for the unveiling. Musk didn’t reveal the semi’s price. Even so, the company already is starting to get orders. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world’s largest retailer, said in a statement Friday that it has pre-ordered five Tesla units in its Walmart U.S. division and 10 units at Walmart Canada. Midwest retailer Meijer said it has reserved four trucks. And Arkansas trucking company J.B. Hunt said it has reserved “multiple” tractors that it will deploy on the West Coast but didn’t specify how many. The truck will have Tesla’s Autopilot system, which can maintain a set speed and slow down automatically in traffic. It also has a system that automatically keeps the vehicle in its lane. Musk said several Tesla semis will be able to travel in a convoy, autonomously following each other. Musk said Tesla plans a worldwide network of solar-powered “megachargers” that could get the trucks back up to 400 miles of range after charging for only 30 minutes. The move fits with Musk’s stated goal for the company of accelerating the shift to sustainable transportation. Trucks account for nearly a quarter of transportation-related greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S., according to government statistics. But the semi also piles on more chaos at the Palo Alto, California-based company. Tesla is way behind on production of the Model 3, a new lower-cost sedan, with some customers facing waits of 18 months or more. It’s also ramping up production of solar panels after buying Solar City Corp. last year. Tesla is working on a pickup truck and a lower-cost SUV and negotiating a new factory in China. Meanwhile, the company posted a record quarterly loss of $619 million in its most recent quarter. On Thursday night, Tesla surprised fans with another product: An updated version of its first sports car, the Roadster. Tesla says the new Roadster will have 620 miles of range and a top speed of 250 mph (402 kph). The car, coming in 2020, will have a base price of $200,000. Musk, too, is being pulled in many directions. He leads rocket maker SpaceX and is dabbling in other projects, including high-speed transit, artificial intelligence research and a new company that’s digging tunnels beneath Los Angeles to alleviate traffic congestion. “He’s got so much on his plate right now. This could present another distraction from really just making sure that the Model 3 is moved along effectively,” said Bruce Clark, a senior vice president and automotive analyst at Moody’s. Tesla’s semi is venturing into an uncertain market. […]
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The National Archives on Friday released 10,744 FBI records — some that have never been previously disclosed — related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963. It’s the fifth release of Kennedy assassination records so far this year. The National Archives said 8,336 documents are being released in their entirety and 2,408 are released with limited redactions. A total of 144 records are being released for the first time. Most of the collection comprising about 5 million pages of records has been released to the public, but some documents have been withheld over the years to protect individuals, intelligence sources and methods and national security. The latest documents are being released according to a law that President George H.W. Bush signed Oct. 26, 1992. That law required all records related to the assassination be released within 25 years, unless the president says doing so would harm intelligence, law enforcement, military operations or foreign relations. Last month, on the 25-year deadline, President Donald Trump wrote in a memorandum that he had “no choice” but to agree to requests from some government agencies to continue withholding certain information. Trump, however, directed agencies to again review each of their redactions. He said agency heads needed to be extremely circumspect in recommending that information still needed to be withheld from the public. Government agencies have until March to tell the National Archives why any part of their records should still be redacted. (AP)
The organizer of the violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, has lost his verified status on Twitter, along with several other prominent white nationalists and far-right conservatives. News outlets report Unite The Right organizer Jason Kessler on Wednesday lost the blue check mark that was bestowed upon him last month, a move that elicited backlash against the social media site from those who saw verification as an endorsement of Kessler’s values or noteworthiness. Twitter said in a series of tweets that it eliminated the verification status of accounts in violation of new guidelines , which include those that promote discrimination-based hate or violence. Kessler, who has previously used Twitter to say Heather Heyer’s death at the August rally “was payback time,” claims he’s being censored. Twitter is a private company with no legal free-speech obligations to users. (AP)
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Dozens of neighbors rushed to the scene of a massive late-night fire that injured at least 20 people at a Pennsylvania senior living community, wrapping the elderly in blankets and carrying them to ambulances in makeshift gurneys. Larry Kingsland, 62, said Friday he and scores of people who live around the Barclay Friends Senior Living Community ferried elderly residents to medics as firefighters rescued them from the blaze. “Everyone saw how devastating the fire was and we all had the same reaction: that people needed help,” he said of the Thursday night inferno in West Chester, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) west of Philadelphia. “The whole neighborhood was helping.” Firefighters were still dousing smoldering hot spots Friday morning. The fire was declared under control just before 1:30 a.m. An investigation into what caused the blaze is underway, a town fire chief said. The fire quickly spread to multiple buildings, engulfing sections within minutes. A spokeswoman for the senior living center said about 132 residents were present when the blaze broke out. Many of the residents were pushed in wheelchairs or rolled on beds to safety, said Dina Ciccarone, another neighbor who helped move people away from the fire and into safety. In some cases, she said, people used blankets as makeshift gurneys to assist in the rescue effort. “Most of them could not walk,” the 37-year-old Ciccarone said. “Some were lying on the ground, we were just bundling them up.” News helicopter coverage showed dozens of residents on the lawn or along the street, wrapped in blankets as overnight temperatures dipped into the low 40s. Elderly residents were loaded onto school buses early Friday and taken to nearby hospitals, witnesses said. Chester County emergency officials said at least 20 people were taken to area hospitals for treatment. The extent of most injuries was not immediately known, though a Paoli Hospital spokeswoman said seven patients were admitted with issues related to smoke inhalation. Mike Lentz, a 60-year-old accountant who lives across the street from the facility, said neighbors also helped to comfort seniors as they were led away from the flames. “I would try to wrap them in a blanket and kept telling them ‘you’re safe now,'” he said. “Some were crying. Some were disoriented and crying.” According to its website, Barclay Friends offers various levels of care including memory care, skilled nursing and post-acute rehab. Early Friday morning, the local chapter of the American Red Cross said on Twitter that it had multiple teams on the scene and that it was working with county officials and facility staff to assist displaced residents. (AP)
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White House officials are pushing back on concerns that President Donald Trump appeared exhausted from his 12-day Asia trip when he spoke rapidly and took several sips of water during a televised recap of the grueling tour. Trump’s shaky 23-minute performance Wednesday came a day after his return and drew widespread ridicule online. The episode revived clips of Trump mocking Republican primary opponent Sen. Marco Rubio for a similarly awkward, mid-speech water break. Multiple officials and aides were eager to promote Trump’s stamina with The Associated Press on Thursday. In interviews, they said chief of staff John Kelly had ordered a day off for staff traveling with the president and advised Trump to rest as well. However, they said, Trump insisted on quickly summarizing his trip for the American people. “The staff is exhausted, but he wanted to go out there,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. Trump worked on the address nearly the entire flight back to the U.S. on Tuesday, senior adviser Stephen Miller said. Communications director Hope Hicks said she briefly pretended to be asleep when Trump visited the staff cabin aboard Air Force One to seek out Sanders. The officials said they worried that Trump would grow frustrated with the extended time on the road but added that their concerns were unwarranted. “He never complained,” Hicks said. “He was working the entire time.” Sanders said Trump was unfazed by hopping across so many time zones. “He’s twice my age and he has twice my energy,” she said. As far as the gulps of water, the officials said the travel had left Trump parched. Trump had boasted to reporters aboard Air Force One about how well he was holding up on the trip. “A lot of people said it’s almost physically impossible for someone to go through 12 days,” he said. “Anybody that took the bet, pick up your money, OK?” (AP)
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At a car factory in this city named after Toyota, the usual robots with their swinging arms are missing. Instead, workers intently fit parts into place by hand with craftsmanship-like care. The big moment on the assembly line comes when two bulbous yellow tanks of hydrogen are rolled over and delicately fitted into each car’s underside. While much of the world is going gung-ho for electric vehicles to help get rid of auto emissions and end reliance on fossil fuels, Japan’s top automaker Toyota Motor Corp. is banking on hydrogen. Toyota sells about 10 million vehicles a year around the world. It has sold only about 4,000 Mirai fuel cell vehicles since late 2014, roughly half of them outside Japan. The Mirai, which means “future,” is not cheap at $57,500, but Toyota loses money on each one. Still, the company’s goal is to sell 30,000 fuel-cell vehicles a year by about 2020. Hydrogen fuel cells don’t suffer the EVs’ main drawback of limited range. The Tesla Model S can go about 300 miles (480 kilometers) on a single charge, although that varies depending on driving conditions, and that’s quite a distance for an EV. Other models run out of juice quicker, at about half that, because the longer the range, generally the heavier the batteries. And electric vehicles usually take hours to charge. The Mirai can run for 312 miles (502 kilometers) per fueling, under U.S. EPA conditions, and fuels as quickly as a regular car. Toyota’s chairman, Takeshi Uchiyamada, believes hydrogen is an ideal, stable fuel for a future low-carbon society. “In this light, hydrogen holds tremendous potential,” Uchiyamada, known as “the father of the Prius,” the world’s top-selling hybrid car, said during a tour of the factory. “Hydrogen doesn’t exist in the natural world on its own, but you can create hydrogen from various materials,” he said. The Prius turned out to be a good bet for Toyota. The Mirai could be the same. But not everyone shares Uchiyamada’s enthusiasm for hydrogen. A fuel cell mixes hydrogen with the oxygen in the air to generate electricity that can power a motor. Producing the highly flammable gas and getting it into the vehicles requires energy. Ultimately, the idea is to convert energy from renewables like wind and solar power into hydrogen, or even make hydrogen from sewage waste. Unlike a gas-powered internal combustion engine, the only byproducts from a fuel cell are electricity, heat and water. There are no emissions of pollutants that can cause global warming. Yet the energy unleashed is powerful: Hydrogen is the fuel that sends NASA rockets into space. So fuel cells could be used to power cars, trains, buses, trucks and forklifts, and to provide electricity and heat for homes. Detroit-based General Motors Co., Mercedes-Benz of Germany, Japan’s Honda Motor Co. and Hyundai of South Korea have also developed fuel cell vehicles that are on the roads in extremely limited numbers. The global stock of electric vehicles will soon surpass 2 million, according to the International Energy Agency. It’s projected to climb to between 9 million-20 million by 2020. Fuel cell vehicles are scarcely a presence. The Hydrogen Council, made up of 28 companies that are promoting hydrogen fuel, said in a report this week that it expects hydrogen to power about 10 to […]
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Phone companies will have greater authority to block unwanted calls from reaching customers as regulators adopted new rules to combat automated messages known as robocalls. Rules adopted Thursday by the Federal Communications Commission represent the latest tools against robocalls, which pester consumers, sometimes multiple times each day, and often push scams. The agency, which regulates the country’s phone, broadcast TV and internet services, also hopes that recent big fines will help deter scammers. Phone companies can already block some calls that trick consumers by showing up on Caller ID with fake numbers. The new rules make clear that they can block additional calls that are likely scams, such as numbers that start with a 911 area code, or one that isn’t currently assigned to anyone. The changes won’t stop robocalls completely, though experts say these steps are a good start. ——— WHY IS THIS HAPPENING? The federal and state “Do Not Call” lists are supposed to protect people from unwanted calls from telemarketers. But scammers don’t care about breaking the law. Scammers reach people cheaply and easily using autodialers, which spew out a large number of calls automatically. It’s estimated that Americans receive tens of millions of robocalls every day. Not all of them are fraudsters, of course. Pharmacies send automated messages about prescriptions being filled. But too often, it’s this: you owe the IRS money; it’s Microsoft calling to fix your computer; free cruises! Spam callers have tricky technology that alters what pops up on a phone’s caller ID to a local number, or one from an official organization, so you’re more likely to pick up. ——— HELP FROM THE GOVERNMENT The steps the FCC took Thursday lets carriers crack down on these spoofed numbers. If successful, that would make running a scam more difficult and save U.S. consumers millions of dollars, a group of state attorneys general said in an FCC filing. Experts have said these are solid developments, but won’t protect consumers from all unwanted calls. Not every one of those is from a spoofed number. Debt collectors and political campaigns are not covered under the Do Not Call lists. In the longer term, the FCC supports industry efforts to verify that callers are really who they say they are. Perhaps one day, you’ll see a green checkmark on your smartphone when the caller is legitimate. U.S. Telecom, the phone-company lobby, has said that rolling this out could take a few years, but would prove powerful against robocallers. The FCC has also sought ways to stop annoying calls from dogging consumers when they change numbers. Today, if you sign up for Do Not Call but then get a new number, a marketer may not know and could pester you on your new line. ——— WHAT PHONE COMPANIES ARE DOING Phone companies, cellphone makers and independent apps can also screen or block unwanted calls by checking them against databases of known problem numbers and analyzing suspicious behavior, like a number that’s calling lots of people on Do Not Call lists. Some of the carriers’ tools cost extra, and they’re not available for all phones and all plans. Consumers Union wants phone companies to make call-blocking tools available to all consumers for free. For home phones, apps including YouMail and Nomorobo offer relief for free, but they have some […]
Airlines are bumping fewer passengers off oversold planes after taking to heart the public anger over a man being violently dragged from his seat earlier this year. The U.S. Department of Transportation said Thursday that airlines bumped 2,745 passengers between July and September. That is about one in every 67,000 passengers, and it is the lowest rate since the department started keeping track of bumping in 1995. The rate has dropped steadily this year, especially since April when video surfaced of Chicago airport officers yanking a 69-year-old man off a United Express plane to make room for an airline employee. United and other airlines responded by making changes, including raising the compensation paid to encourage passengers to voluntarily give up seats on oversold flights. But the number of volunteers who take cash or a travel voucher is also falling sharply — 74,358 in the July-through-September quarter, compared with 114,119 a year earlier. Spirit Airlines was most likely to bump a passenger in the latest quarter, followed by Frontier and Southwest. Four airlines — Delta, Virgin America, JetBlue and United — bumped no more than one in every 250,000 passengers, according to government figures. Delta was the runaway leader in paying passengers to give up a seat — more than 32,000 in the quarter. Meanwhile, for the second straight month hurricanes were blamed for more flight delays and cancellations than a year ago. Hurricanes Irma and Maria disrupted travel in Florida and the Caribbean. The 12 airlines covered in the Transportation Department report completed 83.6 percent of flights on time in September, down from 85.5 percent a year earlier. A flight counts as on-time if it arrives within 14 minutes of the airline’s schedule. Hawaiian Airlines, which benefits from many short flights around the island chain, held on to the top spot. JetBlue Airways had the worst record, with nearly 30 percent of its flights arriving late. The same 12 carriers canceled 3.3 percent of their September flights, up from 0.3 percent in September 2016. Spirit canceled more than 10 percent of its flights in September, and JetBlue canceled more than 9 percent. Both have a high percentage of their flights in Florida and the Caribbean. (AP)
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The Pentagon says it accidentally retweeted a tweet that urged President Donald Trump to resign. Without mentioning the content of the original tweet, a Pentagon spokesman, Col. Rob Manning, said it “would not be endorsed by the Department of Defense.” The tweet was posted Thursday by a person whose Twitter handle is @ProudResister. It said, “The solution is simple. Roy Moore: Step down from the race. Al Franken: Resign from congress. Donald Trump: Resign from the presidency. GOP: Stop making sexual assault a partisan issue. It’s a crime as is your hypocrisy.” Manning says the person who had retweeted the item was an authorized operator of the official Defense Department Twitter account, which has 5.2 million followers. Manning said the person “caught this error and immediately deleted it.” (AP)
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(YWN World Headquarters - NYC)
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The top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee are saying President Donald Trump’s son-in-law hasn’t been fully forthcoming with the panel’s probe into Russian election interference, asking him to provide emails sent to him involving WikiLeaks and a “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite.” Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein sent a letter to Jared Kushner’s lawyer Thursday saying the collection of documents he has provided the committee is “incomplete.” The committee gave Kushner a Nov. 27 deadline to provide the additional documents, including the emails and Kushner’s security clearance form that originally omitted certain contacts with Russian officials. The request is part of the panel’s probe into the Russian election meddling and whether the Trump campaign was involved. The Judiciary committee is one of three congressional committees looking into the issue, along with the Senate and House intelligence panels. The committees have separately requested and received thousands of documents from people associated with the Trump campaign, and have interviewed dozens of individuals. Department of Justice special counsel Robert Mueller is also looking into the meddling. The senators noted they have received documents from other campaign officials that were copied to or forwarded to Kushner, but which he did not produce. Those include “September 2016 email communications to Mr. Kushner concerning WikiLeaks.” Trump’s eldest son, Trump Jr., corresponded with WikiLeaks that month and, according to The Atlantic, sent an email to several Trump campaign advisers to tell them about it. Grassley, R-Iowa, and Feinstein, D-Calif., wrote that other parties have produced documents concerning a “Russian backdoor overture and dinner invite” that Kushner forwarded but has not given to the committee. It is unclear what overture and dinner invite they are referring to. The senators are also asking Kushner for correspondence with former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who is a subject of an investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. Abbe Lowell, Kushner’s lawyer, said in a statement that Kushner has been responsive to all requests. “We provided the Judiciary Committee with all relevant documents that had to do with Mr. Kushner’s calls, contacts or meetings with Russians during the campaign and transition, which was the request,” Lowell said. “We also informed the committee we will be open to responding to any additional requests and that we will continue to work with White House Counsel for any responsive documents from after the inauguration.” The letter comes as the Judiciary Committee’s investigation has stalled amid partisan disputes. The new request is a sign that the panel is still moving forward with its probe into the Russian interference and whether Trump’s campaign was involved. In the letter to Kushner, the senators noted they had asked him to provide documents to, from, or copied to him “relating to” certain individuals of interest to investigators, but Kushner responded that no emails had been found in which those individuals were sent emails, received emails, or were copied on them. “If, as you suggest, Mr. Kushner was unaware of, for example, any attempts at Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, then presumably there would be few communications concerning many of the persons identified in our second request, and the corresponding burden of searching would be small,” the senators wrote. The committee also asked for the additional documents related to Flynn, […]
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The Trump administration announced a major gang sweep Thursday, with the arrest of more than 200 members of the violent street gang MS-13. Officials from the Department of Homeland Security and Justice Department said “Operation Raging Bull” was conducted across the United States from Oct. 8 to Nov. 11, and concluded with the arrest of 214 members of MS-13. “We will not rest until every member, associate and leader of MS-13 has been held accountable for their crimes,” said Thomas Horman, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. This was the second phase of a federal effort to target MS-13. The first phase involved 53 arrests in El Salvador in September after an 18-month investigation. In a statement, Attorney General Jeff Sessions said more than 1,200 gang members have been convicted so far this year, and about 4,000 have been arrested and charged. He said the arrests will help make the country safer “by taking MS-13 off our streets for good.” Of the most recent round-up, officials said, criminal charges included murder, aggravated robbery, racketeering, narcotics trafficking, firearms offenses and assault. About 60 of the arrests involved people illegally crossing the border as unaccompanied children, officials said. ICE officials announced that they added six MS-13 fugitives to its list of “most wanted” individuals — one wanted for homicide in Texas and five others wanted for attempted homicides of police officers in El Salvador. Earlier this year, President Donald Trump directed federal law enforcement officials to focus resources on combating transnational gangs, including MS-13. The gang originated in Los Angeles in the 1980s, then entrenched itself in Central America when its leaders were deported. (AP)
There is an error on the popular New York weekly “Z’man Krias Shema’ calendar designed for shuls. The author has requested Agudath Yisroel of America to notify all the New York Rabbonim to please cross out the verbiage currently on Sunday night, parshas vayetzei that advises people to start saying ‘Vsein Tal Umator’. The CORRECT TIME for starting Vsein Tal Umator this year is DECEMBER 4th – Monday night – parshas V’yeishev. (YWN World Headquarters – NYC)
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The House passed a nearly $1.5 trillion tax bill that differs from legislation approved by the Senate Finance Committee. A comparison of the Republican-written measures: —Personal income tax rates: House bill condenses current seven brackets to four: 12, 25, 35 and 39.6 percent. Senate measure retains seven brackets but changes them to 10, 12, 22, 24, 32, 35 and 38.5 percent. Under current law, top bracket is 39.6 percent. The Senate bill ends the reductions in 2026; they’re permanent in the House version. —Standard deduction: Used by about 70 percent of U.S. taxpayers, currently $6,350 for individuals and $12,700 for married couples. House, Senate bills both double those levels to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for couples. —Personal exemption: Both bills eliminate the current $4,050 personal exemption. —Tax credits: House raises per-child tax credit from $1,000 to $1,600, extends it to families earning up to $230,000. Creates a $300 tax credit for each adult in a family, which expires in 2023. Senate doubles per-child credit to $2,000. Both bills preserve the adoption tax credit, which House measure initially eliminated. —Home mortgage interest deduction: House limits the deduction to interest paid on the first $500,000 of the loan, for new home purchases. Senate retains the current $1 million ceiling. —Other deductions: House eliminates medical expense deductions; Senate preserves them. Senate bill ends deductions for moving expenses and tax preparation. —State and local taxes: House ends deductions for state and local income and sales taxes, allows it for up to $10,000 in property taxes. Senate eliminates entire deduction. —Alternative minimum tax: House, Senate both repeal the tax aimed at ensuring that higher-earning people pay at least some tax. —Inheritance tax: Currently, when someone dies the estate owes taxes on the value of assets transferred to heirs above $5.5 million for individuals, $11 million for couples. House bill initially doubles those limits and then repeals the entire tax after 2023. Senate doubles the limits but does not repeal the tax. —Individual insurance mandate: Senate bill repeals the requirement in President Barack Obama’s health care law that people pay a tax penalty if they don’t purchase health insurance. House bill does not. —Corporate taxes: House, Senate both cut current 35 percent rate to 20 percent, but Senate has one-year delay in dropping the rate. —Pass-through businesses: Millions of U.S. businesses “pass through” their income to individuals, who then pay personal income tax on those earnings, not corporate tax. House bill taxes many of them at 25 percent, plus creates a 9 percent rate for the first $75,000 in earnings for some smaller pass-throughs. Senate bill lets people deduct some of the earnings and then pay at their personal income tax rate on the remainder. —Businesses: House, Senate both expand write-offs allowed for companies that buy equipment. —Multinational corporations: House levies 10 percent tax on profits for overseas subsidiaries of U.S. corporations, and seeks to eliminate tax incentives that encourage some U.S. companies to move overseas. Senate ends tax advantages for firms moving overseas. (AP)
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Please be Mispallel for the Vishnitzer Rebbe of Monsey, who was taken to the hospital for on Thursday afternoon. The Rebbe has reportedly not been feeling well the past few days, and was complaining of general weakness. He was taken to Good Samaratain Hospital near Monsey, and transferred to Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan on Thursday night. The Rebbe, Hagaon HaRav Mordechai Hager Shlita, is the elder of the admorim today. The Rebbe, who is around 95-years-old, is known for his devotion to learning Torah: He learns around 18 hours a day and asks his Chasidim to study at least two hours every day. He has thousands of Chassidim around the globe. Please be Mispallel for Mordechai ben Margulia. (YWN World Headquarters – NYC)
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TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone pipeline leaked an estimated 210,000 gallons of oil onto agricultural land in northeastern South Dakota, the company and state regulators said Thursday, but state officials don’t believe the leak polluted any surface water bodies or drinking water systems. Crews shut down the pipeline Thursday morning and activated emergency response procedures after a drop in pressure was detected resulting from the leak south of a pump station in Marshall County, TransCanada said in a statement. The cause was being investigated. Discovery of the leak comes just days before Nebraska regulators are scheduled to announce their decision Monday whether to approve the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, an expansion that would boost the amount of oil TransCanada is now shipping through the existing line, which is known simply as Keystone. The expansion has faced fierce opposition from environmental groups, American Indian tribes and some landowners. Brian Walsh, an environmental scientist manager at the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said the state has sent a staff member to the site of the leak in a rural area near the border with North Dakota about 250 miles (402 kilometers) west of Minneapolis. “Ultimately, the cleanup responsibility lies with TransCanada, and they’ll have to clean it up in compliance with our state regulations,” Walsh said. TransCanada said in its statement that it expected the pipeline to remain shut down as the company responds to the leak. It did not offer a time estimate, and a spokesman didn’t immediately return a telephone message from The Associated Press. The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration didn’t immediately return an email requesting additional information from The AP. Since 2010, companies have reported 17 spills bigger than the leak announced Thursday, topping 210,000 gallons (5,000 barrels) of crude oil or refined petroleum products, according to U.S. Department of Transportation records. The existing Keystone pipeline transports crude from Canada to refineries in Illinois and Oklahoma, passing through the eastern Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri. It can handle nearly 600,000 barrels daily, or about 23 million gallons. TransCanada says on its website that the company has safely transported more than 1.5 billion barrels of oil, or about 63 billion gallons, through the system since operations began in 2010. President Donald Trump issued a federal permit for the expansion project in March even though it had been rejected by the Obama administration. The Keystone XL project would move crude oil from Alberta, Canada, across Montana and South Dakota to Nebraska, where it would connect with existing pipelines feeding refineries along the Gulf Coast. Kent Moeckly, a member of conservation and family agriculture group Dakota Rural Action, who opposed the Keystone pipeline, said he drove to land he owns near the site of the spill Thursday. “There’s a heck of a south wind up here today, and man it just stunk of crude oil,” said Moeckly, whose property is crossed by the pipeline. “A mile away, but I’ll tell you it was like it was next door.” A leak and spill in southeastern South Dakota in April 2016 prompted a weeklong shutdown of the pipeline. TransCanada estimated that just under 17,000 gallons (405 barrels) of oil spilled onto private land during that leak. Federal regulators said an “anomaly” on a weld on the pipeline was to […]
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The Trump administration said it will allow the importation of body parts from African elephants shot for sport, contending that encouraging wealthy big-game hunters to kill them will aid the vulnerable species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in a written notice issued Thursday that permitting elephants from Zimbabwe and Zambia to be brought back as trophies will raise money for conservation programs. A licensed two-week African elephant hunt can cost more than $50,000 per person, not including airfare, according to advertised rates. The change marks a shift in efforts to stop the importation of elephant tusks and hides, overriding a 2014 ban imposed by the Obama administration. The new policy applies to the remains of African elephants killed between January 2016 and December 2018. “Legal, well-regulated sport hunting as part of a sound management program can benefit certain species by providing incentives to local communities to conserve those species and by putting much-needed revenue back into conservation,” the agency said in a statement. Animal rights activists and environmental groups expressed skepticism Thursday that killing elephants could help save them. Wayne Pacelle, the president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States, said the policy change sends the wrong signal amid international efforts to curb illegal poaching. “What kind of message does it send to say to the world that poor Africans who are struggling to survive cannot kill elephants in order to use or sell their parts to make a living, but that it’s just fine for rich Americans to slay the beasts for their tusks to keep as trophies?” Pacelle asked. But the move was quickly praised by groups that champion big-game trophy hunting, including Safari Club International and the lobbying arm of the National Rifle Association. The two groups had sued to challenge the ban in court. Chris Cox, executive director of the National Rifle Association’s Institute for Legislative Action, called the action “a significant step forward in having hunting receive the recognition it deserves as a tool of sound wildlife management, which had been all but buried in the previous administration.” “By lifting the import ban on elephant trophies in Zimbabwe and Zambia the Trump administration underscored, once again, the importance of sound scientific wildlife management and regulated hunting to the survival and enhancement of game species in this country and worldwide,” Cox said. President Donald Trump’s two adult sons are avid trophy hunters. A photo of Donald Trump Jr. holding a knife and the bloody severed tail of an elephant he reportedly killed in Zimbabwe in 2011 has sparked outrage among animal rights activists. White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Thursday referred questions about the policy change to the Fish and Wildlife Service, saying no announcement had yet been “finalized.” The agency said the formal announcement of the policy will be published in the Federal Register on Friday. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who oversees the Fish and Wildlife Service, recently installed the arcade game “Big Buck Hunter Pro” in the employee cafeteria at the agency’s Washington headquarters, a move he said would promote wildlife and habitat conservation. In June, the department removed longstanding protections for grizzly bears near Yellowstone National Park, a step to potentially allow them to be hunted. The world’s largest land mammal, the African elephant has been classified […]
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The newest Bank of Israel notes, the 20 and 100 shekel denominations, will begin entering circulation this coming week. The first bill will be presented to President Reuven Rivlin. The Bank of Israel beginning on Thursday, be distributing the new 20 and 100 NIS bills through the banks of the commercial banks, ATMs and post office branches. On Wednesday, Bank of Israel Governor Karnit Flug will hand over the new notes to President Reuven Rivlin at an event to be held at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem. The new notes, like the new series, show advanced standards of security, innovation and accessibility, and incorporate a variety of security signs against counterfeiting. For the benefit of the blind and visually impaired population, the value of the notes in the new series is different in length (a difference of 7 mm between their values ), and they are combined with specific signs that allow them to be identified. The new 20 shekel bill bears the portrait of the poet Rachel (Bluestein), red color and length of 129 mm. The new 100 shekel bill bears the portrait of poet Leah Goldberg, orange color and length 143 mm. The Bank of Israel clarifies that the new series B bills of the New Shekel, which are still used by the public today, will continue to serve as legal tender for a number of years, and they will be circulating in parallel with the new notes. Since the exchange process is gradual, the public is not required to carry out any action at this stage to exchange the notes and when they are deposited with the Bank of Israel by the banking corporations, they will be gradually replaced by notes from the new series. Subsequently, the Bank of Israel will publish instructions regarding the exchange of notes from Series B. Over the last few months, the Bank of Israel has been working to inform and guide the main companies and entities that use cash in the economy regarding their upcoming income and the use of the new notes. In addition, the Bank of Israel has provided examples of notes to banks, importers of automated machinery and companies that operate these machines. The samples were submitted for the purpose of calibrating and adapting the machines to the new notes. Entities operating automated machines that have not yet completed the process of adjustment of the machines to the new bills are required to do so as soon as possible. (YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)
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New Jersey Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez exited his federal bribery trial after a mistrial Thursday with an eye on a 2018 re-election effort, but with him neither acquitted nor convicted, the cloud from the investigation remains. The mistrial gave Democrats hoping to hold onto the seat in next year’s midterm elections cause for optimism and spurred Republicans to keep the pressure up. The stakes are high given that Republicans have a narrow 52-48 Senate majority and head into the midterm election under a historically unpopular Republican president. Menendez, himself, was buoyed by the decision. “To those who were digging my political grave so they could jump into my seat, I know who you are and I won’t forget you,” Menendez said. A bi-partisan group of lawmakers on the Senate’s Ethics Committee said Thursday it would resume an inquiry into Menendez that started in 2012 and was deferred a year later because of the criminal investigation. “His trial shed light on serious accusations of violating the public’s trust as an elected official, as well as potential violations of the Senate’s Code of Conduct,” Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday while calling on the committee to investigate Menendez for possible violations of the public trust and the Senate code of conduct. The allegations that Menendez helped his friend and co-defendant Salomon Melgen with a Medicare billing dispute in exchange for luxury trips and campaign donations are likely to be included in attack ads by Republicans running against him. Half of New Jersey voters said in a poll released in September that Menendez did not deserve re-election and only 31 percent approved of the job he was doing. The Quinnipiac University poll surveyed 1,121 people and had a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points. While it dragged down his popularity, the more than four-year criminal investigation hasn’t stopped Menendez from raising money and keeping the support of elected Democrats in the state and beyond. Menendez has raised more than $6 million between a legal defense fund and for his 2018 re-election campaign since he was indicted in April 2015, including $2.5 million for his re-election from January through September of this year. Menendez’s senior political adviser Mike Soliman says the two-term incumbent will decide in the coming weeks whether to seek a third term, but that all signs are that he will run, including the fact that he continued to carry out his duties during the 11-week trial. Thursday’s news buoys Democrats, experts said, mostly because they can claim that prosecutors failed. “Menendez today emerges perhaps stronger than ever, with the ability to rail against a Justice Department that could not successfully make a case against him,” Montclair State University political science professor Brigid Harrison said. Former Democratic Sen. Bob Torricelli was among those planning for a possible vacancy, but said Thursday he will not run in a primary. “I think doing the preparation of defending the seat in case of a vacancy was always the right thing to do,” Torricelli said. “I congratulate Bob Menendez and I wish him well. He has, to date, survived an extraordinary ordeal.” While it remains to be seen whether Menendez will draw a serious primary challenge, New Jersey’s most influential Democrats on Thursday stood up for Menendez, as they have […]
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