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Exclusive: Has Inflation Peaked?

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Has Inflation Peaked?

#Inflation #Peaked

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) went up again in May. Over the last year, prices across the economy increased an average of 8.6 percent, up from 8.5 percent in April’s year-over-year reading. And yet, inflation might be starting to go down.

The reason for the paradox is that CPI, which tracks price changes in a hypothetical basket of goods, can’t tell the difference between price increases due to monetary inflation and price increases due to other causes, such as supply shocks, regulations, or changes in supply and demand. Inflation is what happens when the money supply grows faster than real economic output. The rule of thumb is that if it isn’t monetary, it isn’t inflation.

May’s CPI increase was driven by large increases in energy (34.6 percent), food (10.1 percent), and vehicles (12.6 percent for new ones, 16.1 percent for used cars and trucks). Much of those price increases have little to do with inflation.

Energy prices, for example, spiked due to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. They are staying high because bad policies are making it difficult to adapt, such as the 1920 Jones Act shipping law and restrictions on drilling and fracking. Supply chain difficulties, many made worse by trade barriers and labor regulations, are affecting both food and auto prices. Vehicles are being hit with a triple whammy, with steel tariffs and semiconductor shortages further raising prices. Even used cars are being affected. People priced out of new cars are crowding into the used market instead, driving up demand, and thus prices, there.

None of those price increases are from inflation, because none of them involve the amount of money in circulation. Yet, they still show up in CPI. Fortunately, the Bureau of Labor Statistics also calculates a Core CPI. This is identical to regular CPI, but with food and energy removed from the basket of goods. The thinking is that volatile food and energy prices contain a lot of noninflation noise. Getting rid of them gives a clearer picture of monetary inflation. 

Core CPI went down slightly last month, from 6.0 percent year-over-year to 5.9 percent, reflecting the inflation-is-monetary phenomenon.

When COVID hit, the Federal Reserve tried to stimulate the economy with a massive bond-buying program. Its balance sheet more than doubled over the next two years, from $4.1 trillion to $8.9 trillion, which increased the M2 money supply measure by a third. The Fed’s actions have lag times ranging from six to 18 months, which is why inflation started increasing last year. Now, a little more than two years later, we are seeing a slight tick down in Core CPI as that torrid monetary growth begins to slow. When the Fed realized it overshot the mark, it eventually stopped the bond-buying program and began increasing the federal funds rate— though this was too little, too late to tame inflation in 2022.

As a result, high inflation should last at least into next year. Republicans are trying to blame President Joe Biden. Democrats are trying to blame everything from Putin to corporate greed. Both are misguided, which is leading them to make misguided policy proposals that threaten to make things worse. Inflation is not a Red Team vs. Blue Team issue; it is a monetary issue. The Federal Reserve started this fire, and they have barely begun putting it out.

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Exclusive: This Innocent Woman's House Was Destroyed by a SWAT Team. A Jury Says She's Owed $60,000. – TalkOfNews.com

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This Innocent Woman's House Was Destroyed by a SWAT Team. A Jury Says She's Owed $60,000.

#Innocent #Woman039s #House #Destroyed #SWAT #Team #Jury #She039s #Owed

When Vicki Baker cleared out her home in McKinney, Texas, in 2020, she filled two 40-foot dumpsters with her belongings. It wasn’t the way she’d pictured emptying the house as she prepared to begin retirement in Montana. But there was little else to be done with her tear-gas stained items after a SWAT team careened through her fence, detonated explosives to blow her garage door off its hinges, smashed several windows, and drove a BearCat armored vehicle through her front door to apprehend a fugitive that had barricaded himself inside.

A federal jury last week decided that Baker is entitled to $59,656.59 for the trouble. It’s both a controversial and surprising decision. Normally, people like Baker get nothing.

In July 2020, Wesley Little arrived at Baker’s house with a 15-year-old girl he’d kidnapped. Little had previously worked for Baker as a handyman, though she had fired him about a year and a half earlier after her daughter, Deanna Cook, expressed that something may be awry. Cook answered Little at the door that day; having seen him on recent news reports, she left the premises and called the police.

The girl was released unharmed. But Little refused to exit the home, so a SWAT team arrived and began to tear the house down around him in a process known as “shock and awe.”

They then kindly left Baker with the bill. “I’ve lost everything,” she told me in March 2021. “I’ve lost my chance to sell my house. I’ve lost my chance to retire without fear of how I’m going to make my regular bills.” Those bills include treatment for stage 3 breast cancer.

Yet the only thing perhaps more absurd than a jury having to force the government’s hand in recompensing her is that Baker almost did not have the privilege to bring her case before one. Federal courts in similar cases have ruled that the government can usurp “police powers” to destroy your property and avoid having to pay it back under the Takings Clause of the 5th Amendment, which is supposed to provide a remedy for such circumstances.

After the ordeal, Baker sought that remedy through her home insurance, which stipulated that they are not on the hook if it is the government’s fault. And though the government didn’t deny being at fault, per se, they did deny that Baker was a victim, sending her on her way with a ravaged home, thousands of dollars in destroyed personal possessions, and a dog that went deaf and blind from the chaos that July day.

In November of last year, Baker’s luck began to turn. A federal judge denied the city of McKinney’s motion to dismiss her case. In April, that same jurist, Judge Amos L. Mazzant III of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, described the interpretation of the law barring Baker from suing as “untenable.” And last week, the jury handed down their ruling. The city may appeal, which will delay any payout.

In coming to his decision, Mazzant invoked another unfortunate case: that of the Lech family, who had their $580,000 home ruined by a SWAT team as they pursued an unrelated shoplifter who broke in. Greenwood Village, Colorado, did more for them than McKinney would do for Baker, forking over all of $5,000. A federal court ruled that the family could not sue, and the Supreme Court declined to take up the case.

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“Even though a number of federal courts have gone the wrong way on this issue, they’ve done so with very cursory analysis,” says Jeffrey Redfern, an attorney at the Institute for Justice, the public interest law firm shepherding Baker’s case. He says this new ruling is different and should “be the one that everyone is looking at” as similar situations continue to pop up.

It does not set a precedent, however. “In this case, we put the city claims agent on the stand,” notes Redfern, “and she said, ‘Yep, I denied the claim, and I deny every claim like this, and if this happened tomorrow I would deny it again.’” Unfortunately for people like Vicki Baker, this will continue to be a familiar story.

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Exclusive: 1/6 Committee Hits Spiraling Trump Again By Subpoenaing Pat Cipollone – TalkOfNews.com

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1/6 Committee Hits Spiraling Trump Again By Subpoenaing Pat Cipollone

#Committee #Hits #Spiraling #Trump #Subpoenaing #Pat #Cipollone

The 1/6 Committee has subpoenaed one of the people who knows the intimate details of Trump’s coup plot, former White House Counsel Pat Cipollone.

The AP reported:

The House committee investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection issued a subpoena Wednesday to former White House counsel Pat Cipollone, who has been linked to meetings in which lawyers debated strategies to overturn former President Donald Trump’s election loss.

The Committee said that it required Cipollone’s testimony after obtaining other evidence about which he was “uniquely positioned to testify.”

Pat Cipollone Can Testify To The Plot To Overturn The Election

According to Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony, Cipollone has intimate and wide-ranging details about the plot to overturn the election. Hutchinson testified that Cipollone warned that if Trump went to the Capitol, they would be charged with every crime imaginable.

Trump was already falling apart after Hutchinson’s testimony, and he could be in for a double whammy if his former White House Counsel testifies. The White House Counsel is not a personal lawyer to the president but represents the institutional interests of the Executive Branch.

If Cipollone testifies, it will be the bombshell that will level the rubble that was already smoldering after Cassidy Hutchinson’s testimony.

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Exclusive: How blue cities in red states are resisting abortion bans – TalkOfNews.com

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How blue cities in red states are resisting abortion bans

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Mayors of blue cities in red states are leading a local charge to push back on laws criminalizing abortion now that the Supreme Court has overturned Roe v. Wade. But there’s only so much they can do to shield abortion providers from prosecution and improve access to the procedure in states that have made it illegal or will soon do so.

“I do anticipate that there’s more that blue cities and red states can do to fight back against this government overreach and stripping women of their fundamental rights,” Cincinnati, Ohio, Mayor Aftab Pureval told Vox.

Cities can’t make abortion legal in states that have outlawed it. They can take steps to decriminalize the procedure and potentially limit any adverse consequences that pregnant people who have abortions and abortion providers might face. But they can’t give abortion seekers what they need the most: access to the procedure.

How cities in Texas, Ohio, and Arizona are trying to fight abortion bans

In the wake of Dobbs v. Jackson, the case that overturned Roe, cities in Texas, Ohio, and Arizona have begun working within these limits by taking steps to ensure that local law enforcement resources don’t go toward targeting abortion-related crimes.

Of those states, Texas is the only one with a “trigger law” outlawing abortion immediately after the overturn of Roe. That law briefly went into effect following the Supreme Court ruling before it was temporarily blocked by a state court earlier this week. Ohio’s ban on abortions after six weeks of pregnancy went into effect on Friday, and the state is expected to ban all abortions later this year. And Arizona has an abortion ban on the books that predates the Supreme Court’s 1973 decision in Roe.

Austin, Texas, Mayor Steve Adler responded to Dobbs by co-sponsoring a resolution — drafted in the weeks before the Court’s decision and that could be voted on as early as this week — that would update city policy to deprioritize the investigation or enforcement of any charges related to pregnancy and abortion. It would also prevent the use of city funding for information sharing, data collection, and surveillance related to abortion services and other reproductive health decisions. There are some exceptions for when “coercion or force” is used against a pregnant person or in cases involving criminal negligence related to a pregnant person’s health.

Pureval has commissioned a report on potential opportunities to decriminalize abortion in Cincinnati and to prioritize law enforcement resources to protect the health and safety of pregnant people and medical care providers. Additionally, he’s reached out to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot for opportunities to collaborate, anticipating that Illinois will be the closest state where Ohioans can get abortions, he told Vox.

“We are looking at ways to decriminalize abortion in our city or, at the very least, make it clear that our priorities for our public safety dollars, namely our Cincinnati Police Department, are for issues like gun violence and other violent crimes in our communities, and not invading our local hospitals and investigating our doctors and women in our city,” he said.

Phoenix, Arizona, Mayor Kate Gallego told Axios that she has “no interest in criminalizing health care providers” and is working with the city’s attorneys to find the “most effective ways to protect our residents and women’s health care.” And the Tucson, Arizona, City Council voted earlier this month to order its police department not to arrest people violating state anti-abortion laws.

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Other cities are investigating similar measures. Cities in North Carolina, for example, which has a pre-Roe abortion ban on the books that has not yet been enforced, have also taken steps to protect abortion providers and pregnant people.

Durham passed a resolution in March declaring the city a “sexual and reproductive health care safe zone, ensuring the people’s right to reproductive freedom, and naming these rights as fundamental.” The city council in Raleigh is weighing similar actions, including requests from abortion rights advocates to protect abortion clinics in the city with buffer zones and noise ordinances and block the Raleigh Police Department from collecting data stored on menstrual cycle tracking apps.

It’s not yet clear, however, whether any of these measures will make a meaningful difference in preventing the prosecution of abortions.

The limits to what blue cities in red states can do to protect abortion rights

There are still ways that state law enforcement agencies can get around blue cities’ attempts to thwart the enforcement of abortion bans. The state attorney general’s office and district attorneys can still seek civil and criminal penalties against people who violate state abortion laws in blue cities. Abortion providers are also bound by the rules of state medical boards, which could revoke or suspend the licenses of providers they see as defying state regulations.

States with bans on the books are debating how strictly they intend to enforce them. Texas is going as far as encouraging surveillance of women and prosecuting doctors. Other states, like South Dakota, have announced that they won’t file criminal charges against people who get abortions.

But state resources to enforce the bans might be limited if cities won’t cooperate. In some ways, it’s similar to what’s been happening with marijuana legalization. While it might still be illegal in places like Texas to possess any amount of marijuana, cities like Austin have agreed not to bring charges against someone who possesses a misdemeanor amount of the drug, meaning that it’s unlikely they’d face legal repercussions unless state law enforcement somehow got involved.

Again, none of these cities’ efforts will increase in-state access. But there are things many mayors can do to try to make abortion more accessible. Cincinnati is trying one of these, by repealing a decades-old ordinance that prevented the city health plan from covering abortions, meaning the procedure would now be covered. Anyone taking advantage of that benefit would need to leave the state to do so, but Pureval said that the city would reimburse them for the costs of traveling.

“We also hope that this will encourage other large employers in our city, including Kroger, which already has announced that they’ll be doing something similar from a travel reimbursement perspective,” Pureval said.

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