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Catalytic converter theft crackdown: Colorado lawmakers aim to slow surge, provide relief to victims

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Catalytic converter theft crackdown: Colorado lawmakers aim to slow surge, provide relief to victims

A few years ago, you might not have known where the catalytic converter on your car was located, let alone what it did. But now, with increasing thefts of these emission-control devices across the country, people have become more aware of them — and their value.

In 2019, Aurora police recorded eight cases of catalytic converter thefts. In 2020, the agency had 68 thefts. And in 2021, that number skyrocketed to 646, according to Aurora Police Department data.

Denver has seen a similar rise with 14 thefts reported in 2019 to 268 in 2020. In 2021, that number rose again to 2,671, according to Denver Police Department data.

It’s an issue that has prompted auto body shops to offer products that are intended to protect catalytic converters. AAA Colorado announced last summer that it would offer a program to etch serial numbers onto the devices that would be logged into a law enforcement database, and the cars would have warning stickers on them about it. And now, Colorado lawmakers are trying to do something about the problem through the newly-introduced SB22-009.

The bill would make it illegal after Oct. 31 to install, sell, offer to sell or advertise any used, recycled or salvaged catalytic converters unless the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment certifies them for installation and sale. It would also add catalytic converters and metals from those converters to existing Colorado criminal law and require auto parts recyclers to make sure any catalytic converters they acquire have not been stolen. The increased regulation could make it easier to prosecute “chop shops” for selling them.

Sen. Dennis Hisey, a Fountain Republican and one of the bill’s sponsors, said the high rate of theft is happening not only in larger cities but smaller rural communities like those in his district, with larger SUVs and trucks often being the targets because they’re elevated and make the devices easier to remove.

“Everybody knows somebody that’s had this happen even if they’re not aware of it just yet,” he said.

Hisey hopes the bill, if passed, will not only make it easier for consumers to replace catalytic converters when stolen — with the new certification process for aftermarket catalytic converters — but also make it more difficult to recycle stolen catalytic converters and metals.

The reason there needs to be a new certification process is because Colorado adopted California-style emission vehicle standards in 2018 to help reduce greenhouse gas output and that included regulations for catalytic converters. State law requires that vehicles have catalytic converters from the manufacturer or a new aftermarket device that meets those emissions standards. Hisey said the bill wouldn’t require the emission standards to change but to find a way to make it easier to get the aftermarket catalytic converters so consumers aren’t faced with bills for thousands of dollars.

Sponsor Sen. Joann Ginal, a Fort Collins Democrat, said in a statement that the increase in these thefts across the nation and in Colorado leads to cars becoming inoperable and Coloradans having to deal with high costs and lack of availability for replacement.

“This bill seeks to alleviate this problem while reducing crime rates in our communities,” she said.

Last May, Carrie Packard, development director for the nonprofit Stout Street Foundation, saw just how easy it was for someone to steal a catalytic converter. Six devices, and a partial seventh, were stolen from trucks in her work’s parking lot during daylight in just three minutes. The two people responsible parked a van in front of the building’s security camera and managed to remove the catalytic converters quickly before driving off.

Packard called it a “crime of opportunity,” adding that “the irony wasn’t lost on us that they were probably doing it to feed an addiction, so they stole from a recovery community.” Since then, the nonprofit has upped its security measures, but Packard estimates that the loss from the catalytic converters totaled about $20,000.

They relied on those trucks to transport residents and collect donations. When staff members went to replace them, they found catalytic converters were on back order, but some Colorado businesses stepped in and donated services.

Packard wonders how it would be possible to reduce these types of thefts that she’s also hearing happening at other nonprofits because “there’s always going to be a black market for that precious heavy metal somewhere.” But she said, “Hopefully it does make it a little more difficult and reduces the number of steps off the street, but I don’t know how you make it better,” Packard said of the bill.

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Biden invokes Defense Production Act for formula shortage

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Biden invokes Defense Production Act for formula shortage

By ZEKE MILLER and KEVIN FREKING

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Wednesday invoked the Defense Production Act to speed production of infant formula and authorized flights to import supply from overseas, as he faces mounting political pressure over a domestic shortage caused by the safety-related closure of the country’s largest formula manufacturing plant.

The Defense Production Act order requires suppliers of formula manufacturers to fulfill orders from those companies before other customers, in an effort to eliminate production bottlenecks. Biden is also authorizing the Defense Department to use commercial aircraft to fly formula supplies that meet federal standards from overseas to the U.S., in what the White House is calling “Operation Fly Formula.”

Supplies of baby formula across the country have been severely curtailed in recent weeks after a February recall by Abbott Nutrition exacerbated ongoing supply chain disruptions among formula makers, leaving fewer options on store shelves and increasingly anxious parents struggling to find nutrition for their children.

The announcement comes two days after the Food and Drug Administration said it was streamlining its review process to make it easier for foreign manufacturers to begin shipping more formula into the U.S.

In a letter Wednesday to the Department of Health and Human Services and the Department of Agriculture, Biden directed the agencies to work with the Pentagon to identify overseas supply of formula that meets U.S. standards over the next week, so that chartered Defense Department flights can swiftly fly it to the U.S.

“Imports of baby formula will serve as a bridge to this ramped-up production,” Biden wrote.

Regulators said Monday that they’d reached a deal to allow Abbott Nutrition to restart its Sturgis, Michigan, plant, the nation’s largest formula plant, which has been closed since February due to contamination issues. The company must overhaul its safety protocols and procedures before resuming production.

After getting the FDA’s OK, Abbott said it will take eight to ten weeks before new products begin arriving in stores. The company didn’t set a timeline to restart manufacturing.

The White House actions come as the Democratic-led House is expected to approve two bills Wednesday addressing the baby formula shortage as lawmakers look to show progress on what has become a frightening development for many families.

One bill expected to have wide bipartisan support would give the secretary of the Department of Agriculture the ability to issue a narrow set of waivers in the event of a supply disruption. The goal is to give participants in an assistance program commonly known as WIC the ability to use vouchers to purchase formula from any producer rather than be limited to one brand that may be unavailable. The WIC program accounts for about half of infant formula sales in the U.S.

The other measure, a $28 million emergency spending bill to boost resources at the Food and Drug Administration, is expected to have less bipartisan support and it’s unclear whether the Senate will take it up.

“This is throwing more FDA staff at a problem that needs more production, not more FDA staff,” said Rep. Bill Huizenga, R-Mich.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro, the Democratic chair of the House Appropriations Committee, said the money would increase FDA staffing to boost inspections of domestic and international suppliers, prevent fraudulent products from getting onto store shelves and acquire better data on the marketplace.

Abbott’s voluntary recall was triggered by four illnesses reported in babies who had consumed powdered formula from its plant. All four infants were hospitalized with a rare type of bacterial infection and two died.

After a six-week inspection, FDA investigators published a list of problems in March, including lax safety and sanitary standards and a history of bacterial contamination in several parts of the plant. Under Monday’s agreement, Abbott must regularly consult with an outside safety expert to restart and maintain production.

Chicago-based Abbott has emphasized that its products have not been directly linked to the bacterial infections in children. Samples of the bacteria found at its plant did not match the strains collected from two babies by federal investigators.

But FDA officials pushed back on that reasoning Monday on a call with reporters — their first time publicly addressing the company’s argument. FDA staffers noted they were unable to collect bacterial strains from two of the four patients, limiting their chances of finding a match.

“Right from the get-go we were limited in our ability to determine with a causal link whether the product was linked to these four cases because we only had sequences on two,” FDA’s food director Susan Mayne said.

Fixing the violations uncovered at Abbott’s plant will take time, according to former FDA officials. Companies need to exhaustively clean the facility and equipment, retrain staff, repeatedly test and document there is no contamination.

As part of the FDA’s new import policy, regulators said companies would need to provide documentation of their factory’s inspections.

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The Offer On Paramount+ Episodes 6: May 19 Release, Time And Plot Speculations

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The Offer On Paramount+ Episodes 6: May 19 Release, Time And Plot Speculations

The offer episode 6 breaths of air on May 19 on Paramount+. The show is a limited miniseries about the making and creation of the classic and the biggest gangster film series of all the Godfathers by the legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola.

The Godfather is a hit movie about the Italian-American New York Mafia of the time and went ahead to achieve enormous success with multiple Academy Awards and golden globes, among many-many others.

This monumental movie series was also a paramount production. The offer majorly falls under the genres of biography and drama. There is a lot of speculation and build-up for episode 6 of the series.

When And Where To Watch It

The offer will premier on Paramount+ anytime after 3 AM Eastern on May 19, 2022. its IMDb rating is 8.5.

1652912744 302 The Offer On Paramount Episodes 6 May 19 Release Time

About The Miniseries

The series follows Albert S. Ruddy, a Canadian writer, producer, behind-the-scenes developer, and maker of The Godfather. The movie series is taken from the 1969 book of the same name by Mario Puzo, a New York bestseller of its time.

Puzo did the adoption himself and the director Francis Ford Coppola and others. The series has real-life characters who made the movie happen. It includes Ruddy, Robert Evans (the paramount studio chief), Francis Ford Coppola (the director), Charles Bluhdorn (owner of Paramount), Barry Lapidus (not a real person; a rival), Joe Colombo (the head of the Colombo crime family; one of the five families of the Italian-American Mafia), Bettye McCartt (an American talent manager), Mario Puzo (the writer), among various others.

The series follows these characters and their struggle to create the movie; Ruddy and his determination and vision make him a wonderful protagonist to watch. He, along with Evans,

Coppola and Puzo put up with just about everything to make this happen. The process was long, and there were ups and downs. With casting struggles to literal threats to life from the Italian-American crime syndicate. Ruddy, along with his wife Francoise, was even shot at, other studios tried to buy the rights, among many others, yet they still succeeded in creating the movie. There were a lot of times when they rarely made the movie, but it was these brave and talented people who made it happen, and this series is their story and their struggle created masterfully by Micheal L. Tolkien.

What Could Happen In Episode 6?

Since Ruddy is getting a lot of attention and publicity with the Italian-American Mafia, it is bound to unsettle Paramount, Not only that, but Joseph “Crazy Joe” Gallo would send some message to Ruddy. This is not Ruddy’s only problem, as Congressman Mario Biaggi creates problems. And it is about time for the film shooting to start.

Who Is All To Expect?

All of the main characters, including the recurring characters, appear for this episode. The series has a gigantic star cast, with about twenty-eight members in almost every episode.

The post The Offer On Paramount+ Episodes 6: May 19 Release, Time And Plot Speculations appeared first on Gizmo Story.

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Eduardo Escobar showing signs of heating up; Brandon Nimmo dodges an injury

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Eduardo Escobar showing signs of heating up; Brandon Nimmo dodges an injury

Eduardo Escobar watched a Steven Matz changeup sail into the center of the zone on Tuesday at Citi Field. His bat remained frozen just above his shoulder. Escobar was behind 0-1 in the count, but he didn’t waste time attacking the next pitch. Another changeup from Matz, but this time it moved outside. Escobar got to it before the catcher could, and he watched the ball glide past the infield dirt, then beyond the outfielders, before it finally landed in the opposing bullpen.

Escobar lifted his right arm in the air as the ball touched down. It was only Escobar’s second home run of the season, but his arm was raised because the monkey was off his back. Escobar went 3-for-7 with a home run, an RBI and a walk across both games of Tuesday’s doubleheader with the St. Louis Cardinals.

“I felt good just because I’ve been working a lot with the hitting coaches,” Escobar said of what was going through his mind after that homer. “To have that moment after the tough times that I’ve been having this season, it really felt good. I’m just trying to go out there every day to improve and try to help the team win and that’s what I’m going to try to do every single day.”

Maybe all Escobar needed to heat up at the plate was to face Matz. The third baseman is 5-for-10 with two home runs in his career against the former Mets southpaw. But Escobar is hoping the adjustments he’s made at the plate will make a long term impact against the rest of the league.

Escobar has been working with hitting coaches Eric Chavez and Jeremy Barnes in an effort to return to the approach that worked for him earlier in the season. In his first 20 games of 2022, Escobar hit .268 with a .839 OPS and an impressive 14 walks. The free passes Escobar received in those first 20 games were a product of his patience, which was a different, more successful approach than what we’ve seen from him lately. Entering Tuesday, Escobar posted an abysmal .118/.196/.177 slashline with only five walks in 13 games in May.

He has been chasing pitches out of the zone instead of doing what he knew would work, getting out in front of pitches like he did for Tuesday’s home run. Even Matz, who hardly shows any emotion on the mound, scrunched up his nose and stared into the opposing bullpen, looking completely baffled as to how his outside changeup traveled 391 feet to center for a home run.

Escobar is at his best when he’s baffling opposing pitchers, something he did very well for the Diamondbacks and Brewers last season, when cranked 28 home runs in 146 games. In 2019, Escobar had 35 homers with 10 triples, the best in the major leagues.

His teammates and skipper are anxiously waiting for that Escobar to show up, the one fans saw a glimpse of in April during his hot start. Those that know Escobar best on this team are not concerned about his May slump. His work, attention to detail and passion for his craft have all led Buck Showalter to believe it’s just a matter of time before he goes on a tear.

“He’s been working so hard,” the Mets manager said of Escobar. “That’s why it’s tough. Everybody’s got a little spot, just about everybody’s got an area where they can pitch to. And you go through periods where they’re getting the ball there in the right sequences. I think he is first or second in incorrect calls against, in baseball. Balls and strikes. That’s a lot. Do you feel like he’s been arguing a lot of balls and strikes? It’s been tough on him. He’s wore it. It makes you want to support him even more.”

SIGH OF RELIEF

Brandon Nimmo returned to the Mets lineup on Wednesday against the Cardinals, leading off and playing center as usual, and with the quad contusion he sustained in Game 2 of Tuesday’s doubleheader mostly behind him. The center fielder tested out his quad hours before first pitch on Wednesday and said he was surprised with how good he felt, given how much pain he was in just the night before.

“If you’re not sure how that feels, go home tonight, take a hammer and hit it off your quad,” Showalter said of Nimmo’s contusion.

Nimmo fouled a ball off his quad during a seventh-inning at-bat on Tuesday, and immediately he hopped out from the box in obvious pain. Nimmo returned to the at-bat, though, and sprinted down the line on a routine grounder to shortstop. Once he reached the base, Nimmo limped off the bag and hunched over with his hands on his knees. He did not return to the field, but evidently the rest and ice he applied after the game helped him bounce back to the starting lineup on Wednesday.

MARTE COMING BACK

Starling Marte (bereavement list) is expected to rejoin the Mets on Thursday, but it’s unclear if he will be activated for their series finale against the Cardinals at Citi Field. It’s possible the Mets will wait until Friday, for their opener at Denver, to activate Marte and make a roster move.

Marte’s grandmother died, suddenly, earlier this week and he flew back to Dominican Republic to be with his family. His grandmother raised Marte after his mom died when he was just 10 years old. Wednesday was also the two-year anniversary of the death of his wife, who died from an unexpected heart attack in 2020.

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