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Dem says Manchin blocking energy, tax provisions in big bill

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Dem Says Manchin Blocking Energy, Tax Provisions In Big Bill

By ALAN FRAM

WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Joe Manchin has said he’ll oppose an economic measure he’s been negotiating with Democratic leaders if it includes climate or energy provisions or higher taxes on the rich and corporations, a Democrat briefed on the conversations said late Thursday, delivering a stunning blow to one of the party’s top election-year priorities.

The official said Manchin told Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., on Thursday that he will only support a new measure if it is limited to curbing pharmaceutical prices and extending federal subsidies for buying health care coverage. Manchin abruptly derailed his party’s bigger and wider-ranging social and environment package last December after months of negotiations and after the measure had already passed the House.

Manchin’s demands leave the future of the latest measure unclear, seemingly upending the hopes of President Joe Biden and Democratic leaders’ for a more sweeping package they could push through Congress by August. That would have let them show Democratic voters that they were addressing a range of party priorities like curbing climate change and taxing the rich and draw a contrast with Republicans, who are expected to oppose the legislation unanimously.

However, containing the costs of prescription drugs and extending subsidies for people buying health insurance under former President Barack Obama’s 2010 health care law are also top Democratic priorities. Manchin’s stance puts his party in the position of having to decide whether it should reluctantly declare victory by solely addressing some of its health care goals, as opposed to demanding more but potentially ending up with nothing.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated that provisions Democrats have already agreed to curbing prescription drug costs — like letting Medicare negotiate prices for pharmaceuticals it buys — would save $288 billion over the coming decade.

That would be more than enough to pay for extending government subsidies for people who buy private healthcare coverage, assistance that expires in January.

Manchin spokesperson Sam Runyon issued a statement that reiterated the senator’s assertions that he did not want any measure that emerged to worsen inflation. The government reported this week that consumer costs last month grew by an annual level of 9.1%, the highest figure in four decades.

“Political headlines are of no value to the millions of Americans struggling to afford groceries and gas as inflation soars to 9.1%,” Runyon said. “Senator Manchin believes it’s time for leaders to put political agendas aside, reevaluate and adjust to the economic realities the country faces to avoid taking steps that add fuel to the inflation fire.”

Manchin signaled unease with the negotiations on Wednesday, saying the latest inflation figures left him feeling “more cautious than I’ve ever been” about agreeing to a package that could fuel further price increases.

The official who described the talks was not authorized to discuss the negotiations publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Biden and congressional Democrats have been hoping to enact a roughly $1 trillion version of the $2 trillion bill that Manchin killed in December and tout it as an achievement before the November elections. Republicans, who hope to capture House and Senate control in the fall voting, say the new measure would worsen inflation by boosting spending and raising taxes.

Manchin, one of Congress’ more centrist Democrats, has enormous leverage, much to the dismay of many in his party. Using special budget rules, Democrats can push a package through the 50-50 Senate if they are solidly united, along with Vice President Kamala Harris’ tie-breaking vote.

They also control the House, though narrowly. Recent grumbling from some moderates there about raising taxes — an easy campaign-season target for Republicans — has raised questions about the fate of tax boost proposals in that chamber.

Top Democrats have wanted to reach agreement and approve the measure before Congress begins its August recess. Progress on major legislation is much harder in the autumn of election years, when every vote can become the target of a barrage of campaign attack ads.

White House spokesman Nick Conger declined to comment on Manchin’s position.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., called Democrats’ legislation “our last chance to prevent the most catastrophic-and costly-effects of climate change.” But he said the party must “salvage as much of this package as possible. The expression that failure is not an option is overused, but failure really is not an option here.”

“It seems odd that Sen. Manchin would choose as his legacy to be the one man who single-handedly doomed humanity. But we can’t throw in the towel on the planet,” said John Podesta, founder of the liberal Center for American Progress, who said Biden should use his executive powers to take climate action.

Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, called it “outrageous that Manchin and the Republican Party have killed climate legislation this Congress,” and called on Biden to take action.

In talks with Schumer that have lasted months, Manchin had previously expressed support for energy and climate language and for raising levies on high-earners and big companies.

Just this week, two Democratic aides said bargainers were planning to include a proposal to extend the solvency of Medicare for three more years by applying an existing 3.8% tax on high earners to many people who earn income from some tax-advantaged business entities. Asked about that, Runyon said Manchin has always supported keeping Medicare solvent and reducing pharmaceutical costs.

According to the official, Schumer had told Manchin during their talks that he would support using half of the overall measure for deficit reduction, a Manchin demand.

Schumer also said he would back setting aside $375 billion for climate and energy provisions, the official said. He also told Manchin he would back provisions aimed at helping domestic energy drilling — the West Virginian is a strong supporter of coal and domestic oil production — and would not include tax credits for electric vehicles, which Manchin had largely opposed.

The official said that even so, the resulting measure would have included clean energy tax credits and trimmed carbon emissions by almost 40 percent by 2030, according to Democratic estimates.

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AP reporter Matthew Daly contributed to this report.

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Biden signs ‘burn pits’ help for vets, a personal win, too

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Biden Signs ‘Burn Pits’ Help For Vets, A Personal Win, Too

By CHRIS MEGERIAN

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden, whose elder son Beau died of cancer years after deploying to Iraq, signed legislation on Wednesday expanding federal health care services for millions of veterans who served at military bases where toxic smoke billowed from huge “burn pits.”

“We owe you,” Biden said. “You’re the backbone. You’re the steel. You’re the sinew. You’re the very fiber that makes this country what it is.”

The law, which Biden described as long overdue, caps a years-long battle to ensure treatment for chronic illnesses that veterans have blamed on burn pits, which were used to dispose of chemicals, tires, plastics, medical equipment and human waste on military bases. Estimates of affected troops run to 3 million or more.

“So many of you here today remind us that we have fought for this for so many years,” he said during an emotional White House ceremony that reflected the struggles of military families — and the president’s personal experience.

Biden was introduced by Danielle Robinson, the widow of Sgt. 1st Class Heath Robinson, who died of cancer two years ago. The legislation is named for him.

She described her late husband as “a soldier as strong as an ox” but also “the ultimate cuddler” for his daughter Brielle, who stood to her mother’s side clutching a stuffed figurine wearing military camouflage.

“Ours is just one story,” Danielle Robinson said. “So many military families have had to fight this terrible emotional battle. So many veterans are still battling burn pit illnesses today.”

After the Robinsons took their seats for the president’s remarks, Biden addressed Brielle directly.

“I know you miss your daddy. But he’s with you all the time,” he said. “He’s inside you. He’s going to whisper in your ear when you have hard decisions to make.”

Then he pointed out that Brielle was sitting next to his grandson, the son of Beau Biden.

“His daddy lost to the same burn pits,” Biden said. “He knows what you’re going through.”

It was the most direct link the president has publicly drawn between Beau’s fatal brain cancer and burn pits. The president made addressing the problem one of his priorities during his State of the Union address in March.

“I was going to get this done, come hell or high water,” he said Wednesday.

Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., who chairs the Senate Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, said Biden was a driving force behind the legislation, which passed last week.

“He was continually pushing because whether Beau died of this or not, I think Joe thinks that it had some impact, and so he wanted this fixed,” Tester said. “And because he thinks it was the right thing to do. So different president, different set of priorities, this would have probably never happened.”

Burn pits were used in Iraq and Afghanistan to dispose of chemicals, cans, tires, plastics, medical equipment and human waste. However, 70% of disability claims involving exposure to the pits were denied by the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“For too long, too many veterans who got sick while fighting for our country had to fight for their care here at home,” VA Secretary Denis McDonough said at Wednesday’s ceremony.

The legislation will direct officials to assume that certain respiratory illnesses and cancers were related to burn pit exposure, helping veterans get disability payments without having to prove the illness was the result of their service.

“Veterans who have been sickened to the point of being unable to work, unable to take care of their families, won’t have to spend that time fighting the government to get the healthcare they earned,” said Jeremy Butler, head of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “This is monumental.”

Butler attended the ceremony, along with Le Roy and Rosie Torres, husband and wife advocates for veterans health care who started the organization Burn Pits 360. Le Roy developed constrictive bronchitis after serving in Iraq, making breathing difficult.

Although the provision involving burn pits has garnered the most attention, other health care services will be expanded as well.

Veterans who have served since the Sept. 11 attacks will have a decade to sign up for VA health care, double the current five years.

And there’s more help for veterans from the Vietnam War. The legislation adds hypertension to list of ailments that are presumed to be caused by exposure to Agent Orange, a herbicide used by the U.S. military to clear vegetation.

In addition, veterans who served during the war in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Guam, American Samoa and Johnston Atoll will also be considered to have been exposed to the chemical.

The legislation is considered to be the largest expansion of veterans health care in more than three decades, but it became an unlikely political football shortly before it passed.

On the day that the Senate was expected to grant it final approval, Republicans unexpectedly blocked it. Veterans who had traveled to Washington for a moment of triumph were devastated.

“All the veterans were down there because they were expecting to celebrate,” Butler said. “And then they were absolutely stabbed in the back.”

Republicans said they were concerned about technical changes to how the legislation was funded. Democrats accused them of throwing a fit because they were unhappy about a separate deal to advance Biden’s domestic agenda on climate change, taxes and prescription drugs.

Instead of going home, some veterans began holding what they called a “fire watch” outside the Capitol, an impromptu vigil to keep public pressure on the Senate.

They stayed around the clock, despite the stifling summer heat and torrential thunderstorms. Jon Stewart, the comedian who has advocated for veterans, joined them as well. Biden wanted to go but couldn’t because he was isolating with a coronavirus infection, so he spoke to the demonstrators in a video call when VA Secretary Denis McDonough dropped off pizza.

Days after the demonstration began, the Senate held another vote, and the measure passed with overwhelming bipartisan support.

Veterans were in the gallery watching the vote take place.

“Every single person I was with was bawling. Just bawling,” said Matt Zeller, a former Army captain who was among the demonstrators. “I cried for a solid five minutes.”

___

Associated Press writers Seung Min Kim and Josh Boak contributed to this report.

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VIDEO: Bitcoin runs higher with sentiment risk. What are the upside hurdles ahead?

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Video: Bitcoin Runs Higher With Sentiment Risk. What Are The Upside Hurdles Ahead?

In this video, I take a look at Bitcoin from a technical perspective after the surge of “risk” seen in trading today following the better than expected CPI report. What hurdles need to be overcome to maintain the bullish momentum? What level do we not want to see broken down if buyers want to maintain momentum?

I show these levels and explain why.

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Vikings depth chart: Mond, Mannion listed as co-backup quarterbacks

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Vikings Depth Chart: Mond, Mannion Listed As Co-Backup Quarterbacks

The Vikings released their first unofficial depth chart of the season on Tuesday, and there were no surprises among those listed as starters. But there remains some drama at backup quarterback.

Kellen Mond and Sean Mannion were listed as co-backups behind Kirk Cousins. The two have been splitting second-team reps during training camp, although Mond got the first opportunity with the second team in Monday’s night practice at TCO Stadium. The Vikings play their preseason opener on Sunday at Las Vegas.

Among starters, Jesse Davis was listed as the right guard, Camryn Bynum at safety and Cameron Dantzler at cornerback. But rookies Ed Ingram at guard, Lewis Cine at safety and Andrew Booth Jr. at cornerback still could pose challenges at those spots.

The Vikings list Austin Schlottman as the backup center behind Garrett Bradbury, and Chris Reed as the backup left guard behind Ezra Cleveland. Reed has been taking some second-team snaps and could push Bradbury at center.

The Vikings’ primary punt returner is listed as second-year wide receiver Ihmir Smith-Marsette, who has never returned a punt in an NFL regular-season game. Rookie wide receiver Jalen Nailor is listed as the backup.

Here is the full unofficial depth chart:

OFFENSE

  • Quarterback — Starter, Kirk Cousins. Backup, Kellen Mond OR Sean Mannion
  • Running back — Starter, Dalvin Cook. Backups, Alexander Mattison, Kene Nwangwu, Ty Chandler, Bryant Koback.
  • Fullback — Starter, C.J. Ham. Backup, Jake Bargas.
  • Wide receiver — Starters, Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson. Backups: K.J. Osborn and Ihmir Smith-Marsette; Bisi Johnson and Myron Mitchell; Trishton Jackson OR Jalen Nailor and Dan Chisena; Albert Wilson; Thomas Hennigan and Blake Proehl*.
  • Tight end — Starter, Irv Smith, Jr. Backups: Johnny Mundt, Ben Ellefson, Zach Davidson, Nick Muse and Shaun Beyer.
  • Tackle — Starters, Christian Darrisaw (left) and Brian O’Neill (right). Backups, Blake Brandel (left) and Olisaemeka Udoh (right); Vederian Lowe (left) and Timon Parris (right).
  • Interior offensive line — Starters, Ezra Cleveland (LG), Garrett Bradbury (C) and Jesse Davis (RG). Backups, Chris Reed (LG), Austin Schlottmann (C) and Ed Ingram (RG); Kyle Hinton (LG), Josh Sokol (C) and Wyatt Davis (RG).

DEFENSE

  • Defensive end — Starters, Dalvin Tomlinson and Armon Watts. Backups, Jonathan Bullard and James Lynch; Jaylen Twyman and Esezi Otomewo; Jullian Taylor.
  • Nose tackle — Starter, Harrison Phillips. Backups, T.J. Smith; T.Y. McGill, Jr.; Tyarise Stevenson.
  • Outside linebacker — Starters, Danielle Hunter and Za’Darius Smith. Backups, Pat Jones II and D.J. Wonnum; Luiji Vilain and Janarius Robinson; Andre Mintze and Zach McCloud.
  • Inside linebacker — Starters, Eric Kendricks (middle) and Jordan Hicks (weakside). Backups, Troy Dye (middle) and Brian Asamoah II (weakside); Chazz Surratt (middle) and Blake Lynch (weakside); Ryan Connelly* (middle) and William Kwenkeu (weakside).
  • Cornerback — Starters, Patrick Peterson and Cameron Dantzler, Sr. Backups, Chandon Sullivan and Andrew Booth, Jr.; Kris Boyd and Akayleb Evans; Parry Nickerson and Harrison Hand; Nate Hairston and Tye Smith.
  • Safety — Starters, Harrison Smith and Camryn Bynum. Backups, Lewis Cine and Josh Metellus; Myles Dorn and Mike Brown.

SPECIAL TEAMS

  • Kicker — Greg Joseph
  • Punters/holders — Starter, Jordan Berry; backup, Ryan Wright.
  • Long snapper — Andrew DePaola
  • Kickoff returner — Starter, Kene Nwangwu; Backups, K.J. Osborn and Ty Chandler.
  • Punt returner — Starter, Ihmir Smith-Marsette; backup, Jalen Nailor.

*Active/PUP list

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Comedian Raju Srivastava hospitalized after cardiac arrest in gymnasium

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Comedian Raju Srivastava Hospitalized After Cardiac Arrest In Gymnasium

Comedian Raju Srivastava is currently under observation in hospital. (Case)

New Delhi:

Comedian Raju Srivastava suffered cardiac arrest while working out at a gym and was taken to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi today. He is now out of danger, his friend and colleague Sunil Pal said.

Raju Srivastava, 58, was working out on a treadmill when he complained of chest pains and collapsed. His trainer took him to AIIMS where he underwent cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) twice and was revived.

“Srivastava had to be resuscitated twice and was rushed to the cath lab for emergency angiography,” the PTI news agency reported, citing an unnamed source.

According to the ANI news agency, Mr Srivastava underwent angioplasty and is “responding to treatment”.

The comedian is currently under observation in the hospital.

The incident highlighted a string of deaths in recent years of middle-aged celebrities from heart disease.

“Nowadays there is a culture of over-training. Coaches recommend a constant increase in training. People should not do aggressive training. Exercise can lead to death,” said Dr. Balbir Singh, president of cardiac sciences at Max Healthcare, to NDTV.

Dr Raju Vyas, Director of Cardiac Sciences at Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh, said: “On average, people are having heart attacks two decades earlier. We are seeing this trend over the last 10 years. People should obtain a medical certificate before starting to train.”

Sunil Pal, also a comedian, said Mr Srivastava was now out of danger.

“He’s fine now. He’s out of danger,” Mr Pal said in an Instagram video.

Mr. Srivastava, one of the country’s most successful comedians, is a popular name on television.

He has been active in the entertainment industry since the late 1980s, although he first gained recognition after appearing on the first season of the comedy show “The Great Indian Laughter Challenge”.

He appeared in Hindi movies like “Maine Pyar Kiya”, “Baazigar”, “Bombay to Goa” and “Aamdani Atthani Kharcha Rupaiya”. He was one of the contestants in the third season of “Bigg Boss”.

Mr. Srivastava is the current Chairman of the Uttar Pradesh Film Development Board.

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Heat’s Victor Oladipo discusses his Revenge Tour, workouts with Russell Westbrook

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Heat’s Victor Oladipo Discusses His Revenge Tour, Workouts With Russell Westbrook

Victor Oladipo calls it his Revenge Tour, the Miami Heat guard regularly filling his social media with posts about his grueling offseason workout schedule, including recent sessions with Russell Westbrook in Los Angeles.

As he explained on Vince Carter’s VC Show podcast, it has been work with the singular goal of getting back to the All-Star level previously reached before a string of knee and quadriceps issues.

“That’s something that I came up with, just because I felt like the last couple of years have been really tough on me,” Oladipo said, “and I’ve obviously gone through a lot individually and my team, my family have gone through a lot with me collectively.”

Last year, that meant Oladipo playing on an NBA-minimum salary, spending more than half the schedule rehabbing before a late-season debut.

But, from there, there were breakout moments during the Heat’s playoff run within one victory of the NBA Finals, and then a two-year, $18 million free-agency contract to return.

Now, the focus is singular, the intent of his summer of sweat geared toward one reality.

“That I’m one of the best players in the world. Period,” the 30-year-old veteran said. “I think that my injury has kind of built a misconception of who I am as a player.”

Even with the salary upgrade, free-agency interest was tepid, leaving Oladipo with further fuel.

“Why can’t I come back from this injury and what I’ve been through and have an even greater career than I thought I could have prior to it? Why can’t I?” Oladipo said in a passionate moment during the interview with Carter. “And I don’t see no reason why I can’t.

“So I truly believe that I can, and that’s what I’m trying to prove to myself, first and foremost, is that I’m capable of great things even now, it’s never too late, no matter what anyone says or what the world may think or what people tell you.”

In many ways, Oladipo finds himself in a similar place as Westbrook, who, at 33, increasingly finds himself among those who doubt his ability to reclaim prior All-Star form.

Oladipo and Westbrook were teammates with the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016-17.

“Me and Russ go way back,” Oladipo said. “We played together when he won MVP. So he prepared me for the following year to have the year I had after I left OKC. And I felt like I prepared himself for his MVP season before he became MVP. And right now, we’re on the same wavelength.

“We’re not going to let each other fail.”

Amid his rehab work after he was acquired by the Heat from the Houston Rockets at the 2021 NBA trading deadline for Kelly Olynyk and Avery Bradley, Oladipo insisted a better version would emerge, even while limited to four regular-season appearances with the Heat in 2020-21 and eight this past season.

Now, for the first time since 2018, there has been the ability to challenge himself during an offseason.

“I’m itching just thinking about it. It’s so crazy. It’s like a rebirth,” the No. 2 pick in the 2013 NBA draft said. “And being in my 10th year, it feels like I’m in Year One all over again. But it’s like a Year One with a little bit of experience.

“I’m going to prepare myself for any and everything this summer. So whatever happens next year, it’s no shock to me.”

All while planning to arrive at training camp the final week of September as both a new man as well as his former All-Star self.

“I make sure people know that I’m coming for everybody,” he said of his Revenge Tour. “At the end of the day, it really don’t matter who it is. I just want to prove that I’m Victor Oladipo and I stand for who I am.”

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Boeing delivers first 787 Dreamliner since 2021 after manufacturing defects

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Boeing Delivers First 787 Dreamliner Since 2021 After Manufacturing Defects

An employee works on the tail of a Boeing Co. Dreamliner 787 airplane on the production line at the company’s final assembly plant in North Charleston, South Carolina.

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Boeing delivered its first 787 Dreamliner in more than a year on Wednesday, ending a pause in jetliner deliveries triggered by a series of manufacturing defects.

American Airlines has taken the first new delivery from Boeing’s 787 factory in South Carolina, carrier CEO Robert Isom said in an Instagram post.

Delivery is an important milestone for Boeing. Planes are a key source of cash for the maker, and most of a plane’s price is paid on delivery – although the company has had to compensate customers for the delays.

Deliveries have been suspended for much of the past two years. Boeing said earlier this year that production defects and a drop in production while waiting for delivery would cost it $5.5 billion.

Dreamliner customers like American and United Airlines have had to do without their new planes, which are often used for long-haul international routes, amid an upsurge in demand for such trips this year.

Among the issues discovered was tiny, incorrect spacing in some parts of the fuselage.

“Every action and every decision influences our customers’ trust in Boeing – we build trust one aircraft at a time,” Stan Deal, CEO of Boeing’s Commercial Aircraft Unit, wrote in a memo to staff on Wednesday. “We will continue to take the time necessary to ensure that each one meets our highest quality standards.”

The Federal Aviation Administration said earlier this week that it had cleared Boeing to resume deliveries, which were due to begin this week.

Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen toured the 787 plant last Thursday and met with FAA safety inspectors about steps to improve production quality, the agency said more early this week.

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