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More than 1 million workers, retirees at risk of losing pensions, businesses tell Congress

Published: Thursday, June 14, 2018 @ 11:03 PM



Pixabay
(Pixabay)

The pension crisis that threatens the retirement savings of 1.5 million Americans also poses the risk of driving the U.S. economy into a tailspin, a panel of witnesses told a congressional panel.

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Witnesses from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and businesses, including UPS, told the Joint Select Committee on the Solvency of Multi-employer Pension Plans that should the estimated 150 to 200 multi-employer pension plans that are in danger become insolvent, the companies that paid into those plans would be held liable. That would drive many of the companies into bankruptcy. Under current rules, employers can’t leave plans in crisis without paying large sums or declaring bankruptcy.

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“This is not a future crisis,” Aliya Wong, executive director of retirement policy at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said. “It is a current crisis.”

Wong said that the uncertainty has caused employers to lose credit opportunities, receive less-than-optimal lending rates and encounter problems with employee retention. It is also affecting employers who are still in healthy plans, not just the ones in declining plans, and both union and non-union employees.

>> Related: Beware of hidden taxes in retirement

The chief legal and external affairs officer for Schnuck Markets in St. Louis, Mary Moorkamp, said her company has been forced to continue making contributions into a pension plan that is projected to be insolvent within seven years. Its employees, she said, will be fortunate if they receive a significant portion of their anticipated benefits. The crisis, she said, has caused recruiting problems, stunted the company’s growth and distorted business decisions.

The joint committee — made up of Republican and Democratic members of the House and Senate — faces a daunting task: find a solution to save multi-employer pension plans that are at risk of insolvency.

The plans were created to allow employers to pool resources in providing their workers with retirement benefits.

The pension plans, negotiated by unions, are run by trustees selected by the unions and employers. For years, most of the plans ran at a surplus, but the past two recessions, combined with corporate bankruptcies, have taken a toll on the solvency of the pensions.

Around the country, 10 million workers are served by 1,400 multi-employer plans. Of those plans, 150 to 200, covering 1.5 million workers and retirees, could run out of money within 20 years, according to the Pension Rights Center.

>> Related: Brown pushes union pension recovery plan in Dayton

The committee has had one business meeting and three hearings and will hold three more hearings — two in Washington, D.C. and one in the field. Led by co-Chairmen Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, it has until late November to find a solution. Congress must vote up or down on any proposed solution, with no amendments. Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, also serves on the committee.

Brown is pushing a bill he introduced — the Butch Lewis Act, named after a Cincinnati-area retiree who died fighting for his pension — that would create a low-interest, 30-year federal loan to troubled pension plans, with no cuts to retiree benefits.

Brown said that although most people are aware of the threat to pensioners, “the threat to current workers and to small businesses — and to our economy as a whole — is equally real.”

>> Related: Thousands fight to restore pensions

But Hatch made clear that he isn’t convinced that Brown’s bill is the solution.

Portman, meanwhile, said he wants “to keep everything on the table at this point,” but he urged continued research on possible solutions.

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Toronto shooting: 1 killed, suspect dead after gunman shoots 14 in Greektown, police say

Published: Monday, July 23, 2018 @ 2:19 AM
Updated: Monday, July 23, 2018 @ 2:19 AM

Plainclothes police officers work the scene of a shooting in Toronto on Sunday, July 22, 2018. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)
Nathan Denette/AP
Plainclothes police officers work the scene of a shooting in Toronto on Sunday, July 22, 2018. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press via AP)(Nathan Denette/AP)

One person was killed and the suspect is dead after a gunman shot 14 people in Toronto’s Greektown neighborhood Sunday, police said. A child was among the injured, police said.

Here are the latest updates:

Update 2:01 a.m. EDT July 23: Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders said the child in critical condition is an 8- or 9-year-old girl, the Washington Post reported. He described the victim who was killed as a “young lady,” according to The Associated Press.

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No further information about the condition of the victims was immediately available.

Saunders said the shooter used a handgun in the rampage and was killed after exchanging gunfire with officers. The shooting did not appear to be random, Saunders said.

One witness, John Tulloch, said he heard as many as 30 gunshots, the AP reported.

A video circulating on Twitter appeared to capture the sound of gunfire.

>> Click here to watch (WARNING: Viewer discretion advised.)

Update 1:06 a.m. EDT July 23: The child who was shot, a young girl, is currently in critical condition, according to Toronto police.

Police say it is “too early to say whether the shooting is terrorism,” The Associated Press reported.

One city official, Councillor Paula Fletcher, said the shooting was not gang-related. Fletcher and Councillor Mary Fragedakis also said the gunman was emotionally disturbed.

Related

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Some Ritz products recalled for potential salmonella presence

Published: Sunday, July 22, 2018 @ 3:21 PM

Mondelez Global LLC has voluntarily recalled some Ritz Cracker Sandwiches and Ritz Bits products (not pictured) due the potential presence of salmonella in an ingredient. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
Mondelez Global LLC has voluntarily recalled some Ritz Cracker Sandwiches and Ritz Bits products (not pictured) due the potential presence of salmonella in an ingredient. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Some Ritz products are being voluntarily recalled due to the potential presence of salmonella.

Mondelez Global LLC announced the voluntary recall in the United States, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands Saturday.

>> Read more trending news 

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The affected products are some Ritz Cracker Sandwiches and Ritz Bits products. According to a news release, the products contain whey powder as an ingredient, and the whey powder supplier has recalled the ingredient due to potential salmonella.

Related: Bread, Swiss Rolls sold at Walmart, Food Lion, H-E-B recalled for potential salmonella presence 

Salmonella infection can lead to death for young children, frail people, elderly people and others with weakened immune systems, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Symptoms of infection include diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps.

The specific products under recall are below. Images and UPC numbers of specific products are at the Mondelez International website.

  • Ritz Bits Cheese Big Bag, 3 ounces, best when used by dates 3/7/19 through 4/13/19.
  • Ritz Bits Cheese, 1 ounce, best when used by dates 3/7/19 through 4/13/19.
  • Ritz Bits Cheese, 12 pack carton, best when used by dates 3/8/19 through 4/13/19.
  • Ritz Bits Cheese, 30 pack carton, best when used by dates 3/3/19 through 4/13/19.
  • Ritz Bits Cheese, 1.5 ounce, best when used by dates 3/8/19 through 4/13/19.
  • Ritz Bits Cheese, 3 ounce Go Packs, best when used by dates 3/7/19 through 4/12/19.
  • Ritz Cheese Cracker Sandwiches, 10.8 ounces, best when used by dates 1/14/19 through 2/11/19.
  • Ritz Cheese Cracker Sandwiches, 1.35 ounces, best when used by dates 1/14/19 through 2/11/19.
  • Ritz Bacon Cracker Sandwiches With Cheese, 10.8 ounces, best when used by dates 2/5/19 through 2/6/19.
  • Ritz Bacon Cracker Sandwiches With Cheese, 1.35 ounces, best when used by dates 2/5/19 through 2/6/19.
  • Ritz Whole Wheat Cracker Sandwiches With White Cheddar Cheese, 10.8 ounces, best when used by dates 2/4/19 through 2/5/19.
  • Ritz Whole Wheat Cracker Sandwiches With White Cheddar Cheese, 1.35 ounces, best when used by dates 2/4/19 through 2/5/19.
  • Ritz Everything Cracker Sandwiches With Cream Cheese, 10.8 ounces, best when used by dates 2/6/19 through 2/8/19.
  • Ritz Everything Cracker Sandwiches With Cream Cheese, 1.35 ounces, best when used by dates 2/6/19 through 2/8/19.
  • Mixed Cookie Cracker Variety, 20 pack, best when used by dates 2/1/19 through 2/4/19.
  • Mixed Cookie Cracker Variety, 40 pack, best when used by dates 1/31/19 through 2/5/19.

Customers with the impacted products should discard the products. There have been no illnesses reported to the company related to the recalled products.

No other Mondelez Global LLC products are in the recall. For more information, customers can contact the company at 1-844-366-1171 24 hours a day.

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Trump tweets fiery warning to Iran's Rouhani: 'Never, ever threaten the United States again'

Published: Monday, July 23, 2018 @ 4:46 AM

Trump Announces Stance On Iran Deal

President Donald Trump took to Twitter late Sunday to issue a fiery, all-caps warning to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who told Trump hours earlier to stop "playing with the lion's tail ... or else you will regret it."

>> Jamie Dupree: Digging into the release of the Carter Page FISA application

"To Iranian President Rouhani: NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED BEFORE," Trump wrote in the 11:24 p.m. tweet. "WE ARE NO LONGER A COUNTRY THAT WILL STAND FOR YOUR DEMENTED WORDS OF VIOLENCE & DEATH. BE CAUTIOUS!"

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>> See the tweet here

Iranian state media called Trump's tweet "passive" and said he was just imitating previous remarks from Iranian leaders, The Associated Press reported.

Trump's comments came after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered a speech slamming Iran, comparing its government to the mafia and accusing Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, of having "his own personal, off-the-books hedge fund called the Setad, worth $95 billion."

>> Read more trending news 

"Sometimes it seems the world has become desensitized to the regime’s authoritarianism at home and its campaigns of violence abroad, but the proud Iranian people are not staying silent about their government’s many abuses – and the United States under President Trump will not stay silent, either," Pompeo said Sunday at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Library in Simi Valley, California. "In light of these protests and 40 years of regime tyranny, I have a message for the people of Iran: The United States hears you; the United States supports you; the United States is with you."

>> Watch his speech here

Pompeo's official Twitter account later shared several quotes from the speech. 

>> See the tweets here

 

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

What Is The Iran Nuclear Deal?

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1 dead, 1 injured in Nevada church shooting, officials say

Published: Sunday, July 22, 2018 @ 8:03 PM
Updated: Sunday, July 22, 2018 @ 9:35 PM

File photo. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
Robert Laberge/Getty Images
File photo. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)(Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

A man fatally shot one person and injured another at a Nevada church during service Sunday afternoon, officials said. 

>> Read more trending news

One person is dead. The other victim was taken to a hospital with a leg injury, Fallon Mayor Ken Tedford told KOLO. The identities have not been released. 

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The suspected gunman, John Kelley O’Connor, 48, walked into Fallon Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around 1 p.m., started firing, then left and walked home. He is in custody, Tedford told KOLO

“Our hearts go out to the family members of those who have lost someone and those who were in the church today where the tragedy occurred,” Tedford told KOLO.

The shooting happened in front of about 50 other parishioners, KOLO reported.

“It’s really too early to understand the motive,” Fallon Police Chief Kevin Gehman told KOLO. 

Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) shared his condolences on Twitter

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

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