Colorado’s water projects getting a $7.9M boost from sports betting tax revenue

Water projects in Colorado are getting a $7.9 million boost from tax revenue collected during the first fiscal year of legalized sports betting in the state.

The Colorado Limited Gaming Control Commission (CLGCC) gave its approval for $8.56 million in tax revenue to be distributed to beneficiaries, which includes the Colorado Water Plan , the Department of Revenue’s Division of Gaming said in a news release on Thursday.

The distribution of funds to beneficiaries was detailed in the 2019 law that asked voters to legalize sports betting for taxation and use most of the funds for the state’s water projects. Voters also approved Proposition DD in November 2020. Sports betting went into effect on May 1, 2020.

Since then, sports bettors in the state have wagered over $3 billion, according to state data.

Other beneficiaries of the tax revenue include the Hold Harmless Fund ($488,782), which is for entities that might see lessened revenue as a result of sports betting, the Office of Behavioral Health ($130,000), a state gambling hotline ($30,000), and problem gambling services ($100,000), according to the division.

“We are constantly amazed and impressed with the continued growth we see in our state and how Coloradans have embraced this new form of legalized entertainment,” Division of Gaming Director Dan Hartman said. “The enabling legislation, the vote of the people, the industry relationships with operators, and the enthusiasm of bettors have all contributed to our success in creating a healthy, competitive Colorado market. We are happy how these results translate into wins for the citizens of Colorado.”

Colorado’s sports betting market has grown to 25 online operators and 17 retail locations licensed by the state.

Earlier this month, state officials announced that Tipico, an online sports betting company from Europe, plans to open a tech hub in the state, creating over 400 jobs.





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More Emergency Rental Aid Reaches Tenants Amid Treasury Push to Boost Disbursement

August saw a marked rise in the amount of emergency rental aid paid out to needy tenants, though the Treasury Department says more needs to be done to accelerate payments.

Treasury said in a Sept. 24 release that over $2.3 billion in rental aid payments was disbursed to more than 420,000 households nationwide last month, an increase over the $1.8 billion that reached 340,000 households in July.

The Biden administration faces a narrowing window to distribute rental aid as unused funds will soon be subject to reallocation to more productive programs and after the Supreme Court ruled in August to halt a federal eviction ban.

Of the total $46.5 billion Congress appropriated under two emergency rental assistance programs, around $7.7 billion has been spent as of Aug. 31, or less than 17 percent.

“While many jurisdictions have more work to do to meet the urgent demand for this relief in their communities, grantees saw significant growth in August—particularly among state and local agencies that adopted the Treasury’s recommended best practices,” Treasury said in a statement.

Last year’s pandemic relief legislation established the Emergency Rental Assistance (ERA) program with $25 billion in funding (pdf), while the American Rescue Plan Act in March provided another $21.5 billion in rental assistance (pdf) in what’s known as ERA2.

But getting that aid to needy households has been slow, driven chiefly by application processing delays. Seeking to boost the pace of disbursement, Treasury last month announced seven new policies meant to streamline the application process, including greater flexibility in the use of self-attestations by applicants to document financial hardship or the risk of homelessness.

Treasury said in Friday’s disbursement update that the administration “continues its all-out effort to encourage grantees to avoid or reduce unduly burdensome documentation requirements for verifying income, provide assistance directly to tenants when landlords are not cooperative, and protect renters from eviction after payments are made on their behalf.”

In order to further accelerate the pace of distributing the ERA funds, Treasury said it is rolling out a new program design tools to help grantees serve even more eligible households while calling on local authorities to put in place measures preventing people from being evicted until they’ve had a chance to apply for aid.

The statutes that govern disbursement of ERA funds require Treasury to begin identifying and reallocating unused funds starting on Sept. 30.

In a Sept. 24 letter to ERA recipients (pdf), Treasury Deputy Secretary Adewale Adeyemo said that detailed guidelines on fund reallocation would be released in the coming days.

Goldman Sachs economists estimated last month that between 2.5 million and 3.5 million U.S. households are behind on their rent and, when the eviction moratorium expires at the beginning of October, between 1 million and 2 million households will face a higher risk of eviction.

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Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he’s ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: ‘Hit your target’ and ‘leave the best for last.’



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Lifting International Travel Restrictions Will Boost US Economy: Commerce Chief

WASHINGTON—U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Thursday that the decision by the Biden administration to lift international travel restrictions in early November will be a boost to the U.S. economy, especially for tourist destinations like New York and for business travel.

Raimondo said the decision announced Monday to allow fully vaccinated foreign nationals to fly to the United States “is huge. I think it will really be a boost to our economy, it will certainly be a boost to travel, tourism, hospitality.” To address COVID-19 concerns, the U.S. has barred most foreign nationals from coming to the United States who have recently been in 33 countries including China, South Africa, Brazil, India and much of Europe.

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BlackBerry beats quarterly revenue expectations on cybersecurity boost

FILE PHOTO: The Blackberry logo is seen on a smartphone in front of a displayed stock graph in this illustration taken February 5, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

September 23, 2021

(Reuters) -Canada’s BlackBerry Ltd beat Wall Street estimates for second-quarter revenue on Wednesday amid strong demand for its cybersecurity and Internet of Things software products.

U.S.-listed shares of the company, which rose 9.1% to $10.43 in extended trading, had already risen 8% ahead of the results.

Firms such as BlackBerry are benefiting from an uptick in demand for cybersecurity and IoT products as more businesses and government organizations shift their operations to the cloud in order to support hybrid working.

As a result, the company was able to offset weakness from sluggish demand for its QNX software from automakers like Volkswagen, BMW and Ford Motor, as the auto industry struggled to maintain production amid a persistent chip shortage crisis.

BlackBerry was dubbed a “meme stock” after a social media driven retail trading frenzy that began earlier this year sent its shares soaring. BlackBerry’s stock has surged 40% so far this year.

However, the company warned that a drop in automobile production volumes due to COVID-19 closures and chip shortages will continue to adversely affect the company in the next two quarters this fiscal year.

BlackBerry also appointed John Giamatteo, formerly of cybersecurity firm McAfee, as the President of its cybersecurity business.

Revenue fell to $175 million for the quarter ended Aug. 31, from $259 million a year earlier, but beat analysts’ expectation of $163.5 million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Net loss widened to $144 million, or 25 cents per share, from $23 million, or 4 cents per share, a year earlier. The company said a non-cash accounting adjustment to the fair value of convertible debentures, due to market and trading conditions, accounted for approximately $0.12 loss per share.

Excluding items, the company posted a loss of 6 cents per share, nudging past analysts’ expectations of loss of 7 cents.

(Reporting by Chavi Mehta in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)





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Faith leaders gather at White House to boost Biden’s infrastructure plans

The White House hosted religious leaders to promote President Biden’s big-spending infrastructure proposals Wednesday, just as the president was meeting with holdout Democratic lawmakers.

The faith leaders, in a coalition called the Circle of Protection, met with Cedric Richmond, director of the White House office of public engagement. They called on lawmakers to pass the administration’s proposals totaling more than $4.5 trillion.

In a letter to lawmakers, the group said the pending legislation “would strengthen the physical and social infrastructure of our society, cut family and child poverty more than any time in our lives, and ensure the precious right to vote for all people made in God’s image.”

Jim Wallis, of Georgetown Center for Faith and Justice, said of the legislation, “These are issues, what Jesus would call ‘good news to the poor’.”

“We want to bring a religious factor into this conversation,” he told reporters at the White House. “You can’t be pro-family and not have economic policies that help families escape poverty. These bills will help families escape poverty.”

No Republican lawmakers support the larger, $3.5 trillion proposal that includes an expansion of social safety-net programs. 

Mr. Wallis said, “These things should be bipartisan. Making them partisan is really, to me, a religious offense.”

Rev. Walter Kim, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, also spoke of the value of child tax credits.

“It’s not a theoretical thing. They’re the lives of actual people,” he said. “We urge the passage of that legislation.”

Episcopal Bishop Michael McCurry said there’s “a moral high ground that these bills have an opportunity to meet … to make sure that people most in need are cared for.” 

“Jesus of Nazareth said, ‘as you did it to the least of these, you have done unto me,’” he said. “That’s what we stand for, regardless of our religion. That’s what our country stands for at our very best, and these bills present an opportunity to be our best.”

Asked if he was angry with Republicans, he responded: “I’m not angry with anybody because God is love.”

Rev. Elizabeth Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, said the legislation “makes very good economic sense.”

Mr. Wallis said the group also supports the administration’s proposed tax increases, which amount to roughly $3 trillion.

“When there’s a concentration of wealth, and the poor are being neglected, then they have a responsibility, biblically, to support the most vulnerable,” he said.  

Rev. David Beckman, president emeritus of Bread for the World, said the group “supports the overall thrust of the whole economic package.” 

“We support higher taxes on high-income people and corporations” because the amount of aid for low-income people “really depends on the size of the investment,” he said.

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U.S. Funds Project to Boost Racial, Ethnic, Gender Diversity in Science at Private Women’s College

The government agency that gave a professor hundreds of thousands of dollars to study white supremacy and racial injustice in U.S. landmarks is giving a small Wisconsin liberal arts college half a million dollars to boost “racial/ethnic and gender diversity” in science fields and “broaden participation of underrepresented minorities.” The money is flowing through the National Science Foundation (NSF), which was created by Congress seven decades ago to promote the progress of science, advance national health and prosperity and secure the national defense. Lately, it seems the agency is focusing a lot more on racial justice endeavors that exclude large portions of the American population.

Judicial Watch has reported extensively on the government wide race and gender equity movement that often puts federal agencies at odds with their taxpayer-funded mission. Race-based initiatives have been well documented in recent years at a multitude of leading agencies, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Department of Labor (DOL) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), to name a few. The NSF seems to be leading the pack lately, though many other federal agencies are also dedicating considerable resources to the cause. With an annual budget of $8.5 billion, the NSF funds more than a quarter of research conducted at American colleges and universities, where it is worth mentioning that the theft of intellectual property by Communist China is pervasive.

In the last few weeks alone, the NSF gave away millions of dollars to race-based projects in secondary and post-secondary institutions. The first allotment, $271,594, went to a private liberal arts college in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania that will use the money to identify potential “systemic inequities” in science, technology, engineering, and math fields (STEM) at the campus with an enrollment of around 3,724. The goal, according to the NSF, is to uncover “any existence of systemic inequities and advancement barriers related to gender, race, and ethnicity in STEM faculty” at the school, Bucknell University. Weeks later the NSF doled out nearly $2 million to “address the historical and current racial and gender disparities in participation in high school computer science education.” The project is part of a broader program called Researching Equity and Antiracist Learning in Computer Science (REAL-CS) that focuses on expanding participation for black, indigenous, “Latinx” (the new, politically correct gender-neutral term for Latino or Latina) and Pacific Islander students by addressing systemic barriers in high school computer science education. REAL-CS is designed to sustain yet another publicly-funded, “equity-focused” initiative called Exploring Computer Science (ECS) dedicated to “democratizing” the field by increasing opportunities for “traditionally underrepresented” high school students after a study identified disparities along “race and socioeconomic lines.”

Now the NSF is giving Alverno College, a tiny women’s liberal arts school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, $499,983 to increase racial/ethnic and gender diversity in STEM. “As a women’s college serving primarily first-generation, low-income students, more than half women of color, Alverno College will use this project to broaden participation of underrepresented minorities and women in STEM, who lag in STEM degree attainment and STEM workforce participation,” according to the NSF grant announcement. “Increasing racial/ethnic and gender diversity in STEM is a recognized strategy to expand the STEM workforce.” The agency further writes that the project engages the external community in a cooperative relationship, recognizing the intersection between STEM and students’ social/community identities. “Ongoing faculty development in culturally responsive teaching and a formalized administrative support structure will expand project impact across the college,” the NSF grant document sates.

The science agency is also financing a special project to determine if historical sites around the nation acknowledge white supremacy and racial injustice. The NSF gave a University of Oregon ethnic studies professor $350,000 to research thousands of landmarks and, though the grant announcement uses more discreet language, a university article titled “Professor is finding that a racist past is often left off monuments” provides more details. The professor, Laura Pulido, who specializes in “Chicanx studies,” indicates that her NSF-financed research offers insights into bridging the gap to racial justice. “It examines historical commemoration and the degree to which white supremacy and racial injustice is acknowledged in more than 2,600 different landmarks around the United States,” the article reads. Though in the early stages of her research, Pulido says initial data confirms that racism is deeply ingrained in American historical commemoration and U.S. landmarks fail to acknowledge links to racial inequality. “Although white supremacy — the overt belief in the superiority of white people — was central to the creation of the U.S., the nation is deeply invested in denying its role,” Pulido says. “Historical sites are key to this systemic denial, as they denote places and events deemed worthy of remembrance.”



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China applies to join Pacific trade pact to boost economic clout

FILE PHOTO: Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao attends a State Council Information Office news conference in Beijing, China February 24, 2021. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

September 17, 2021

BEIJING (Reuters) -China has filed an application to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the commerce ministry said, as the world’s second-biggest economy looks to bolster its clout in trade.

Commerce Minister Wang Wentao submitted China’s application to join the free trade agreement in a letter to New Zealand’s trade minister, Damien O’Connor, the Chinese ministry said in a statement late on Thursday.

The CPTPP was signed by 11 countries including Australia, Canada, Chile, Japan and New Zealand in 2018.

Before that, it was known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and seen as an important economic counterweight to China’s regional influence.

Japan, the CPTPP’s chair this year, said it will consult with member countries to respond to China’s request, but stopped short of signalling a timeline for doing so.

“Japan believes that it’s necessary to determine whether China, which submitted a request to join the TPP-11, is ready to meet its extremely high standards,” Japanese Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters on Friday.

The TPP was central to former U.S. President Barack Obama’s strategic pivot to Asia but his successor, Donald Trump, withdrew the United States from the pact in 2017.

Accession to the CPTPP would be a major boost for China following the signing of the 15-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) free trade agreement last year.

Beijing has lobbied https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/china-lobbies-australia-parliament-joining-regional-trade-pact-2021-09-10 for its inclusion in the pact, including by highlighting that the Chinese and Australian economies have enormous potential for cooperation. However, relations between the two countries have soured.

Britain in June began negotiations to enter the trade pact, while Thailand has also signalled interest in joining it.

Wang and O’Connor held a telephone conference to discuss the next steps following China’s application, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce said.

(Reporting by Colin Qian, Twinnie Siu and Tom Daly in BEIJING, Daniel Leussink in TOKYO; Editing by Edmund Blair, Jonathan Oatis and Himani Sarkar)





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Ford to boost F-150 Lightning production capacity to 80,000 per year

FILE PHOTO: The Ford F-150 Lightning pickup truck is seen during a press event in New York City, U.S., May 26, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

September 16, 2021

(Reuters) – Ford Motor Co said on Thursday it would boost its F-150 Lightning production capacity to 80,000 per year due to strong demand for the electric pickup truck, adding that the vehicle would go on sale next spring.

The U.S. automaker said it would invest $250 million and add 450 hourly jobs across three Michigan facilities to lift production, having already garnered more than 150,000 reservations for the truck to date.

“The interest from the public has surpassed our highest expectations,” Executive Chairman Bill Ford said in a statement.

Ford’s move, confirming a Reuters report last month, comes even as Industry observers question whether individual buyers will give up their gas-powered pickups for electric models.

The Lightning is an electric version of Ford’s best-selling gas-powered F-150 truck, whose popularity has made it the subject of some songs.

Reuters had reported the automaker was targeting annual production of more than 80,000 Lightning pickup trucks in 2024, up from its prior target of more than 40,000.

Ford and other global automakers are racing to shift their gasoline-powered lineups to all-electric power under pressure from regions like Europe and China to cut vehicle emissions. U.S. President Joe Biden has called for billions to boost U.S. EV production, sales and infrastructure.

In May, Ford outlined plans to boost its spending on electrification by 2030 by more than a third to over $30 billion.

(Reporting by Abhijith Ganapavaram in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)





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Taiwan plans $9 billion boost in arms spending, warns of ‘severe threat’

FILE PHOTO: Soldiers march to position during an anti-invasion drill on the beach during the annual Han Kuang military drill in Tainan, Taiwan, September 14, 2021. REUTERS/Ann Wang

September 16, 2021

By Ben Blanchard and Yimou Lee

TAIPEI (Reuters) -Taiwan proposed on Thursday extra defence spending of T$240 billion ($8.69 billion) over the next five years, including on new missiles, as it warned of an urgent need to upgrade weapons in the face of a “severe threat” from giant neighbour China.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has made modernising the armed forces – well-armed but dwarfed by China’s – and increasing defence spending a priority, especially as Beijing ramps up its military and diplomatic pressure against the island it claims as “sacred” Chinese territory.

The new money, which comes on top of planned military spending of T$471.7 billion for 2022, will need to be approved by parliament where Tsai’s ruling party has a large majority, meaning its passage should be smooth.

“The Chinese Communists have continued to invest heavily in national defence budgets, its military strength has grown rapidly, and it has frequently dispatched aircraft and ships to invade and harass our seas and airspace,” Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said in a statement after a weekly Cabinet meeting.

“In the face of severe threats from the enemy, the nation’s military is actively engaged in military building and preparation work, and it is urgent to obtain mature and rapid mass production weapons and equipment in a short period of time.”

Deputy Defence Minister Wang Shin-lung told reporters the new arms would all be made domestically, as Taiwan boosts its own production prowess, though the United States will probably remain an important parts and technology provider.

Taiwan has been keen to demonstrate that it can defend itself, especially amid questions about whether the United States would come to its aid if China attacked.

“Only if we ensure our security and show determination will the international community think well of us,” said Cabinet spokesman Lo Ping-cheng. “Others will only help us if we help ourselves.”

The weapons Taiwan aims to buy with the money include cruise missiles and warships, the ministry added.

Taiwan has been testing new, long-range missiles off its southern and eastern coasts, and while it has not given details, diplomats and experts have said they are likely to be able to hit targets far into China.

The additional cash will likely be well received in Washington, which has been pushing Taiwan to modernise its military to make it more mobile so it can become a “porcupine”, hard for China to attack.

Taiwan has already put into service a new class of highly agile stealth warships, which Taiwan refers to as an “aircraft carrier killer” due to its missile complement, and is developing its own submarines.

The announcement comes as Taiwan is in the middle of its annual Han Kuang military drills.

On Thursday, Taiwan’s army simulated fending off an invasion, firing artillery out to sea from a beach on its southern coast.

($1 = 27.6330 Taiwan dollars)

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Yimou Lee; Additional reporting by Roger Tung and Jeanny Kao; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Sam Holmes)





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Taiwan plans $9-bln boost in arms spending, warning of ‘severe threat’

Article content

TAIPEI — Taiwan proposed spending an extra T$240 billion ($8.69 billion) on defense over the next five years on Thursday, including on new missiles, warning of the urgent need to upgrade weapons in the face of a “severe threat” from its giant neighbor China.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen has made modernizing Taiwan’s armed forces – well-armed, but dwarfed by China’s – and increasing defense spending a priority, especially as China ramps up its military and diplomatic pressure against the island it claims as “sacred” Chinese territory.

Article content

The new money, which comes on top of planned military spending of T$471.7 billion for the year starting in January, will need to be approved by parliament where Tsai’s ruling party has a large majority, meaning its passage should be smooth.

“The Chinese Communists have continued to invest heavily in national defense budgets, its military strength has grown rapidly, and it has frequently dispatched aircraft and ships to invade and harass our seas and airspace,” Taiwan’s Defence Ministry said in a statement after a weekly Cabinet meeting.

“In the face of severe threats from the enemy, the nation’s military is actively engaged in military building and preparation work, and it is urgent to obtain mature and rapid mass production weapons and equipment in a short period of time.”

The weapons Taiwan aims to buy with the money includes new cruise missiles and new warships, the ministry added. ($1 = 27.6330 Taiwan dollars) (Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Yimou Lee; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Sam Holmes)



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