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Moment fireball erupts from building after ‘Ukraine’s latest attack on Russia factories’

More industrial facilities across the Russian territory were targeted by drone attacks reportedly launched by Ukraine on Tuesday. For the first time since the unprovoked Russian invasion of Ukraine, industrial plants in the Republic of Tatarstan – a territory part of the Volga Federal District – were attacked by unmanned aerial vehicles. The press service of Tatar leader Rustam Minnikhanov said on the messaging platform Telegram: “Drone attacks took place against factories in Tatarstan at Yelabuga and Nizhnekamsk.” The attack, the statement continued, “did not cause serious damage” and the operations at the facilities “were not affected”. Several people, however were left wounded, the message added. The press service of Alabuga, a special economic zone in the Yelabuga district, also claimed one of the dormitories housing employees in the area was hit by a drone, leaving two people wounded.

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How Texas prioritized children’s state health care 25 years ago

Sign up for The Brief, The Texas Tribune’s daily newsletter that keeps readers up to speed on the most essential Texas news. An impossible task. That’s what Randy Fritz was faced with in the summer of 1999. As executive assistant to then-Texas Health Commissioner William “Reyn” Archer III, Fritz had 10 months to create from scratch a new statewide health insurance program for poor kids who did not qualify for Medicaid. Why the rush? There was public pressure to get the program rolling after a recalcitrant Texas Legislature had been slow to adopt what leadership Republicans regarded as an entitlement. But underlining the urgency was the fact that Gov. George W. Bush had recently announced his candidacy for president — and his allies on both sides of the aisle in the Legislature knew that a successful program would give him a boost if he made it through the primaries to become the Republican nominee, Fritz said. At the time, the massive Texas Children’s Health Insurance Program, or CHIP, existed only on paper, the Legislature having just passed it weeks earlier as the state version of a 1997 federal program. These kinds of programs can take years to create and build up, but Fritz and his counterpart at the agency, Texas Health and Human Services Commission, had to get it off the ground by spring 2000 and deliver gangbuster enrollment numbers in a few months, Fritz recalled. In California, which at the time had a population of 33 million, it took two years to enroll 400,000 children. Fritz’s directive from state budget leaders, who were also Bush allies, was to eventually enroll nearly half a million kids in the first 18 months. Fritz figured the tight deadline was being employed as an effective way to make sure that “we went bananas with the enrollment” in time to get good enough numbers to use in the campaign, he recalled in an interview Monday with The Texas Tribune. “We were told in no uncertain terms (by a powerful Democratic lawmaker who worked on Bush’s campaign team) that our careers would suffer if we didn’t deliver,” Fritz said. “He provided no context or explanation for that directive, but we didn’t need that. We knew why he was putting the screws to us.” Whatever the motivation, what followed was a powerful illustration of what a state can accomplish when the goal is to cover as many Texans as possible in as short a time as possible. A quarter century later, the state has faced a different massive challenge. After going years during the pandemic without ending Medicaid and CHIP coverage for anyone, Texas Health and Human Services began the process last spring of rechecking the eligibility of anyone on the rolls. Some 2.1 million people were dropped at least temporarily as of late February. Only 700,000 were determined ineligible — the other more than 1.3 million who lost coverage because the state couldn’t confirm their eligibility. State officials said they worked hard to keep eligible people enrolled, and hired new staff to get the job done. But advocates for the poor and disabled say other states did more — and they found themselves wishing for a 1999-like effort from Texas again. “It was a scenario where Democrats and Republicans and the governor, especially, said, ‘This is what needs to happen for children. We’re going to get some bureaucrats to figure out how to actually operationalize it. And we’re not going to worry about all the details. We just know that the job is getting as many kids enrolled for that program as possible because they need it. It’s very important,’ ” Fritz said. What was at stake in 2000 From the advocates’ point of view, success in 1999 also meant that Texas — which was and still is the state with the highest rate of uninsured kids — would finally be addressing an urgent need. Good enrollment numbers would also give Bush a needed “compassionate conservative” counter to then-Vice President Al Gore, the Democrats’ frontrunner for 2000, who had turned the wildly popular 1997 bipartisan federal children’s health insurance legislation into a compelling campaign message. Fritz said it was clear that if the state’s health and human services workers screwed up the rollout, “we would be crucified” both by those with political plans riding on it, and perhaps by a public counting on them to get it right. Pete Laney, a Panhandle Democrat who was state House speaker at the time — during which every statewide office holder was a Republican — said that while the program had its detractors, it generally had bipartisan support. “It was a public relations star for some folks, it was good government for some folks, and it was, ‘It satisfies my constituents’ for some folks,” Laney recalled. Then-Health and Human Services Commissioner Don Gilbert and Archer, gave the state’s health commissioner, Fritz and others carte blanche to decide things like how to structure the program, which providers to include and which contractors to hire for jobs like software design. Public awareness campaigns were mobilized. Easy-to-follow, illustrated application forms were designed, and processes that helped applicants bypass long arduous in-person interviews were put in place. State workers and volunteers fanned out across the state to educate Texans about qualifying for coverage. It worked. The state’s enrollment campaign began in May 2000. By the time Bush faced off against Gore in the Oct. 11, 2000 debate, they had enrolled 87,000 kids in the first five months — a fact Bush was able to boast about. (Bush said 110,000 but was later corrected in follow-up statements.) By the time September 2001 came around a year later, the new Texas program had reached full enrollment with 428,000 kids. That’s an average of nearly 800 kids per day, a triumph for the politicians who needed a win — and a heady victory for the social advocates who had long been frustrated by the the state leadership’s lack of energy behind addressing the uninsured crisis. Had the program kept pace with the California timeline, which was typical of the rollouts in other states, it would have taken the state until 2004 to reach that level of enrollment. “It was a wonderful time,” recalls Anne Dunkelberg, a retired health policy expert with Every Texan, a progressive think tank in Austin, who was involved in the initial enrollment push. “We had both a huge pent-up demand for CHIP, and we had really strong, good-faith permission to try to drive up enrollment. It was clear they had a big, bright green light to do it, and do it aggressively, and do the best job they could. The outreach to get CHIP enrollment going was an example of how Texas can clearly do a bang-up job if they chose to.” ‘The environment is flipped’ Some two decades later, HHS – the same state agency that was tasked with covering as many children as possible during the genesis of CHIP – faces scathing criticism for the way the agency has dropped millions of Texans from the Medicaid and CHIP rolls The process has led officials at the agency to hire more workers and promise better efficiency in the future as the “monumental task” winds to a close. The state has a May 31 deadline for the year-long process of updating its rolls in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic, during which time federal regulations barred states from removing people from Medicaid or CHIPs. Some 6.1 million Texans were able to access health care continuously, a 50% increase from the typical estimated 4 million recipients. But when these protections were lifted a year ago, the state began rechecking the eligibility of all adults and children on Medicaid and CHIP and requiring everyone to reapply for benefits through a system that had not dropped anyone for the past three years. Officials at Texas Health and Human Services, which oversees Medicaid/CHIP programs, say they will likely complete the task a few weeks early. The rolls have returned to pre-pandemic levels, with just over 4 million people still on the programs. In the months since the state launched this “unwinding,” critics have said it is being done too quickly and has resulted in too many qualified people being dropped and losing critical coverage. It has been “a monumental task” that revealed areas where the state could improve for future similar endeavors, said Tiffany Young, an HHS spokesperson. “We have learned many lessons from these efforts, not just operationally, but also how to better communicate with providers and clients,” she said. “Our nationally recognized outreach campaign and ambassador network of community providers and stakeholders has built a strong foundation for us to move forward.” Lawmakers last year earmarked funding for HHS to hire additional eligibility workers to help with the workload created when they began the unwinding. HHS has been able to fill some 97% of those positions, and has also leveraged outside contractors, technology and increased training to meet the workload, Young said. So far, Texas has a net Medicaid/CHIP enrollment decline of 31.6% — second highest decline in the country. That number reflects people who were disenrolled during the unwinding process, new people entering the program and those who re-enrolled within a short time after being dropped, a dynamic known as “churn.” When the state couldn’t determine whether a person was eligible, the person was dropped from the rolls. That can happen when people don’t receive or respond to renewal notices or are not clear on what’s required to renew. It can also happen when enrollment workers can’t process the application in time. “The main concern with procedural disenrollments is that many people losing Medicaid for these paperwork reasons may still be eligible and do not have another source of health coverage,” KFF researchers wrote in a recent report. Young said that her agency is continuing to seek ways to make the process easier and more efficient. “We are actively working on additional opportunities to further streamline and automate our eligibility processes,” she said. For those concerned about the uncovered-but-eligible Texans without Medicaid, that can’t come too soon. According to a recent report by Texas 2036, an Austin nonprofit think tank, nearly half of all uninsured children in Texas are qualified for CHIP or Medicaid but are not enrolled. Texas has notoriously tight restrictions on who may use Medicaid. The vast majority of recipients are low-income children or medically complex kids. It also covers new mothers under a certain income level and some low-income adults with disabilities. Most Medicaid recipients are indigent children of color. The limitations have served to keep the rolls low, but the lack of eligibility requirements is only part of the reason Texas has lower participation. “It’s very attention-grabbing to actually cut Medicaid eligibility or cut Medicaid benefits,” Dunkelberg said. “But you can have a huge effect on reducing Medicaid enrollment by limiting outreach, limiting application assistance, making it harder to get enrolled and to stay enrolled, whether by state law or under-the-radar agency actions.” Under Republican Govs. Rick Perry and Greg Abbott, administrative processes have been “dramatically weaponized” as illustrated by not just the current unwinding but by declining numbers and increasing red tape attached to the programs both by agency actions and legislative inaction, Dunkelberg said. Abbott’s office did not return a request for comment. As examples, she pointed to how changes in agency rules, like requiring kids to re-enroll once a year starting in 2014, and a lack of focus on how to better educate immigrant parents about the right to Medicaid and CHIP for US citizens and immigrant kids who have legal documentation can have great impact, advocates say. Losing a critical function For a frightening moment last summer, 5-year-old August Johansen was one of the kids to lose coverage. The McKinney boy had inoperable brain cancer and depended on Medicaid to pay for full-time home nursing care from a private agency. He had been getting care through a specific Medicaid program for “medically dependent” children, which covered kids like him even if their family’s income didn’t qualify them for Medicaid or CHIP. August had a number of health challenges associated with his cancer, including effects from a stroke, deafness in one ear that required him to go to a school for deaf students, and for 3-and-a-half years, a tracheostomy tube that required his mother to travel with a nurse any time she left the house with her son. “Medicaid is a critical function for us being able to provide the care that he needs between the pharmacies and the private duty nursing and then, of course, the actual care itself that he receives for the acute situation,” said his mother, Erica Olenski Johansen. “I mean, there’s a lot involved, obviously, when you have a kid with medical complexity. The re-enrollment process had snagged when Johansen missed the paperwork for renewal over last summer because she wasn’t looking for it. But her son should have maintained his coverage because it wasn’t income-based, she said. In November she got notice that he’d be dropped. Her new income levels prevented her from re-enrolling, even though her income wasn’t a factor in August’s eligibility. Then on Dec. 1, he lost coverage and nursing care. And it wasn’t until then that an HHSC official was able to help her restart his benefits 10 hours later and resume care the following week. “They were very apologetic, which I appreciate,” she said. August had one thing going for him, though: A mother who had worked for years in the health care industry and who was adept at navigating it. Hundreds of thousands of Texans were not so good at avoiding the bureaucratic landmines. Texas 2036’s researchers wrote in February that these persistent “administrative barriers” should be addressed by lawmakers when they convene in January 2025 for a new session and budget cycle. “Texas policymakers could make significant inroads toward reducing the state’s uninsured population by increasing awareness of the availability of affordable health coverage options, reducing bureaucratic and administrative complexity during the enrollment process, and improving the customer experience for Texans seeking out coverage,” the report says. In some other states, enrollees are given administrative express lanes to help with the unwinding and reapplication process — like automatic eligibility if the family already qualifies for food assistance, for example. Those in Texas who recall the scramble to enroll kids in CHIP during the election season of 2000 say it’s difficult now to watch other states make it easier for qualified people to stay covered — while the processes they put in place decades ago to get so many low-income kids covered have fallen by the wayside. “The environment has completely flipped,” Fritz said. “It’s like it’s no longer a high priority to get kids enrolled and keep them enrolled. It’s exactly the opposite. It’s sort of like, ‘You’re on your own, people.’ This is where we are. Is this where we want to be?” We can’t wait to welcome you to downtown Austin Sept. 5-7 for the 2024 Texas Tribune Festival! Join us at Texas’ breakout politics and policy event as we dig into the 2024 elections, state and national politics, the state of democracy, and so much more. When tickets go on sale this spring, Tribune members will save big. Donate to join or renew today.

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Rajasthan Man Loses Eye After Being Thrashed By Bouncer Over Rs 20 Ticket

A man lost vision in one eye after a bouncer brutally thrashed him with iron rods over Rs 20 entry ticket in Rajasthan on Saturday, the police said. Police said the man is being treated at a hospital for the last three days, adding that he also sustained a severe jaw injury. The man’s family has alleged that he had set up a stall at the trade fair in Sri Ganganagar and when he tried to enter the exhibition on Saturday night, the bouncers asked him to buy the entry ticket. He tried to explain to the bouncer that he was not a visitor, but he refused to believe him, the police said. “The argument soon escalated into a clash and the bouncer started thrashing him with iron rod,” officials said. Gulshan Wadhwa was rushed to the hospital by his family where doctors admitted him to the hospital’s intensive care unit (ICU) given his condition. Police have arrested the bouncer. Gulshan’s Wadhwa’s family has, however, alleged that more people were involved in the attack, and urged police to arrest the other accused as well. Officials said a case has been registered and investigation is on.

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AAP MP Sanjay Singh Gets Bail After 6 Months In Jail In Liquor Policy Case

The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted bail to Aam Aadmi Party leader Sanjay Singh, even as it posed some searching questions for the arresting agency – the Enforcement Directorate – including asking why he had been jailed for over six months without a trial or recovery of alleged bribe money. The probe agency – asked specifically if there was genuine further need for custody of Mr Singh – eventually declined to contest the opposition leader’s bail plea; appearing for the ED, Additional Solicitor General SV Raju said “without going into merits, I will make a concession in the bail matter.” The Rajya Sabha MP has been in Delhi’s Tihar Jail since his arrest October last year in the alleged liquor excise policy scam, which has roiled the opposition party – and seen the arrests of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his former deputy, Manish Sisodia – weeks before a general election. Mr Singh was arrested on money laundering charges linked to the alleged scam. He was sworn in as a Member of Parliament last month, while still in prison. The AAP leader has seen earlier bail pleas – filed before lower courts, including the Delhi High Court – turned down; in February, in fact, the High Court said “no ground” for relief had been made, but directed the trial court to “expedite the trial in the present case once it commences”. That relief was finally granted this afternoon, after a bench of Justice Sanjiv Khanna, Justice Dipankar Datta, and Justice Prasanna B Varale said Mr Singh could be released during pendency of the trial. The court said the terms and conditions of the release are to be fixed by the trial court. What is significant, though, is that Mr Singh can participate in political activities, meaning he can campaign for the AAP, which faces a potential shortage of big-name leaders in the run-up to the polls.

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PM’s “Prince” Jab After Rahul Gandhi’s “Country Will Be On Fire” Warning

Hitting out at Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said the “prince” of the Opposition party’s “royal family” has declared that the country will be on fire if the BJP returns to power. “They ruled the country for 60 years, but after just 10 years out of power, they are talking about setting the country on fire,” the Prime Minister said in a BJP rally at Uttarakhand’s Rudrapur. Questioning if this is a “language of democracy”, he asked the people if they would “punish such people”. “Chun chun ke saaf kar do, is bar inko maidan mein mat rehne do (pick them one by one and remove them from the arena),” he said. He said the Congress, with its “Emergency mindset”, no longer believes in democracy. “That’s why they are busy instigating people against the mandate,” the Prime Minister said. He was responding to Mr Gandhi’s remarks at the joint Opposition rally in Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan on Sunday. Addressing the rally, attended by top leaders of the INDIA block, the Congress leader had accused the BJP and the Prime Minister of “fixing” the upcoming Lok Sabha election. “Without EVMs, match-fixing, social media, and pressuring the press, they cannot win more than 180 seats,” he had said. “If the BJP wins these fixed election and then changes the Constitution, the whole country will be on fire. Mark my words, this country won’t survive,” he said. Addressing the Rudrapur rally, the Prime Minister said there are two camps facing off in the upcoming polls. “On one side, we are bringing honesty and transparency to the people. On the other, the corrupt and dynasts have ganged up. These corrupt people are abusing and threatening Modi. We are saying, ‘remove corruption’, they are saying, ‘save the corrupt’,” he said. The remarks come amid a united Opposition charge at the BJP-led Centre over the arrest of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in a money laundering case related to the capital’s now-scrapped liquor policy. The AAP has denied the allegations and accused the Centre of using probe agencies for political objectives. The Prime Minister said he does not fear threats and abuses and that the “action against every corrupt person will continue”. “At the beginning of our third term, there will be a bigger attack on corruption. I guarantee that,” he said. In a related development, the BJP has written to the Election Commission, flagging Mr Gandhi’s remark on EVMs and demanding strict action against him. “He said ‘this is a fixed match’… he also said that the government has its own people in the EC and the elections can’t be won without EVM. He also said that the rights provided by the Indian Constitution are being snatched away,” Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said. “Rahul Gandhi’s address at the rally contained inflammatory remarks aimed at sowing seeds of doubt and distrust in the minds of the Indian populace regarding the electoral process and the impartiality of the Election Commission of India,” he added.

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Sand Substitute Developed By Indian Scientists For Eco-Friendly Construction

Scientists at the Indian Institute of Science (IISc) in Bengaluru have created a promising new material that can replace natural sand in construction. This development comes as a response to the growing scarcity of sand, a crucial component in building materials. The team at IISc’s Centre for Sustainable Technologies (CST) is exploring methods to utilise carbon dioxide (CO2) captured from industrial waste gases. They treat excavated soil and construction waste with this CO2, transforming it into a viable sand alternative. “These materials can then be used to partially replace natural sand. This would not only reduce the environmental impact of construction materials but also impart properties that can enhance their use for construction,” stated IISc in a press release. Led by Assistant Professor Souradeep Gupta, the research demonstrates that using CO2-treated construction waste in mortar, followed by curing in a CO2-rich environment, significantly accelerates the development of the material’s strength. “CO2 utilisation and sequestration can be a scalable and feasible technology for manufacturing low-carbon prefabricated building products while being aligned with the nation’s decarbonisation targets,” explains Dr Souradeep Gupta, whose lab is carrying out these studies. This innovative process boasts a 20-22% increase in the material’s compressive strength. Additionally, injecting CO2 into clay soil, commonly found at construction sites, improves its interaction with cement and lime. This not only stabilises the clay but also enhances its overall engineering performance. Dr Gupta’s team’s research extends further. They’ve explored incorporating captured CO2 into excavated soil to create cement-lime-soil composites, potentially replacing up to half of the fine aggregates typically used in mortar. This technique promotes the formation of calcium carbonate crystals, leading to improved strength and reduced pore space. Exposing these materials to CO2 further accelerates curing and increases early-age strength by 30%. The researchers have also developed 3D-printable materials using stabilised excavated soil combined with binders like cement, slag, and fly ash. These materials offer superior printability, potentially reducing the need for cement and sand by up to 50% each. Future research will focus on the impact of industrial flue gas on these materials’ properties, paving the way for industrial applications and potentially revising standards for cement-based construction materials.

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Gege River: Save Us From Strange, Untimely Deaths, Ibadan Residents Cry To Gov Makinde

IBADAN – As we are entering into the rainy season, the residents of Gege Area of Ibadan South West Local Govern-ment Area of Oyo State are living with their hearts in their mouths and they have therefore sent a Save Our Souls message to the state governor, Engineer Seyi Makinde, over mysterious killings by Gege River. Gege River which passes through the main centre of Ibadan locality has a deep ditch behind the popular Gege meat market. The top of this deep hole is covered with refuse and all manners of wastes making unsus-pecting passers-by to think it is a dry spot but immediate-ly they step on it they would fall into the deep hole. Findings reveal that dead body of the victim would come back to the surface three or four days later. This was the experience of the people of this area as they enthused with sympa-thy that more than nine peo-ple mostly youths have fallen into the ditch and are calling on Governor Makinde to visit the area and do some-thing urgently to avert more deaths. The residents said the former House of Represen-tatives member, Hon. Folake Olunloyo, did some work on the river but couldn’t finish before the end of her tenure at the National Assembly while her successors, Hon. Saheed Fijabi and Hon. Stan-ley Adedeji (Odidiomo) did not continue with the project. It was gathered that the Chairman of Ibadan West Local Council Development Area (LCDA), Hon. Tajudeen Adigun (Attuu), visited the area and promised to call the attention of the state authori-ty to the problem but nothing has been done since his visit. It was learnt that the day the chairman visited coin-cided with the day the river returned the dead body of a young girl that was trapped inside the river three days earlier to the surprise of the chairman and his team. When our reporter vis-ited the spot, a temporary barricade has been done by the community with the use of Red and White Caution Tapes around the spot to call the attention of passers-by to the danger zone of the river. It was gathered that about nine people had fall-en victim, five of which were buried by the river side and their burial grounds are there for all to see. The residents of the area are appealing to the Oyo State Government to come and help clear the river and remove a dilapidated drain-age erected in the middle of the river by a former mem-ber of the House of Repre-sentatives. The residents and traders at the Gege market did not rule out the spiritual aspect of this unexpected occur-rence. Therefore, they have been making contributions to offer sacrifice through Iya Osun several times to appease Gege River. Speaking with our report-er, Miss Akinade Kehinde, said she was born in Gege Area and has been living there since. She said the problem started some years ago, when it was discovered that there was a deep hole inside the river that is as deep as a Storey building. “As young as I am I have wit-nessed the burial of some victims by the river side. “Our appeal goes to His Excellency, Governor Seyi Makinde, to please help us remove the dilapidated con-crete in the middle of the river, close up the ditch and ensure free flow of water as a first step. Then he should help do proper channelisa-tion like it has been done for Ogunpa River,” she said. Another resident, Alhaja Mujidatu who is in her 60s, pleaded with the Governor to assist the people. “Our governor should come to our aid. As a mother it is very sad to be witness-ing death of young and agile men in this River. “We voted for Governor Makinde and now that we have a problem, he should reciprocate by helping us out. Let him visit us, we will tell him, what is happening. God bless our Governor” she said. Also speaking, Mr Omoto-sho Saheed said the problem started when drainage was constructed in the middle of the river in 2012. “Before then, there was no problem. The drainage didn’t cover the width and length of the river hence whenever there was heavy rainfall water dug the front of the drainage and created a deep gully like hole. This deep hole has be-come a danger point over the years, claiming so many lives. So we the residents have demarcated the dan-ger zone but most passers by may not understand the rea-son behind the demarcation especially late in the evening or early in the morning be-cause it was done with cel-lophane tape. “Our appeal is to the gov-ernment to come to our aid. The government should help us do proper channel-ization,” he pleaded.

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Don Hankey, CEO Who Backed Donald Trump’s Bond, Under Scrutiny

Don Hankey, the chair of the company that helped Donald Trump pay his civil fraud bond, has come under scrutiny because of the company’s ongoing relationship with the Trump family and its links to another company that has been the subject of controversy.On April 1, the former president posted a $175 million bond, preventing the state from seizing his assets while he appeals a ruling that he and top executives at The Trump Organization inflated the value of his assets to obtain more favorable terms from lenders and insurers.In his ruling, Judge Arthur Engoron originally said Trump would have to pay about $464 million in penalties for fraud, plus interest, but the former president succeeded in getting the bond reduced.Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee in the 2024 presidential election, then secured the bond through Knight Specialty Insurance Company, which is owned by the privately held Hankey Group. Hankey heads both organizations.He is also the largest individual shareholder in the internet bank Axos, holding 6 percent of the company, Forbes reported.Writing on X, formerly Twitter, legal analyst Lisa Rubin scrutinized Hankey and Axos. She said the business owner was known as the “king of subprime car loans.”Axos refinanced Trump Tower in 2022 for $100 million. Meanwhile, the bank has financed real-estate transactions with Jared Kushner’s Kushner Companies. Kushner is married to Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump and served as an adviser in Trump’s administration.The bank has been the subject of lawsuits. In 2015, Charles Matthew Erhart, a company whistleblower, filed a lawsuit against Axos alleging unlawful retaliation for being fired after he raised concerns about practices at the bank. In May 2022, he was awarded $1 million in damages for emotional distress or harm to his reputation and $500,000 for defamatory statements about him.He has said the bank had dubious business practices, including allowing criminal borrowers, and that CEO Gregory Garrabrants had deposited third-party checks into his personal account. The bank has consistently denied these allegations.The bank has also been criticized for charging high interest rates. In 2021, Senator Elizabeth Warren called out the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, Axos’ federal regulator, for not taking enforcement action against Axos over a loan with a 92 percent interest rate.Financial disclosures also show that Hankey has donated to Republican causes, including Trump’s 2016 campaign and Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign. In his business, Hankey offers loans to credit-challenged car buyers, Forbes reported.Newsweek contacted Hankey, Axos and a representative for Trump for comment by email.After helping Trump pay his bond, Hankey told ABC News that he is a Trump supporter.”This is what we do at Knight Insurance, and we’re happy to be able to accommodate the ex-president in this situation,” Hankey said “I’d say it’s more of a business decision, but I happen to be a supporter also.””It was a relatively low number, and Donald Trump put up all the collateral in cash,” he added.On Truth Social, the former president wrote about his bond payment: “I’ve just posted a 175 Million Dollar Bond with the sadly failing and very troubled State of New York, based on a Corrupt Judge and Attorney General who used a Statute that was never used for this before, where no Jury was allowed, my financial statements were conservative and had a 100% perfect caution/non-reliance clause, there were no victims (except me!), there was no crime or damage, there was only success and HAPPY BANKS.””As promised, President Trump has posted bond,” Alina Habba, Trump’s attorney, said in a statement on April 1. “He looks forward to vindicating his rights on appeal and overturning this unjust verdict.”

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Lycra verging on the ridiculous

More cycling snobbery (C8) “I was once out riding my T-bar bicycle when I was approached by a ‘bus’ formation of nine drop-bar bike riders coming the other way,” recounts Doug Parkes of Sylvania. “The lead rider called out ‘T-bar alert!’ as I rode past them. Everyone involved laughed! At 81 years of age I ride 20 km each weekday. My GPS app advises that I have ridden 17,487 km on my current bike.” “The downside up ‘buffalo horn’ was a great way to ride,” reckons Warren Menteith of Bali. “Beats the head down, arse up as you could sit up and have great surrounding vision. Far more comfortable. Another way was to take the bars out of the bracket rotate them 180-degrees laterally. With a little adjustment, they became a set of ape hangers.” “As a child, Josephine Piper (C8) was being helpful by pulling the ‘weeds’ out from the garden,” notes Judy Archer of Nelson Bay. “I was helpful too. I put three cupfuls of detergent in the sink to do the washing up. I realised too late that I needed only three capfuls. I didn’t get into trouble but the expression on my mother’s face made up for it.“ “I enjoyed the airline acronyms in Richard Glover’s recent Spectrum article and can offer two more, says Andrew Smith of Lane Cove: Alitalia – Aircraft Landing In Tokyo, And Luggage In Amsterdam. And the unsurprisingly defunct Sabena – Such A Bloody Experience Never Again. I remember them from a competition in Britain’s New Statesman circa 1976.” “I’m five years younger than Gabrielle Merton and only knew of free sample bags (C8) as something from ‘the good old days’,” writes Anthony Clark of Bowral. “For 2/6, though, we did expect a sample bag to contain more than you could buy in a shop for the same amount. On one occasion my brother and I bought licorice sample bags and each of us ate the entire contents of his bag while sitting up in the grandstand enjoying the ring events. I have never eaten licorice since.”

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Press review: Israel to move Rafah residents before IDF sweep and EU stalls on Ukraine bid

“In my opinion, the economic situation in Turkey, which has not improved at all since [Erdogan’s re-election in] the general election last May, was the decisive factor in these elections,” Eastern studies scholar Ruslan Suleymanov told Nezavisimaya Gazeta. “Even increasing the interest rate from 8.5% to 50% did not impact the high level of inflation or the falling exchange rate of the Turkish lira in any way. Playing up to voters by raising pensions and salaries of state employees as well as constant pre-election promises to improve the situation do not work anymore. The Turkish population wants real changes. And the people see the Republican People’s Party as an alternative, which rectified its mistakes last year, for instance, by changing its chairman,” the expert explained. He expressed doubts that Erdogan might move to toughen his domestic policy in response to the voters’ displeasure. “This way, he would only worsen his situation,” Suleymanov said. “The only way out for him now is not to meddle in the economy as he has been doing over recent years, but to entrust this area completely to technocratic specialists, such as Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek,” he added. In turn, Anton Mardasov, a Middle East expert, told the newspaper that the municipal elections had initially been viewed as a stress test of sorts for the current state system. “However, two opposing views existed on Turkey’s future had the ruling party won in Istanbul, Ankara and Izmir,” he noted. “Some specialists were saying that it would consolidate the presidential system and toughen measures even more, while others, on the contrary, were predicting a ‘thaw,’ wherein Erdogan, having rid himself of strong rivals such as [incumbent Istanbul Mayor Ekrem] Imamoglu and concerned over his legacy, would allow a policy toward warmer relations with Greece, the US and the Kurdish community,” the expert explained. Izvestia: Indonesia mulls joining BRICS following election Following Indonesia’s presidential election in February, Jakarta is continuing to consider joining BRICS, the country’s embassy in Moscow told Izvestia. That said, Jakarta is following events as they unfold, included within the intergovernmental structure itself. According to experts, on the one hand, Indonesia is trying to remain neutral, giving priority to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) instead of the pro-US QUAD, but at the same time being unwilling to turn toward China. That said, in January, Jakarta applied to join the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a counterbalance to BRICS of sorts. So far, Jakarta is quite happy with the BRICS+ format, stressed Pavel Shaternikov of the Center for Vietnam and ASEAN Studies at the Institute of China and Contemporary Asia of the Russian Academy of Sciences. “There are no obvious benefits seen for it from membership in BRICS itself. On the other hand, joining BRICS may become the first international image-building step of the new president, Prabowo Subianto, which would display the country’s independent course. In the future, Indonesia might be interested in [the planned] BRICS currency because this is a step toward independence from the dollar and, simultaneously, a step toward boosting the country’s sovereignty,” he added. According to a number of experts, there are plenty of economic benefits for Jakarta. They appear because of exclusive cooperation among BRICS members in the fields of economy, trade, currency stability, bilateral and multilateral loans, Yevgeny Dumalkin, head of the National Coordination Center for International Business Cooperation, told Izvestia. “There are at least three potential advantages – increased export and import with existing and new markets, increased direct foreign investments as well as financing sources for the state and private sectors. The Indonesian rupiah will also become more stable against the risk of currency fluctuations, especially with introducing payments in local currencies, accepted by BRICS member states,” he said. The New Development Bank, created by the BRICS member states, will provide extensive financial opportunities, noted Alexander Rudoy, international cooperation expert at the State University of Management. Cooperation with BRICS will be useful in utilizing natural resources, developing the mining industry and exporting raw materials. The accession of southeast Asia’s largest economy would also be profitable for the current BRICS member states. Vedomosti: Novatek sharply cuts gas production at Arctic LNG-2 Gas production within the framework of Novatek’s Arctic LNG-2, in which foreign investors had previously suspended their participation, sharply dropped in February 2024 against delayed shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG), two sources familiar with the Energy Ministry’s statistics told Vedomosti. According to them, gas production within the framework of the project in February amounted merely to 83 mln cubic meters, which is three times less than this January and five times less than in December 2023 when the first volumes of LNG were produced at the plant. The delay in the full launch of the Arctic LNG-2 plant is due to the fact that Novatek lacks gas-carrying tankers for the project, analysts say. Since the company is currently unable to ship already produced LNG, its production must be suspended for some time, said BCS World of Investments senior oil and gas analyst Ronald Smith. In March, gas will be produced only for the plant’s own needs – its energy supply, infrastructure and the maintenance of sufficiently low temperatures at LNG storage reservoirs, said National Energy Security Fund lead analyst Igor Yushkov. According to Finam analyst Sergey Kaufman, Novatek may begin shipping LNG from the Arctic LNG-2 plant in the next 1-3 months, while Smith does not rule out that the project may not receive a single tanker to ship LNG until the end of this year. TASS is not responsible for the material quoted in these press reviews

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