Amazon wants

Amazon wants to turn shuttered JCPenney and Sears stores into fulfillment centers, report says –


Amazon fulfillment centers are used to store inventory like electronics, kitchen appliances and face masks, until orders are shipped to customers. (Ross D. Franklin | AP)AP

Simon Property Group Inc., the largest mall operator in the U.S., has been in talks with Amazon about transforming shuttered department stores into fulfillment centers, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

Amazon is targeting shuttered JCPenney and Sears stores operated by Simon Property Group Inc., the report says. Both companies have filed for bankruptcy, while Sears has closed just about all of its New Jersey stores.

Fulfillment centers are used to store inventory like electronics, kitchen appliances and face masks, until orders are shipped to customers, Amazon’s website says.

Simon Property Group Inc. currently has 63 JCPenney and 11 Sears stores, the report says. There are 13 Simon-owned malls and shopping centers in New Jersey, according to the company’s website.

The Wall Street Journal report did not list the potential locations that Amazon was interested in converting to fulfillment centers. An Amazon spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In June, Amazon signed leases in New Jersey for 14 delivery stations, with plans to open them this year.

The online retail giant officially postponed its annual Prime Day shopping event, but is making up for it with a “Big Summer Sale” currently ongoing.


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Trump wants

Trump Wants Schools to Reopen. Americans Worry It’ll Happen Too Fast. – The New York Times

Welcome to Poll Watch, our weekly look at polling data and survey research on the candidates, voters and issues that will shape the 2020 election.

President Trump’s tone on the coronavirus changed noticeably this week. He expressed a new level of concern about the outbreak, said things would “probably, unfortunately, get worse,” and called mask-wearing a “patriotic” act.

But his heels still appear to be deeply dug in on one increasingly pressing question, despite broad public opposition: He continues to insist that schools must reopen in person.

On Thursday evening, Mr. Trump argued that schools ought to be able to “reopen safely,” even as he abandoned plans to hold the Republican National Convention in Florida because of concerns over spreading the virus.

“We cannot indefinitely stop 50 million American children from going to school, harming their mental, physical and emotional development,” he said, arguing that federal funding should be rerouted away from schools that don’t reopen in person and put toward voucher programs. “Reopening our schools is also critical to ensuring that parents can go to work and provide for their families.”

But polls show that Americans — parents in particular — remain gravely worried about sending students back to school.

An Associated Press/NORC poll this week found that most Americans said they were very or extremely concerned that reopening K-12 schools for in-person instruction would contribute to spreading the virus. Altogether, 80 percent of respondents said they were at least somewhat concerned, including more than three in five Republicans.

“I have yet to see any data where there are appreciable numbers of people who say, ‘Yes, I want my kids back in school,’” Glen Bolger, a veteran Republican pollster, said in an interview. “They want their kids back in school, but not right now. I think safety is taking priority over education.”

“It shows you how nervous Americans are about coronavirus,” he added. “Because let’s face it, virtual learning couldn’t be worse — yet large numbers of parents say, ‘We’re not putting our kids back in school.’”

Sixty percent of respondents to the A.P./NORC poll said it was “essential” that schools be able to provide a mix of in-person and virtual learning. Another 24 percent viewed this as important, though not essential.

Seventy-seven percent of Americans said in the poll either that K-12 schools should reopen only if they made major adjustments (46 percent), or that they shouldn’t reopen at all (31 percent). Even among Republicans, 57 percent of respondents chose one of those options.

By a two-to-one margin, Americans said in a Quinnipiac University poll released last week that they thought it would not be safe to send children back to elementary school in the fall. And by roughly the same spread, they said they disliked how Mr. Trump was dealing with the reopening of schools.

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation poll released on Thursday, 60 percent of parents with children in elementary school said that they would rather schools reopen more slowly to ensure safety, versus 34 percent who said they wanted schools to prioritize reopening swiftly so that parents can get back to work and students can return to a normal learning environment.

Mollyann Brodie, the director of Kaiser’s polling operation, said her team’s research showed that many Americans — particularly working-class people — were indeed worried about getting the economy back up and running. But safety concerns won out.

“Getting parents back in the work force and getting the economy going again — he has a lot to gain from that, right?” Dr. Brodie said, referring to Mr. Trump. “But the problem is that before you get that win, 60 percent are worried about coming back.”

“Parents are between a rock and a hard place,” she said.

From a political perspective, this issue touches on a more deeply seated problem for Mr. Trump, one that his Democratic opponent, Joseph R. Biden Jr., has worked to exploit: the degree to which Americans do — and more frequently, do not — see the president as empathetic and understanding.

In a recently filmed conversation with former President Barack Obama, Mr. Biden tweaked Mr. Trump for his “inability to get a sense of what people are going through” when it comes to the virus.

In an ABC News/Washington Post poll released this week, when asked to choose between Mr. Trump or Mr. Biden on who better “understands the problems of people like you,” 52 percent of Americans chose Mr. Biden; 35 percent chose the president.

Since the pandemic began, approval of Mr. Trump’s response has flipped from being generally positive to decidedly negative. Most polls now show the president’s coronavirus approval rating about 20 percentage points in the red.

Looking ahead to November, the issue of school reopenings could become an especially hot topic in key battleground states, particularly those like Florida and Texas where the virus continues to surge.

A Quinnipiac poll of Florida released Thursday found that 62 percent of voters there thought it would be unsafe to send students back to elementary school in the fall.

The state’s Republican governor, Ron DeSantis, has echoed Mr. Trump’s insistence that schools come back for in-person classes, drawing rebukes from Democrats and a lawsuit from teachers’ unions.

By a 19-point margin, Florida voters tended to disapprove of how their governor was handling reopening schools. They disapproved of the president’s approach by 23 points.

In Texas, recent polls have shown Mr. Biden with a roughly even shot at becoming the first Democrat since 1976 to win the state’s plentiful Electoral College haul. Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, backed off a demand that all schools return to in-person classes within the first three weeks of the semester.

Fifty-two percent of Texas voters told Quinnipiac interviewers that Mr. Abbott had pushed to reopen the state too quickly, versus just 13 percent saying he had moved too slowly, according to a poll of the state released this week. As in Florida, roughly six in 10 Texas voters said they thought it would be unsafe to bring K-12 schools back in person.

Updated July 23, 2020

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Trump wants

Trump wants a payroll tax cut in the next stimulus package. It’s a bad idea. – The Washington Post

There are things that make great sense in theory but make no sense in the actual world in which we live. President Trump’s idea of eliminating (or modifying or who-knows-what-ing) the Social Security-Medicare payroll tax as part of an economic stimulus package is a classic example of something that makes no sense in the real world.

In theory, eliminating or reducing payroll taxes is the quickest and cleanest way to stimulate the economy for people who have jobs. Suddenly, those people are taking home more money than they were. That’s why payroll taxes have been cut before to stimulate the economy, and it seems to have worked.

But in our current environment, it makes no sense to cut or eliminate the payroll tax — paid equally by employees and employers — to provide emergency assistance to people in need and boost the economy, which needs all the stimulus it can get.

Let me show you why I say that.

For starters, eliminating the payroll tax — which is levied on employment income — wouldn’t help the tens of millions of people who have lost their jobs since the novel coronavirus upended the economy.

It’s sort of obvious, if you think about it. If you don’t have a job, you’re not paying payroll tax. So eliminating the payroll tax wouldn’t put any more money in your pocket.

And as a class, recently unemployed people are the ones most in need of a quick financial fix. That’s especially true given the looming July 31 end for some of the benefits they’ve been getting under the Cares Act. Cutting or eliminating the payroll tax wouldn’t help them in any way that I can see.

Even if Congress decides to go along with what Trump proposes, once we get to see what it is, implementing a payroll tax cut more than halfway through the year would be incredibly messy.

Let me explain.

The payroll tax this year consists of 12.4 percent of an employee’s first $137,700 of salary for Social Security, and 2.9 percent of all salary for Medicare. It’s split evenly between employer and employee: 6.2 percent each for Social Security up to $137,700; 1.45 percent each on all salary for Medicare.

If the year were just starting or just about to start, it would be relatively simple for employers to cut back or eliminate the payroll tax to put more money in employees’ pockets. And possibly in their own pockets as well.

But we’re in the second half of July. Which means that employees who’ve managed to keep their jobs have been paying payroll tax for close to eight months. As have their employers.

Are you going to have the Treasury send employees (and possibly employers) refunds of the Social Security and Medicare taxes they’ve paid so far this year? Good luck with making that work.

Are you going to have employers cut checks to current employees and to former employees who’ve lost their jobs this year, and get the Treasury to reimburse employers for the cost? Good luck with that, too.

And finally: The higher your salary, the more you and your employer pay in Social Security and Medicare taxes — and the more benefit you derive from reductions in those taxes. Should we cut taxes for the highly paid as part of an emergency stimulus package to help people in need? I don’t think so.

I don’t know where Trump got his cut-the-payroll-tax idea, but he ought to send it back where it came from. Along with a tweet saying IT’S BEEN VETOED.

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bases wants

ESA wants to make Moon bases out of astronaut pee – BGR

  • The European Space Agency says urine could play a major role in the construction of lunar bases.
  • The urea in urine makes it an ideal ingredient to combine with lunar soil, creating a sort of ‘lunar concrete’ that hardens into rigid shapes. 
  • Visit BGR’s homepage for more stories.

Not long ago, researchers published a study revealing that a combination of pee and lunar soil may provide suitable building material for space travelers. The study suggested that the urea in astronaut urine could play a crucial role in mixing a concrete-like material for construction purposes. Now, the European Space Agency is doubling down on the idea, noting that astronaut pee will likely play a big role in space exploration.

With NASA, China, and the ESA all eyeing Moon missions in the coming years, the idea of setting up semi-permanent lunar bases is getting some serious attention. Many possible options have been proposed, including using hollow lunar lava tubes as makeshift homes.

While Moon caves might work in a pinch, it would be ideal if astronauts could rapidly build shelters that would protect them while offering them an opportunity to carry out scientific objectives. That means having material readily available to use for construction, but hauling supplies into space is already a challenge, and it wouldn’t be feasible to expect a mission to carry building materials on top of everything else.

The good news is that the Moon is big, rocky, and covered in loose lunar soil called regolith. It’s a material that may have many uses, but in this context, its most important attribute is that, when combined with urine, it becomes a workable substance that eventually hardens. Like concrete, it could be formed into foundations for structures or even bricks to provide support and protection.

“The science community is particularly impressed by the high strength of this new recipe compared to other materials, but also attracted by the fact that we could use what’s already on the Moon,” Marlies Arnhof of the ESA’s Advanced Concepts Team said in a statement. “Urea is cheap and readily available, but also helps making strong construction material for a Moon base.”

In the study, scientists used simulated lunar regolith and experimented with various mixtures to find the right consistency. Once that ratio was nailed down, they tested the properties of the resulting “lunar concrete.” One of the big benefits of using a material that is already present on the Moon is that it holds up well against the harsh conditions present there. In their testing, the researchers noted that the samples withstood temperatures ranging from -112 degrees to 237 degrees Fahrenheit.

We’re obviously still not at a point where we can even begin to plan for lunar base construction, and even if NASA manages to achieve its lofty goal of sending humans back to the Moon by 2024, they definitely won’t be doing any base building while they’re there. Still, lunar bases may be a possibility in the not-so-distant future, and if they are, pee will probably be part of the plan.

Image Source: NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University

Mike Wehner has reported on technology and video games for the past decade, covering breaking news and trends in VR, wearables, smartphones, and future tech.

Most recently, Mike served as Tech Editor at The Daily Dot, and has been featured in USA Today,, and countless other web and print outlets. His love of
reporting is second only to his gaming addiction.

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Trump wants

Trump says he still wants to terminate Obamacare ‘because it’s bad’ – Reuters

Asked if he still supported the lawsuit calling to invalidate Obamacare, President Donald Trump said he did.


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Money wants

The IRS Wants Its Money Back – Stimulus Checks Made To Dead Taxpayers Must Be Returned – Forbes

Senate stimulus deal includes individual checks virus economic stimulus plan US 1srcsrc dollar bills currency on American flag Global pandemic Covid 19 lockdown

The Treasury issued instructions to return stimulus payments made to deceased taxpayers.


The Treasury Department announced today that stimulus checks made out to deceased taxpayers should be returned to the IRS.

If the checks were sent by mail, they should be voided and mailed back to the IRS. If the payments were made via direct deposit, the taxpayer should write a check to the government and mail it in.

This has been a confusing situation for thousands of taxpayers, so let’s dig in and take a deeper look at this situation and how you can resolve it if it impacts you.

The Problem: Tens of Thousands of Deceased Taxpayers Received Stimulus Payments

The IRS determined stimulus check eligibility based on 2018 or 2019 tax returns. There are some safeguards in place to prevent payments from being made to deceased taxpayers. For example, the Social Security Administration (SSA) maintains a Death Master File to track deceased individuals to prevent issuing Social Security Benefits to those who have passed away.

The IRS has previously used this list to help determine who not to send stimulus checks to. However, there can be gaps if the list is not up to date.

The IRS has done a good job of issuing tens of millions of stimulus checks in a short period of time. But it’s inevitable there will be some mistakes along the way.

In previous years in which there were stimulus checks, there were tens of thousands of checks that were issued to deceased taxpayers. The IRS has not released the number of stimulus payments issued to deceased taxpayers this year. But it could potentially be a bigger problem than in previous years since the IRS based stimulus check eligibility upon the most recent tax return they had on file – either 2018 or 2019. There have been reports of some taxpayers receiving stimulus payments even though they had passed away in 2018.

The Solution: The IRS Wants Its Money Back

The IRS today announced that stimulus checks issued to deceased individuals should be returned if the person died before they received their stimulus check.

Married couples who received two payments should return the portion that applies to the deceased spouse.

MORE FROM FORBESIRS Sends Stimulus Checks To Dead Taxpayers. Do They Need To Be Repaid?By Ryan Guina

How to Return Your Stimulus Payment to the IRS

The IRS has provided instructions on its website.

If you received a check by mail:

  • Simply write “Void” in the endorsement section on the back of the check.
  • Mail the voided Treasury check to the appropriate IRS location listed here.
  • Don’t staple, bend, or paper clip the check.
  • Include a note stating the reason for returning the check. 

If you received a stimulus payment via direct deposit or if you have already cashed the check:

  • Submit a personal check, money order, etc., to the appropriate IRS location listed here.
  • Write on the check/money order made payable to “U.S. Treasury” and write 2020EIP, and the taxpayer identification number (social security number,  or individual taxpayer identification number) of the recipient of the check.
  • Include a brief explanation of the reason for returning the EIP.

Families of Recently Deceased Taxpayers Should Pay Attention – The IRS is Still Issuing Stimulus Payments

The IRS is still processing the Economic Impact Payments. Most direct deposits have been issued, but the IRS expects it to take months to process all the paper checks that need to be sent out. 

Pay attention to bank account statements and mail if you have a recently deceased family member. 

MORE FROM FORBESIRS Starts Sending Stimulus Checks – Yours Might Take Months To ArriveBy Ryan Guina


IRS Sends Stimulus Checks To Dead Taxpayers. Do They Need To Be Repaid?

Six Reasons You Haven’t Received Your Stimulus Check – And Steps To Take Next

Missing Your Stimulus Check? 5 Reasons You Won’t Get One

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