Posts tagged with "Kansas"

Five GOP-led states extend unemployment aid to workers who have lost jobs over vaccine mandates

December 28, 2021

At least five Republican-led states have extended unemployment benefits to people who have forfeited their jobs because of their refusal to comply with vaccine mandates—and a smattering of others may soon follow, reports The Washington Post.

Workers who quit or are fired for cause—including for defying company policy — are generally ineligible for jobless benefits. But Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Kansas and Tennessee have carved out exceptions for those who won’t submit to the multi-shot coronavirus vaccine regimens that many companies now require.

 Similar ideas have been floated in Wyoming, Wisconsin and Missouri.

 Critics contend that these states are incentivizing people to skip shots that public health experts say offer the best line of defense against the coronavirus. Business leaders and industry groups have argued against the rule changes because, they say, companies would shoulder much of the costs. And the efforts are playing out as the Biden administration is pressing immunization rules for private companies and as coronavirus cases are surging again because of the fast-spreading omicron variant.

 Indeed, the Post notes, observers say it’s a mark of the politicization of the coronavirus—with fights flaring over business closures, mask mandates and mor —and how it has scrambled state politics and altered long-held positions. What’s more, it wasn’t long ago that two dozen Republican-led states moved to restrict unemployment aid to compel residents to return to the workforce and ease labor shortages.

 “These governors, who are using the unemployment insurance system in a moment of political theater to make a statement about the vaccine mandate, are the same folks who turned off unemployment benefits early for millions of workers over the summer,” said Rebecca Dixon, the executive director of the left-leaning National Employment Law Project. Arkansas, Iowa, Tennessee and Florida cut federal unemployment aid in June.

 But backers insist that Americans should be able to decide for themselves whether to get vaccinated. Kansas Senate President Ty Masterson (R) has broadly criticized vaccine mandates as ineffective and unfair, at one point tweeting: “Kansans have made it clear that they choose freedom over Faucism”—a play on the name of the nation’s leading infectious-disease expert, Anthony S. Fauci, whose masking and vaccination guidance during the pandemic has made him a target for the right.

 The rule change represents one among multiple state measures seeking to undermine President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate, experts say. His vaccine-or-test requirement for businesses with at least 100 employees and a separate vaccine mandate for healthcare workers have been mired in legal challenges. The issue will get a hearing before the Supreme Court next month.

 It’s unclear how many workplaces mandate inoculations. A Kaiser Family Foundation survey from October found that about 25% of the respondents reported that their employers had a vaccination requirement.

 As of December, at least 2,640 of the nation’s 6,000 hospitals had some form of a vaccine requirement, according to data maintained by the American Hospital Association. That’s about 44%, up from about 41% in October.

Each state sets its own eligibility guidelines for unemployment benefits, but they generally are available to those who are out of work because of issues beyond their control, such as being laid off due to a drop in company revenue. That is why someone fired for violating corporate policy, which would include vaccination rules, would not normally qualify for aid.

 

Research contact: @washingtonpost

Creepy crawlies: If you live here, prepare to see thousands of tarantulas

August 6, 2021

Catching an unexpected glimpse of a daddy longlegs spider in your home can make even folks who’d barely call themselves arachnophobes jump. A wolf spider sighting outdoors can frighten even the most intrepid explorers. And encountering a hairy tarantula can cause virtually anyone to freeze up.

Unfortunately for folks of one particular area of the United States, there’s about to be an influx of not just a few or a few hundred, but thousands of tarantulas in the very near future, Best Life reports.

Starting in August, Colorado—particularly the southeastern part of the state—will see a sudden uptick in its tarantula population.

The sudden influx of thousands of tarantulas, which typically begins between late August and September, according to the Colorado State University College of Agricultural Sciences (via The Gazette), is part of the arachnids’ annual migration.

For the Aphonopelma vogelae tarantula, more frequently found in the southwestern portions of the state, migration peaks in October.

But take heart: While seeing thousands of tarantulas descend on your area may be disconcerting, their presence is typically short-lived.

According to the Colorado State University College of Agricultural Sciences, following their migration, the tarantulas are active for a short period of time, but “all normally perish within a couple of months.”

And you won’t be the only one watching where you walk and sit. The Colorado-based tarantula migration isn’t the only major shift in habitats these furry arachnids may be making this year, however.

According to Christopher Vitek, PhD, an associate professor of biology at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley during their mating season between March and October, tarantulas frequently emerge from their usual habitats in states including Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah.

While tarantulas are unlikely to do harm to most humans, it’s wise to give them a wide berth if you encounter one in the wild.

“Their venom is of no medical significance, and contrary to popular belief, nobody has ever died from such a bite; most people compare the bite to that of a bee sting and experience no lasting ill-effects other than mild to moderate pain and slight swelling at the site of the bite,” Brent Hendrixson, PhD, chair of biology at Millsaps College, recently told Best Life.

Hendrixson says that if you do find a tarantula somewhere it shouldn’t be—inside your home, for example—and don’t feel comfortable picking it up, gently coax it into a jar with a soft-ended object like a paintbrush and remove it from the premises.

Research contact: @bestlife

A missile silo to call home: Converted luxury condos in Kansas attract millionaires seeking safety

January 27, 2020

It’s not just the survivalists anymore. People of means are spending big bucks on bunkers and fortified homes that can protect their families from the arctic blasts, heat waves, earthquakes, tsunamis, fires, floods, tornadoes, and hurricanes that are striking with ever-greater regularity.

Indeed, according to a report by Fox Business News, millionaires concerned about the end of the world are buying modern-looking, luxury versions of bomb shelters for over $1.5 million each. And they will even leave the East and West coasts to live in a “flyover state,” if that’s the key to their peace of mind.

The latest in luxury shelters are opulent doomsday condos  converted that are being converted within an Atlas Missile Silo in rural Kansas—and Larry Hall, the owner and project manager at Survival Condo, told Fox Business that, while most are buying the “highly engineered” facilities “just in case,” some people are using the souped-up pads to live out their golden years.

The facility offers a range of amenities, including a movie theater, indoor shooting range, arcade, dog park, library, and an indoor pool; as well as a medical center, a communications complex; aquaponics farmd for fish and plants; redundant electricity, air, and water sources; and a digital weather station.

Each unit omes with a five-year food reserve, a wash and dryer, biometric keyless access, a 50-inch LED TV and home automation system, full kitchens with high-end appliances, and fully decoration done by professionals.

Hall told Fox Business that it’s also a licensed condominium with “well-thought-out” bylaws. They even hired psychologists to “refine” procedures to ensure that the condos are “sustainable in the long run,” he added.

Although the bunkers are “definitely” part of a very narrow market, according to Hall, they are multigenerational.

“These are thousand-year structures that will outlast great castles of Europe,” he said and he added that “it’s a great investment long-term and it gives you that peace of mind.”

Several full-floor condos already have been sold.

Research contact: @FoxBusiness

Moving on up: These five U.S. locales will pay you to live there, so apply right now

December 16, 2019

Moving to a new home can be stressful and costly. You’ll pay anywhere from $800 to $2,000 to move the furnishings of a four-bedroom home locally, according to Home Advisor. The cost to move across country, or out of state, averages about $1,000 per room—and moving an entire house could put you out-of-pocket anywhere from $150,000 to $200,000.

So, imagine how great it would be if you got paid to move.

It’s happening in five U.S. locales, Fast Company reports. This week Topeka, Kansasjoined the list of off-the-beaten-path regions that will pay you to move there.

Upon closer inspection, though, most funding meant to lure you to, say, North Platte, Nebraska, or Grant County, Indiana, involves convoluted applications or home purchases or employer-matching programs. (Topeka’s program requires you to live there for a year, for example.) In other words, nothing you can simply apply for in one step.

Fast Company tracked down the programs that you can easily sign up for right this moment, wherever you are, and lock down funding before you buy your plane ticket:

  • If you’re a full-time remote employee: Think Vermont. Applications open in January for this program, which pays you up to $10,000 over two years just for setting down new roots.
  • If you’re a very recent grad or went to college in Maine: Opportunity Maine will help you pay off your student loans in a state that refunds recent grads for loan payments. The refund comes as a tax credit so, for example, if you pay $2,500 in loan payments and your state income tax bill is $2,100, you would only pay $400 in taxes.
  • If you’re a freelancer or work remotely: Tulsa Remote will provide you with $10,000 and a co-working space. The hip program, funded by the George Kaiser Family Foundation, initially planned to attract 20-25 people—and was deluged by applications, which organizers capped at 10,000. They’ve recently welcomed over 100 new residents, and now the program is back, looking for Tulsa’s 250 newest movers and shakers.
  • If you’re a recent STEAM grad: Go Hamilton. The one in Ohio, which will pay off up to $10,000 of your student loans over three years. That’s totally worth a three-year detour to Butler County.
  • If you’re still buried by student loans 7-10 years out of school: St. Clair County, Michigan, is calling your name and willing to pay back up to $15,000 of your loans through its Come Home Award.

Happy trails.

Research contact: @FastCompany

GOP to cancel 2020 primaries and caucuses, as Trump rivals cry foul

September 9, 2019

Is the GOP “running scared”? Four states are set to cancel their 2020 Republican presidential primaries and caucuses—a move that would block President Donald Trump’s challengers from even getting on the ballot.

Republican functionaries in South Carolina, Nevada, Arizona, and Kansas are expected to announce the cancellations this weekend, three GOP officials who are familiar with the plans told Politico.

According to the political news outlet, “The moves are the latest illustration of Trump’s takeover of the entire Republican Party apparatus. They underscore the extent to which his allies are determined to snuff out any potential nuisance en route to his renomination—or even to deny Republican critics a platform to embarrass him.”

“Trump and his allies and the Republican National Committee are doing whatever they can do to eliminate primaries in certain states and make it very difficult for primary challengers to get on the ballot in a number of states,” former Representative Joe Walsh (R-Illinois), who recently launched his primary campaign against the president, told Politico, adding, “It’s wrong, the RNC should be ashamed of itself, and I think it does show that Trump is afraid of a serious primary challenge because he knows his support is very soft.”

Walsh warned,“W e intend to be on the ballot in every single state no matter what the RNC and Trump allies try to do,” Walsh added. “We also intend to loudly call out this undemocratic bull on a regular basis.”

Former Massachusetts Governor. Bill Weld said in a statement, “We don’t elect presidents by acclamation in America. Donald Trump is doing his best to make the Republican Party his own personal club. Republicans deserve better.”

RNC officials said they played no role in the decisions, the news outlet reported. Trump aides said they supported the cancellations—but stressed that each case was initiated by state party officials.

The shutdowns aren’t without precedent for either the Democrats or the Republicans. South Carolina GOP Chairman Drew McKissick noted that his state decided not to hold Republican presidential primaries in 1984, when Ronald Reagan was running for reelection, or in 2004, when George W. Bush was seeking a second term. South Carolina, he added, also skipped its 1996 and 2012 Democratic contests.

“As a general rule, when either party has an incumbent president in the White House, there’s no rationale to hold a primary,” McKissick said.

Officials in several states said in statements provided by the Trump campaign that they were driven by the cost savings. State parties in Nevada and Kansas foot the bill to put on caucuses.

“It would be malpractice on my part to waste money on a caucus to come to the inevitable conclusion that President Trump will be getting all our delegates in Charlotte,” Nevada GOP Chairman Michael McDonald told Politico. “We should be spending those funds to get all our candidates across the finish line instead.”

Research contact: @politico