On Monday, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx tried to light a fire under Congress, reminding the gridlocked national legislature that if they don't find $18 billion in spare change by the end of August, the Highway Trust Fund could run out of money. This is bad news: An empty trust fund could stall more than 112,000 already ongoing infrastructure projects and unhelpfully affect almost 700,000 jobs, according to a White House economic analysis.
And that's just the ongoing projects. The U.S. needs more infrastructure projects, not fewer. "We have an infrastructure deficit in this country," Foxx said Monday. "We cannot meet the needs of a growing country and a growing economy by simply maintaining our current level of effort." He's right.
So what's the good news? The Highway Trust Fund — which pays for a lot of not just highway projects but bridge repairs and public transportation needs — is financed almost entirely through a dedicated federal gas tax. And thanks to more efficient cars (hybrids + federal mileage standards) and fewer Americans driving, U.S. motorists are buying less gas — with results this chart from The Washington Post demonstrates:
As Slate's Josh Voorhees notes, there's a simple, obvious solution to the funding shortfall — raising the gas tax, stuck at 18.4 cents a gallon since 1994 — and Washington won't touch it. Congress will have to do something, probably foolish. But let's take a moment to admire the silver lining: Using less gas is something every side of the political spectrum can celebrate. Peter Weber
A Home Depot employee in Staten Island, N.Y., sparked death threats by wearing an "America Was Never Great" hat to work, The New York Times reports. Krystal Lake, 22, says she wore the hat after several co-workers wore pro–Donald Trump pins. "The point of the hat was to say that America needs change and improvement," Lake said. A company spokesman said Lake has been told never to wear the hat again.
After much back and forth, Donald Trump released a statement Friday saying definitively that he would not engage Sen. Bernie Sanders in a debate. The two camps had traded comments in the media after Trump said on Wednesday night's Jimmy Kimmel Live show that he'd debate the Democratic candidate, and Sanders agreed. There had been discussions of doing the debate for charity before Trump put the kibosh on the whole thing, as only Trump can:
Trump says he WILL NOT debate Bernie: " it seems inappropriate that I would debate the second place finisher" pic.twitter.com/EhUgIx2Nt5
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) May 27, 2016
Sad! Kimberly Alters
The CEO of a New York-based technology investment company has offered to put forward $10 million to charity if Donald Trump will debate Bernie Sanders.
Trump has flip-flopped on his promise to debate Sanders, although he eventually said during a Thursday speech that he would do so only if someone paid $10 million to a "women's health charity." Sanders has also appeared to be up for a debate, asking for the matchup to take place in the largest stadium possible.
Traction and Scale CEO Richie Heckler told BuzzFeed News that his company would be willing to put forward the money if they were given the opportunity to host the debate. Heckler, who supported a Michael Bloomberg candidacy, aims to hold the event on June 6, the day before the California primary, and in the largest venue in California that can be secured. Heckler said "the format we're going to use will be different," and that the debate would be "a very powerful change to the process."
It would certainly be unusual, anyway — neither Trump nor Sanders have been officially nominated by their respective parties. In fact, Sanders looks more than likely to lose in July to Hillary Clinton, who has so far turned down his requests for another Democratic debate. Jeva Lange
Though Dr. Henry Heimlich developed his life-saving maneuver way back in 1974, it wasn't until this week that he actually put it to the test in an emergency. On Monday evening at his retirement home in Cincinnati, the 96-year-old retired chest surgeon saved someone who was choking with his namesake treatment for what he says is the first time ever.
During dinner, Heimlich noticed fellow resident Patty Ris, 87, suddenly begin to choke on a piece of hamburger. While staff rushed over to help her, it was Heimlich who ultimately stepped in to help. "I did the Heimlich Maneuver — of course,” Heimlich told The Guardian. “She was going to die if she wasn't treated. I did it, and a piece of food with some bone in it flew out of her mouth."
— USA TODAY (@USATODAY) May 27, 2016
Ris joined the ranks of the tens of thousands of lives, including former President Ronald Reagan, that have been saved in the U.S. thanks to Dr. Heimlich's maneuver. "When I used it, and she recovered quickly," Heimlich said, "it made me appreciate how wonderful it has been to be able to save all those lives." Becca Stanek
Customers in a Didsbury, England, coffee shop began to "freak out" after they heard shouting and "gunshot-like bangs," prompting one man to dive head-first out a window to escape, Metro reports. The Costa Coffee patrons believed they were experiencing a terrorist attack — although the sounds turned out to be noisy school children banging their trays downstairs.
"It sounded like shots were being fired. It was not just me who thought that," one woman who asked not to be named by The Manchester Evening News said. "Other people were running around trying to get out on to the balcony but the door was locked. I think that's why the man went for one of the front windows. When I looked round I could only see his feet hanging from the window. He was climbing out head first. To be honest I wasn't surprised by his reaction because we all thought an attack was happening. It sounded like there was a shooting downstairs. I was expecting people wearing balaclavas and carrying guns to come upstairs."
The man who jumped out the window may have broken his arm, and was taken to the hospital. Costa Coffee wishes him a speedy recovery. Jeva Lange
"There are a number of things in life that can calm down just about anybody; burning wood fires, and hanging out in hot tubs are chief among them," says J.D. Digiovanni at HiConsumption.com.
The Soak outdoor wood-fired hot tub ($4,450), created by a Canadian design and fabrication firm, combines both pleasures. Made from marine-grade aluminum, stainless steel, and red cedar, this tub for two heats up via a wood fire or propane. The tub's Bauhaus-inspired modernist lines aren't what you expect from a wood-fired tub, but the look is "a great fit for almost any backyard."
Verizon reached a deal Friday with two labor unions representing 39,000 employees, Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez has announced. The four-year agreement is now being put into writing, and the employees are expected to go back to work next week.
The deal puts an end to six weeks of strikes over pay and pension cuts. Between 35,000 and 39,000 Verizon employees walked off their jobs in April, making it the largest strike in U.S. history.
"This tentative resolution is a testament to the power of collective bargaining. I commend the leadership of Verizon, CWA, and IBEW for their commitment to resolving these difficult issues in the spirit of constructive engagement. I expect that workers will be back on the job next week,” Perez said in a statement. Jeva Lange