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Generation Z Is Bearing the Economic Brunt of the Coronavirus

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Already scarred by the global financial crisis a decade ago, a generation of younger people is bearing the economic brunt of the coronavirus. Even billions of dollars in global fiscal stimulus is struggling to cushion the blow as the pandemic worsens generational inequality.

Take Australia as an example. Despite a A$260 billion ($180 billion) injection of financial and economic support, unemployment among 15 to 24-year-olds has surged to 16.1%, compared to about 5.5% for those over 25. That’s in a country that hasn’t seen a recession since the 1990s and is in the vanguard of nations containing the virus.

About a quarter of younger workers aren’t eligible for the Australian government’s flagship wage subsidy package because they are on casual contracts and haven’t been employed for 12 months, according to Catherine Birch, a senior economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. That compares to just 6.5% for all other age groups.

Elliot Matthews, 21, is one of the unlucky ones. In April, when he learned there’d be no more shifts at the Sydney hotel where he worked, he was just two weeks short of a year’s employment. “That’s a very hard window to fit into,” Matthews said of the government requirement. “While it’s a dark time for everyone, a lot of people are falling through the cracks.”

It’s far from just an Australian story.

As the pandemic drags on, it’s exposing generational fault-lines that were set in train a decade ago when the financial crisis hit Millennials hard and left Generation Z — described by Pew Research as those born after 1996 — with a legacy of insecure work and stunted opportunities.

Across the west, seemingly regardless of the fiscal support, the youngest workers are more likely to be out of a job.

Generational inequality in Australia has long been an issue. Youth unemployment hovered above 12% pre-Covid, higher than in the U.S., the U.K., Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong, according to the World Bank. Home ownership among young Australians is at an all-time low after prices surged beyond their reach — pushed higher in part by generous tax breaks enjoyed mostly by older Australians on their investment properties.

As the coronavirus tips the economy into its first recession in almost 30 years, those issues will be compounded.

“Substantial, targeted, ongoing support, additional to current policies, are needed to ensure young people aren’t left behind,” Birch said. “The labor market for young people is more precarious going into the current shock than it was pre-global financial crisis.”

It’s a similar picture elsewhere.

In the U.K., one-third of 18 to 24-year-old employees, excluding students, have lost jobs or been furloughed, compared to less than 15% of 35 to 44-year-olds, according to research from the Resolution Foundation think tank. Those in atypical jobs, such as zero-hour or temporary contracts, fare much worse. To qualify for Britain’s job support program you just had to be employed on or before March 19.

The casualization of so many jobs for Generation Z has its roots in the last financial crisis. Many entry-level roles were cut and never returned, forcing young people to stay in industries like retail or hospitality for far longer than previous generations, according to Shirley Jackson, a research economist at Per Capita, an Australian think tank that explores issues of inequality.

Going into the pandemic, more than 18% of Australian 15 to 24-year-olds were classed as “underemployed,” more than double the rate of any other age group in Australia and 7 percentage points higher than in 2008, according to Birch. That compares to 12% in the U.K., according to the nearest comparable data from the International Labour Organization.

“The narrative is that we don’t work as hard as our parents, we complain more than they ever did and that we waste our money on silly things,” said 25-year-old Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John, Australia’s youngest sitting member of Parliament. “There are far more people seeking to work than there are jobs for us.”

The crisis, and the Australian government’s response, also risks widening the wealth gap. Australian homeowners, for example, can apply to defer their mortgage payments under a huge program in place for at least another three months.

The temporary moratorium on evicting renters expired in mid-June in the most-populous state of New South Wales and they have largely been left to negotiate with landlords on their own.

“In these kinds of crises, we find out what is already broken,” Tenants’ Union Chief Executive Officer Leo Patterson Ross said. “This will increase the inequality already there between those who own property and those who don’t.”

Another option for those in dire straits is to access their pension savings. Normally near untouchable until retirement, the government has eased the rules on early access. There isn’t comprehensive data on just who is accessing the money, but signs are emerging of the young cleaning out meager pots.

Australia’s Minister for Youth Richard Colbeck, 62, declined a request for an interview. In an emailed statement, a spokesman said the government is “aware young Australians are very concerned about their employment prospects”. He pointed to pre-Covid training initiatives “focused on giving young Australians the right assistance and encouragement to learn new skills, become job ready, get a job and stay in a job.”

Matthews said that he’s been able to live with his parents and now that the economy is opening up, he’s managed to pick up a couple of shifts at a restaurant he worked at previously. Still, he’s aware how vulnerable his generation is.

“I’m not really future-proof at the moment,” he said. “I don’t have a lot of savings to fall back on.”

Jackson, the economist, put it more bluntly: “Generational scarring -– leaving young people outside the labor market for long periods of time — makes them less likely to get better jobs in the future,” he said. “It’s a ticking time bomb.”

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World News

Cleaning tips: Mrs Hinch fan shares £2 ‘miracle’ polish that makes surfaces look new

Anyone looking for cleaning tips and hacks for tricky jobs around the home will no doubt have come across the Instagram sensation Sophie Hinchliffe, better known as Mrs Hinch. The 30-year-old has reached celebrity status in recent years having become an influencer by sharing her best cleaning tips as she looks after her Essex home. But her millions of followers have just as many tips up their sleeves. 

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Since Mrs Hinch’s rise to fame, Facebook groups have popped up for the “Hinch Army” or “Hinchers” where her fans post their cleaning tips and questions. 

The groups have hundreds of thousands of members who all help each other to fix stains and problems around the home with their tried and tested cleaning knowledge. 

Questions on the groups often have hundreds of replies as followers flock to share their top tips and favourite products for getting rid of stubborn dirt and grime around the home. 

This week one product has cropped up multiple times, with some fans calling it a “miracle” spray. 

READ MORE: Cleaning tips: Mrs Hinch’s quick bathroom cleaning routine revealed

One Hinch fan posted a picture of her gleaming black front door in the Hinch Army Cleaning Tips group to reveal how she transformed it. 

The group member said that she had been planning to repaint the door as it was looking so dull and faded – but a £2 spray has transformed it into a glossy, shiny finish. 

She used a cheap polish called Aristowax Wood Silk, which is silicone-free – making it ideal for cleaning wood and other surfaces. 

Silicones can seep into your furniture and leave a hazy finish (known as blooming), which can leave it looking dirty or faded. 

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However, the £1.99 spray uses a blend of the purest beeswax and nutrient oils to highlight the grain and colour of the wood, as well as restoring oils lost due to heat or sunlight. 

It’s designed for use on gloss, satin and matt wood finishes – but fans have revealed it can be used on all sorts of surfaces to make them look as good as new. 

One commenter said they use it on their wooden floors, despite the fact it makes them slippery “like an ice rink”, while another warned: “Unless u (sic) want to go flying like some stunt woman doing some Torvill and Dean act do not use this on wooden floors.”

However, others have found it works wonders around the home – with one even using it to clean a cooker hood and leave it sparkling. 

READ MORE

  • Cleaning: Mrs Hinch fans share easy hack to clean windows

Another user posted a before and after shot of her PVC front door after using the spray – and had hundreds of comments as fans were shocked by the impressive result. 

The faded brown door looked brand new in the second photo, with the poster saying she was “amazed” at the difference it had made. 

Meanwhile another user shared a photo of a discoloured plastic water butt which she had been cleaning with the polish, showing a marked difference as it restored the original shade. 

Another commenter said: “I used it on my gazebo metal frame which was faded off the sun…this miracle in a can brought it back to life!”

Comments rolled in on the post as other followers agreed that the polish is one of the best for getting furniture looking like new again. 

One posted a photo of her garden table in the middle of cleaning it, showing a huge difference between the faded, dull plastic and the newly restored polished area. 

Some users also said they’ve cleaned the inside of their car dashboard with the handy spray. 

Others however used it on much smaller areas around the home, with one even saying it cleaned up her slate coasters to look as good as new. 

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Markets

Luckin Coffee chairman ousted by shareholders: report

Starbucks halting advertising on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram over hate speech concerns

Fox Business Briefs: Coffee giant Starbucks puts social media ads on pause. Walmart gives full-time employees in the U.S. another coronavirus bonus of $300.

(Reuters) – Luckin Coffee Inc Chairman Charles Zhengyao Lu has been ousted by shareholders from the embattled coffee chain, just days after a proposal to remove him failed to get board approval, Bloomberg News reported on Sunday, citing Chinese web portal 163.com.

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Three other board directors including Sean Shao were also removed at an extraordinary shareholders meeting in Beijing on Sunday, the report said.

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Ying Zeng and Jie Yang will be added as independent board directors, the report added.

Luckin Coffee declined to comment.

People wearing protective masks gather outside a Luckin Coffee Inc. outlet in Shanghai, China, on April 3, 2020. (Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Luckin stated just days ago that a proposal to remove Lu as chairman of the embattled coffee chain’s board did not get the number of necessary votes from directors to pass.

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The China-based coffee chain had earlier in the week wound up an internal probe into fake annual sales of about $300 million, following which several of Luckin's directors proposed the ousting of Lu.

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Lu, who is the controlling shareholder of Luckin, is also the founder of auto-rental firm CAR Inc and Chinese ride-hailing firm Ucar Inc.

During the investigation, Luckin sacked its chief executive and chief operating officers, who had previously held top positions at Lu’s other firms.

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World News

Possible Biden VP pick dodges question on taking down George Washington statues

Who is Tammy Duckworth?

As the pressure rises on presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden to announce a woman as his running mate, eyes have turned to Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth. Here’s 5 things you need to know about her.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth, D-Ill., is among the shortlist of political figures that presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden is rumored to be considering as a running mate, but she balked when asked about a sensitive subject that has been on the forefront of political discourse.

Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday morning, Duckworth was asked about recent calls to remove monuments commemorating American founding fathers like Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson because they were slave owners.

Rather than answer directly, Duckworth first changed the subject, then made inaccurate references to President Trump’s speech at Mount Rushmore on Friday evening.

TRUMP, IN FIERY MOUNT RUSHMORE ADDRESS, DECRIES RISE OF 'FAR-LEFT' FASCISM,' CALLS ON AMERICANS TO RISE UP

“Well let me just say that we should start off by having a national dialogue on it at some point, but right now we’re in the middle of a global pandemic … and one the countries who are opposed to us, Russia, has put a bounty on American troops’ heads," she said. "What really struck me about the speech that the president gave at Mount Rushmore was that he spent more time worried about honoring dead Confederates than he did talking about the lives of 130,000 Americans who lost their lives to COVID-19 or by warning Russia off the bounty they’re putting on Americans’ heads.”

At no point in Trump’s speech did he show respect to or even mention the Confederacy or its leaders. In fact, the only times he referenced the Civil War was in the context of Union victory and honoring President Abraham Lincoln. He also celebrated the memories of Washington and Jefferson, noting – as CNN’s Dana Bash did – that there are those who seek to eliminate monuments to their memories.

After Duckworth made another allusion to the Confederacy by accusing Trump of honoring “dead traitors,” Bash noted that Washington is not a traitor and that there are people who want to remove statues of him.

“Is that a good idea?” Bash asked.

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Duckworth again did not answer but did say she was willing to hear from those who do want to take down statues of the first president.

“I think we should listen to everybody,” she said. “I think we should listen to the argument there.”

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Categories
Economy

Target starts $15 minimum wage in US stores

Trump coy about his opinion on higher minimum wages

President Trump says he has a ‘very positive’ statement about minimum wages coming out in the next two weeks.

Target’s starting wage hike of $15 per hour began Sunday.

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The retail giant first announced its intention to raise its company-wide minimum wage in September 2017 when it raised its hourly pay from $10 to $11 in U.S. stores. In a press release at the time, the company promised to raise its hourly wage to $15 per hour by the end of 2020 – which puts the wage hike five months or so ahead of schedule.

"In the best of times, our team brings incredible energy and empathy to our work, and in harder times they bring those qualities plus extraordinary resilience and agility to keep Target on the forefront of meeting the changing needs of our guests and our business year after year," said Target's Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell in a company statement issued in June.

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TGT TARGET CORP. 119.12 +0.16 +0.13%

"Everything we aspire to do and be as a company builds on the central role our team members play in our strategy, their dedication to our purpose and the connection they create with our guests and communities," he continued.

THIS STATE HAS THE LOWEST MINIMUM WAGE IN AMERICA

The wage hike matches the "Fight For $15" campaign where retail workers are seeking what they call a livable hourly wage of $15 per hour.

In a photo taken Nov. 16, 2018, a Target employee scans an item at a Target store in Edison, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

The current federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Wages vary state-by-state, however. Illinois, Nevada and Oregon are three states that raised its minimum wage this month as planned – though not as ambitious as Target's commitment to $15 per hour.

THE STATES WITH THE HIGHEST MINIMUM WAGE

New York City and Washington, D.C. are the only two cities that already have a basic minimum rate of $15 per hour, according to the DOL. The state of California is on track to have a minimum wage of $15 per hour by 2023.

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During the pandemic, retailers have issued temporary hazard pay bonuses for in-store employees who are on the frontlines.

In June, Target issued a one-time "recognition bonus" of $200 to tore and distribution center hourly workers.

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World News

How the cheapest Tesla Model 3 at $40,000 matches up against a loaded $45,000 Nissan Leaf.

  • I've driven the Tesla Model 3 in several different versions. I've also sampled an updated version of the Nissan Leaf.
  • The Leaf has been in the electric-vehicle market for longer, but the Model 3 is among the best cars I've ever driven. 
  • Last year, I tested a new, longer-range version of the Leaf: the Leaf SL Plus. 
  • You can buy the Model 3 and the Leaf Plus for around $40,000 (the mid-range Leaf SV Plus starts at $39,750).
  • The Tesla Model 3 is better, but the Leaf Plus has a lot going for it.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Nissan beat Tesla to market with a practical, all-electric vehicle when in 2010 it launched the Leaf.

Tesla caught up, but with the expensive Model S sedan.

The arrival of the Model 3 in 2017 signaled a new era. Now, consumers could choose between the proven Leaf and the stunning new Model 3; the Model 3 had better performance and longer range, but the Leaf was a known quantity.

I recently tested a longer-range version of the Leaf: the 2019 Leaf SL Plus — and was impressed. A 2020 Leaf SL Plus can be had for about $45,000 right now. So I thought I'd compare it with the Model 3. The version I drove was the cheapest; a single-motor rear-wheel-drive Model 3 that can now be had for about $40,000.

Here's how the cars match up:

Here's the Nissan Leaf SL Plus! Looking sharp in "Deep Pearl Blue."

Read our review from 2019.

Pretty much the same Deep Pearl Blue as the Leaf that was a Business Insider Car of the Year finalist in 2018. That car had a single electric motor, producing 147 horsepower, a 40-kWh battery pack, and delivered 151 miles of range on a full charge.

The SL Plus trim level has a 62 kilowatt-hour battery. The larger pack adds roughly 70 miles of range compared to the standard Leaf's 150-mile battery.

The Leaf is the top-selling EV globally, which makes sense as the car has been around since 2010. More than 400,000 have been sold.

The SL trim level is the top-of-the-line version. That's why my test car cost $44,000. The base Leaf, with a smaller battery and less range, starts at around $30,000.

The goal when the Leaf was launched was for the Japanese automaker to embrace a "zero emission" future. It hasn't quite worked out that way, but the company is making progress, and Leaf is still with us.

Hatchback silhouettes aren't typically associated with automotive aggression, and EVs tend to project a mostly virtuous vibe. But the Leaf's fascia is rather bold.

This second-generation Leaf is much sleeker than the first generation that was in production from 2010 to 2017. However, we're talking about a practical hatchback here, so let's not get too excited.

Aerodynamics play a role in increasing EV range, so while the hatch design favors utility, the Leaf's front end has been engineered for airflow: the car has a 0.28 drag coefficient.

The LED headlights are a standout feature.

Overall, the Leaf projects a fairly European identity. That perhaps has turned off some US customers, who have basically abandoned small vehicles in favor of large SUVs and pickups.

The Leaf's "Light Gray" interior was pleasant, if a bit shy of premium. The seats were comfy, and there was a reasonable amount of space to stow small items.

The back seat was about average, space-wise, for the segment.

The Leaf has always received criticism for its "tweener" nature. It's not a luxury car, but it's also not bare-bones. I've always thought it hits a sweet spot for customers who aren't wealthy but who have the means to invest in an EV.

The Leaf's eight-inch color infotainment display looks good, but we aren't the biggest fans of the system's layout. It is easy to use, and Bluetooth device-pairing is a snap. You also have available Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.

The toggle-button shifter has a slight learning curve. And storage could be better, although there's the usual pair of cupholders between the seats.

An unassuming rear hatch for the most part, but you're quickly informed of this EV's nonpolluting pedigree.

The Leaf's cargo area is an excellent 24 cubic feet, expandable to 30 with the rear seats dropped. The hatch's opening is a tad awkward, with a sort of oval shape.

Charging is unchanged from the Leaf we tested last year, at least as far as the ports go. There are two, one for 240V "Level 2" charging and one for fast DC charging.

Our Leaf SL Plus had a 160-kilowatt electric motor, making a juicy 214 horsepower with 250 pound-feet of torque.

The Leaf also has regenerative braking. And when the e-Pedal feature is engaged, it's possible to drive the car using motor braking almost alone, putting power back into the battery. 

There's also an onboard charge cable for "trickle" top-offs using a regular wall outlet for 120V power. Using 240V, the Leaf Plus is back to 100% in 11.5 hours. Fast DC charging, however, can achieve 80% in 45 minutes.

We used the ChargePoint network and did fine with two rounds of 240V charging over the course of a week. It's also possible to install your own 240V ChargePoint unit at home; one can be purchased for about $500, with installation handled by a qualified electrician.

We also used the Nissan Connect iPhone app to monitor charging and to manage climate control and vehicle diagnostics.

So how does the Nissan Leaf Plus stack up?

If you can afford the payments — which come in at about $670 a month, on a 72-month loan — you'll spend around $54 a month on electricity, according to Nissan, the US Department of Transportation, and the EPA (the cost is based on 15,000 miles of annual driving). Gas could cost you more than twice as much for a comparable petrol-burning machine.

The Leaf Plus is also still eligible for the $7,500 federal tax credit, as well as various state incentives. 

And you don't have to buy the top-spec SL trim, like our tester — you could opt for the $38,200 Leaf Plus and still get a 62-kilowatt-hour battery pack.

OK, you won't feel compelled to buy the Leaf Plus if your budget is more Nissan Versa, a $14,730 sedan that runs on gas (but not much gas) and could be had for less than $260 a month.

Electric cars, of course, aren't cheap (although you can pick up a used Leaf from the previous generation for around $10,000). But if you have the means and are serious about making the transition from fossil fuels to EEE-lec-tricity for propulsion, the Leaf Plus' 215 miles of range could flip your switch.

The 6.5-second 0-to-60 mph should also flip your switch. That's darn quick, for a car that outwardly resembles something you'd find parked on the streets of Paris and used mainly for baguette runs. My beef with the Leaf, compared to other EVs is that it felt solid yet sluggish. Against the Bolt, the shorter-range Leaf seemed to lack snap. 

Not so anymore. The larger battery and more peppy motors have made the Leaf Plus feel downright sporty. My test car also included a suite of driver-assistance features (Nissan's ProPilot, for example, which can handle steering assist), so the Leaf has become a rather complete package that, for $45,000 as tested, was genuinely packed with content.

Now let's check out the Model 3!

I drove what was at the time a $57,500 Model 3 and raved about it in my review.

We also named it a runner-up for Business Insider's 2018 Car of the Year.

The Model 3 in "Standard Range Plus" trim with rear-wheel-drive and the "Partial Premium Interior" is the least expensive version available on Tesla configurator. It's about $40,000.

I also briefly sampled the $78,000 Performance version of the Model 3 when it first came out. The white interior is really something special — I can see why it's popular.

I spent a week with my test car, running it through its paces.

Read the review.

The Model 3 is a sharp set of wheels, designed by Tesla's Franz von Holzhausen to embody forward thinking without taking any wild and crazy chances.

The Model 3 is sleek, not overly curvaceous, and something of a hybrid of midsize and full-size sedan. No grille because … there's no gas engine to feed air!

The roof is a continuous curve of glass, with a fastback rear hatch/trunk culminating in a crisp spoiler. The recessed door handles and the window trim are the only significant chrome on the Model 3.

The Model 3 is unadorned except for the Tesla badge. By the way, fit and finish on my test car were superb.

The Model 3 has plenty of trunk space — and an offbeat hatch design to enable that continuous glass roof.

With its "frunk," the Model 3 offers an ample 15 cubic feet of space. This gives the Model 3, a sedan, versatility on par with SUVs.

You have to be a minimalist to love the Model 3's interior. The leatherette upholstery is animal-free, and the flash is … well, there isn't any.

Tesla makes its own seats. The Model 3's are quite comfy and supportive for more spirited driving, and the front seats are heated. There was decent legroom in back.

The Model 3 has no key fob. Instead, that duty is handled by a Tesla smartphone app …

With a credit-card-size valet key as a backup.

In this configuration, the Model 3 can dash from 0 to 60 mph in about five seconds.

That's speedy enough for anybody, and the quality of that speed is very Tesla and very electric-car. EVs have 100% of their torque available immediately, which means potentially neck-snapping velocity.

A Model S P100D with Ludicrous Mode engaged can do zero to 60 mph in less than 2.3 seconds. That's jarring acceleration. The Model 3 is calmer. But not too calm. You are rewarded when you punch it.

The Model 3 also has regenerative braking, which can be customized to be heavy or light. Heavy acts almost like an engine brake and permits the driver to actively brake much less frequently than with a gas vehicle, while recharging the battery. Light mitigates the sense that the Model 3 is tugging when coasting.

For what it's worth, the Model 3 I tested lacked a Ludicrous or Insane mode — the default is quick acceleration. But you can switch that to Chill Mode, which dials it back. And I did. Chill is considerably easier to live with.

The showstopper for the Model 3 has always been the dashboard, beginning with the steering wheel. Unlike nearly every other steering wheel on the planet, the Model 3's has almost no knobs or buttons.

The large, central touchscreen handles almost all vehicle functions. The left side is reserved for the readouts you'd normally find on an instrument cluster.

Navigation is the standout feature, but the voice-recognition system is about the best I've ever used in a modern vehicle. The Tesla-designed audio system is superb, and connectivity with devices is a breeze.

I recharged my tester Model 3 at a Supercharger location near my home. But most owners will charge overnight using a "Level 2" setup at 240 volts. It's also possible to trickle charge using the onboard cable and a standard wall outlet.

Free supercharging for life used to be a great perk of Tesla ownership. But as ownership has grown, Tesla has adjusted the deal.

The company also discourages owners from using Superchargers for casual daily fill-ups, preferring they plug into slower charging options at home and save supercharging for longer trips.

A Supercharger will recharge a Model 3 Long Range from zero to full in about an hour. Using 240-volt power will get the job done overnight, and a basic wall outlet will get you a mile an hour in an emergency.

Unlike a quick gas-n-go, you do have to cultivate some patience with Tesla's recharging process.

In case you're wondering about Autopilot: I've reviewed the technology before and consider it very advanced cruise control. I strongly recommend against ever going hands-free with it.

The Model 3 is engineered to someday have full self-driving capability. That day hasn't come yet. But it will surely add value if it does.

I used Autopilot with the Model 3 during my longest test, and it performed as it always has for me in other Tesla vehicles. But the truth is that I liked driving the Model 3 so darn much that I didn't flip Autopilot on very often. I can't be the only person who feels this way.

Teslas are a blast to drive — that ever-present temptation, to be honest, undermines Autopilot. I enjoy driving. For what it is, Autopilot is an excellent technology.

So what's the verdict?

The Model 3 takes it!

But it was closer that you might think. The Model 3 has longer range, is faster from 0 to 60 mph, has a cooler infotainment system and more forward-thinking interior design, exudes exterior styling mojo, offers better recharging options, and is reasonably well put together.

The Leaf Plus comes in second in all of those areas except build quality. But the Leaf Plus is certainly the nicest EV that Nissan has thus far created, and it's much easier to simply go down to your local Nissan dealership, pick one up, and drive it home.

In fact, the closeness of the Leaf to the Model 3 is a somewhat uncomfortable reminder than the Model 3, while impressive, is more of a high-mid-market to low-end-premium vehicle. The Leaf is electric motoring for the masses, more or less, and so is the Model 3. But the Model 3's current customer set is being asked to accept a more bare-bones car than they'd get from, say, Jaguar with the I-Pace or Audi with its e-Tron. 

If I had to choose, I'd buy the Tesla. But I could also easily be happy with the Leaf. And if I bought the Leaf, I wouldn't be eyeing allegedly nicer vehicles from luxury brands, whereas with the Model 3 I might not.

That all said, this comparison did make me recollect the Model 3's general brilliance. It genuinely is a staggering achievement. While the Leaf Plus definitely gets the job done, the Model 3 demonstrates why Tesla is investing in making electrified transportation more than an A-to-B proposition, powered by something that isn't a fossil fuel. As I've said before, the Model 3 appeals to the automotive philosopher in me: It's crammed with ideas.

And the Model 3 by its nature makes you feel better about yourself. It is intellectually stimulating, a mood-improvement machine. I perked up every time I slipped behind the wheel, and most days I had to deal with rainy Northeast gloom. Gray skies weren't going to clear up, but it didn't matter, because the Model 3 helped me put on a happy face.

It can blast to 60 mph in five seconds, it can drive itself with your supervision under some conditions, and it has a five-star safety rating from the government. What's more, it's a California-made, all-electric car from the first new American car company in decades.

But the truly astounding thing is that Tesla, in only about five years of seriously manufacturing automobiles, could build a car this good.

If you're debating between the roughly $40,000 Nissan Leaf SL Plus or a slightly cheaper Leaf trim level and the approximately $40,000 base Tesla Model 3, the decision isn't hard. You won't be unhappy with the Leaf, but with the Model 3, you will follow some serious bliss.

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Categories
World News

GOP senator defends Trump's 4th of July speech, calls its 'one of the best that he has given'

Sen. Blackburn: In this country, you have the ability to do whatever you want to do

Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Republican member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, joins ‘Sunday Morning Futures.’

Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., defended President Trump’s Fourth of July speech amid withering criticism from liberals – and an uneasy silence from some conservatives – that Trump’s speech was divisive instead of unifying.

Calling it “absolutely one of the best that he has given,” the Tennessee Republican on Sunday praised the president’s message for reminding “the American people and that we are unique.”

“I thought the speech was absolutely one of the best that he has given and how appropriate that he reminded the American people and that we are unique and that you can bet on hope or you can bet on fear,” Blackburn said during an interview on “Sunday Morning Futures.”

She added: “In this country, you have the ability to do whatever you want to do to dream. Those are big dreams and make them come true.”

TRUMP, IN FIERY MOUNT RUSHMORE ADDRESS, DECRIES RISE OF 'FAR-LEFT' FASCISM,' CALLS ON AMERICANS TO RISE UP

Trump on Saturday vowed to “safeguard our values” from enemies within — leftists, looters, agitators, he said — in a Fourth of July speech packed with all the grievances and combativeness of his political rallies.

“We are now in the process of defeating the radical left, the anarchists, the agitators, the looters, and the people who, in many instances, have absolutely no clue what they are doing,” he said. "We will never allow an angry mob to tear down our statues, erase our history, indoctrinate our children."

He added: "And we will defend, protect, and preserve (the) American way of life, which began in 1492 when Columbus discovered America.”

He did not mention the nearly 130,000 people who are known to have died from COVID-19 in the U.S.

While Blackburn offered vocal praise of Trump’s speech, many other Republicans have sought to distance themselves from the president’s rhetoric in his speech and a similar one on Friday at Mount Rushmore in South Dakota.

Asked on Sunday during an appearance on CNN‘s “State of the Union” about Trump’s rhetoric, Sen. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, deflected and said there was a “great level of frustration across the United States all the way around.”

“We do have blemishes in our history and we need to come together and have some very hard discussions about our past,” she said. “The great thing about this nation is that we can learn from those blemishes, learn from those hard times in the past, and continue to evolve as a continually blessed nation.”

During his speech at Mount Rushmore, and later in an executive order, Trump put forward the idea of establishing a “National Garden of American Heroes” that will pay tribute to some of the most prominent figures in U.S. history, a collection of “the greatest Americans to ever live.”

The group of 30-plus features Founding Fathers and presidents, civil rights pioneers and aviation innovators, explorers, and generals. Absent from Trump’s initial list are any Native American, Hispanic or Asian-American individuals.

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Trump on Saturday spoke glowingly about his selections as an “incredible group,” but also noted they “are just a few of the people” he is considering and “are subject to change.”

“But once we make that decision, those great names are going to be up there and they’re never coming down,” Trump said in a speech at his "Salute for America" celebration at the White House to mark Independence Day.

Trump in recent weeks has repeatedly condemned the desecration and toppling of historic statues by demonstrators during protests over racial injustice and police brutality following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

In her interview on Sunday, Blackburn praised the president’s idea – calling it “a great foundation.”

“Those of us that studied history and appreciate history can tick through that list and tell you something of significance that each of those individuals did or said that inspired us in some way,” she said. “So as they are putting this list together, I think it is really wonderful and how appropriate.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Stick-shifts are vanishing from cars, but I still love them and hope they never go away completely — here are my favorites, ranked

  • Stick-shifts are disappearing from the automotive landscape.
  • But one can still option a manual on some performance cars and pickup trucks.
  • Here's a ranking of my favorites, with appearances from MINI, Mazda, and Jaguar.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Time was when many vehicles offered a manual option, either because customers wanted performance, or because they wanted better fuel-economy — or because they just wanted a cheap option.

While one can still find manual transmissions on vehicles in Europe and South America, automatics are the rule in the US.

Even some performance cars have dropped the manual options, most notably Ferrari. Most people no longer learn to drive on a stick-shift, and for the most part, automatics yield good fuel economy and can be had on inexpensive cars.

So the stick-shift is dying out. But one can still find it on a decent number of cars. And I hope it never goes away completely!

Here's a rundown of some of my favorites, ranked from most satisfying to least:

1. The MINI John Cooper Works is a savage little beast of a car. I just love the thing, but it absolutely terrified me.

Read the review.

It has a very crisp-shifting six-speed manual that's my all-time favorite.

2. The MINI Cooper S Countryman ALL4 that I tested a while back is a performance version of MINI's anti-SUV.

Read the review.

It also featured a solid six-speed manual.

3. My beloved Mazda MX-5 Miata! The ultimate roadster is about as much fun as it's possible to have on four wheels.

Read the review.

I also drove the RF version, which offers a folding hardtop.

Read the review.

Both cars can be optioned with a superb, short-throw six-speed.

4. The Jaguar F-Type hadn't impressed me until I drove a 380-horsepower V6 version …

Read the review.

… complete with an incredibly smooth six-speed manual.

Watch me give a stick-shift tutorial in this $80,000 car.

5. The Chevy SS. It's a rebadged Holden Commodore with a 415-horsepower, small-block V8, mated to …

Read the review.

… a six-speed manual. Sadly, this stonking four-door has been discontinued.

6. Now we get into the more challenging sticks. The Ford Focus RS, now also discontinued, is an absolute track weapon.

Read the review.

But its six-speed has a learning curve. The clutch is so firm and edgy that it's quite easy to stall the car, until you get a feel for it. On the plus side, shifts are incredibly brisk.

7. The Civic Type R is in theory a similar kind of affordable track-rat mobile, but …

Read the review.

The six-speed is a little too loose and easy for my taste, and the clutch is spongy.

8. The C7 Corvette Stingray has been supplanted by the mid-engine C8, but I drove the C7 back in 2014 and sort of enjoyed the seven-speed manual.

Read the review.

Problem is, one could slip from 4th gear to 7th when trying to get to 5th (there was no lockout). I got the hang of it after a while, but it was annoying.

9. The Nissan 370Z Nismo Tech. I love this V6 dinosaur, and for $46,000, what's not to love?

Read the review.

Well, the six-speed manual, which while satisfying isn't exactly thrilling.

10. OK, finally we have the Toyota Tacoma TRD Sport. One of the most basic pickups I've ever tested.

Read the review.

It had a six-speed manual, but it could have been five. It was like managing a farming vehicle. But that's a testament to the Tacoma's legendary ruggedness.

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Deroy Murdock: Princeton divorces Woodrow Wilson — but meaningful change trumps moral exhibitionism

Princeton University removes Woodrow Wilson’s name from public policy school over ‘racist views and policies’

In an act of unparalleled valor, Princeton University has yanked President Woodrow Wilson’s name from its School of Public and International Affairs. Like other recent acts of racial symbolism, it’s unclear how this will improve black lives.

“Woodrow Wilson’s racist thinking and policies make him an inappropriate namesake for a school or college,” Princeton president Christopher Eisgruber said of his predecessor, who led the university from 1902-10.

In his darker moments, Wilson revealed his pitch-black soul.

FORMER REP. ALLEN WEST: JULY 4TH HAS SPECIAL MEANING FOR ME AS A BLACK MAN WHO OVERCAME DISCRIMINATION

The longtime Democrat hero, once beloved by the Left for launching the income tax and promoting the League of Nations, hosted a 1915 White House screening of the pro-KKK film, “The Birth of a Nation.” Wilson said of D.W. Griffith’s motion picture, “It’s like writing history with lightning. My only regret is that it is all so terribly true.” Despite this ugliness, critics still applaud this cinematic milestone’s silent storytelling artistry.

There is no saving grace for Wilson’s resegregation of the previously integrated bathrooms in what is now the Eisenhower Executive Office Building — immediately west of the White House.

As the relevant order stated: “Beginning Wednesday, Aug. 9, 1916, the toilets in the state, war and navy department buildings will be allotted for use as toilets… For Women… For White Men… [and] For Colored Men.”

This document was signed by none other than Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

“He segregated the federal civil service after it had been racially integrated for decades,” Eisgruber said of Wilson, “thereby taking America backward in its pursuit of justice.”

Princeton’s divorce from this racist Democrat is understandable and far less problematic than vandalizing and destroying statues and other public artworks that tell the history of America the beautiful — and the blemished.

Still, what does Princeton’s gesture really accomplish?

Not to be outdone, Wilson’s successor in Trenton has declared war on … his desk. Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, suddenly ditched the desk that served Wilson and subsequent governors.

How odd.

Murphy’s move anthropomorphizes a stick of furniture. Wilson used the desk. It is neither a bust nor a carving of America’s 28th president. Murphy has injected symbolism into something that does not symbolize the hated person du jour.

Wilson surely strolled across Princeton’s walkways. Why not jackhammer the offending paths and replace them with freshly poured concrete? Did Wilson sleep even one night in the official governor’s mansion? If so, burn it down!

Meanwhile, Boston University seems poised to cancel its school mascot. If this Boston terrier were named Robert E. Lee, one might sympathize. But BU’s avatar is a dog named Rhett. The pup was christened after Rhett Butler, an imaginary character in “Gone with the Wind,” a work of fiction. BU’s school color is scarlet, much like Scarlett, as in Scarlett O’Hara, Rhett’s literary and cinematic wife in GWTW. So, Rhett, the dog, is leashed to these make-believe characters in this invented tale.

How silly.

Why not demolish any BU building that faces south? Smash any structure oriented (is that word still OK?) toward the slave-owning, Democrat-run Jim Crow South!

Enough.

Such liberal virtue signals — and scores of others that have flashed since George Floyd’s police-involved killing — will not make a damn bit of difference in the lives of black people.

Black Entertainment Television founder Robert Johnson told Fox News that today’s statue killers “have the mistaken assumption that black people are sitting around cheering for them saying ‘Oh, my God, look at these white people. They’re doing something so important to us. They’re taking down the statue of a Civil War general who fought for the South.’” Johnson added: “In my opinion, black people laugh at white people who do this, the same way we laugh at white people who say we got to take off the TV shows.”

Changing the Wilson School’s brass nameplates will not help one black student in Camden, N.J., enter Princeton. 

“It’s not going to close the labor gap between what white workers are paid and what black workers are paid,” added Johnson, a black billionaire. “And it’s not going to take people off welfare or food stamps.”

Likewise, changing the Wilson School’s brass nameplates will not help one black student in Camden, N.J., enter Princeton.

Hurling Wilson’s desk into the attic won’t curb Newark’s black-on-black homicide rate.

And renaming BU’s mascot from Rhett to Rover to Walter or even Tiffany will not make the Boston cops any likelier to enforce the law in a manner that pleases Americans of all backgrounds.

Did the absence of Confederate statues in Democrat-run Minneapolis save George Floyd?

No.

Liberals should cease these hollow gestures and, instead, perform deeds that concretely enhance the plight of black people.

Start with school choice and assure that American children — black, brown, yellow and white — in safe classrooms actually learn something, namely how to read, write, compute and think. They are entitled to prepare for productive adulthood and active citizenship. Government schools largely steal this birthright.

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Privately funded after-school enrichment, mentorship and college-preparatory programs, like The Harlem Educational Activities Fund, should blossom in every underserved community. For years, 100 percent of HEAF’s almost entirely low-income, black and Hispanic government-school students have graduated high school. They all attend college — including Howard, Texas A&M and Yale, among many others — and 83 percent earn bachelor degrees.

Manhattan real-estate magnate Dan Rose launched HEAF in 1990 after discovering that Gotham’s worst-rated government school kept its one ball under lock and key.

Americans should boost the success prospects for black entrepreneurs, so they can create jobs, earn decent wages and care for themselves and their families, loved ones, friends and neighbors. 

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Americans should guarantee that there are enough decent police officers to foil criminals, so that these positive things can happen. Good cops deserve kudos. Bad cops deserve convictions.

These things require hard work, but they yield real results — unlike the Left’s quick, easy and utterly trivial conquest of school names, office furniture and canine mascots. In short: Meaningful change trumps moral exhibitionism.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE FROM DEROY MURDOCK

Bucknell University’s Michael Malarkey contributed research to this opinion piece. 

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The message in Russia's new nuclear weapons strategy: Don't mess with us, but let's talk

  • At the beginning of June, the Russian government for the first time released a document laying out the logic and principles underpinning its approach to nuclear deterrence.
  • It doesn't resolve Western debates about Russian nuclear strategy, but it makes evident both the similarities and differences between Russian and US thinking about nuclear weapons, writes Richard Weitz, director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis at the Hudson Institute.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

For the first time ever, the Russian government has publicly released a document laying out the logic and principles underpinning its approach to nuclear deterrence.

Formally titled "Fundamentals of Russian State Nuclear Deterrence Policy," the report was approved by President Vladimir Putin and posted on the government's official information web portal on June 2. Previous iterations of Russia's deterrence policy, such as the one associated with the updated military doctrine it unveiled in 2010, were alluded to in public, but never published.

Why did Russia decide to publish its deterrence policy now? In part, it could be to dispel alleged Western misperceptions about when Russia might use nuclear weapons, specifically the Pentagon's assessment that Moscow would threaten to use nuclear weapons — or actually do so — to intimidate an adversary into yielding in a major crisis.

Previously referred to as "escalate to de-escalate," US officials currently describe this strategy as "escalate to win," and have used it to justify developing US low-yield nuclear weapons options to counter it.

The newly published strategy document implies that nuclear weapons deter escalation through their mere existence. Even so, the paper also warns adversaries against a range of actions that Moscow claims would raise the danger of nuclear war by presenting threats to Russia. These include deploying ballistic and cruise missiles, armed drones, missile defenses and even large concentrations of general-purpose forces — like a US Army brigade — near Russian territory.

Without mentioning the US or its allies, the wording thereby amplifies Moscow's familiar complaints about NATO military activities in Russia's vicinity, the alliance's nuclear-sharing doctrine, the US global missile defense architecture, and fears of new US ground-launched missiles being deployed near Russia.

In an effort to further bolster deterrence, the document warns adversaries that Moscow will inflict "unacceptable" damage in retaliation for any aggression against Russia or its allies. The wording underscores both Russia's nuclear capacity and its will to use it.

While it also notes the need to rely on conventional forces as well as economic, diplomatic and other means of non-nuclear deterrence, the document makes evident that Russian policymakers still perceive nuclear forces as essential for backstopping their growing but insufficient portfolio of conventional and political-military tools.

Additionally, the criterion for the size of Russia's nuclear forces as laid out in the policy paper — "a level sufficient to ensure nuclear deterrence" — is so vague as to justify an arsenal of any scale. The guidelines also emphasize Russia's flexible response options in terms of the magnitude, timing, means and targets of possible nuclear retaliation.

Russian military writings envisage the use of nuclear weapons in a range of scenarios, from regional conflicts to great-power wars. Likewise, Russian commanders have probably developed tailored nuclear force packages for many scenarios.

But the newly published nuclear deterrence policy notably goes beyond threatening nuclear retaliation for a nuclear strike on Russian territory. It affirms that Moscow might employ nuclear weapons to defend Russia or its allies against any attack causing mass destruction, including those involving non-nuclear systems — presumably cyber or precision conventional weapons — that could inflict damage comparable to nuclear strikes.

As examples of what kind of threats this policy is meant to deter, the paper points to attacks targeting Russia's retaliatory nuclear arsenal, its national command authority or its critical civilian infrastructure. Russian policymakers clearly hope to deter the kind of decapitation strikes the US Air Force employed at the outset of the US wars in Iraq and Kosovo.

In this regard, the document also confirms Putin's earlier statements about Moscow's "launch under attack" posture, which considers the use of nuclear weapons based on "reliable information" of incoming missiles aimed at Russia or its allies.

This stance, designed to avert a potential US first strike with either nuclear or conventional weaponry on Russia's nuclear forces or supporting command-and-control architecture, is unnerving given the well-publicized flaws in Russia's strategic early warning system.

However, this declared posture may simply aim to discourage NATO from launching any missiles near Russia, including those with non-nuclear or low-yield nuclear warheads, since verifying if an incoming missile carries a large, small or non-nuclear payload is presently impossible.

To what extent the new document genuinely reflects the Russian leadership's thinking on nuclear war is unclear. But even if it does, the paper notes that the government can revise its deterrence doctrine at any time if internal or external conditions change.

Regarding the debate over escalation and a nuclear first strike, Western skeptics argue that Moscow's professed disinterest in waging a nuclear war is contradicted by a range of Russian actions and positions.

As a result of Russia's procurement practices, all of its new delivery systems are designed to deliver nuclear weapons, either exclusively or along with possible conventional payloads. Major military exercises regularly include drills simulating nuclear weapons use. And Russian military writings routinely include discussions of nuclear escalation scenarios and battlefield options.

In particular, Russia's sustained investment in improving both the quantity and quality of its so-called tactical nuclear weapons is widening a numerical imbalance with the United States that is already strongly in Moscow's favor, thereby providing ammunition to those who believe the Russian military would consider employing these weapons as part of an "escalate to win" strategy.

The document does not articulate how Russia's nuclear deterrence policy applies to China, which also deploys weapons of mass destruction, missiles and general-purpose forces near Russian territory. In all likelihood, Russian strategists plan to use nuclear weapons in the event of a major war with China, given the difficulties of defending the remote Russian Far East with conventional forces. But such contingencies have been absent from official discourse for the past decade.

When asked by a Russian reporter about the new policy paper, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry responded reassuringly that "China respects and understands Russia's efforts to safeguard national security interests." If pressed, Russian officials could point to the document's wording, by which Russia's nuclear deterrence policy applies only to states that view Russia as a "potential adversary," which Chinese leaders profess not to do.

The text mentions in passing that Russia will pursue "all necessary efforts for reducing the nuclear threat." Although perhaps not its main or even intended purpose, this passage does respond to the Trump administration's recently declared nuclear arms control agenda.

In several speeches and documents, US officials have formally laid out their goals of limiting Russia's new, nuclear-capable strategic weapons, nondeployed nuclear warheads and nonstrategic nuclear weapons — as well as of securing Moscow's support against nuclear proliferation and for including China in future negotiations on nuclear arms.

Russia's new nuclear deterrence policy delineates the US weapons, deployments and technologies that Russian officials will likely press to limit when Washington and Moscow resume their formal arms control talks in the coming weeks, such as American strategic defenses and nuclear weapons deployed in Europe.

As a public declaration partly designed for foreign audiences, Russia's paper on nuclear deterrence does not resolve Western debates about Russian nuclear strategy. However, it makes evident both the similarities and differences between Russian and US thinking about nuclear weapons. Both governments embrace nuclear deterrence while accusing the other of recklessly planning nuclear escalation.

Additionally, since the lengthy list of Russian concerns are unlikely to soon dissipate, the prospects for expanded Russian-American cooperation on nuclear arms control will remain modest no matter who wins the US presidential election in November.

Richard Weitz is a senior fellow and director of the Center for Political-Military Analysis at the Hudson Institute. He would like to thank the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation for supporting his nuclear-related research and writing.

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