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UAW president Shawn Fain on labor’s comeback: “This is what happens when workers get power”

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Earlier this month, President Joe Biden paid a visit to the critical battleground state of Michigan. He came to Detroit – Motor City – to court union voters. Mr. Biden had just won the United Auto Workers’ endorsement, and he was eager to share the spotlight with UAW president Shawn Fain.

Fain told the crowd, “You know what the hell’s going to happen if this man’s not president, because we’ve seen what happens. Labor went backwards.”

“You all are the ones that brung me to the dance,” Mr. Biden told union workers. “And I never left it.”

Fain wants to ramp up the fight over unions and workers’ rights, not just with auto companies, but with corporate leaders nationwide.

Asked if he stood with Fain, President Biden said, “Absolutely, positively. Look, I don’t have anything against corporations. They’ve just got to start paying their fair share. The idea we have a thousand billionaires who are paying an average of 8.2 percent in federal tax? Come on, man!”

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United Auto Workers President Shawn Fain and President Joe Biden, with CBS News chief election & campaign correspondent Robert Costa. 

CBS News


Last September, Mr. Biden was the first sitting president to walk a union picket line, showing his support for the unprecedented six-week walk-out at all of the Big Three car makers. He told the workers, “Wall Street didn’t build this country; the middle class built this country.”

The UAW went on to win historic contracts for 150,000 of its members, making Shawn Fain the standard-bearer for the labor movement’s comeback in 2023.

“This is what happens when workers get power,” Fain said. “When the workers got this union back, they were able to elect their top leadership for the first time in history, and we saw massive change in a short amount of time, and we’re gonna continue to do that.”

“You’ve shaken up the place,” said Costa.

“Well, that’s what they elected me for.”

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UAW President Shawn Fain. 

CBS News


Fain was the first UAW president elected directly by membership, and within months he led shutdowns on assembly lines at Ford, GM, and Chrysler/Jeep parent company Stellantis. He also broke with tradition: while negotiations usually happened behind closed doors, Fain broadcast updates via Facebook to union members and the world at large. In one video he exclaimed, “All three companies wanted concessions on profit sharing. And we said, ‘Hell, no.'”

Fain explained, “It was important to us to be, you know, open and transparent with the membership, not just in bargaining, but it’s in everything we’re doing.”

The union’s new contracts not only make up for pay cuts workers took more than 15 years ago during the great recession; they provide a foothold for the union in Detroit’s electric vehicle future.

Ford CEO Jim Farley recently warned the contracts will have “a business impact” on the automaker. Fain says impact is what he’s all about.

A native of Kokomo, Indiana, the 55-year-old came up the ranks as an electrician, and still carries his grandfather’s union pay stub in his pocket. “I remember my grandfather talking about a 110-day strike at Chrysler back in 1950 to get pensions,” he said.

“If you would have asked me when I was in high school, ‘Are you gonna be an electrician one day?’ I would have laughed and like, are you kidding me?”

He recalled the difficulties of being on unemployment: “When my first daughter was born, we were getting WIC. It was a humbling experience. But experiences like that, they laid a groundwork for me for what was important in life and why things mattered and why wages mattered, why having good jobs mattered, why having good benefits mattered.”

From Hollywood actors and writers, to hotel and hospital workers, even neighborhood baristas, last year’s labor protests were like a dam bursting. From 2021 to 2023 the Big Three automakers made more than $100 billion in profits (according to the Economic Policy Institute), while average auto worker pay has fallen nearly twenty percent from pre-recession levels.

Fain said, “What gave us power at the bargaining table was the company saw how eager members were to go out on strike, and when we were calling plants to go out on strike, that plants that didn’t get called were disappointed. It was just a matter of when and how long it was gonna take, because I knew our members had the resolve to make it happen. 

“This is our generation’s defining moment,” he said.

According to Kate Bronfenbrenner, a professor at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, “If unions don’t run the kind of campaigns that force employers to come to the table and bargain with them, because the cost of not bargaining with them is greater than the cost of bargaining with them, they aren’t going to be able to build their power and organize more workers. Workers aren’t stupid; they know that the companies weren’t going to give them that bump.”

Bronfenbrenner notes the American public sided overwhelmingly with striking autoworkers: “They had given huge concessions in 2007. Now the companies were making money and they weren’t sharing it. They had risked their lives during COVID. And so, [Fain] did a very good job of getting the public to see those issues. This was about something that was fair, and this was just, and that we’re living in a time where corporations are taking too much.”

Fain may come across as mild-mannered, but he also rails against the “billionaire class,” and has even worn T-shirts that say “Eat the Rich.”

“I don’t think billionaires should exist,” he said. “No one needs that much money. I think it’s inhumane. Pick any city, walk around, you know, you see people starving, people without basic necessities. There’s no excuse for that. And it’s not because people are lazy or don’t want to work. The billionaires that keep amassing more and more wealth, so they can build rocket ships and do whatever the hell they want to do, that does nothing for humanity.”

“Your critics say that’s class warfare,” said Costa.

“Yeah, class warfare has been going on in this country for the last 40 years – the billionaire class has been taking everything and leaving the working class with nothing,” Fain replied.  “Whenever working class people ever step up and say, ‘This is wrong, we want it to stop,’ all of a sudden, Oh, it’s class warfare. It’s the end of the world.

If there is a labor war being waged in America, the front lines are in the non-union factories of the South and Midwest. Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, builds their latest electric cars – and it’s a top target of UAW organizers.

Fain told workers in Tennessee, “When the company uses fear, we’re gonna come back with facts. And these are the facts: You know, Volkswagen made $78 billion since 2020 in profit. They paid out $24 billion in dividends to corporate executives and shareholders. The CEO of Volkswagen makes $12 million a year.”

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United Auto Workers president Shawn Fain speaks outside Volkswagen’s plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

CBS News


The UAW has tried twice before in the past decade to organize in Chattanooga. What’s changed since then? After the UAW’s recent victories, non-union automakers (including Honda, Toyota, Hyundai and VW) offered raises, too. But the extra pay came without the union’s benefits or job protections.

Fain explained coming into a more hostile territory: “We don’t ever rest,” he said. “Workers deserve justice.”

“Sunday Morning” was there in December when workers tried to petition management for a meeting with organizers.

In a statement to “Sunday Morning,” Volkswagen Group of America said: “Volkswagen is proud of our 5,500 employees who power our world-class assembly plant in Chattanooga. Our culture has been built through frequent, transparent, and two-way dialogue with our people. We respect their democratic right to determine who should represent their interests in the workplace without interference, intimidation, or misinformation.”

But Volkswagen worker Shaun Lawler says skepticism of the UAW runs deep in the community. When asked how his family views unions, he replied, “They don’t see it as a good opportunity; they see layoffs.”

What do they call unions? “They call them communist,” Lawler said.

Still, after the UAW’s success last year, 13-year Volkswagen employee Vicky Holloway says the union’s time has come. “I really think we have a chance this time,” she said. “Unless your eyes are just closed and your ears, and you just don’t hear anything, then you realize that we do need a union.”

The UAW now says a union vote in Chattanooga is approaching. It will be another defining moment for Shawn Fain – and for the American labor movement.

“You know, organized labor led the way for the American dream,” he said. “And that’s fallen by the wayside over the last 40 years. And it is our obligation to humanity to change that.”

And, he adds, he’s not going to give up: “Not at all. That’s the mission.”

      
For more info:

       
Story produced by Ed Forgotson. Editor: Ed Givnish. 


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Governor Newsom remains in the spotlight as presidential race transitions to the general election – Orange County Register

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As the presidential race shapes up and the general election picture becomes clearer by the day, there are continued concerns as to whether President Joe Biden will be able to defeat former President Donald Trump come November and prevent a second term where Trump has promised to seek retribution and use his power to attack political rivals and the media.

These worries have been exacerbated by the Hur report. Although some critics have said Special Counsel Robert Hur overstepped by commenting on the President’s physicality rather than simply recommending against charges in the classified documents investigation, he underlined a common line of thought among the American public.

While detailing how Biden cooperated with the FBI’s investigation in contrast with Trump’s obstruction of their investigation into his retention of classified documents, Hur called Biden an “elderly man with a poor memory.”

A new Quinnipiac University poll found that 67% of Americans feel President Biden is too old for another term, including 71% of independents. While the risk of a Donald Trump presidency and his 91 indictments will certainly sway a large portion of that group towards voting for Biden, it is a concern with which the campaign and the Democratic Party has to grapple.

The age factor has raised the importance of the vice-presidential candidate to a higher level than the typical presidential election cycle. Unfortunately for the Biden-Harris campaign, Vice President Kamala Harris has even lower ratings than President Biden. A recent NBC News poll found just 28% of Americans have a positive view of Harris, while 16% are neutral.

Their persistently low numbers have led to months of media speculation about whether the Democratic Party will look to an alternative to take on Donald Trump. Although primary voters so far have stayed loyal to Biden, as evidenced by his 96% performance in South Carolina and 89% showing in Nevada, there is still a lot of time for a change or even a brokered convention. In fact, President Lyndon B. Johnson did not drop out until March 31st of 1968.

California Governor Gavin Newsom routinely denies that he has interest in running for president this time around and vocally supports Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, “The train has left the station…We’re all in. Stop talking. He’s not going anywhere. It’s time for all of us to get on the train and buck up.” Yet, Newsom continues to be in the spotlight and appears to be the person for the job if a last second candidate is needed.

Rumors have been churning since last summer when his political operation attacked former presidential candidate and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for taking away people’s freedoms. Newsom has since appeared in the spin room at an RNC debate, debated Ron DeSantis on Fox News, and routinely makes the media and talk show rounds. Even this Thursday, Newsom was spotted on Capitol Hill.

Related: Gavin Newsom for president? For what?

Presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump has taken note of Newsom’s rise and the increased attention he has received, “He’s a nice looking guy, he speaks well…I always got along well with him, believe it or not.”

Meanwhile, Newsom has kept his focus on helping the Democratic ticket, including recent visits to early states South Carolina and Nevada. These moves indicate that even if Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are the nominees after the Democratic National Convention in Chicago in August, Newsom will have a key role as a top surrogate through November.

However, if Biden should decide at the convention or before not to run—whether because of bad poll numbers, the special prosecutors report, or his age—then Newsom is more likely than not to throw his hat in the ring, barring the unlikely entry of former First Lady Michelle Obama. In a scenario where neither Biden nor Obama is the nominee, Newsom’s main rival will be fellow Californian Vice President Kamala Harris, one of the most unpopular vice presidents in history and a likely loser to Donald Trump in November.




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Roosevelt girls soccer team rallies past Palos Verdes to win Division 1 championship – Press Enterprise

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LONG BEACH — Ireland Churchill doubled her fun and helped make school history.

Churchill scored twice – including the match winner in the 79th minute – as the Roosevelt girls soccer team came from behind to defeat Palos Verdes 3-2 in the CIF Southern Section Division 1 championship match Saturday night at Veterans Stadium.

“We’ve been down before and it’s nothing we can’t handle,” said Churchill, who has 25 goals this season. “We stayed composed, and once we got another goal then we knew we had it.”

Goalkeeper Reylena Wilson was shaky early but came away with two saves for Roosevelt (23-4-1 overall), which allowed multiple goals for only the second time this calendar year.

“The girls kept believing in each other and in themselves, and we just kept chipping away,” Roosevelt coach Andrew Tillehkooh said. “It just goes to show the effort that’s been put in.”

Isabelle Salazar set up both the equalizing goal and the match-winner for the Mustangs, who had never advanced past the second round of the playoffs before this season.

“It’s just so surreal to be here, and I’m just so thankful,” Salazar said.

Big VIII League girls teams won championships in the section’s two top divisions. Santiago won the Open Division title Friday.

“This is huge for our program,” Tillehkooh said. “I’ve been here for nine years, and I’ve been telling the girls, ‘You’re just as good as anybody.’”

Maddy Herniter and Gemma Pappas had goals in the first half, but Palos Verdes (19-4-1) was unable to hold onto its 2-0 lead.

Herniter scored with a header to the far post past Wilson in the fifth minute, and Pappas added to the lead in the 19th minute after beating Wilson one-on-one.

Roosevelt got on the scoreboard 3 minutes later, when Churchill tapped in a cross from Delilah Woods and headed into halftime comfortable that their playmakers would be difference makers in the second half.

“(Churchill) has the mindset and it’s so important for us,” Tillehkooh said. “She has the skill, she has the talent but it’s her mindset, and everyone knows that’s what sets her apart.”

The Mustangs dominated the entire second half, producing six shots on goal, but did not score until Sophie Leoro got up to nod in a corner kick from Salazar for the tying goal in the 74th minute.

“It’s so awesome to be with a team that knows how to work under pressure,” Salazar said.

With less than 90 seconds to play and Roosevelt looking for the match winner, Salazar whipped in a cross from the left side to Churchill.

“I just knew we had the grit to keep on working,” Salazar said. “We were hungry to keep winning and (Churchill)’s work ethic gives us energy.”

Churchill worked to control the ball before turning her defender and firing quickly into the back of the net past Palos Verdes goalkeeper Anna Pilato.

“We got the ball up and it was bouncing around,” Churchill said. “I shielded it off, got the turn (and) shot it. It was good.”

Roosevelt has won eight consecutive matches and will enter the CIF State regional playoffs next week.


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California workers’ unique right to sue challenged by ballot measure

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California workers who believe they have been victims of wage theft or other workplace abuses have for more than two decades relied on a unique state law that lets them sue employers not only for themselves but also for other workers.

Now a battle is shaping up over the law, known as the Private Attorneys General Act, or PAGA. An initiative seeking to replace PAGA will appear on the ballot in California in November, the culmination of long-standing efforts by corporate and industry groups to undo the law.

Two reports released last week offer dueling narratives about whether PAGA helps or hurts workers — marking the opening of a potentially expensive fight over the landmark law that relatively few know about.

Labor researchers say that the ballot measure, if approved, would harm employees, particularly people with low-wage jobs, by taking away their ability to file what are essentially class-action suits against employers that allege labor law violations. The ballot measure also would weaken the state’s already strained system for enforcing workplace laws, the researchers say.

But the business coalition backing the ballot initiative, called the Fair Play and Employer Accountability Act, counters that the labor law has resulted in a proliferation of lawsuits that small businesses and nonprofits have little ability to fight. Workers end up getting less money after a long legal process than if they had filed complaints through state agencies, the initiative’s proponents say.

Worker advocates have long complained that chronic understaffing at state agencies responsible for investigating employee complaints means that allegations about wage theft and other violations can take years to be resolved. So workers turn to the courts.

Luz Perez Bautista and her mother, Maria de la Luz Bautista-Perez, were among three named plaintiffs who sued Juul Labs Inc. in federal court in 2020 for allegedly misclassifying some 450 campaign staffers working on a ballot measure the company was promoting to allow the sale of electronic cigarettes in San Francisco. The workers were all classified as independent contractors rather than employees, which saddled them with expenses that employees wouldn’t have to pay.

Juul was sued in 2020 by three workers, who alleged they were misclassified as independent contractors rather than employees, using a California law that allows employees to sue companies on behalf of other workers.

(Ted Shaffrey / Associated Press)

Workers were made to travel long distances between campaign offices without pay, were not given lunch breaks and were terminated abruptly, Perez Bautista said, speaking at a news conference last week to unveil a report by the UCLA Labor Center as well as researchers at advocacy groups PowerSwitch Action, and the Center for Popular Democracy.

Because the workers had signed arbitration agreements, without PAGA they would not have had the legal standing to take Juul and the nonprofit it created for the campaign to court. Through their PAGA claim workers secured a $1.75-million settlement.

“It is important for other workers to see that … you can hold your boss accountable,” Bautista-Perez said at the news conference.

The report argues broadly that eliminating workers’ ability to pursue private lawsuits would leave them more vulnerable to having their wages stolen by employers and other abuses of their rights.

PAGA plays a “vital role” in bringing bad actors into compliance, said Tia Koonse, legal and policy research manager at the UCLA Labor Center.

Koonse and other authors of the report said the ballot initiative is disingenuously framed as a push to reform PAGA and bolster other enforcement mechanisms.

“By cloaking policies that hurt workers in language that says they’re helping workers, corporations are making it sound like what is down is up,” said Minsu Longiaru, senior staff attorney for PowerSwitch Action.

Other mechanisms to enforce California labor laws are insufficient on their own, including wage claims and whistleblower complaints investigated by state agencies, the report argues, because the sheer number of labor violations dwarfs the state’s capacity to enforce them.

Each year, the $40 million recovered in approximately 30,000 wage claims filed with the state labor commissioner represents roughly 2% of the estimated $2 billion California workers lose to wage theft, according to the report.

An analysis of California Labor & Workforce Development Agency data by the report’s authors found that 91% of PAGA claims allege wage theft, primarily overtime violations and failure to pay for all hours worked, although some involved violations of earned sick leave rights. Other forms of wage theft include paying workers less than minimum wage, denying workers meal breaks or rest periods and requiring employees to finish tasks before or after their shifts.

The initiative at the center of discussion, the Fair Play and Employer Accountability Act, got the green light to be placed on the November 2024 ballot almost two years ago.

It proposes to remove the law’s powerful private right of action, which empowers workers to file lawsuits against their employers, suing for both back wages and civil penalties on behalf of themselves, other employees and the state of California. Official language for the measure states it would eliminate “employees’ ability to file lawsuits for monetary penalties for state labor law violations.”

Backers emphasize it also offers replacement provisions that would bolster state agency enforcement of workplace rules.

Replacement provisions include doubling penalties for employers “willfully” violating labor law, requiring 100% of monetary penalties to be awarded to harmed employees (rather than the current division of 25% to the employee and 75% to the state of California), and requiring that the state provide employers with resources to help with coming into compliance.

“Today’s PAGA system is completely broken and does not work well for employees or employers,” said Jennifer Barrera, president of the California Chamber of Commerce, in announcing a report released last week by backers of the ballot initiative, called the Fix PAGA coalition.

Barrera said that because one employee can sue on behalf of others, it allows lawyers to stack charges and extract high penalties from employers with few barriers because PAGA claims don’t require the same type of notification and certification of workers allegedly affected that a class-action suit would require.

“The statutory framework of PAGA is what creates the abuse,” she said in an interview.

Barry Jardini, executive director of the California Disability Services Assn., said that members of the trade group, many of which are nonprofits reliant on state or federal funding, are increasingly burdened by PAGA claims. He said 20 of some 85 members who responded to a recent survey said they dealt with PAGA claims in 2023.

Jardini said that disability service businesses have struggled to provide true “responsibility-free” 10-minute rest breaks in accordance with labor laws because often workers “can’t just walk away” from clients especially if they are out and about instead of at home. He said employers have looked for creative solutions, such as paying employees extra for working through breaks or tacking on breaks at the beginnings or ends of shifts rather than the middle, but these fixes aren’t legal substitutes for rest breaks workers are entitled to.

“We run into a bit of a legal rock and a hard place,” he said. “We do have a conflict with the law in terms of some of our services. Once that becomes known, it’s relatively easy for an attorney to try to solicit a client that works in this industry that is maybe ripe for PAGA claims.”

The claims sap resources and lead to program closures because “providers with very thin margins are using up their reserves on settling these claims,” Jardini said. “Other times providers are unable to give wage increases to their staff. And at the end of the day it impacts people with disabilities.”

Some disagree that there is rampant of abuse of PAGA. UCLA Labor Center researchers published a report in February 2020 finding no evidence that PAGA unleashed a flood of frivolous litigation, as its detractors complain, and that it had demonstrably enhanced Labor Code compliance among employers.

In response to criticisms outlined by the recent UCLA Labor Center report, Kathy Fairbanks, a spokesperson for the coalition, pointed to findings in the coalition’s report, which argues that PAGA is too slow to resolve claims, leaves workers with little compensation, and enriches lawyers while saddling businesses with costly suits.

Fairbanks said that workers get about one-third of the compensation and that PAGA cases take twice as long compared with cases adjudicated by state agencies. That is because “lawyers take massive fees and are getting rich while workers get very little,” Fairbanks said.

Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, head of the powerful California Labor Federation, agreed that PAGA is at times abused by “unscrupulous attorneys,” but said repealing the law is not a solution.

“There’s massive wage theft that goes unaccounted for, and to take away this tool from the tool box would be damaging to workers and a gift for corporate America,” said Gonzalez, who formerly served as a state assembly member known for writing labor-friendly legislation.

If approved by voters, the ballot measure “would leave workers with dwindling opportunities to enforce labor law.”

Gonzalez said it is well understood that state labor agencies are subject to short staffing and ebbs and flows of political desire to take on major cases. Although it’s not ideal to have to rely on private attorneys to help enforce the law, PAGA provides an important avenue for enforcement, she said.

The initiative doesn’t mandate or otherwise clear the way for increased funding for enforcement agencies, Gonzalez said.

To suggest the business lobby, through the ballot initiative, is asking for changes that will actually improve labor law enforcement “doesn’t pass the smell test,” she said.

Backers of the ballot initiative are open to working on a legislative compromise to avert a costly battle, spokesperson Fairbanks said. But any sort of deal would have to be reached before the end of June — the deadline to pull measures off the November ballot. The Fix PAGA coalition reports having banked some $15 million in campaign contributions so far.

Business groups have sought to shrink PAGA’s reach in state and federal courts with limited success in recent years.

In June 2022, the U.S. Supreme Court, considering the California case Viking River Cruises Inc. vs. Moriana, ruled that PAGA violated the rights of employers and that the claims of other employees would have to be dismissed because the employee sent to arbitration would no longer have standing to pursue that litigation.

But in a concurring opinion, it also affirmed that interpretation of PAGA was a matter of state, not federal, law and in effect kicked the matter back to California.

State appellate courts consistently have held that PAGA claims by workers cannot be forced into arbitration because they are brought as if the individual is operating on the state’s behalf.

In July 2023, the California Supreme Court rejected an argument by Uber that sought to limit the ability of its drivers to take employment-related disputes to court, unanimously determining that a driver could not sign away the right to represent their peers in a lawsuit.

The decision didn’t end the debate, however, with other cases bouncing around the courts.

A federal appeals court, citing the Uber case, ruled Feb. 12 that a PAGA suit against Lowe’s Home Centers for allegedly underpaying workers who took sick leave could stand.

Judge William Fletcher wrote in the ruling that a state court “has the authority to correct a misinterpretation of that state’s law by a federal court,” including the U.S. Supreme Court.


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Q&A: How this heir can head off challenges to her mother’s estate

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Dear Liz: My mother and her second husband have been married for over 25 years. They are both in their 60s. I am her only child. Mother has created a will in which I am the sole beneficiary. She owns three properties, two of which are here in California and one is abroad. Do I have any reason to be concerned that my mother’s wishes would be challenged by her second husband or my father, who also lives in California, whom she divorced over 33 years ago?

Answer: Anyone can challenge an estate plan. That doesn’t mean they will be successful. A long-divorced spouse, for example, probably wouldn’t have much standing to dispute a will.

A current spouse, however, could overturn the bequests if the properties were purchased during the marriage because California is a community property state.

That means assets acquired during marriage are generally considered jointly owned. Even if the properties were acquired before the marriage, the current spouse could successfully challenge the will if he contributed to a property — by helping to pay the mortgage, for example.

The chances of a successful challenge are greater if your mother is trying to do her own estate planning, rather than seeking expert advice. The fact that she’s created a will, rather than a living trust — which avoids probate and which is typically advisable in California — is concerning. In addition, bequeathing property abroad can be complicated, to say the least.

Your mother would be smart to consult an experienced estate planning attorney who can assess her situation and offer recommendations on the best way to structure her estate plan. You can help her find someone by asking friends and financial professionals for recommendations. If she’s balking at the cost, offer to pay the bill if you can. You’ll probably avoid future hassles and costs, so it should be a sound investment.


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H&R Block wiped out tax data of filers looking for less pricey option, FTC alleges

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H&R Block marketed its tax-preparation products as free yet deleted the data of customers as way to pressure them into paying for pricier services, the Federal Trade Commission alleged on Friday. 

The tax-preparation software giant’s online tax-filing products lead users to costlier products made for more complicated tax filings, even if they don’t need the additional forms and schedules offered, the FTC stated in an administrative complaint.

If a person realizes they don’t need or want a costlier option, they are presented with a series of time-consuming hurdles to downgrade after already spending a fair amount of time entering their data, the agency said Friday of the company’s setup. 

hrb1j.jpg
Screenshot of an H&R Block ad.

U.S. Federal Trade Commission


Specifically, when consumers choose to downgrade, H&R Block requires they contact its customer support via chat or phone. Then, its system deletes all the tax data the consumers have entered, requiring them to start their tax return from scratch, creating a big disincentive to downgrading. 

In contrast, data seamlessly moves to more expensive products instantly, the FTC noted.

“H&R Block designed its online products to present an obstacle course of tedious challenges to consumers, pressuring them into overpaying for its products,” said Samuel Levine, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. 

Beyond its unfair practices regarding downgrades, H&R Block has for years engaged in deceptive advertising, marketing its online tax preparation services as free when it’s not for many, the FTC said in its complaint, which begins an administrative process against the company.

H&R Block provides its clients with “fair and transparent pricing,” Dara Redler, the company’s chief legal officer, told CBS News in an emailed statement. “H&R Block allows consumers to downgrade to a less-expensive DIY Product via multiple mechanisms while ensuring the preparation of accurate tax returns.”

The FTC’s claim against H&R Block comes a month after the agency barred Intuit from advertising its popular TurboTax product as free, calling the practice deceptive, as most have to pay to use the tax-filing software. 

Intuit said it is appealing the ruling, and noted the FTC’s order contained no monetary penalty.


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Galaxy feeling excited for new start after last season’s dismal showing

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The 2023 season was forgettable for the Galaxy.

From the front-office turmoil, the early-season supporters’ boycott, the 13th-place finish in the Western Conference, the 67 goals allowed … the only good thing was that the season ended when it did.

Although Sunday is just one of 34 games, it is the first chance to put 2023 deep in the past.

“It’s a like a breath of fresh air, a new beginning, new faces, new things around the stadium, the locker room, really gets you excited to get the season going,” Galaxy midfielder Mark Delgado said. “It’s a new beginning. It’s a new season ahead of us that’s unwritten and we’re ready to go after it.”

The new chapter begins Sunday at home against Lionel Messi and Inter Miami CF at Dignity Health Sports Park (5:30 p.m., Apple TV+).

“It’s definitely exciting, to be our first game to start our season (against Inter Miami) and hopefully we come out of it with win and I think it could set a tone,” Delgado said.

Last season was the fifth time in seven years that the Galaxy missed the postseason. The task this offseason turned into another makeover with 16 players departing.

The biggest move came in the front office, with Will Kuntz being promoted to general manager. That freed up Greg Vanney from his role as technical director, which he held last season.

Kuntz initially was hired as Senior Vice President of Player Personnel in April. Before coming to the Galaxy, he spent six seasons as the Senior Vice President of Soccer Operations and Assistant General Manager at LAFC (2017-22).

“If you told me 10 years ago, I would be standing here, I wouldn’t have believed you,” Kuntz said. “The drive in, you have to pinch yourself sometimes because I think we have massive potential. At my old place, we were always worried about the Galaxy waking up, that was always something you had in the back of your mind. You can see it now, with just the excitement around the building, around the stadium, field, from the fans online, it’s great. It’s everything we’re looking for.”

Two reasons for the excitement is the acquisition of new Designated Players: Gabriel Pec (Vasco da Gama) and Joseph Paintsil (Genk). With two open slots, the Galaxy took an aggressive and expensive approach, bringing in Pec and Paintsil.

“It starts with the profile and making sure we identify the right type of players that we want and then going out and finding them,” Kuntz said. “We’re extremely excited about having these young men here with us. Ten years ago, it wouldn’t have been possible to get somebody to come join MLS from Genk or a rising star from Vasco da Gama, so I think it speaks to not just how much the league has grown, but also to the prominence of the Galaxy and what a fantastic club we have and that goes all the way from our ownership and everybody behind the scenes.”

The Galaxy have been hit and miss under Vanney. In 2021, the club missed the playoffs on the final day of the regular season. The following year, the Galaxy advanced to the Western Conference semifinals. Then came last year’s miserable season.

Vanney is in the final year of his contract. He believes that now, with Kuntz in charge, he’s now able to focus on strictly on-field duties.


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South Carolina Republican primary updates and results

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By Meg Kinnard and Will Weissert, Associated Press

CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — Former President Donald Trump is looking to win his fourth straight primary state on Saturday over Nikki Haley in South Carolina, aiming to hand a home-state embarrassment to his last remaining major rival for the Republican nomination.

Trump went into Saturday’s primary with a huge polling lead and the backing of the state’s top Republicans, including Sen. Tim Scott, a former rival in the race. Haley, who served as U.N. ambassador under Trump, has spent weeks crisscrossing the state that twice elected her governor warning that the dominant front-runner, who is 77 and faces four indictments, is too old and distracted to be president again.




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Against war’s grim backdrop, one Ukrainian woman’s haunting quest

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Sometimes, he visits her in dreams. In her waking hours — treading a muddy village byway, casting an eye across a desolate field — hope pulses in her like a beating heart: that she might somehow find him.

As Europe’s largest land war since World War II enters its third year on Saturday, Ukraine is full of wounded souls like Olena Kovalyk, caught in the quest for some trace of a lost loved one.

There are tens of thousands of these vanished: soldiers who disappeared into the maw of battle, children spirited away for adoption in Russia, civilian villagers like Olena’s husband, Oleh, her childhood sweetheart, who engaged in quixotic acts of defiance against a powerful occupying army.

For those left behind, grief and uncertainty swirl together, muddy rivulets in a vast tributary. The amorphous sense of loss echoes a larger national sense of pervasive not-knowingness: No one can say when, or how, this war might end.

But some, like Olena, have convinced themselves they will find a measure of comfort in confirming beyond any doubt that the worst has indeed come to pass.

To that end, she believes in patience. She believes in paying close attention. Perhaps the answer will come in her dreams.

“I know,” she said, “that eventually, he’ll tell me where he is.”

At 49, Olena has black hair, a sturdy build, and a face that can sometimes look much younger, or much older. She and Oleh grew up in these rural flatlands of southern Ukraine, where they ran a family farm and raised their two sons. They were married 30 years ago this year.

1

A portrait of Oleh Kovalyk. Olena Kovalyk's husband Oleh Kovalvk,

2

Olena Kovalyk with an anguished face and a hand before her mouth

1. A picture of Oleh Kovalyk, Olena’s husband, who disappeared on April 9, 2022. 2. Olena holds back tears as she talks about her husband’s disappearance. (Anna Tsyhyma / For The Times)

The provincial capital, Kherson, about 100 miles to the southwest, fell to the Russians in the opening days of the full-scale invasion that began Feb. 24, 2022. Their village, Myrolyubivka, was swiftly overrun as well. Together, the couple made the risky decision to remain, watching over their property and hoping for liberation by the Ukrainian army.

During the first days of the Russian presence, Olena and Oleh watched from behind their gates as soldiers set up checkpoints, patrolled the streets in armored vehicles, dug trenches, took over empty homes.

Soon enough, the occupation turned personal: Armed troops repeatedly raided their home, insisting that weapons were hidden there. The Russians knew that one of their adult sons had served in the Ukrainian military, during the fight against Russia’s proxy militias in the eastern Donbas region that began a decade ago.

At their parents’ urging, both sons slipped away early in the occupation. But Oleh began taking more and more chances.

After Russian soldiers tore down the yellow-and-blue Ukrainian flag from the village council building in the center of the town, Oleh waited for a day when there were no occupying forces in sight. He found the discarded flag, brought it home and hid it inside a wall of the farmhouse, plastering over the hole.

A statue honoring local residents who fought in World War II stands in Myrolyubivka, Ukraine.

A statue honoring local residents who fought in World War II stands in Myrolyubivka, which sustained heavy damage when Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022.

(Anna Tsyhyma / For The Times)

Olena remembers him telling her then that if he wasn’t around when the village was liberated by Ukrainian troops, she should fetch the flag from its hiding place and hang it back up.

In Russian-occupied towns and villages, a small act of defiance like secreting away a Ukrainian national symbol could bring harsh punishment. But Oleh was only getting started; like many civilians in occupied towns and villages across Ukraine’s south and east, he began acting as a spotter for the Ukrainian military, relaying information about the movements and activities of the Russians and their proxies.

On April 9, nearly a month after the Russians took over the village, Oleh left the house after lunch with his cellphone, heading for an area where he thought he could get a signal.

He didn’t come back.

Olena’s search began the next morning.

With a friend, she went to a nearby agricultural enterprise known as the Valentina farm, where she thought Oleh had gone. There, they were met by an armed member of a Russian proxy militia, who warned them not to come back.

But perversely, the threat carried a glimmer of hope.

“If you see your husband,” the man told her, “tell him we are looking for him.”

Olena Kovalyk speaks to Serhiy, a Ukrainian civilian-military liaison officer, in her home in Myrolyubivka.

Olena Kovalyk speaks to Serhiy, a Ukrainian civilian-military liaison officer, in her home in Myrolyubivka about her ongoing search for her husband.

(Anna Tsyhyma / For The Times)

Meanwhile, Oleh’s 78-year-old father, Stepan Kovalyk, went to the Russians’ local headquarters to ask after his son. Instead, he found himself detained.

The Russians threw a bag over the old man’s head, beat him and drove him to a neighboring village, where they spent hours interrogating him. Before dumping him back in Myrolyubivka, they offered a chilling coda.

“Your son is gone,” they said.

Oleh, his wife and father later learned, had been captured almost immediately after arriving at the Valentina farm buildings. This was frightening news, but Olena had heard that the Russians sometimes ransomed detainees for cash.

So she waited and hoped. But the situation quickly grew desperate.

Russian soldiers kept returning to the couple’s house, ransacking it for weapons, becoming more and more violently menacing when they found none.

After the 16th such raid, Olena decided it was time to seek shelter elsewhere, at least for now.

On April 29, she left the village through one of the only checkpoints left in the region, heading for the Ukrainian-controlled city of Kryvyi Rih, 60 miles to the northwest.

As Olena fled, the outside world was just beginning to learn of the horrors taking place in Ukrainian towns and villages under occupation.

That spring, as Russian troops broke off an attempt to seize the capital, Kyiv, the names of suburban communities like Bucha became synonymous with stories of Ukrainian civilians tortured and murdered.

In the south of Ukraine, the same bleak pattern was unfolding. In a village called Bilyayivka, a dozen miles from Myrolyubivka, the Russians turned a village school into a torture center.

Human rights organizations believe at least 20 Ukrainian prisoners were held at the school between April 2022 and the end of that September, when the village was liberated by Ukrainian troops.

The Bilyayivka village school and its surrounding buildings were heavily damaged in September 2022.

The Bilyayivka village school and its surrounding buildings were heavily damaged in September 2022 when a Ukrainian counteroffensive reclaimed territory occupied by Russia.

(Anna Tsyhyma / For The Times)

It was July when two former prisoners from the school holding cell reached out to Olena. They had seen Oleh, they said. And they told her what they had witnessed.

On the second floor of the school complex, a tiny, windowless storage closet served as a holding cell. In what were once classrooms for preschool and elementary students, Russian troops administered beatings and electric shocks to prisoners’ genitals, and carried out mock executions.

Two Ukrainian groups, the nonprofit Reckoning Project and the Human Rights Center ZMINA, would later document conditions and events at the prison based on testimony from those who were held there.

According to those accounts, Russian soldiers brought Oleh to the upstairs holding cell and threw him inside. It was April 9, the same day he had been captured.

1

Bloodstains on a wall

2

A chalkboard with numbers written on it

3

A woman in a coat stands next to wooden bunks

1. Bloodstains appear on the wall of a windowless room at the school-turned-prison in Bilyayivka. 2. An old handwritten calendar on a classroom chalkboard there. 3. Olena Kovalyk stands next to rickety wooden bunks at the makeshift prison. (Anna Tsyhyma / For The Times)

He was soaking wet, hands bound behind his back, his clothing torn. His sweatpants were cut away in the groin area. The Russian soldiers slammed the door shut, warning the 12 other men in the cell not to untie Oleh’s hands, or they would face a similar fate.

In their telling, he lay crumpled and moaning on the concrete floor, begging for water, mumbling that he had a burning sensation around his nose and mouth.

Oleh smelled strongly of strange chemicals, the witnesses recounted. They suspected Russian soldiers had sprayed a fire extinguisher into his face, a method of torture that has been documented in testimonies from other Russian-occupied areas.

At one point, a prisoner called out to guards that the bound man on the floor was dying. One of them replied that if he wasn’t dead by morning, a doctor would come.

It didn’t take until morning. According to the testimonies, it took about another half-hour for Oleh to die.

Through the haze of hearing this hammer-blow news, Olena seized upon the details that would galvanize her search in the months to come.

A room in the Bilyayivka school used by Russian soldiers as a prison.

A room at the former school and prison.

(Anna Tsyhyma / For The Times)

That next morning, surviving prisoners said, Russian soldiers opened the cell door and saw that Oleh was dead. They ordered two other prisoners to stuff the corpse into a big white fertilizer bag and heave it into a Russian armored personnel carrier.

Months later, those prisoners said their first thought was that they would be asked to bury the body. But then they heard one of the Russian soldiers say, “She’ll pay us for this.”

At the time, the witnesses took the Russians’ comment to mean they would try to extort money from the man’s widow.

In one sense, though, the captor’s prediction was correct: Olena would pay.

And pay, and pay.

Olena returned to her home in Myrolyubivka in late September 2022, just weeks after a Ukrainian military counteroffensive recaptured a swath of territory that included her village and the surrounding area.

By that time, more information was trickling out about the Russian torture chambers and prisons in the Kherson region. Olena was determined to speak to as many witnesses as she could. Any clue might help her find the body.

Olena Kovalyk surveys the damage to her family farm in the Kherson region of Ukraine.

Olena Kovalyk surveys the damage to her family farm in the Kherson region of Ukraine, where it was caught in the crossfire between invading Russian forces and the Ukrainian military.

(Anna Tsyhyma / For The Times)

Time made those clues harder to come by. Of the dozen prisoners who were in the cell with Oleh, one hanged himself, and another died of a heart attack, according to the Reckoning Project. A third was killed in subsequent shelling. A fourth told her he could not bear to speak about what he witnessed.

Olena turned to the police and other security agencies to help with her search, but described the response as frustrating. One security officer, she said, urged her to concentrate on the bureaucratic task of obtaining a death certificate to collect widow’s benefits.

“What money?” she said angrily. “I said I needed his body.”

She described ordering the officer off her property, but only after demanding a thorough official search for Oleh.

“How can I find him myself?” she asked.

That task, as it turned out, became her life’s work.

About once a week, Olena returns to Bilyayivka, site of the school-prison, to walk the village pathways and look for any signs of disturbed earth that could indicate a burial site.

She follows every lead, no matter how small. Last year, she heard a rumor that during the occupation, bodies were buried in a walnut grove just outside a neighboring village.

But Ukraine is one of the most heavily mined countries in the world, and Olena knew it would be near-suicidal to venture into the orchard. She began agitating — so far unsuccessfully — for sappers, or de-mining specialists, to clear the grove.

She has tried to enlist allies wherever they might be found. Last September, she appeared on a war-crimes panel in Kyiv, with the prosecutor general, Andriy Kostin. She made an emotional appeal for his help; the regional prosecutor’s office is now involved.

Oleh Kovalyk, dressed in a WWII military uniform, poses for a photo while participating in a local reenactment club.

Oleh Kovalyk, dressed in a World War II military uniform, poses while participating in a local reenactment club in southeastern Ukraine.

(Anna Tsyhyma / For The Times)

“There are so many cases like this!” she said. “Maybe they would like to say they will solve it all. But it’s not realistic.”

The most frightening prospect, she says — one that she can hardly stand to contemplate — is that the Russians might have taken the body with them when they pulled back from the area.

Still, some help has materialized. Local Ukrainian journalists have published accounts of her search, which attracted the attention of volunteer and civil society groups. An organization called On the Shield, which specializes in searching for fallen soldiers, brought in dogs and handlers to comb the grounds of the school-turned-torture center.

Foreign nongovernmental organizations are stepping in to help Ukraine develop systems and methodology for searches like this one. But with at least 30,000 people unaccounted for, by Ukrainian estimates, the task is enormous.

“This limbo, yes — the United Nations has called it a form of torture,” said Kathryne Bomberger, executive director of the Hague-based International Commission on Missing Persons, which is helping Ukraine build a missing-persons tracing system to international standards.

Since the organization began its work during the Balkan wars of the 1990s, she said, there have been enormous technical strides including DNA matching, but the emotional backdrop remains an agonizing constant. People like Olena, Bomberger said, “have a right to justice, to truth, to knowing.”

Olena now has a companion in her quest: a Ukrainian civilian-military liaison officer assigned to the region. Tall and blunt-featured, his name is Serhiy, and in keeping with Ukrainian military protocol, he asked not to be further identified.

On a cold January day, he walked with her, retracing paths they had covered many times before: black earth, white patchy snow. Flickering in her mind’s eye was a white fertilizer bag.

When Olena recited a long list of nearby places she thought they should search as well, Serhiy listened, nodding.

Olena Kovalyk pauses by a drainage well in Bilyayivka

Olena Kovalyk, pausing by a deep drainage well in Bilyayivka, wonders whether Russian troops dumped the body of her husband there and then covered it with trash and possibly mines.

(Anna Tsyhyma / For The Times )

Olena has talked to everyone in Bilyayivka who is willing to speak. She asks them all to turn their minds back to the days of occupation, to consider any obscure location where a body might have been dumped.

But for villagers still struggling to recover from their own ordeals from that time, it’s a big thing to ask. She knows that.

On this day, Olena led Serhiy to a large sunken concrete pit across the street from the school building. Such holding tanks, dating back to the Soviet era, are scattered throughout the village, probably originally used for collecting rainwater.

Before the war, the area abutting the school had been a little park, complete with burbling fountain. Now it was strewn with trash: empty bottles and cans, pieces of tattered Russian uniforms. One of the concrete pits was full of empty shell casings.

Isn’t it strange, she asked Serhiy, that the area is so covered in litter? As if concealing something?

He responded sympathetically, but didn’t give the answer she hoped for. The pits were deep, he noted, and clearing them would require special equipment. Moreover, they could very well be mined.

A fragment of Russian fatigues pokes out from under a dusting of snow in a village park in Bilyayivka.

A fragment of Russian fatigues pokes out from under a dusting of snow in a village park in Bilyayivka. Russian soldiers left piles of waste as they retreated from the region during Ukraine’s counteroffensive in September 2022.

(Anna Tsyhyma / For The Times)

“Sometimes I ask myself: If I find him, will it get easier for me?” Olena said.

Even now, she cannot help envisioning him alive. He would be 51 now. Whenever there are televised scenes of prisoners brought home in exchanges, she studies the faces intently.

She pays close attention to her dreams. In one particularly vivid one, she saw Oleh descending a wide stairway with a green carpet. She recognized it immediately: the interior of the Bilyayivka village school.

Perhaps, she said, the prisoners’ recollection of Oleh’s death was all a mistake. Perhaps he will come home. She twisted a handkerchief, looked down at her hands.

“There are no miracles, I understand,” she said quietly. “But hope is the last to die.”

She still has the flag Oleh had rescued. Olena and her sons dug it out of the wall of her half-ruined home. She said she had promised her sons she would raise it as her husband had asked — but only after she found his body.

Times special correspondent Ayres reported from Bilyayivka and Myrolyubivka, and staff writer King from Berlin. Some of the reporting for this story was supported by the Reckoning Project, a consortium of Ukrainian and international journalists and researchers who record and verify witness testimonies of war crimes and crimes against humanity.


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Food truck kingpin denies claims he took workers’ money and never delivered the trucks

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Guitars flutter, an accordion wheezes and a singer unwinds the triumphant tale of Fernando Ochoa Jauregui, a Modesto-area builder of food trucks and trailers.

“He still parties just because he feels like it,” the lyrics go. “But what he enjoys the most is partying with a banda at festivals in his town with a beautiful lady by his side.”

In a video accompanying the Spanish-language corrido, images flash of Ochoa beaming in front of shiny cars and atop jet skis. In some, he wears hats with the logo of his company: 8A Food Trucks. It ends with footage of stacks of cash and a money-counting machine.

The narrative ballad, titled “El del 8A” on YouTube, gives the impression that Ochoa is a kingpin at the helm of a burgeoning empire — one who “gives thanks to his father for making him a good kid.”

But unhappy 8A Food Trucks customers across California — from Sacramento to Salinas and San Bernardino — tell their own stories. They describe toiling as cooks, custodians and construction workers, saving for years to get a chance at starting their own business, only to have their dreams dashed. In a rough and tumble industry, largely secluded in poor, immigrant neighborhoods and farming communities, they allege Ochoa stands out for his callousness.

In lawsuits and interviews, former clients accused Ochoa and his company of not delivering trucks or trailers they ordered and refusing to return their partial or full payments. Others alleged that they received vehicles so poorly built that they couldn’t be used. And some have accused Ochoa of taking back trailers they’d purchased from him.

All told, 15 alleged victims claimed more than $475,000 in losses, according to a Times analysis.

In an interview, Ochoa, 28, disputed several of the allegations and acknowledged some mistakes, chalking them up in part to his inexperience in business, which he said led to delays in completing projects for customers. “I’m trying to deal with this scandal so I can make my business better again — I had a real company,” he said. “I’m not a business expert. I just know how to build trucks.”

Ochoa has become a symbol in Spanish media of the perils that lurk in the mobile food industry. In a 2023 report on him, a Univision news anchor warned those entering the business to exercise extreme caution. The controversy comes at a fraught moment for vendors in Southern California. Several in the L.A. area were robbed by gunmen last summer in brazen attacks that highlight the risks of selling food on Southland streets.

Alejandro Gonzalez was in a dispute over payment for a trailer when an old Toyota Camry pulled up to the drive-through window of Mi Casita Purepecha, his San Bernardino restaurant, on Feb. 1.

“Are you Alejandro?” the front-seat passenger asked Gonzalez, who was standing at the window.

The restaurateur said he was — and the man pulled out a gun and pointed it at him.

In the confusion of the moment, Gonzalez said, he turned to help customers inside the Mexican restaurant and the Camry sped away. Gonzalez, 44, didn’t recognize the men. But he said he fears that they are connected to Ochoa. Asked about the incident, Ochoa said he did not send armed men to Mi Casita Purepecha.

Gonzalez and his wife, Paulina Quintal, had contacted 8A Food Trucks in early January about building them two trailers so they could start a mobile food business. Ochoa delivered a trailer to their home two weeks later. Gonzalez said that he and his wife paid for it in full, and gave the builder a check for the down payment on a second one.

A mobile food trailer that Alejandro Gonzalez purchased from 8A Food Trucks

San Bernardino resident Alejandro Gonzalez said that this mobile food trailer, which he purchased from 8A Food Trucks, was stolen from his driveway in January.

(Alejandro Gonzalez)

Soon, however, men working for Ochoa appeared at Mi Casita Purepecha to dispute Gonzalez’s ownership of the trailer he’d bought days earlier, he said. Then, after the couple’s check for the second trailer didn’t clear, a third party passed along what Gonzalez said was a threatening voicemail from Ochoa.

On Jan. 21, Gonzalez said he returned from an errand to find his trailer had been stolen from his driveway. Seeking answers, he said he traveled to 8A Food Trucks’ headquarters in Ceres, Calif., but found the site deserted. The next day, Gonzalez said, the men with the gun visited him.

Gonzalez filed reports with the San Bernardino Police Department over the theft and the run-in at his restaurant. Regarding Ochoa, Gonzalez said, “I don’t know how he sleeps.”

Ochoa denied stealing the trailer from Gonzalez and Quintal’s home — “I would never do that,” he said — and alleged that they had not fully paid for it, saying that the check that bounced was meant to go toward the money they owed on it. Ochoa said he had sent two people to Mi Casita Purepecha to address those matters — and not to intimidate the couple.

“None of my people are armed,” he said. “We are businessmen; we dedicate ourselves to working and building trailers.”

Though the dollar amounts in most of the cases involving Ochoa are not large, for fledgling operators trying to break into the mobile food industry — many of them working-class immigrants — it’s enough to sidetrack their business dreams. And their predicaments highlight the vulnerability of California’s food industry workers, many of whom lack a financial safety net or the time and experience required to navigate the legal system. Some are undocumented and fear speaking to authorities.

“There were nights that we would cry, my husband and I,” said Adriana Nicanor, a San Joaquin resident. She and her husband filed a lawsuit against Ochoa and 8A Food Trucks last year that asserted he never delivered a trailer and claimed he refused to return their $20,000 deposit. They secured a default judgment, court records show, but have been unable to collect on it.

“It’s very frustrating,” Nicanor said. “My brother lent me that money. There were times we would struggle. Who asks for this?”

For many of Ochoa’s clients, making a down payment on a truck or trailer — both of which typically include kitchens — was an important first step in fulfilling a long-held entrepreneurial ambition. Some said that the alleged losses were especially painful because they came at the hands of one of their own: a Mexican immigrant who lived in the Central Valley and previously worked at an industrial shop before founding 8A Food Trucks in 2019.

He’s taking advantage of “the campesinos — the farmworkers,” said activist Alicia Espinoza, a Moreno Valley resident who has helped organize some of Ochoa’s accusers. “My dad, when he came to this country, he was a strawberry picker. It just hurts me that this guy could take advantage of people like him.”

Ochoa said he has many happy customers and has gone out of his way to help them achieve their aspirations, noting, for example, that he has sometimes accepted payment in installments. “Not many businesses do that,” he said. “You know, we’re not a bank.” As for the Nicanors, Ochoa denied that he failed to meet an agreed-upon deadline for delivery, and said he plans to pay them back.

Mi Casita Purepecha restaurant's drive-through area

Mi Casita Purepecha owner Alejandro Gonzalez said a car pulled up to the restaurant’s drive-through window and a passenger pulled a gun on him Feb. 1.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Several of those making allegations against Ochoa reside in Stanislaus County, an agricultural hub whose biggest city is Modesto. Wendell Emerson, a deputy district attorney for the county, confirmed that his office is conducting “an active criminal investigation” of Ochoa. He declined to comment further.

After the incident at Mi Casita Purepecha, Gonzalez closed the restaurant and left San Bernardino, relocating his family — he and his wife have three children — to a place they feel safe.

“I don’t know how long it is going to be,” Gonzalez said. “I feel like I lost everything.”

Lawsuits reveal a pattern

Ochoa is an entrepreneur of the internet age.

Food industry workers who’ve done business with the Colima, Mexico, native said that they found him via social media, where his posts depict a professional at the helm of a prosperous company.

The Instagram account for 8A Food Trucks includes several images of gleaming vehicles, their stainless steel kitchens spotless under bright lights. The “8A” in the company’s name is a play on words: pronounced in Spanish, it sounds like “Ochoa.”

A recently divorced father of two young girls, Ochoa has positioned 8A as a brand beyond the world of food services: There are Instagram pages for a hat company with 8A in the name, and another for a jet-ski rental service. It’s all part of a slick image that Ochoa has cultivated online, where it’s easy to find his self-aggrandizing corridos and photographs of him posing in front of his black Chevrolet Corvette.

“Now they see me living well,” the lyrics of one song go, “driving around in a Corvette, buzzing.”

Ochoa’s flaunting of his success has infuriated customers with whom he’s tussled.

For Norma Estevez and her husband, Sebastian Delgado, entering the mobile food trade was a step toward realizing an important goal: owning a business they could pass onto their three children. But Estevez and Delgado, both Mexican American, believe they lost more money than any of Ochoa’s other alleged victims.

The Salinas couple contacted Ochoa in 2021 to build a pair of trailers, selecting him, Estevez said, because he was Latino. “He didn’t have many clients,” she said, “and you could tell he has this aspiration to succeed.”

Estevez needed the trailers for a big opportunity: She had signed a contract with a produce company in nearby Watsonville to feed 70 field workers for 10 months beginning in February 2022. The owner had predicated the deal on her securing a trailer and having proper permits.

Ochoa told her that each trailer would cost $41,000, and promised to complete construction by the end of January, according to Estevez, who showed The Times invoices that documented the deal.

She and her husband sent Ochoa $60,000 over the course of several months, and as the deadline approached, they scheduled a day to pick up the trailers from 8A Food Trucks’ shop, Estevez said. But Ochoa canceled on them, she said, explaining that “his mother had arrived from Mexico and that he needed to pick her up from the airport.” They rescheduled, but he again put them off.

By then, Estevez’s contract with the Watsonville company had begun, and she scrambled to honor it. She was forced to buy meals for the workers, spending about $37 per person a day for the next week and a half — an all-in cost of nearly $26,000. Eventually, she rented a kitchen for $800 a week, and did so until the contract concluded, turning only a small profit on the deal.

And without the trailers, Estevez wasn’t able to renew the contract. “I felt embarrassed … like we had lost a great opportunity,” she said.

Ochoa acknowledged that he didn’t meet the agreed-upon deadline — and that the situation was similar to that of other clients who didn’t receive their vehicles on time. But, he said, others were willing to wait. “Norma’s situation was that if she didn’t get the trailers by a certain date, then she wasn’t going to need them,” he said.

Estevez and Delgado filed a lawsuit against Ochoa for breach of contract and other claims in July 2022. Months later, the parties agreed to a settlement that called for Ochoa to pay Estevez and Delgado about $70,000, including attorney’s fees, according to court documents. Estevez said that Ochoa has only paid $30,000, leaving her deeply disillusioned.

“We were like him, we came to this country to better our lives,” she said. “He knew our dream and ambitions — we told him how hard we worked for it.”

Gonzalez, meanwhile, isn’t the only person who alleged that a trailer purchased from Ochoa was later taken back by him.

Shelly Lopez and her husband, Jesus Avalos, said they paid Ochoa $37,000, and after nine months of delays — and their appearance in a Univision 19 Sacramento segment to discuss them — the Sacramento couple received a trailer in January 2023.

A man attaches a mobile food trailer to a truck

A man Shelly Lopez identified as Fernando Ochoa Jauregui came to her Sacramento home, she said, in February 2023 to take the trailer that 8A Food Trucks had recently sold her.

(Courtesy of Shelly Lopez)

After just a week, though, Ochoa told Lopez that he needed to take it back to his shop to make some adjustments, she said. A video that Lopez provided to The Times shows a man she identified as Ochoa connecting the trailer to the back of a pickup truck in February 2023.

“I didn’t want to let him take it,” Lopez said. “But my husband said, ‘It’s OK, he’ll make the repairs and bring it back to us.’”

It was the last time Lopez and Avalos saw the trailer.

“We had so many fights after that,” she said. “It would come up whenever we were driving and saw people running their businesses, selling food. I would blame him for it.”

Ochoa said that Lopez hadn’t paid for the trailer in full, and that she was making payments in installments. He said that he only retrieved the trailer after she told him it needed repairs. After seeing her negative public comments about him, Ochoa said that he decided to void the payment plan, and resolved to return her funds.

Lopez said she has not gotten the money back.

‘He’s been laughing at us’

In recent days, Ochoa has come under attack online by disgruntled customers — and his former mother-in-law.

Gisela Macias, 48, said that strangers began showing up at her Modesto home over the summer in search of Ochoa. They came, she said, to demand he pay them back for vehicles they’d purchased but never received. The visits were so frequent that she began recording interviews with some of the people to post on TikTok.

Ochoa said that the internet activism and local TV news stories have led to an exodus of clients, which has imperiled his ability to pay back customers like Estevez. He said that he can only make payments in $1,000 increments. “I know it’s not much,” he said, “but I have no business due to everything that’s being said about my company.”

He said he had to close 8A Food Trucks’ headquarters in Ceres because angry clients kept going there to confront him. But his braggadocio is still easy to find on the internet. A 2023 corrido about Ochoa titled “Por 8A Me Conocen” includes the boast that “business is steady and we’re never going to stop.”

“I fought hard and little by little grew the empire that I founded,” the singer trills.

It incenses Estevez. “He’s been laughing at us — the people who had dreams, who worked hard to save money to make those dreams a reality,” she said.

These days, the equipment that Estevez and her husband bought for their two trailers — ovens, cooking wares and more — is mothballed in their garage. It’s hard for her to enter the space without crying.

“That’s our dream right there, collecting dust,” she said.

Times researcher Scott Wilson and columnist Gustavo Arellano contributed to this report.




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Q&A: Asset allocation requires pro advice

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Dear Liz: I need guidance on asset allocation in retirement. I will retire in June at 65. I’m in good health, so I am planning for 30 more years of life, understanding that it could easily be fewer and might be more. I have a robust government pension and a good chunk of retirement savings. Targeting a 4% withdrawal rate from retirement savings, my post-retirement income will be about the same as my current income, less current savings contributions. The pension will make up about 75% of that income and the savings, about 25%. I could live on the pension alone if it came down to it. At age 70, I’ll get a bump of about 15% of that total income when I start taking Social Security, after accounting for the windfall elimination provision.

My analysis is that I essentially have 75% of my retirement assets allocated to very safe investments, i.e., my pension and future Social Security. I think I should allocate my 401(k) and 457(b) more aggressively than the usual guidance calls for. I’m considering selecting a 2050 or 2055 target date fund.

Am I looking at this correctly?

Answer: You do need guidance, and it should come from a fee-only, fiduciary financial planner hired to provide you with individualized advice. This is, after all, the first and probably only time you’ll retire, while a good advisor has guided many people through this process. The advisor will know the questions to ask and the traps to avoid far better than any novice could.

The advisor may concur that you can take more risk with your investments, given your substantial amount of guaranteed income. A lot will depend on your risk tolerance, of course, but the planner will consider other factors, such as your family situation and your plans for covering long-term care costs.

If you don’t have long-term care insurance, for example, you may want to stockpile more cash or identify assets you could sell to pay for care. If you’re married and your pension would end or diminish at your death, you may want to take less risk with your investments so they can better support your survivor.

There’s no substitute for having another set of expert eyes looking at your plan. So many retirement decisions are irreversible, and you’ll want to get this right.


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United Airlines is raising its checked bag fees. Here’s how much more it will cost you.

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United Airlines said Friday it is increasing checked bag fees on all flights in North America, joining other carriers that have recently boosted such charges.

Economy class passengers on domestic United Airlines flights will now pay an additional $5, raising the cost for their first checked bag to $40. The fee for a second checked bag will also rise $5, climbing to $45 in advance online and $50 at the airport.

The new policy is effective for tickets purchased on or after Saturday, February 24, United said in a statement to CBS MoneyWatch.

The airline, which said it hadn’t raised checked bag fees since 2020, noted that most passengers can save $5 on each checked bag if they pay in advance at least 24 hours before their flight. United Chase credit card holders, MileagePlus Premier members, active military members and customers traveling in premium cabins can still check a bag for free, United said.

Earlier this week, American Airlines raised its fee for a first checked bag on domestic flights from $30 to $35 if paid in advance and to $40 at the airport. It also hiked the charge for a second bag from $40 to $45 and increased bag fees for short international flights.


American Airlines raising checked bag fees

03:27

Alaska Airlines raised its bag fees for most economy passengers in January, and JetBlue followed earlier this month. Bag fees have become a dependable source of revenue for airlines since American introduced them in 2008, when jet fuel prices were surging. In 2022, the last full year for which statistics are available, U.S. airlines took in $6.8 billion in checked-bag fees, led by American at $1.4 billion and United at $1.1 billion.

Over the first nine months of 2023, domestic airlines charged nearly $5.5 billion in baggage fees, Bureau of Transportation data shows.

United passengers bemoaning the fee increase may find consolation in hearing the airline is increasing the size of its overhead bins. “United is in the process of updating all of its mainline aircraft with new, larger bins designed to have room for everyone’s carry-on bag,” the company said.

—The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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USWNT defeats Argentina to remain undefeated in CONCACAF Gold Cup

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CARSON — First it was Olivia Moultrie and on Friday night it was Jaedyn Shaw’s turn.

Moultrie, 18, scored two goals in the USWNT’s CONCACAF Gold Cup opening victory over the Dominican Republic on Tuesday night.

Shaw, 19, scored in the 10th and 17th minutes in a 4-0 victory over Argentina three nights later in front of 8,315 at Dignity Health Sports Park to keep the Americans (2-0, six points) perfect in Group A play. With the win, the United States officially secured a spot in the knockout round of the 12-team tournament.

“Argentina is a very tough team to play,” interim U.S. coach Twila Kilgore said. “I feel like we left a lot on the table. I’m confident that we will grow as the tournament goes on.

“I feel like we did an excellent job shutting down their outlets.”

The teenagers also made some history, becoming the first pair of teenagers to score multiple goals in back-to-back games. It was also Shaw’s first career multi-goal game.

“Super happy for Jaedyn, we saw her be impactful in a lot of ways,” Kilgore said. “I thought she had a very complete performance.”

Mexico had briefly moved to the top of the group following its victory over the Dominicans in the first game of the doubleheader.

Casey Murphy got the start in goal for the Americans. She is coming off of a perfect run (no goals allowed in six starts) in international competition last year.

“Anytime I get to come into (national team camp) and represent the USA, it’s an honor,” Murphy said.

Argentina (0-1-1, one point) put Murphy to work as Mariana Larroquette, who plays for the NWSL’s Orlando Pride, attempted an audacious chip from 40 yards out that hit the crossbar and had Murphy sprawling for an attempted save.

After Shaw’s first goal, Larroquette scored what should have been the equalizer off of a free kick, but she was ruled to have been offside.

That was the break that the U.S. needed. Shaw found her second in the 17th minute and Alex Morgan followed with a looping header in the 19th minute for a 3-0 lead that the Americans would take into halftime.

Morgan’s goal was the 123rd of her career and the first time she has scored in back-to-back games since 2022.

The rest of the game settled into a physical one with few chances in the second half. However, the United States added a goal in the second half when Lindsey Horan converted a penalty kick.

Argentina’s Miriam Mayorga was awarded a red card for a hand ball, leading to Horan’s penalty attempt.

Horan scored a second goal moments later but it was wiped off due to an offside call.

Mexico (1-0-1, four points) bounced back from its scoreless draw against Argentina in the opener with an 8-0 rout of the Dominican Republic (0-2, 0 points). Seven different players scored for Mexico, led by Lizabeth Ovalle, who had a pair.

The group stage concludes Monday, also at DHSP, with the Americans facing Mexico (7:15 p.m.) preceded by Argentina and the Dominican Republic (4:30 p.m.). The Mexico and USWNT game will decided the winner of the group.

“Mexico is hard-working, organized,” Kilgore said. “I expect they will make changes and will do what’s best for their team and we will do what’s best for our team.”

Argentina earned its point against Mexico and will be favored to defeat the Dominicans.

“It’s important to capitalize on every moment that we have,” Kilgore said. “We believe that we can do all things together.”


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Kawhi Leonard, Terance Mann help Clippers hold off Grizzlies – Press Enterprise

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By CLAY BAILEY The Associated Press

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Kawhi Leonard scored 24 points, Terance Mann had a season-high 23 points and 12 rebounds, and the Clippers pulled away in the final minutes for a 101-95 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night.

Paul George added 14 points for the Clippers and Ivica Zubac finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out in the fourth quarter.

Jaren Jackson Jr. led Memphis with 29 points. GG Jackson had 11 points, Ziaire Williams scored 10 and Vince Williams had eight assists for his sixth straight game with at least seven.

Through three quarters, the game remained close as neither team led by double digits and there were 11 lead changes and eight ties at that point. The Clippers carried a 79-75 lead into the fourth. And things remained close in the quarter.

The 17th – and final – lead change came with 1:35 left when Leonard converted a turnover by Memphis into a dunk. Mann rebounded a miss for a dunk 24 seconds later to put the Clippers up, 96-93. A 3-pointer by James Harden with 46.2 seconds left, his only basket of the night, put the game out of Memphis’ reach.

The game, which included 11 ties, was the first after the All-Star break for the Grizzlies. The Clippers came off a 129-107 loss at Oklahoma City when they returned to action Thursday night.

Clippers forward P.J. Tucker, who was fined $75,000 by the league earlier this month for publicly demanding a trade, played in his first game since Nov. 27 when he entered in the first quarter.


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How to see April’s total solar eclipse in the U.S.

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Paul Maley has spent much of his life chasing solar eclipses.

He has witnessed 83 solar eclipses from 1960 to 2023. On April 8, he plans to see the 84th aboard a cruise ship in Mexico, located right in the path of totality — the swath where the moon fully blocks the sun.

“It’s more eclipses than anyone living or dead,” he said, proudly.

But millions of Americans will also get a chance to see the next eclipse. The heavenly display will be visible — weather permitting — in North America to about 31.5 million people living in the path of totality, including a long stretch through the U.S. The rest of the continental United States, as well as parts of Alaska and Hawaii, will be able to see a partial solar eclipse.

Maley’s pursuit of the phenomenon has taken him across the world — from the icy land of Antarctica to the Cocos Islands off the western coast of Australia. Some of the experiences have been unnerving, like a trip to Turkey in 1999 during a period of unrest when military police filled the streets, Maley said.

Others have been blissfully simple. A trip to watch a partial eclipse — which doesn’t attract nearly the same fanfare as a total eclipse (more on that later) — in South Korea with his wife ended with a celebration for two at a Dunkin Donuts.

Maley, 76, says these journeys are somewhat of an obsession for him. But they also provide an escape and are an easy way to put one’s place in the universe in perspective, he said.

“No matter how many things in this world are screwed up, whether it’s political or military or economic, nobody can change what’s going on in the sky when it comes to an eclipse of the sun,” he said. “It’s going to happen. There’s nothing you can do about it, so you might as well go there and enjoy it and free yourself from all the problems that you’re facing.”

What happens during a total solar eclipse?

A total solar eclipse happens when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, completely blocking the face of the sun from view and casting a shadow onto the Earth. For people viewing the eclipse from locations where the moon’s shadow completely blocks the sun, known as the path of totality, the sky will become dark.

Depending on the weather and visibility, people along the path of totality will see the sun’s corona, the outermost part of the sun’s atmosphere, which is typically obscured by the sun’s brightness. Just before totality, viewers can also spot flashes of light — known as Baily’s beads — along the circumference of the moon.

A rapid drop in temperature typically occurs during a total solar eclipse. At times, birds will fall silent and nocturnal animals will abruptly awaken, mistaking the brief phenomenon for nightfall.

The phenomenon also has appeared — and had various interpretations — in religious texts. Some Indigenous people have traditions they observe — like abstaining from food — during solar eclipse events.

The last total solar eclipse that crossed the United States was in August 2017. It was the first total solar eclipse visible in the contiguous U.S. in 38 years, according to NASA. The April eclipse will be the last to be visible in the Lower 48 until Aug. 23, 2044.

When will this total eclipse happen and who can see it?

The eclipse will begin over the South Pacific Ocean and will move diagonally across Mexico, the United States and Canada. Mexico’s Pacific coast will be the first location in continental North America to experience totality around 11:07 a.m. PDT. The eclipse will enter the United States in Texas and make its way through Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine. A map on NASA’s website provides an approximate time that each location in the path of totality will see the eclipse.

While more than 30 million Americans will get a chance to experience a total solar eclipse, most will see only a partial eclipse, which happens when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth but all three bodies are not perfectly lined up, as is the case on either side of the path of totality. Rather than being completely obscured, the sun will appear as a crescent shape.

The maximum duration of totality along the eclipse path will be 4 minutes, 28 seconds, though it’s likely to be shorter in most locations.

Why does this happen and how often?

Solar eclipses occur because, as the Earth is orbiting the sun, the moon is orbiting the Earth. Roughly every 28 days as the moon makes a complete journey around the Earth it moves between the sun and Earth, said Nick DiFrancesco, an assistant professor of geology at the University at Buffalo.

But eclipses don’t happen every 28 days.

“The three factors that influence whether an eclipse is going to occur or not are the alignment of the Earth, moon and sun, that tilt or inclination of the moon’s orbit around the Earth and the last thing, essentially, is how close to the Earth the moon is,” DiFrancesco said.

Those factors have to be in perfect alignment to get a total solar eclipse.

How to get the best viewing experience

People frequently travel to the path of totality to experience the total solar eclipse with their own eyes. Eclipse chasers will tell you that’s the only way to do it. There are even travel guides that plan complete vacations with the eclipse as the central focus.

This year, Maley has helped organize a cruise for roughly 200 people to see the eclipse in Mexico. He also helped put together a trip for eclipse chasers at an all-inclusive beachfront hotel in Mazatlan, Mexico, which will feature discussions with experts in addition to the viewing.

Even the popular travel website Expedia put together vacation packages for the eclipse. The U.S. National Park Service has posted tips about which parks are best situated to see the eclipse.

However you choose to view it, experts say, you should plan ahead. Cities in the path of totality are expecting an influx of visitors and major traffic jams as people flood to those communities to get a glimpse of the scientific wonder.

The weather can also affect visibility. Experts suggest monitoring the forecast and being flexible enough to move from your initial location to one with less cloud cover, if necessary.

And while it’s unlikely you’ll need much gear to view the eclipse, there is one must-have: adequate eye protection. Solar viewing glasses, also known as eclipse glasses, can be purchased online. Experts recommend taking care to ensure the glasses meet the ISO 12312-2 standard for solar viewers and to inspect them for any damage prior to viewing the eclipse.

NASA experts say a quick way to do this is to pull out your phone flashlight and shine it onto the glass lens. If they offer enough protection, you’ll only be able to see a pinpoint of light.

Maley may be biased but he says there is no substitute for seeing an eclipse in person.

“It’s something that has to be seen. The photographs that people have taken, including myself, never do it justice, and even the videos are all two-dimensional,” he said. “It’s just something that cannot accurately be conveyed to people unless they’re right there on the same spot experiencing it with you.”


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Los Angeles County is getting a new area code — 738 — in November

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Remember when Los Angeles had only one area code?

Of course you don’t. The area’s relentless growth forced regulators to split the iconic 213 area code again and again, starting a mere four years after its introduction in 1947.

Today there are 10 area codes in L.A. County, and in about eight months, there will be an 11th: 738, which will cover the same territory now served by 323 and the much-diminished 213.

This is why we can’t have nice things: Landlines may be going the way of the fax machine — in fact, AT&T wants to end its duty to provide wired phone service to anyone in its California service area who asks for it — but the population of cellphones and other connected devices that require phone numbers continues to grow. So the area served by 213 and 323 is, believe it or not, running out of unassigned numbers.

The California Public Utilities Commission approved a proposal last year to add 738 to the mix as an overlay, meaning that it will be used in the same turf as 213 and 323. “The 213/323 area codes generally serve the downtown portion of the City of Los Angeles and the surrounding cities and communities, including Alhambra, Bell, Bell Gardens, Beverly Hills, Commerce, Cudahy, Glendale, Hawthorne, Huntington Park, Inglewood, Lynwood, Maywood, Montebello, Monterey Park, Pasadena, Rosemead, South Gate, South Pasadena, Vernon and West Hollywood, as well as unincorporated portions of Los Angeles County,” the CPUC helpfully explained on its website.

Under the plan approved by the CPUC last year, 738 will make its official debut in mid-November, so if you’re itching for a new number — say, (738) 543-2539, which would spell out the easy-to-remember (738) JHEALEY — you’ll have to wait till then. The commission and phone companies in the state are supposed to begin educating the public about the new code March 1.

The additional area code won’t change any numbers already in use, nor will it make it dialing numbers any more demanding than it already is. Since the 323 area code overran its original boundaries in 2017 to become an overlay throughout 213’s turf, people with 323 or 213 numbers have been required to dial all 10 digits of a phone number even when calling someone in the same area code. That will continue to be the case once 738 is in use.

With cellphones gradually replacing wired phones, new area codes and longer numbers aren’t as meaningful as they used to be. Increasingly, people place calls by touching a link on a smartphone screen rather than punching numbers on a keypad.

And with number portability — the ability to keep your phone number even when you change phone companies — area codes are losing their place as geographic symbols.

Twenty years ago, when your phone’s Caller ID display said the call was coming from Colorado, you could be pretty sure someone was calling you from Colorado. Today, all you know is that the caller’s phone number originated in Colorado.


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Q&A: College expenses and 529 plans

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Dear Liz: You’ve been writing about what to do with leftover money in 529 college savings plans. Our grandchild went to a great state university with low tuition. To manage this ahead of time, we have carefully withdrawn some “excess” funds every year. This must be payable to the beneficiary student. The tax on non-qualified distributions applies only to earnings, not contributions, and will be negligible while the student is in college and has no or very low income. We paid for our CPA to prepare the tax filings. We have used this to pay for “non-eligible” living, travel and other expenses. I also recommend that parents start a college savings account in addition to a 529, because the strict definition of eligible costs leaves out a lot of expenses.

Answer: Previous columns have mentioned that withdrawals from 529 plans can be tax free when used to pay qualified expenses, which include tuition, fees, books and certain living costs, such as on-campus room and board or off-campus living expenditures up to the college’s “cost of attendance” limits, which are listed on its site.

Other common expenses, such as transportation and health insurance, typically aren’t considered qualified. Withdrawals that aren’t qualified will incur not just taxes on the earnings portion of the withdrawal but also penalties. The federal penalty is 10%, said Mark Luscombe, principal analyst for Wolters Kluwer Tax & Accounting.

Your approach could be a good way to use up excess 529 funds, as long as you’re reasonably sure your grandchild won’t need the money for graduate school and you’re not interested in other options, such as naming another family member as beneficiary or rolling up to $35,000, subject to annual contribution limits, into a Roth IRA for your grandchild. (The Roth rollover option is new this year and applies only to accounts that are at least 15 years old. In 2024, up to $7,000 can be transferred for someone under 50, assuming they have at least that much earned income.)

As you noted, it’s important to ensure the non-qualified withdrawals are paid to the student if the idea is to minimize the tax bite. Otherwise the taxes would be calculated based on the account owner’s tax rate.

“If the grandparents kept the excess earnings, it would be taxed to the grandparents plus a 10% penalty, so it would almost always be the case that it would be better to have the excess funds paid to and taxed to the beneficiary,” Luscombe said.


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U.S. issues hundreds of new Russia sanctions over Alexey Navalny’s death and war in Ukraine

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Washington — The Biden administration announced more than 600 sanctions and penalties on Russia and its military industry Friday — the largest round of sanctions since Russia invaded Ukraine two years ago — as it tries to exert more pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin over the invasion and the sudden death a week ago of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny

Friday’s actions include State Department sanctions on three Russian officials the U.S. says were connected to Navalny’s death, as well as sanctions from the State and Treasury Departments on 500 entities linked to Russia’s war effort. Another 90 companies were added to the Commerce Department’s “entity list,” which restricts their ability to do business in the U.S.

President Biden warned of the sanctions earlier this week after blaming Putin for Navalny’s death. Mr. Biden had said there was “no doubt” Putin’s government was responsible. On Thursday, he met with Navalny’s wife and his daughter, Yulia and Dasha Navalnaya, in California. He addressed the new sanctions at the White House on Friday.

“I assured them his legacy will continue to live around the world, and we in the United States are going to continue to ensure that Putin pays a price for his aggression abroad and repression at home,” Mr. Biden said while addressing the nation’s governors.

The new Russia sanctions

President Biden speaks to a bipartisan group of governors in the East Room of the White House on Feb. 23, 2024.
President Biden speaks to a bipartisan group of governors in the East Room of the White House on Feb. 23, 2024.

SAUL LOEB/AFP via Getty Images


The sanctions target top Russian companies, including Mechel, the leading manufacturer of specialty steel used in Russia’s attack helicopters, and JSC SUEK, a railroad logistics company. MIR, the Central Bank of Russia’s national payment processing system, has also been sanctioned, along with business leaders inside and outside of Russia.

The sanctioned entities outside Russia are mostly connected to businesses providing materials to Russia’s military. Friday’s sanctions include 26 entities outside of Russia and people in 11 countries, including China, the United Arab Emirates, Vietnam and Liechtenstein.

Deputy Treasury Secretary Wally Adeyemo told reporters Thursday that Putin has essentially “tasked the [Russian security and intelligence services] with looking for ways to evade our sanctions, especially when it comes to getting access to key components like semiconductors and machine tools.” He went on to say the U.S. strategy is making it more difficult for Russia to “use the supply chain to build the weapons that they need,” and the administration would continue “to put sand in the gears of Russia’s military industrial complex.”

The U.S. sanctions have been issued in partnership with sanctions from the United Kingdom and European Union. These sanctions do not target Russian sovereign assets, nor the important Russian fertilizer market. 

John Kirby, a spokesman for the National Security Council, told reporters Tuesday that the sanctions were devised to “hold Russia accountable” for its brutal war against Ukraine, as well as for what happened to Navalny.

Russian officials said last Friday the 47-year-old lost consciousness while he was on a walk in the Arctic penal colony where he was transferred last year. Navalny has been imprisoned since 2021 after surviving an assassination attempt by poisoning. 

Kirby said it was “difficult” to trust the Russians’ explanation about what caused the dissident’s death. 

“Whatever story the Russian government decides to tell the world, it’s clear that President Putin and his government are responsible for Mr. Navalny’s death,” Kirby said. 

RUSSIA-POLITICS-PUTIN
In this pool photograph distributed by Russian state agency Sputnik, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu attend a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow on Feb. 23, 2024.

ALEXANDER KAZAKOV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images


The death of Navalny, a staunch critic of the war in Ukraine, comes as the conflict enters its third year and Washington remains divided over providing more aid to Ukraine. 

“One of the most powerful things that we can do right now to stand up to Vladimir Putin, of course, is to again pass the bipartisan national security supplemental bill and support Ukraine as they continue to fight bravely in defense of their country,” Kirby said. 

The Biden administration has imposed a range of economic sanctions on Russia since the start of the war, including cutting off Russian banks and companies from western financial markets and freezing billions in Russian assets. 

The latest round follows an agreement by European Union members earlier this week to impose more Ukraine-related sanctions targeting about 200 additional entities and individuals, including those involved in helping Russia obtain weapons and those involved in kidnapping Ukrainian children. 

Still, Russia’s economy is expected to grow steadily by 2.6% in 2024 after having “stronger-than-expected” growth in 2023, the International Monetary Fund said in a January report. 

The West’s effort to cap Russia’s oil revenues since the start of the war hasn’t starved the Kremlin’s revenues. The U.S. led its international allies in late 2022 to impose a $60-a-barrel price cap on Russian oil shipments, but there’s been widespread circumvention, Christopher Swift, a national security lawyer with Foley and Lardner LLP who previously helped enforce Treasury sanctions, told CBS News. 

Swift said sanctions targeting the energy sector have been less effective than those on the banking sector, but noted that there’s been a fair amount of effort from Russian oligarchs to evade sanctions. 

“There’s only so many yachts that an oligarch can lose before they start finding other places to hide their money,” he said. 

But that doesn’t mean sanctions overall haven’t been effective, because they “are designed to make things harder for the adversary; they’re not designed to defeat the adversary,” Swift said. 

“The sanctions that the U.S. and its allies have imposed have been highly effective in doing the things that those sanctions are designed to do, which is cut Russia off from the West,” Swift said, pointing out that Russia has simply found other markets. “What Russia has done is it’s just adapted and it’s gone to China and India and Iran.” 

When asked about the effectiveness of the sanctions, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters Friday that they “will continue to impose costs on Russia to make it harder to carry out its brutal war and vicious war in Ukraine.” 

“We see Russia being forced to turn to countries like Iran and North Korea to get the arms and ammunition it needs to carry out this war,” she said. 


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State government is already forgetting telehealth’s important role in helping patients – Orange County Register

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Many Californians used telehealth services for the first time during the COVID-19 pandemic. The rapid rise in telehealth during the pandemic was made possible, in part, by emergency actions that loosened regulations related to telehealth care. Unfortunately, California’s emergency actions have since expired. The state’s antiquated licensing laws and regulations prevent patients from accessing needed health care.

A recent Reason Foundation report finds that California lags behind many other states in adopting best practices for telehealth. In particular, California’s outdated regulations raise obstacles for patients seeking care from nurses and doctors licensed in other states.

Nearly nine million Californians live in areas with shortages of primary care health professionals, meaning there aren’t enough primary care practitioners in their region to meet the demand for care. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates that an additional 1,460 primary care practitioners are needed to alleviate these shortages.

Similarly, as California’s population ages over the next decade, workforce shortages in the health care industry are expected to worsen. Projections from the Healthforce Center at the University of California—San Francisco suggest that the state will require an additional 4,100 primary care clinicians by 2030 to meet demand. When surgeons and other specialty physicians are included, projections indicate that California will need an additional 32,000 physicians by 2030–the largest need among the 50 states.

Telehealth technologies can help address these shortages by enabling patients to connect with doctors remotely, regardless of their physical locations. However, California requires out-of-state health care professionals to obtain an additional California-issued license to provide telehealth services directly to people in California. Unless they go through the costly and burdensome process of obtaining a California license, out-of-state practitioners can only give a telehealth consultation if a California-licensed physician is ultimately responsible for the patient’s care. As a result, many Californians must travel to other states for the health care they need.

In 2023, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed Assembly Bill 1369, allowing cross-state telehealth services under very limited circumstances. Under the law, physicians licensed in other states may deliver telehealth care to California patients with an “immediately life-threatening disease or condition.” In other words, this flexibility is only available when there is “a reasonable likelihood that death will occur within a matter of months” and the patient “has not been accepted to participate in the nearest clinical trial to his or her home.”

While the law is a positive step in the right direction, several states have gone much further in embracing cross-state telehealth for all types of patients. Florida, for example, adopted a streamlined telehealth registration process that allows out-of-state doctors and nurses to provide telehealth services in Florida without obtaining a Florida license.


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16 Inland wrestlers advance to the quarterfinals during first day of CIF State championship meet – Press Enterprise

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The first day of the CIF State wrestling championship meet is in the books, and 16 Inland wrestlers reached the quarterfinals in their respective brackets.

Action resumes Friday with consolation matches at 9 a.m. at Mechanics Bank Arena in Bakersfield. The quarterfinals are scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.

Canyon Springs has four wrestlers still in contention for state championships: brothers Max and Richard “Remy” Murillo and Sonny Kling on the boys side, and Kyree Rubio on the girls side.

Kling, a two -time runner-up at the state meet, is the No. 1 seed in the 190-pound bracket this season. Kling pinned Helix’s Ja’Kar Carter at the 1:02 mark of his opening-round match and needed only 29 seconds to pin Christopher’s Logan Corona in the second round. Kling will square off against No. 8-seeded David Calkins Jr. of Brentwood Liberty in the quarterfinal round.

Remy Murillo, a two-time state placer, is the No. 4 seed in the 132-pound bracket. He recorded a 15-0 technical fall over South Bakersfield’s Daniel Reza in the opening round and followed with a 10-2 major decision over Kingsburg’s Leo Macias in the second round. Murillo will face No. 5-seeded G. Elias Navida in the quarterfinal round.

Max Murillo, a freshman, is the No. 7 seed in the 113-pound bracket. He pinned Arvin’s Santana Ugues at the 1:15 mark of a first-round match and recorded a 9-0 major decision over Vacaville’s Elijah Almarinez in the second round. Murillo squares off against No. 2-seeded Rocklin Zinkin of Buchanan in the quarterfinals. Zinkin was the state runner-up at 106 pounds last season as a freshman.

Rubio, who placed fourth at last year’s state meet. is the No. 3 seed in the 190-pound bracket. She advanced via forfeit in the first round and then pinned Jade Seitz of San Dimas at the 3:47 mark of a second-round match. Rubio faces Hollister’s Goldy Demby in the quarterfinal round.

Etiwanda was the only other Inland school to have multiple wrestlers advance to the quarterfinals.

Jacob Bell is the No. 8 seed in the 138-pound boys bracket. He pinned South Bakersfield’s Sonny Lara in the second round of a pig-tail match and then pinned Hotville’s Mason Navarro at the 3:35 mark of a Round of 32 match. Bell finished with a third pinfall against Timothy Murabito of Los Gatos (1:26). Bell will square off against top-seeded Daniel Zepeda of Gilroy in the quarterfinals. Zepeda won the 132-pound state championship last season.

Evan Manzo is the No. 4 seed in the 165-pound boys bracket. He also had a pig-tail match Friday afternoon and registered a 21-5 technical fall against Ponderosa’s Kai Ford. Manzo had a 15-3 major decision over Citrus Valley’s Mason Hernandez in the Round of 32 and a 3-2 decision over La Costa Canyon’s Brae Sepulveda. Manzo will face No. 6-seeded Ryan Clink of Chico in the quarterfinals.

Four other Inland boys wrestlers reached the quarterfinals Friday.

Chino’s Jonathan Madera, a freshman, is the No. 10 seed in the 106-pound bracket. He posted a 15-0 technical fall over Monterey’s Gabriel Dela Rosa in his pig-tail match. Samano pinned Brawley’s Benjamin Limentang at the 3:23 mark of a Round of 32 match and then scored a 7-3 decision over No. 7-seeded Hunter Jauregui of Fountain Valley. Samano squares off against No. 2-seeded Antony Garza of Clovis in the quarterfinals.

Roosevelt’s Brian Leon is the No. 7 seed in the 157-pound bracket. He pinned Selma’s Daniel Armendarez at the 3:14 mark of a first-round match and then scored a reversal in the final minute to pull out a 2-1 decision over Poway’s Jack Estevez in the Round of 16. Leon faces No. 2-seeded Grigor Cholakyan of St. John Bosco in the quarterfinals.

North’s Coby Merrill placed second at last year’s state meet as a freshman and is the No. 1 seed in the 215-pound bracket this season. Merrill did not spend much time on the mat Friday, as he pinned Nevada Union’s Ricky Kiser in 41 seconds, Edison’s Andru Balladarez in 59 seconds and Clovis’ Noah Martinez in 55 seconds. Merrill faces No. 9-seeded Dominic Wilson of Tulare Union in the quarterfinals.

Temecula Valley’s Justice El Sayad is the No. 11 seed in the heavyweight bracket. He scored a 2-1 decision over Jackson Reilly of Clovis North to win a first-round match and pinned El Cajon Valley’s Enrique Hernandez at the 1:19 mark in the Round of 16. El Sayad squares off against No. 3-seeded Bryson Harrington of Buchanan in the quarterfinals.

Six other Inland girls wrestlers joined Rubio in the quarterfinals Friday.

Hamilton’s Olivia Lopez placed third at last year’s state meet and is the No. 2 seed in the 105-pound bracket this season. She pinned Amador Valley’s Eliana Caro at the 1:25 mark of a first-round match and Tokay’s Shantel Abriz in the second round at the minute mark. Lopez squares off against No. 7-seeded Lexie Capote of Pitman in the quarterfinals.

Ayala’s BK Martinez is the No. 5 seed in the 110-pound bracket. She scored a 12-3 major decision over San Fernando’s Hailee Moreno in the first round and a 9-4 decision over Granite Bay’s Tori Niimi in the second round. Martinez will face No. 4-seeded Eden Hernandez of Poway in the quarterfinals.

Joining Martinez in the 110-pound quarterfinal is Hillcrest’s Ajalynn Jimenez. The unseeded Jimenez pinned Corning’s Elise Totse at the 1:45 mark of a first-round match. She trailed No. 8-seeded Khloe Soria of Porterville midway through the third period of a second-round match. but Jimenez gained the advantage with a reversal and locked in a pin at the 5:00 mark. Jimenez will face top-seeded Deandra Meza of Walnut in the quarterfinals.

Montclair’s Makynna Loepp is the No. 8 seed in the 130-pound bracket. She pinned Pioneer Valley’s Gabriela Martinez at the 2:17 mark of a first-round match and Mira Costa’s Ruby Dominguez at 3:53 in the second round. Loepp squares off against top-seeded Tamaria Grace of Gilroy in the quarterfinals.

Yucaipa’s Addrie Rodriguez was not seeded in the 170-pound bracket, but she opened the morning by pinning No. 8 seed Yazmin Belk of Sierra Pacific at the 1:22 mark of a first-round match and needed only 41 seconds to pin Orange Vista’s Alyssa Guzman in the second round. Rodriguez faces top-seeded Leilani Lemus of Clovis in the quarterfinals. Lemus won the 160-pound state championship last season as a freshman.

Liberty’s Anna Bozanic placed third at state last season as a freshman and is the No. 2 seed in the 235-pound bracket this season. She pinned American Canyon’s Aiyanna Beane at the 1:06 mark in the first round and Thousand Oaks’ Cherish Hall-Taoai at 1:17 in the second round. Bozanic takes on Ridgeview’s Fernanda Canedo in the quarterfinals.


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Hydeia Broadbent, HIV/AIDS activist who bonded with Magic Johnson, dies

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Hydeia Broadbent started speaking publicly about her experiences as someone with HIV/AIDS when she was a young child.

“I want people to know that we’re just normal people,” a 7-year-old Broadbent told Magic Johnson during a Nickelodeon news special that aired in March 1992, four months after the Lakers superstar announced he was retiring from basketball because he was HIV-positive.

Broadbent never stopped speaking out about the virus and disease — and Johnson thanked her for her courage.

A leading activist in HIV/AIDS awareness, Broadbent, who was born with HIV, died Wednesday at age 39, her father said in a Facebook post. The cause of death was not specified.

“With great sadness, I must inform you all that our beloved friend, mentor and daughter Hydeia, passed away today after living with AIDS since birth,” Loren Broadbent wrote. “Despite facing numerous challenges throughout her life, Hydeia remained determined to spread hope and positivity through education around HIV/AIDS.”

Johnson took to X (formerly Twitter) on Wednesday to pay tribute to his longtime friend. His post included a video clip of their interaction on “Nick News with Linda Ellerbee” as well as photos of the two of them together in the years since then.

Michael Weinstein, left, Hydeia Broadbent and Magic Johnson attend the premiere of 'The Announcement'

AIDS Healthcare Foundation President Michael Weinstein, left, Hydeia Broadbent and Magic Johnson attend the premiere of ESPN Films’ “The Announcement” on March 6, 2011, in Los Angeles.

(Joe Kohen / Associated Press Images For Aids Healthcare Foundation)

“I’m devastated to hear about the passing of an incredible young woman, activist and hero Hydeia Broadbent,” Johnson wrote. “In 1992, I did a Nickelodeon special called ‘A Conversation with Magic’, and 7-year-old Hydeia and I made an incredible impact. Hydeia changed the world with her bravery, speaking about how living with HIV affected her life since birth. She dedicated her life to activism and became a change agent in the HIV/AIDS fight.

“By speaking out at such a young age, she helped so many people, young and old, because she wasn’t afraid to share her story and allowed everyone to see that those living with HIV and AIDS were everyday people and should be treated with respect. Thanks to Hydeia, millions were educated, stigmas were broken, and attitudes about HIV/AIDs were changed. We will miss her powerful voice in this world. Cookie and I are praying for the Broadbent family and everyone that knew and loved Hydeia.”

Broadbent was abandoned as a newborn at a Las Vegas hospital and adopted by her parents, Loren and Patricia, as an infant. They didn’t know that Broadbent was born with HIV until she got seriously ill at 3. At that age, she was diagnosed as HIV-positive, and two years later, the virus developed into AIDS. Her biological mother was an intravenous drug addict.

Broadbent’s public speaking career began when she was 6. Soon after, in March 1992, Broadbent was one of 13 children who appeared with Johnson and Ellerbee on Nickelodeon after Johnson shocked the world with his HIV announcement in November 1991.

Broadbent was one of two children who raised their hands when Ellerbe asked if any of them were HIV-positive. Her “normal people” comment was the only sentence she uttered during the program.

Immediately after speaking, Broadbent started wiping away tears, then broke down sobbing. Johnson rubbed her back and spoke to her in a soothing tone.

“You don’t have to cry,” he said. “‘Cause we are normal people. OK? We are. You just wanna be treated like that, right? You just want your friends to play with you? And call you up and come by and still have sleepovers and things like that? Right? Yeah. And it’s OK to cry, it’s OK to cry. You know, I think that you — with this program I feel that we’ll be able to educate all your friends and everybody else.”

Broadbent would end up having plenty more to say over the next 32 years.

At age 11, she told Oprah Winfrey the worst part of having HIV/AIDS was “when your friends die.” Speaking at the 1996 Republican National Convention, a 12-year-old Broadbent said, “I am the future, and I have AIDS.”

Mary Fisher kisses 12-year-old Hydeia Broadbent as they were both addressing the evening session of the 1996 GOP convention

AIDS activist Mary Fisher kisses 12-year-old Hydeia Broadbent as they address the evening session of the 1996 Republican National Convention in San Diego.

(Ron Edmonds / Associated Press)

Broadbent continued her advocacy as an adult — making appearances, doing interviews and giving lectures. She also worked with the AIDS Healthcare Foundation on several AIDS advocacy and awareness campaigns, riding on the foundation’s float in the 2013 Rose Parade and appearing in AHF’s “God Loves Me” billboard campaign.

“I try to tell it as real as I can, that this isn’t a disease they want,” Broadbent told CNN in 2012. “The current generation, they don’t know the reality of HIV/AIDS. They look at me and Magic Johnson and think you can pop a pill and be OK. They don’t know the seriousness of the disease. They don’t know the side effects of the medicine. They don’t know the financial realities of the situation.

“They really don’t know that you can die.”




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Once the darling of the EV world, the electric truck-maker Rivian is reeling

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Rivian Automotive Inc. emerged as a darling of investors — a brand with promise of bringing the “cool” factor to the once-red-hot market for electric vehicles.

But the Irvine-based company hit the brakes Wednesday, announcing a 10% cut to its workforce and lower production expectations. The news sent its stock plummeting. The 25% drop in stock price that it notched Thursday was its worst day in its history.

It’s all part of a larger reckoning for EV companies, which now face falling demand amid a shrinking pool of wealthy buyers who don’t already have an EV and lingering questions from the broader consumer market about whether EVs can truly fit into their lives and budgets.

“We’ve been living in this wave of ‘Oh, EVs are great, they’re going to continue the accelerated growth and only going to get better,’ and now it seems like they’re hitting this reality point,” said Jessica Caldwell, head of insights at Edmunds. “Mass-market buyers have less income and a lot more questions.”

Rivian’s trucks and sport utility vehicles certainly command attention — the sleek design and outdoorsy features got investors, analysts and the public excited about its potential. The company, which counts Amazon as an investor, blew the roof off during its initial public offering of stock in 2021, ending its first day of trading valued at nearly $88 billion.

But the average car buyer probably is not able to afford the price points of Rivian’s current slate of vehicles — the company’s R1T electric pickup truck starts at nearly $70,000, while its R1S SUV starts at almost $75,000. The company, which is not yet profitable, reported a net loss of $1.52 billion for the three-month period that ended Dec. 31, compared with $1.72 billion during the same period a year earlier. Much rides on the company’s plan to produce its more affordable R2, which will debut in March, but won’t start mass production until 2026.

Despite years of growth in EV sales, mass-market customers remain wary of EV battery life, range and the availability of reliable charging stations. That’s why hybrid vehicle sales have grown alongside those of EVs, Caldwell said.

“It’s not always easy to set up a charger where you live,” she said. “At the end of the day, for EVs to take off and become mass market, there needs to be major growth in infrastructure.”

That hesitation is showing up in Rivian’s production and delivery expectations for 2024. The company said its backlog of orders had shrunk, partially due to fulfillment, but also due to cancellations and fewer new orders.

The company said it expects to produce 57,000 vehicles this year, which the company said was in line with 2023 figures, though it disappointed Wall Street analysts who expected that number to be higher. Last year, the company produced 57,232 vehicles and delivered 50,122 cars, more than double its 2022 figures.

This year’s projections cast “a dark cloud around the story,” said Dan Ives, managing director and senior equity analyst at Wedbush Securities.

“Cutting costs and headcount to reflect a softer environment and production issues,” he wrote in an email. “Rivian went from a Cinderella story to a horror show.”

Deutsche Bank analyst Emmanuel Rosner said in a note to clients that he now expects deliveries to be “flattish” in 2024 at 50,000 vehicles, as opposed to his previous expectation of 65,000 vehicles.

“Rivian’s fairly bleak 2024 guidance, including no volume growth and continued steep losses, in our view, showcases the company’s deep challenges ahead,” Rosner wrote.

The company attributed the lower expectations for 2024 to “economic and geopolitical uncertainties,” and highlighted the effect of higher interest rates on new car loans. Rivian said it would continue its “company-wide cost transformation program,” which it said helped reduce the price for the company’s electric pickup truck, SUV and delivery van.

“We firmly believe in the full electrification of the automotive industry, but recognize in the short-term, the challenging macro-economic conditions,” Chief Executive RJ Scaringe said in the company’s statement.

Rivian isn’t the only EV maker reeling — shares of electric car manufacturer Lucid Group Inc. fell nearly 17% on Thursday after a disappointing earnings report. Although shares of Tesla Inc. rose slightly Thursday, the Elon Musk-led automaker last month warned of potentially lower growth in 2024, but the company reported a small revenue increase for the fourth quarter.

For Rivian, the details around the R2 debut will be especially important for both consumers and analysts.

“Rivian is very exciting, their products are very exciting, they’re definitely cool, but there are questions about how much market and how much runway they have, particularly as they wait for R2,” said Caldwell of Edmunds. “If they can get to the point of a cheaper vehicle, that will naturally have a larger market.”


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This week’s money news

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This week’s top story: The Capital One-Discover Deal and what cardholders can expect. In other news: What the Capital One-Discover deal could mean for bank accounts, The Capital One-Discover deal and Discover student loans, and prepare calling your student loan servicer.

If Capital One Buys Discover, What Can Cardholders Expect?
Even if the deal is approved, it’ll take a while before customers experience changes. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be any.

What the Capital One-Discover Deal Could Mean for Bank Accounts
If federal regulators approve the deal, the combined banks might have similar accounts, and debit cards would migrate onto Discover’s payment network.

Capital One Takeover Might Not Affect Your Discover Student Loans
If you have Discover private student loans, Nelnet should take over your loan servicing in the coming months — but it’s not because of the Capital One deal.

Calling Your Student Loan Servicer? It Pays to Prepare
Do your homework, gather key documents and be patient to get a helpful answer from your federal student loan servicer.

The post This week’s money news appeared first on Ask Liz Weston.


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