It’s Saturday, November 13th, and this is your Morning Wire. Listen to the full podcast:
1) Winter Heating Bills Expected To Skyrocket
The Topline: As winter approaches, a new report from the Department of Energy says heating bills for the vast majority of Americans are about to skyrocket in the coming months.
Quote Of The Day: “This is going to happen. It will be more expensive this year than last year.”
– Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm
The Department of Energy’s Winter Fuels Outlook predicts families who rely primarily on natural gas — about half of American households — will see prices go up around 30% compared to last winter.
For those relying on electricity for heating, prices will be up 6% to 15%, and for those relying on propane and heating oil, prices are expected to rise around 50% compared to last winter.
The spike is predicted to hit rural and low-income communities the worst, as those are the communities most likely to rely on heating oil and propane. From a regional standpoint, the south and west will be slightly better off, due to warmer expected temperatures, but the midwest and northeast are going to be hit especially hard.
Inflation is playing a role. This year, wholesale prices on all products rose 8.6% on average compared to last year.
For the last two years, energy companies have also seen their profits drop as global demand for oil and natural gas went down during lockdowns. Even though demand is high right now, as the economy has opened back up, they’re hesitant to flood the market with too much oil and gas, because the price will go down.
Senators Susan Collins of Maine (R) and Jack Reed of Rhode Island (D) sent a letter to the White House urging them to provide relief for the energy market.
Last week, the Biden Administration allocated over $3 billion in funds through the Low Income Energy Assistance Program, which will be given to a few million households throughout the winter to help subsidize their energy costs. They’re expediting the process this year because of the emergency circumstances.
Lawmakers are also discussing adding $5 billion to the Democrats’ looming Social Spending Bill to offer more help for covering energy costs.
Democrats say this is the best way to help people, and that heating is an essential human right that must be covered at all costs, but Republicans say it won’t ultimately address the root causes of why energy is so expensive in the first place.
Multiple charitable organizations, particularly in the Northeast, have announced they’re ready to help.
2) Entertainment World Updates
The Topline: There have been significant developments in several entertainment stories, such as the Travis Scott concert disaster, ‘Rust’ Alec Baldwin shooting, and reopening of cinemas.
Quote Of The Day: “We are convinced that this was sabotage and Hannah is being framed.”
– Lawyer for ‘Rust’ Armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed in a statement
Recent data shows audiences are returning to theaters. Earlier this week on an earnings call, the CEO of AMC said admissions revenues for October 2021 are now almost 90% of what they were in October 2019.
Cinemark, too, has revealed it had a good October — with box office receipts more than double what they were in May.
Police haven’t yet brought any charges in the accidental on-set shooting that killed one and injured another.
Since the shooting, much has been made of the fact that Assistant director David Halls had been fired from previous film sets for allegedly disregarding safety, but his attorney says this is irrelevant because it wasn’t Halls’ job to check guns.
The lawyer for set armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed (24) says she’s being framed, claiming it was sabotage and the scene of the shooting was tampered with before police arrived.
The head electrician on the set filed a suit against Alec Baldwin, who in addition to acting in the film was also the executive producer. He claims Baldwin created unsafe conditions by hiring an “insufficient number of crew.”
Following the shooting, Baldwin is now calling for police officers to be on “every film or TV set that uses guns” in order to “monitor weapons safety.”
Travis Scott Concert Tragedy
Following the concert tragedy which left nine people dead, the Houston Fire Chief is publicly saying rapper Travis Scott should have stopped the show before he did. The police chief has now revealed he met with Scott and his team before the concert and shared concerns over the crowd size and potential for chaos. Outside experts are saying the show did not have nearly enough security personnel.
Houston PD was, in part, responsible for providing crowd control, leading some, like the Harris County Judge, to call for an outside, independent organization to head up the investigation into the incident.
Several lawsuits have already been filed against Scott, the venue, and promoter Live Nation.
Remember: There were 50,000 people at the festival. If enough of them sue, it could become a class action suit, which has legal experts saying the costs will be “astronomical” if that happens.
3) Belarus Migrant Crisis Intensifies
The Topline: Thousands of migrants from the Middle East and Africa have set up camp between the border of Poland and Belarus, causing a humanitarian crisis and escalating tensions between Belarus and the European Union.
Quote Of The Day: “This is part of the inhuman and really gangster-style approach of the Lukashenko regime that he is lying to people, he is misusing people, misleading them, and bringing them to Belarus under the false promise of having easy entry into the EU.”
–Peter Stano, lead spokesperson for external affairs of the E.U.
The situation is due in part to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko escalating his strategy of funneling migrants from the Middle East toward Poland, potentially in an effort to provoke a confrontation at Poland’s border.
The European Union says Lukashenko is doing this because of sanctions placed on Belarus by the EU due to Lukashenko’s 2020 election, as well as an incident from earlier this year when the president forced a civilian plane with a dissident journalist on board to land in the Belarusian capital of Minsk so he could be arrested.
The migrants were more dispersed at first, but due to Lukashenko’s actions, they’ve all been relocated to a small stretch of the border near the village of Kuźnica.
Lukashenko is refuting the EU’s claims and says these people came to Belarus lawfully, but Polish government social media accounts have shown Belarusian military guiding hundreds towards Poland.
Earlier this year, Poland, Latvia, and Lithuania had an influx of migrants and the EU sent authorities to assist Lithuania and Latvia. Poland has taken strict actions against migrants and some human rights organizations have claimed they aren’t taking in applications for asylum.
Belarus is a close Russian ally and former member of the Soviet republic. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Lukashenko spoke on Tuesday about the crisis and focused on the actions of Poland.
A Kremlin spokesperson earlier on Tuesday said, “…the most important thing is the health of those people. They demand asylum in Poland. We are watching this very closely.”
The Polish Prime Minister has pointed to Putin as the “mastermind” of the assault.
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