Gasoline prices decline in July but overall grocery store prices rise

Revelations 18:23 ‘For the merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.’

Important Takeaways:

  • Grocery Store Inflation Rises to Highest Since 1979: Milk, Cereal, Chicken, Cheese, Butter, Hamburger, and Bread Prices Still Soaring
  • Although gasoline prices fell in July and overall inflation cooled, U.S. households did not get any relief in the grocery store aisles.
  • Breakfast cereal prices up 1.9 percent from June and 16.4 percent compared with a year ago.
  • Bread prices up 2.8 percent from July and 13.7 percent compared with a year ago.
  • Ground beef prices rose 0.8 percent in July and are up 9.7 percent compared with a year ago.
  • Bacon prices rose 0.2 percent compared with a month ago and are up 9.2 percent compared with a year ago.
  • Breakfast sausages up 2.6 percent in July and 15.7 percent over the year.
  • Chicken prices rose 1.4 percent in July and 17.6 percent over the year.
  • Milk prices rose 0.1 percent in July and 15.6 percent over the year.
  • Cheese prices rose two percent in July and 12.6 percent over the year.
  • Ice cream prices rose 0.7 percent and 11.3 percent over the year.
  • Fruit and vegetable prices rose 0.5 percent in July and 9.3 percent over the year.
  • Coffee prices rose 3.5 percent and are up 20.3 percent over the year.
  • Butter prices rose 0.2 percent and are up 22.2 percent over the year.

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$6 Trillion in Government spending and stimulus checks was too good to be true, now we’re paying for it

Rev 6:6 NAS “And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”

Important Takeaways:

  • More Misery on the Way: Americans Can’t Afford Gas and Groceries, so Economists Say Recession Very Likely
  • With inflation now at 8.6% and food prices rising the fastest in 40 years, Americans are trying to find ways to get by, and that means less spending.
  • Credit card debt, which dropped during the pandemic as Americans used government stimulus checks to pay down balances, has rebounded to all-time highs.
  • Almost half of the economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal say a recession is likely in the next 12 months.
  • Analyst Joel Griffith at the Heritage Foundation, has been runaway government spending.
  • “Look, we spent about 6 trillion dollars extra over the past two years than we normally spend, and nearly every last dollar of that was printed by the Fed to purchase government debt. That’s why we have inflation now”

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Experts warn to prepare for famine. It’s time to be a Joseph

Rev 6:6 NAS “And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”

Important Takeaways:

  • ‘Stock Up on Foods’: Experts, Ministers Urge People to Prepare for Global Famine
  • As prices continue to rise on everything from gas to groceries, experts warn that food is going to be harder to come by in the months ahead, including in America. Some say that the church can lead the way in helping people through the tough times.
  • According to Bread for the World, over 13.8 million people in the U.S. already suffer from food insecurity.
  • Right now, about 65% of the 200 food banks in the Feeding America Network are seeing a greater demand for food assistance.
  • The biblical story of Joseph is an example of how the church should respond to the crisis while preparing to help others.
  • Spiritual preparation is also vital.

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Inflation Spikes as Governors and State Leaders Look for Way to Provide Relief…it’s also an Election Year

Rev 6:6 NAS And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Shock gas, grocery price hikes spur states to pursue tax relief
  • Rapidly climbing inflation in the U.S. is accelerating calls from governors and state leaders to provide immediate tax relief to cash-strapped residents facing higher prices on everyday products such as gas, milk, and electricity.
  • The governors of Maine and Kentucky this week joined a sweeping number of states — including Illinois, California, Massachusetts, Florida, Alabama, Washington, and Missouri — who are considering offering quick but temporary relief to taxpayers crushed by a relentless surge in inflation in recent months.
  • The consumer price index — which measures what Americans pay for goods and services — reached another 40-year high last month, soaring to 7.5% due to strong consumer demand and pandemic-related supply disruptions.
  • State lawmakers’ tax relief wish list runs the gamut from food store purchases to property tax to relief at the pump to household cleaning supplies, and even, retail and vehicle sales.
  • There are 13 states that tax groceries — and now, Oklahoma, Kansas, Mississippi, and Virginia are among several considering phasing out the levy applied on food purchases entirely or at least temporarily.
  • Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis also wants to provide $1 billion in relief to suspend the state’s gas tax for millions of Floridians for five months, helping the average family to save $200

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Thousands evacuated in Australia’s worst floods in nearly half a century

By Loren Elliott and Byron Kaye

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Australian authorities issued fresh flood warnings and evacuation orders on Tuesday as torrential rains again pummeled several parts of the country, sweeping away homes, roads and livestock in the worst downpour in more than half a century.

The national weather agency posted weather warnings in every mainland state or territory but one, affecting around 10 million people in the country of 25 million, across an area the size of Alaska.

“The rain and flood situation does remain dynamic and extremely complex,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told reporters.

No deaths were reported, but thousands of people have been rescued by emergency services in recent days. Authorities have ordered about 22,000 people to be ready to flee their homes, potentially joining around 18,400 people who have already been evacuated.

Images shared on social media showed bridges washed away, stranded animals and submerged homes in New South Wales, the most populous and worst affected state.

One video showed a container truck ramming into a bridge, causing structural damage, while another showed a car swept off a road by raging floodwaters in neighboring Queensland.

Other photos captured mass swarms of spiders and snakes as the creatures sought to escape the fast-moving flood waters.

In NSW, a fourth straight day of heavy rain was expected to combine with a coastal trough and increase the deluge overnight on Tuesday, even as the main city Sydney saw a reprieve by late afternoon.

Thousands of people who live along the Hawkesbury River, a major waterway about 60km (37 miles) north of Sydney, were told to be ready to evacuate.

Dave Murray, a landscaper from North Richmond, on the Hawkesbury, filmed with a head-mounted camera from his jet ski as he rescued his neighbor’s 10 cows by forcing them to swim about 300 meters through floodwater five meters deep.

“I knew they could swim because I’ve done it before, but I didn’t realize they could swim as good as that,” Murray said by telephone.

Emergency workers used inflatable rafts and even some surf boats, usually reserved for beach rescues, to reach stranded locals, Reuters footage showed.

Alicia Pitt was rescued along with her family from their holiday cabin on the Hawkesbury River.

“We’ve got a place on the other side of the river and we just came over to move our van onto high ground and were trapped on the other side of the river, with the landslides, so we’ve been there for a couple of days,” Pitt told Reuters.

Warragamba Dam, Sydney’s main water supply, began overflowing on Saturday and was expected to keep doing so for another week. The summer before, amid drought and bushfires, the same dam fell below half its water catchment, triggering severe water restrictions.

LOGISTICS LAG

Authorities began coordinating with supermarkets to ship groceries to people who could not get to a store, Federal Emergency Management minister David Littleproud said.

Grocery chain Coles Group Ltd planned to deliver essentials to stores near the Hawkesbury on Tuesday. Rival grocer Woolworths Group Ltd said it closed several stores due to staff safety concerns and warned of delivery delays as trucks were re-routed to avoid flooded roads.

Coal deliveries to Port of Newcastle, north of Sydney, the world’s biggest coal export port, were halted earlier because flooding shut rail lines.

On Tuesday, the country’s biggest independent coal miner, Whitehaven Coal Ltd, said it was forced to stop ship loading at the port due to structural faults, while weather-related port restrictions were slowing ship movements.

The company said road flooding may also stop staff driving to work and cut its forecast coal sales to a range of 18.5 million to 19 million tonnes, from a range of 19 million to 20 million previously.

(Reporting by Jonathan Barrett, Renju Jose, Byron Kaye and Loren Elliott in Sydney; Editing by Richard Chang and Jane Wardell)

Americans are spending coronavirus checks on rent and groceries

By Jonnelle Marte

(Reuters) – When Jessica Rosner saw the $1,200 coronavirus relief payment from the U.S. government was deposited into her bank account Wednesday morning, the furloughed behavioral therapist knew immediately how she would spend the cash.

The unemployment benefits she applied for two weeks ago have yet to come through. And Rosner, 23, who lives near Fort Lauderdale, Florida, still owed nearly $1,500 for April’s rent and about $200 for car insurance.

The “Economic Impact Payments” being issued under the $2.3 trillion CARES Act passed by Congress last month started landing in consumers’ bank accounts this week. The relief payments of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 per child are meant to soften some of the economic damage caused by the pandemic.

Americans’ lives have been upended by the crisis, with most schools and businesses closed, vacations canceled, and families mourning the more than 31,000 people killed by the virus.

The relief money is arriving in bank accounts as states across the country struggle to process unemployment claims filed by more than 22 million Americans over the past month, and helping some people cover the essentials.

“It’s going to get used quickly because there are so many people who need money right now,” said Claudia Sahm, a former Federal Reserve economist and now the director of macroeconomic policy at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth.

Preliminary results from a survey Sahm is conducting with Google and the University of Michigan suggest U.S. families plan to spend the money on essentials or pay off debt, Sahm said. That is the way stimulus checks were used during the financial crisis of 2008 and to counter an economic slowdown during the summer of 2001, she said.

Some people said they were planning to save the cash temporarily, an indication the payments may not lead to the immediate economic stimulation hoped for by the government.

Hyniah Herrin, 26, wanted to enroll in college this fall but put those plans on hold after she lost her two part-time jobs as a school bus driver and restaurant host in Philadelphia. The stimulus money landed in her bank account on Monday, and she’s holding on to it. “We don’t know when we’re going to be able to resume life,” Herrin said.

Steve Davison, 61, says the workload in his part-time job handling social media advertising for a forklift distributor hasn’t decreased because of the coronavirus outbreak. But Davison, who has not received a payment yet, said he is still living paycheck to paycheck and is worried about the future.

After he pays an old tax bill, he plans to hold on to the rest of the cash. “I’m just going to stash it because you never know what’s going to come up,” said Davison, who lives in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Treasury Department Secretary Steven Mnuchin said earlier this week that more than 80 million Americans would have the money deposited directly into their bank accounts by Wednesday morning.

Those who haven’t received the money can check their status and provide bank account information through a new “Get My Payment” app. Paper checks bearing President Donald Trump’s name on them will be sent out starting early next week to people who don’t use direct deposit.

(Reporting by Jonnelle Marte; Editing by Heather Timmons and Paul Simao)

Amazon’s automated grocery store of the future opens Monday

By Jeffrey Dastin

SEATTLE (Reuters) – Amazon.com Inc will open its checkout-free grocery store to the public on Monday after more than a year of testing, the company said, moving forward on an experiment that could dramatically alter brick-and-mortar retail.

The Seattle store, known as Amazon Go, relies on cameras and sensors to track what shoppers remove from the shelves, and what they put back. Cash registers and checkout lines become superfluous – customers are billed after leaving the store using credit cards on file.

For grocers, the store’s opening heralds another potential disruption at the hands of the world’s largest online retailer, which bought high-end supermarket chain Whole Foods Market last year for $13.7 billion. Long lines can deter shoppers, so a company that figures out how to eradicate wait times will have an advantage.

Amazon did not discuss if or when it will add more Go locations, and reiterated it has no plans to add the technology to the larger and more complex Whole Foods stores.

The convenience-style store opened to Amazon employees on Dec. 5, 2016 in a test phase. At the time, Amazon said it expected members of the public could begin using the store in early 2017.

But there have been challenges, according to a person familiar with the matter. These included correctly identifying shoppers with similar body types, the person said. When children were brought into the store during the trial, they caused havoc by moving items to incorrect places, the person added.

Gianna Puerini, vice president of Amazon Go, said in an interview that the store worked very well throughout the test phase, thanks to four years of prior legwork.

“This technology didn’t exist,” Puerini said, walking through the Seattle store. “It was really advancing the state of the art of computer vision and machine learning.”

“If you look at these products, you can see they’re super similar,” she said of two near-identical Starbucks drinks next to each other on a shelf. One had light cream and the other had regular, and Amazon’s technology learned to tell them apart.

HOW IT WORKS

The 1800-square-foot (167-square-meter) store is located in an Amazon office building. To start shopping, customers must scan an Amazon Go smartphone app and pass through a gated turnstile.

Ready-to-eat lunch items greet shoppers when they enter. Deeper into the store, shoppers can find a small selection of grocery items, including meats and meal kits. An Amazon employee checks IDs in the store’s wine and beer section.

Sleek black cameras monitoring from above and weight sensors in the shelves help Amazon determine exactly what people take.

If someone passes back through the gates with an item, his or her associated account is charged. If a shopper puts an item back on the shelf, Amazon removes it from his or her virtual cart.

Much of the store will feel familiar to shoppers, aside from the check-out process. Amazon, famous for dynamic pricing online, has printed price tags just as traditional brick-and-mortar stores do.

(Reporting by Jeffrey Dastin in Seattle; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Rosalba O’Brien)