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Here’s why so many Americans can’t come up with $400 to pay for an unexpected expense

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The statistic is used to show how unequal things have become in the U.S.: Some 40% of Americans would struggle to come up with even $400 to pay for an unexpected bill.

If — or, more likely, when — they’re confronted with such an expense, they’d probably have to sell something or go into debt. The now oft-cited figure comes from the Federal Reserve’s 2018 Survey of Household Economics and Decision Making, in which some 12,000 households were asked about their financial well-being.

Just how have so many Americans become so short on cash? Anqi Chen at the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College recently tried to answer that question. “If that many people can’t cover a very small, unexpected expense, how can we expect them to save for retirement?” Chen said, explaining the center’s interest in the bleak finding.

At first, only more questions emerged. Mainly, there appeared to be a gulf between what people said they could afford and what they actually could. Two surveys — both administered by the Federal Reserve — seemed to produce conflicting results.

The Survey of Household Economics and Decision Making asks people how they would pay for an unforeseen $400 expense. If a respondent said they simply wouldn’t be able to or would have to borrow money, sell something or neglect other bills to do so, they were included in the share of people for whom coming up with the money would be a challenge, which added up to that alarming 40%. Yet the Survey of Consumer Finances, which asks respondents for their bank account balance, found the share of households who have less than $400 in their checking or savings accounts was closer to 20%.

For some reason, many people who had $400 on hand still said they’d struggle to come up with the money. “We were scratching our heads,” Chen said.

Ultimately, the researchers landed on a plausible explanation for both the discrepancy and why so many Americans are living paycheck to paycheck — debt. Many of the people who have $400 or more available to them likely have already earmarked that money for another obligation (and so, in other words, the cash isn’t really available to them).

Frequently, Chen said, it’s an upcoming credit card bill tying up the money. Indeed, after the researchers at Boston College subtracted people’s outstanding credit card debt from their account balances, the disparity between the two surveys all but closed.

“Unpaid credit card balances are high-interest loans,” Chen said. “I’m not surprised that households want to pay that off as quickly as they can.” (The average interest rate today is almost 18%, compared with 12% a decade ago, according to

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Even in more affluent houses, debt sucks up cash. In the Survey of Consumer Finances, which again asks people for their bank balance, just 1% of families with an income over $100,000 reported that they have less than $400.

Yet in the other, more subjective survey, 17% of such households said they would have trouble coming up with $400. Higher earners are contending with mortgages, installment loans, and “about half of them have student loans,” Chen said.

While many Americans are broke because they recently lost a job or have only a high school degree, many others are just turning their paychecks over to debt collectors.

“These loan payments,” the researchers conclude, “could explain why so many middle- and higher-income households do not have precautionary savings.”


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How Amazon uses 18-wheelers to transfer heavy data loads to the cloud

Moving petabytes of data to a cloud like Amazon Web Services or Microsoft Azure just by sending it out over the internet can take years. Some companies would rather not wait that long. So the cloud providers have come up with special-purpose hardware that can be filled up with data and then mailed to the cloud vendors for much faster migration. Using this equipment can save money, too, because moving data over a network in the usual way can get expensive.

One business with big data, DigitalGlobe — a subsidiary of Maxar Technologies, came up with a more radical idea. It had AWS send over a truck over for faster delivery. AWS wound up announcing its Snowmobile 18-wheel truck for this exact purpose in 2016. None of AWS’ cloud competitors have followed suit — yet.

AWS recently showed CNBC one of its Snowmobile trucks, along with its ruggedized Snowmobile data-storage boxes. AWS executive Bill Vass told CNBC that the Snowmobile is seeing adoption from cybersecurity, government and media customers. Watch the video to learn more.


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Meet Morgan Beller, the 26-year-old woman behind Facebook’s plan to make its own currency

Facebook Vice President David Marcus is the face of the company’s Libra digital currency, but the original driving force was a 26-year-old female engineer named Morgan Beller.

Source: Facebook

On February 12, 2018, Silicon Valley investor and cryptocurrency technologist Howard Wu was invited to Facebook headquarters in Menlo Park to discuss the implications, opportunities and risks of introducing more than 2 billion online users to blockchain technology.

The invitation didn’t come from Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, or Vice President and former PayPal executive David Marcus, the current leader of Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency proposal and Calibra wallet.

Instead, he met with Morgan Beller, a rather new employee in Facebook’s corporate development unit who treated him to a cup of joe from the Philz Coffee on the company’s campus.

Beller’s questions were fascinating, if not far-fetched.

“‘If you had a platform of over 2 billion users, how would you go about trying to integrate blockchain technology into the platform?'” Wu recalls Beller asking. By the time their coffee meeting — one of many — was over, Wu left Facebook feeling an equal combination of excitement and uncertainty.

“It wasn’t VPs at a table discussing the forward direction of a project. It was very casual, but I thought it was an exciting prospect,” Wu told CNBC. “This ended up metamorphosing into what Libra and Calibra became.”

Since announcing its Libra digital currency and Calibra digital wallet in June, Marcus has been the public the face of the two projects, announcing the details in blog posts, doing press interviews and testifying before skeptical lawmakers in Congress.

But in the blockchain community, Beller is known as the original driving force behind Facebook’s push into cryptocurrency. On LinkedIn, Beller lists herself as head of strategy for Calibra as well as co-creator of Libra — one of three Facebook employees to do so, alongside Marcus and Vice President Kevin Weil.

“Morgan was really the first one, at least to my understanding,” Wu said. “She’s done a fantastic job of getting other people in the cryptocurrency communities to get on board with Libra. She has a very outsize value-add from that alone.”

A big believer in financial inclusion

Facebook declined to make Beller available for an interview. But CNBC spoke with 10 tech industry professionals who have worked with Beller throughout her career in Silicon Valley, including some who have worked with her since she joined Facebook and turned her focus to cryptocurrency in 2017.

Beller is a short, dark-haired 26-year-old and people describe her as a charismatic, optimistic and energetic hustler.

Before working with Marcus and Weil, she was the sole person working on a Facebook blockchain initiative. For months in 2017, Beller spent time researching the technology and meeting with folks in the industry, according to Wu and another person familiar with the matter.

Beller succeeded in convincing the company to take blockchain technology seriously, and on May 8, 2018 the project was officially kicked off with Beller working on the project alongside Marcus, who had previously been the executive in charge of Facebook’s Messenger chat service.

Over the next few months, Marcus and Beller succeeded in recruiting other top Facebook talent, like Weil, onto their blockchain group, putting together the team that is developing Libra and Calibra.

Beller may not have a high profile, but she’s become a fixture in the crypto scene, said Bill Barhydt, CEO of Abra, a digital wallet startup in Mountain View, California. Barhydt said Beller has spent a lot of time making the rounds in the crypto community, having meetings with folks like Wu and attending conferences focused on the technology.

“She’s a big believer in financial inclusion and the ability for cryptocurrency tech to have a very positive impact in underserved communities around the world,” he said. “I give her a lot of credit for taking what seems like a very methodical, long-term approach to figuring this out.”

Those sentiments have been echoed by Facebook and Marcus since the June announcement of Libra and Calibra. Last week, in his prepared remarks for the Senate Banking Committee, Marcus stated that “the status quo is not working for many; it is too expensive for people around the world to use and transfer their money. We believe Libra can offer a more efficient, low-cost and secure alternative.”

In addition, many people in the crypto community praise her effort to amplify their feedback — both praise and concern — to her colleagues within Facebook.

“Facebook has lost its benefit of the doubt from all the privacy and data regulation violations that they’ve taken on,” Wu said. “So because of that it’s nice to have someone on the inside who is very clearly striving to uphold the best standards.”

To those who have worked with Beller in the past, her rise within Facebook comes as little surprise.

Beller’s first high-profile role was at venture capital firm Andreessen Horwitz, where she was a partner on the deal team between 2013 and 2016. There, she showed her knack for quickly building networks, doing company diligence and spotting opportunities.

“Morgan is incredibly sharp, has a great product sense and was always insightful when we worked together,” said Steve Sinofsky, a partner at the firm who was previously a high-level executive at Microsoft.

After Andreessen Horowitz, Beller worked at Medium, the San Francisco company that allows writers to publish long-form pieces. Beller spent a year there on the company’s corporate development team. Her biggest accomplishment was leading Medium’s acquisition of Embedly, a small start-up whose technology allows websites to easily embed rich media such as gifs.

“If you needed somebody to figure something out, you would say, ‘Hey Morgan, go figure this out.’ She’d go and meet people, learn everything, understand the landscape and come back and present it,” said Edward Lichty, Medium’s head of partnerships at the time and Beller’s supervisor at the time.

“I’ve always thought Morgan would do great things, and it’s not at all a surprise to me that she ended up at Facebook at the center of something as significant as Libra is.”

WATCH: Here’s how to see which apps have access to your Facebook data — and cut them off


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‘It never stops’: US farmers now face extreme heat after floods and trade war

Farmer walks through his soy fields in Harvard, Illinois.

Nova Safo | AFP | Getty Images

In the past year, torrential rains have dumped water on U.S. farmlands, destroying acreage and delaying crops from getting planted on time.

Now, farmers face another hurdle: a stifling heat wave that’s spreading across the United States and is expected to be the worst in the farm regions, including Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Iowa and Illinois.

“Every time we think we catch a break, it’s just another issue we have to solve,” Adam Jones, a 28-year-old organic farmer from Illinois, told CNBC. “It seems like it never stops.”

“This year, there are farmers who are the first in their family for three generations to not grow crops on their fields,” he continued.

“That’s really hard on pride — to not be able to do the one thing you’re set out to do in life.”

Heat warnings and advisories are in effect across the country. Dangerously hot temperatures are expected to rise above 100 degrees, including 120 record-high minimum temperatures in some areas, according to the National Weather Service.

The moisture from former Hurricane Barry, which dumped rain in the Southeast last week, is also exacerbating humidity levels as the heat index is forecast to climb across the country.

High heat and humidity have farmers across the Midwest stressed about their already vulnerable corn and soybean crops.

One extreme to another

The record flooding in the Midwest and Great Plains has caused at least $3 billion in damage, left millions of acres unseeded and put crops that were planted late at high risk for damage from severe weather during the growing season.

As a result, crops are less able withstand extreme changes in weather. A heat wave would cause wet soil to crust and compact, stunting root development and ruining crops, according to Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist with INTL FCStone in Kansas City, Missouri.

“There’s a high level of stress right now,” Suderman said. “We’ve never planted this late in the year, and the conditions in which the crops were planted make it more difficult for them to withstand heat and dryness.”

Aaron Keilen, an organic farmer from Portland, Michigan, was unable to plant on 75% of his land this year due to flooding, and was delayed in planting his crops until the last week of June, over a month later than usual. The delay will hurt his yield; after May 15, each day a farmer doesn’t plant crops means a roughly 1% reduction in corn yields. For soybeans, each day after June 1 means a 1% reduction in yields, Keilen said.

Now, Keilen said the heat wave is stunting the growth of his crops, which were planted later than usual in wet soil. While his crop insurance will be just enough to keep him in business, he worries about lost profit.

“We’ve never seen a year like this. It’s been so hard,” Keilen said. “But we see people coming together, churches offering prayer services for farmers and coming together to support each other.”

Nationwide, farmers are expected to harvest the smallest corn crop in four years, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA in June lowered soybean and corn production estimates, and after widespread planting delays this spring, will release a report in August with updated plantings figures for corn and soybeans.

Puddles are seen in farm fields as heavy rains caused unprecedented delays in U.S. corn planting this spring, near Sheffield, Illinois, U.S., June 13, 2019. Picture taken June 13, 2019.

Tom Polansek | REUTERS

The extreme weather also heaps more pain on an industry that has suffered from years of low crop prices, and the U.S.-China trade war that slowed down agricultural exports. In May, tariff from China on $60 billion worth of U.S. goods targeted a wide range of agricultural products.

Charlie Johnson, a farmer from Madison, South Dakota, said farmers in his community were suffering from lower prices resulting from the trade war tariffs. The flooding, he said, will further erode profits. And with respect to the heat wave, Johnson said that stepping outside to his farm has felt like walking into a sauna.

“You’re mentally struggling with issues of flooding, and then it’s hard physically to be outside in this heat to get work done,” he said.

“It’s tough on farmers and the people in our rural community. We all worry about each other.”

Climate change implications

A study published Tuesday in Environmental Research Communications found that the frequency of extreme heat in the U.S. is projected to increase significantly, even if greenhouse gases are kept below standard levels.

While particular events cannot be causally linked to climate change, experts agree that global warming is making extreme heat events more common.

“Everything is probabilities,” said Martin Weitzman, a Harvard University economics professor. “Climate change increases the probability of heat waves, but it’s still difficult to link one event to climate change.”

The latest heat wave does follow a trend worldwide: The five hottest years in recorded history have been the last five, and 18 of the 19 warmest years have occurred since 2001, according to a recent NASA analysis.

“The weather conditions are bouncing from extreme to extreme — from excessive wetness to record setting heat waves,” said Brad Rippey, a USDA meteorologist. “There’s no in between.”

Alex Jones, climate division director at the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, attributed the heat wave to climate change and warned farmers to “get used to it” and build resilience into the system by planting more resistant crops, even if doing so results in lower yields.

“The one key message is this is the new normal — and it’s only going to get worse,” Jones said.


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US lawmakers demand Puerto Rico governor resign as protests roil island

Union workers join with other protesters as they demonstrate against Ricardo Rossello, the Governor of Puerto Rico on July 19, 2019 in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. There have been calls for the Governor to step down after it was revealed that he and top aides were part of a private chat group that contained misogynistic and homophobic messages.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Several U.S. Democratic presidential candidates and lawmakers on Friday demanded Puerto Rico’s governor step down over offensive chat messages, as thousands on the Caribbean island staged a seventh day of protests to seek his resignation.

Banging pots and pans and chanting “Ricky Resign!,” Puerto Ricans streamed into San Juan’s old city on Friday night and called on Ricardo Rossello to quit over the misogynistic and homophobic messages.

The chats, from a Telegram message group and referring mainly to politicians and officials, were published on Saturday.

The leak, running to 889 pages, added to Rossello’s woes after two former officials were arrested by the FBI last week as part of a federal corruption probe in the U.S. territory.

The protests have also tapped into simmering resentment over Rossello’s handling of devastating hurricanes in 2017 and alleged corruption as Puerto Rico’s fragile economy struggles to recover from the island’s bankruptcy.

U.S. Representative Tulsi Gabbard joined the protests in San Juan, saying she wanted to “stand up to corruption,” as other Democratic presidential candidates including Julian Castro and Elizabeth Warren also called for Rossello to quit.

“We must stand with la isla. Rossello must resign,” tweeted U.S. Representative Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, whose mother was born in Puerto Rico.

The island’s nonvoting representative in the U.S. Congress, Jenniffer Gonzalez, earlier called for his resignation, while Rossello’s press secretary Dennise Perez resigned, saying she could no longer hold the position after she was called corrupt in front of her son.

“It’s your turn, Ricky,” protesters chanted on the street after word spread that Perez had stepped aside. Rossello, who is affiliated with the U.S. Democratic Party, has refused to step down but said he would hold an emergency meeting with leaders of Puerto Rico’s New Progressive Party, which he leads.

Puerto Rico House Speaker Carlos Mendez on Friday announced the creation of an independent committee to determine whether the center-right politician engaged in illegal activity in the chats. The group has ten days to deliver its findings.

The island’s bar association published a report citing clear grounds to impeach the 40-year-old former scientist, based on the “depravity” of his messages.

The chats, revealed by Puerto Rico’s Center for Investigative Journalism, showed how Rossello and allies exchanged vulgar memes and comments as well as privileged information.

While opposition legislators back impeachment, the process has yet to gain critical support from lawmakers in Rossello’s ruling party. But politicians like Gonzalez are increasingly concerned about Puerto Rico’s “anarchic” image after clashes in San Juan this week and allegations the two administration officials arrested by the FBI stole government funds.

The violence and political turmoil comes at a critical stage in the U.S. territory’s bankruptcy process. It has also raised concerns with U.S. lawmakers who are weighing the island’s requests for billions of federal dollars for healthcare and hurricane recovery efforts.

“The island cannot afford to lose already approved federal resources, nor the ones we are working to obtain,” Gonzalez said in her letter to Rossello urging him to step aside.


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Iran, UK appear to seek de-escalation despite tanker seizure

Iran and Britain appeared to signal Saturday that they are not seeking confrontation, a day after Iran seized a British-flagged tanker in the strategic Strait of Hormuz, a flashpoint in rising tensions between Tehran and the West.

Iran’s state news agency said it had seized the Stena Impero for an investigation after it had collided with an Iranian fishing boat — an explanation that avoided portraying the incident as a tit-for-tat move in the current tense climate.

In London, Tom Tugendhat, the chairman of Britain’s House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, said military action to free the tanker would be “extremely unwise,” especially because the vessel was apparently taken to a well-protected port.

Tensions between Iran and the West had been rising since May, when the U.S. announced it was dispatching an aircraft carrier and additional troops to the Middle East, citing unspecified threats posed by Iran.

The ongoing showdown has caused jitters around the globe, with each maneuver bringing fear that any misunderstanding or misstep by either side could lead to war.

The seizing of the tanker late Friday was seen as a significant escalation.

British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt initially said two ships were seized in the Strait of Hormuz, the second sailing under a Liberian flag.

The owner of the Liberian-flagged tanker later said the ship was briefly boarded by armed guards before being allowed to go.

On Saturday, Iran’s state-run news agency IRNA said the British tanker had collided with an Iranian fishing boat, causing damage, and didn’t respond to calls from the smaller craft.

The fishing boat informed Iran’s Ports and Maritime Organization, which notified the powerful Revolutionary Guard. IRNA reported that the Revolutionary Guard vessels directed the Stena Impero to an Iranian port for an investigation Friday, and that the crew remained on board the ship as per safety regulations.

Stena Bulk, the owner of the tanker, said the vessel had 23 crew members of Indian, Russian, Latvian and Filipino nationalities and there were no reports any of them were injured.

Britain has featured prominently in the recent tensions with Iran.

There was a brief standoff between the British navy and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels recently. The British navy said it warned three Guard vessels away after they tried to impede the passage of a commercial British tanker that the navy was escorting.

Britain’s Royal Marines assisted in the seizure of an Iranian oil supertanker on July 4 by Gibraltar, a British overseas territory off the southern coast of Spain.

Britain has said it would release the vessel if Iran could prove it was not breaching European Union sanctions on oil shipments to Syria. However, on Friday, a court in Gibraltar extended by 30 days the detention of the Panama-flagged Grace.

The current tensions have been escalating since Trump withdrew the U.S. last year from Iran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and imposed sweeping economic sanctions on Iran, including its oil exports.

The sanctions have hit the Iranian economy hard.

Iran’s government has desperately tried to get out of the chokehold, urging the other partners in the nuclear deal, particularly European nations, to pressure the U.S. to lift the crippling sanctions.

Meanwhile, crude oil prices climbed following Iran’s announcement about the Stena Impero as traders worried the escalating tensions could affect crude supplies.

Maritime security in the Strait of Hormuz has deteriorated in recent weeks after six attacks on oil tankers that the U.S. has blamed on Iran — an allegation the Islamic Republic denies.

The U.S. has asked Mideast allies like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in past weeks to contribute financially and militarily to a Trump administration proposal called the Sentinel Program — a coalition of nations working with the U.S. to preserve maritime security in the Persian Gulf and keep eyes on Iran.

Late Friday, officials said the U.S. is sending several hundred troops as well as aircraft and air defense missiles to Saudi Arabia as part of its increased military presence in the region. The move has been in the works for many weeks and is not a response to Friday’s seizure by Iran of a British tanker.

King Salman approved hosting U.S. armed forces in the kingdom “to increase joint cooperation in defense and regional security and stability,” a statement in the state-run Saudi Press Agency said.


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Saudi king reportedly approves hosting U.S. troops to enhance regional security

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

Bandar Algaloud | Courtesy of Saudi Royal Court | Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman approved hosting U.S. forces in the country to boost regional security and stability, the state news agency (SPA) reported on Friday.

The U.S. Defense Department confirmed the move in a statement, saying it would deploy troops and resources to Saudi Arabia to “provide an additional deterrent” in the face of “emergent, credible threats.”

The gesture comes amid rising tensions between Washington and Tehran in the Gulf that have impacted global oil markets.

On Friday, Iran said it had seized a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz, but denied Washington’s assertion that the U.S. Navy had downed an Iranian drone nearby earlier this week.

The decision on hosting U.S. forces aims “to increase joint cooperation in defense of regional security and stability and to preserve its peace” SPA said, quoting a Ministry of Defence official, without giving further details.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the deployment would include about 500 U.S. military personnel in Saudi Arabia, and is part of a boost in the number of U.S. troops in the Middle East that the Pentagon announced last month.

In June, the Pentagon said it would deploy 1,000 troops to the Middle East but did not say where they were going.

Relations between Washington and Tehran worsened last year when President Donald Trump abandoned a 2015 nuclear deal between world powers and Iran.

Under the pact, Iran agreed to restrict nuclear work, long seen by the West as a cover for developing nuclear weapons, in return for lifting sanctions. But sanctions have since been reimposed, badly hurting Iran’s economy.

Trump has said he considers Saudi Arabia an important partner in the Middle East and counterweight to the influence of Iran.


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White House to host meeting with tech executives on Huawei ban: Reuters

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin gives a briefing on cryptocurrency at the White House in Washington, U.S., July 15, 2019.

Kevin Lamarque | Reuters

U.S. officials including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow will host a meeting at the White House on Monday of semiconductor and software executives to discuss the U.S. ban on Huawei Technologies, two sources briefed on the meeting said on Friday.

The United States placed Huawei on the Commerce Department’s so-called Entity List in May over national security concerns. U.S. parts and components generally cannot be sold to those on the list without special licenses.

However, U.S. President Donald Trump, who is seeking to revive trade talks with China, announced late last month that U.S. companies would be allowed to sell products to Huawei.

The White House did not immediately comment on the meeting.

One of the sources said invited companies included chipmakers Intel, Micron Technology, Qualcomm and Broadcom. Microsoft was also invited.

Intel and Qualcomm declined to comment.

The United States may approve licenses for companies to restart new sales to Huawei in as little as two weeks, a senior U.S. official said last week.


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A slew of NYC subway lines were suspended ahead of the hottest weekend of the year

New York Subway station near Penn Station.

Mario Tama | Getty Images

New Yorkers on the subway are kicking off their weekends dealing with long delays to go with the blazing hot temperatures.

The MTA reported at 6 p.m. Friday that the 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 trains are all facing delays due to a network communications issue impacting service in both directions.

The shuttle between Times Square and Grand Central is also affected by the disruption.

Photos on social media showed massive crowds building at different subway stations, including a line of people trying to get down the stairs to the platform at Grand Central on the 4,5,6 lines, and a packed platform at 96th and Broadway on the 1,2,3, lines.

New York City Comptroller called the situation “completely unacceptable.”

“Service is suspended and platforms are boiling. New York cannot function like this,” Scott Stringer tweeted.

NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson echoed those sentiments, saying he will be “expecting a report from the MTA on how this happened during a heat wave when people are encouraged to use mass transit.”

Some passengers on trains at the time were told to get off the train and wait at the sweltering stations. Other rides complained about being stuck on the subway and not moving, without being told what is going on.

The MTA said passengers can see statiion agents for a courtesy pass for continued bus or train service.

Metro North was also cross-honoring Metrocard holders at impacted stations.


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Judge denies J&J’s request to transfer 2,400 talc lawsuits to federal court

Containers of Johnson’s baby powder made by Johnson and Johnson are displayed on a shelf on July 13, 2018 in San Francisco, California.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

A federal judge on Friday denied Johnson & Johnson‘s request to transfer about 2,400 lawsuits over its talc-based baby powder to a district court in Delaware, sending the cases back to state courts.

J&J asked to transfer the cases, which alleg its baby powder contained asbestos and caused ovarian and other cancers, from state courts to a district court in Delaware after its talc supplier Imerys, facing talc lawsuits of its own, sought Chapter 11 protection in Delaware earlier this year.

In a ruling Friday, Judge Maryellen Noreika said the Delaware federal court does not have authority over the lawsuits against J&J simply because J&J’s supplier filed for bankruptcy there. Noreika also said J&J failed to establish the lawsuits against the company directly affect Imerys and its bankruptcy proceedings.

“The judges in the states who are already handling these cases are better suited to hear the claims before them than is this Court, which would have to hear thousands of cases and apply different state laws to each,” she said.

The denial leaves J&J at the mercy of dozens of different courts and judges. State courts have so far delivered J&J mixed results. A Missouri jury ordered the company to pay $4.69 billion to 22 women who alleged the company’s talc-based baby powders contained asbestos and caused them to develop ovarian cancer.

“We are disappointed in this decision, which would have streamlined the process for reviewing current cases and increased overall efficiency for all parties involved,” a J&J spokeswoman said in a statement.

The company said its position that the baby powder is “safe and does not cause cancer has not changed,” and that it will continue to “vigorously defend” its products in court.

J&J faces more than 14,000 lawsuits alleging its baby powder causes ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.

WATCH: ‘We unequivocally believe’ our baby powder does not contain asbestos: Johnson & Johnson CEO 


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