Trump Delivers First State of the Union

On Tuesday Jan. 31, President Donald Trump delivered his first State of the Union address. He spoke for an hour and 20 minutes about a variety of topics ranging from drug abuse and opioid addiction to North Korea and terrorism. The focused on putting America first, bipartisanship and undoing former President Obama’s accomplishments. Trump spoke to a room of divided law makers who are feuding over immigration, trade and infrastructure. He spoke about tax cuts and reform and a rising stock market that continues to beat records. Trump also spoke about his administration’s plan to tackle immigration, discussing a framework aimed at creating a path to citizenship for 1.8 million people. Touching healthcare, Trump beamed talking about repealing the Affordable Care Act which will go into affect in 2019. He also talked about families who lost loved ones to the MS-13 gang and the stories of Otto Warmbier and a North Korean defector.

NYS Retirement Invests in Coal-Free Funds

New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli announced a $2 billion increase to the New York State Common Retirement Fund’s low emissions equities index, doubling its investment. It’s the first public pension in the U.S. to create an index excluding or reducing holdings in the worst carbon emitters and shifting toward companies with lower emissions. This raises the Fund’s current value to more than $7 billion. “Our investment decisions and our shareholder engagements are a caution to corporations: if they’re not helping build a decarbonized future, they may get left behind,” according to DiNapoli. “Our strategy for sustainable, lower carbon investing is working and will continue to expand.”

Facebook Stocks, Engagement Drops

Facebook announced user time has declined and the company’s share is down. Time spent on the social network decreased by about 50 million hours per day at the end of 2017. Company stock dropped 4.1 percent as a result. The 50 million fewer hours is compared to the prior quarter and excludes user engagement on Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp, other social networking apps which Facebook owns. “I think that reduction of 50 million hours per day is spooking investors. That comes out to 2 minutes per day in lower engagement,” according to Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities. Facebook is at a crossroads after spreading false information during election season and daily life.

Rockland Legislators Push for Retiree Insurance Extension

Rockland County Legislators are locked-in a 28-day extension for notifying current insurance provider of withdrawal from the plan. The original deadline was for Feb. 1 but an extension from state Department of Civil Service pushed it to the end of the month. County Legislator Toney L. Earl claims more time is needed because retirees don’t have enough vital information to understand the new plan. County Executive Ed Day’s administration plans to change coverage for approximately 2,600 government retirees 65 and older to enroll in Aetna Medicare Advantage beginning April 1. County insurance Director Karen Cassa and Personnel Commissioner Lori Gruebel informed United Healthcare that the county would be severing ties with the provider.

Final Leg of Broadband Now to Reach Remote Parts of New York

The beneficiaries of New York’s Broadband Now third and final phase are to be announced. Reaching the remote residents in the Adirondack Park has presented two major challenges, cost and pole ownership. Poles used to carry fiber-optics or cables are owned by utility companies, private owners and municipalities. For internet services providers to use them, they need permission from the pole owners which costs time and money. According to Fred Engelmann, owner of Rainmaker Network Solutions, a network consulting service, “New York state has impossibly high standards.” Franklin and Essex counties contain large land areas with very few residents. 17,000 households are to be covered in the last mile of this program. Broadband Now gives grants to private network providers to expand internet access for $60 a month or less for download speeds of 100 megabytes per second. A federal program, the Connect America fund, offered grant assistance but there were few takers in the Adirondacks.

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