Fed likely to leave interest rate alone

WASHINGTON (AP) — With the economy still struggling to recover from the pandemic recession, Federal Reserve policymakers signaled Wednesday that their benchmark short-term interest rate likely will remain at zero at least through 2023 and possibly even longer.

Fed chair Jerome Powell said at a press conference that while the economy has rebounded more quickly than expected, the job market is still hurting and the outlook is uncertain. The unemployment rate has fallen steadily since the spring but is still 8.4%.

“Although we welcome this progress we will not lose sight of the millions of Americans that remain out of work,” Powell said.

The Fed left its benchmark interest rate unchanged at nearly zero, where it has been pegged since the virus pandemic intensified in March. The rate influences borrowing costs for homebuyers, credit card users, and businesses. Fed policymakers hope an extended period of low interest rates will encourage more borrowing and spending, though their policy also carries the risk of inflating a bubble in stocks or other financial assets.

ACMAs issued at empty venues

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Country music’s top entertainers kicked off the Academy of Country Music Awards with a medley of their hits from three empty music venues around Nashville after the show relocated from Las Vegas.

Luke Bryan, Eric Church, Luke Combs, Thomas Rhett and Carrie Underwood, all vying for entertainer of the year, sang to empty seats and no applause at the Grand Ole Opry House, the Ryman Auditorium and the Bluebird Cafe. The show was delayed from April due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the tone for Wednesday’s show airing on CBS will be more serious that in years past.

Host Keith Urban noted all the changes this year for the show and for the country in general, saying 2020 has been an “unpredictable and unsettling year.” After noting wildfires on the West Coast, hurricanes in the South, Urban said the country is battling two pandemics: COVID-19 and social injustice.

“Far too many lives have been lost to both,” he said. “But the examples set by essential workers, our first responders, along with the voices crying out for equality in all walks of life, have echoed around the world and right here in our country community.”

Kenosha unrest carries steep cost

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Kenosha’s fire chief says damage from the unrest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake has now topped $11 million.

Fire Chief Charles Leipzig told the Police and Fire Commission that the record fire loss came in the days following the Aug. 23 shooting of Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was left partially paralyzed after a white officer shot him seven times in the back.

“To put into context, that’s three years of fire loss for us in the span of about a week,” Leipzig told commissioners, the Kenosha News reported.

The shooting, which was recorded on video, sparked protests and violence in Kenosha, where two dozen fires were set and numerous businesses were destroyed.

Activists gathered in Kenosha on Wednesday for a celebration dubbed a “Day of Healing” that included meals for seniors and the homeless and a voter registration drive.

Tana McLean, an activist and Blake family friend, told the newspaper that Blake continues to recover from seven gunshots to his back that have left him partially paralyzed.

Woman’s remains found in man’s luggage

MARKHAM, Ill. (AP) — A man visiting relatives in suburban Chicago from Kentucky has been arrested after a woman’s remains were found in his luggage.

Police said Melvin Martin Jr., 30, was being charged as a fugitive fleeing prosecution and faces an extradition hearing back to Kentucky, WLS-TV reported.

Martin caught a Greyhound bus from Louisville to Chicago over the past few days and was picked up there by relatives who took him to their home in Markham, police said.

Police Chief Terry White told WBBM-TV that he “brought with him luggage — two, three bags.”

“There were some early reports of a foul odor coming from the bags,” White said.

Relatives told investigators that he kept asking for clothing, but never opened the bags. While the man was at a public library Tuesday, a relative opened one of the bags and found the body parts. Police later found the woman’s head and other remains in the other bags.

The victim was from Louisville and her death resulted from a domestic assault, according to police. Her body was dismembered at least a month ago. Police were given the location of other body parts belonging to the woman which were found Wednesday in a Louisville park.

The name of the dismembered woman was not immediately released until authorities locate her next of kin.

Markham is about 23 miles (37 kilometers) south of Chicago.

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