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Live updates: Government shutdown

Live updates: Government shutdown

POLITICO’s live coverage and analysis of Congress’ 2018 shutdown showdown

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Proposed California Car Ban a Perfect Mix of Hubris and Silliness: New at Reason

intherough/flickrintherough/flickrA bill in California seeks to ban registration of vehicles that aren’t zero emissions, in 2040.

Steven Greenhut writes:

It’s about time that members of Congress and the California legislature got really serious about combating the nation’s pollution problem. Just as Jonathan Swift had a “modest proposal” to keep poor Irish children from being a burden to their families and their country (by selling them to wealthy English people as food), I, too, have a modest proposal for dealing with the unconscionable level of pollutants that are emitted in the U.S. to produce electricity. Let’s propose a plan to shut down the nation’s power plants.

The facts are unmistakable: An environmental group in 2009 reported that the “nation’s power plants emitted 2.56 billion tons of global warming pollution… which is equivalent to the pollution from nearly 450 million of today’s cars—nearly three times the number of cars registered in the United States in 2007.” Even cleaner natural-gas fired plants, which have become more prevalent in ensuing years, “release 21—120 times more methane than earlier estimates,” according to a summary of a Purdue University/Environmental Defense Fund report from last year.

Do you care about clear air, the health of our children and the future of the planet? Of course you do. So there’s little reason to complain about this idea. Before you chalk it up to one columnist’s silliness, consider that some California policy makers are proposing something equally “modest” and ludicrous. Yet they seem totally serious about it.

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SCOV Law Blog: Insurance companies battle over who pays when policies overlap

Editor’s note: This piece from the SCOV Law Blog is by Nicole Killoran.

Progressive Cas. Ins. Co. v. MMG Ins. Co., 2014 VT 70 

Ever wondered what happens when you’re one of several passengers in a car crash, your driver is the jerk who’s responsible, and his liability insurance doesn’t pay for everyone’s injuries? Well, I hope you’re all hydrated, because we’re about to dive into a very dry area of law to find out the answer from a case that came out a few years ago.

The particular facts of this accident — you know, the grim details that make it onto the evening news and leave you feeling protective of your family — are not explained in this opinion. Even if they were, I doubt they would have made the topic, the enforceability of an “owned-vehicle” or “covered-auto” underinsured motorist coverage exclusion in Vermont, any sexier. All we know is that some poor shmuck passenger riding in his mom’s car found himself one of several victims of a one-car crash, the driver’s liability coverage was woefully short of paying for everyone’s injuries, and passenger had to tap into his underinsured motorist coverage under his own car insurance to make up the difference.

Now, Progressive had both the tortfeasor driver’s insurance and passenger’s (both $500,000 policies), and passenger had twice the Progressive coverage under a MMG policy he had the foresight to buy. Progressive being the carrier for two of the three policies makes it a bit confusing, but here’s how this played out. Progressive paid out to all the victims under the tortfeasor’s policy to the liability limits ($500,000), including roughly $250,000 to passenger. This still left passenger short about $400,000, and it looked like he had three policies for underinsured motorist coverage (the driver/host vehicle’s, and both of his) to tap into. Progressive ended up paying half, and MMG paid the other half, leaving room to spare out of the $1.5 million he had available.

If you’re still with me, you’re probably thinking, plenty of coverage, so what’s the big deal, and why did this end up in the SCOV?

The answer is in the title of the case. Insurer vs. Insurer — that means a declaratory judgment action where the applicability of some aspect of an insurance policy is in question, and the insurance companies just gotta know the answer. In this case, it’s Progressive’s “host-vehicle” underinsured motorist exclusion. This particular item of fine print says that: (1) when Progressive insures the vehicle, or the jerk driving the vehicle, that is responsible for the accident; and (2) the liability coverage is maxed out; then (3) the underinsured motorist coverage is off limits. In this case, that would have meant that instead of paying for half of the rest of passenger’s damages, Progressive would have only had to pay for a third of it because MMG had two-thirds of the total available underinsured motorist coverage ($1 million out of $1.5 million).

Because Progressive and MMG couldn’t agree on whether Progressive could enforce its “host-vehicle” exclusion in Vermont, they ended up settling on each paying half, and Progressive reserved the right to ask the court to decide the question after the settlement. Progressive filed a declaratory judgment action. Both insurers filed for summary judgment. The trial court sided with MMG, and Progressive appealed.

The particular question on appeal the SCOV has to decide is more complicated than you might think, but it’s basically whether Progressive can get away with this cute little “not-my-underinsured-host-vehicle-policy” trick in Vermont. “Underinsured vehicle” is defined under subsection (f) of this statute. The SCOV breaks its analysis of the definition into two rough sections: (1) what on earth did the Legislature do when it amended the statute in 2005? (Answer: It begat a new policy that might be useful to passenger and thus MMG in this case); and (2) does the amendment really create double liability insurance? (Answer: No, so MMG is actually out of luck).

Today’s version of the statute says a vehicle is “underinsured” if the liability insurance available for a particular passenger is less than the underinsured motorist coverage available to him. The point of the underinsured motorist statute is to let the good guy recover for his injuries when he gets into an accident with an underinsured motorist. It’s basically “self-insurance,” says the SCOV, because whatever car insurance you buy, if you are the victim of a jerk behind a wheel you can tap into your own underinsured motorist coverage if that jerk decided to buy the cheap policy for himself.

In 2003, under a previous version of the statute, the SCOV looked at the “underinsured vehicle” definition in this case (Colwell). At the time the statute defined an “underinsured” vehicle such that the SCOV decided uninsured motorist coverage was “gap coverage” in Vermont and only let an injured party recover the difference between the uninsured motorist cap and the amount paid out under the liability policy (i.e., the liability-uninsured motorist “gap”). Other states, the SCOV noted, use the “excess coverage” approach, which triggers “underinsured” status when the tortfeasor’s liability policy can’t cover the victim’s damages.

If you’re as confused by the difference between “gap” and “excess” coverage as I was the first, second, third and fourth times wading through this opinion, then the facts in Colwell might help. Colwell involved a multi-victim accident where the liability policy couldn’t cover everyone’s injuries. In that case, even though one guy presumably got stuck with the bill for much of his injuries, the SCOV concluded that the way the statute was phrased meant Allstate only had to pay for the small “gap” between the tortfeasor’s cheapo liability coverage and his uninsured motorist coverage. The SCOV agreed that this result was unfair, but basically pointed at the Legislature and said, “Fix it!”

So the Legislature fixed it. In 2005, it amended the definition of “underinsured vehicle” to the version the SCOV is being asked to interpret in this case, and it told the world (or at least future Vermont lawyers) that it specifically did so to fix the problem in Colwell. With this amendment, the SCOV now tells us, a victim can tap into his or her uninsured motorist policy when other victims drain the tortfeasor’s liability policy. Basically, “gap coverage” and “excess coverage” had a baby that lets people bring out the fancy uninsured motorist insurance they bought if they need it. Ok, bad analogy, but you get the point, right?

Sadly for MMG, after concluding that this “gap-excess coverage” approach is the new thing, the SCOV goes on to conclude that the trial court was right — MMG is in fact screwed in this case and Progressive can enforce its host-vehicle exception when determining how much it has to pay passenger. In other words, MMG is stuck with two-thirds of the bill.

The SCOV’s prior crack at interpreting the statutory “underinsured motorist” language was in 2007. In this case (Hubbard), it looked at a single-car accident with only one victim (albeit a tragic one, the plaintiffs’ son). Even though the SCOV doesn’t find Hubbard very useful because the facts are different, it does trot out its Hubbard policy and reasoning to support its conclusion in this case.

In Hubbard there were also three insurance policies, one from Concord (the tortfeasor’s, $100,000 liability/$100,000 uninsured motorist) and two from Metropolitan (the plaintiffs’, $100,000 uninsured motorist each, total of $200,000). Like Progressive, Concord had its own little tricksy uninsured motorist exclusion applicable where an injured person invokes the liability and uninsured motorist policies in the same contract. Metropolitan argued in favor of Concord enforcing this exclusion. Its angle was that Concord’s uninsured motorist coverage didn’t count toward the total the victim could recover, so there was only $200,000 available, and that its $200,000 exposure was cut in half by the $100,000 Concord paid out under its liability policy. See how that works? Insurance companies love it when they have a way to cut their policy payouts.

The Hubbard trial court sided with Metropolitan, as did the SCOV, because if it went with the alternative interpretation the victims would have access to more coverage than they bought (i.e., “double liability insurance”). The SCOV decided “double liability insurance” wasn’t the right way to interpret the statute, and that the “owned-vehicle” exclusion could be enforced to prevent the victim from recovering under both the liability and UIM parts of the same insurance contract.

Applied to this case, with multiple victims that sucked dry the host-vehicle’s liability policy, the SCOV tells us that if passenger could use both his uninsured motorist policies and also the host-vehicle uninsured motorist policy he would be able to access more than he bargained for when he bought his fancy liability insurance. The fact that Progressive’s contract doesn’t let this happen is OK under the statute, and it doesn’t mess with the policy behind it either because passenger still had coverage up to the limit of what he had through his own uninsured motorist policies.

Vermont is not a “double liability insurance” state, says the SCOV, and, it notes, neither are the majority of states that have had the joy of looking at this exciting question. Letting uninsured motorist coverage “stack” like MMG wants in this case would undercut the purpose of the uninsured motorist statute. The SCOV reminds us that the point is to protect a hapless victim from an underinsured tightwad, not to give the victim more than he bargained for when he bought insurance.

Justice Robinson begs to differ with the majority’s interpretation of Vermont’s statutory “underinsured motorist” definition. She agrees with the trial court, and pens a dissent with which Justice Dooley joins. In its simplest form, Justice Robinson’s quarrel with the majority is with its less-than-literal interpretation of the uninsured motorist statute. She thinks her reading is closer to what the Legislature intended, and she picks apart the case law and policy support the majority cites in support of its own.

The dissent uses a circular example with facts similar to the ones in this case but with just one liability policy, the responsible driver’s, to demonstrate the problems with UIM gap analysis. This approach, Justice Robinson shows us, is a circular way to go about figuring out if a driver is underinsured because “the starting point determines the end point.” Either you assume the host-vehicle policy isn’t applicable, in which case the driver isn’t underinsured even if he technically is, or you assume it is applicable, in which case the driver is underinsured. This analysis, claims the dissent, just isn’t helpful.

Circular reasoning (something that never happens in the law) aside, Justice Robinson gives us several reasons why she, and Justice Dooley, think the majority is wrong in this case.

The dissent thinks that the SCOV’s emphasis on the injured passenger’s own uninsured motorist insurance, as opposed to all available uninsured motorist insurance, including the driver’s, doesn’t jive with the plain language of the statute. The part of Section 941 the SCOV is interpreting says that “applicable” insurance should be considered, not just the “portable” uninsured motorist coverage an injured passenger had the foresight to purchase that follows him around in the event he is in an accident with a cheapskate with insufficient liability coverage.

Slapping on this new “portable uninsured motorist coverage” to the analysis, says Justice Robinson, is judicial poppycock. It’s not in the plain language, it’s not in the legislative history, and it’s not in Colwell or, by extension, the Legislature’s subsequent attempt to address Colwell. It also contradicts the remedial purpose of the statute, she argues. None of the other jurisdictions the majority cites to as support have a statute like Vermont’s, and she just doesn’t see the “double-liability insurance” problem the majority finds so troubling. Justice Robinson would not enforce the policy exclusion

With a stroke of its officious pen, the SCOV approves a creative loophole for future insurers to slide through so they don’t have to pay out under their policies. So just remember folks, friends don’t let friends drive underinsured.

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WEST SEATTLE CRIME WATCH: Car break-in; murder, robbery case updates

Three notes in West Seattle Crime Watch tonight, starting with a reader report:

FAUNTLEE HILLS CAR PROWL: Kris e-mailed today to report a car prowl earlier this week:

Our car was parked at the corner of 40th Avenue SW and Director SW overnight on January 15. On January 16, I walked out to see the hatch and passenger door ajar. Sometime during the evening the car was prowled. Nothing of significant value was taken and the police were notified … In the past few days, I have recovered some of the items along Barton Avenue SW.

And from the many court cases we are continuing to check on, two updates:

WESTWOOD MURDER-CASE UPDATE: When last we mentioned the two defendants charged in last year’s murder of Edixon Velasquez in Westwood, they were set for trial relatively soon. According to court documents, they have since agreed to have the case pushed back a few months, and in court today, the readiness hearing for Anna Kasparova and Abel Linares was rescheduled for March 23rd, with trial tentatively set for April 25th.

SOUTH DELRIDGE ROBBER PLEADS GUILTY: A plea agreement this week for 22-year-old Aaron K. Knox, one of two men charged last summer with stealing a 58-year-old man’s bicycle at gunpoint in the 9200 block of Delridge Way SW. Knox has no criminal history but pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery; hr will be sentenced February 16th. Court documents say prosecutors will seek to have him sent to prison for three years and five months.

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What to Do When Buying a Used Car

Buying a used car presents more of an unknown because of the vehicle’s history. Whether you’re buying from a private seller or a dealership, there are steps you can take to make more informed decisions so you can buy a used car with confidence.

Steps to Take Before Going Near a Car

Your used car buying journey should start with planning and research long before you actually approach a vehicle.

To start, you should figure out your budget and set a price range to stick to. If you need to finance, you need to decide on a price and monthly payment you can comfortably afford. Don’t forget about the other costs of car ownership like insurance, gas, and maintenance.

With a budget in mind, you can move forward in your car search by deciding what you must have in a vehicle. Think of what your driving needs are and what to prioritize to help you build a list of vehicles to target.

You can do some background research using the wealth of resources on the internet to assist your search. You can read owner reviews and expert rankings of cars that fit your budget and meet your needs. We also recommend that you research pricing online to get a sense of what’s fair.

4 Things You Have to Do When Buying a Used Car

With your prep work complete, you’re ready to check out some vehicles. Before moving forward with any used car purchase, make sure to complete a few key steps:

  • Examine the Car and Try Out Everything – Start by walking around the car and checking it out. Look closely at the exterior, tires, interior, and under the hood to inspect its condition and for any issues. Also, try out every door, window, latch, lock, light, control, button, switch, lever, and knob to make sure everything works.
  • Take a Test Drive – You’ll also want to experience how the car drives and your comfort level sitting in it. Take it for a spin on roads similar to those you’ll be driving the most, including getting the car on the highway. A good test drive tip is to turn off the radio and listen closely to the car as it operates.
  • Get a Vehicle History Report – A critical component of buying a used car is checking its history. Vehicle history reports can tell you things like if the car’s been in an accident, experienced flood damage, or been declared a total loss. Try to get a vehicle history report from either CarFax or AutoCheck, two leading providers. You can also run the car’s Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) through the National Insurance Crime Bureau’s free VINCheck program on Additionally, you can ask the seller if there are service records to get a sense for how well it’s been cared for.
  • Get a Pre-Purchase Inspection – If the car passes your eye test and a history check, a final step should be having it inspected by an ASE-certified mechanic. A mechanic who performs a pre-purchase inspection can find mechanical defects or other issues hiding below the surface. A little money spent on an inspection can save you from needing to spend thousands in repairs down the line.

Your Car Buying Plan

You shouldn’t buy a car without being completely comfortable, so make sure to take your time and follow these steps. By taking the proper measures and planning out your purchase, you can help yourself get a car you’re satisfied with.

If you need a car, but your credit is making getting approved for an auto loan a challenge, Auto Credit Express offers a solution. We connect car buyers to local dealerships that are equipped to handle difficult credit situations. Our service is free and doesn’t put you under any obligation. Get started with confidence by completing our car loan request form online today.

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Man found unresponsive in car behind former school in Moss Point identified

MOSS POINT, Miss. — The man found unresponsive Thursday morning in a car behind the former Ed Mayo Junior High School has been identified, according to Moss Point police chief Calvin Hutchins.

Police have identified the man as Kellie R. Guy, 24, of Moss Point. 

Just after 7 a.m. Thursday morning, police responded to a report of a suspicious vehicle at 6601 Orange Grove Rd. — the address correlated to Ed Mayo Junior High. 

When officers arrived to the scene, they discovered a dead male who looked to be suffering from an apparent gunshot wound. Police are calling this an isolated incident.

Hutchins said the case will be treated as a homicide.

Anyone with any information regarding the crime is asked to call Moss Point Police Department at 228-475-1711 or Mississippi Coast Crime Stoppers at 800-787-5898.

This story will be updated as more information becomes available.

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One injured after car goes over embankment in Allegheny Township – Tribune

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Officially launched in 2007, RouteNote began as a digital music distribution platform for independent artists and labels to get their music online,

Designed and built to take advantage of the shift towards independent and self-publication through online and mobile music or video outlets.

RouteNote is partnered with some of the biggest retailers on the web to give artists massive and immediate availability for their products.

RouteNote has since grown into a full digital media management service providing artists, labels and creators instant access to a large proportion of the online market.
Onsite, artists, labels and creators can upload content to the RouteNote catalogue and enter into a non-exclusive agreement permitting us to distribute their music to a worldwide audience.

Our rates for providing a distribution service are currently the best in the market and our ever expanding catalogue gives us increasing muscle with which to negotiate deals from which everyone, artists, clients and distribution partners included will all benefit.

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UPDATE: Car-on-side crash at Delridge/Trenton

em(WSB photo by Patrick Sand)

9:09 AM: As mentioned a short time ago in our daily morning-traffic coverage, there’s a crash at Delridge and Trenton. Turns out (thanks for the tips!) a car is on its side, so this might not clear quickly, and we’re breaking it out into a separate report. No major injuries reported – the SFD dispatch does not include a medic unit.

(Photo courtesy Melanie)

9:16 AM: Our crew has talked to police at the scene and reports two vehicles are involved; no one is hurt. Delridge is completely blocked at the scene just north of SW Trenton, and tow trucks have been called.

10:21 AM: Just went back to look – scene is now clear, road fully open again.

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To take on the giants, self-driving car technology startup raises $112M

Self-driving car technology startup said today it has raised an unusually large early-stage funding round of $112 million in an effort to pull out in front of many well-funded rivals.

The Series A round was jointly led by Morningside Ventures and Legend Capital. Seed round lead investor Sequoia China and IDG Capital also participated in the round, as well as Hongtai Capital, Legend Star, Puhua Capital, Polaris Capital, DCM Ventures, Comcast Ventures, Silicon Valley Future Capital and other unnamed funding sources.

Founded in late 2016, is building level 4 autonomy technology, a grade of self-driving car technology that delivers “fully autonomous” navigation. Per the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration level system, that means it’s “designed to perform all safety-critical driving functions and monitor roadway conditions for an entire trip.” The autonomous technology at this level is limited to the “operational design domain” of the vehicle—meaning it does not cover every driving scenario equal to that of a human driver, whereas level 5 autonomous technology would.

The round is all the more interesting because isn’t well-known. But it is led by former engineers from both Google X (now Waymo) and Baidu Inc. Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer James Peng was previously chief architect at Baidu’s self-driving car division and before that a Google employee. Tiancheng Lou, co-founder and chief technology officer, previously worked on autonomous driving at both Google X and Baidu.

In an interview with SiliconANGLE, Peng said the large round was a reflection of the highly competitive market. “The competition for talent is fierce,” he said. “Also, self-driving car development is costly, so we need to ramp up quickly.” The company has nearly 70 people on staff so far, a figure that is expected to rise rapidly.

With offices in both China and in Fremont near Silicon Valley, the company started testing self-driving cars in San Francisco Bay area roads following approval in June, with a number of testing videos released in October showing the technology quickly reaching mature levels:

How far along has now been revealed for the first time, with saying that they will begin operating an autonomous fleet in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou in the first quarter. IDG Capital partner Young Guo said he believes has the best autonomous-driving team in China.

Peng positioned’s technology as lying in the middle ground in a field where many rivals are depending less on rules set up on advance to guide the cars than on machine learning technology that enables the systems to learn on their own. “We use the rules as a base and then we use machine learning on top,” he said. “One drawback of machine learning is uncertainty. With a stoplight, you have to stop; that’s the rule, there’s no need to learn.” is also using multiple types of sensors from LiDAR to cameras to ultrasound, which Peng called “sensor fusion.” Although it’s buying those off-the-shelf, Peng said the company might consider designing its own.

The company is designing both hardware and software, including its own operating system that Peng said gives it a tenfold improvement in performance over existing software, but has no plans to build its own cars. Peng said has forged partnerships with several car manufacturers and hopes to sign contracts in the next month or two, both established companies and “newcomers,” with which it plans to design new types of cars made for autonomous driving. isn’t the only startup competing with the giants. Last week, Aurora Innovation Inc. of Palo Alto, California, announced partnerships with Volkswagen AG and Hyundai Motor Co., which said they hope to put the company’s technology into self-driving cars by 2021. Aurora’s chief executive is Chris Urmson, who helped start Google’s program and led the effort starting in 2014.

With reporting from Robert Hof



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