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Obama’s personal chef drowns at Martha’s Vineyard: The Rundown July 25

Jul 25, 2023

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A tragedy at Martha’s Vineyard claims the life of the personal chef of former President Obama’s. And mental health care services could start costing you the same copay as visits to your physician. It’s time for The Rundown for Tuesday, July 25, 2023.

Obama’s personal chef drowns at Martha’s Vineyard

Massachusetts State Police have confirmed the identity of the person who drowned near former President Barack Obama’s home at Martha’s Vineyard over the weekend. The victim has been identified as Obama’s personal chef, 45-year-old Tafari Campbell.

Police say Campbell was paddleboarding on Sunday, July 23, when he began to struggle on the surface of the water, went under and didn’t resurface. His body was recovered the next day.

The Obamas were not at their home at the time of the drowning. They released a statement calling Campbell a “beloved part of their family.”

Their statement went on to say: “When we first met him, he was a talented sous chef at the White House –creative and passionate about food, and its ability to bring people together. In the years that followed, we got to know him as a warm, fun, extraordinarily kind person who made all of our lives a little brighter.

That’s why, when we were getting ready to leave the White House, we asked Tafari to stay with us, and he generously agreed. He’s been part of our lives ever since, and our hearts are broken that he’s gone.

Today we join everyone who knew and loved Tafari – especially his wife Sherise and their twin boys, Xavier and Savin – in grieving the loss of a truly wonderful man.”

Authorities say Campbell’s death appears to be an accident.

White House pushes insurance companies to cover mental health bills

President Joe Biden wants health insurance companies to start paying for mental health care the same way they cover costs for physical care. The White House is announcing a new policy on July 25 that would force private insurance companies to offer more coverage for mental health services as part of a broader push to improve “mental health care” in the United States.

The new proposed policy will use a 2008 law that already requires insurance plans to cover mental and physical health equally, but is hardly ever adhered to. The White House says health insurers are dodging mental health bills.

The new policy will undergo a 60-day public comment period before taking effect.

Second U.S. sub arrives in South Korea; North retaliates

North Korea fired two more short-range ballistic missiles on Monday, July 24, just hours after a U.S. nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Annapolis, pulled into a South Korean port, according to the South Korean military.

The Annapolis does not carry nuclear weapons, but its arrival comes just days after the visit of another American submarine – the USS Kentucky – which is equipped to carry nuclear armed missiles.  The South Korean president visited the submarine upon its arrival.

The North is expected to continue retaliating in the form of missile tests, perhaps even an underground nuclear test later this week as Korea marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the Korean war.

As for the army soldier who crossed into North Korea nearly a week ago, the U.S. says they are still in the dark. North Korea has received its requests for information, but there has been no response back.

IRS ends door-knocking policy, cites safety concerns

The IRS says it’s ending a decades-old policy of making unannounced visits to homes and businesses, except in what they call ”a few unique circumstances.”

Effective immediately, the agency will now schedule all in-person meetings in order to collect unpaid balances for taxpayers. The move is part of an effort to keep IRS workers safe and to fight against scammers who pose as IRS agents.

The IRS says the rare instances where unannounced visits will occur include service of summonses and subpoenas; and also sensitive enforcement activities involving seizure of assets, especially those at risk of being placed beyond the reach of the government. 

Talks set to resume to prevent UPS strike

First the Hollywood writers went on strike. Then the actors. Next to join the picket lines could be UPS workers.

Talks are set to resume Tuesday, July 25 between the parcel service and the Teamsters, which represent more than half of the company’s workforce – 340,000 members in all. The current contract is set to expire on Monday, July 31.

The Teamsters have already authorized a strike and say they are willing to do so if their demands are not met. They are calling for better pay and improved working conditions.

UPS released a statement saying it aims “quickly to finalize a fair deal that provides certainty for our customers, our employees and businesses across the country.”

UPS workers – 185,000 members – went on strike in 1997, but that was before Americans started getting delivery for everyday items like groceries, medicine and dog food. Today, UPS ships on average 24 million packages a day – about 6% of the country’s gross domestic product.

“X,” formerly known as Twitter, already trademarked

Elon Musk’s rebranding of Twitter to “X” is underway as the Twitter letters at the company headquarters in San Francisco came down immediately on Monday, July 25. But the new brand “X” has technically already been trademarked.

In fact, it’s been trademarked several times – by big competitors in similar industries.

Meta, owner of Twitter rival Threads, has a 2019 blue-and-white “X” trademark for software and social media purposes. Microsoft also owns a trademark to Twitter’s new name related to communications about it’s X-Box video game console.

Given how common the letter “X” is though, it could be fair use. And the “X” logos used by Meta and Musk are different.

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