Thursday, July 16, 2020
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, July 16 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 43,046 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 687) and 1,421 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 6)
► From the AP — U.S. judge rejects challenge to Inslee’s emergency powers — A federal judge in Spokane has firmly rejected a water park’s challenge to Gov. Jay Inslee’s emergency powers as the state responds to the coronavirus pandemic.
EDITOR’S NOTE — This lawsuit was filed on behalf of Slidewaters Water Park in Chelan by attorneys with the Freedom Foundation to block what they called “an illegal power grab by the governor.” It’s worth noting that, while this right-wing billionaire-backed group was bankrolling a failed lawsuit to restrict our state’s response to the pandemic, the Freedom Foundation was also collecting $350,000 to $1 million in taxpayer money intended to provide pandemic relief for small businesses. Shameful and despicable.
The Stand (July 9) — Anti-government groups take federal bailout — The Freedom Foundation and Washington Policy Center took millions in government money intended for small businesses. Sign a petition demanding they give it back.
► From KUOW — Home Depot isn’t following Washington state’s mask mandate. Says it’s risky for staff. — Home Depot’s policy is that only staff will be required to wear masks, saying by email it could be dangerous to police customers on mask use. “This is not an optional plan for businesses,” Gov. Jay Inslee said of the state rule requiring customers to wear masks. “This is a legal requirement.” The Home Depot cashier said he is frustrated because he has known people who have died from COVID-19. “They don’t care about the people,” he said of Home Depot.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Home Depot cofounder Bernie Marcus donated $7 million to Trump’s campaign in 2016 and is again donating millions to get him re-elected.
► From the Columbian — ilani workers worried over COVID-19 precautions; casino says its approach is evolving — The Columbian spoke with six current employees for this story, and one former employee, who all said they feel like upper management has not taken COVID-19 safety precautions seriously enough, contributing to the two cases its workforce has registered so far.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Want your employer to take you seriously? Get a union! Find out more information about how you can join together with co-workers and negotiate a fair return for your hard work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!
► From the NY Times — Washington state beat back COVID-19. Now it’s rising again. — Washington was the initial epicenter of the nation’s coronavirus outbreak, and an early lockdown helped contain it. Six months later, cases are spiking again, and the future looks uncertain. A lot of things are going wrong at once. Young people, less likely to die of the virus and undoubtedly weary of social distancing measures, have been driving a spike in new infections in the Seattle area. And an outbreak here in Yakima County that began powering its way through agriculture workers in the spring has now spread widely through a community that has not embraced self-isolation and masking to the degree that many Seattleites have.
► From the Spokesman-Review — Spokane County ties daily COVID-19 record as health officer casts doubt on start of in-person schooling — Hospitalizations continue to increase as well.
► From the Tri-City Herald — COVID cases climbing this week in Tri-Cities area
► From The Hill — Almost one-third of Florida children tested are positive — Florida health officials have identified a troubling trend; approximately 31 percent, or one-third, of children in Florida tested for COVID-19 yield positive results. This is higher than the statewide positivity rate, which reads in at about 11 percent. Health experts fear it can cause potential lifelong damage in children. And this comes as teachers and local governments deliberate on how to reopen schools in the fall.
► From The Hill — Georgia governor overrides all local mask orders in the state
► From Politico — Oklahoma governor tests positive after hosting Trump rally
► From The Hill — Public health groups denounce new Trump move sidelining CDC — A new Trump administration policy that bypasses the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for control of key coronavirus information is provoking outrage among public health experts. They worry the move is part of a concerted effort to sideline the CDC at a time when Trump is seeking to deflect blame for his administration’s response to the pandemic.
► From Crosscut — Washington DACA recipients still anxious after Supreme Court decision — Initially pleasantly surprised by the high court’s ruling, Dreamers in Washington are looking toward the presidential election for a more permanent solution.
► From the Skagit Valley Herald — Furloughs will slow Fish and Wildlife services
► From the NW Labor Press — Climate justice group goes antiunion — When workers at the Center for Sustainable Economy went public with their union, the last thing they expected was for the progressive think tank to hire a union-busting law firm and threaten to fire one of their own. But that’s exactly what happened after all five staff members at the Portland-based climate justice think tank announced their plan to join CWA Local 7901 at a June 24 staff meeting.
► From the NW Labor Press — Green jobs, but not for you — Oregon construction unions say state-subsidized clean energy work is going to nonunion out-of-state firms and crews.
► From the Washington Post — Virginia adopts nation’s first coronavirus workplace safety rules after labor groups decry federal inaction — The state of Virginia adopted the first set of coronavirus-related workplace safety mandates in the country, after a board approved the emergency regulation Wednesday — a move the state took after months of inaction from a federal agency tasked with nationwide enforcement. The state’s safety and health codes board voted 9-2 to adopt what is called an “emergency temporary standard,” which will require businesses to implement safety measures to protect people from being infected with the coronavirus at work. Companies could face financial penalties of up to $130,000 if they are found to have violated the policies.
► From Politico — Pelosi, McConnell hurtling toward coronavirus relief showdown — Both parties agree a deal has to get done. But nobody knows what it will look like or when it will come together.
► From The Hill — Pelosi signals flexibility on size of renewed unemployment payments
► From Politico — Trump team launches a sweeping loyalty test to shore up its defenses — In the middle of a devastating pandemic and a searing economic crisis, the White House has an urgent question for its colleagues across the administration: Are you loyal enough to President Donald Trump?
► From the Washington Post — It’s hard to say what’s worse about Trump’s wall: The incompetence or the corruption (editorial) — Trump had no qualms about pushing the Army Corps of Engineers to award a major construction contract for his border wall to a North Dakota firm whose chief executive repeatedly went on Fox News to tout the project and his company’s ability to build it. That presidential meddling, now the subject of a Pentagon investigation, worked out nicely for Fisher Sand & Gravel, which won $1.7 billion in border wall contracts — despite having virtually no track record in construction. Now, the president is bashing a segment of the wall in Texas that Fisher built as a showcase private project that, according to engineers who have examined photographs of the erosion at its base, is at risk of falling into the Rio Grande.
► From HuffPost — Postal workers are dying in heat waves. It’s only going to get hotter. — USPS letter carrier Peggy Frank never made it home on a 117-degree day. As temperatures soar, jobs like hers will become more and more dangerous. An analysis of records shows OSHA issued more than $1.3 million in initial fines against the Postal Service for heat hazards in eight years ― a large sum by OSHA standards. In many cases, the Postal Service managed to negotiate those fines down to a few thousand dollars each, or even to nothing at all, by agreeing to address the hazards. But the continued accumulation of big-ticket citations for repeat violations shows the Postal Service hasn’t fixed its problem. OSHA files share common themes: carriers toiling inside hot vehicles, feeling pressured to complete their routes on time, and returning to work in dangerously hot weather without being acclimatized. They also show postal officials pointing to the agency’s troubled finances in pleas to reduce fines while working to limit the legal scope of agreements to protect employees.
► From Bloomberg Law — Executives at bankrupt companies scored $131 million in bonuses — Before the bankruptcies came the bonuses: $10 million at J.C. Penney Co., $25 million at Chesapeake Energy Corp., $1.5 million at Hertz Global Holdings Inc. That’s how much was promised to executives only weeks or in some cases days before bankruptcy. Of the 100 or so major companies that have filed since the coronavirus shutdown began, 19 of them have committed to paying a total of $131 million in retention and performance bonuses, both before and after bankruptcies, a number that’s poised to climb as a record number of Americans are jobless and the pandemic spreads.
► From the NY Times — Protests continue daily in Louisville. Here’s a look at 45 days of marches. — After George Floyd’s death, protests in Louisville, Ky., erupted as they did in the rest of the country. But in Louisville, people were mostly chanting a different name – Breonna Taylor, the 26-year-old emergency medical technician who was shot and killed at her home in the city by the police during a no-knock warrant.
► The Entire Staff of The Stand is taking Friday off. So today we wish a very happy birthday to one of TESOTS’s favorite drummers, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Stewart Copeland!
Primarily known for his work with The Police, he is also a composer of soundtracks for television, film and video games. He’s the youngest in a powerhouse trio of music industry brothers. Eldest brother Miles founded IRS Records and brother Ian was a pioneering promoter for many of that label’s influential 1980s bands, including R.E.M., The Go-Go’s, The English Beat, and Fine Young Cannibals, plus others of the era like The B-52’s, Squeeze, and of course, The Police. This video spotlights Stewart doing his complicated thing during The Police’s reunion tour in 2009. Note on Stewart’s T-shirt: It’s a tribute to his late brother Ian, who passed away in 2006. “Leroy Coolbreeze” was the enduring nickname Ian was given when he served in the U.S. Army in Vietnam.
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