Thursday, September 10, 2020
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Sept. 10 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 78,009 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 450) and 1,978 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 7)
► From the Washington Post — Trump acknowledges he intentionally downplayed deadly coronavirus — The president said he intentionally played down the deadly nature of the rapidly spreading coronavirus last winter as an attempt to avoid a “frenzy.” Trump’s comments came hours after excerpts from Bob Woodward’s book and audio of some of the 18 separate interviews he conducted with the author were released, fueling a sense of outrage over the president’s blunt description of knowing that he was not telling the truth about a virus that has killed nearly 190,000 Americans.
► From the NY Times — Trump knew it was deadly and airborne (editorial) — Trump and a great many of his supporters and political allies played down the severity of the coronavirus and criticized the public health measures deployed to prevent its spread. As a result, the coronavirus spread faster and sickened or killed more people in the United States than in any of its peer nations. If the United States had the same coronavirus fatality rate as Canada, more than 100,000 Americans could still be alive today.
► From the Washington Post — As students return, the deaths of at least six teachers from COVID-19 renew pandemic fears — Educators in Missouri, Mississippi, South Carolina, Iowa and Oklahoma have died as the fall semester started in their districts. Their deaths have renewed fears that school campuses will become a breeding ground for the virus, spreading the illness as communities grapple with how to balance the need to educate children with properly addressing the pandemic.
► From the Seattle Times — Wildfires spread in Washington state, claiming one life and at least 121 homes, as firefighters wage battle — Firefighters Wednesday continued to battle new and existing blazes that threatened Washingtonians on both sides of the Cascade Mountains, as the state saw its first reported death of the fire season. This week’s fires — coming as blazes also pummel California and Oregon — have prompted evacuations in several Washington counties. They have destroyed at least 121 homes. More damage could come. Fire conditions will remain dangerous in much of Western Washington through Thursday, along with reduced air quality.
► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Statewide updates on wildfires
► From KING 5 — Gov. Inslee declares statewide emergency due to Washington wildfires — Inslee’s statewide emergency allows for resources from across the state to be mobilized to help battle the wildfires.
► From The Stranger — A raise for Uber and Lyft drivers will ease racial inequity (by Peter Kuel) — Uber and Lyft drivers are a predominately Black and brown subset of the workforce. Not only are we paid significantly less than the average Seattle worker, but we don’t have access to benefits and social safety net protections afforded to other workers… City officials have studied the problem for years and understand it clearly. Now is the time for bold action to improve the lives of workers. Mayor Durkan has introduced a Fare Share plan that will significantly raise pay for Uber and Lyft drivers. The proposal would ensure that drivers are paid fairly and that reasonable expenses are taken into account. We urge our civic leaders to build on the Mayor’s groundbreaking proposal. Riders and drivers need greater transparency to be certain that prices are affordable, drivers are fairly compensated, and company commissions are reasonable.
► From Crosscut — Remote learning spells uncertainty for school bus drivers — Washington schools are reinventing what it means to be a bus driver — or deciding whether they can keep them at all.
► From the Columbian — Hockinson schools cut classified staff jobs — The Hockinson School District will cut about 30 classified staff positions as it deals with a $2.1 million budget shortfall, the district announced Wednesday.
► From the Washington Post — Senate moves to vote on ‘targeted’ GOP coronavirus relief bill, though defeat appears likely — The measure includes roughly $650 billion in total spending, but it would repurpose roughly $350 billion in previously approved spending, bringing the tally of new funding to around $300 billion. The measure does not include a second round of $1,200 stimulus checks for individual Americans, even though that’s something the White House supports. It also excludes any new money for cities and states, a top Democratic priority as municipal governments face the prospect of mass layoffs because of plunging tax revenue. And it contains some conservative priorities that Democrats dismiss as unacceptable “poison pills,” including liability protections for businesses and a tax credit aimed at helping students attend private schools.
► From Politico — Senate paralyzed over coronavirus relief — With the coronavirus pandemic still battering the United States, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell asked his fellow senators on Wednesday whether they “want to do something? Or do you want to do nothing?” The answer looks to be … nothing.
► From Roll Call — With no aid in rescue package, transportation unions still see hope — Airline pilots and flight attendants are seeking negotiations with Senate Republicans on renewing the $25 billion payroll support program.
The Stand (July 27) — Aviation unions urge extension of Payroll Support Program
► From Reuters — Judge voids Trump ‘joint employer’ rule that U.S. states called anti-labor — A federal judge on Tuesday struck down a Trump administration rule that narrowed the definition of “joint employer,” and which the attorneys general of 17 states (including Washington’s Bob Ferguson) said would eliminate important labor protections for workers. U.S. District Judge Gregory Woods in Manhattan said the rule was “arbitrary and capricious” because the Department of Labor failed to justify it or account for its costs to workers, which the states estimated at more than $1 billion annually.
► From The Hill — Trump payroll-tax deferral for federal workers sparks backlash — Trump’s decision to require the deferral of payroll taxes for federal workers and military members is creating more divisions.
► From the Washington Post — The Justice Department is not the president’s private law firm (editorial) — Trying to construe the president’s self-serving words about a purely private matter (accusations he committed RAPE) as official acts conflates the person of the president with the nation’s government. That is what occurs in dictatorships, not democracies. President Bill Clinton paid for his own lawyers when he defended himself in the Paula Jones lawsuit. The Justice Department should not now be helping Mr. Trump wriggle out of responsibility for his own words in a private matter.
► From Politico — $2,933 for ‘girl’s night’: Medicaid chief’s consulting expenses revealed — Seema Verma, a member of the coronavirus task force, spent more than $3.5 million taxpayer dollars on GOP-aligned consultants, a congressional report found.
► From NBC News — Trump said he feels no responsibility to understand anger of Black Americans, Woodward book says — When asked if he had a responsibility to understand the “anger and pain” felt by Black Americans, Trump said, “No, I don’t feel that at all,” according to Woodward.
► From the LA Times — Joe Biden isn’t just ‘anybody but Trump.’ He’s the right fit for our polarized time. (editorial endorsement) — Trump’s record easily justifies a position of “Anybody but Trump.” But Biden isn’t just preferable to Trump; in many respects he is Trump’s antithesis. Biden has a record of seeking expert advice and listening to it. Temperamentally, too, Biden seems like an ideal fit for our polarized time. A famously empathetic figure — he lost his wife and daughter in a car accident shortly after Delaware first elected him to the Senate in 1972 — he practices civility, champions compromise and seeks unity in a country Trump has divided with a cacophony of culture-war distractions. The contrast between Biden’s speech accepting the Democratic nomination for the presidency, which was a call for Americans to come together, and Trump’s speech accepting the Republican nomination, which promoted fear and loathing within the country, couldn’t have been more pronounced.
► From the Washington Post — The latest frontier in worker activism: Zoom union campaigns — Although Carolina Rodriguez had never been a big fan of unions, she found herself on a Zoom chat with other San Jose teachers and an organizer, who began to tell them about the process of forming a union. Talking from the privacy of her home made her feel more comfortable about organizing. By May, teachers at all four of the Downtown College Prep system schools had voted to join a union. The efforts were all organized virtually; the campaigns took place almost entirely over Zoom.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Want respect at work? 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 AP — Layoffs stuck at historically high level as 884,000 seek jobless aid — Hiring has slowed since June, and a rising number of laid-off workers say they regard their job loss as permanent. The number of people who are continuing to receive state unemployment benefits rose last week to 13.4 million, evidence that employers aren’t hiring enough to offset layoffs.
► From the NY Times — ‘We’re No. 28! And dropping!’ — New data suggest that the United States is one of just a few countries worldwide that is slipping backward. The newest Social Progress Index finds that out of 163 countries assessed worldwide, the United States, Brazil and Hungary are the only ones in which people are worse off than when the index began in 2011. The index, inspired by research of Nobel-winning economists, collects 50 metrics of well-being — nutrition, safety, freedom, the environment, health, education and more — to measure quality of life. Norway comes out on top in the 2020 edition, followed by Denmark, Finland and New Zealand. South Sudan is at the bottom, with Chad, Central African Republic and Eritrea just behind… The United States, despite its immense wealth, military power and cultural influence, ranks 28th — having slipped from 19th in 2011. The index now puts the United States behind significantly poorer countries, including Estonia, Czech Republic, Cyprus and Greece. “We are no longer the country we like to think we are,” said Michael Porter, a Harvard Business School professor and the chair of the advisory panel for the Social Progress Index.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.