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Every day’s a Jonestown ● ACA back in GOP’s crosshairs ● Tyranny of the minority

Wednesday, September 23, 2020




► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Sept. 23 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 83,193 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 403) and 2,070 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 8)

► From CNN — 200,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the U.S. That’s more than the U.S. battle deaths from 5 wars combined. — When Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted in March that COVID-19 could kill 200,000 people in the U.S., skeptics lambasted him and accused him of fearmongering. But Fauci was right. And the U.S. reached that bleak milestone much earlier than some experts predicted. Since the first known U.S. COVID-19 death on Feb. 6, an average of more than 858 people have died from the disease every day.

► From the AP — 200,000 dead as Trump vilifies science, prioritizes politics — Over the past six months, the Trump administration has prioritized politics over science at key moments, refusing to follow expert advice that might have contained the spread of the virus and COVID-19, the disease it causes. Trump and his people have routinely dismissed experts’ assessments of the gravity of the pandemic, and of the measures needed to bring it under control. They have tried to muzzle scientists who dispute the administration’s rosy spin.

► From the Washington Post — Rising coronavirus case numbers in many states spur warning of autumn surge — Progress in slowing the march of the novel coronavirus has stalled in much of the United States, and the pathogen is spreading at dangerous rates in many states as autumn arrives and colder weather — traditionally congenial to viruses — begins to settle across the nation, public health data shows.

► From The Hill — Despair at CDC after Trump influence: ‘I have never seen morale this low’The Trump administration’s bungled response to the coronavirus pandemic and its subsequent efforts to meddle with recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are taking a substantial toll on the nation’s foremost public health institution. In interviews with half a dozen current and former CDC officials, they described a workforce that has seen its expertise questioned, its findings overturned for political purposes and its effectiveness in combating the pandemic undermined by partisan actors in Washington.

The Stand (TODAY) — CDC continues to choose politics over science, worker safety (by Rebecca L. Reindel and MK Fletcher) — The agency is ignoring evidence of airborne transmission of the coronavirus as the AFL-CIO continues to demand respirators and stronger protective equipment for high-risk workers.

► From the Washington Post — Feared COVID outbreaks in schools yet to arrive, early data shows — Thousands of students and teachers have become sick with covid-19 since schools began opening last month, but so far, public health experts have found little evidence that the disease is spreading inside buildings, and the rates of infection are far below what is found in the surrounding communities.




► From the Seattle Times — Employees told they can’t wear BLM buttons at Seattle-area Fred Meyer and QFC stores — In the latest row over protest symbols in the workplace, employees at Seattle-area QFC and Fred Meyer stores say that a ban on “Black Lives Matter” buttons violates federal labor law and their union contract.

MORE COVERAGE from the News Tribune, Seattle Weekly, and Bloomberg Law.

The Stand (TODAY) — Grocery workers, UFCW 21 call on Kroger to end BLM ban

TAKE A STAND — UFCW 21 and community leaders are also calling on supporters to sign this online petition to the companies.

► From the Tri-City Herald — Hanford companies agree to pay $58 million over alleged overcharging of taxpayers — Bechtel Corp. and its primary subcontractor, Aecom, the companies building the $17 billion vitrification plant at Hanford have agreed to pay nearly $58 million to the federal government to settle allegations that they billed the Department of Energy for fraudulent labor costs. The Justice Department said the two companies knowingly overcharged the Department of Energy for unreasonable amounts of time when union construction workers had no work to do between 2009 and 2019. The workers included electricians, millwrights, pipefitters and other skilled workers.

► From the Seattle Times — Seattle City Council votes to override Mayor Jenny Durkan’s vetoes of police and public-safety changes to 2020 budget — The Seattle City Council voted Tuesday to override Mayor Jenny Durkan’s vetoes of council bills meant to start shrinking the police force and scaling up community solutions this year.

► From the Seattle Times — Report: Seattle Police Department should ban tear gas, remind officers to protect protesters’ rights

► From the News Tribune — Harold Moss, Tacoma’s first Black mayor and a city icon, has died — Harold Moss, the first African American mayor of Tacoma and the man who guided the sometimes troubled city through turbulent times, died Monday night. He was 90. Moss died at his Tacoma home from long-term health complications, according to his family. Moss became Tacoma’s first Black City Council member in 1970, first Black mayor in 1994 and first Black Pierce County Council member in 1996.




► From the Seattle Times — After 80 lawsuits against Trump, this one’s the big one (by Danny Westneat) — Remember Obamacare? And how we fought about the Affordable Care Act like tri-corner-hatted revolutionaries for the past decade? It’s ba-ack — with our state, and its 825,000 Obamacare beneficiaries, in the middle of the fray. “Before Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, I would have described my outlook on this case as ‘concerned but confident,’ ” Ferguson told me Tuesday. “Now, I’m just deeply concerned.” The case is called California v. Texas, in which Texas and other red state attorneys are trying for the umpteenth time to bring down the 2010 Affordable Care Act (ACA). Yes, that’s right, Republicans are still, a decade in, trying to repeal Obamacare. There are a handful of places in our state — Eastern Washington counties such as Adams, Okanogan and Yakima — where more than 43% of people under age 65 rely on Obamacare-related programs, according to the latest state data. So it’s a curiosity — it’s the reddest parts of the state that are most reliant on this blue program that their red politicians are obsessed with trying to kill.

► From the Seattle Times — Poll: Jay Inslee leads Loren Culp in Washington governor’s race; Biden far ahead of Trump — Inslee had 53% support compared with 36% for Culp. Trump lost Washington by 16 percentage points four years ago. Biden leads him by 22 points in the new poll, 58% to 36%. Other findings in the poll:

  • The Black Lives Matter movement is rated favorably by 59% of those polled, compared with 39% who view it unfavorably.
  • There is support for changes to policing, with 55% backing shifting some responsibilities and functions to social services. That figure was even higher – 70% – in King County.
  • 86% of voters expressed support for increased accountability for police, including harsher punishments for those who break rules.




► From the LA Times — State and local budgets face a pandemic-related meltdown. Why won’t Republicans help? (by Michael Hiltzik) — The fallout is already being felt in state and municipal layoffs and cutbacks in public services. Since January, state and local governments have reduced payrolls by 1.1 million workers, or more than 5.5%. “The projections are that state and local governments will be laying off 2 million to 3 million more workers,” says Bharat Ramamurti, one of the four members of the congressional committee overseeing relief disbursements from the CARES Act. “From a purely economic perspective, that’s catastrophic.” … The GOP reaction to pleas for help from states and local governments has been nakedly partisan and plain ludicrous. McConnell has labeled such assistance “blue state bailouts.” President Trump, in his usual crass and ignorant manner, asked via Twitter why taxpayers should be “bailing out poorly run states (like Illinois, for example) and cities, in all cases Democrat run?” Says Ramamurti:

“If you are part of the political party whose overarching goal is to reduce the size of government, then you don’t view this as a crisis but as an opportunity to force states into massive spending cuts that otherwise they wouldn’t do. You view the end of nutrition programs and housing programs not as a crisis but as a positive outcome. That is the view of many people in the Republican Party these days.”




► From The Hill — House passes bill to avert shutdown — The House passed legislation on Tuesday night to avert a government shutdown through Dec. 11, sending the bill to the Senate with just eight days left before current federal funding expires. The Senate is likely to take up the bill as soon as this week. Senate Republicans hope to avoid a damaging potential government shutdown and are eager to instead focus on filling the Supreme Court vacancy left by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on Friday.

EDITOR’S NOTE — If the parties’ roles were reversed, the Republicans would not only allow, they would promote a government shutdown if they thought it would help them derail a Democratic president’s Supreme Court nomination.

► From Vox — We can end America’s unemployment nightmare (by Emily Stewart) — The coronavirus has brought home the many shortcomings of the American unemployment insurance system and revealed it to be fundamentally — and often intentionally — broken, chipped away over time to ensure that the jobless don’t use it too much, lest anyone get used to it. Unemployment insurance operates under a hybrid state-federal setup that has resulted in an awkward push-and-pull between the federal government, state governments, and employers. No one quite wants to take full responsibility of it, but everyone wants a say. However, the federal government’s response to the pandemic — namely, the expansions to unemployment put in place under the CARES Act — has demonstrated what a more robust and generous program might be able to do.

► From the NY Times — Who gets cheated if Trump cuts the census short? (by Gus Wezerek and ) — The Trump administration is pushing the Census Bureau to end its count a week from Wednesday, even though some states haven’t collected responses from more than 10 percent of addresses. Times Opinion predicted how many people would remain uncounted on Sept. 30, based on each state’s current response rate. Our analysis shows that those undercounts will cheat some states — mostly Republican — out of federal funding and one state out of a congressional seat.

The Stand (Sept. 16) — Our census is our power. It’s not too late to BE COUNTED! — Make sure that you—and your friends and family in Washington state—participate in the 2020 Census.




► From HuffPost — Louisville declares state of emergency as city braces for Breonna Taylor decision — The mayor of Louisville, Kentucky, declared a state of emergency and closed much of downtown to vehicles on Tuesday ahead of an expected decision by a grand jury on whether to indict the police officers involved in killing Breonna Taylor, a Black medical worker, in a botched raid. Although the timing of any decision remains unclear, courthouses, offices and restaurants were already boarded up on Tuesday in the mostly deserted blocks around the city’s Jefferson Square Park, the site of regular demonstrations against police brutality that have spread across the nation.

► From the LA Times — Californians not sold on treating Uber, Lyft drivers as independent contractors, new poll shows — Despite amassing the largest campaign war chest in California history, Uber, Lyft and other app-based companies are in danger of coming up short with voters on a ballot measure that would allow them to again classify their workers as independent contractors, a new statewide poll shows.




► From the NY Times — The special hell of Trump’s Supreme Court appointment (by Frank Bruni) — It was almost inevitable that President Trump would get one Supreme Court appointment during this four-year term. It was always possible that he’d get two. But three? That’s more than any of his five predecessors got, including those that served two terms. Seldom has a president’s impact been so inversely proportional to his warrant. Trump took office with the support of a minority of Americans: He got nearly three million fewer votes than Hillary Clinton. But with his nonexistent mandate, he reaches extra far and wreaks extra damage. That’s what makes his reign so perverse. That’s the special hell of it…

It illuminates a serious and possibly unsustainable flaw in the American political system. We’re increasingly a country where the minority is not merely protected from the tyranny of the majority, as the nation’s founders intended. We’re a country where the minority rules, and under Trump, it rules tyrannically. McConnell is in a position to make Trump’s third court appointment happen because Republicans have a Senate majority, but they have that majority not because they command the support of a larger number of Americans than their Democratic counterparts do. They command the support of fewer.


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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