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MultiCare doesn’t care ● Forced labor in the U.S. ● ‘Militia’ means White

Friday, October 9, 2020




► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Oct. 9 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 91,918 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 549) and 2,183 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 7)

► From KING 5 — ‘It is dangerous’: L&I investigator talks about enforcing Washington’s mask mandate — “There are threats that have been made, there is a significant security concern,” said Brian, an L&I employee who was afraid to have his last name published. He performs face mask spot checks at businesses in western Washington, saying, “It is dangerous,” said Brian, “This is a highly charged topic.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — Frontline workers like grocery store employees who are told to enforce mask policies face the same threats and danger on a daily basis, in addition to the threat of contracting COVID-19. And yet, the grocery stores have taken away their hazard pay.

► From the Washington Post — Labor agency closes more than half of workers’ coronavirus retaliation complaints without investigating — Advocates and former OSHA officials say the agency’s lack of response to retaliation complaints is just the latest example of it favoring companies over the workers it is tasked with safeguarding. Plus, they say, the stakes are much higher in the middle of a pandemic that has made so many workplaces more dangerous.

► From Roll Call — The ‘invisible’ people who pay the price for Trump’s COVID malpractice (by Mary Curtis) — As those in Trump’s inner circle fall to the virus one by one in what can only be called the Trump cluster, my thoughts have turned to my dad and all those butlers, waiters, drivers, housekeepers and other staffers who work in the White House, who serve this president and his family, the power differential a yawning gulf. Most have worked for presidents of both parties and many are older or minorities, groups most vulnerable to a foe for which there is no vaccine yet. Now, several of those workers, including the president’s valet, have tested positive… Everyone saw a contagious and wheezing Trump walk up the White House stairs, and rip off his mask before posing for a balcony photo op. The president who, most of all, wants to appear strong, never looked weaker. And when he twirled around and marched into the people’s White House — putting so many at risk — well, as a horror movie trope might have described it, the monster was inside the house.

► From The Guardian — Trump plans Florida rally on Saturday amid COVID test secrecy — The president, who is still recovering from COVID-19, refuses to say if he has tested negative as he aims to revive his election campaign.




► From the News Tribune — MultiCare Indigo Urgent Care physicians picket over contract, COVID-19 safety — Indigo Urgent Care providers and Tacoma-based MultiCare have squared off over PPE supplies amid COVID-19 pandemic along with hours and allowable breaks. “We’re concerned for the health of ourselves and our families, but they don’t seem to care,” said Indigo Physician Amir Atabeygi, M.D.

The Stand (Oct. 8, 2020) — MultiCare physicians in Tacoma picket over unsafe conditions




► From the AP — Washington eviction moratorium extended through Dec. 31

► From PubliCola — Proposed state funding cuts would harm patients, essential healthcare workers (by Sterling Harders) — The caregivers in SEIU 775 have made immense progress in being treated like the professionals we are, and in challenging the racist systems that would hold us back. Now—when we are essential to the health of our clients, our communities, and our economy—is not a time to go backward. It is a time for policy makers to be discussing how to move us forward—how to provide health care coverage for our kids, to continue on a path to a living wage, to respect our role in the health care delivery system… Our state legislators need to pass real revenue reform.

► From the Seattle Times — ‘It’s infuriating’: Backlog of unpaid jobless claims in Washington is still high, advocates say — Even as the number of new jobless claims continues to fall, the number of workers still waiting for jobless benefits in Washington state remains stubbornly high.

► From the (Everett) Herald — State wants Monte Cristo Ballroom to pay back employees — The state Attorney General’s Office wants to make the shuttered Monte Cristo Ballroom in Everett pay back employees their allegedly stolen wages.

► From the Seattle Times — Washington dubbed top state to be an educator during 2020 — The report compared 50 states (and D.C.) in the U.S. based on key indicators of teacher friendly environments, including teachers’ income growth potential, student-teacher ratio and whether the state has a digital learning plan.




► From Politico — Unions predict a Great Awakening during a Biden presidency — Labor leaders are eyeing a Joe Biden victory in November as the start of a union revival, one with the potential to undo decades of policies that have diminished union influence, undermined the right to organize and exacerbated income inequality. And they’re planning on playing a central role.

► From the AFL-CIO — Sen. Harris again proves her dedication to working peopleSen. Harris’ dedication to the most critical issues facing working families was on full display Wednesday night. It was a stark contrast to Vice President Pence, who continues to fail miserably as the head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force. Harris clearly laid out the plans a Biden administration would take to defeat the COVID-19 pandemic and provide relief to working people, while Pence still cannot answer for the lack of a national strategy.

► From KUOW — Trump calls Harris a ‘monster,’ reviving pattern of attacking women of color — Trump referred to California Sen. Kamala Harris as “this monster” in an interview on Thursday, a continuation of his pattern of attacking Black women with demeaning insults. The president has previously reserved the term “monster” for terrorists, murders and major natural disasters.

► MUST-READ from the NY Times — What makes Mike Pence’s complicity so chilling (by Timothy Egan) — Somewhere under the cornfields and backyard hoop courts of Indiana is a small black box holding the conscience of Vice President Mike Pence. He buried it four years ago, when a tape emerged of Donald Trump boasting about sexually assaulting women. As we saw in Wednesday night’s debate, Pence is not just the great enabler of Trump’s awfulness, but the man who puts a godly sheen on it. In that sense, he’s more dangerous, and arguably more evil, than Trump… If God planned to put kids in cages, to destroy much of creation with wildfire and flooding, to send more than 210,000 Americans to an early grave from a pandemic, such a plan would call for some dissent with the master architect. Not from Pence. In the earthly realm, nobody expects the vice president to stand up to his president. Nor, even, to not do his bidding in the dark arts of Trumpism. But it’s putting a moral — and to Pence, religious — gloss on this American nightmare that makes his deep complicity so chilling.

► From the Seattle Times — Pence’s debate performance bugged me out (by Frank Bruni) — We need to talk about that fly. Vice President Mike Pence never exhibited any awareness — not the subtlest glance upward, not the slightest flinch or twitch — that his head had been colonized. I first found this strange and then realized it was everything. Pence’s years of obsequiousness to Trump had beaten all sensitivity and capacity for revulsion out of him… Pence followed his orders when they were ludicrous, stuck to the script when it was laughable and never betrayed an iota of discomfort, because he never really betrays anything — except the supposed principles he once had.

► From the NY Times — Under Pence, politics regularly seeped into the coronavirus task force — In taking a leading role in managing the White House’s response to the pandemic, the vice president and his team had an agenda that extended beyond public health.




► From the Washington Post — U.S. accused of violating international labor laws, forced-labor protections in new complaint — SEIU and the AFL-CIO filed a complaint with the United Nations’ labor agency Wednesday, arguing that the country under President Trump has violated international labor standards during the coronavirus pandemic. It charges the United States with violating workers’ rights in terms not typically associated with well-off countries, at one point saying the bind many essential workers have been placed in during the pandemic — forced to risk infection or lose their jobs and potentially unemployment benefits — amounts to a system of forced labor.

► From Reuters — Trump steel tariffs bring job losses to swing state Michigan — Trump promised a new dawn for the struggling U.S. steel industry in 2016, and the lure of new jobs in Midwestern states including Michigan helped him eke out a surprise election win. Four years later, Great Lakes Works – once among the state’s largest steel plants – has shut down steelmaking operations and put 1,250 workers out of a job. A year before the June layoffs, plant owner United States Steel Corp called off a plan to invest $600 million in upgrades amid deteriorating market conditions.

► From Forbes — Billionaire wealth hits $10 trillion for first time ever thanks to government stimulus: UBS — Between April and July, billionaires grew their wealth by 27% from $8 trillion at the beginning of April. This was largely thanks to government stimulus packages, according to a new report copublished by UBS and PwC… A loophole in March’s CARES Act legislation allowed millionaires to benefit to the tune of about $1.7 million from the government. A further 133 large companies have since received $5 billion from the Treasury Department.

► From Vox — Trump’s obstruction of the 2020 census, explained — An undercount doesn’t just affect politics and general funding: It impairs local communities’ ability to effectively respond to public health emergencies, like the current pandemic, by making it harder to track the spread of disease and who is suffering the most. But the Trump administration has repeatedly stood in the way of a complete count. President Donald Trump has pursued policies that make immigrants less likely to respond. The census officials he appointed, for example, decided to conclude operations weeks earlier than they had previously announced, leaving little time to reach the people who are hardest to count — despite a pandemic that has made such people even more elusive.




► From the Seattle Times — Workers with health insurance face rising out-of-pocket costs — While premiums rose only slightly from the 2019 survey, the increase in premiums and deductibles together over the past decade has far outpaced both inflation and the growth in workers’ earnings. Since 2010, premiums have climbed 55%, more than double the rise in wages or inflation, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation’s analysis.

► From the Detroit Free Press — Feds say plot was bigger than kidnapping Gov. Whitmer. It was civil war attempt. — The Wolverine Watchmen militia group didn’t just plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, they were on a mission to attack the state Capitol and target police officers at their homes as part of a broader mission to instigate a civil war, authorities said Thursday in announcing felony charges against 13 militia members accused in a sensational case of domestic terrorism.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Q: Why do journalists insist on calling these people “militia” instead of simply “domestic terrorists”? A: Because they are White men. Militia is defined as a military force that is raised from the civil population to supplement a regular army in an emergency. If these men were Black or brown, do you think they’d be called a “militia”? Discuss.

► From the AFL-CIO — Extremists taking cues from Trump — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: “By refusing to flatly condemn white supremacy; by continually mocking champions of justice and emboldening agents of hate; and by undermining democracy at every turn, Donald Trump has given new life to the dark underbelly of our nation. Division and chaos are President Trump’s political oxygen, but fortunately his reign over America is running out of air. Working people are voting for hope and unity and a better tomorrow in this election. In a few short weeks, we will send Vice President Joe Biden to the White House and the haters back into irrelevance.

► From Reuters — Meet the Americans ‘standing by’ for possible election violence — A common fear is that the contest between Trump and Biden remains undecided after Election Day, leading to protests that could escalate into civil unrest, or even sectarian conflict.




► For those of you who weren’t around back then, it’s hard to explain how HUGE the band Van Halen was, and how important lead guitarist Eddie Van Halen was to the evolution of rock and roll music. They reinvigorated rock music in the late 1970s, became pop culture icons in the 1980s with their crazy live performances and the dawn of MTV, and Eddie’s “tapping” technique and revolutionary sound inspired a generation of bands to rock harder and take their guitar solos more seriously. Unfortunately, that momentum devolved into “hair metal” in the late 1980s, where bands took their Van Halen worship to a visual extreme rather than focusing on the musicianship. (Nirvana would again rescue rock and roll from that hot mess.) But after struggling most of his adult life with alcoholism and drug abuse, Eddie died this week at age 65. So today, we salute him and his band when they were at the height of their powers. Enjoy.


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