The Stand

Hazard pay now! ● Tax capital gains windfalls ● Biden’s package ● Who’s Nilsson?

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Friday, January 15, 2021

 


COVID-19

 

► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Jan. 15 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 283,777 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 2,733) and 3,876 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 16)

► From the Columbian — COVID-19 outbreak at Larch climbs to 280 — A total of 24 staff members at Larch have also tested positive for the virus to date.

► From The Lily — Coronavirus is driving these nurses to quit: ‘I realized my voice was too small to fix things’ — After five years, Kami Cayce worked her last shift as a nurse in September. For the 27-year-old Texan, the decision to leave seemed inevitable after a tumultuous year. “Nurses were forced to work above capacity while understaffed,” said the post-operation recovery nurse… Throughout the United States, nurses have left — or are considering leaving — their jobs over coronavirus concerns and fears for their own safety. Other nurses say their concerns about a strained health-care system during the pandemic have only exacerbated existing problems. This, paired with the trauma of everything they have seen, has made continuing to work in the profession untenable for many.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Want a bigger voice at work? Get a union! Learn more about how you can join together with co-workers to create a real voice on the job and negotiate a fair return for your hard work. Or go ahead and contact a union organizer today!

The Stand (Jan. 12) — Take care of our nurses, so they can take care of us (by WSNA’s Sally Watkins and Rep. Eileen Cody) — Washington’s hospitals can — and must — do better by their nurses and health care workers if we want to keep them amid this COVID-19 shortage.

► LIVE from the NY Times — As vaccine eligibility expands in U.S., so does confusion — Amid a shifting rollout, at least 28 states have begun vaccinating older people, prompting questions about which groups get priority.

► From the Washington Post — Experts warn of vaccine stumbles ‘out of the gate’ because Trump officials refused to consult with Biden team

 


LOCAL

 

► From the News Tribune — ‘We’re getting sick, and we’re dying.’ Grocery workers seek return of hazard pay — A grocery union on Thursday organized public events to draw attention to its calls for hazard pay for workers as it heads into negotiations with Fred Meyer. UFCW Local 367 used a digital mobile truck displaying hazard pay messages to visit eight stores in Pierce and Thurston counties ahead of negotiations. Workers were at stores to describe their frustrations as front-line workers during the pandemic. “We didn’t join the Army, you know? We didn’t join the FBI. We signed up to be grocery workers, and all of a sudden, we’re thrust thrust into a global pandemic. And we’re on the front lines, and we’re getting sick, and we’re dying, and our families are getting sick, and some are dying,” said UFCW 367 President Angel Gonzalez. (See interview.)

The Stand (Jan. 14) — Hazard Work = Hazard Pay: UFCW 367 day of action Thursday

► From Crosscut — Former AG Eric Holder to lead investigation of Seattle Children’s — Following the resignation of Dr. Ben Danielson, the assessment will look into the hospital’s policies and practices related to race and equity.

The Stand (Jan. 6) — WSNA, others call on Seattle Children’s to address racism

► From Crosscut — Seattle police union president’s comments could affect contract negotiations — City council members say Mike Solan is spreading white nationalist rhetoric by repeating debunked theories about the insurrection in Washington, D.C.

 


BOEING

 

► From Reuters — Emirates boss says Boeing must recognize top-down role in MAX flaws — The head of one of Boeing’s biggest customers, Dubai’s Emirates, wants the planemaker to demonstrate fundamental changes after producing a flawed 737 MAX jet and has urged it to recognize “culpability and accountability” from the very top. Emirates President Tim Clark’s critique, aimed at the highest echelons of the world’s largest aerospace company, stood in contrast to the settlement’s focus on two lower-level Boeing employees who prosecutors say deceived U.S. regulators.

 


THIS WASHINGTON

 

► From the Spokesman-Review — Inslee’s capital gains tax gets mixed reaction in first public hearing — The proposed tax was part of Inslee’s budget proposals released in December. It would create a 9% tax on annual investment earnings of more than $25,000 for an individual and $50,000 for a married couple. Andy Nicholas of the Washington State Budget and Policy Center said a capital gains tax could help address the widening opportunity gap that the state has due to the lasting effects of institutional racism. “Our tax system now is completely upside down,” Cynthia Steward at the League of Women Voters of Washington said. “A capital gains tax is a good first step.”

TAKE A STAND — Washington is the worst in the nation when it comes to making millionaires and billionaires pay their share like the rest of us. Almost every other state in the nation – including Idaho, Montana, and Oregon – taxes capital gains, and are better situated to help their states’ economies recover from this pandemic. Sign this form today to tell the Washington Senate Ways and Means Committee to vote YES on a capital gains tax on stock windfalls!

The Stand (Dec. 14) — We must invest in post-COVID Washington (by Larry Brown) — If state lawmakers choose austerity budget cuts in 2021, they will harm our quality of life and prop up a rigged and unethical tax code.

► From KIMA — Eastern WA growers fear labor crisis if farmworker vaccines aren’t fast-tracked — Agricultural groups are appealing to Governor Inslee saying new regulations should prioritize testing, vaccinations, and rules that protect farm workers while keeping farmers in business.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The ag lobbyists interviewed in this article are far less concerned about the lives and safety of farmworkers than they are about relaxing COVID-19 restrictions on crowding in farmworker housing so they can hire more H2-A guest workers. Maybe if they spent some of their record farm welfare checks from the Trump administration on PPE and raising wages, they wouldn’t need to import so many guest workers.

► From the (Everett) Herald — 3 local school districts ask for vaccines for all staff ASAP — Edmonds, Everett and Mukilteo superintendants hope to reopen classrooms sooner. The state says it doesn’t have enough doses.

► From the Kitsap Sun — Kitsap superintendents request quicker vaccine access for educators

► From KING — State’s employment agency paid out fake claims on 10 of its own workers — Fraudulent unemployment claims were filed last year in the stolen identities of 59 employees of the state’s Employment Security Department. In 10 of those cases, ESD spotted the fraud after it had paid the claim to the fraudster’s bank account.

 


INSURRECTION

 

► From the Washington Post — Far-right groups make plans for protests and assaults before and after Inauguration Day — Trump’s incitement of his supporters before their attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6 has galvanized a nationwide extremist movement and fueled those determined to disrupt the transfer of power to President-elect Joe Biden and violently challenge the legitimacy of the election for months — and possibly years, according to U.S. officials and independent experts. U.S. officials have warned authorities nationwide to be on alert for potential acts of violence at state capitols, as well as a possible second attack on the Capitol or on the White House. Law enforcement authorities have said extremists might use firearms and explosives and are monitoring online calls to rally in cities nationwide beginning Sunday. Security at the inaugural ceremony in Washington on Wednesday probably will be the most intense ever.

► From Reuters — U.S. says Capitol rioters meant to ‘capture and assassinate’ officials — Federal prosecutors offered an ominous new assessment of last week’s siege of the U.S. Capitol by Trump’s supporters on Thursday, saying in a court filing that rioters intended “to capture and assassinate elected officials.”

► From The AP — Capitol rioters included highly trained ex-military and cops — As President Donald Trump’s supporters massed outside the Capitol last week and sang the national anthem, a line of men wearing olive-drab helmets and body armor trudged purposefully up the marble stairs in a single-file line, each man holding the jacket collar of the one ahead. The formation, known as “Ranger File,” is standard operating procedure for a combat team that is “stacking up” to breach a building — instantly recognizable to any U.S. soldier or Marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. It was a chilling sign that many at the vanguard of the mob that stormed the seat of American democracy either had military training or were trained by those who did.

► From The Hill — Officer describes mob during Capitol siege: ‘Kill him with his own gun’D.C. Police Officer Michael Fanone said he was stripped of his gear, his spare ammunition, had his police radio ripped off his chest and had his badge stolen. “Some guys started getting a hold of my gun and they were screaming out, ‘Kill him with his own gun,’ ” he said.

► From Politico — Lawmakers who conspired with Capitol attackers in legal peril — If any members of Congress are proven to have colluded with the rioters, their position likely won’t save them from criminal liability. The role members of Congress may have played in facilitating the deadly attack drew intense attention this week after Democratic lawmakers alleged that some of their Republican colleagues facilitated tours of the Capitol the day before the attack.

 


PUT TRUMP ON TRIAL

 

► From the NY Times — Senate plans trial for Trump as GOP weighs risks of convicting — A day after the House impeached President Trump for inciting a violent insurrection at the Capitol, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate were developing plans on Thursday to try the departing president at the same time as they begin considering the agenda of the incoming one. Although Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has privately told advisers that he approves of the impeachment drive, he refused to begin the proceedings this week while he is still in charge. That means the trial will not effectively start until after Biden is sworn in on Wednesday.

► From the Columbian — Herrera Beutler’s impeachment vote sees backlash from Republicans in Clark County — The Clark County Republicans released a formal statement thanking Trump for his time in office and denouncing “a riot culture” on “the far Left.” The Clark County Republican Women’s group said that Herrera Beutler “will never receive our votes or support again.” The group also swore to back a more conservative challenger in the next election.

► From the Washington Post — Overwhelming opposition to Capitol attacks, majority support for preventing Trump from serving again — More than half of Americans — and 1 in 8 Republicans — say Trump should be criminally charged for his role in the attacks.

 


THAT WASHINGTON

 

► From the Washington Post — Biden unveils $1.9 trillion economic and health-care relief package — The wide-ranging package is designed to take aim at the twin crises Biden will confront upon taking office Wednesday, with provisions delivering direct aid to American families, businesses and communities, and a major focus on coronavirus testing and vaccine production and delivery as the pandemic surges.

► From the AFL-CIO — Biden’s COVID-19 relief package offers real hope — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: “This is how a real president provides relief in a responsible way.”

► From the NY Times — What’s in Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan? — It would send out $1,400 per person for those under certain income thresholds, topping off the $600 checks that came as part of the December relief package; an unemployment insurance supplement of $400 a week; schools would get $170 million to facilitate reopening; $350 billion in emergency funding for state, local and territorial governments; $160 billion in funding for a national vaccination program, expanded testing and other steps to fight the virus; billions in grants and loan programs for small businesses; and renew paid leave provisions that were not extended as part of the December package. Also…

► From The Hill — Biden to seek $15 minimum wage in COVID-19 proposal — President-elect Joe Biden will include a proposal to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 as part of a COVID-19 relief package, the first major legislation of his presidency. The federal minimum wage has been stuck at $7.25 since 2009, though several states and municipalities have implemented their own increases. Biden’s proposal does not spell out a timeline for raising the minimum wage.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Meanwhile, fast-food workers are going on strike today across the nation, on what would have been the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s 92nd birthday, to demand $15/hour and the right to join together in unions. Fight for 15 says that employees of McDonald’s, Wendy’s and other fast-food chains will stay away or walk off the job in roughly 15 cities. You can sign their petition in support of raising the federal minimum wage to $15/hour within the first 100 days of the Biden administration.

► From The Hill — Business groups applaud Biden’s COVID-19 relief plan

EDITOR’S NOTE — They love the PPP loans for small businesses, the bigger stimulus checks to taxpayers (read: consumers), and the focus on vaccine distribution. The $15 minimum wage? Not so much.

► From the Atlantic — How the low minimum wage helps rich companies — The country’s very low minimum wage comes at a high cost. And for taxpayers, it adds up to more than $100 billion a year. That number comes from a new analysis of safety-net usage by the UC Berkeley’s Labor Center. It identifies working families with at least one member who would get a raise if the federal minimum wage were lifted to $15 an hour, and finds that the government spends about $107 billion a year on Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program, cash welfare, food stamps, and the earned-income tax credit for those families.

► From the Washington Post — Biden aims for new course on trade, breaking with Trump and Democratic predecessors — The Wall Street-friendly push for trade liberalization that held sway for a quarter century after the Cold War has been rendered obsolete by domestic political developments, supply-chain security concerns triggered by the coronavirus pandemic and growing alarm about China’s rise. “We need to do things differently,” said Cathy Feingold, director of the AFL-CIO’s international department. “You can’t go back.” Biden and his advisers have sketched a trade policy that echoes Trump’s focus on manufacturing jobs and seeks to use foreign economic engagement to promote the U.S. middle class. But unlike Trump, Biden describes most foreign nations as potential partners, not adversaries bent on unfairly competing for commercial spoils. The Democrat is likely to substitute industrial policy for tariffs, seeking to revive domestic factories with a $400 billion “Buy America” initiative and $300 billion in clean energy research.

The Stand (Dec. 3) — It’s time for trade policies that benefit us all (by Hillary Haden)

► From the NY Times — Secretary of State Pompeo leaves no bridges unburned (editorial) — On the way out the door, the Trump administration is trying its utmost to make things difficult for Joe Biden.

► From The Hill — Trump seeks to freeze $27.4 billion of programs in final week of presidency — He moved to freeze $27.4 billion worth of government programs in the last week of his presidency using a budget maneuver called rescission. Even if Congress rejects it, the programs can be frozen for up to 45 days.

EDITOR’S NOTE — And finally, for anyone who might excuse Trump’s vindictive attempts to hamstring and sabotage his successor as “fiscal conservatism,” there’s this…

► From the Washington Post — The $3,000-a-month toilet for the Ivanka Trump/Jared Kushner Secret Service detail — Instructed not to use any of the half-dozen bathrooms inside the couple’s house, the Secret Service detail assigned to Trump’s daughter and son-in-law spent months searching for a reliable restroom to use on the job. After resorting to a porta-potty, as well as bathrooms at the nearby home of former president Barack Obama and the not-so-nearby residence of Vice President Pence, the agents finally found a toilet to call their own. But it came at a cost to U.S. taxpayers. Since September 2017, the federal government has been spending $3,000 a month — more than $100,000 to date — to rent a basement studio, with a bathroom, from a neighbor of the Kushner family.

► BREAKING from Tribune News Services — Donald Trump Jr. wanted for questioning by DC attorney general on $1M overpayment to Trump hotel

 


NATIONAL

 

► From the Washington Post — Jobless Americans are still suffering. We must not look away. (by Catherine Rampell) — In the midst of all that is happening — a coup attempt, impeachment proceedings, mass deaths, other overwhelming events — we cannot forget the millions of Americans who are still desperate for work. These workers lost their livelihoods through no fault of their own. They are struggling to keep their families fed and housed. And to add insult to injury, about 1 million previously laid-off workers still have not received benefit payments they are owed because state offices are overwhelmed, backlogged and broken.

► From the AP — Unions: Passenger rails need better security, no-ride list — Two major railroad workers unions (SMART-TD and BLET) have asked the Department of Homeland Security to beef up security on Amtrak and other passenger lines, including by creating a no-ride list akin to the no-fly list that prevents people identified as risks from boarding planes.

 


T.G.I.F.

 

► When John Lennon and Paul McCartney held a press conference in 1968 to announce the formation of Apple Corps, John was asked to name his favorite American artist. His answer: “Nilsson.” Then Paul was asked to name his favorite American group. His answer: “Nilsson.”

There’s a great documentary called “Who is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talkin’ About Him)? The answer: he was a Brooklyn-born singer-songwriter, a tenor with a ​3 1/2 octave range, who achieved commercial success in the late ’60s and early ’70s without ever performing major public concerts or undertaking regular tours. His songs were that good. Born with a congenital heart defect, he took a hiatus from the music industry in the 1980s and campaigned for gun control in the wake of Lennon’s murder. Nilsson died 27 years ago today on Jan. 15, 1994 at the age of 52 from a heart attack in his sleep.

Here he is pretending to sing one of his big hits, which was featured in the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy. Enjoy.

 


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

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