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babylonsister's Journal
babylonsister's Journal
March 31, 2020

Trump to roll back Obama-era clean car rules in huge blow to climate fight

Trump to roll back Obama-era clean car rules in huge blow to climate fight

Announcement will allow vehicles to emit 1bn more tons of CO2
Experts say move will lead to more life-threatening air pollution

Emily Holden in Washington
Published on Tue 31 Mar 2020 10.00 EDT

The Trump administration is rolling back the US government’s strongest attempt to combat the climate crisis, weakening rules which compel auto companies to produce more fuel-efficient vehicles. Critics say the move will lead to more life-threatening air pollution and force Americans to spend more on gasoline.
New US measures threaten civil rights amid coronavirus pandemic

The changes to Obama-era regulations will allow vehicles to emit about a billion more tons of heat-trapping carbon dioxide – equivalent to roughly a fifth of annual US emissions.

The rollback is one of dozens Trump officials have ushered to completion, seeking to bolster the fossil fuel industry amid intense opposition from Democratic-led states and pushback from world leaders.

Experts say the world is far off track in dealing with the climate emergency, following a year of record-breaking heat, rising hunger, displacement and loss of life due to extreme temperatures and weather disasters.

Donald Trump is expected to laud the new rule as a boost to the US economy, which has been hit by the coronavirus pandemic. His administration says weakening the standards will make cars about $1,000 cheaper, leading Americans to buy new and safer models more frequently and resulting in fewer crash fatalities.


March 31, 2020

Hospitals Tell Doctors They'll Be Fired If They Speak Out About Lack of Gear

Hospitals Tell Doctors They’ll Be Fired If They Speak Out About Lack of Gear
By Olivia Carville
, Emma Court
, and Kristen V Brown
March 31, 2020, 9:23 AM EDT

‘It is outrageous,’ Washington nurses organization says
Media guidelines are meant to protect patients’ privacy

Hospitals are threatening to fire health-care workers who publicize their working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic -- and have in some cases followed through.

Ming Lin, an emergency room physician in Washington state, said he was told Friday he was out of a job because he’d given an interview to a newspaper about a Facebook post detailing what he believed to be inadequate protective equipment and testing. In Chicago, a nurse was fired after emailing colleagues that she wanted to wear a more protective mask while on duty. In New York, the NYU Langone Health system has warned employees they could be terminated if they talk to the media without authorization.

“Hospitals are muzzling nurses and other health-care workers in an attempt to preserve their image,” said Ruth Schubert, a spokeswoman for the Washington State Nurses Association. “It is outrageous.”

Hospitals have traditionally had strict media guidelines to protect patient privacy, urging staff to talk with journalists only through official public relations offices. But the pandemic has ushered in a new era, Schubert said.

Health-care workers “must have the ability to tell the public what is really going on inside the facilities where they are caring for Covid-19 patients,” she said.


March 31, 2020

McConnell Blames Impeachment for Slow Pandemic Action


McConnell Blames Impeachment for Slow Pandemic Action
March 31, 2020 at 10:12 am EDT By Taegan Goddard

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) told Hugh Hewitt that because the Senate was “tied down on the impeachment trial” during the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak, “it diverted the attention of the government, because everything every day was all about impeachment.”

An alternative view from Joshua Geltzer: “Impeachment didn’t distract Trump. It revealed how he would handle coronavirus.”
March 31, 2020

Trump Rules Bar Foreign Nurses Willing to Help U.S.

Trump Rules Bar Foreign Nurses Willing to Help U.S.
By Bruce Einhorn
, Claire Jiao
, and James Paton
March 28, 2020, 5:00 PM EDT Corrected March 31, 2020, 1:58 AM EDT

Agencies recruiting from Philippines can’t get visas processed
U.K. has severe shortage after nurses left because of Brexit

As the coronavirus pandemic threatens to strain nursing staffs at hospitals across the U.S., Melanie N. Beckham knows where to find reinforcements. But first, the Trump administration needs to give its approval.

Beckham, president of Vintage Health Resources Inc. in Germantown, Tennessee, specializes in helping hospitals throughout the southeastern U.S. hire nurses from the Philippines, a country with a large population of English speakers and a long history of sending health-care workers abroad.

Of the several hundred Philippine recruits now in Vintage’s application process, more than 100 nurses have passed the licensing and language exams. They’ve completed background checks and are ready to head to the U.S. Yet they are stuck because they can’t get their visas processed.

“They could come tomorrow,” Beckham said. “The demand is overwhelming right now.”

Since President Donald Trump took office on a promise to crack down on immigration, nurses from the Philippines have faced more red tape. Officials return about 50% of Vintage’s applications and demand additional paperwork, up from just 5% of applications during the Obama administration, Beckham said.

The issue is becoming more urgent by the day because of the spread of Covid-19 cases throughout the U.S. At more than 104,000 infections, the country now has a higher tally than China and Italy.


March 31, 2020

...our commander-in-chief refuses to give us the weapons and protection we need to fight it.


I was a nurse for 30 years. We're being drafted into war, but our commander-in-chief refuses to give us the weapons and protection we need to fight it.
Alix Atwell Mar 30, 2020, 2:00 PM

Alix Atwell is a registered nurse with 30 years' experience working in California, New York, and Illinois. She left the field two years ago.

The medical field is being drafted into a war, she writes, but the government is not protecting its soldiers on the front lines.

Medical-care workers need adequate staffing ratios, safe working conditions, proper training, and good supplies and resources.

She and her fellow nurses have been sounding the alarm for years, but the message landed on "deaf, greedy ears."

This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author.

Dear Uncle Sam,

You are asking me to step up and hear your call, to once again don my scrubs and clogs for my fellow man, to fight COVID-19. My heart and hands are ready. They were born for this moment. They know instinctively what to do. After 30 years of bedside experience, they can place an IV in a rock and can hold the delicate silence of suffering without breaking it. But the voice in my head screams, "NO!"

You are asking me to enter a war, the scope of which many in our government refuse to acknowledge, much less adequately fund. To go into battle, naked and unarmed. There is no developed weapon to kill this enemy. You offer no camouflage (personal protective equipment) to hide from it. There are insufficient tanks and artillery (ventilators) to fight off the virus. There is no clear strategy or leadership to win this war. Tactics have been replaced by antics, logistics by illusion.

The commander in chief is not a soldier. He is a narcissist who lacks empathy and regard for human life. He does not care. Care does not factor into the GDP, and he bows only to the Dow. He has tunnel vision. If we continue down his tunnel, a large sum of us will get to see the almighty bright light at its end.

The entire medical field — my former colleagues — has been drafted. There's been no consideration for age or underlying health conditions, no deferment for bone spurs, or asthma for that matter. They have been thrust onto the front lines and could die for the cause. But they are NOT replaceable.

A military soldier would be granted privileges for such sacrifice. Where is the nurse hazard pay, the doctor death gratuity, the orderly survivor benefit plan for the bereft spouses and children should their loved one die in battle? Who will award the hospital housekeeper funeral honors or a Purple Heart?

And let's talk about PTSD. Even before the COVID-19 crisis, the average burnout rate for an ICU nurse was two years. I know — I survived three, early in my career, before switching over to labor and delivery.

The emotional toll of a bedside caregiver is immeasurable. Like a soldier returning from the battlefield, a medical worker's mental health must be considered and supported. Who will care for the caregiver casualties when and if they return home?

I left the hospital battlefield a couple of years ago, but I spent 30 years on the front lines, fighting side by side with my coworkers for adequate staffing ratios, safe working conditions, and proper training, all while compassionately tending to the sick and wounded with inadequate supplies and resources.

We have been sweating and bleeding in the trenches for years, without breaks to eat or pee, forced to do overtime, sacrificing family and health, trying our best to do no harm, and to avoid patient abandonment, all while our administrations and government repeatedly abandon us.

We've individually and collectively been begging our leaders to hear our pleas for a single-payer system so our society is no longer beholden to drug companies and insurance companies and corporate greed, but instead to the well-being of our community, our country.

We in the healthcare field have all known this battle was coming. We did TED talks about it. We wrote articles in peer-reviewed journals about it. We believe in science. We know its capacity for good, and for bad. We pleaded for preparedness after SARS in 2003, with H1N1 in 2009, and again with Ebola in 2014. We have been sounding the alarm for years. The message never arrived up the chain of command. Or if it did, it landed on deaf, greedy ears concerned only for profits and not prevention.

And now you are sounding the alarm and are asking me to step up.

I respectfully ask in return: Will you?
March 31, 2020

Over 1,200 people attend Louisiana church service, defying coronavirus ban: "We will continue"

Death wish, for them or us?

Over 1,200 people attend Louisiana church service, defying coronavirus ban: "We will continue"
By Christopher Brito
March 30, 2020 / 12:37 PM / CBS News

More than 1,200 people attended services at a Louisiana church, again defying the governor's coronavirus ban against more than 50 people gathering. Tony Spell has continued to hold services all month at Life Tabernacle Church in Baton Rouge – even as the coronavirus spreads throughout the United States.

More than 143,500 people have tested positive in the U.S. and as of Monday morning, the nation's death toll was over 2,500. However, the devastating nature of the virus has not dissuaded Spell from holding services on Sunday, despite experts saying social distancing could help slow down the spread of COVID-19 infections.

Spell told CBS News that 1,265 people went to his church on Sunday and defended their assembly. "We have a constitutional right to congregate," Spell said in an email on Monday. "We will continue."

He said they disinfect the venue daily and even boasted that it's "cleaner" than open gas stations, Walmart and Sam's Club. Spell offered a "no comment" when asked whether his church was still collecting donations.



March 31, 2020

Stormy delivers...

he's going to hate this so much.


March 31, 2020

Court Rules Against Trump's Business in Fraud Case Stemming from Sale of Controversial Hotel

Court Rules Against Trump’s Business in Fraud Case Stemming from Sale of Controversial Hotel
by Jerry Lambe | 4:56 pm, March 30th, 2020

A federal court in Manhattan on Monday ruled against President Donald Trump’s private business, finding that a former business partner could pursue fraud claims stemming from allegations that the president’s company evaded income taxes and under-represented expenses at its scandal-plagued Panama hotel and condominium complex.

The plaintiffs, Ithaca Capital Investments (Capital), purchased a majority of the units in the Panama project in 2016, nearly two years before the Trump International Hotels Management (Trump International) entirely withdrew from the project, which is now JW Marriott.

In a 26-page opinion, U.S. District Judge Edgardo Ramos ruled that Ithaca could amend a previous lawsuit to add fraud claims against Trump International alleging the company induced purchase of a majority of the units by fraudulently misrepresenting the hotel’s performance. Ramos also dismissed Trump International’s counterclaims of breach of contract and fraudulent concealment and inducement against Ithaca.

According to the complaint, Trump’s company repeatedly provided Ithaca with false information while the company was conducting due diligence on the hotel’s financials prior to a potential purchase.


March 30, 2020

General Electric Workers Launch Protest, Demand to Make Ventilators

General Electric Workers Launch Protest, Demand to Make Ventilators
GE workers who normally make jet engines say their facilities are sitting idle while the country faces a dire ventilator shortage.
by Edward Ongweso Jr
Mar 30 2020, 1:44pm

On Monday, General Electric factory workers launched two separate protests demanding that the company convert its jet engine factories to make ventilators. At GE's Lynn, Massachusetts aviation facility, workers held a silent protest, standing six feet apart. Union members at the company’s Boston headquarters also marched six feet apart, calling on the company to use its factories to help the country close its ventilator shortage amid the coronavirus pandemic.

These protests come just after General Electric announced it would be laying off 10 percent of its domestic aviation workforce, firing nearly 2,600 workers, along with a “temporary” layoff of 50 percent of its maintenance workers in a bid to save the company "$500 million to $1 billion.” This news came as Congress stood ready to pass a multi-trillion dollar corporate bailout that would include at least $50 billion in federal assistance and $25 billion in loans and temporary tax relief for the aviation industry, as well as a further $17 billion for federal assistance to companies deemed "crucial to national security." GE says it does not plan to request funds from the stimulus.

In a press conference, members of the Industrial Division of Communication Workers of America (IUE-CWA) explained how General Electric’s current layoffs and closures would undermine future efforts to increase ventilator production. Without experienced workers to operate now empty and idle factories, production will likely be slowed down.

IUE-CWA Local 86004 President Jake Aguanaga offered his plant, located in Arkansas City, Kansas, as an example of how much manufacturing capacity could be converted: more than 52 percent of his workforce has been laid off, and several football fields worth of factory space are currently sitting idle. “If GE trusts us to build, maintain, and test engines which go on a variety of aircraft where millions of lives are at stake, why wouldn’t they trust us to build ventilators?” he said.


March 30, 2020

The FBI Is Investigating Sen. Richard Burr For Insider Trading


Posted on Mon, Mar 30th, 2020 by Jason Easley
The FBI Is Investigating Sen. Richard Burr For Insider Trading

The Justice Department has launched an investigation into Sen. Richard Burr (R-CA), who dumped millions of dollars in stock just before the coronavirus crisis hit.

The Wall Street Journal reported, “The Justice Department is examining whether lawmakers traded ahead of the market turmoil caused by the coronavirus pandemic based on confidential briefings they received, according to a person familiar with the matter. As part of that inquiry, the FBI has reached out to Sen. Richard Burr (R., N.C.), said the person.”

Burr, due to his position as Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, received two confidential briefings in January in February. After being briefed, Burr warned a group of his political donors to prepare for the coronavirus and he sold $1.7 million in stock.

Calls for Burr to resign have come from both Republicans and Democrats. Given that Donald Trump called for Burr to resign, it is not surprising that his Justice Department took the President’s tweet as a green light to investigate the Senator.

If any other ordinary person in America did what Burr did, they would be looking at criminal charges and a prison sentence. Since Sen. Burr isn’t running for reelection, he appears to be trying to ride out the scandal in the hope that it blows over.

An FBI investigation is a signal that this story is not going away anytime soon.

The heat is intensifying on Burr and it may only be a matter of time until he resigns and awaits criminal prosecution.

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