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HeadlinesOctober 28, 2021

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Biden Set to Announce “Framework” for Revised Social Spending and Climate Bill

Oct 28, 2021

President Biden is set to announce a revised framework for his social spending plan today that he expects will gain the support of all Democrats. That’s according to The Washington Post, which cited unnamed officials who said the announcement could end a months-long impasse over Biden’s legislative priorities.

This comes as conservative Democratic Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin continue to demand cuts to programs backed by progressives and the majority of Americans. Manchin is reportedly refusing to back a federal paid family and medical leave program. The U.S. is among just seven countries around the world that offer no paid leave for new parents.

Manchin also opposes a tax on billionaires, proposed by Senator Ron Wyden, calling it “divisive.” The plan would tax about 700 billionaires’ unsold publicly traded assets — including their vast stock portfolios — to help pay for Biden’s social spending and climate bill.

Biden is expected to meet with House Democrats today and will push progressives to pass an infrastructure bill before he leaves for the G20 meeting in Rome ahead of crucial climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland, next week. Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal said Wednesday her caucus won’t vote on the infrastructure bill until the legislative text for Biden’s social spending package is finalized.

Iran to Rejoin Talks to Restore Nuclear Deal Abandoned by Trump

Oct 28, 2021

Iranian officials say they will rejoin talks in Vienna next month aimed at restoring the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Former President Trump withdrew the U.S. from the multilateral deal in 2018. Iran’s foreign minister on Wednesday called on the U.S. to lift harsh sanctions imposed under Trump, before a return to negotiations.

Hossein Amirabdollahian: “I personally believe that if Mr. Biden is serious about the nuclear deal, then he should show this so that we can believe that the Americans are actually serious about lifting sanctions.”

Top U.S. General Compares Chinese Hypersonic Missile Test to “Sputnik Moment”

Oct 28, 2021

Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair Mark Milley said China’s tests of hypersonic missiles over the summer come “very close” to a Sputnik moment, stoking fears of an arms race between the two superpowers. The U.S.’s own recent hypersonic missile test reportedly failed.

U.S. Voices Rare Criticism as Israel Announces Plans to Further Expand Illegal Settlements

Oct 28, 2021

The Biden administration has criticized Israeli plans to expand their illegal settlements, saying it jeopardizes the possibility of a two-state solution. On Sunday, Israel announced plans to build another 1,300 settlement units in the occupied West Bank, in addition to more than 2,000 units that were announced last August. The U.N. also condemned the news Monday, issuing a reminder that the settlements are illegal under international law. This is PLO official Bassam al-Salhi.

Bassam al-Salhi: “This is a confirmation of the ongoing Israeli aggression and also the inability of the United States to enforce what they sometimes declare. Therefore, the alternative for us, as Palestinians, is to continue the struggle against the occupation and to demand from the world an end to the occupation.”

COVID-19 Sickened Nearly 60,000 Meat Industry Workers During Pandemic’s First Year

Oct 28, 2021

At least 59,000 workers at the five largest U.S. meatpacking companies caught COVID-19 during the first year of the pandemic, and 269 workers died. That’s the finding of a House investigation which found meat industry managers grossly underreported COVID cases as the coronavirus tore through their slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants. The toll was about three times higher than estimates from the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

Here in New York, a judge has denied a request by the city’s largest police union to block a vaccine mandate for municipal workers. In Chicago, a police union filed a similar lawsuit Tuesday against Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker seeking to overturn vaccine mandates.

Inexpensive Antidepressant Fluvoxamine Shows Promise as COVID-19 Therapeutic

Oct 28, 2021

In medical news, a cheap and widely prescribed antidepressant pill known as fluvoxamine showed promise in blunting the effects of COVID-19 in patients in Brazil. A clinical trial showed that when taken soon after infection, the drug cut the length of patients’ hospital stays and reduced their risk of death.

Merck to Allow Generic Manufacturing of Pill That Reportedly Can Cut COVID-19 Deaths by Half

Oct 28, 2021

The pharmaceutical giant Merck said Wednesday it will share the formula for its COVID-19 therapeutic drug molnupiravir with poor countries, allowing manufacturers to produce cheap, generic versions of the antiviral pill. Merck says the drug can cut the risk of hospitalization or death in half. The People’s Vaccine Alliance applauded the move, tweeting, “It’s positive that unlike the grotesquely unequal distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, poorest countries won’t have to wait at the back of the queue for molnupiravir. BUT middle-income countries shouldn’t still be locked out.”

Nor’easter Rips Through New England, Cutting Power to 600,000 Customers

Oct 28, 2021

A powerful storm system tore through New England states Wednesday, uprooting trees, ripping the roofs off buildings and bringing hurricane-force winds to some coastal communities. Wind gusts of over 90 miles per hour were recorded in Martha’s Vineyard. More than 600,000 customers across the northeastern U.S. were left without power.

New York Denies Permits to 2 Power Plants, Citing Emissions-Curbing Law

Oct 28, 2021

New York state will deny permits to a pair of natural gas power plants, with Governor Kathy Hochul calling them incompatible with state law requiring cuts to greenhouse gas emissions. The move cancels Danskammer Energy’s plans to build a fracked gas plant in the town of Newburgh on the Hudson River. Also canceled are NRG Energy’s plans for a gas-fired power plant in Astoria, Queens. That project had drawn opposition from progressive Democratic Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

Food & Water Watch applauded the move, writing in a statement, “Governor Hochul’s decision strikes a critical blow to the fossil fuel industry, providing a huge victory for New York’s climate movement. She is showing the nation what real climate leadership looks like.”

Biden Campaigns for McAuliffe in VA as GOP Candidate Revives Attack on Toni Morrison’s “Beloved”

Oct 28, 2021

In Virginia, as the governor race heats up, President Biden campaigned with Democratic candidate and former Governor Terry McAuliffe Tuesday, one week ahead of the November election. Biden warned voters Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin was an extremist in the vein of former President Trump.

President Joe Biden: “Extremism can come in many forms, can come in the rage of a mob driven to assault the Capitol. It can come in a smile and a fleece vest.”

Meanwhile, a firestorm over Toni Morrison’s acclaimed novel “Beloved” has taken center stage in the Virginia gubernatorial race after an ad by Republican candidate Youngkin featured a mother who once campaigned to have the Pulitzer Prize-winning book banned from her high school senior son’s curriculum.

Laura Murphy: “As a parent, it’s tough to catch everything. So, when my son showed me his reading assignment, my heart sunk. It was some of the most explicit material you can imagine.”

Vice President Kamala Harris will campaign in Norfolk, Virginia, with Terry McAuliffe on Friday.

Facebook Papers: Mark Zuckerberg Reinstated Anti-Abortion Video, Opposed Spanish Voting Resources

Oct 28, 2021

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally stepped in to reinstate a misleading and potentially dangerous anti-abortion video to the social media site after Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley accused Facebook of censorship when the company removed the video over misinformation. This is just one of the latest damning revelations to emerge from the “Facebook Papers,” which are based on internal company documents leaked by whistleblower Frances Haugen.

Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported Zuckerberg opposed a Spanish-language voting information resource on WhatsApp for fear it would seem partisan. Amid the unfolding scandals, Facebook recently posted increased profits of $9 billion for the third quarter.

Environmental Lawyer Who Took On Chevron Starts Serving 6-Month Prison Sentence for Misdemeanor

Oct 28, 2021

Environmental and human rights lawyer Steven Donziger is spending his first full day behind bars at the federal prison in Danbury, Connecticut. Donziger reported to prison Wednesday after being denied bail pending his appeal over a six-month prison sentence for a misdemeanor. Donziger had already spent over two years under house arrest. The charges are linked to a lawsuit against Chevron in which he successfully defended Indigenous people in Ecuador against the oil giant, which dumped billions of gallons of oil into the Amazon. Click here to see our interview with Steven Donziger hours before he reported to prison.

U.S. Pushes to Extradite WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange in London Court

Oct 28, 2021

In London, U.S. lawyers are presenting their arguments against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as the Biden administration continues the push to extradite Assange to the U.S., where he faces up to 175 years in prison under espionage charges for publishing classified documents exposing U.S. war crimes. The U.S. is appealing a ruling by a British Judge who blocked Assange’s extradition in January on account of his poor health and citing a possible suicide risk. The hearing comes just weeks after Yahoo News revealed the CIA had considered assassinating or kidnapping Assange.

Striking John Deere Worker Hit and Killed by Car as He Joined Picket Line

Oct 28, 2021

In labor news, a striking John Deere worker was fatally struck by a car Wednesday as he crossed a street to join a picket line outside a warehouse in Milan, Illinois. Fifty-six-year-old Richard Rich was pronounced dead at the scene. The local police chief said he did not believe the driver intended to hit Rich.

This comes after The Intercept reported John Deere managers are working to suppress stories about accidents caused by nonunion strikebreakers. The Intercept says company executives are concerned about “reputational risk” on social media and have instructed employees that accident reports are “confidential” and must not be shared with the public.

Some 10,000 John Deere workers have been on strike since mid-October to demand equitable pay and benefits as their company reports record profits.

El Milagro Tortilla Plants Ending 7-Day Workweek After Employees Organize Against Labor Abuses

Oct 28, 2021

In Chicago, tortilla manufacturer El Milagro said Wednesday it is ending its seven-day workweek and will begin giving employees Sundays off starting next month. The announcement came amid worker walkouts and protests denouncing low pay, staff shortages and workplace abuse. Click here to see our coverage of the El Milagro workers’ fight.

Harvard Student Workers Strike to Demand Better Pay and Healthcare

Oct 28, 2021

In Massachusetts, students at Harvard University have launched a three-day strike after talks between their union and Harvard administrators failed to produce a contract. Members of the Harvard Graduate Students Union are demanding affordable healthcare, raises that match rising rents in Cambridge, and third-party arbitration for discrimination and sexual harassment claims. Harvard is the world’s richest university. Since the start of the pandemic, its endowment has grown to over $53 billion.

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