united, states, officials, department

Biden announces $280 million spend on ads in largest ever commercial buy by a presidential candidate  

'Our path to victory is one of addition — competing in more states and speaking to a wider share of the electorate,' says campaign strategist Mike Donilion

Trump Fires 2 Tennessee Valley Authority Board Members After Outsourcing Dispute   16%

The Tennessee Valley Authority, an electric utility, quickly said it would reconsider its move to shift some work to contractors outside the United States.

U.S. 'Deeply Concerned' By Russia's Targeting Of 'Foreign Agent' Media   8%

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says Washington is "deeply concerned" by fresh efforts by Russia to target foreign media operating there.

Coronavirus: Australia records deadliest day of pandemic amid second wave   -50%

Health officials hope devastating outbreak in Victoria state has peaked, following slowdown in new infections

US schools reopen in coronavirus hotspots, only to be hit by outbreaks and quarantines   -4%

Undeterred by the coronavirus, schools in several US states have reopened for in-person classes – but some have already been hit by large quarantines of students and staff following fresh outbreaks.In Mississippi – the state with the country’s highest positivity rate at 22 per cent of everyone tested, sick or otherwise – the Corinth School District has so far seen eight confirmed cases across several schools, according to officials.As a result, over 100 people who came into close contact with…

Netanyahu seems to be set on election, senior minister says   45%

Coalition crisis over dispute over state budget continues, which justice minister says is a way to prevent Benny Gantz from becoming prime minister in 2021

Farm aid reinforcements stuck in limbo  

Taking California’s soda tax ban to court — The state of specialty crop stimulus

Getting a coronavirus vaccine in record time is hard. Distributing it to tens of millions may be equally daunting.   -21%

The administration has shared limited and often confusing information about its strategy, making it difficult for overwhelmed state and local officials to plan.

Hong Kong Officials Condemn and Mock Trump Administration Sanctions   -9%

Officials in Hong Kong targeted by new United States sanctions argued on Saturday that the move harmed American interests and would have little impact on them.

GM makes huge effort to increase fast-charging stations for electric vehicles  

As some consumers hesitate to buy electric cars due to range anxiety, GM is addressing it by changing the charging infrastructure in the United States.


Court orders Uber, Lyft to reclassify drivers as employees in California   30%

Uber and Lyft were ordered by a California court on Monday to reclassify their drivers in the state as employees, marking the latest escalation in an ongoing legal battle over a new law impacting much of the on-demand economy.

California legislative leaders ask courts to keep coronavirus eviction ban in place  

California's legislative leaders want more time before a state court-imposed eviction ban is lifted amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bidens Disability Plan Could Close the Equal-Pay Loophole   36%

For 15 years, Ross Ryan traveled an hour from his Oregon home to clean bathrooms, mop floors, and take out trash at noisy car dealerships and cavernous state buildings from 4 p.m. until midnight. His employer paid him about 60 cents per completed task—and it was legal.

Ryan’s employer was a sheltered workshop, a program that exclusively employs people with disabilities for less than minimum wage. Ryan, 51, has a developmental disability called Russell-Silver syndrome and couldn’t find a job after graduating from high school. Until his 40s, he believed that a sheltered workshop was his best option. But he didn’t like it. “We were treated as second-class citizens,” he told me. “They looked down on us like we didn’t know what we were doing and we didn’t know the value of money.”

Although the Americans With Disabilities Act, passed 30 years ago this summer, protects people with disabilities from employment and pay discrimination, a little-known loophole allows employers that hold a special certificate to pay disabled workers less than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. These employers can even pay workers with disabilities according to how productive they are, or at a rate per piece. In other words, if the average nondisabled worker cleans 10 car-dealership bathrooms an hour for $7.25, and the employer can show that the disabled worker cleans one bathroom an hour, it can pay the disabled worker 72.5 cents an hour. This waiver program stipulates no minimum for wages paid to workers with disabilities. The same rules do not apply to nondisabled people: An employer cannot pay a nondisabled worker less for performing below peak productivity on an “off day,” because they, unlike some disabled workers, are guaranteed a minimum wage.

Today, more than 1,200 employers nationwide employ more than 300,000 workers with disabilities in below-minimum-wage jobs, in which they often perform menial labor, such as shredding newspapers and counting bolts and nuts. These employers are supposed to transition workers with disabilities into the mainstream workforce, but many fail to do so. Only 5 percent of workers—most of whom have developmental and intellectual disabilities—ever find employment outside the workshop, according to a 2001 report to Congress by the U.S. Government Accountability Office.

But a Joe Biden presidency could mean the end of sheltered workshops and the subminimum wage.

Biden’s disability plan, released in late May, includes a promise to work with Congress to pass the Transformation to Competitive Employment Act. The act would provide grants for which states can apply to help employers phase out the subminimum wage and integrate workers with disabilities into their community over a period of six years.

[Read: What Joe Biden can’t bring himself to say]

Introduced in 2019 by Bob Casey, the Democratic senator from Pennsylvania, and co-sponsored by 59 Democrats and seven Republicans in both houses, the legislation is the product of a yearslong effort. Since the civil-rights movement in the 1960s, disability-rights activists have decried the subminimum wage as discriminatory, and federal lawmakers have made several unsuccessful attempts to abolish it. Their efforts have been thwarted time and again by lobbyists for large subminimum-wage employers, such as Goodwill, who argue that eliminating the subminimum wage would deprive people with disabilities of work opportunities. Neil Romano, the chair of the National Council on Disability, says these lobbyists often have the “single most important weapon” in tow: parents or guardians of someone in a workshop who fear for their loved one’s prospects in the mainstream workforce.

But Biden and an increasing number of lawmakers today are resolute about getting rid of the submimimum wage, arguing that it conflicts with existing policy meant to protect people with disabilities from discrimination, including the ADA. Democratic Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, for example, has been pushing federal legislation, including the bill Biden supports.

“The subminimum wage sends a message to the disability community that their work isn’t as valuable as the work done by able-bodied people,” Duckworth, the first woman with a disability elected to the Senate, told me in an email. “It traps disabled workers in low-end jobs, creates a stigma associated with their work, and makes them feel more isolated. Integration of our workforce should always be the goal, and we will never achieve that goal so long as we keep accepting this outdated, exploitative policy.”

For these reasons, Duckworth said, she’s a “proud” co-sponsor of the bill, as well as another: the Raise the Wage Act introduced by Democratic Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour over six years for all workers, including workers with disabilities. Sanders’s bill has no bipartisan support.

The fate of both bills may hinge on whether Biden takes office and Democrats take Congress, as disability rights have unprecedentedly become associated with the left. Until President Donald Trump’s 2016 run, disability rights were largely uncontentious and not associated with a particular party. The ADA, for example, was enacted by a Republican president, George H. W. Bush. However, after Trump mocked the Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist Serge F. Kovaleski, who has a physical disability, and after reports that Trump has been repeatedly sued for violations of the ADA, disability issues entered the mainstream political conversation. For the first time in history, they became a focus of a major-party presidential nominee’s campaign, as Hillary Clinton pledged to ban the subminimum wage.

[Read: How did disabilities become a partisan issue?]

Since then—because of the efforts of activists such as Andrew Pulrang, Gregg Beratan, and Alice Wong, who together co-founded the nonpartisan movement #CripTheVote—all 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have emphasized their relationship with voters with disabilities. Many held Twitter town halls to answer questions from the community and, like Biden, released disability plans. Biden’s advisers are also vetting Duckworth to be his running mate, which excites some members of the disability community, given her strong attention to disability rights.

Movement on the issue could happen without legislation. Since June 2018, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights has been investigating whether the subminimum-wage program violates the civil rights of people with disabilities. It expects to publish its findings in September.

Some states have also already ended or begun phasing out the subminimum wage and sheltered workshops. In 2002, Vermont became the first state to abolish the subminimum wage—and, data show, has been the most successful at integrating people with disabilities into the mainstream workforce. Within three years of sheltered workshops’ closure, 80 percent of former workshop workers found employment. Today, the state’s integrated employment rate for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities is twice the national average: 38 percent, compared with a rate of 19 percent nationally.

At least six states have followed Vermont, including New Hampshire, Maryland, Alaska, Oregon, Nevada, and Maine. In 2019, Texas mandated that all state contractors increase their wages for workers with disabilities to the federal minimum wage by 2022. To date, 40 states have adopted “Employment First” legislation or state policy aimed at integrating workers with disabilities into the community.

Maine has transitioned less successfully. According to two studies prepared by George Washington University, Maine has seen the number of disabled people employed after the policy shift decline. The latest study showed that 24.9 percent of people with an intellectual disability were employed in 2009, compared with 17.2 percent in 2015.

For Ross Ryan, leaving the workshop has made a huge difference. A couple of years before a class-action lawsuit shut down his workshop for violations of the ADA and other civil-rights legislation, Ryan found work as a community advocate at the Oregon Self Advocacy Coalition, providing testimony to state lawmakers on legislation that affects people with disabilities. He earns about $16 an hour—more than double the federal minimum wage.

The wage increase has transformed the way Ryan lives, he told me. “It allows me to buy stuff I couldn’t before. I was able to go to a NASCAR race in California and a KISS concert,” he said, adding, “It makes me happy to be able to pay taxes and contribute to my community.”

Ryan says it’s time for the rest of the country to catch up. He envisions a future where people with disabilities aren’t just gainfully employed, but community leaders. He wants to see those “more successful than me … helping younger people with disabilities to stand up for themselves,” he said.

Moms and daughters growing closer during coronavirus pandemic, survey finds: I could see her, really, really see her.   45%

Among the more than 500 moms in the United States that he surveyed, 59 per cent said they felt the relationship between mother and daughter was becoming more connected.

Uber and Lyft must classify drivers as employees, judge rules, in blow to gig economy  

Preliminary injunction in California follows state’s lawsuit against companies over new labor law

A California judge has issued a preliminary injunction that would block Uber and Lyft from classifying their drivers as independent contractors rather than employees.

The move on Monday came in response to a May lawsuit filed by the state of California against the companies, which alleged they are misclassifying their drivers under the state’s new labor law.

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Nevada fights Trump campaign arguments in mail-in voting court case   -6%

The Nevada secretary of state has asked a federal court to dismiss a recent challenge from the Trump campaign to the state's plan to send absentee ballots to all active voters.

Peter Beinart doesn't go far enough   -3%

Liberal Zionists are belatedly waking up to the only just alternative: a single state, shared by Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs. But if Israeli Jews won’t endorse a one state solution, will they have to be dragged unwillingly into it?

Number of salmonella cases linked to onions grows in Michigan   -12%

More salmonella cases linked to onions reported in Michigan and other states, onion recall issued.


Couple charged with $165,000 tax fraud at their Sterling Heights eatery   -16%

It's a cinch for restaurants to make more money: Don't report all of your sales so you pay less to the state in sales taxes. Did it happen here?


Coronavirus: Australia has deadliest day as New Zealand records 100 days without a domestic case   27%

New Zealand on Sunday marked 100 days since it stamped out the spread of the coronavirus, a rare bright spot in a world that continues to be ravaged by the disease.Across the Tasman Sea, a different situation was emerging in Australia as the second-most populous state, Victoria, reported its deadliest day of the Covid-19 outbreak, with 17 people dying. Ten of the deaths were related to elderly care centres, Victoria Premier Daniel Andrews said. The new deaths bring the state’s total to 210.The…

Covid-19 misinformation is spreading in 25 different languages, study finds   -15%

Covid-19 rumors, stigma and conspiracy theories have been circulating in 25 different languages across at least 87 countries -- including the United States -- and this spread of misinformation has led to deaths and injuries, according to a new study.

Environmentalist found 171 items of PPE in one hour while picking up litter in Cornwall   25%

'This has been the first time I have been legitimately frightened by PPE pollution,' environmental campaigner states

Hockey, Rocked by Racist Acts, Embraces Black Lives Matter Campaigns  

To a degree not seen before, players are kneeling for the United States national anthem and speaking out publicly on fighting racism, with backing from the National Hockey League.

China, US militaries in crunch talks to avoid conflicts in Taiwan and South China Sea   -12%

China’s Defence Minister Wei Fenghe and his US counterpart Mark Esper warned each other in a phone call about escalating risks over Taiwan and the South China Sea, in the highest-level US-China talks since state leader Yang Jiechi met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Hawaii in mid-June.Esper “expressed concerns about [the Chinese military’s] destabilising activity in the vicinity of Taiwan and the South China Sea, and called on [China] to honour international obligations” as well as share…

Five Takeaways From The Belarusian Presidential Vote   40%

The Belarusian election is over and state exit polls indicate President Alyaksandr Lukashenka will be declared the victor by a huge margin, setting him up for a sixth term.

Peter Beinart's one state solution sounds so perfect it's practically utopian   22%

I’d love to live in Beinart’s peaceful hyphenated state of 'Israel-Palestine.' But I can’t vote for it. No one actually living here is proposing it. And that’s exactly where his thesis unravels

Michael Ojo dead: Nigerian-American basketball player dies aged 27 after heart attack in training   10%

Ojo represented Florida State University as a college senior before heading to Serbia to pursue a professional career

Treasury Department Imposes Sanctions on Carrie Lam, Other Hong Kong Leaders  

The United States Department of the Treasury has imposed sanctions on 11 officials from Hong Kong in response to recent moves to consolidate Beijing’s control over the territory.

US cabinet member meets Taiwan president   3%

US health secretary Alex Azar is in Taipei for a three-day visit to promote shared democratic values and the island's success in taming the coronavirus. His trip comes as relations between the United States and China are in tumult, with the two sides clashing over a wide range of trade, military and security issues, as well as the pandemic.

Mindfulness could help tackle burnout, says study   -5%

Mindfulness is defined as a capacity for enhanced and sustained moment-to-moment awareness of one’s own mental and emotional state and being, in the context of one’s own immediate environment.

Joe Biden supporters launch Indian-American outreach in 14 languages   10%

Joe Biden's supporters on Thursday announced launch of an outreach to the influential Indian-Americans in 14 languages, reflecting the linguistic diversity of an ethnic community which is being sought after by both Democrats and Republicans in the key battleground states.

Only one aggressor here: Australian rivals clash on US-China fallout, trade and Taiwan   10%

Australia should better support the United States in its growing confrontation with China, a former prime minister said, while an ex-foreign minister and political rival accused Washington of hypocrisy for pressuring Canberra to get tougher on Beijing. Former prime minister Tony Abbott and former foreign affairs minister Bob Carr sparred on China policy on Wednesday at a discussion event in Sydney held against the backdrop of fraying Australia-China ties. The event, titled “Abbott vs Carr: how…

Laura Whitmore defends appearance on British Army podcast, saying she was not trying to recruit people  

'If this looked like me trying to recruit people to the army that is not the case at all,' television and radio presenter states

Tracking The Pandemic: Are Coronavirus Cases Rising Or Falling In Your State?  

View NPR's maps and graphics to see where COVID-19 is hitting hardest in the U.S., which state outbreaks are growing and which are leveling off.

The story of Israel's other secret agent Cohen  

A tribute to Eliyahu Cohen, a founder of intel Unit 8200 and Mossad spy who posed as an Iraqi officer

US arms sales to Saudi Arabia, UAE and Jordan completely legal: State Department IG   10%

US arms sales to Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Jordan in May 2019 were in complete accordance with the law, a senior State Department official said Monday.The official, who held a phone

Victoria records 331 more cases, 19 more deaths   -25%

A woman in her 50s is among the 19 people who have died of coronavirus in Victoria in the past day. The state recorded 331 new cases.

Bipartisan US bill aims to advance normalized ties between Israel, Arab states  

New legislation from senators Portman and Booker would require State Department to publish annual report on countries' anti-normalization practices

Queensland hits 10-day streak of no community transmission  

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has breathed a sigh of relief after no new cases of COVID-19 were detected in the state overnight following a new scare on the Sunshine Coast.

China bans flying national flag upside down, changes will apply in Hong Kong   -15%

China will amend its law on the national flag to ban people from flying it upside down.The top legislative body, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, reviewed draft amendments to the flag law on Saturday, in which “hanging the national flag upside down” is specifically named as a way of “damaging the dignity” of the flag, state news agency Xinhua said.The amendment also bans “littering” and says flags used in mass events must be disposed of “appropriately”. The use of the flag on…