Jul 15. 2020A nurse conducts a swab test, also known as a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, on a woman at Tanah Abang district office in Jakarta on June 21. The swab test session was hosted by the Indonesian Heart Foundation in cooperation with Bunda Hospital, Good Doctor and Grab Health. (JP/P.J. Leo)
By Tri Indah Oktavianti The Jakarta Post/ANN
With the COVID-19 pandemic still accelerating at an alarming rate, healthcare workers remain prone to the virus and social persecution, a medical association and human rights association have said.
The Indonesian Medical Association (IDI) on Monday reported that at least 61 doctors across Indonesia had died in the fight against COVID-19.
“In the past week, 14 doctors have died [of COVID-19],” IDI spokesperson Halik Malik told The Jakarta Post on Monday. “It is the highest number of cases reported within a week, and they mostly came from East Java.”
On Monday alone, the IDI announced the deaths of five doctors from the coronavirus, namely Abdul Choliq from Probolinggo of East Java, Zulkiflie Saleh from Banjarmasin of South Kalimantan, Arief Agustono Hadi from Lamongan of East Java, Budi Luhur from Gresik of East Java and Deni Chrismono Raharjo from Surabaya of East Java.
“Many doctors were unable to get access to swab tests. Many died even before being tested,” Halik explained, adding that the government needed to provide healthcare workers with access to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests in every health facility.
According to the Indonesian Nurses Association (PPNI), at least 167 nurses nationwide were confirmed to have had the disease so far.
However, PPNI chairman Harif Fadhilah said the East Java PPNI alone had recorded at least 277 nurses who were COVID-19 positive in the province. He went on to say that with many cases that went unreported, he assumed that the total number of nurses with COVID-19 might exceed 400.
“It is hard for us to verify the actual number as nurses usually report their health status voluntarily. Some may also not report their positive COVID-19 result due to negative stigma, work pressure and many other factors,” he added.
Harif also added that the PPNI had recorded 43 deaths of nurses nationwide as they battled against the virus, 11 of them in East Java.
The PPNI also received reports that nurses working in non-COVID-19 referral hospitals were still dealing with shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE).
Amnesty International Indonesia released on Monday a report documenting the experiences of healthcare workers on the front line battling the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that the government is accountable for the deaths of many medical workers in the country because of the disease.
The organization’s report revealed that as of Monday at least 89 healthcare workers — consisting of 60 doctors, 23 nurses and six dentists — in Indonesia had died because of the virus.
“Not only do healthcare workers have to work extra hours during the pandemic, but they are also being unfairly paid and dealing with fear of the risks of COVID-19 on a daily basis,” Amnesty International Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid said in a webinar, entitled “Global report: Health workers silenced, exposed, attacked”, on Monday.
In addition, the organization reported that as of June 12, at least 878 healthcare workers in Indonesia had contracted COVID-19, at least 225 of them residing in East Java province – the current COVID-19 epicenter in the country.
“Those are the numbers that are able to be verified by organizations like us. If only the government also verifies the report on the matter, the actual numbers might be higher than what we provided,” Usman added.
Amnesty International Indonesia also reported that as of June 2, at least 189 health workers had been laid off due to the crisis resulting from the pandemic.
“Health workers have also experienced stigma and violence because of their job,” Usman said.
The organization has recorded eight cases of healthcare workers being rejected from their respective rooming houses. In one instance, local residents rejected the funeral of a nurse who had died of COVID-19, near a residential complex.
“We urge the state to take its response to COVID-19 seriously and to better protect those healthcare workers who are battling the pandemic at the forefront,” Usman concluded. “The state must ensure adequate compensation for health workers and protect those who have faced reprisals for raising health and security concerns to prevent further unjust treatment against health workers.”
As of Tuesday, Indonesia had recorded 78,572 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with 3,710 fatalities.
Jul 15. 2020Border crossing: The Johor-Singapore Causeway link visible, with the CIQ complex in Johor Baru in the background.
By NELSON BENJAMIN and VENESA DEVI The Star/ANN
JOHOR BARU: News about the reopening of the Malaysia and Singapore border beginning Aug 10 has been received with sighs of relief from citizens of both countries.
However, many have expressed concern about the imposition of a three-month stay in Singapore during each trip for those holding long-term immigration passes for business and work.
The people are also hoping that both sides will implement clear and practical standard operating procedure (SOP) to avoid issues at the two border crossings of the Johor Causeway and Second Link.
Johor Indian Business Association (Jiba) president P. Sivakumar said the reopening of the border was good news as not only would it allow local businesses to survive but also provide employment security for Malaysians working in Singapore.
“Local businesses, especially those in Johor Baru, rely heavily on Singaporean customers to thrive and many are now on the verge of closing down due to the border closure.
“The reopening of the borders is very much welcomed but it must be done carefully and people need to strictly abide by the SOP to ensure their own safety, ” he said in an interview.
However, Sivakumar said the requirement where Malaysians who worked in Singapore were only allowed to enter the country for a short-term home leave only after three months of working in the island republic was “unnecessary”.
“Mobility is important and such a requirement should not be included in the reopening.
“The focus should instead be on people adhering to the SOP, including contact tracing, ” he added.
The many Malaysians currently in Singapore for work were already finding it difficult to cope with the cost of living in the island republic, he said.
“The reopening of the borders would not bring much difference to those working in Singapore if they are only allowed a short visit and then have to be stranded again for three months, ” he said.
Meanwhile, assistant chemist Eddie Manoah, 25, who has been stuck in Singapore since March, said that he was shocked over the requirement that he should remain working in Singapore for three months before being allowed to enter Malaysia for a short visit.
“I expected the borders to open up entirely for work pass holders.
“Those staying in Singapore will have to stay longer there. It is going to be difficult for us to cover our expenses and pay off our debts, ” he added.
Manoah said that he had been sharing a room at a hostel with other working Malaysians for about S$600 (RM1,839) a month since the border closure.
“It is possible to get a place to stay for a short period of time but the cost is high and it could also be difficult to find as most rental options would require two months of deposit and a minimum rental period of at least half a year.
“Those who own a house in Johor Baru and are paying for it have to cope with paying
the monthly instalments, and also rent in Singapore, ” he added.
A Singaporean businessman who only wanted to be known as Tay, 52, said the border reopening was timely as he was eager to check on his investments, especially properties in Iskandar Malaysia.
“I also have a factory here and I have only been checking in with my local managers online, ” he said.
Tay hoped that Malaysia and Singapore would have a common SOP when it came to Covid-19 checks as he was worried that the Malaysian authorities might have SOP that differ from Singapore’s.
Earlier, in a joint statement by Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein and his Singaporean counterpart Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, they announced that both governments had agreed to implement the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL) and Periodic Commuting Arrangement (PCA).
They said the RGL would enable cross-border travel for essential business and official purposes between both countries.
Moon says it will mark country’s paradigm shift, new blueprint for next 100 years.
President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday unveiled the road map of a “Korean New Deal” stimulus package that seeks to invest over 160 trillion won ($132.67 billion) and create 1.9 million jobs over the next five years.
Asia’s fourth-largest economy came up with the extensive midterm fiscal package to recover from the persisting COVID-19 fallout, as well as prolonged slow growth across the globe.
“The Korean New Deal is our new centennial blueprint, as well as a paradigm shift to leap forward into a pace-setting economic model,” said Moon in a meeting with business leaders held at Cheong Wa Dae.
“With the post-coronavirus era pressing upon us, we may no longer delay these historic changes such as climate change responsive actions and paradigm shift into an inclusive society.”
The New Deal package primarily consists of two pillars — Digital New Deal and Green New Deal — along with projects on the sidelines to reinforce social safety nets, according to Moon.
The latest move came nearly three months after he suggested the Korean New Deal policy frame to create jobs and boost economic growth amid the epidemic fallout.
The meeting was attended by Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki, the ruling Democratic Party of Korea’s chief policymaker Rep. Cho Jeong-sik, and corporate leaders including Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chairman Park Yong-maan.
Representing the labor circles was Kim Dong-myeong, head of the Federation of Korean Trade Unions. Kim Myeong-hwan, leader of the hardline Korean Confederation of Trade Unions, did not attend due to the ongoing standoff with the government over the disputed minimum wage increase rate.
Hyundai Motor Group Executive Vice Chairman Chung Euisun and Naver CEO Han Seong-sook also participated via teleconferencing, addressing the Green New Deal and Digital New Deal, respectively.
Following up on the president’s blueprint, the chief fiscal policymaker unrolled detailed target figures and action plans.
“The Korean New Deal is different from the US New Deal which was mostly represented by the Hoover Dam and other construction projects,” Hong said.
“Instead, we shall focus on building a ‘data dam’ to establish an eco-friendly, digital-driven infrastructure and prepare the ground for sustainable growth after COVID-19.”
The government’s idea is to inject some 160 trillion won until 2025, allocating 58.2 trillion won for digital new deal projects and 73.4 trillion won for green new deal ones. The affiliated social safety enhancement sector will also account for 28.4 trillion won.
Of the total 160 trillion won budget, government expenditure will account for 114.1 trillion won, while the remaining amount will be procured from local governments and the private sector, Hong explained.
As a result of the fiscal injection, the government expects to create 1.9 million new jobs during the given period.
The finance minister will assist President Moon in the presidential New Deal strategy headquarters and also serve as co-chief in the government-ruling party task force. A working-level support group will be installed within the Ministry of Economy and Finance, under the lead of Vice Finance Minister Kim Yong-beom, according to officials.
“The Korean New Deal is not a government project. It is all about national unity. This is why (Tuesday’s) meeting will involve figures from every part of the society, ranging from labor unions, management, civic groups, political parties, and government,” said Yoon Jae-kwan, deputy spokesperson of the Blue House in a press briefing.
WASHINGTON – The US government has rescinded a new rule that could have denied international students their stay in the country if they only attend online courses in the coming fall semester, a federal judge in Boston, Massachusetts said Tuesday.
Judge Allison Burroughs, who presided over a hearing Tuesday on a lawsuit filed last week by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) against the federal directive, said at the start of the hearing that the government and the universities reached a settlement, under which “both the policy directive and the frequently asked questions would not be enforced anyplace.”
“I have been informed by the parties that they have come to a resolution,” Burroughs said at US District Court in Boston. “They will return to the status quo.”
Announced by the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on July 6 but not yet implemented, the guidance that caused turmoil and triggered outrage in the country’s higher education system forced international students to choose between attending at least one in-person class in the fall semester — transferring to another school if the one they are enrolled in only offers tele-classes due to the coronavirus pandemic — and leaving the United States as their student visas would be invalidated.
According to the settlement, a March guidance by the ICE will be reinstated, allowing international students to take all their classes online during the pandemic while staying in the United States legally.
Burroughs said the settlement applied to higher education institutions nationwide. The Harvard-MIT lawsuit sought a temporary restraining order and preliminary and permanent injunctive relief to prohibit the ICE from enforcing the July 6 rule.
“The motion is mooted,” Burroughs declared, referring to the requests by Harvard and the MIT. “The hearing will be adjourned,” she said, thanking the lawyers for “making this as easy on the court as it could have been.”
Harvard announced last week it will only allow up to 40 percent of undergraduates, including all first-year students, to return to campus for the fall semester. The rest of the students will continue to learn remotely.
Meanwhile, the MIT said last week that seniors will be the only undergraduates to be invited back to campus this fall. Non-seniors may “request special consideration for housing if they face challenges related to safety, living conditions, visa status, or other hardship,” the university said in a plan posted on its website.
Harvard and the MIT argued in their lawsuit that the ICE’s action considered neither the health of students amid the pandemic, nor the contributions that international students made to American innovation.
They also highlighted the potential loss of “tens of billions of dollars that international students contribute to US GDP each year” should the guidance be put into practice.
The number of international students studying in the United States reached 1.1 million in the 2018-19 academic year, making up 5.5 percent of the total US higher education population, according to the Institute of International Education, a New York-based non-profit.
International students contributed nearly US$45 billion to the US economy in 2018, data from the US Department of Commerce showed.
Tuesday’s hearing came against the backdrop of 17 states and the District of Columbia on Monday sued the Trump administration over the controversial guidance.
The lawsuit, led by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, accused the federal government of engaging in a “cruel, abrupt, and unlawful action to expel international students amidst the pandemic that has wrought death and disruption across the United States.”
Also on Monday, a group of 20 universities in the Western United States, including Stanford University, the University of Southern California, the University of Oregon and the California Institute of Technology, filed a lawsuit challenging the ICE’s guidance.
The schools complained that their plans for the upcoming semester “were thrown into disarray” by the ICE’s “about-face” policy change, which was announced “without warning and without any input from the schools or students directly affected by it.”
On Sunday, a coalition of 59 colleges and universities, including Georgetown, Princeton, Stanford and Yale, filed an amicus brief to the Boston federal court in support of the litigation effort by Harvard and the MIT. The schools collectively enroll more than 213,000 international students every year, according to the brief.
Meanwhile in the business community, tech giants including Google, Facebook and Twitter also stood by Harvard and the MIT, saying the new directive will harm their businesses. “America’s future competitiveness depends on attracting and retaining talented international students,” the companies said in court filings.
In addition, a group known as the Presidents’ Alliance on Higher Education and Immigration formed by 180 colleges issued a statement last Friday, saying the ICE’s revised mandate “blindsided the whole of higher education.”
“The COVID-19 emergency no doubt continues. Recent data indicates that there are more new infections at present on a daily basis than in March — when ICE stated that its guidance would last ‘for the duration of the emergency,'” the group said in its amicus brief.
“All seem to agree the emergency remains ongoing, but ICE’s policy has inexplicably changed,” read the brief.
Jul 15. 2020The Huawei logo is seen illustrated in this publicity picture. [Photo/Agencies]
By Angus McNeice China Daily/ANN
Chinese technology company Huawei said Tuesday that the British government’s move to ban the company’s involvement in the country’s 5G networks is a “disappointing decision” which “threatens to move Britain into the digital slow lane, push up bills and deepen the digital divide.”
“This disappointing decision is bad news for anyone in the UK with a mobile phone,” said Ed Brewster, a spokesperson for Huawei UK in a statement.
“Instead of ‘levelling up’, the government is levelling down and we urge them to reconsider. We remain confident that the new US restrictions would not have affected the resilience or security of the products we supply to the UK,” Brewster said.
“Regrettably our future in the UK has become politicized, this is about US trade policy and not security.
“We will conduct a detailed review of what today’s announcement means for our business here and will work with the UK government to explain how we can continue to contribute to a better connected Britain,” said Brewster.
The British government announced on Tuesday that the UK will ban Chinese telecommunications company Huawei from supplying kit for 5G networks from the end of this year.
UK Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Oliver Dowden said that the government has also committed to the removal of existing Huawei equipment from British networks by 2027.
The move comes as United States sanctions on Huawei, set for activation in September, threaten to disrupt the Chinese company’s supply chain.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson held a meeting with his national security council on Tuesday morning, where he was advised that the sanctions would impact the reliability of Huawei as a 5G provider.
“The UK can no longer be confident it will be able to guarantee the security of future Huawei 5G equipment,” Dowden said in Parliament.
“From the end of this year, telecoms operators must not buy any 5G equipment from Huawei.”
Dowden conceded that the move would come at great cost to the UK’s economy and would significantly hold up 5G development. He estimated that the ban will delay the roll out of 5G in Britain by two to three years at a cost of 2 billion pounds ($2.5 billion).
Shadow Digital Secretary Chi Onwurah said the government had created a “car crash for the digital economy” in its handling of Huawei.
By Syndication Washington Post, Bloomberg · Robert Langreth · BUSINESS
Moderna Inc. posted details of its final-stage vaccine trial on an official government website, confirming that the widely anticipated trial was still on track to begin this month.
In a posting on ClinicalTrials.gov, Moderna said the trial is expected to begin on July 27. It will enroll 30,000 adults at high risk of contracting the coronavirus. The enrollees will help compare the vaccine to placebo injections and evaluate whether two doses of the vaccine, known as mRNA-1273, will keep people Covid-19 free.
Trial sites will begin registering people for the trial next week, said Moderna spokesman Ray Jordan.
The vaccine is one of the farthest along for Covid-19. Unlike traditional vaccines, which inject a weakened or inactivated virus or a piece of a virus to trigger an immune response, the Moderna product uses genetic material called messenger RNA to cause cells to produce the coronavirus spike protein. The goal is to produce antibodies to the virus that protect against disease when someone is later exposed to the coronavirus.
Jul 15. 2020Conservative African American leaders called on legislators and city government officials to preserve the Emancipation Memorial on Tuesday. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Marvin Joseph
By The Washington Post · Marissa J. Lang · NATIONAL, POLITICS, RACE, HISTORY
WASHINGTON – Beneath the feet of Abraham Lincoln and the bent knees of the formerly enslaved man depicted in the statue at the center of Lincoln Park, handwritten notes and protest signs have been pinned to the black fence that has for weeks encircled the figures – protecting it against any efforts to tear down the monument.
Mason Weaver, of St. Louis, speaks Tuesday at a rally in support of the Emancipation Memorial in the District. Critics have said the monument, which depicts Abraham Lincoln standing over a kneeling formerly enslaved man, is demeaning toward African Americans. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Marvin Joseph
On Tuesday, as Prince songs filled the open air and a small crowd donning “Make America Great Again” apparel gathered around the statue, William B. Allen affixed two more pieces of paper to the fence: On one was a photograph of an African sculpture depicting a crouching lion. On the other, a real lion reared back on its hind legs, ready to pounce.
These photographs, Allen told the crowd, show the same motion in which the enslaved man of the controversial Emancipation Memorial was frozen.
“African art contains the symbol of the crouching lion in order to convey the prospect of the pouncing king. See how strongly Archer Alexander’s figure resembles the crouching lion, whether in photograph or in stone,” said Allen, a professor of political philosophy at Michigan State University. “So let those who think this is a degrading figure, rethink.”
That is not how everyone sees it.
Critics say the District of Columbia’s Emancipation Memorial – which shows Lincoln holding a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation as an African American man in a loincloth kneels at his feet – is demeaning and suggests African Americans were not active contributors to the cause of their own freedom, remaining subservient even after they were released from their bonds.
“I have lived in D.C. my entire life and never have I looked at this statue and felt uplifted by its intended positive message,” a sign written in red, black and green marker said.
But supporters of the monument, including Allen and dozens of conservative black thought leaders, pastors and politicians who came to the nation’s capital to defend the embattled statue, say its critics are misreading the statue and ignoring its history.
Echoing the tone President Donald Trump has taken in recent tweets about nationwide protests, they called Black Lives Matter protesters anarchists, communists and traitors. They held signs declaring that “not all black Americans agree with BLM.”
The statue, in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, was commissioned and paid for by African Americans, including Union soldiers and many who had themselves been enslaved. The model for the kneeling man was Archer Alexander, a formerly enslaved man who helped pass information to Union troops during the Civil War and escaped on his own.
Around the park Tuesday, demonstrators held signs proclaiming, “Save Archer Alexander. He’s not kneeling. He’s standing up!”
Star Parker, founder of the conservative Center for Urban Renewal and Education, was among those calling for the monument to stay. MUST CREDIT: Washington Post photo by Marvin Joseph
As the speeches ended, Washingtonians who grew up in the neighborhood wandered by, curious to see what the commotion was about. Neighbors said they have grown used to seeing crowds at the statue’s base. Protests have wound through residential streets, and police cars have become an increasingly common sight.
Frazier Walton Jr. and Veronica Raglin grew up a few streets away from where the statue has sat for more than 144 years.
They recalled playing in the park as children, gazing up at the bronze figures. Back then, the sculpture faced the opposite direction – north, toward the Statue of Freedom that sits atop the Capitol dome.
They said they struggle to see what critics have called a patronizing symbol. Instead, they said it inspires feelings of pride.
“All my life, I knew what it meant for this to be here,” Walton said. “This was paid for by former slaves. It honors a man who had his flaws but was a godsend. Lincoln was a godsend.”
The Emancipation Memorial was thrust into the national consciousness in recent weeks as protesters and several prominent District officials have urged its removal amid a wave of calls nationwide to take down monuments to figures ranging from Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee to President Theodore Roosevelt.
District Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, a Democrat, has advocated placing the monument in a museum. Mayor Muriel Bowser has encouraged debate on the issue and “not have a mob decide they want to pull it down.”
House Minority Leader Rep. Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., tweeted late last month that Interior Secretary David Bernhardt said Trump would “not allow the Emancipation Memorial of President Lincoln to be destroyed by the left-wing mob.” The president has echoed that sentiment in his own tweets, though he has not addressed the Emancipation Memorial directly.
Alice Butler-Short, founder and president of Virginia Women for Trump, compared the calls to remove the statue to communist crackdowns such as the Chinese government’s censorship of discussion related to the Tiananmen Square massacre.
“They want all history destroyed,” she said. “It’s not just about statues. It’s about protecting our history, our way of life, our heritage, our country.”
The event was convened by the conservative Center for Urban Renewal and Education, led by politician and author Star Parker. The group has circulated a petition calling for the statue to remain.
More than 25,000 people attended the statue’s dedication on April 14, 1876, the day before the 11th anniversary of Lincoln’s death, including President Ulysses S. Grant. Abolitionist Frederick Douglass delivered the keynote address to the crowd, which included many black Washingtonians. In that famous speech, Douglass captured the contradictions that defined Lincoln’s work on behalf of black Americans.
“He was preeminently the white man’s president, entirely devoted to the welfare of white men,” Douglass said, while adding that for African Americans, “the hour and the man of our redemption had somehow met in the person of Abraham Lincoln,” and that “under his wise and beneficent rule we saw ourselves gradually lifted from the depths of slavery to the heights of liberty and manhood.”
Don Folden, owner and operator of tour group Capital Buddy Tours, said he believes a compromise can be found. He said he has advocated adding greater context to statues with complex histories instead of tearing them down or moving them out of the public eye.
“Instead of tearing these statues down, why don’t we add the truth of what they represent? Put the Trail of Tears around Andrew Jackson – how proud is he going to look then?” Folden said. Instead of tearing down sculptures of Confederate generals, Folden said, “we should have been telling everybody how them boys got their butts kicked.”
To start, he said, the Emancipation Memorial should be turned around again, to face north, to face the Statue of Freedom, as it was intended.
By The Washington Post · Matt Viser, Dino Grandoni · NATIONAL, POLITICS, SCIENCE-ENVIRONMENT
Joe Biden unveiled a proposal Tuesday to transform the nation’s energy industry, pledging to eliminate carbon pollution from power plants by 2035 and spend $2 trillion to turbocharge the clean energy economy.
The plan would significantly reduce the country’s reliance on fossil fuels, and the 15-year timeline for a 100 percent clean electricity standard is far more ambitious than anything Biden has previously proposed.
It was Biden’s latest attempt to channel the liberal energy in his party, as well as a response to calls for sweeping plans to lift a struggling economy. The blueprint was quickly hailed by environmentalists and liberals as a big step forward in the climate fight, and just as quickly denounced by Republicans as an unwieldy plan that would raise energy costs.
“We’re not just going to tinker around the edges,” Biden said in a speech in Wilmington, Del. “We’re going to make historic investments and seize the opportunity and meet this moment in history.”
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee proposed upgrading 4 million buildings and weatherizing 2 million homes over four years, which his campaign estimates would create 1 million jobs. Homeowners would be given cash rebates to upgrade home appliances and install more efficient windows. Car owners would receive rebates to swap their old, less efficient cars for newer ones that release fewer pollutants.
Biden also said he would create a new “Environmental and Climate Justice Division” within the Justice Department to prosecute anti-pollution cases. “These aren’t pie-in-the-sky dreams,” he said. “These are actionable policies that we can get to work on right away.”
Many of Biden’s proposals build on the recommendations of a task force made up jointly of allies of Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. Those recommendations include plans to dramatically expand solar and wind energy, including the installation of 500 million solar panels and 60,000 wind turbines.
Biden’s plan is likely to trigger a vigorous debate with President Donald Trump, who has a much different approach to the country’s energy sector and climate policy.
Trump, a strong backer of fossil fuels, has sought to roll back Obama-era policies aimed at decreasing carbon dioxide emissions and setting new standards for household items such as lightbulbs. He has also downplayed the science behind climate change, and in 2017 he pledged to pull the United States out of the Paris climate pact.
Trump’s embrace of the coal industry was one of his signature issues in 2016, part of his portrait of Hillary Clinton as disdainful of the country’s industrial workers. It’s not clear whether Trump can successfully level similar attacks against Biden, or whether the political landscape has shifted to make that difficult.
In 2016, Republicans attacked Clinton for her comment that “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business,” though Clinton was suggesting this would happen because of market forces, not as part of her plan.
Trump, meanwhile, pledged to revive the ailing coal industry, telling miners in West Virginia that “we are going to get those mines open” if he were elected. But the coal industry has continued to struggle under Trump, largely because of competition from natural gas and renewable energy.
The Trump campaign was quick to go after Biden’s proposal Tuesday.
“His plan is more like a socialist manifesto that promises to massively raise taxes, eliminate jobs in the coal, oil or natural gas industries, and crush the middle class,” said Hogan Gidley, the campaign’s national press secretary.”He’s pushing extreme policies that would smother the economy just when it’s showing signs of roaring back.”
Biden, in pledging Tuesday to achieve 100 percent clean electricity by 2035, embraced a more direct approach than President Barack Obama, his boss at the time, took a decade ago during his own efforts to rein in emissions from the power sector.
During his first year in office, Obama worked with congressional Democrats on a cap-and-trade system, in which companies buy and sell credits permitting them to release carbon into the atmosphere.
But the measure proved politically toxic. It passed the House but was never given a vote in the Senate.
Instead, Biden wants to require electric utilities to get more of their power from carbon-free sources – including wind, solar, nuclear and hydroelectric – and to improve the energy efficiency of their systems or face penalties.
While some changes could be made through executive actions, a sweeping plan like Biden’s could face resistance in Congress – one reason the campaign is framing it as an economic package and not solely an environmental initiative. If Biden wins, its fate may depend on whether Democrats retake the Senate, but the plan’s supporters say it has more appeal than a cap-and-trade system.
“It’s built on a smart approach that’s already been tested in the states,” said Dan Reicher, a former Energy Department official who co-founded Clean Energy for Biden, which is fundraising for the campaign. “It will be less controversial than a national cap-and-trade system or carbon tax, with real prospects for bipartisan support.”
Similar standards have proved to be politically viable at the state level. A majority of states – including several conservative ones such as Montana, Iowa and Texas – have imposed their own renewable energy requirements on local utilities. But no standard exists at the federal level.
The ratcheted-up targets came after Biden faced pressure from young left-leaning activists and major environmental groups to do more to address what they see as a generational crisis.
Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president of government affairs at the League of Conservation Voters, praised the Biden campaign’s announcement for going “further than the strong plan he put out last summer,” saying public polling shows voters have an appetite for action. Nearly two-thirds of Americans say the federal government should act more aggressively against climate change, according to a recent poll from the Pew Research Center.
The big-spending League of Conservation Voters, which pumped more than $80 million into the 2018 election, endorsed Biden in April only after he promised to toughen his climate plan.
Biden said Tuesday that the proposal was aimed at twin goals of rebuilding the economy and fighting climate change. Much of the spending, he said, would go toward repairing bridges and roads and improving public transportation systems.
He claimed that his proposal was doing what Trump has not, in what became a running joke as the White House week after week said the president would focus on repairing the country’s infrastructure, only to digress into other subjects.
“It seems like every few weeks when he needs a distraction from the latest charges of corruption . . . the White House announces, quote, it’s infrastructure week,” Biden said. “But he’s never delivered. He’s never even really tried.”
Biden’s proposal says all American-built buses should emit zero greenhouse gases by 2030, and it would also aim to convert the country’s 500,000 school buses, including those running on diesel fuel, to zero emissions. As Biden has promised previously, he would also aim to build 500,000 electric vehicle charging stations.
To tackle climate-warming pollution from the transportation sector, the nation’s biggest greenhouse gas source, Biden is endorsing a bill from Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., that would pay people to trade in gas-guzzling cars for electric and other low-emissions vehicles – essentially a “cash for clunkers” program on steroids.
While comparing his proposals to what the Obama administration did during the 2009 stimulus, Biden said, “We’ll do it again. But this time bigger and faster and smarter.”
Biden also said he would use the government’s purchasing power to convert 3 million vehicles in the federal fleet to clean cars, giving the auto industry an incentive to produce more environmentally friendly cars, trucks and postal vehicles.
Biden’s campaign declined to describe exactly how he would pay for the new spending. Some of it, advisers said, would be through stimulus funding, which could add to the ballooning federal deficit. It could also be offset by rescinding the tax cuts pushed by Trump and approved by a Republican-controlled Congress in 2017, or by “asking the wealthiest Americans to pay their fair share,” the advisers said.
The campaign intends to more fully describe how its plans would be funded in the coming weeks, after Biden outlines more of his spending plans, aides said.
The climate proposal does not go into detail about what would happen to areas of the country that are heavily reliant on the fossil fuel industry, although one part of Biden’s plan aims to create 250,000 jobs plugging abandoned oil and natural gas wells and reclaiming abandoned coal, hard-rock and uranium mines.
Biden is also calling for the creation of a “civilian climate corps,” an idea that was promoted during the Democratic primary by Gov. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., and modeled after the Civilian Conservation Corps established by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt during the Great Depression.
Biden has spoken with Inslee, who ran against him in the Democratic primary with a campaign focused sharply on climate change, and former Inslee advisers have been working with Biden’s campaign to craft his energy policy.
“This is the single most comprehensive and ambitious climate plan ever advanced by a major presidential nominee,” said Sam Ricketts, who co-authored Inslee’s climate plan and co-founded Evergreen Action, a group pushing to implement the Inslee plan.
Biden is also calling for several environmental justice provisions, including a proposal that some 40 percent of the money he wants to spend on clean energy would go to historically disadvantaged communities.
Biden held a fundraiser Monday with about 140 executives where he spoke about his focus on clean energy.
“I don’t have to be Pollyannaish about this: Donald Trump has ignored the warning, refused to prepare,” he said of the climate crisis.
The former vice president also said he would take swift action and set a more urgent timeline than his earlier proposal, which would have sought to eliminate carbon emissions from power plants by 2050.
That 2050 deadline, he said, “is a million years from now [for] most people. My plan is focused on taking action – now. God willing I win and even if I serve eight years, I want to make sure we put down such a marker that it’s impossible for the next president to turn it around.”
By The Washington Post · Mark Berman · NATIONAL, COURTSLAW The Trump administration on Tuesday morning carried out the first federal execution since 2003, following a series of court battles and a Supreme Court order, released shortly after 2 a.m., clearing the way for the lethal injection to take place.
Federal officials executed Daniel Lewis Lee, 47, who was convicted in 1999 of killing a family of three, at a penitentiary in Terre Haute, Ind. Lee was pronounced dead at 8:07 a.m. Tuesday, the Bureau of Prisons said.
“I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life, but I’m not a murderer,” Lee said when asked if he wanted to make a final statement, according to the pool report. His final words were: “You’re killing an innocent man.”
Although the death penalty has been in decline nationwide for years, with executions and death sentences down significantly, the Justice Department has publicly pushed against that trend for nearly a year. The department has argued in court and in public statements that it needed to carry out lawful sentences, citing the gravity of the crimes involved.
Last year, the department laid out a new lethal injection protocol – using one drug, pentobarbital – and said it would begin carrying out executions, leading to extended legal challenges. Attorney General William Barr had said recently that officials “owe it to the victims of these horrific crimes, and to the families left behind.”
Lee had challenged his execution on his own and along with other death-row inmates. His execution was also opposed by some relatives of his victims, who argued against his death sentence in the case and sought to stop his lethal injection from taking place amid the coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday, Lee’s lethal injection – originally scheduled for 4 p.m. that afternoon – was left on hold following a judge’s order that he and other death-row inmates could pursue their court cases arguing that the new lethal-injection protocol is unconstitutional.
An appeals court said late Monday that it would not let the executions take place as planned, but a divided Supreme Court weighed in overnight saying they could proceed.
In an unsigned 5-4 order, the court’s conservative justices said the prisoners on death row had “not made the showing required to justify last-minute intervention.”
“It is our responsibility to ensure that method-of-execution challenges to lawfully issued sentences are resolved fairly and expeditiously, so that the question of capital punishment can remain with the people and their representatives, not the courts, to resolve,” said the opinion, which quoted court precedents.
Although the author is unclear, the opinion was the work of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.
The court’s four liberal justices wrote two dissents. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, joined by Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan, said that the court was “hastily” ending the inmates’ challenges and that as a result, there would “be no meaningful judicial review of the grave, fact-heavy challenges” they brought. Justice Stephen Breyer, joined by Ginsburg, reiterated his view that the court should examine whether the death penalty itself is unconstitutional.
Media witnesses at Lee’s execution on Tuesday morning saw him strapped to a gurney and with an IV in his left arm and both arms restrained, according to the pool report. When the lethal drug was being injected, his breathing appeared to become labored, his chest eventually stopped moving and his lips appeared to turn blue.
Ruth Friedman, an attorney for Lee, decried the government’s decision to execute him during the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is beyond shameful that the government, in the end, carried out this execution in haste, in the middle of the night, while the country was sleeping,” she said in a statement. “We hope that upon awakening, the country will be as outraged as we are.”
Barr said Lee had “finally faced the justice he deserved” on Tuesday morning.
“The American people have made the considered choice to permit capital punishment for the most egregious federal crimes, and justice was done today in implementing the sentence for Lee’s horrific offenses,” he said in a statement.
Even after the Supreme Court’s order, uncertainty still lingered for hours in the case. Friedman said Lee “remained strapped to a gurney” for the four hours leading up to his execution as another legal dispute played out. She said another stay was still in place.
The Justice Department said Lee would have been executed at 4 a.m., but it attributed the four-hour delay that followed to his attorneys contesting whether the execution could proceed. Kerri Kupec, a department spokeswoman, called it “a last-minute procedural claim” in a statement.
Lee and another man were convicted of murdering three people, including Nancy Mueller and her 8-year-old daughter, Sarah Powell. He and this other man, Chevie Kehoe, were part of a group intending to create a white supremacist community in the Pacific Northwest, and they traveled to Arkansas in 1996, where they robbed and murdered William Mueller, a firearms dealer, along with his wife and the child, court records show. The men placed plastic bags over their heads and threw them into a bayou, the records show.
Relatives of victims in the case had fought against Lee’s execution, asking that it be called off or at least postponed because of the coronavirus, saying they would have to put their lives at risk to witness his death. Lee’s execution, which was first scheduled to take place last year before being delayed several months by other court challenges. The victims’ relatives who spoke out said it was unfair that Lee was given a death sentence while Kehoe, who officials described as the ringleader in the killings, was sentenced instead to life in prison, a position echoed later by the judge and lead prosecutor from the trial.
In a court case filed last week, the three relatives – Earlene Peterson, Nancy Mueller’s mother; Kimma Gurel, Mueller’s sister; and Monica Veillette, her niece – had asked that the execution be postponed. Although they did not support the execution, the relatives said, they still felt obligated to attend.
But all three said they have existing health issues, so they faced “grave risk” if they traveled during the pandemic and went to a federal prison. They asked that it be postponed so they did not have to choose between staying home or risking infection.
“No other family should have to make this decision . . . the families of victims should not be put in a position where they have to risk their lives or give up their right” as a witness, Veillette said in an interview. “That is not how we should be treating the families of victims in this country.”
Lee’s execution had been put on hold and then cleared to proceed multiple times in recent days. A federal judge in Indiana last week blocked it from proceeding because of the relatives’ court challenge, while an appeals court panel on Sunday evening said it could take place.
The relatives ultimately decided not to travel to Indiana because they had determined that the health risks were too great. The appeals court’s ruling also came too late for them to travel as planned, they said.
Then on Monday morning, a federal judge blocked the government from executing Lee or two other men scheduled to face lethal injections this week. Wesley Purkey, who was convicted in 2003 of raping and murdering Jennifer Long, a teenage girl, and Dustin Lee Honken, who was convicted in 2004 of killing five people, including two young girls.
Purkey’s execution is scheduled for Wednesday, although another court has temporarily stayed it on other grounds, while Honken’s is scheduled for Friday. The Justice Department is also asking the Supreme Court to let Purkey’s execution proceed, but the court has not ruled on that yet.
In a separate case, spiritual advisers for Purkey and Honken are seeking to have their executions delayed and arguing that they face health risks if they minister during the pandemic.
U.S. District Judge Tanya Chutkan of the District of Columbia wrote in an order Monday that she was blocking all of their executions, and another set for August, because it was necessary to let the inmates’ legal challenges to the government’s lethal-injection protocol play out in court. They had argued that lethal injection is unconstitutional, saying it amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.
The Justice Department quickly appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and the Supreme Court. Late Monday night, hours after Lee’s execution was originally scheduled, the D.C. Circuit appeals court declined to let the lethal injections proceed and said the inmates’ challenges could move forward.
In its early morning orders on Tuesday, the Supreme Court also rejected a case brought to them by the relatives of victims in Lee’s case, seeking to have his execution postponed because of their coronavirus-related fears. The court denied that without comment.
“It just became very painfully clear to us that as many times as it was said this was being done for the families of the victims … that in the end nobody cared about us at all,” Veillette said in an interview after the execution.
She called the Supreme Court’s early morning orders disappointing but not surprising. Veillette said she was up all night monitoring the news from her home in Washington state and in regular touch with her mother, at her own home in the same state, and her grandmother in Arkansas. Early Tuesday morning, Veillette said, her attorney told her Lee had been executed.
“We will never get peace from this,” Veillette said, describing herself as deeply sad and angry at the outcome. “Because justice was not served … This was done in Nancy and Sarah’s name. And that is the final part of their story now.”
By The Washington Post · Colby Itkowitz · NATIONAL, BUSINESS, WORLD, POLITICS, ASIA-PACIFIC
WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump signed legislation to punish China over its aggressive actions toward Hong Kong, but he spent little time talking about the issue during a Tuesday news conference intended to announce the move. Instead, he focused his remarks on attacking presumptive Democratic opponent Joe Biden in a campaign-style event in the White House Rose Garden.
The bill Trump signed, which unanimously passed Congress last week, imposes sanctions on China over its ongoing crackdown on Hong Kong, where officials have imposed a sweeping national security law that allows Beijing to target political opponents in the once-autonomous city. Under the new standard, Hong Kongers who are deemed guilty of “subversion” face a possible life sentence in prison – the same as political dissidents in mainland China.
Human rights advocates and lawmakers in both parties have denounced China’s actions toward Hong Kong.
Trump also issued an executive order ending the United States’ longtime preferential treatment of Hong Kong, saying it would now be treated the same as mainland China with regard to economic and other issues.
The president spoke briefly about those measures before turning his attention to Biden and what Trump describes as the former vice president’s soft stance on China as Democrats blame Trump for not being tougher with China when the coronavirus first showed up there out of fear it would blow up his trade deal.
“Joe Biden’s entire career has been a gift to the Chinese Communist Party and to the calamity of errors that they’ve made,” Trump said, later claiming that “Biden expressed more fawning praise about China on an ordinary day than about America.”
He also used the official White House podium to attack Biden’s son, Hunter, over a lucrative job he had in China, which the president has long suggested without evidence was corrupt.
In the months since the coronavirus ravaged the United States, Trump has blamed China for its spread, reiterating Tuesday, “We hold China fully responsible for concealing the virus and unleashing it upon the world.” He again heralded his own limited travel ban from China earlier in the year and slammed Biden for not supporting it, claiming that “thousands more people would have died” if Trump hadn’t taken that step.
More than 130,000 Americans have died of the coronavirus infection.
Trump quickly segued to broader attacks on Biden’s candidacy and Democratic policies unrelated to China, from infrastructure to immigration to climate to federal monument vandalism, saying, “Biden has gone radical left.”
He baselessly accused Biden of wanting to “abolish law enforcement as we know it” and “defund the military.”
“There’s never been a time when two candidates were so different,” Trump said.