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Biden wants fast COVID aid, but minimum wage hike is in serious doubt

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden laid out his case Friday for moving fast to pass $1.9 trillion in coronavirus relief, but even as he opened the door to proce

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WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden laid out his case Friday for moving fast to pass $1.9 trillion in coronavirus relief, but even as he opened the door to proceeding without Republicans, he conceded that a key element of his plan — hiking the minimum wage to $15 per hour — was unlikely to become law.

The stakes for the county and economy were amplified Friday morning by the release of the government’s jobs report for January, which showed that hiring had stalled to a pace that could hinder a return to full employment for several years. Some 406,000 people left the labor force last month as deaths from the pandemic have surged.

“A lot of folks are losing hope,” Biden said in a speech at the White House. “I believe the American people are looking right now to their government for help, to do our job, to not let them down. So I’m going to act. I’m going to act fast. I’d like to be doing it with the support of Republicans … they’re just not willing to go as far as I think we have to go.”

The jobs report landed shortly after Senate Democrats cast a decisive vote to muscle the COVID relief plan through the chamber without Republican support, a step toward final approval next month. Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote in the Senate, her first.

Biden’s speech solidified a marked shift in tone and strategy for a president who entered the White House pledging bipartisanship and met on Monday with 10 Republican senators pushing a slimmed-down $618 billion alternative. Biden concluded in his Friday speech that aid at that level would only prolong the economic pain.

Still, the president acknowledged Friday that one of his most ambitious proposals, raising the minimum wage, would likely be left out of the final bill.

“I put it in, but I don’t think it’s going to survive,” Biden said in an interview with “CBS Evening News” anchor Norah O’Donnell, adding he would push to raise it in a standalone bill. “No one should work 40 hours a week and live below the poverty wage. And if you’re making less than $15 an hour, you’re living below the poverty wage.”

Senate Democrats applauded after Harris announced the chamber’s 51-50 vote on the budget measure at around 5:30 a.m. The action came after a grueling all-night session, where senators voted on amendments that could define the contours of the eventual COVID-19 aid bill.

Following Senate approval, the House passed the measure 219-209 on Friday afternoon, also without a Republican vote. The coronavirus aid package can now work its way through congressional committees with the goal of finalizing additional relief by mid-March, when extra unemployment assistance and other pandemic aid expires. It’s an aggressive timeline that will test the ability of the new administration and Congress to deliver.

“We have been focused like a laser on getting this done,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said after leading Democrats in the House met with Biden on Friday. “We hope to be able to put vaccines in people’s arms, money in people’s pockets, children safely in schools and workers in their jobs. That’s what we are doing now.”

The push for stimulus comes amid new signs of a weakening U.S. economy. Employers added just 49,000 jobs in January, after cutting 227,000 jobs in December, the Labor Department said Friday. Restaurants, retailers, manufacturers and even the health care sector shed workers last month, meaning that private employers accounted for a meager gain of 6,000 jobs last month.

“At that rate, it’s going to take 10 years until we hit full employment,” Biden said during his Oval Office meeting with House Democrats. “That’s not hyperbole. That’s a fact.”

The unemployment rate fell to 6.3% from 6.7%, but there was a decline in the number of people who were either working or looking for a job in a sign that people are dropping out of the labor force. The U.S. economy is 9.9 million jobs shy of its pre-pandemic level.

Biden, who has been meeting with lawmakers in recent days to discuss the package, welcomed the leaders of House committees who will be assembling the bill under the budget process known as “reconciliation.” Money for vaccine distributions, direct payments to households, school reopenings and business aid are at stake.

The size of the package has been a concern for several Republican lawmakers and some economists. Larry Summers, a former treasury secretary during the Clinton administration, said in a column for The Washington Post that the $1.9 trillion package was three times larger than the projected economic shortfall. A separate analysis by the Penn Wharton Budget Model found the plan would do little to boost growth relative to its size.

The Senate also passed an amendment 99-1 that would prevent the $1,400 in direct checks in Biden’s proposal from going to “upper-income taxpayers.” But the measure, led by Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is ultimately symbolic and nonbinding and does not specify at what level a person qualifies as upper income.

Biden told CBS he was “prepared to negotiate” on the upper boundary for where payments would phase out.

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Source: https://www.nujournal.com/uncategorized/2021/02/06/biden-wants-fast-covid-aid-but-minimum-wage-hike-is-in-serious-doubt/

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Coast Guard Suspends Rescue Efforts, Revises Death Toll to 3 in Smuggling Boat Tragedy

An investigation was continuing Monday into an apparent human-smuggling operation involving a boat that overturned in coastal waters near Point Loma over the weekend, killing three people and injuring more than two dozen others.

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Wreckage from the boat washes ashore near the Cabrillo Monument. Courtesy OnScene.TV

An investigation was continuing Monday into an apparent human-smuggling operation involving a boat that overturned in coastal waters near Point Loma over the weekend, with authorities revising down the death toll from four to three.

A total of 29 people survived the ocean accident, according to the U.S. Coast Guard, which Monday morning suspended its efforts to locate any other victims at sea.

The accident happened about 10 a.m. Sunday, when the 40-foot trawler-style vessel crashed into the shoreline near Cabrillo National Monument and capsized, according to the Border Patrol. All the occupants jumped in the water as the boat slowly disintegrated, a bystander’s video showed.

“It was a smuggling vessel,” U.S. Customs and Border Protection spokesman Jeffery Stephenson told reporters. “Border Patrol agents are with a man we believe was the operator.”

Migrant smugglers “don’t care about the people they’re exploiting,” he said.

“All they care about is profit,” Stephenson told news crews. “They had inadequate safety equipment, and obviously this vessel was severely overcrowded.”

City lifeguards responding to the emergency conducted seven water rescues and helped get one person off a seaside bluff, said James Gartland, lifeguard chief.

“This was a mass-rescue operation that turned into a mass-casualty event,” Gartland said.

There was one major trauma, and three people were treated with CPR, he said. One of the victims remained hospitalized in critical condition Monday morning, according to the Coast Guard.

Gartland said the accident was probably the worst he had seen in his 26 years in the lifeguard service.

“It’s a tragic event here in San Diego,” he said.

San Diego Fire-Rescue Department personnel, lifeguards, U.S. Coast Guard vessels and aircraft, and Customs and Border Protection air support were still in the area Sunday night searching for other possible victims.

The people who were rescued were taken to various hospitals, including Sharp Memorial, Palomar Medical Center West, Alvarado, UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest, Grossmont Hospital, Kaiser Clairemont Mesa, Kaiser Zion and Paradise Valley Hospital, according to the SDFRD.

No details about the victims were immediately available.

Nearly 100 personnel were assigned to the rescue, including medics, fire engine crews and a chaplain.

The cause of the accident was under investigation.

–City News Service

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Source: https://timesofsandiego.com/uncategorized/2021/05/03/suspected-human-smuggling-boat-founders-off-point-loma-killing-three/

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Dear Annie: Mother-in-law kept out

Dear Annie: My daughter-in-law could probably have written the letter about the person trying too hard to please their disapproving mother-in-law. The reality

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Dear Annie: My daughter-in-law could probably have written the letter about the person trying too hard to please their disapproving mother-in-law.

The reality is that there are always two sides to every story. Mine is that at some point, I did or said something to hurt my daughter-in-law. But I am not allowed to know what that was. So, any apology seems empty, although I have tried.

She now treats our entire family with complete apathy. We try. We send cards and acknowledge birthdays, anniversaries and holidays, despite having received no reciprocation for years. We offer to visit cross-country but are told it is a bad time. We offer to video chat but are often rejected. Our son does contact us with the grandchildren on occasion.

We would love to be a part of our grandkids’ lives, but rejection gets harder and harder with time. We are blocked from Facebook posts and are not allowed to know our granddaughter’s cell number. It is all very sad indeed.

Our daughter-in-law is loved and cared for, but her perception is that she is not. Please encourage others to forgive and reconcile. Life is too short to allow bitterness to fester and relationships to be destroyed.

A bright note is that our son’s in-laws treat us with love and respect, and they are thankful that they have us in their lives. — Two Sides to Every Story

Dear Two Sides to Every Story: Thank you for this different perspective. Forgiveness is a gift for you to give yourself as well as your daughter-in-law. The problem with her seems to be caused by her issues, not yours. But keep trying. Her parents’ kindness is reason for hope.

——–

Dear Annie: My brother lives next door to my parents and me and is driving me crazy. He refuses to get vaccinated despite my parents being in their 60s, and we have an immune-compromised family. He lives with a pregnant nurse, and she refuses to wear a mask or get vaccinated.

They still come into our home and to small family events, and they don’t follow requests to mask up properly or socially distance. They also recently came over to our home and tried to diagnose my nephew with autism. He sees a team of professionals, including doctors, who have all stated that he is not autistic.

I tell my parents this is unacceptable behavior that crosses the line. Unfortunately, they do not agree with me, and it’s causing conflict. I understand that I cannot control my brother’s actions, and I have voiced my concerns about our safety to him directly, but he brushes me off. What else can I do? — Living Next Door to Peter Pan

Dear Living Next Door to Peter Pan: It sounds like your parents side more with your brother, though I’m not sure why they would. Start by ironing out the rules of the house and letting them be known to all, including your parents. If you want guests — including family — to wear masks and socially distance, then they must wear masks and socially distance. As far as your brother attempting to diagnose your son, tell him to MYOB and that you are relying on professionals.

——–

Send your questions for Annie Lane to dearannie@creators.com.

©2021 CREATORS.COM

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We would love to be a part of our grandkids’ lives, but rejection gets harder and harder with time. We are blocked from Facebook posts and are not allowed to know our granddaughter’s cell number. It is all very sad indeed.

Source: https://www.nujournal.com/uncategorized/2021/04/27/dear-annie-mother-in-law-kept-out/

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Lab director blames hospital for fertility clinic failure

Three years after a malfunctioning storage tank destroyed thousands of frozen eggs and embryos at an Ohio fertility clinic, its former lab director is blaming what he described as bungling staff and administrators who ignored his warnings. The claims made for the first time in legal filings this month have ignited a flurry of accusations […]

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by: JOHN SEEWER, Associated Press

Posted: Apr 22, 2021 / 06:39 AM CDT / Updated: Apr 22, 2021 / 07:58 AM CDT

This photo shows the exterior of University Hospital Ahuja Medical Center, Monday, March 12, 2018, in Beachwood, Ohio. The former lab director at a fertility clinic where a malfunctioning storage tank destroyed thousands of frozen eggs and embryos in 2018 is blaming what he described as bungling staff and administrators who ignored his warnings. The claims made in legal filings in April 2021 have ignited a flurry of accusations between University Hospitals in Cleveland and its former employee and his attorney. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

Three years after a malfunctioning storage tank destroyed thousands of frozen eggs and embryos at an Ohio fertility clinic, its former lab director is blaming what he described as bungling staff and administrators who ignored his warnings.

The claims made for the first time in legal filings this month have ignited a flurry of accusations between University Hospitals in Cleveland and its former employee and his attorney.

Andrew Bhatnager, who oversaw the clinic’s fertility tanks, said in an affidavit quickly sealed by a judge that a series of avoidable mistakes led to the tank failure. He also said he was pressured by the hospital’s lawyers to withhold details about what went wrong.

Hospital attorneys called his statements “salacious, misleading and untrue” and have asked a northeastern Ohio court to stop Bhatnager’s lawyer from releasing what it says is confidential information. A judge has scheduled a hearing for Friday to consider the request.

The back and forth erupted in what is one of the last remaining lawsuits against the hospital from the loss of more than 4,000 frozen eggs and embryos in March 2018. That failure and a second one the same day at a fertility clinic in San Francisco were the biggest such losses on record in the U.S., causing centers around the nation to review their procedures.

University Hospitals already has settled with hundreds of coupleswho had stored their eggs and embryos at the clinic and were devastated because the tank failures meant they might not be able to have their own children. Some had been trying for years to get pregnant, suffered multiple miscarriages or undergone cancer treatments that destroyed their fertility.

Just weeks after the storage tank failure, University Hospitals sent a letter to its patients saying that the tank had been malfunctioning for weeks and that someone had turned off an alarm system that should have alerted staff when its temperature began to rise.

The maker of the tank, which has been a target in other lawsuits, said its initial investigation concluded its equipment didn’t malfunction and that missteps were made at the clinic in suburban Cleveland.

Little else has been released about what happened because all of the settlements with the families have been private and many of the documents filed in the lawsuits have been sealed.

But Bhatnager, one of several hospital employees included in the lawsuits, shared his version of the events this month after a rift developed between him and his former lawyers, who also represented University Hospitals. He accused the hospital of making him a scapegoat and said its attorneys wanted to stop him from telling the truth.

His new attorney publicly filed statements in a Geauga County court. In his affidavit, Bhatnager said he warned hospital administrators during his 18-month tenure that the fertility center was understaffed and had too many unqualified workers.

He said he was was not at the lab when the disaster occurred on March 4, 2018.

The staff, he said, failed to follow his instructions to move the embryos and eggs into another tank while the primary was undergoing maintenance and also didn’t properly fill the tank with liquid nitrogen to maintain the right temperatures.

Bhatnager’s lawyer, Subodh Chandra, has said the public has a right to know what happened.

But attorneys for University Hospitals want Chandra held in contempt of court, saying he publicly disclosed documents that contained confidential attorney-client information in an attempt to influence potential jurors with explosive and unsupported allegations.

“To be clear, this is not about hiding the truth. Rather, this is about making sure that an unbiased jury is responsible for determining the truth — and not news organizations fed by improper and false allegations from an attorney whose client admittedly has ulterior motives,” the hospital’s attorneys said in a court filing.

Source: https://www.ksnt.com/news/national/lab-director-blames-hospital-for-fertility-clinic-failure/

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