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Aug 13, 2020: Big Victory For Teachers in NJ

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It’s a victory for teachers unions in New Jersey as the state reconsiders its requirement for in-person classes. Can their campaign be replicated elsewhere students, teachers, and families remain at risk due to COVID-19?

Meanwhile, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris make their first appearance together in Delaware. Reviews are encouraging, but mixed.

And lastly, a big win for the birds! A federal judge overturned a Trump administration rule change that let oil companies off the hook for killing wildlife en masse.


Teachers unions at a single district in New Jersey forced a statewide policy reversal from the governor over safety concerns in schools. Some four hundred out of a total two thousand teachers at the Elizabeth school district opted out of teaching in-person classes, citing health fears on account of the coronavirus pandemic. Governor Phil Murphy had originally mandated that all New Jersey schools offer in-person learning. But after the strong showing by teachers in Elizabeth, Murphy changed his tune. On Monday, the district voted to begin the school year with all-online learning for twenty-eight thousand students, blaming COVID-19 and the subsequent teacher shortage.

Then, late on Tuesday, in a joint statement with principals and administrators, the teachers union called for online learning statewide. The statement called for swift and decisive action from the governor. The union said that while remote education cannot replace in-person instruction, QUOTE we believe that a carefully planned, well-resourced remote education plan is better than the dangerous, uncertain in- person alternative currently available to us ENDQUOTE. Yesterday, Murphy, an ally of the teachers union, finally dropped the in-person learning requiorement.

The union wasn’t alone in its campaign. The mayor of Newark, a former high school principal, had advised parents to keep their kids home from school on account of the risk. And while opinions remain divided among parents, students, and teachers, one parent told CBS News why she thought holding classes online for now was the right choice. She said, QUOTE do we

really want to risk our children going back to school, getting sick and getting all the other kids sick, and then we are all back lock down all over again? ENDQUOTE. Well, when you put it like that, no, I guess we don’t really want that.

Biden, Harris appear together

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris made their first joint appearance as a presidential ticket yesterday in Wilmington, Delaware. Calling Harris an honorary Biden, the former vice president said QUOTE we both believe we can define America in one word: possibilities. Possibilities. Let me say it again: possibilities ENDQUOTE. Harris attacked Donald Trump’s leadership failures and said it’s all on the line for America in this election. She said, QUOTE the case against Donald Trump and Mike Pence is open and shut... Electing Joe Biden is just the start of the work that’s ahead of us ENDQUOTE.

After their speeches, CNN reported, the two Democratic candidates held an online fundraiser for small-dollar donors. According to the Wall Street Journal, Wall Street breathed a sigh of relief when Biden chose Harris to be his number two. In Harris’s home state of California, reaction was a mixture of excitement and doubts, given the familiarity voters have there with Harris’s record as a US Senator as well as a prosecutor. Melina Abdullah, co-founder of Black Lives Matter Los Angeles, told the LA Times that she would’ve preferred a more progressive candidate as Biden’s vice presidential pick. However, she said, BLM leaders did have several positive interactions with Harris shortly after the group was founded.

Separately, the New York Times reported that Donald Trump’s son-in-law and key adviser Jared Kushner met with the rapper Kanye West last weekend. West is running his own Quixotic campaign for president and will appear on the ballot in at least a few states. According to the Times, West did not deny that he was running as a spoiler.

Judge restores conservation rule

A federal judge in New York overturned rule changes by the Trump administration that allowed corporations and individuals to kill vast numbers of birds. Trump changed the environmental rule in order to benefit oil companies, which had paid most of the fines under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918. The law covered a wide range of birds including eagles, red knots, Canada geese and vultures, according to the Washington Post. Trump changed the way it was interpreted two years ago, and required US Fish and Wildlife Service police to enforce the act only if they could prove violators intended to harm birds. In other words, if companies killed birds accidentally as part of their operations, they got a pass. That suited companies like BP just fine. The 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill killed an estimated one million birds. Under Trump’s interpretation of the law, they wouldn’t have been liable for that particular crime against nature. But US District Judge Valerie Caproni restored the plain meaning of the law in her ruling yesterday. Eight state attorneys general had joined the National Audubon Society and other conservation groups in challenging the Trump rule. Judge Caproni wrote QUOTE it is not only a sin to kill a mockingbird, it is also a crime. That has been the letter of the law for the past century. But if the Department of the Interior ha[d] its way, many mockingbirds and other migratory birds that delight people and support ecosystems throughout the country w[ould] be killed without legal consequence ENDQUOTE. In a joint statement, more than a thousand species of birds tweeted their thanks.


Bloomberg News reported that Trump has said privately he plans to replace Defense Secretary Mark Esper, a former Raytheon lobbyist, after the November election. For his part, Esper claims he plans to leave the administration regardless of the election’s outcome. Trump was reportedly mad that Esper didn’t get on board with deploying active-duty military to put down Black Lives Matter protests around the country. So there’s at least one functioning brain cell between them.

More than six thousand people have reportedly been arrested in Belarus after three nights of protests against alleged vote-rigging in Sunday’s presidential election. The main opposition candidate fled to Lithuania following threats to her children. The election commission declared a landslide victory for incumbent President Alexander Lukashenko. In Minsk yesterday, hundreds of women formed a human chain to protest against police brutality and mass arrests, the Guardian reported. The women wore white and held flowers.

The Colorado attorney general has opened a so-called pattern and practice investigation into the Aurora Police Department. The investigation centers on the death of

Elijah McClain, a young Black man who died in Aurora police custody last year. The AG’s announcement came the same day that McClain’s family filed a federal lawsuit against the department. Police Chief Vanessa Wilson pledged QUOTE full cooperation ENDQUOTE, but the Aurora Police Association has declined comment.

The chief executive of Uber says the company will shut down service in California if a judge does not overturn an unfavorable ruling. On Monday, a judge granted an injunction against the company that forbids it from classifying its drivers as independent contractors when they are in fact employees. But yesterday Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi told MSNBC that the company would rather shut down temporarily than comply with the law. Sounds like a personal problem!

Aug 13 2020 - AM Quickie

HOSTS - Sam Seder & Lucie Steiner

WRITER - Corey Pein

PRODUCER - Dorsey Shaw