Federal judge

Federal judge removes acting Bureau of Land Management director after finding he has served unlawfully for 424 days – CNN

Washington (CNN)A federal judge on Friday ordered acting Bureau of Land Management Director William Perry Pendley to step aside, blocking him from exercising any more authority after finding that he has served unlawfully for more than 400 days.

Chief District Judge Brian Morris of the US District Court of Montana ruled that Pendley has served unlawfully for 424 days, in response to a lawsuit brought by Democratic Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and the Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation. Morris additionally ruled Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt cannot pick another person to run the Bureau of Land Management as its acting head because that person must be appointed by the President and Senate-confirmed.
The judge gave both sides of the case 10 days to file briefs about which of Pendley’s orders must be vacated.
“Pendley has served and continues to serve unlawfully as the Acting BLM Director,” Morris wrote in his opinion. “His ascent to Acting BLM Director did not follow any of the permissible paths set forth by the U.S. Constitution or the (Federal Vacancies Reform Act). Pendley has not been nominated by the President and has not been confirmed by the Senate to serve as BLM Director.”
He added, “Secretary Bernhardt lacked the authority to appoint Pendley as an Acting BLM Director under the FVRA. Pendley unlawfully took the temporary position beyond the 210-day maximum allowed by the FVRA. Pendley unlawfully served as Acting BLM Director after the President submitted his permanent appointment to the Senate for confirmation — another violation of the FVRA. And Pendley unlawfully serves as Acting BLM Director today, under color of the Succession Memo.”
Pendley was nominated to be the permanent director of the agency in July but the Trump administration withdrew his nomination in September after a series of controversial statements — including saying that climate change is not real and falsely saying that there was no credible evidence of a hole in the ozone layer — were made public by CNN’s KFile.
The BLM manages 244 million acres of federal lands in the United States — one out of every 10 acres of land in the country — along with 30% of the nation’s minerals. As acting director of the BLM, Pendley wielded significant authority over the leasing and use of land for mining, recreation, and oil and gas exploration and development along with maintaining environmental protections for federal lands. The agency is currently taking steps to move its headquarters and employees out west.
Last year, Pendley became the fifth person to lead the bureau on a temporary basis after the departure of Director Neil Kornze less than a year into the Trump administration. Bullock filed suit in July challenging Pendley’s authority.
Pendley, a conservative activist, commentator and lawyer, was appointed by Bernhardt as acting director in July 2019.
Morris wrote that, by law, the position of Bureau of Land Management director is required to be confirmed by the Senate. The Trump administration argued that Pendley did not officially have the title of acting director, so the requirement does not apply.
“Such arguments prove evasive and undermine the constitutional system of checks and balances,” Morris wrote, adding that the administration referred to Pendley publicly as the agency’s director.
Interior Department spokesman Conner Swanson told CNN in an email the administration will appeal “immediately.”
“This is an outrageous decision that is well outside the bounds of the law,” Swanson said.
Bullock, who is challenging GOP Sen. Steve Daines in a competitive Senate race, tweeted, “Today’s ruling is a win for the Constitution, the rule of law, and our public lands.”

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Federal Government

Federal government executes inmate who blamed murder victim for using witchcraft on him – CNN

(CNN)The federal government on Tuesday executed an inmate who raped and murdered a 30-year-old nurse in Georgia 19 years ago and blamed the victim for using witchcraft on him.

William Emmett LeCroy, 50, was found guilty in March 2004 of carjacking resulting in death by a jury in the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia.
LeCroy’s attorneys Tuesday appealed to the US Supreme Court for a stay of execution, but in the first order since Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death, the court denied the request.
A pool reporter said he was pronounced dead at 9:06 p.m. ET.
According to the US Department of Justice, LeCroy killed Joann Lee Tiesler in 2001 while he was trying to flee the country.
Tiesler’s father, Tom, said Tuesday in a written statement that “justice was finally served.”
“I regret that it took nineteen years to get to this point but it has brought some needed closure to Joann’s family and friends,” he said.
When a prison official leaned over him Tuesday night, gently pulled off LeCroy’s mask and asked whether he had any last words for assembled witnesses, LeCroy responded calmly and matter of factly: “Sister Battista is about to receive in the postal service my last statement,” according to the pool reporter.
The pool reported that LeCroy kept his eyes open as the lethal injection was administered. His eyelids began to slowly close as his midsection quickly began to heave uncontrollably for a minute or two. After several more minutes, color drained from his limbs, his face turned ashen and his lips were tinted blue.

LeCroy told psychiatrist that victim had placed a spell on him

The Department of Justice said LeCroy broke into Tiesler’s home while the nurse was away, and then “attacked her, bound her hands behind her back, strangled her with an electrical cord, and raped her. Then he slashed her throat with a knife and stabbed Tiesler, 30, in the back five times,”.
According to an appellee’s brief filed in 2013, LeCroy’s attorneys hired a psychiatrist to evaluate LeCroy. During the exam, LeCroy told the psychiatrist, “he believed that Joann Tiesler was the babysitter who sexually abused him twenty years before and that he blamed the babysitter for many of the problems that he had had as an adult.
“Because of his beliefs in witchcraft, defendant (LeCroy) came to believe that the babysitter had placed a spell on him, and that he would have to force the babysitter (Ms. Tiesler) to reverse the spell.”
LeCroy — who was on supervised probation release after 10 years in state and federal prison for child molestation, statutory rape, burglary and aggravated assault — stole Tiesler’s vehicle and headed to the Canadian border where he was arrested, the release says.
“His conviction and sentence were affirmed on appeal, and his requests for collateral relief were rejected by every court that considered them,” the release adds.
It was the sixth federal execution since the Justice Department ended a 17-year hiatus on the practice in July.
Attorney General William Barr said in 2019 executions would resume under the Trump administration.
“The Justice Department upholds the rule of law — and we owe it to the victims and their families to carry forward the sentence imposed by our justice system,” he said.
Under Barr’s direction, the Federal Execution Protocol Addendum replaced a procedure using three drugs with one, pentobarbital, according to a news release.

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Federal Government

Federal Government Relaxes Rules on Feeding Low-Income Students – The New York Times

Under pressure from Congress, the Agriculture Department agreed to extend special rules making it easier for schools to provide subsidized meals, but only through December.

Credit…Jim Wilson/The New York Times

Kate Taylor

The Agriculture Department, under pressure from Congress and officials in school districts across the country, said on Monday that it would allow schools to provide free breakfast and lunch to any child or teenager through the end of 2020, provided funding lasts. Advocates for the poor hailed the announcement as an important step to ensure that more needy children are fed during the coronavirus pandemic.

It was a partial reversal by the department. Previously, the agency had said that when schools returned to session, whether remote or in-person, it would require them to resume serving meals only to students enrolled in their district — and to charge students who did not qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

But the department’s announcement on Monday still fell short of what advocates and many officials had been pushing for, namely to extend the special rules through the end of the school year, in 2021.

When schools shut down in the spring because of the coronavirus, the department authorized districts to distribute subsidized to-go meals to any child or teenager under 19. The change was intended to make it easier to get meals to low-income children while they were stuck at home — even if that meant offering free meals to everyone. Some districts offered meals at curbside pickup, while others brought them to bus stops or delivered them to students’ homes.

Officials in districts where schools started remotely in August said that going back to the regular rules had created hurdles for low-income parents and had led to huge drops in the number of subsidized meals they were serving, resulting in children going hungry. Unlike in the spring and summer, some parents had to go to each school where they had a child enrolled, rather than a single location, to pick up meals. And parents could no longer get meals for siblings below school age.

Lisa Thrower, a school nutrition director in Yuma, Ariz., said that in the spring, demand was so high for grab-and-go meals in her district, where three out of four students qualify for free or reduced-price school meals, that her staff could barely keep up. But since school started with remote instruction on Aug. 4, the number of meals the district was distributing had fallen to less than a tenth of what it was providing in April and May.

On Monday, Ms. Thrower said she was “elated” that the Agriculture Department had changed its policy, but wished the change had come sooner.

“I think it’s great for all food service operators,” she said, “especially those who haven’t started school yet, because I wouldn’t wish this nightmare on any of them.”

About 20 million children in the United States normally receive free lunches at school, and two million more receive meals at reduced prices, making the school lunch program the nation’s second-largest nutrition assistance program, after food stamps. (Children living in households with incomes at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty level qualify for free meals. Those in households with incomes between 130 and 185 percent of the poverty level qualify for reduced-price meals, which cannot cost more than 30 cents for breakfast or 40 cents for lunch.)


Credit…Denise Cathey/The Brownsville Herald, via Associated Press

When schools closed their doors in March, many children lost access to that critical source of nutrition. Then the Agriculture Department, using powers granted by Congress in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, issued waivers giving schools and community organizations significant flexibility in how they could distribute meals.

With a substantial number of schools, including almost all major urban districts, returning to school this fall with remote instruction only, members of Congress from both parties had urged the Agriculture Department to extend the special rules through the end of the school year. Of particular interest was allowing schools and community organizations to continue operating their summer nutrition programs, which fed all children under 19 without charge.

But Sonny Perdue, the secretary of agriculture, had asserted that his department had neither the money nor the authority to do that. Democrats disputed that, asserting that providing meals under the special rules had not cost any more than the standard school breakfast and lunch program, and that, in any case, Congress had given the department additional funding.

Senator Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, the top Democrat on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry, accused Mr. Perdue of using the issue to pressure schools to reopen physically, as President Trump has pushed them to do.

Part of what was at stake for school districts was financial. Many school food programs, which rely on economies of scale to stay solvent, had already seen major declines in participation after schools closed in the spring; further drops could have threatened their very existence.

Speaking at an elementary school in Georgia on Monday morning, Mr. Perdue repeated his argument that his department did not have the authority or the funding to extend the special rules through the end of the school year, and said he did not think it was appropriate to provide free meals to all students on a permanent basis.

But he said the department had listened to the concerns of school officials around the country and, after carefully analyzing the available funding, decided it could likely extend the special rules through the end of the calendar year. He said schools should prepare to return to the pre-coronavirus rules in January if Congress does not provide additional funding.

Ms. Stabenow and Representative Robert C. Scott, a Democrat of Virginia and the chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor, issued statements saying they were pleased by the change while exhorting the department to further extend the special rules.

“After a summer in which as many as 17 million children went hungry, the federal government should be doing everything in its power to address our nation’s child hunger crisis,” Mr. Scott said. He called the extension of the special rules through December “a temporary solution that will expire long before the child hunger crisis ends.”

The Agriculture Department has declined to answer questions about how much extending the rules through the end of the school year would cost. Asked about the cost of extending the program through this year, Mr. Perdue on Monday would only say, “It’s expensive.”

In Yuma, Ms. Thrower’s excitement was tempered by concerns about how quickly she could make parents aware that they could now come and get free meals for all of their children. And she wondered if the department was planning to make the change retroactive, so that her district could reimburse families who had been paying $1.50 a day per child over the last month.

“We finally are getting the word out to families that they do owe money when they come,” she said. “But now we’re going to say, ‘Hey, guys, guess what? It’s free now.’ So I think confusion will set in.”

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Federal firefighter

Federal firefighter units juggle COVID-19 infection on fire lines – NBC News

Federal firefighter units tasked with putting out some of the nation’s biggest wildfires are grappling with the reality of a fire season coinciding with a pandemic.

As historic wildfires have spread through much of the West this summer, firefighters organized within the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture’s U.S. Forest Service are testing positive for COVID-19 — having to, at times, learn on the fly how to mitigate the spread as virus spikes hit various fire camps assigned to active blazes.

Wildland firefighters are sometimes considered the last defense, called in after local resources are stretched thin. Federal crews spend the fire season crisscrossing state borders as they are sent to fight the latest burning blaze. And that constant traveling, as well as the close working proximity, have offered a challenge to COVID-19 mitigation, especially as firefighting methods like holding the line can require elbow-to-elbow teamwork.

In a normal year, the coordination between the Interior Department’s bureaus and the Forest Service, who compile the federal wildfire response, is complex. COVID-19 has added another element of complication.

Arizona’s Bush fire was one of the first major fires this season, and was one of the first to test out the dual challenge of firefighting during a pandemic. The blaze, first started by a car fire in the state’s Sonoran Desert, burned nearly 200,000 acres, ultimately becoming the fifth largest fire ever in the state.

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“We kind of live for this. This is a mission of ours. You know, we become firefighters because we want to protect the land and serve the people,” said Eric Solomon, a Forest Service public affairs officer for the Tonto National Forest, where the Bush fire was. “At the beginning of this fire season, COVID was still something that we really didn’t understand. So, there was definitely an element of fear there that, ‘What happens to me if I get sick?’”

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State and federal fire crews have had months between the onset of the pandemic and the anticipated fire season to prepare for the collision of the two, and many lead with the working assumption that crews would inevitably test positive. Melina Mara / The Washington Post via Getty Images

At one point, as many as 855 firefighters were assigned to fight the Bush fire. In late June, eight members of an Oregon-based Bureau of Land Management fire crew working to fight the fire tested positive for COVID-19 just days after arriving at the camp. They had to be quarantined at hotels with nine others that they came in contact with. The cluster of cases was considered to possibly be one of the largest COVID-19 exposures to firefighters so far this year, according to a report by John Szulc, fire risk management officer in the Pacific Northwest/Alaska region.

The incident was just one of many virus exposures that have so far taken place this fire season, with agency coordinators anticipating the number to grow. Fear of spread is especially heightened as experts warn breathing in wildfire smoke could worsen the symptoms of COVID-19.

“COVID has added another logistical layer on top of an already complicated logistical situation where you are providing for personnel safety, saving homes, and now providing for reducing spread amongst hundreds or thousands of firefighters on one incident,” a spokesperson for the National Interagency Fire Center, which organizes national fire response across the agencies, said.

State and federal fire crews have had months between the onset of the pandemic and the anticipated fire season to prepare for the collision of the two, and many lead with the working assumption that crews would inevitably test positive.

“The reality is you’re going to see positives in camp, that’s just the era we are in globally,” Mariana Ruiz-Temple, Oregon’s chief deputy fire marshal, said. “Knowing that and not being afraid of that, is what’s important.”

A joint study published this month by the Forest Service’s Rocky Mountain Research Station and the Colorado State University that modeled potential COVID-19 spread among fire camps, found that in the worst case scenario, more than 5 percent of all fire crew would be infected on the job, with it proving fatal for 1 percent.

The number of positive COVID-19 cases in federal firefighting crews is not being tracked on the national level. Instead, individual bureaus are responsible for counting and publicly sharing that data.

To date, 45 Bureau of Land Management firefighters, 122 Forest Service firefighters and one U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service firefighter have tested positive for the virus, according to each agency respectively. A seasonal firefighter working for the Bureau of Land Management in Fairbanks, Alaska, died Aug. 13 shortly after testing positive for COVID-19 while on the job. So far, 54 firefighters within the Bureau of Indian Affairs have tested positive for COVID-19, a source told NBC News, and the bureau confirmed five agency firefighters are currently positive with the virus. The National Park Service would not provide the total number of its fire staff who had tested positive, despite multiple requests.

U.S. Forest Service firefighters wear face masks at a morning briefing on the Bighorn Fire at Catalina State Park north of Tucson, Ariz., on June 22, 2020.U.S. Forest Service via AP

To counter the virus’s spread, crews have changed many aspects of their on-the-ground fire response including organizing smaller sleeping camps, suspending buffet lines, adopting Zoom-based morning check-ins and wearing masks during transport. But the adaptation has still offered challenges.

In one June incident, several firefighters across three states tested positive for the virus after a member of a fire helicopter, or helitack, team contracted COVID-19. The person on the helitack team for the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest started experiencing fever and chills while fighting the breakout of the Murphy fire in Nevada. That crew member self-isolated, but none of the 13 other members of the crew went for testing or were isolated, according to a report by the safety officer for Humboldt-Toiyabe.

“This was the third helitack crew member to be tested in the last couple weeks. Therefore, the apparent regularity of this process may have introduced a relaxed mood within the crew, not to mention the two previous negative test results,” the author of the report wrote.

Days later, those crew members were assigned to a fire at Colorado’s San Juan National Forest. One crew member and another dispatcher later tested positive, which ultimately led to the suspension of helitack operations for 14 days. Two Forest Service firefighters from Georgia’s Chattahoochee-Oconee National Forest who had been detailed to the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest, later also came down with COVID-19.

“Managing COVID-19 in the wildfire suppression environment is an exercise in trade-offs,” the safety officer wrote. “The threat of community impact from a wildfire has been deemed more significant than the threat of community spread from a potential exposure to COVID-19. What size of outbreak or degree of hospitalization will it take to change this dynamic? It’s not a matter of ‘if it will happen.’ It’s a matter of ‘when.’”

Solomon is more positive about the learning curve firefighters have had to deal with, when considering the balance of doing their jobs and being safe. He said wildland crews this year have largely been able to quickly learn how to best mitigate risks.

“I think we’re just adaptable. This is different. People just realized we just needed to do things a little differently this year,” he said. ”It’s just a new normal for us now.”

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Federal Police

Federal police clear plaza as Portland protests turn violent – New York Post

August 23, 2020 | 3:03am

Federal authorities on Saturday forced demonstrators away from a plaza near a federal building as dueling demonstrations in Portland by right-wing and left-wing protesters turned violent.

The area includes county and federal buildings and has been the site of numerous recent protests.

Department of Homeland Security officers moved through the plaza across from an 18-story federal building. A federal courthouse is also near that area.

Violent demonstrations have gripped Portland for months, following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.

The demonstration began at about noon near the Multnomah County Justice Center in Oregon’s biggest city, local media outlets reported. Demonstrators hurled rocks and other items at each other and got into fights. Streets were blocked amid the mayhem.

Images showed what appeared to be hundreds of people involved, many of them wearing helmets and carrying makeshift shields. Some demonstrators appeared to use pepper spray during clashes, and at least one person appeared to pull a gun. No arrests were reported.

The Justice Center in recent weeks has been the target of left-wing protesters mostly operating at night, when they frequently get into clashes with police. Saturday afternoon’s demonstrations spread to other areas as crowds marched.

Right-wing groups had announced a rally near the Justice Center Saturday afternoon that quickly drew counter-demonstrators. The building houses a police precinct, police headquarters, a county jail and courtrooms and is next door to a federal courthouse that was targeted for weeks last month by left-wing protesters who clashed with federal agents dispatched to Portland to protect it.

The protesters at Saturday’s demonstration included the Proud Boys right-wing group and left-wing protest groups, Democratic Socialists of America and Popular Mobilization, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

Portland police issued a warning about two hours after the demonstrations began, warning that officers were prepared to start using crowd control weapons if the violence did not end. By late afternoon, the crowds had dwindled.

In a statement, Portland Police said there had been questions about why the gathering wasn’t declared a riot and why city police officers didn’t intervene. Incident commanders have to determine whether police action will make things more dangerous, the statement said.

“In this case, there were hundreds of individuals and many weapons within the groups and an extremely limited amount of police resources actually available to address such a crowd,” police said… “Additionally, (Portland police officers) have been the focus of over 80 days of violent actions directed at the police, which is a major consideration for determining if police resources are necessary to interject between two groups with individuals who appear to be willingly engaging in physical confrontations for short durations.”

The Saturday afternoon clashes followed predawn clashes between police and about 200 left-wing protesters outside a different police precinct. President Donald Trump on Saturday morning tweeted: “Another bad night of Rioting in Portland, Oregon,”

Demonstrators hurled bottles and rocks at officers and pointed lasers at them, damaging police cars and causing minor injuries for several officers, Portland police said in a statement.

One protester was given medical treatment at the scene after he threw rocks at officers and was shot with what police described as a “sponge-tipped less-lethal round,” the statement said.

He was among nine people arrested. Three were charged with assault on a police officer.

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expired Federal

Did the expired $600 federal jobless benefit keep people from going back to work? Sudden drop in claims adds fuel to debate – MarketWatch

Economic Report

‘When you pay people more to sit at home … they sit at home’

Did generous unemployment benefits discourage many workers from returning to their jobs? A big drop in people seeking or receiving benefits in the past two weeks after the end of a $600 federal stipend hints the answer might be yes.

Initial jobless claims fell to 963,000 in early August, a decline of almost 500,000 from two weeks earlier. New applications had largely been flat at around 1.5 million a week from June to mid-July.

The number of peopled receving benefits, meanwhile, tumbled by 1.5 million in the last two weeks of July to 15.49 million just as the benefit was expiring. That’s the lowest level for these so-called continuing claims since early April.

Read:Jobless claims fall below 1 million for first time since start of coronavirus pandemic

Some economists say it’s no coincidence new and continuing applications for benefits began to tumble right around the July 31 expiration of the federal stipend.

“This is not rocket science, folks. When you pay people more to sit at home than to go back to work, they sit at home,” said chief economist Stephen Stanley of Amherst Pierpont Securities. “When you don’t, if they are offered a job, they go back to work.”

“This is not rocket science, folks. When you pay people more to sit at home than to go back to work, they sit at home. When you don’t, if they are offered a job, they go back to work.”

— -Stephen Stanley, chief economist of Amherst Pierpont Securities

Stanley and other Wall Street

economists in frequent contact with business people say they’ve repeatedly been told generous benefits made it harder for companies to hire or rehire.

“I hear it all the time from business people,” said Gus Faucher, chief economist at PNC Financial Services. “They tried to recall people and people either implied or outright stated, ‘Why should I return to work if I am making more from unemployment?’”

Yet economists largely in academia and at the Federal Reserve contend the problem is negligible. A handful of studies, including one by Yale, assert the federal stipend has had virtually no impact on whether people go back to work.

Million of people who returned to their jobs in May and June, the study pointed out, did so despite receiving a high level of benefits.

“We find no evidence that high [unemployment insurance] replacement rates drove job losses or slowed rehiring,” the Yale study said.

Mary Daly, president of the San Francisco Federal Reserve, also downplayed the role of the federal stipend on unemployment in a “digital town hall” on Tuesday. While she’s also heard plenty of anecdotes from businesses leaders, she said the number of people refusing to work is probably too low to make much of a difference.

The answer is not an academic exercise or an inside debate among economists with little bearing on public policy. The federal stipend hasn’t been renewed partly because Republicans argued it was keeping workers from returning to their jobs.

In the early stages of the pandemic, Congress and the White House agreed to pay an extra $600 a week to the unemployed on top of what they would normally receive from their state unemployment programs. State benefits ranged from a low of $235 a week in Mississippi to a high of $713 in New Jersey.

The new law also made self-employed workers such as Uber

drivers and freelance writers eligible for the very first time to collect benefits.

The combined state and federal payments resulted in millions of full-time workers who lost their jobs getting $800 or more a week. A study by the University of Chicago found that two-thirds of the tens of millions of people laid off during the pandemic earned more money from unemployment than they did from their old jobs.

The latest drop in new jobless claims could encourage conservatives to dig in their heels.

It provides “fuel for the argument that the enhanced benefits were providing an incentive for people to stay away from returning to work if they had the option,” said money-market economist Thomas Simons at Jefferies LLC. “The data of the past two weeks will not help the arguments of lawmakers fighting to extend the expired benefits.”

President Donald Trump has temporarily ordered a reduced federal payment of $300 a week amid an ongoing standoff between Democrats and Republicans over the next stimulus package.

Democrats are pushing for an extension of the full $600 stipend, saying people need the money and that they shouldn’t be forced to go back to work if they feel unsafe, especially those with preexisting conditions.

Whatever the outcome, economists do agree on one thing: Washington needs to act fast. They say the impasse is likely to hurt the economy soon if a compromise isn’t struck. Some added federal benefit is better for the economy and millions of unemployed than none at all.

“We know the economy is a lot smaller than it was six months ago. Businesses need fewer workers than they needed six months ago,’ Faucher said. “Taking away the benefits isn’t going to fix that problem. We could be choking off the recovery.”

He suggested a still-generous, if smaller, federal stipend of $400 a month as a way to bridge the divide in Washington. But neither party is budging.

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Federal officials

Federal officials warn of seasonal spike in polio-like condition that mostly affects children – The Washington Post

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned parents and caregivers Tuesday to watch out for an uncommon, polio-like condition that mostly strikes children, usually between August and November.

Acute flaccid myelitis, which may be caused by any of several viruses, is marked by a sudden weakness or paralysis of the limbs. Since surveillance began in 2014, prevalence of the ­syndrome has spiked in even-numbered years, often afflicting children about 5 years old.

The disease is very rare, but a quick response is critical once the weakness sets in; the disease can progress over hours or days and lead to permanent paralysis or respiratory failure, according to a report issued Tuesday by the CDC. Among 238 cases in 2018 reviewed by the CDC, 98 percent of patients were hospitalized, 54 percent required intensive care, and 23 percent were placed on ventilators to help them breathe.

Most patients were hospitalized within a day of experiencing weakness, but about 10 percent were not hospitalized until four or more days later, possibly because of failure to recognize the syndrome, the report said.

Limb weakness, difficulty walking and limb pain are often preceded by fever or respiratory illness, usually by about six days, the CDC said. Hundreds of U.S. children have been affected, and many do not fully recover.

A number of viruses — including West Nile virus, adenovirus and non-polio enteroviruses — are known to produce the symptoms in a small number of people who become infected by those pathogens. But enterovirus, particularly one dubbed EV-D68, appears to be the most common cause, the CDC said. The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is working on a vaccine for EV-D68.

Thomas Clark, the deputy director of the CDC’s division of viral diseases, said the coronavirus pandemic may force doctors to evaluate patients by phone or telemedicine, but he warned that they should not delay if they suspect the syndrome, which is considered a medical emergency.

It is unclear whether mask-wearing, social distancing and other measures that have been taken against the coronavirus will limit the outbreak of acute flaccid myelitis expected this year.

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appeals Federal

Federal appeals court tosses Tsarnaev death sentence, orders new penalty-phase trial – The Boston Globe

The court found that at least two of the 12 jurors did not fully disclose what they knew about the high-profile case or discussed it on social media before they were chosen to decide Tsarnaev’s fate. Crucially, O’Toole Jr. erred when he refused to press the jurors on the social media posts, instead relying on their claims that they could serve impartially, the court held.

“A judge cannot delegate to potential jurors the work of judging their own impartiality,” the ruling stated.

The ruling does not impact Tsarnaev’s convictions in the 2013 bombings, which killed three people and wounded more than 260 others.

“Just to be crystal clear … Dzhokhar will remain confined to prison for the rest of his life, with the only question remaining being whether the government will end his life by executing him,” the court wrote.

But relatives of the victims in the attack were enraged by the decision.

“I just don’t understand it,” said Patricia Campbell, whose daughter Krystle was killed in the bombings near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. “It’s just terrible that he’s allowed to live his life. It’s unfair. He didn’t wake up one morning and decide to do what he did. He planned it out. He did a vicious, ugly thing.”

She said she was not sure whether she would return to court to try to persuade another judge to reimpose the death penalty.

“I don’t even know if I’d waste my time going,” Campbell said. “The government’s just wasting money. He should be dead by now for what he did.”

Bill Richard, whose 8-year-old son Martin was killed in the bombings, declined to comment. He referred the Globe to an essay he and his wife, Denise, wrote shortly before Tsarnaev was sentenced to death, in which they called for his life to be spared.

“We are in favor of and would support the Department of Justice in taking the death penalty off the table in exchange for the defendant spending the rest of his life in prison without any possibility of release and waiving all of his rights to appeal,” they wrote at the time.

They added: “We know that the government has its reasons for seeking the death penalty, but the continued pursuit of that punishment could bring years of appeals and prolong reliving the most painful day of our lives. We hope our two remaining children do not have to grow up with the lingering, painful reminder of what the defendant took from them, which years of appeals would undoubtedly bring.”

A spokeswoman for US Attorney Andrew E. Lelling’s office said prosecutors are reviewing the ruling and would have more to say in the coming weeks. Two of Tsarnaev’s appellate lawyers couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.

Tsarnaev, now 27, was sentenced to death in 2015 for his role in the bombings two years earlier that killed three people and wounded hundreds more. He and his older brother, Tamerlan, also killed an MIT police officer while they were on the run.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev died in a confrontation with police in Watertown days after the blasts. Dzhokhar Tsarnaev eluded police initially but was captured later the same day.

In the ruling, the court found that O’Toole Jr. had mishandled the process of voir dire, when jurors are asked questions to determine whether they are suitable, particularly in cases that have received intense media coverage.

“Decisions long on our books say that a judge handling a case involving prejudicial pretrial publicity must elicit ‘the kind and degree’ of each prospective juror’s ‘exposure to the case or the parties,’” the court wrote.

Despite “a diligent effort,” O’Toole Jr. did not meet that standard, the court held.

The defense had argued at trial that Dzhokhar was led in the marathon plot by his domineering, violent older brother; prosecutors contended that Dzhokhar was a willing participant who became radicalized on his own.

The ruling also suggested jurors should have been told about Tamerlan’s alleged involvement in a triple murder in Waltham.

“If the judge had admitted this evidence, the jurors would have learned that Dzhokhar knew by the fall of 2012 that Tamerlan had killed the drug dealers in the name of jihad,” the decision read. “They also would have known that it was only after these killings that Dzhokhar became radicalized as well: Evidence actually admitted showed that Dzhokhar first flashed signs of radicalization — as is obvious from his texts on jihad — after spending a holiday break with Tamerlan several weeks or so after learning about the Waltham murders.”

The omitted evidence “might have tipped at least one juror’s decisional scale away from death,” he added.

Thompson was joined on the three-judge panel by Judges Juan R. Torruella and William J. Kayatta Jr.

Travis Andersen can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe. David Abel can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @davabel. Tonya Alanez can be reached at or 617-929-1579. Follow her on Twitter @talanez. Milton J. Valencia can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @miltonvalencia.

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Federal Reserve

Federal Reserve extends emergency lending facilities by 3 months – Financial Times

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Federal agents use tear gas to clear Portland protesters, police say they find Molotov cocktails | TheHill – The Hill

Clashes between protesters and federal law enforcement in Portland, Ore., continued on Sunday as demonstrators gathered outside a federal courthouse that has for weeks been the site of confrontations. 

U.S. federal agents used what appeared to be tear gas, flash bangs and pepper balls early Monday to disperse protesters who crowded around the Mark O. Hatfield United States Courthouse, according to The Associated Press.

The Portland Police Department said in a statement that hundreds of demonstrators gathered around the courthouse and spent hours chanting behind a fence positioned in front of it. 

Police said that around midnight some demonstrators launched “mortar-style fireworks” as others climbed over the fence. By 1. a.m., a person was said to have lit a fire near the fence as some demonstrators threw objects over it. Federal officers dispersed the crowds over the next several hours, police said, claiming that it was not involved in the clash with protesters. 

The events capped another night of tense protests in Portland, which have seen demonstrations in the city for 60 consecutive days since the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Unrest has mounted in recent weeks in response to the Trump administration’s deployment of federal officers to the area, with local officials demanding they leave.

Police in Portland said earlier Sunday that they had seized a bag containing loaded rifle magazines and Molotov cocktails near where the late-night protests have been taking place, though they noted on Monday that it didn’t appear to be associated with the demonstrations. They said that a bystander had pointed out the bag as officers investigated a report of shots being fired at Lownsdale Square Park.

Police said that they responded to a report of a shooting that day in the area, noting that two people were taken into custody before being released. A third person who was shot was taken to the hospital for nonlife-threatening injuries. 

“Ammunition and destructive devices recovered by Portland Police in the area of this incident at around the same time appear to be unrelated,” Portland police said. Police did not say whether the shooting was related to the protests. 

Sunday’s demonstration was smaller than previous nights, according to The Oregonian. Some individuals addressed the crowd in the early hours of the night and reportedly urged protesters to avoid violent confrontations.

But tensions quickly escalated later in the evening and police declared an unlawful assembly shortly after midnight. Federal officers reportedly fired tear gas and other crowd-control items around the same time. 

Authorities declared a riot the previous night after protesters breached the fence positioned in front of the courthouse.

Tensions have escalated in the city after President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden to pay tribute to Lewis at Capitol on Monday Cotton called out for remarks on slavery in criticism of 1619 Project Congress set for messy COVID-19 talks on tight deadline MORE dispatched federal officers earlier this month as part of a vow to protect federal property. Local officials, including Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler (D), have said the presence of the federal agents has only made things worse. 

Wheeler was hit with tear gas last week after appearing at a protest outside the federal courthouse. He told reporters at the scene that the actions amounted to “flat-out urban warfare.”

Demonstrators in cities such as Los Angeles and Seattle took to the streets over the weekend to show solidarity with the protesters in Portland. Local law enforcement declared a riot in Seattle after multiple buildings were vandalized and some fires were set.  

Administration officials have stood by their actions in Portland and Trump last week ordered federal agencies to “surge” their presence in Chicago and Albuquerque, N.M. Acting Homeland Security Secretary Chad WolfChad WolfDemonstrators protest Portland tactics outside home of DHS chief House lawmakers to launch probe into DHS excluding NY from Trusted Traveler Program White House, Congress talk next coronavirus relief bill as COVID-19 continues to surge MORE said in a tweet on Saturday that “it’s time Portland join other responsible cities around the country to hold criminals accountable and protect federal property and officers.”

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