Booker: The U.S. postal service needs more money. Our democracy depends on it. | Opinion

Posted Sep 06, 2020

By Cory Booker

Sen. Cory Booker says mail delivery delays isn’t a minor inconvenience. People with chronic health conditions are forced to miss doses of medicine; small businesses aren’t able to get products to their customers on time and absentee ballots have arrived after the election or not at all. 

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Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, U.S. Postal Service employees here in New Jersey and across the country have continued their vital work, often at great risk to themselves and their families.

I’ve had the privilege to speak with and hear from New Jersey’s postal workers during this crisis, some of whom have lost their colleagues to COVID-19. It is clear to me that while I, and so many others, see the work of our postal workers, and all of our essential workers, as heroic, they see it as their civic duty, a sacred responsibility for which they are willing to risk their health and safety.

But there’s a parallel crisis happening within the USPS: despite allocating billions of dollars to provide a financial lifeline to big corporations during this crisis, Republicans in Washington have refused to provide adequate resources to support the U.S. Postal Service from the financial losses incurred by COVID-19.

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Newark is Struggling to Raise its Census Count in Weeks Leading to Deadline

Rev. Ronald Slaughter, pastor for Saint James AME in Newark, said filling out the census is a crucial way residents can send a message to Washington.

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NEWARK, NJ — Free ice cream, $50 ShopRite gift cards, a DJ-maned parade float — while these might sound like favors at a birthday party, they’re really incentives that the city of Newark is dishing out to residents in an attempt to increase its lagging census count. 

With less than four weeks before the September 30 deadline, Newark’s latest count sits at 47.5%, a 19-point drop behind the state’s 66% rate. In wealthier suburbs outside the city, like Millburn, the difference is an even starker 35 points. 

Newark, a historically a hard-to-count city, and other municipalities like it are struggling to catch up in the wake of a shortened deadline, which was originally set for October 31, and months of on-the-ground outreach work lost to COVID-19. The Trump administration changed the deadline after initially extending it due to the pandemic, much to the chagrin of those working to tally the city’s undercounted populations.  

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Trump: Americans Who Died in War Are ‘Losers’ and ‘Suckers’

SEPTEMBER 3, 2020

The Atlantic

Donald Trump greets families of the fallen at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day 2017.

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When President Donald Trump canceled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018, he blamed rain for the last-minute decision, saying that “the helicopter couldn’t fly” and that the Secret Service wouldn’t drive him there. Neither claim was true.

Trump rejected the idea of the visit because he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day. In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.

Belleau Wood is a consequential battle in American history, and the ground on which it was fought is venerated by the Marine Corps. America and its allies stopped the German advance toward Paris there in the spring of 1918. But Trump, on that same trip, asked aides, “Who were the good guys in this war?” He also said that he didn’t understand why the United States would intervene on the side of the Allies.

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N.J. unemployment claims leveling off as gyms, schools reopen

Posted Sep 03, 2020

Another 20,176 New Jersey workers filed new unemployment claims for the week ending in Aug. 29, a number that remained steady for the second week in a row, the state Department of Labor announced Thursday.

Unemployment claims have been flowing in consistently since the coronavirus pandemic hit in mid-March, but now that gyms and schools are reopening and indoor dining resumes, the number of claims is expected to fluctuate.

“As long as this pandemic continues to show its power over our economy, the Labor Department will continue to pump vital, family sustaining benefits into the bank accounts of out-of-work New Jerseyans,” said Labor Commissioner Robert Asaro-Angelo. “While our Department is bound by federal laws and regulations that can slow the process, we remain committed to get every penny to every claimant who deserves benefits.”

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Murphy slams Trump for threatening to cut funding to New York City amid racial justice unrest

Posted Sep 03, 2020

By Brent Johnson | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

 

 

Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday accused President Donald Trump of stoking division by threatening to cut federal funding to New York and other cities that the president says have permitted “anarchy, violence, and destruction” amid unrest over racial injustice.

Trump sent a memo this week asking the U.S. attorney general and the federal Office of Budget management to consider slashing funding to New York City, Portland, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. The Republican president blamed Democratic leaders in those cities for not quelling the discord.

“My administration will not allow federal tax dollars to fund cities that allow themselves to deteriorate into lawless zones,” Trump wrote in the memo.

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What Grade Does Murphy Get for NJ Schools’ Reopening?

JOHN MOONEY | SEPTEMBER 3, 2020 

NJ Spotlight

Gov. Phil Murphy

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In announcing a vast majority of schools were ready to reopen in one form or another, Gov. Phil Murphy on Wednesday trumpeted the accomplishments of New Jersey’s public education system and played cheerleader-in-chief for schools’ readiness amid the pandemic.

But it has been anything but cheery for schools and their families to navigate the changing and sometimes-conflicting guidance from the Murphy administration over the past two months.

How will Murphy be judged by how he navigated the maelstrom of one of the public’s most fundamental issues: education?

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Trump pivots to narrow coronavirus testing strategy as election looms

Just eight weeks from election day, the White House has stopped trying to contain the coronavirus — shifting instead to shielding the nation’s most vulnerable groups and restoring a sense of normalcy.

The change is part of a concerted effort by the White House to increase public approval of President Donald Trump’s pandemic response — and bolster his reelection chances — by sharply reducing Covid-19 case counts and the number of deaths and hospitalizations attributed to virus, according to five people familiar with the strategy.

“It has to do with the president wanting to shift the attention away from testing,” said a Republican close to the administration who has advised elements of the response. “The challenge is that they didn’t want to find more cases. They didn’t want the numbers to keep going up.”

The White House pivot amounts to a tacit admission that the administration’s months-long containment effort has failed. While countries like South Korea, Singapore and New Zealand have fought to keep their number of infections near zero, the U.S. is still recording more than 40,000 new cases per day. More than 6 million Americans have gotten sick with Covid-19 and more than 185,000 have died.

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N.J. cracks down on polluters with 12 new lawsuits. Previous actions have won millions.

Posted Sep 01, 2020

The Garden State took a dozen polluters in marginalized communities to court last week, continuing a multi-year effort that has already collected millions of dollars in fines.

On Thursday, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and state Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Catherine McCabe announced 12 new lawsuits aimed at bringing environmental justice to nine municipalities.

There are cases in each of New Jersey’s three largest cities — Newark, Jersey City and Paterson — plus surrounding North Jersey communities. There are also a pair of cases in Cumberland County.

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Federal Look at COVID-19 Nursing Home Deaths May Be Very Limited

LILO H. STAINTON | SEPTEMBER 3, 2020

NJ Spotlight

Patients from St. Joseph’s Senior Home in Woodbridge were evacuated March 25 after multiple residents contracted COVID-19 and some died.

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Gov. Phil Murphy has said little about the state’s plans to respond to a recent federal request for data related to select nursing homes, but suggested the inquiry would not impact New Jersey’s own quest to better understand the beleaguered industry’s coronavirus response and ensure mistakes aren’t repeated in the future.

The federal Department of Justice appears to be focused on just a tiny sliver of nursing homes in its request to New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Michigan, which were hard hit by the virus and are led by Democratic governors. In fact, the data inquiry could apply to fewer than a dozen facilities in New Jersey — or less than 3% of the state’s nursing homes, according to an NJ Spotlight analysis of state health department records.

While dismissed by many as a partisan stunt by the Republican Trump administration, DOJ sent letters to the four governors last week seeking data on COVID-19 cases, deaths and hospitalizations at nursing homes “owned, operated or managed by” the state. The agency said it would use the information to determine if residents’ civil rights were violated during the pandemic.

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Why the Coronavirus More Often Strikes Children of Color

By 

THE NEW YORK TIMES

Sept. 1, 2020

Students welcomed back to class at a school in Metairie, La., in August.Credit...

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One of the notable features of the new coronavirus, evident early in the pandemic, was that it largely spared children. Some become severely ill, but deaths have been few, compared to adults.

But people of color have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus, and recent studies have renewed concern about the susceptibility of children in these communities.

They are infected at higher rates than white children, and hospitalized at rates five to eight times that of white children. Children of color make up the overwhelming majority of those who develop a life-threatening complication called multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C.

Of more than 180,000 Americans who have died of Covid-19, fewer than 100 are children, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But children of color comprise the majority of those who have died of Covid-19.

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