Friday News: Solidarity


ASHEVILLE NURSES VOTE TO UNIONIZE AT MISSION HOSPITAL: Nurses at a hospital in Asheville, North Carolina, have voted to unionize and gain the power to bargain over their benefits and working conditions. The Citizen-Times reported a ballot count on Thursday morning showed that there were roughly twice as many “yes” votes by Mission Hospital nurses than there were votes against forming a union. The vote concluded a year-long effort by nurses and union representatives to organize. It also comes less than two years after HCA Healthcare bought the hospital as part of a $1.5 billion sale. The 1,600 registered nurses who work at Mission Hospital and the St. Joseph campus will be represented by National Nurses United, the nation’s largest nurses’ union. The hospital had opposed the union effort. It said a union would ultimately hurt the hospital’s quality of care and could cause its labor costs to “increase materially.”

GOVERNOR SAYS DISTRICTS CAN ALLOW ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS TO RESUME IN-PERSON CLASSES OCT. 5TH: Gov. Roy Cooper announced Thursday a plan that would allow North Carolina elementary school students to begin returning to full-time, daily in-person classes in October. Schools closed in mid-March and switched to remote learning in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the virus caused by the coronavirus. Cooper’s announcement means school districts and charter schools will now have to decide whether it’s safe to bring their youngest students back on campus or continue with online learning. Cooper announced Thursday that Oct. 5 is the first day that public elementary schools could begin operating under Plan A. This option has less stringent social-distancing requirements than those now in place. Cooper said he doesn’t expect the change to be immediate because school districts will need to do some planning first to decide whether it’s safe to switch to Plan A.

PARTYING COLLEGE STUDENTS HAVE LOCAL AUTHORITIES ON EDGE: Parties were blamed for dozens of cases at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which brought students back in early August only to send them home weeks later. Amid a spike in cases at the University of Colorado at Boulder, county health authorities Tuesday urged all students to quarantine for two weeks. Students and others at the university have accounted for 76% of the county's 663 positive cases over the past two weeks, officials said. At Miami University in Ohio, county health authorities ordered all of the school's athletes to isolate for 14 days last month after 27 tested positive for the virus. Last week, local police cited six men at an off-campus house party that included several students who had recently tested positive. As cases increase at Boston College and the campus runs out of quarantine space, the mayor of nearby Newton is asking the school not to use any of the town's hotels or other property to isolate students. Some cities have tightened rules at bars to discourage students from gathering. As cases surged at Illinois State, the town’s mayor issued an order requiring all bar customers to be seated to be served. He also limited gatherings near campus to no more than 10 people.

TRUMP IS PUSHING FOR PATRIOTIC PROPAGANDA IN SCHOOLS: President Trump pressed his case Thursday that U.S. schools are indoctrinating children with a left-wing agenda hostile to the nation’s Founding Fathers, describing efforts to educate students about racism and slavery as an insult to the country’s lofty founding principles. Trump, speaking before original copies of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence at the National Archives, characterized demonstrations against racial injustice as “left-wing rioting and mayhem” that “are the direct result of decades of left-wing indoctrination in our schools. It’s gone on far too long.” The federal government has no power over the curriculum taught in local schools. Nonetheless, Trump said he would create a national commission to promote a “pro-American curriculum that celebrates the truth about our nation’s great history,” which he said would encourage educators to teach students about the “miracle of American history.” Trump is calling the panel the “1776 Commission,” in what appeared to be a barb at the New York Times’s 1619 Project. The project, whose creator won a Pulitzer Prize for its lead essay, is a collection of articles and essays that argue that the nation’s true founding year is 1619, the year enslaved Africans were brought to the shores of what would become the United States. Trump said Thursday the 1619 Project wrongly teaches that the United States was founded on principles of “oppression, not freedom.” On Thursday, Trump said he would erect a statue of Caesar Rodney, who cast the tie-breaking vote to declare independence from Britain in 1776, in a “National Garden of American Heroes” that he hopes to establish. Rodney was also a enslaver, and a statue of him was removed from a city square in Wilmington, Del., in June.

FBI DIRECTOR WARNS CONGRESS OF "VERY ACTIVE" RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE IN 2020 ELECTION: Christopher A. Wray, the director of the F.B.I., warned a House committee on Thursday that Russia was actively pursuing a disinformation campaign against former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and expressed alarm about violent extremist groups. “Racially motivated violent extremism,” mostly from white supremacists, has made up a majority of domestic terrorism threats, Mr. Wray told the House Homeland Security Committee. He also echoed an intelligence community assessment last month that Russia was conducting a “very active” campaign to spread disinformation and interfere in the presidential election, with Mr. Biden as the primary target. “We certainly have seen very active — very active — efforts by the Russians to influence our election in 2020,” Mr. Wray said, specifically “to both sow divisiveness and discord, and I think the intelligence community has assessed this publicly, to primarily to denigrate Vice President Biden in what the Russians see as a kind of an anti-Russian establishment.” The hearing was also notable for the absence of the acting secretary of homeland security, Chad F. Wolf, who was ordered to testify but skipped the appearance, defying a congressional subpoena. Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the chairman of the House committee, complained that Mr. Wolf should have shown up to answer questions on foreign efforts to interfere with the election, the coronavirus pandemic and the growing threat of domestic terrorism. “Mr. Wolf should be here to testify as secretaries of homeland security have done before,” Mr. Thompson said. “Instead we have an empty chair, an appropriate metaphor for the Trump administration’s dereliction on so many of these critical homeland security issues.”