News Update for 5/1/20

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Fri, 05/01/2020 - 4:00pm

A top Oregon parole board official said yesterday the agency is reviewing seven inmates for early release because their underlying medical conditions make them extra vulnerable to fatal complications of the coronavirus. The board has asked corrections staff to evaluate an additional 60 inmates for possible release.

Corrections officials say inmates have filed an estimated 1,000 requests since the coronavirus emerged in Oregon.

By law, the board may consider releasing inmates before the end of their sentences only if they fall under a limited set of circumstances: They must have a severe medical condition, including terminal illness, or be elderly and permanently incapacitated.

Regardless of a person’s medical status, age or disability, prisoners serving mandatory minimum sentences under Oregon’s Measure 11 law are not eligible to get out early.


 

The Associated Press reports a Tyson Fresh Meats beef processing plant in Walula Washington is staying closed while county health officials wait for test results on all the approximately 1,400 workers.

As of Wednesday, 130 people — both employees and others linked to the plant outbreak — have tested positive.

They include 120 residents of Benton or Franklin counties, nine in Walla Walla County and one in Umatilla County, Oregon.

One Tyson worker, a 60-year-old butcher who lived in the Tri-Cities, has died.

 

Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s new draft plan for phased reopening of the state includes bars, microbreweries and wine tasting rooms to reopen in Phase 1. This is a rejection of the federal government’s recommendation that bars remain closed.

 

The Oregonian reported yesterday on a draft version of the plan that shows restaurants and other businesses MAY be asked to report the names, contact information and transaction dates for their customers to state officials to help trace future coronavirus cases.

That means while Oregon is one of two dozen states resisting President Trump’s direction to reopen now, Oregon officials might go beyond his recommendations in the end

Last week the Governor released details of her plan to reopen the state which she says will eventually include a system for testing and contact tracing for covid-19 infections and exposure. Brown has formed subcommittees to focus on details for reopening restaurants, retail, personal services, child care, transit and outdoor recreation.


 

Six more students of the Catlin Gabel have brought sexual abuse lawsuits against the school.

The new plaintiffs claim they were fondled, groped, and sexually abused by former teachers Richardson Shoemaker, Robert Ashe, Art Leo and Sam Crawley. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports they seek $16 million in damages.

A total of 16 former Catlin Gabel students have now filed suit alleging they were sexually or physically abused while attending the exclusive private school in Northwest Portland. The lawsuits followed last fall’s release of summary findings of a scathing internal investigation into sexual abuse committed by school faculty.

 

The Washington Post reports today that Publicly traded companies have received more than $1 billion dollars in funds meant for small businesses from the federal government’s economic stimulus package. That’s according to data from securities filings compiled by the newspaper.

Nearly 300 public companies have reported receiving money from the Paycheck Protection Program. Recipients include 43 companies with more than 500 workers, the maximum typically allowed by the program. 

The first funding pool of $349 billion dollars ran out quickly, leaving more than 80 percent of applicants without funding. 

Outrage over the bailouts that went to larger companies prompted some to return the money. As of yesterday, public companies reported returning more than $125 million dollars, according to the Post.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has defended the program as a success. But after the first loans were issued, the administration released new guidance for the program to discourage large public companies from applying.

 

In another big story for the Washington Post today, House lawmakers investigating the Amazon corporation for antitrust violations demanded that CEO Jeff Bezos agree to testify at an upcoming hearing or face a potential subpoena that would force him to appear.

Bezos owns the Washington Post.

The move was triggered by reports that Amazon employees used data from third-party sellers in Amazon’s own marketplace when the corporation launched competing products, allegedly giving Amazon a market advantage over smaller rivals.

Democrats and Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee say Amazon has repeatedly misrepresented its practices, raising the potential that company witnesses might have committed perjury

Lawmakers have been investigating Amazon as part of a larger anti-trust crackdown announced last year, which has included scrutiny of Apple, Facebook and Google.


 

And today in Oregon, Jobs with Justice is celebrating May Day with a Virtual Demonstration. Throughout the day organized protests online have rolled out every hour including Calls to Action in support of Oregon healthcare workers, grocery workers, LGBTQ food service workers, the U.S. Postal Service and undocumented workers. A virtual Mayday Rally was live streamed across social media platforms. There’s more information online at JWJpdx.org.

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