House Democrats blame GOP as asbestos ban stalls

House Democrats are accusing Republicans of holding up a bill to ban asbestos that had been expected to pass with little controversy this week.

The Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now Act exited committee with just one no vote and was expected to sail through the voting process without amendments.

But Democratic aides on the Energy and Commerce Committee say that progress has stalled as GOP lawmakers object to a provision that assures the legislation would have no impact on ongoing litigation over injuries tied to use of talcum powder.

“Everyone should be able to support a ban on this known carcinogen, which has no place in our consumer products or processes. More than 40,000 Americans die every year from asbestos exposure, but Republicans are willing to look the other way,” Committee Chair Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) said in a statement.

“Republicans walked away from this opportunity to ban asbestos merely over language that prevents shutting the courtroom door. This raises serious questions about the sincerity of their intentions.”

Republicans on the committee did not respond to request for comment from The Hill.

Asbestos, tied to lung cancer, mesothelioma and asbestosis, is still used in a surprising number of products despite its dangers, largely within the automotive sector along with other industrial uses. 

The bill bars the production, use and importation of asbestos, implementing a ban on the substance within a year of the its passage, with a few narrow exceptions.

The legislation would amend the Toxic Substances Control Act, which doesn’t deal with the cosmetic uses of asbestos being challenged in court.

A number of women have waged successful battles in court, arguing their ovarian cancer was linked to the use of asbestos-laced baby powder.

Democratic aides say they added the so-called savings clause “to make sure nothing in the bill would block the minority women who are primarily bringing suits over harm from cosmetic talc.”

The legislation moved ahead in Congress after the Environmental Protection Agency moved last year to restrict asbestos but stopped short of banning it outright.

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White House blocks CDC on Florida cruise ship ban amid election concerns

Video: Trump Predicts Supreme Court Will Decide Election Outcome as He Pushes Quick Confirmation (Cover Video)

The White House reportedly overruled the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) over a ban on passenger cruises in Florida, in an apparent attempt at appealing to voters in the swing state.



a large ship in a body of water


© Provided by The Independent


Florida, where Mr Trump and his Democratic opponent Joe Biden have been almost tied in recent polls, typically brings-in billions in income.

But CDC orders, originally introduced in April at the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, had banned cruise passenger ships with a “no sail” order, in an attempt to control Covid-19’s spread.

That order was due to expire on Wednesday, which could have seen Florida’s cruise industry restart after a five month absence without an extension.  

Making an appeal to the White House coronavirus task force this week, CDC director Robert Redfield reportedly wanted to extend the “no sail” ban until next year, amid coronavirus concerns.

According to Axios, the CDC was instead overruled at that meeting, with the vice president outlining alternatives.

The White House and CDC later announced that the “no sail” ban would be extended up-until October 31, in line with the cruise industry’s self-imposed deadline – but months before Mr Redfield had requested.

It is the latest point of contention between Mr Redfield and the Trump administration, who were described as undermining the CDC director on public health policy.

Mr Trump, meanwhile, has berated the director for promiting mask wearing and cautioning against his claims that a coronavirus vaccine would soon be possible.

Defending the decision, White House deputy press secretary Brian Morgensrern denied any political motivation behind the October 31 deadline for cruises, in comments made to Axios.

“The president, the vice president and the task force follow the science and data to implement policies that protect the public

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White House overrules CDC on temporary ban on cruises

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield wanted to extend the agency’s No Sail Order for cruise ships set to expire on Wednesday, but was blocked by the White House, The New York Times reports.

At the beginning of the pandemic, there were several coronavirus outbreaks on cruise ships; the Diamond Princess, for example, saw 700 of its 3,711 passengers and crew members test positive for COVID-19, with 14 dying. Wanting to avoid a repeat of this, Redfield argued the No Sail Order, which went into effect in April as a way of combating the coronavirus, should be extended until mid-February 2021, but he was overruled during a White House Coronavirus Task Force meeting on Tuesday, the Times reports. The task force decided instead ships will be able to set sail after Oct. 31.

The Cruise Lines International Association says the industry generates $53 billion in economic activity every year, and its biggest market in the United States is Florida. Republican politicians in the swing state and cruise industry lobbyists have been arguing that the No Sail Order should not be extended, but White House Deputy Press Secretary Brian Morgenstern told the Times the task force’s decision was not politically motivated.

“The president, the vice president, and the task force follow the science and data to implement policies that protect the public health and also facilitate the safe reopening of our country,” he said.

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‘Like zero’ chance of seismic tests off NC in next drilling ban, interior secretary says

Although President Donald Trump has expanded an offshore drilling moratorium to federal waters off North Carolina, conservation groups are concerned coastal environments could still be endangered by seismic testing.

The U.S. Department of Justice said in a court filing last week that moratoriums against drilling off of North Carolina and other Southeastern states do not prevent companies from conducting seismic testing, a method of mapping oil and natural gas deposits under the ocean floor by blasting loud noises from an array of air guns.. But in an interview with the News & Observer, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said he thinks the moratorium means there is “like zero” chance seismic testing will happen off of the North Carolina coast.

“The president’s action means that it’s extraordinarily unlikely, in my opinion, that there will ever be seismic done in these areas because the entire point of doing it for these companies — in order to want to sell it — is gone,” Bernhardt said.

Environmental groups disagree. Kristen Monsell, a spokeswoman for the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund, said that even though the Atlantic seaboard was never opened to offshore drilling in the 2010s, several companies still submitted seismic testing applications to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

“I think that shows that oil and seismic companies will try to get into areas regardless of what’s open to leasing to do seismic to see what’s out there, and if they can find something, then push to have it open,” Monsell said.

The Center for Biological Diversity is one of many plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit filed in South Carolina trying to block the permitting of seismic testing, a lawsuit joined by N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein. The Department of Justice memo regarding seismic testing and the moratoriums was in response to that lawsuit.

Four companies have outstanding applications and incidental harm authorizations, allowing them to kill or ham wildlife as a side effect of the seismic activity. Another company, WesternGeco, withdrew its application earlier this year.

In a letter to N.C. Department of Environmental Quality officials, WesternGeco said its testing would have included blasting during roughly 208 days over a yearlong period, with sounds ranging from 225 to 260 decibels.

Oceana, an ocean conservancy group, is also a plaintiff in the South Carolina lawsuit. Diane Hoskins, a spokeswoman for Oceana’s advocacy partner, Oceana Action, said the moratorium’s protections do not go far enough.

“If the four companies pull their applications, that would be the level of certainty our coastal economies deserve,” Hoskins said, later adding, “This an investment in the future of offshore drilling that our states and coastal economies don’t want.”

North Carolina environmental officials have formally objected to seismic testing, saying the loud sounds could harm coastal activities such as fishing and tourism and are inconsistent with state coastal policies.

The U.S. Department of Commerce granted WesternGeco’s appeal to that state decision, and the matter is now the subject of a federal lawsuit. Although

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Trump offshore drilling ban doesn’t stop NC seismic testing

U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said there is very little chance of seismic testing moving forward off of the N.C. coast while offshore drilling moratoriums are in place. This photo shows Platform Holly, an oil drilling rig in the Santa Barbara Channel offshore of the city of Goleta, California.

U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said there is very little chance of seismic testing moving forward off of the N.C. coast while offshore drilling moratoriums are in place. This photo shows Platform Holly, an oil drilling rig in the Santa Barbara Channel offshore of the city of Goleta, California.

AP

Although President Donald Trump has expanded an offshore drilling moratorium to federal waters off North Carolina, conservation groups are concerned coastal environments could still be endangered by seismic testing.

The U.S. Department of Justice said in a court filing last week that moratoriums against drilling off of North Carolina and other Southeastern states do not prevent companies from conducting seismic testing, a method of mapping oil and natural gas deposits under the ocean floor by blasting loud noises from an array of air guns.. But in an interview with the News & Observer, U.S. Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt said he thinks the moratorium means there is “like zero” chance seismic testing will happen off of the North Carolina coast.

“The president’s action means that it’s extraordinarily unlikely, in my opinion, that there will ever be seismic done in these areas because the entire point of doing it for these companies — in order to want to sell it — is gone,” Bernhardt said.

Environmental groups disagree. Kristen Monsell, a spokeswoman for the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund, said that even though the Atlantic seaboard was never opened to offshore drilling in the 2010s, several companies still submitted seismic testing applications to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

“I think that shows that oil and seismic companies will try to get into areas regardless of what’s open to leasing to do seismic to see what’s out there, and if they can find something, then push to have it open,” Monsell said.

The Center for Biological Diversity is one of many plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit filed in South Carolina trying to block the permitting of seismic testing, a lawsuit joined by N.C. Attorney General Josh Stein. The Department of Justice memo regarding seismic testing and the moratoriums was in response to that lawsuit.

Four companies have outstanding applications and incidental harm authorizations, allowing them to kill or ham wildlife as a side effect of the seismic activity. Another company, WesternGeco, withdrew its application earlier this year.

In a letter to N.C. Department of Environmental Quality officials, WesternGeco said its testing would have included blasting during roughly 208 days over a yearlong period, with sounds ranging from 225 to 260 decibels.

Oceana, an ocean conservancy group, is also a plaintiff in the South Carolina lawsuit. Diane Hoskins, a spokeswoman for Oceana’s advocacy partner, Oceana Action, said the moratorium’s protections do not go far enough.

“If the four companies pull their applications, that would be the level of certainty our coastal economies deserve,” Hoskins said, later adding, “This an investment in the future of offshore drilling that our states and coastal economies don’t want.”

North Carolina environmental

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House votes to kill Rep. Gohmert resolution to ban Democratic Party

Gohmert reintroduced the privileged resolution last week, forcing a swift procedural vote in the House that mostly fell along party lines.

The resolution also would have directed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to remove “any item that names, symbolizes, or mentions any political organization or party that has ever held a public position that supported slavery or the Confederacy, from any area within the House.”

Gohmert introduced the resolution in July shortly after the House voted to remove the statues of Confederate leaders and replace a bust of Roger B. Taney, the U.S. chief justice who wrote the Supreme Court decision that said people of African descent are not U.S. citizens.

The vote was 305 to 113 for the bill to replace the bust of Taney, which sits outside the old Supreme Court chamber on the first floor of the Capitol, with one of Thurgood Marshall, the first Black member of the Supreme Court.

That vote came amid a broader push by Democrats to remove statues, portraits and other art in the Capitol honoring Confederate leaders and other controversial figures, at a time of national reckoning over systemic racism after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Gohmert’s resolution cited Democratic Party platforms in the 1800s and the filibuster by some in the party against the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which a Democratic president, Lyndon B. Johnson, signed into law.

“A great portion of the history of the Democratic Party is filled with racism and hatred,” Gohmert said in July. “Since people are demanding we rid ourselves of the entities, symbols, and reminders of the repugnant aspects of our past, then the time has come for Democrats to acknowledge their party’s loathsome and bigoted past, and consider changing their party name to something that isn’t so blatantly and offensively tied to slavery, Jim Crow, discrimination, and the Ku Klux Klan.”

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House passes bill to ban doping horses on race day

The Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act moves on to the Senate.

The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill that would ban doping horses on race day as well as install federal regulations over the sport to help ensure the animals’ safety.

In addition to banning race-day medication — a key concern tied to the safety and well-being of the animals — the Horseracing Integrity and Safety Act would establish a uniform set of track safety standards and put in place a uniform anti-doping and medication control program at all 38 racing jurisdictions.

The bill will now go to the Senate.

“This legislation tackles some of the key reasons behind the growing numbers of racehorse deaths in recent years, including the rampant doping of these animals with performance-enhancing drugs and painkillers that mask pain in order to allow injured horses to train or race,” a statement from the Humane Society reads. “Racehorses would only be allowed to compete if they are free from such drugs.”

PHOTO: John Velazquez rides Authentic in the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.,  Sept. 5, 2020.

John Velazquez rides Authentic in the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 5, 2020.

John Velazquez rides Authentic in the 146th running of the Kentucky Derby horse race at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., Sept. 5, 2020.

The proposed legislation comes after years of controversial horse deaths and animal welfare advocates calling for federal regulation of horse racing. In March 2019, Southern California’s Santa Anita Park introduced a zero-tolerance policy for almost all medication on race day after dozens of horses died within months of beginning the season.

An average of 8.5 horses died during races every week in 2019, according to The Jockey Club’s Equine Injury Database. This number does not include horses that died during training.

“This is an animal protection crisis, and we commend House members for their swift and decisive vote to end it,” Humane Society CEO and President Kitty Block said in a statement.

The bill is supported by Churchill Downs Incorporated, the Louisville-based operator of the Kentucky Derby, The Jockey Club, the Breeders Cup and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, according to the Humane Society.

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How Judas Priest Got a Lifetime Ban From Madison Square Garden

Rob Halford recalls how Judas Priest received a lifetime ban from Madison Square Garden in an exclusive excerpt from his memoir Confess: The Autobiography.

The British band’s performance at the legendary New York venue in 1985 was its second visit, and singer Halford hoped it wouldn’t be the last. But after fans rioted and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars of damage, they’ve never been allowed to return.

A statement by the publisher calls Confess ”the story of an extraordinary five decades in the music industry” and “the tale of unlikely encounters with everybody from Superman to Andy Warhol, Madonna, Jack Nicholson and the queen. More than anything else, it’s a celebration of the fire and power of heavy metal.” Confess: The Autobiography is on sale now.

_____

We headed back down into America. In Madison, Wisc., we had to shelter 10,000 people under the bleachers of the Dane County Coliseum as a tornado approached. Glenn [Tipton] and I snuck a peek out of a back door and boggled at the low black, blue and vivid green clouds overhead as sirens wailed and the storm raged.

Then, just over a week later, our own tornado hit New York City. A second gig at Madison Square Garden, in a way, meant even more than our first: It hadn’t been a one-off! We had become a band who could play the Garden regularly! Or so we thought. Unfortunately, this was to be our last-ever show there.

It was a great, regular gig until the encore. As we came back on and I began wailing “Living After Midnight,” I caught sight, out of the corner of my eye, of a flying object. Huh? What was that? And here came another one … and another one … . As the song ended, I glanced behind me and saw a pile of foam seat covers from the auditorium cluttering the stage. I looked out into the venue, and the air was black with more seats flying toward us. One or two of them appeared to be alight.

I ran offstage and jumped on my Harley for “Hell Bent for Leather.” By the time I rode it onstage, it was like trying to motorbike through a floor-level soft-furnishings jumble sale. There were more seat cushions on the stage than in the arena. What the fuck? Two thoughts filled my head: a) This is fantastic! Our own riot! And b) They’re never gonna let us play this place again!

Glenn, Ken [Downing] and Ian [Hill] were by now bouncing on foam to play, as there was no bare stage left. Ken later said that it had been like playing guitar on a trampoline. After a quick “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming,” we scarpered offstage and hid.

Madison Square Garden later said, and the press repeated with great relish, that our fans had done $250,000 worth of damage. We didn’t do a thing to instigate the riot, but we got a lifetime ban from the venue. They

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US House votes to ban Xinjiang imports over forced labor

The US House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to ban imports from China’s Xinjiang region, vowing to stop what lawmakers say is systematic forced labor by the Uighur community.

Despite opposition by US businesses, the act passed 406-3 in a sign of growing outrage over Xinjiang, where activists say more than one million Uighurs and other mostly Muslim Turkic-speaking people have been incarcerated in camps.

“Tragically, the products of the forced labor often end up here in American stores and homes,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said before the vote.

“We must send a clear message to Beijing: These abuses must end now.”

The Uighur Forced Labor Prevention Act still needs to be passed by the Senate, which may have limited time before November 3 elections.

The United States already bans products made through slavery but the act would put a blanket ban on products from Xinjiang, saying that forced labor is inextricably linked to the region’s economy.

“We know forced labor is widespread and systematic and exists both within and outside the mass internment camps,” said Representative Jim McGovern, a Democrat who helped lead the bipartisan act.

“These facts are confirmed by the testimony of former camp detainees, satellite imagery and official leaked documents from the Chinese government,” he said on the House floor.

Republican Representative Chris Smith said: “We cannot be silent. We must demand an end to these barbaric practices and accountability from the Chinese government.”

Xinjiang is a global hub for cotton with one study by a labor group estimating that 20 percent of the garments imported into the United States contain at least some yarn from the region.

The act passed despite criticism from the US Chamber of Commerce, the premier business lobby, which argued that the law would prohibit legitimate commerce rather than find ways to root out products from forced labor.

After the act was introduced, the State Department issued an advisory that it said would educate US companies in Xinjiang and the Customs and Border Protection Agency said it was banning specific products traced to forced labor in the region.

McGovern criticized the efforts by President Donald Trump’s administration, saying: “These piecemeal actions fall far short of addressing a regional economic system that is built upon a foundation of forced labor and repression.”

Activists and witnesses say that China is seeking to forcibly homogenize the Uighur population in re-education camps including by restricting the practice of Islam.

China argues that it is providing vocational training to reduce the allure of extremism.

Former national security advisor John Bolton wrote in a recent book that Trump voiced support for the camps when his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping explained them to him.

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Court denies Gloucester School Board’s effort to appeal ruling declaring bathroom ban unconsitutional in Grimm case

GLOUCESTER, Va. (WAVY) — An effort by the Gloucester County School Board to appeal a ruling declaring its bathroom policy for transgender students unconstitutional has been denied.

Earlier this month, the school board filed a petition asking the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals to rehear its case against former student Gavin Grimm.

That request was denied, according to a tweet from the ACLU of Virginia.

“Discrimination against trans students is discrimination on the basis of sex and it’s illegal. Full stop,” the ACLU tweeted.

The school board announced Sept. 9 it had requested an en banc review in the Richmond-based United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The request would have meant the full circuit court of appeals — all the judges — would have heard the case and could potentially overturned the previous ruling by a three-judge panel.

The three-judge panel had ruled that the school division’s requirements that Grimm use restrooms for his biological sex, female, or private bathrooms violated his rights. Grimm began transitioning from female to male while at Gloucester High School. In 2016, as a senior in high school, he legally changed his sex to male via state court order and on his birth certificate.

The panel’s decision upheld a previous one from a federal judge in Norfolk. That judge ruled in 2019 that Grimm’s rights were violated under the Constitution’s equal protection clause as well as under Title IX, a federal civil rights law that protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance.


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