Thursday, January 6, 2022

Last Call For The Vax Of Life

The ban on Biden's federal OSHA vaccine mandate rules will remain here in Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee after the 6th Circuit upheld a lower court ruling blocking employer vaccine mandate rules.

A federal appeals court has declined to lift a ban in three states on President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate for workers who contract with the federal government.

The ruling comes after a nationwide ban on the mandate for federal contractors was imposed by a federal judge in Georgia last month.

A judge in Louisville, Kentucky, blocked the Biden rule in November for that state and two others: Tennessee and Ohio.

A panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati upheld the injunction for the three states in a 2-1 ruling Wednesday.

“This ensures, while the case continues to proceed, that federal contractors in Kentucky aren’t subject to the Biden Administration’s unlawful mandate,” Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, a Republican who filed the suit challenging the mandate, said in an emailed statement Thursday. Cameron said in a release last year that federal contractors accounted for about one-fifth of the country’s labor force and $9 billion in contracts in 2021.
This was largely expected, as two Trump-appointed judges agreed with KY GOP AG Cameron that the mandates were unconstitutional. 

The US Supreme Court will hear oral arguments tomorrow on the OSHA vaccine mandate rules.

In the midst of the latest surge in omicron COVID-19 cases, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments Friday on whether the Biden administration can force private-sector firms to vaccinate or test tens of millions of employees.

The court is expected to make a decision swiftly that could freeze the vax-or-test mandates on businesses with more than 100 workers — and the threat of fines — or let the Biden plan be implemented, legal experts say. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, which regulates workplace safety, has said it could begin fining businesses that fail to comply with the mandates on Jan. 10.

Employers “are waiting to see the outcome in the courts,” Wendell Young IV, president of the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1776, which represents 35,000 Pennsylvania union members, said last week.

John S. Ho, co-chair of OSHA-Workplace Safety Practice at Cozen O’Connor, said that companies should be developing a “roster of vaccination status” of employees to show OSHA “good faith” in complying with the mandates.

“You should have that roster in place by Jan. 10,” he said. But Ho also is advising companies to take a “wait-and-see approach” on implementing the vaccination mandates that could lead some employees to quit.

A firm can be fined $13,600 per violation. OSHA is expected to mostly enforce the mandate through employee complaints. “It’s a politically charged issue. There is no way to avoid that,” Ho said.

The Biden administration says the emergency rules could save the lives of 6,500 workers and prevent 250,000 hospitalizations in the next six months as COVID-19 presents a “grave danger” to employees where they work. The Inquirer estimates that 1.8 million Philly-area workers fall under the mandates. Nationally, two out of three employers fall under it, representing about 80 million workers.

Firms, business trade associations, and 27 states say that the Biden administration has exceeded its authority at the workplace safety agency with the mandates that appear designed to boost vaccination rates and that many workers remain unpersuaded in vaccine benefits.

The case has made it to the U.S. Supreme Court in lightning speed. OSHA announced the mandates in early November and they were immediately challenged in court. On Nov. 12, the appeals court in New Orleans stayed, or froze, the mandates, saying that they were “staggeringly overbroad.” The ruling added that they raised issues of the government’s “virtually unlimited power to control individual conduct under the guise of a workplace regulation.”

Meanwhile, mandate cases filed nationwide were consolidated in the appeals court in Cincinnati. A panel of judges there lifted the stay on Dec. 17. “COVID has continued to spread, mutate, kill and block the safe return of American workers to jobs. To protect workers, OSHA can and must be able to respond to dangers as they evolve,” the court said in its decision. 

So while the nationwide ban has been stayed, the 6th Circuit ban remains in place for Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee. We'll see what the Roberts Court has to say, but my guess is that the vaccine mandate will not survive, and that a real danger remains that a broad ruling against executive branch regulatory agencies like OSHA could suddenly cripple the American workplace nationwide.

More tomorrow.

Insurrection Investigation, Con't

President Biden did not pull his punches this morning with a much-welcomed strident defense of American democracy against Donald Trump's coup attempt.

President Joe Biden on Thursday marked the first anniversary of the January 6 insurrection by forcefully calling out former President Donald Trump for attempting to undo American democracy, saying such an insurrection must never happen again.

Biden vowed to defend the nation's founding ideals from the threats posed by the violent mob that stormed the Capitol one year ago and the prevailing lies that Trump and his allies continue to repeat about the 2020 election. An animated Biden made one of the most passionate addresses of his still-young presidency as he harkened back to critical moments from the nation's past, casting the assault as a living symbol of the inflection point in American history he so often speaks about. 
"For the first time in our history, a President had not just lost an election. He tried to prevent the peaceful transfer of power as a violent mob reached the Capitol," Biden said in a speech from the US Capitol that lasted just under 30 minutes. "But they failed. They failed. And on this day of remembrance, we must make sure that such an attack never, never happens again." 
In a direct shot at Trump, Biden added, "His bruised ego matters more to him than our democracy or our Constitution, he can't accept he lost." 
Biden has typically avoided speaking directly about his predecessor since taking office, and pointedly did not say his name on Thursday -- instead making more than a dozen references to "the former President." 
But the President's blistering speech nonetheless confronted Trump's election lies and post-presidency behavior, accusing him of spreading falsehoods about the 2020 election, refusing to accept defeat and holding him accountable for inciting a violent mob of his supporters to storm the US Capitol. 
"A former President of the United States of America has created and spread a web of lies about the 2020 election. He's done so because he values power over principle, because he sees his own interest as more important than his country's interest and America's interest," Biden said. 
Biden again emphasized the core message of his 2020 presidential campaign and the reason why he ran against Trump: "We are in a battle for the soul of America." 
The President warned democracy and the "promise of America" is at risk and called on the American public to "stand for the rule of law, to preserve the flame of democracy." 
He called for protecting voting rights across the nation and blasted Trump and his supporters for attempting to "suppress your vote and subvert our elections." 
"It's wrong. It's undemocratic. And frankly it's un-American," Biden said.
I know that "This is the Joe Biden I voted for" is somewhat anodyne if not banal, but in this case it's sincere. It's also the most animated and even angry that I've seen Biden, a whole "A wise person fears the wrath of  the gentle" situation, and believe his impassioned defense.

On anyone other than Biden (or Obama) it would have come across as posturing. From Biden, this was sincerity, and it showed as truthful anger.

We need more of this right now, and the will to bring justice for once. I will repeat this as well, that we know Trump planned a coup, that multiple Republicans still in Congress were suborned into the plot, that state election officials were threatened to go along, and that the singular reason we're all in the Biden era right now is because Mike Pence was too much of a coward to go along.

The guardrails not only have to be restored on the road to democracy, we need barrier walls and other protections to make sure we don't veer off again.

Meanwhile In Kazakhstan

Protests over the weekend in several cities in Kazahkstan over a major rise in fuel and gas prices has led to mass unrest and the resignation of parliament and the prime minister. President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev is cracking down on protests across the nation.

Protesters in Kazakhstan’s largest city stormed the presidential residence and the mayor’s office on Wednesday and set both buildings on fire, according to new reports, as demonstrations sparked by a rise in fuel prices in the Central Asian nation escalated sharply.

Police fired on some protesters at the presidential palace before fleeing. They have clashed repeatedly with demonstrators in recent days, deploying water cannons in the freezing weather, tear gas and concussion grenades.

The government resigned in response to the unrest and the president vowed to take harsh measures to quell it. In possibly the first of those efforts, Kazakh news sites became inaccessible late in the day, and the global watchdog organization Netblocks said the country was experiencing a pervasive internet blackout.

Although the protests began over a near-doubling of prices for a type of liquefied gas that is widely used as vehicle fuel, the size and rapid spread of the unrest suggest they reflect wider discontent in the country that has been under the rule of the same party since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Kazakhstan, the ninth-largest country in the world, borders Russia to the north and China to the east and has extensive oil reserves that make it strategically and economically important. Despite those reserves and mineral wealth, discontent over poor living conditions is strong in some parts of the country. Many Kazakhs also chafe at the dominance of the ruling party, which holds more than 80% of the seats in parliament.

Hours after thousands of demonstrators gathered outside the presidential residence in Almaty, Russia’s Tass news agency reported that it was on fire and that demonstrators, some wielding firearms, were trying to break into it. Police fled from the residence after shooting at demonstrators, according to the report, which was filed from Kazakhstan.

Many of the demonstrators who converged on the mayoral office carried clubs and shields, according to earlier reports in Kazakh media. Tass later said the building was engulfed in flames.

Protesters also broke into the Almaty office of the Russia-based Mir television and radio company and destroyed some equipment, the broadcaster said. It later reported that a crowd broke into the Almaty building of the Kazakh national broadcaster.

The protests began Sunday in Zhanaozen, a city in the west where resentment of the government was strong in the wake of a 2011 oil-worker strike in which police fatally shot at least 15 people. They spread across the country in the following days and on Tuesday large demonstrations broke out in the capital, Nur-Sultan, and in Almaty, the country’s largest city and former capital.

The protests appear to have no identifiable leader or demands.

In a televised statement to the nation on Wednesday, President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev said that “we intend to act with maximum severity regarding law-breakers.”

Tokayev said police have died in clashes with demonstrators, but there were no immediate casualty figures for police or civilians.

In the statement, he also promised to make political reforms and announced that he was assuming the leadership of the national security council. The latter is potentially significant because the council had been headed by Nursultan Nazarbayev, who was president from 1991 until he resigned in 2019.

Nazarbayev dominated Kazakhstan’s politics and his rule was marked by a moderate cult of personality. Critics say he effectively instituted a clan system in government.

After the demonstrations spread to Almaty and the capital, the government announced its resignation, but Tokayev said the ministers would remain in their roles until a new Cabinet is formed, making it uncertain whether the resignation will have significant effect.
We'll see where this lands, but behind all of this is a Russian president who wants a new Soviet Union. Don't be surprised if Moscow steps in to "bring order" back to the country as they did in Ukraine

Russia and its allies pledged to send troops to help quell protests in Kazakhstan that posed the biggest threat to the central Asian country’s leadership for decades.

Dozens of anti-government protesters were killed by security forces, police said Thursday, after President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ordered an “anti-terrorist operation” to put down the demonstrations. Banks were ordered temporarily shut for the day Thursday. Tokayev imposed a state of emergency nationwide and internet access was cut in much of the country.

Thousands of protesters had taken to the streets around the country in recent days, seizing government buildings and killing several law-enforcement officials after fuel-price rises unleashed a wave of popular anger over falling living standards.

Sending what Russia and the handful of other members of the Collective Security Treaty Organization called “peacekeeping forces” was a dramatic move by the Kremlin-led bloc to shore up a longtime ally in the region in the face of public protests. There was no immediate word on the size of the deployment, which followed reports of Kazakh security forces surrendering to demonstrators and a late-night appeal from Tokayev.

Prices for uranium surged almost 8% amid the unrest in the world’s largest supplier of the nuclear fuel. Kazakh bonds and the tenge slipped. There was no sign of disruption to oil output, the central Asia’s country biggest export, however.

Kazakhstan’s central bank suspended operations of the nation’s banks and the stock exchange, according to spokesman Olzhas Ramazanov. For now, the halt is planned only for Thursday, he said. Tokayev ordered price controls on key fuels and banned exports of some farm products for 180 days to stem inflation, Interfax reported.

Nothing in politics exists in a vacuum. Putin is upping the stakes on Ukraine via Kazakhstan. Suddenly Russian troops are all over the world's largest uranium mines and crypto mines are both a "friendly" reminder that sanctions against Russia could escalate very quickly...


Related Posts with Thumbnails