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Most “Pro-Labor” President Imposes Deal With No Paid Sick Leave on Rail Workers

President Joe Biden signed legislation to avoid a rail strike, and in the process, imposed a contract that the majority of rail workers didn't want.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Joe Biden on Friday signed legislation aimed at averting a nationwide rail strike, by imposing a contract with no paid sick leave onto 115,000 rail workers. The majority of rail workers had voted against this contract.

The president’s signature comes one day after the Senate resoundingly approved Biden’s labor agreement, 80-15, and rejected a measure to add seven paid sick leave days, 52-43. One Democrat, Joe Manchin, and 42 Republicans voted against adding sick leave. Rail workers currently have no paid sick days.

On Wednesday, the House approved the sick leave measure 221-207—with every present Democrat voting in favor.

As I wrote previously, the paid sick leave measure, given to Biden on a platter by progressives, offered the president a second chance at getting it right for rail workers. He could have expressed excitement about the prospect of finally giving rail workers paid sick leave, blasted Republicans who opposed the measure, and at the very least put pressure on legislators to pass the measures.

Instead, he created a sense of urgency, moving the deadline for such legislation up by a week. Rail workers had threatened to strike on December 9, but Biden insisted he needed a bill from Congress the weekend before. He also made clear that he didn’t support any amendments that would cause delay.

Now, Republicans like Senators Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and Josh Hawley are billing themselves as more pro-worker than the president, given that they voted for the paid leave amendment.

Biden is left losing on both counts—practically, as a supposed advocate for workers, and politically, as a Democratic president. Biden could have put up an actual fight for paid sick leave, rather than feebly suggesting he’ll fight for it later. It would have been good politics, and morals too.

Instead, Biden did not express his support for the paid sick leave measure that his caucus overwhelmingly supported in the House and Senate, nor did he engage with the notion that perhaps the best way to avert a strike is to address demands that prompted the threat in the first place.

After Needless Delay, GOP-Controlled Arizona County Certifies Election Results

Arizona’s Cochise County saw no evidence of voter fraud, went predominantly for Republicans, and still was refusing to certify election results.

An election worker places a box of scanned ballots on a pallet at the Maricopa County Tabulation and Election Center in Phoenix, Arizona.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
An election worker in Phoenix

After much pandemonium, a Republican-controlled Arizona county has finally certified its midterm results, nearly a month after Election Day and only once a judge ordered it to.

Secretary of State Katie Hobbs sued Cochise County on Monday after the two Republican members of its supervisory board voted to delay certification of the votes, despite there being no evidence of voter fraud.

A judge ordered the board Thursday afternoon to certify the votes before the end of the day. “You will meet today,” Superior Court Judge Casey F. McGinley said. “You will canvass the election no later than 5 o’clock.”

Democratic Board Chair Ann English and Republican Supervisor Peggy Judd voted later Thursday to certify the results. The other supervisor, Republican Tom Crosby, did not show up.

Judd, who participated in the January 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, made a big show of having been backed into a corner despite trying to stand up for the will of the people.

“I am not ashamed of anything I did,” she said during the vote. “Because of a court ruling, and because of my own health and situations … I feel like I must follow what the judge did today.”

She also said she felt that the government needs to “listen to the people more” and urged Americans to “keep fighting.

Except, in a mind-boggling twist, Cochise County voted overwhelmingly Republican during the midterms. MAGA gubernatorial contender Kari Lake won by 58.15 percent, far more than Hobbs’s 40.49 percent. Republican Juan Ciscomani was elected representative for Arizona’s 6th district by more than 5,000 votes—but if Cochise had failed to certify the votes, then all the votes for him would have been thrown out, flipping that race to his Democratic opponent.

By not certifying, Republicans had failed to listen to the people and put their own victories at risk.

Arizona has been plagued with election falsehoods since surprisingly going for Joe Biden in 2020, and the midterms were no exception: Early voting was rife with voter intimidation, and right-wing figures accused the state government of trying to rig the race for Democrats.

Lake and Mark Finchem, the unsuccessful GOP candidate for secretary of state, had sued Maricopa County earlier this year to demand votes be hand-counted. Federal Judge John Tuchi had dismissed their case in August, and on Thursday, he sanctioned their lawyers for “furthering false narratives that baselessly undermine public trust at a time of increasing disinformation about, and distrust in, the democratic process.”

Musk Suspends Kanye West From Twitter, Again—This Time for Being a Nazi

The suspension came hours after Ye said he sees good things about Hitler.

Win McNamee/Getty Images
Elon Musk

Elon Musk has suspended Kanye West from Twitter. Again.

On Thursday, West, alongside antisemite and white supremacist Nick Fuentes and Sandy Hook–denialist Alex Jones, professed to the world that he likes Hitler.

West, known now as “Ye,” spent about three hours on Jones’s Infowars program on Thursday, filling the entire time peddling Nazi propaganda, Holocaust denialism, and support for Hitler. But even that wasn’t enough for him.

Later Thursday night, Ye took to Twitter to post a swastika.

Ye then posted screenshots of a conversation between him and Musk, where the Twitter CEO tried to conduct personal content moderation, telling Ye he had “gone too far.”

Musk attempted to lay out what was acceptable and what was not on Twitter. Ye posted a photo of Musk shirtless, with the caption, “Let’s always remember this as my final tweet #ye24.” To which Musk responded, “That is fine.” Musk then replied to the then-removed swastika post, “This is not.”

A user responded to Musk, begging him to “FIX KANYE PLEASE.”

Musk responded candidly, writing, “I tried my best. Despite that, he again violated our rule against incitement to violence. Account will be suspended.”

Based on the screenshots of their text conversation, it really had seemed like Musk tried his best to personally rein in Ye’s behavior—but to no avail.

Nevertheless, Musk held steady, tweeting “FAFO” (Fuck Around and Find Out), after West’s tweeting privileges were revoked once again. Unfortunately, that tough-guy standard seems mainly concerned with times when users flout Musk personally, rather than with genuine safety and moderation guidelines.

Several prominent liberal accounts have been suspended this week for unclear reasons; meanwhile, hate speech is skyrocketing on the platform. So take Musk’s suspension of Ye with a grain of salt. After all, Musk was the one who happily welcomed Ye back to the platform in the first place.

Obama Eviscerates Herschel Walker on Vampire, Werewolf Debate

Barack Obama mocked the Georgia Senate candidate like no one else could.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former President Barack Obama acknowledged that Georgia senate candidate Herschel Walker has raised an important issue during runoff campaigning: which supernatural predator would reign supreme.

While campaigning for incumbent Democrat Raphael Warnock, Obama seemed incredulous that he even had to address the comments, repeatedly laughing and even actually face-palming at one point.

“Mr. Walker has been talking about issues that are of great importance to the people of Georgia, like whether it’s better to be a vampire or a werewolf,” Obama said. “This is a debate that I must confess I once had myself—when I was seven.”

“By the way, Mr. Walker decided he wanted to be a werewolf, which is great. As far as I’m concerned, he can be anything he wants to be except for a United States senator!”

Record-high numbers of Georgians have turned out to vote in the highly contested runoff race between incumbent Warnock and Walker. Although Democrats have maintained control of the Senate, a victory in Georgia would give them an outright 51–49 majority, instead of the current 50–50 majority by tiebreak.

Throughout the race, ultraconservative Walker has lied about his academic record and apparently his legal state of residence. He has been accused of domestic abuse and forcing his partners to get abortions. And Republicans, who insist he is a qualified candidate and not a token diversity puppet, have been chaperoning his interviews and rarely letting him speak.

Bet they wouldn’t try that if he were a werewolf.

Full List of Senators Who Voted Against Giving Rail Workers Paid Sick Leave

42 Republicans and one Democrat voted against giving rail workers paid sick leave. Here are their names.

Capitol building with American flag in front
Al Drago/Getty Images

A whopping 43 people who have unlimited sick days voted to prevent around 115,000 rail workers from gaining just seven paid sick leave days.

Here are the senators who voted Thursday against giving rail workers paid sick leave. Forty-two are Republicans, and one is a Democrat.

  1. Ben Sasse
  2. Bill Cassidy
  3. Bill Hagerty
  4. Chuck Grassley
  5. Cynthia M. Lummis
  6. Dan Sullivan
  7. Deb Fischer
  8. James E. Risch
  9. James Lankford
  10. James M. Inhofe
  11. Jerry Moran
  12. Joe Manchin, III
  13. John Barrasso
  14. John Boozman
  15. John Cornyn
  16. John Hoeven
  17. John Thune
  18. Joni Ernst
  19. Kevin Cramer
  20. Lisa Murkowski
  21. Marsha Blackburn
  22. Mike Crapo
  23. Mike Lee
  24. Mike Rounds
  25. Mitch McConnell
  26. Mitt Romney
  27. Patrick J. Toomey
  28. Rand Paul
  29. Richard C. Shelby
  30. Rick Scott
  31. Rob Portman
  32. Roger F. Wicker
  33. Roger Marshall
  34. Ron Johnson
  35. Roy Blunt
  36. Shelley Moore Capito
  37. Steve Daines
  38. Susan M. Collins
  39. Thom Tillis
  40. Tim Scott
  41. Todd Young
  42. Tom Cotton
  43. Tommy Tuberville

Manchin, Whose State Was Built by Unions, Rejects Paid Leave for Rail Workers

Senator Joe Manchin voted to impose a labor agreement on rail workers, but not give them seven paid sick days. He was the only Democrat to do so.

Senator Joe Manchin stands in an elevator as the door close
Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a state built by union workers, voted against providing paid sick leave to rail unions on Thursday.

Four out of 12 rail unions—representing the majority of rail workers—have been threatening to strike, after a labor deal brokered by President Joe Biden failed to meet their demands for paid sick leave. Workers currently get zero paid sick days. Biden, who has touted himself as a “pro-labor president,” called for Congress to impose the deal anyway and block the strike, saying it would cause too much economic damage.

The House voted Wednesday to end the strike but included a last-minute amendment proposed by progressives to give the unions seven days of sick leave.

The Senate, however, voted to impose the labor agreement but not add the paid leave amendment. Six Republicans voted in favor of the amendment. Manchin was the only Democrat to vote against it. He also voted to block the strike. The bill will now go to Biden for his signature.

Manchin had expressed misgivings about the amendment on Wednesday, saying he would need to read it over first. But he did say he would vote for “anything to prevent a strike that will enhance inflation and cause economic harm to our country.”

Although Manchin has become known for consistently throwing a wrench into Biden’s plans, he frustratingly seems in line with the president this time. Despite being known as both “Union Joe” and “Amtrak Joe,” Biden did not push for the paid leave amendment after its success in the House.

The President of course, of course he supports paid sick leave for all Americans, including rail workers, but he does not support any bill, or amendment, that will delay getting this bill to his desk by this Saturday,” White House spokesperson Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters after the House vote.

Manchin’s votes sting even more considering his state’s long history with union labor. Although union membership in West Virginia is currently about 10.7 percent, a little lower than the national average, the state’s unions are still strong for a right-to-work state.

West Virginia union workers helped build the state’s economy—particularly in coal mining—and have a long history of agitating for better working conditions.

Senate Votes to Impose Contract On Rail Workers, But Not Give Them Paid Sick Leave

Joe Manchin and 42 Republicans voted against the will of tens of thousands of workers

STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images

The Senate voted Thursday to advance a labor agreement to avert a rail strike—but not give workers needed paid sick leave.

The Senate voted 80-15 to advance a labor agreement brokered by President Joe Biden. The agreement is to be imposed on about 115,000 rail workers across the country. The Senate also voted 52-43 rejecting a measure to add seven paid sick leave days to the agreement. One Democrat, Joe Manchin, and 42 Republicans voted against. Rail workers currently have no paid sick days.

On Wednesday, the House overwhelmingly passed the labor agreement, but narrowly passed the measure to add the sick leave days to the deal. In between the House and Senate vote, Biden refused to whip momentum up for the measure, choosing instead to focus on the success of the labor deal he arranged.

Now, the agreement—without the sick leave provision—goes to the White House, where Biden is expected to sign it.

The paid sick leave measure, given to Biden on a platter by progressives, offered the president a second chance at getting it right for rail workers. But Biden did not express his support for the bill or engage with the notion that perhaps the best way to avert a strike is to address demands that prompted the threat in the first place.

The government’s failure to finally give rail workers paid sick days is disgraceful. More disgraceful is how Biden allowed, and even encouraged, such a failure to occur. He could have used the bully pulpit, and the momentum generated by workers and committed members of his caucus, to harden his supposed legacy as among the most pro-worker presidents.

Unfortunately, today’s outcome reveals that “Union Joe” may just be another hollow moniker. Given that a majority of rail workers have rejected Biden’s now-passed tentative agreement, it’s not necessarily guaranteed his lackluster deal will stop a strike anyways.

GOP House Judiciary Deletes “Kanye. Elon. Trump” Tweet After Kanye Says He Likes Hitler

The tweet stayed up through multiple controversies, but this was the final straw.

Susan Walsh/Pool/Getty Images
Republican Representative Jim Jordan

The House Judiciary Committee Republicans finally deleted a controversial tweet Thursday expressing support for Elon Musk, Donald Trump, and Kanye West—after the rapper praised Hitler and the Nazis.

The House Judiciary GOP account tweeted “Kanye. Elon. Trump” in early October. The tweet stayed up through multiple controversies, including all three men seeming to embrace some form of white supremacy.

The New Republic reached out to the office of ranking committee member Jim Jordan about the deleted tweet but did not hear back by press time.

West, now known as “Ye,” gave an unhinged, multihour interview on InfoWars Thursday, during which he formally said he was a Nazi sympathizer. He said people should stop being mean to Nazis, as they had done some good things, and at one point said, “I like Hitler.” He also denied the Holocaust, saying it was “factually incorrect” that Hitler killed six million Jews.

West appeared on the show alongside Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes. Both of them met with Trump last week—a meeting that very few Republicans have condemned.

Although the InfoWars interview seems to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, Ye has been increasingly outspoken about his antisemitism in the past few months. He wore a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt to his Yeezy fashion show in October, just days before the Judiciary GOP posted the tweet, and he tweeted later in the month that he would go “death con 3 on JEWISH PEOPLE.”

That tweet got him banned from Twitter and cost him many major brand deals, including with Adidas.

Musk, however, said he’d spoken with Ye and insisted the musician had learned his lesson. Then, a month later, Musk shared a Nazi photo on Twitter the day before the midterm elections. A few days later, he welcomed Ye back onto the platform.

Since Musk took over, hate speech has skyrocketed on Twitter. The social media research group National Contagion Research Institute said that in the 12 hours since Musk bought Twitter, use of the n-word increased almost 500 percent.

As for Trump, in addition to meeting with Fuentes, he has made veiled threats to the American Jewish community and embraced white supremacists. He chillingly told the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by” during a 2020 presidential debate.

Kanye West Tells Alex Jones: “I Like Hitler”

Kanye West defended Hitler and Nazis in general on Alex Jones’ Infowars.

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for Surface Magazine

On Thursday, Kanye West, known now as “Ye,” appeared on InfoWars alongside antisemite and white supremacist Nick Fuentes. There, Ye formally came out as a Nazi sympathizer.

“You’re not Hitler, you’re not a Nazi, you don’t deserve to be called that and demonized,” Alex Jones insisted to Ye.

“Well, I see good things about Hitler, also” Ye said.

He went on to complain that he has to love Jews, and what they’re doing with “contracts” and “pornography,” but that he can’t also appreciate “this guy that invented highways, invented the very microphone that I use as a musician,” seemingly misconstruing the false notion that the Nazis invented the microwave oven and the autobahn highway in Germany.

“Every human being has something of value that they brought to the table, especially Hitler.”

At another point in the interview, West simply says, “I like Hitler.”

The House Judiciary GOP’s infamous tweet that read “Kanye. Elon. Trump,” has now been deleted as of Thursday afternoon. Unfortunately, the tweet’s expressive function as some form of a Nazi summoning hex has been dealt.

Elon Musk continues to reinstate racist, antisemitic, and inflammatory Twitter accounts—including Ye. The disgraced hip hop artist and ex-billionaire has now quadrupled down on straightforward Nazi propaganda. Trump himself shared an evening meal with Fuentes and Ye last week, thereafter attempting to distance himself, claiming he “didn’t know” who Fuentes was. On InfoWars Thursday, Ye claimed Trump “loved” Fuentes.

Elon Musk’s Twitter Is Suspending Liberal Accounts for “Spam”

Several major Twitter accounts have been suspended or had other issues on the platform.

FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

Several prominent—and predominantly liberal—Twitter accounts have had major issues this week, but no one really seems to know why.

Dean Baker, the senior economist at the Center for Economic Policy and Research, had his account suspended Thursday. He said Twitter claimed in an email that he had violated the platform’s spam rules.

“I have no idea,” Baker said, when asked why he was suspended. He appealed the suspension, and his account was reinstated, but his follower count had dropped precipitously, from about 67,000 to 400, although the number has grown.

Baker’s work is not political—economic research is numbers-driven and neutral—but he noted he makes the occasional joke about Twitter owner Elon Musk and has written about repealing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects platforms from liability over what people post.

Andrew Lawrence, founder of the left-wing blog Media Matters, also had his account temporarily suspended Thursday for “spam.” Although his account was reinstated within an hour, he told reporter Ben Collins he had “no idea why I was suspended.”

Other major users have also been having issues on Twitter. HuffPost reporter Nathalie Baptiste posted a screenshot of her notifications tab, which said she had none.

On Wednesday, The Nation tweeted at Musk directly, saying the outlet’s reporter Joan Walsh’s account had been hacked. “She’s contacted @TwitterSupport at least a dozen times—no answer,” The Nation said.

Since Musk’s chaotic takeover of Twitter, the company has been rife with controversy and problems. Musk immediately fired most of the top executives and the entire board of directors, followed soon after by nearly half the workforce. The remaining employees are leaving in droves.

Many accounts that had been suspended for spreading disinformation or inciting violence—such as former President Donald Trump’s and the personal account for Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene—have been allowed back online. Twitter also dropped its Covid-19 misinformation regulations on November 23, without fanfare.

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