Tag: faces

Biden’s son-in-law faces scrutiny over startup investment

Move over Hunter, now it’s Howard’s turn to face some Biden family conflict-of-interest scrutiny.

Politico reported Tuesday that Joseph R. Biden’s son-in-law Howard Krein served as an informal adviser to his campaign’s COVID-19 response while also being involved in a venture capital firm that set aside $1 million for startups with ideas aimed at addressing the pandemic and others like it.

StartUp Health, the investment firm that employs Mr. Krein, who is married to Mr. Biden’s daughter Ashley, sought to pump money into ideas related to “mitigating, managing, or treating the coronavirus or future pandemics,” according to the company’s website.

Mr. Krein had been involved in daily briefing calls with Mr. Biden, according to Bloomberg and The New York Times.

Around the same time, Politico reported that his venture capital firm announced it was looking to invest $1 million into startup companies with possible coronavirus breakthroughs.

Mr. Biden has already faced scrutiny over allegations that his son, Hunter, scored a cushy position on the board of a Ukranian energy company while his father led the Obama administration’s efforts in Ukraine.

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‘It’s not the law of Amy’: SCOTUS nominee Barrett faces Dem skepticism on Day 2 of hearings

WASHINGTON — Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett batted away Democrats’ skeptical questions Tuesday on abortion, health care and a possible disputed-election fight over transferring presidential power, insisting in a long and lively confirmation hearing she would bring no personal agenda to the court but decide cases “as they come.”

The 48-year-old appellate court judge declared her conservative views with often colloquial language, but refused many specifics. She declined to say whether she would recuse herself from any election-related cases involving President Donald Trump, who nominated her to fill the seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and is pressing to have her confirmed before the the Nov. 3 election.

“Judges can’t just wake up one day and say I have an agenda — I like guns, I hate guns, I like abortion, I hate abortion — and walk in like a royal queen and impose their will on the world,” Barrett told the Senate Judiciary Committee during its second day of hearings.

“It’s not the law of Amy,” she said. “It’s the law of the American people.”

Barrett returned to a Capitol Hill mostly locked down with COVID-19 protocols, the mood quickly shifting to a more confrontational tone from opening day. She was grilled by Democrats strongly opposed to Trump’s nominee yet unable to stop her. Excited by the prospect of a judge aligned with the late Antonin Scalia, Trump’s Republican allies are rushing ahead to install a 6-3 conservative court majority for years to come.

The president seemed pleased with her performance. “I think Amy’s doing incredibly well,” he said at the White House departing for a campaign rally.

Trump has said he wants a justice seated for any disputes arising from his heated election with Democrat Joe Biden, but Barret testified she has not spoken to Trump or his team about election cases. Pressed by panel Democrats, she skipped past questions about ensuring the date of the election or preventing voter intimidation, both set in federal law, and the peaceful transfer of presidential power. She declined to commit to recusing herself from any post-election cases without first consulting the other justices.

“I can’t offer an opinion on recusal without short-circuiting that entire process,” she said.

A frustrated Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the panel, all but implored the nominee to be more specific about how she would handle landmark abortion cases, including Roe v. Wade and the follow-up Pennsylvania case Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which confirmed it in large part.

“It’s distressing not to get a good answer,” Feinstein told the judge.

Barrett was unmoved. “I don’t have an agenda to try to overrule Casey,” she said. “I have an agenda to stick to the rule of law and decide cases as they come.”

She later declined to characterize the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion as a “super-precedent” that must not be overturned.

Democrats had no such reticence.

Let’s not make any mistake about it,” said California Sen. Kamala Harris, the Democratic

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American Horticultural Society faces an uncertain future

On paper at least, the American Horticultural Society, founded in 1922, should be poised to move into its second century as a major player in the green world, an organization with a compelling mission and a rosy future.

The pandemic has reinforced the importance of gardens and gardening, reflected in surging vegetable seed sales and the desire of people to visit public gardens and other green spaces to find succor in anxious times.

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

COVID-19 aside, public gardens offer enormous potential to connect an ever urbanizing population to a planet in environmental crisis and to bring together diverse groups at a time of social, political and economic unrest.

But the AHS, located at its pastoral 25-acre property on the Potomac, River Farm, is facing its own moment of reckoning.

Citing the pandemic as a contributor, the society recently announced on its website that it was considering leaving River Farm, merging in some unspecified fashion with the American Public Gardens Association, and putting the prime piece of real estate on the market. This is a situation much in flux — the society’s board is said to be reevaluating its options after a backlash to the plan — but it is clear that the nonprofit is at some sort of existential crossroad.

Like other such organizations — in the United States, examples include the venerable Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and the Massachusetts Horticultural Society — the AHS was formed to guide and promote the plant and garden passions of its members. It puts out a glossy magazine, the American Gardener; has published garden books and encyclopedias; holds workshops and symposiums; and has organized travel study trips to gardens around the world. It was a pioneer in the children’s and youth garden movements. The property was once part of one of George Washington’s satellite farms and sits a few miles north of Washington’s Mount Vernon estate on the Virginia side of the Potomac River.

The announcement “took all of us in the community by surprise,” said Dan Storck, who represents the Mount Vernon district on the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors. “And that should never be the case for an organization that prominent in the community.”


        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

Storck supports efforts to rethink the sale of the property and wants AHS to engage with the county and others to examine ways of saving River Farm as a public green space.

So far, the society is keeping quiet through this. Attempts to reach Bob Brackman, interim executive director, and Terry Hayes, chair of the board of directors, were unsuccessful.

It is tempting but perhaps futile to compare the AHS with the granddaddy of them all, Britain’s Royal Horticultural Society. Their respective size is so disparate as to be practically incomparable, but the RHS does at least demonstrate that an invention of the 19th century can still be a potent force for gardening, in

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Supply Chains Latest: U.S. Dairy Industry Faces Rough Future

America’s dairy farmers could face another price hit this year as a slowdown in government purchases combines with reduced demand from schools.

Dairy products have gotten a boost from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers to Families Food Box program, which includes plans to buy as much as $4 billion worth of food to distribute to those in need. The government purchases have helped to send milk prices on a tear recently. But the program is slated to wind down, and concerns are rising over whether that rally will be sustainable.

Milk markets have already had a roller-coaster year. When coronavirus lockdowns went into place, dairy markets were among the hardest hit in the food world. It turns out, consumers eat a lot more cheese and butter when they’re dining out than they do at home. As restaurants shuttered, farmers were left with an overwhelming glut. Millions of pounds of milk got dumped.

But then governments stepped in and helped to rescue prices. In addition to the U.S. food program and a dairy bailout, the European Union and Australia also earmarked funds for the industry. That sent milk futures in Chicago soaring after touching a decade low in April.

Now, it looks like things could reverse again.

relates to Drying Up Government Aid Set to Rock U.S. Dairy Producers

U.S. government dairy purchases are set to dwindle by year’s end, dropping to 7.9 million pounds by December from 505.7 million pounds in September, according to StoneX Group Inc. estimates. That decline would remove a year’s worth of growth from the industry.

“The concern moving forward is as these government purchases slow — it looks like they’re going to slow dramatically after the election —commercial demand is going to be down,” said Nate Donnay, director of dairy market insight at StoneX. “Prices are going to fall again to try to slow down overall milk production and get it lined up with where real commercial demand is.”

At the same time, schools have gone virtual at least part of the time in many places. That means a lot fewer milk cartons are being gulped down in cafeterias. The same goes for fewer pieces of lunchtime pizza, grilled cheese sandwiches and other typical meals. Demand from schools typically represents about 6% of the market.

Declining fluid milk demand is the biggest impact from students not completely returning to school, which is bearish for the industry, said Alyssa Badger, director of global operations at HighGround Dairy in Chicago.

Justina Vasquez in New York

Charted Territory

Bleak British Harvest

The U.K. is reaping its smallest wheat crop in at least three decades, increasing reliance on imports just months before Brexit threatens to raise costs or disrupt flows into the country. British farmers were pummeled by a season of weather extremes, as record winter downpours cut plantings before spring dry spells then hurt young crops. That means the wheat harvest will probably slump 38% to 10.1 million tons, the smallest in data going back to 1984, the government estimates.

Today’s Must Reads

  • That’s a winner | The World Food Programme
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Swedish government faces battle to stay in power as labour talks fail

STOCKHOLM (Reuters) – Sweden’s minority government faces a potential rebellion by three small parties that keep it in power over plans to ease rules in the country’s rigid labour market.

Talks between trade unions and employer organisations broke down early on Thursday, handing the job of finding a solution to the Social Democrat-Green government. The government needs the backing of the Left Party as well as two small centre-right parties to pass its budgets.

Prime Minister Stefan Lofven had promised the two centre-right parties that if the unions and employers fail to agree new practices, the government would adopt proposals made by a commission to ease first-in-last-out rules, which critics say hamper companies’ ability to adapt to changing conditions.

Left Party leader Jonas Sjostedt said he would try to bring down the coalition if that plan goes ahead.

“Stefan Lofven cannot remain as prime minister if he plans to put forward the proposals… which would tear up employment security for all wage-earners in Sweden,” Left Party leader Jonas Sjostedt wrote on Twitter.

The Left Party would need the backing of the opposition Moderates, Sweden Democrats and Christian Democrats to pass a vote of no-confidence in the government – support it would be likely, though not certain, to get.

However, a vote of no-confidence could usher in a right of centre administration, something the Left Party does not want.

The government urged the unions and employers to resume talks, but Employment Minister Eva Nordmark said it would stick to its “January Agreement” with the centre-right parties and press ahead with the proposed changes if they did not.

Nordmark gave no timeframe for introducing the new rules.

Sweden’s complex political situation stems from an election in 2018, when neither the centre-left nor centre-right blocs gained enough seats in parliament to form a majority government.

To secure a second term as prime minister, Social Democrat Lofven had to cut a deal with the Centre Party and the Liberals that included a raft of business-friendly reforms, including looser labour market rules.

(Reporting by Simon Johnson; Editing by Philippa Fletcher and Gareth Jones)

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Factbox: New Faces, New Jobs in Poland’s Conservative Government | World News

WARSAW (Reuters) – Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced a reshuffle of his nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) government on Wednesday, streamlining jobs and appointing an arch conservative to the influential education ministry.

PiS chief Jaroslaw Kaczynski took up a post of deputy premier, in what Morawiecki described was an effort to make the three-party coalition govern more effectively.

Only one ministry went to a woman, compared with four in the previous lineup.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, JAROSLAW KACZYNSKI, 71

As a founding head of PiS, Kaczynski is seen as the main arbiter on policy and government jobs in Poland, even though he has held no executive posts since a conservative government he headed collapsed in 2007.

He is said to prefer pulling the levers of power from behind the scenes since the death of his twin brother, Lech, in a plane crash over Russia. Poland’s president at the time, Lech Kaczynski was killed alongside nearly 100 officials in 2010.

Local media have said that his emergence into the limelight means he will seek to arbitrate between powerful Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro and Morawiecki, who are said to be vying to succeed the ageing leader.

EDUCATION MINISTER, PRZEMYSLAW CZARNEK, 43

Previously a regional governor, Czarnek is a Catholic university lecturer who has called a gay pride march in eastern Poland “a disgusting display of one’s sexuality”.

Ahead of a July presidential election, Czarnek said that one must “stop listening to idiocies about human rights and other equalities…these (LGBT) people are not equal to normal people, lets end this discussion.”

As minister, he has pledged to prevent the “LGBT ideology” which he says aims to “separate sexuality from morality” from reaching school children.

DEVELOPMENT, LABOUR AND TECHNOLOGY MINISTER, JAROSLAW GOWIN, 58

Head of the small Accord coalition grouping, Gowin rejoins the government after he quit earlier this year in protest against PiS efforts to hold a presidential election in May without any delay despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Gowin is seen as more socially and economically liberal than Kaczynski and Ziobro.

JUSTICE MINISTER, ZBIGNIEW ZIOBRO, 50

Ziobro retains his post despite speculation in recent weeks that he might be pushed out over his insistence that Poland take a more hardline position on issues such as LGBT and women’s rights.

A former member of the European Parliament, Ziobro is the architect of the PiS government’s justice reforms which the European Union says subvert the rule of law by politicising courts and prosecution.

AGRICULTURE MINISTER, GRZEGORZ PUDA, 38

A PiS lawmaker since 2015, Puda is a strong defender of a legislative proposal to ban the breeding of animals for fur. The draft bill sparked internal conflict within the ruling coalition and criticism from Agriculture Minister Jan Ardanowski, who said it would anger PiS’ core rural electorate. Puda will now replace Ardanowski.

ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE MINISTER, MICHAL KURTYKA, 47

An economist by training, Kurtyka has been Poland’s climate minister. He will face the tricky task of navigating relations with the European Union over emissions goals and

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Wales lockdown: Ryanair holidaymaker faces losing money or breaking law

Tourists on the AlgarveImage copyright
Getty Images

Image caption

Local lockdown restrictions in Wales mean people cannot leave those areas for holidays

People who have booked holidays say they are left choosing between losing their money or breaking the law.

It is illegal for people living in Welsh areas subject to local lockdowns to leave their county except for essential reasons which do not include holidays.

People living in England’s hotspots are still able to travel.

But some people in Wales are struggling to get refunds for booked holidays they are no longer allowed to take.

“I either flout the law or lose the money spent on my flights,” Jeff Norman from Cardiff said.

The 58-year-old was due to fly to Portugal on 5 October, having booked tickets before Cardiff became subject to a local lockdown.

Image copyright
Jeff Norman

Image caption

Jeff Norman says he has been left choosing between losing money or breaking the law

“Ryanair refuses point-blank to provide a refund or credit note.

“Their attitude was as long as their flights are still operating, I should be able to get on one and it doesn’t matter about government restrictions.”

Mr Norman said the airline would only allow him to amend the flight, at a cost of £70 plus any difference in fare, which he said would cost more than the original tickets.

He added: “They say they have a responsibility to their shareholders but what about their responsibilities to the paying customer?

Mr Norman added he had amended flights to Australia and the United States with other airlines without any issues.

Ryanair said “standard T&Cs apply” for flights which are not cancelled.

“Passengers who do not wish to travel on their booked flight can move it to another date, in which case a flight change fee and the difference in fare may apply,” a spokeswoman said.

Are flights still running?

Cardiff Airport flights are still running “for legitimate travel and air movements”, the airport says – closely following guidance from the authorities.

A statement on the airport’s website confirms people in areas subject to local lockdowns should not travel outside their area “unless there is a reasonable excuse to do so”.

Even though the airport itself is in Vale of Glamorgan, which is subject to restrictions, people from areas not in lockdown can travel to the airport as long as they do not stop elsewhere in the county on the way.

When is it legal to go on holiday from Wales?

Just six mostly rural counties – Monmouthshire, Pembrokeshire, Ceredigion, Gwynedd, Anglesey and Powys – will not be subject to any restrictions from Thursday.

Carmarthenshire is not under local lockdown but the town of Llanelli within the county is.

People from these lockdown-free areas can enter or leave as they wish – but cannot visit other counties in Wales subject to lockdowns unless they are travelling straight through, or have an essential reason to do so.

If they do go on holiday, they may have to quarantine for 14

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Factbox: New faces, new jobs in Poland’s conservative government

WARSAW (Reuters) – Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announced a reshuffle of his nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) government on Wednesday, streamlining jobs and appointing an arch conservative to the influential education ministry.

FILE PHOTO: Law and Justice (PiS) leader Jaroslaw Kaczynski wears protective mask as he attends the Polish Parliament session to debate new limits on abortion and sexual education, in Warsaw, Poland April 16, 2020. Slawomir Kaminski/Agencja Gazeta via REUTERS

PiS chief Jaroslaw Kaczynski took up a post of deputy premier, in what Morawiecki described was an effort to make the three-party coalition govern more effectively.

Only one ministry went to a woman, compared with four in the previous lineup.

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, JAROSLAW KACZYNSKI, 71

As a founding head of PiS, Kaczynski is seen as the main arbiter on policy and government jobs in Poland, even though he has held no executive posts since a conservative government he headed collapsed in 2007.

He is said to prefer pulling the levers of power from behind the scenes since the death of his twin brother, Lech, in a plane crash over Russia. Poland’s president at the time, Lech Kaczynski was killed alongside nearly 100 officials in 2010.

Local media have said that his emergence into the limelight means he will seek to arbitrate between powerful Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro and Morawiecki, who are said to be vying to succeed the ageing leader.

EDUCATION MINISTER, PRZEMYSLAW CZARNEK, 43

Previously a regional governor, Czarnek is a Catholic university lecturer who has called a gay pride march in eastern Poland “a disgusting display of one’s sexuality”.

Ahead of a July presidential election, Czarnek said that one must “stop listening to idiocies about human rights and other equalities…these (LGBT) people are not equal to normal people, lets end this discussion.”

As minister, he has pledged to prevent the “LGBT ideology” which he says aims to “separate sexuality from morality” from reaching school children.

DEVELOPMENT, LABOUR AND TECHNOLOGY MINISTER, JAROSLAW GOWIN, 58

Head of the small Accord coalition grouping, Gowin rejoins the government after he quit earlier this year in protest against PiS efforts to hold a presidential election in May without any delay despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Gowin is seen as more socially and economically liberal than Kaczynski and Ziobro.

JUSTICE MINISTER, ZBIGNIEW ZIOBRO, 50

Ziobro retains his post despite speculation in recent weeks that he might be pushed out over his insistence that Poland take a more hardline position on issues such as LGBT and women’s rights.

A former member of the European Parliament, Ziobro is the architect of the PiS government’s justice reforms which the European Union says subvert the rule of law by politicising courts and prosecution.

AGRICULTURE MINISTER, GRZEGORZ PUDA, 38

A PiS lawmaker since 2015, Puda is a strong defender of a legislative proposal to ban the breeding of animals for fur. The draft bill sparked internal conflict within the ruling coalition and criticism from Agriculture Minister Jan Ardanowski, who said it would anger PiS’ core rural electorate.

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