This Week’s News: Burning Bus, Bad Cop, Trump is Scared and Workers Rock
This week’s news touches on some serious worker solidarity in San Francisco; a burning bus, a bad cop, baller rumors and one snarky marquis in Oakland; the death of George H.W. Bush; G20 highlights and lowlights; all the Special Counsel fun Trump came home to and a bunch of other important and random stuff. Let’s go…
It was a big week for organized labor in San Francisco (and beyond). The two-month long Marriot workers strike, which created quite an issue for seven hotel properties in San Francisco alone, finally came to a conclusion. The deal may not be perfect, but there will be pension payments, slightly increased wages and a GPS safety system for workers that come into direct contact with hotel guests, Additional information about the terms and history of this strike can be read here.
San Francisco Veterinary Specialists are on the unionizing train and demanding “liveable wages, better benefits worthy of a billion dollar corporation, better training practices,” among other key items. The first ever private veterinary hospital union is fighting against major cutbacks, spurred on by major corporate takeover, that workers claim have compromised the level of care offered the large Mission District veterinary hospital. An extensive report with further details is available here.
A Greyhound bus burst into flames on I-580 late Saturday afternoon, blocking multiple eastbound lanes on the Oakland stretch. The driver noticed smoke coming from the rear of the rig and managed to pull over and get all passengers off safely as the fire raged on. Firefighters extinguished the blaze and lanes reopened by 9 p.m. – thankfully, the only damage was one very charred bus and a whole bunch of pissed off commuters backed up for miles.
Sunday marked the 2nd anniversary of the Ghost Ship Fire, where 36 people died during an electronic music show gone wrong as a result of jenky, illegal wiring. Two emotionally-draining years later, just about every bit of accountability is still up in the air. The two primary defendants in the case, Derick Almena and Max Harris, are still sitting in cells awaiting the next round of their trial, pushed out after a judge made a surprise ruling in August and rejected their agreed-upon plea deal. It was announced Monday that Judge Vernon Nakahara will preside over the next trial set to begin April 2. An additional “massive lawsuit involving more than 80 plaintiffs against Oakland, PG&E and warehouse owner Chor Ng lurches through Alameda Superior Court before Judge Brad Seligman” is in motion, according to the East Bay Times. That case is laser-focused on the owner, PG&E and the city of Oakland for what amounts to criminal negligence if proven.
Oakland Police Department will cost the city of Oakland another $60,000 for “misconduct” stemming from a 2016 incident when an officer hit a 14-year-old girl (non-suspect) in the face. You can read more about that story here.
The Grand Lake Theater marquis lived up to its reputation for best inanimate shit disturber with this dandy of a Friday message:
Our local theater has some strong feelings today. pic.twitter.com/38lj2kE7in
— Dhyana Levey (@dhyanalevey) November 30, 2018
The Golden State Warriors beef (that just won’t die) seems to be losing at least a little steam. The tiff between Draymond Green and Kevin Durant happened nearly a month ago on the court in LA for all to see, providing plenty of speculative fodder for all those haters out there who want nothing more than to see the coveted Warriors dynamic broken down, because apparently, they destroyed the game with all their evil camaraderie and talent. Mkay. General Manager Bob Myers told NBC Sports Wednesday that the two super players were in a good place, which may be true or may just be his attempt to squash the rumors that KD is shopping for a new home. We really don’t know what’s going on behind the scenes, but what we do know is that KD has been fire in the last four games, and we all know Draymond can be an asshole sometimes – but he’s our favorite asshole – and just like humans, every team needs one. So shut it and let the team do the thing they do so well: win. (Personal plea: Please don’t go, KD!! I will cry, and not just on the inside.)
Warriors standings: 17 wins, 9 losses, 4th in Western Conference.
Beyond the Bay
The United States’s 41st president, George H.W. Bush, died peacefully Friday night and following several days of roving funeral services, his body is finally being laid to rest at his presidential museum property in Texas. Wednesday’s Washington D.C. chapel service was full of pomp and circumstance, kind words and super awkward moments as Trump sat in the same row with former presidents and their families, several of whom he’s accused of treason (hypocrisy sounds like what?) and threatened to “lock up.” We did the best we could to acknowledge Bush’s passing and tried to find a few positive things to say, which you can read here. (And yes, it was a painful exercise.)
North Carolina Republican Mark Harris tried to steal the election from his Democrat opponent. The state may have to scrap the whole thing and call it a do-over because, as it turns out, when you pay people cash to go door-to-door and literally thieve absentee ballots from voters, election officials may not be so cool with it.
Tracking the Trump
The week started (oh, so long ago) with Trump gracing the G20 summit in Buenos Aires with his presence. While there, he and Chinese leader Xi Jinping had a meeting and in true form, the U.S. president basically claimed to have fixed the trade wars (and I think he may have mentioned curing cancer and ending world hunger, too). But the deal, which isn’t really any kind of formal deal at all – not yet, is that the tariffs will remain exactly as they are for at least the next 90 days, as opposed to raising them an additional 25 percent, which was scheduled to occur on Jan. 1. The 90-day period will be an assessment and the two are supposed to meet up for further discussion.
Other fun items on the G20 agenda included:
- The signing of NAFTA 2.0, which, without diving too far into economics and trade nerd-speak, is just a tick off the terms of NAFTA 1.0. Sure, it’s a little better than what it was, but does not qualify as the earth-shattering deal of all deals wherein Trump is exalted as emperor of the universe – sorry buddy.
- Trump’s avoidance of confrontation with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (shortened, thankfully, to MBS) over the murder and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist and U.S. resident Jamal Ahmad Khashoggi. You know who did confront the Saudi prince? (Hint: it was French President Emmanuel Macron)
- While the summit was in full swing, the Washington Post dropped a little fun bomb back here at home with an article highlighting the many times Trump’s new “loyalist” Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker was less than flattering on the topic of his new boss man. He called Trump “self-serving,” “unlikable,” “dangerous,” and accused him of making stuff up. I couldn’t help but imagine Merkel, Macron and Trudeau all laughing around the G20 cooler with newsfeeds in hand.
- The bro handshake of all time, where fellow pariahs Putin and MBS nearly busted out the double dutch in their excitement to see each other…while Trump looked on like a jealous lover scorned.
MBS and Putin, damned happy to see each other. pic.twitter.com/XUnsKvjeHR
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) November 30, 2018
On Tuesday, Trump took to Twitter to give himself a shiny new nickname: Tariff Man.
….I am a Tariff Man. When people or countries come in to raid the great wealth of our Nation, I want them to pay for the privilege of doing so. It will always be the best way to max out our economic power. We are right now taking in $billions in Tariffs. MAKE AMERICA RICH AGAIN
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 4, 2018
Despite all the fun people are having with the new executive title, Vox’s Emily Stewart was quick to burst our bubble and remind us that Tariff Man may not be the trade expert he claims to be.
“That’s not really how tariffs work. The US may be generating some revenue from tariffs, but billions of dollars aren’t pouring in. Moreover, a lot of the money that is made off of tariffs comes from US consumers — not Chinese companies.”
Back here in the states, Special Counsel Robert Mueller was a very busy man and it doesn’t look like he’ll be slowing down any time soon. Rapid fire breakdown: Mueller is handing out sentencing suggestion reports like candy this week. First up, Michael Flynn, the disgraced and very short-lived National Security Advisor, got a huge pat on the back from the Special Counsel for his exemplary singing skills. He was praised for cooperating wholly and truthfully throughout 19 different interviews with several different DOJ offices. It was suggested he not serve any jail time for his offenses because he’s been such a good boy. Paul Manafort, on the other hand, is a big, fat liar and Mueller informally called him out for it. In a sentencing report coming this week, Mueller and team is expected to hand the keys to the judge and ask that they be thrown away because it was discovered Manafort has not cooperated as agreed and actually lied (a.k.a. broke the law) since.
In the background is Roger Stone totally freaking out in every public platform he can accost, while simultaneously attempting to assert his Fifth Amendment right, which the also freaking out president suggested he do. If you haven’t watched “Get Me Roger Stone,” you really, really should, just for context. Stone may actually be the keystone to this whole case, as he has been throughout every evil piece of political history from Nixon on. That indictment will require much popcorn.