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Maxine Waters: Trump should be put in ‘solitary confinement’

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  • Rep. Maxine Waters of California tweeted that President Donald Trump should be “imprisoned & placed in solitary confinement” on Tuesday over his attacks against the intelligence community whistleblower who filed a complaint against him.
  • The whistleblower wrote that Trump used “the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election” in a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
  • While Trump is attacking the whistleblower as “fake” and claiming the complaint was based off secondhand information, the substance of the complaint was confirmed by the White House’s own memo summarizing the call.
  • Waters, who has served in Congress since 1991, holds a powerful position as Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee and is one of Trump’s most vocal critics.
  • But her claim that Trump should be imprisoned and put in solitary confinement is at odds with the now-mainstream position held by most experts and progressive Democrats that solitary confinement is cruel.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Rep. Maxine Waters of California was one of the first congressional Democrats to call for an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump, which the House formally launched last week. 

And in a Tuesday tweet, Waters took her criticisms a step further and said that Trump should be “imprisoned & placed in solitary confinement” over his frequent attacks against the intelligence community whistleblower who filed an explosive complaint against him.

The whistleblower wrote that Trump used “the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election” in a July 25 phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky shortly after withholding $400 million in military aid to Ukraine previously approved by Congress. 

The complaint said that in the call, Trump him to open an investigation that would hurt the reputations of 2020 presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of a Ukrainian gas company. 

Read more: 2 key facts refute Trump’s conspiracy theories about the Ukraine scandal

 

Much of the substance of the complaint was confirmed by the White House’s own memo summarizing the call. After telling Zelensky that “we do a lot” for Ukraine, Trump asked him for “a favor” by looking into both Hunter Biden’s business dealings and CrowdStrike, the cybersecurity firm once hired by the Democratic National Committee.

Former federal prosecutors told Insider that in addition to constituting possibly impeachable offenses, Trump pressuring a foreign government to act for his benefit could violate campaign finance regulations or even rise to the level of bribery or misappropriation of taxpayer funds if he used the military aid as a bargaining chip. 

As the House ramps up their investigations into Trump and his administration, Trump has escalated his rhetoric against the anonymous whistleblower, calling them a “fake whistleblower” and saying that he is actively trying to figure out and unmask their identity, which could put the whistleblower’s safety in jeopardy. 

Read more: Trump says he’s trying to unmask the Ukraine call whistleblower, in possible violation of federal law

 

Waters, who has served in Congress since 1991, holds a powerful position as Chairwoman of the House Financial Services Committee and is one of Trump’s most vocal critics.

Last summer, Waters found herself in hot water after encouraging people to publicly harass and call out Trump administration officials in public places, saying, “if you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd. And you push back on them.”

But her claim that Trump should be imprisoned and put in solitary confinement is at odds with the now-mainstream position held by most experts and progressive Democrats — and a number of Republicans — that solitary confinement is cruel, unnecessary, and can even amount to torture. 

Read more: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez says Paul Manafort shouldn’t be held in solitary confinement, calls the method ‘torture’

Last year, a group of Democratic Senators introduced a bill, The Solitary Confinement Reform Act, which aimed to limit the Federal Bureau of Prisons’ use of solitary confinement “to the briefest term and under the least restrictive conditions possible.” 

And prominent progressive Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York publicly spoke out against former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort being held in solitary confinement at Riker’s Island while awaiting mortgage fraud charges. 

“A prison sentence is not a license for gov torture and human rights violations. That’s what solitary confinement is. Manafort should be released, along with all people being held in solitary,” she wrote. 



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Stock market news today: Dow, S&P rise on jobs report, reopening hopes

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The stock market’s June rally continued on Wednesday as growing hopes of a smooth economic recovery drowned out nationwide protests.

Major indexes gained through the morning after an ADP labor-market report said US private payrolls fell by 2.76 million in May, less than one-third of the decline expected by economists. The reading was a steep decline from April’s record slump of 19.6 million.

Economists expected a far worse drop of 9 million jobs, suggesting Friday’s jobs report could also defy estimates and further boost investor sentiment.

Here’s where US indexes stood soon at the 4 p.m. ET close on Wednesday:

Read more: A $40 billion wealth-management firm says the US economy is only 19% recovered from the pandemic — and lays out a winning investing strategy in the wake of a massive stock-market rally.

The Nasdaq 100 temporarily traded above its February 19 record close before ending the session just below the threshold. The S&P 500 reached three-month highs, led by a bank-stock rally.

A report from the Institute for Supply Management pointed to positive performance within the US service industry, easily the largest part of the nation’s economy. The organization’s non-manufacturing index jumped to 45.4 in May from 41.8, remaining in contraction territory but turning higher after plunging on coronavirus woes. 

“We may be past the bottom and non-manufacturing activity may start to slowly improve in June, but we are still a long way from returning to pre-virus conditions,” Gregory Daco, chief US economist at Oxford Economics, said. “Consumer and business confidence will play key roles in shaping the economic recovery.”

Read more: A proprietary Bank of America indicator points to 20%-plus gains in the stock market over the next year. Here’s what the firm recommends buying now ahead of the rally.

Airlines outperformed the market upswing after the White House banned Chinese airlines from operating passenger flights to the US starting mid-June. The move follows the Department of Transportation accusing China of blocking US passenger flights. Alaska Air led the group, gaining as much as 12% on the news.

Oil erased early gains and hovered around little changed amid doubts on when OPEC will next meet. The global coalition is set to extend record production cuts for at least another month. But leading members are have threatened to cancel a Thursday meeting unless the entire group agrees to a concerted extension, according to Bloomberg.

Stocks have edged higher in June’s early sessions despite new risks emerging from nationwide police-brutality protests and renewed US-China trade tensions.

Nicholas Colas, a cofounder of DataTrek Research, said in a Tuesday note that while such rallies “may seem counterintuitive, and perhaps not even ‘fair,'” history holds several examples of investors looking past near-term strife to bet on surging corporate profits.

Now read more markets coverage from Markets Insider and Business Insider:

GOLDMAN SACHS: Buy these 15 stocks for powerful profit growth after a historic rally leaves the market with little room for error

ZoomInfo is set to join the Nasdaq exchange, risking new confusion among investors trading other Zoom-named stocks

Investors have plowed $151 billion into coronavirus bonds in a rush to stem pandemic damage



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US weekly jobless claims preview: Economists see 1.8 million claims

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  • The median economist estimate for jobless claims in the week ending May 30 is 1.8 million, according to Bloomberg data. The Labor Department will release the official report Thursday. 
  • While a decline from the previous week, the estimate is still nearly three times higher than the worst seven-day period during the Great Recession, when 665,000 people filed for unemployment. 
  • It’s still “indicative of a labor market that’s under quite a lot of stress,” Michelle Meyer of Bank of America told Business Insider. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Economists expect that initial claims data from the Labor Department will show another week in which millions of Americans filed for unemployment insurance benefits. 

The median economist estimate is for the Thursday report to show 1.8 million initial claims filed in the week ending May 30, according to Bloomberg data. 

That would be a decrease from the 2.1 million Americans who filed during the prior period, and mark the ninth weekly decline in a row. Still, 1.8 million jobless claims is a highly elevated number that’s nearly three times larger than the worst week of the great recession, when 665,000 filed for unemployment. 

It’s still “indicative of a labor market that’s under quite a lot of stress,” Michelle Meyer of Bank of America told Business Insider. 

claims projections 5 30 20



Andy Kiersz/ Business Insider


Read more: MORGAN STANLEY: The market’s hottest stocks are in danger of being disrupted to a degree not seen since the Great Recession. Here’s how to adjust your portfolio for the coming shift.

Economists will also be watching to see if continuing claims — which indicate people receiving unemployment benefits — fall for a second week in a row. In the previous report, continuing claims dipped for the first time since sweeping coronavirus-induced layoffs began when the US went into lockdown in mid-March. 

While declining initial claims show that fewer Americans are being laid off and seeking benefits, falling continuing claims indicate that at least some previously unemployed workers are returning to jobs. As all 50 states continue to slowly reopen their economies, that could be a sign that rehiring is taking place. 

Thursday’s report precedes the May jobs release on Friday, which economists expect will show the US lost roughly 8 million jobs and the unemployment rate surged to 19% during the month. In April, the US lost a record 20.5 million jobs and saw the unemployment rate spike to 14.7%, the highest since the 1940s. 

Still, there’s always the chance that the report comes in better than expectations — on Wednesday, ADP’s private payrolls report showed that 2.76 million jobs were cut in May, far fewer than the 9 million economists were expecting. 

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Amazon cuts workers’ $2 hazard pay as coronavirus continues spread

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  • This week Amazon warehouse workers lost a $2 pay bump brought in to reward them for coming in during the coronavirus pandemic.
  • Amazon has now phased out two major policies brought in to protect workers, the other being that they could take unlimited amounts of unpaid time off without being penalized.
  • The apparent return to normalcy is at odds with the experiences of warehouse workers who told Business Insider they still feel in danger coming to work.
  • Amazon said its starting wage was higher than competitors in retail, and that it had paid out approximately $800 million extra to staff since the beginning of the pandemic.
  • CEO Jeff Bezos maintains his position as the world’s richest person, with his fortune nearing $150 billion.
  • Do you work at Amazon? Got a tip? Contact this reporter at ihamilton@businessinsider.com or iahamilton@protonmail.com.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The coronavirus pandemic is not over, but Amazon this week ended some of the emergency incentives it introduced to encourage its 250,000 warehouse staffers to come into work.

The retail giant initially struggled to cope with a sudden spike in online orders brought on by coronavirus lockdowns around the world, and during its first-quarter earnings call the company announced it had seen its highest sales growth in over three years. But three months into lockdown, Amazon seems to have got a handle on its operations. 

As its supply chain steadies, the company is reversing policies introduced earlier in 2020 to protect its workers from the coronavirus fallout. Even as these measures fall away, the virus continues to spread inside Amazon’s warehouses in Europe and in the US, staffers say.

On Monday, Amazon eliminated one of the policies brought in to reward frontline workers for continuing to come into work during the crisis — a $2-per-hour rise in pay. The wage rise was always temporary, and the company announced earlier in May that its $2 hazard pay would finish at the end of the month.

In April, it phased out a second policy of allowing workers to take unlimited time off (UPT) to allow them to stay home if they felt unsafe coming to work. This was an extraordinary move for the retail giant, since prior to the pandemic workers told Business Insider that using more than your allotted amount of UPT (80 hours per year) could result in immediate termination. 

The US remains one of the worst-hit countries globally by the pandemic, with more than 1.8 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and over 105,000 deaths. While the growth rate of the virus appears to have stabilized, experts warned outbreaks in individual states are possible.

As of mid-May eight Amazon workers are confirmed to have died, and over a hundred warehouses have confirmed cases according to news reports. The company has consistently refused to publish official figures on exactly how many of its employees are confirmed to have tested positive for the virus.

Business Insider spoke to six Amazon workers about the return to normal pay amid abnormal conditions. All requested anonymity for fear of retaliation from the company.

‘They should actually be increasing it’

Several Amazon warehouse workers who spoke to Business Insider said the pay cut won’t make much difference to their livelihoods. The $2 was only a small increase to begin with, they said, amounting to an extra $80 per week for someone working a 40-hour week.

Amazon’s starting pay for warehouse workers is $15 per hour, meaning since March when the wage hike was introduced that has gone up to $17 per hour.

“The two dollars an hour won’t have much effect on my life, I find [it] kind of laughable.  There are others though who can really use it and with the present circumstances they should actually be increasing it instead of taking it away,” said one New Jersey-based worker.

Even those for whom the loss of $80 a week isn’t make-or-break say the cut is disheartening.

“It just kills me that the company cares nothing about what a pay cut will do to morale,” said one South Carolina worker.

The same worker said if Amazon had shut down warehouses to shield its staff, employees would have been eligible to claim unemployment. They said this may have meant more income given the $600 federal boost to unemployment payments introduced in April.

That boost is due to come to an end in July, and at the moment it means roughly half of US workers can earn more in unemployment than from their regular salaries.

Amazon fulfillment center

Inside Amazon’s Thornton, Colorado warehouse (picture taken in March 2019).

Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images


“Almost everyone is very disappointed and angry,” said one Indiana worker whose warehouse now has over 30 confirmed cases. “We want the pay until the masks go away,” they added.

Amazon brought in a policy requiring employees to wear masks to work in April, though it warned its supplies were “limited.”

An Amazon spokeswoman said wearing masks is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control.

She added that Amazon’s $15 starting hourly pay for warehouse workers, introduced in 2018, is better than the retail competition.

Target’s minimum wage is currently $13 an hour, although it’s due to rise to $15 by the end of 2020.

“To thank employees and help meet increased demand, we’ve paid our team and partners nearly $800 million extra since COVID-19 started while continuing to offer full benefits from day one of employment,” she said. “With demand stabilized, we’ve returned to our industry-leading starting wage of $15 an hour. We’re proud that our minimum wage is more than what most others offer even after their temporary increases in recent months, and we hope they’ll do the right thing for the long term and bring their minimum pay closer to ours.”

But for some, the danger inside warehouses seems far from abating, and a lack of communication from management makes them fearful that the danger level could be higher than they know.

As coronavirus cases spread to the US, Amazon began to notify workers about cases in their warehouses via text, telling them when a worker who tested positive for COVID-19 was last on-site. At first, the company notified workers about each new case, but as it started to spread more voraciously at some sites it stopped giving specific numbers, as reported by the New York Times.

Workers told Business Insider communication can be sporadic.

One California worker told Business Insider they received a text on May 18 notifying them a confirmed case had been on-site on April 7. “Not only should we continuing receiving the hazard pay but we deserve more than $2,” the same worker added.

“They just notify us of a new case but don’t provide what shift or department involved,” said one Tennessee-based warehouse worker. “They say they reach out to people they can verify via camera who were close to the infected person.”

“[Their] policy is to wait and see who gets infected, report it via text or call and carry on with business as usual. It’s sad,” they added.

An Amazon spokeswoman, asked how the firm monitors the spread of the virus, said: “Our top concern is ensuring the health and safety of our employees, and we expect to invest approximately $4 billion from April to June on COVID-related initiatives to get products to customers and keep employees safe.”

She continued: “This includes spending more than $800 million in the first half of the year on COVID-19 safety measures, with investments in personal protective equipment, enhanced cleaning of our facilities, less efficient process paths that better allow for effective social distancing, higher wages for hourly teams, and developing our own COVID-19 testing capabilities, etc.”

Not always enough work to go around

In some warehouses, the company appears to have been able to manage demand sufficiently that it’s now asking workers to take time off.

The Indiana worker told Business Insider that in their warehouse managers are offering voluntary time off or “VTO.”

The way VTO works is workers get sent a text offering unpaid time off when the warehouse has an ebb in demand.

They then log in through the employee portal, an app called A to Z, to claim which days they want on a first-come first-served basis.

The worker told Business Insider the offer of VTO generally runs out within about 15 minutes of going out, with workers especially eager to snap up the time off now that their unlimited UPT has been cut.

Not all of Amazon’s warehouses are at overcapacity. To keep up with demand Amazon went on an initial 175,000 worker hiring spree, and in some locations this process seems to be continuing. One UK-based worker said their warehouse is still recruiting temporary contract workers on rolling contracts.

This week more news emerged that Amazon is trying to rejuvenate business for sellers damaged by the coronavirus. The company is reportedly planning a summer sale to “drive excitement and jump-start sales,” per a company notice seen by CNET.

Meanwhile Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ fortune continues to climb. According to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, Bezos has added $32 billion to his wealth since January, and is now worth $149 billion.

Do you work at Amazon? Got a tip? Contact this reporter at ihamilton@businessinsider.com or iahamilton@protonmail.com.

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