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Portland’s mayor Pepper-Sprays Man after mask dispute

Ted Wheeler, the mayor of Portland, Ore., Used pepper spray on a man who berated him for not wearing a mask at a restaurant, then followed him to his car on Sunday night, according to a report by police.

“I immediately became concerned for my personal safety,” Mr. Wheeler told police of the confrontation.

The report says the man, who has not been identified, approached Mr Wheeler, a Democrat who was re-elected last year, at 8 p.m. as he left the McMenamins Hillsdale Brewery & Public House.

The man, whom Wheeler described as a “middle-aged white man,” appeared to be recording the mayor with his cell phone, according to the report.

Mr Wheeler, 58, said the man told him he had ‘photographed’ him as he ate inside a restaurant tent.

“He accused me of sitting in a restaurant without a mask,” Mr. Wheeler said. “I informed him that the current Covid regulations allow people to take off their masks to eat and drink.”

As Mr. Wheeler made his way to his car, the man followed him and continued recording, according to the report.

“He got closer,” Wheeler said. “He didn’t have a face mask and got a foot or two away from my face while he filmed me.

Mr. Wheeler said he was particularly concerned because he had recently been “docked in a similar situation”.

The mayor did not specify the situation he was describing. On January 6, a small group of protesters shouted and cursed Mr. Wheeler as he dined at another restaurant in town.

In the police report, Mr Wheeler expressed concern about “contracting Covid” with the man who confronted him on Sunday night, “given he was right in my face” and that he was not wearing a mask.

The mayor said he told the man to “back off” and warned him that he had pepper spray and was ready to use it.

The man stayed close, according to Mr Wheeler, who said he took out the pepper spray and sprayed it in his eyes.

“He made a comment like, ‘I can’t believe you just sprayed me with pepper,'” Wheeler told police. The man is gone.

Mr Wheeler said that before leaving he threw a bottle of water at the man so he could wash his eyes.

Police said they learned of the meeting at 9 p.m. on Sunday, when Robert King, the mayor’s senior public safety adviser, called the department to report the incident.

Mr King told police to call the mayor so he could provide them with a statement.

Sam Adams, a former mayor who had dinner with Mr Wheeler at the restaurant, told police the man who approached Mr Wheeler was in his mid to late forties, about 5ft 4in and wearing glasses. and dark clothes.

The man’s identity was not known on Monday when the report was filed. Portland Police did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment. The mayor’s office, which provided the police report, did not respond to requests for further comment.

Mr Wheeler has been criticized for his handling of the city’s homeless crisis and growing tensions in the city, where there have been months of protests over racial injustice, economic inequality, the application of federal law and corporate power. These protests met with a militarized federal response that only escalated the anger of the protesters.

Last July, Mr. Wheeler joined protesters who marched to the federal courthouse to protest the response, when they were hit by tear gas by federal agents.

“I’m not going to lie – it stings; it is difficult to breathe ” Mr. Wheeler said at the time. “And I can tell you with 100% honesty, I didn’t see anything that caused this response.”

Mr Wheeler, who is also a police commissioner and has been criticized for the use of tear gas by the Portland Police Department against protesters, also became a target during the July protest.

Some protesters threw objects in his direction and others called for his resignation chanting “Tear Gas Teddy”.

Mike Baker contributed reporting.

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Chicago school dispute escalates

Some Chicago teachers are due to return to school buildings today, as the city begins its hotly contested return to in-person teaching. But not all teachers show up.

The Chicago Teachers Union, which has pushed back the plan to reopen the city, said some of its members refused to return, citing security concerns.

“We don’t want to lose our jobs,” Lori Torres, a public school teacher, said at a press conference, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. “Many of us are the only ones earning an income here. But the fear of this virus is greater than this fear.

“I made the decision to refuse to enter the building because I think it’s extremely dangerous and I’m afraid for my life,” added Quentin Washington, elementary school music teacher and member. union.

The preschool and some special education teachers have been asked to return to school buildings today to prepare for the reopening on January 11. Kindergarten to grade eight teachers are expected to return on January 25, before reopening on February 1.

The union said some members would not show up for work on Monday in defiance of the district, the third largest in the country. The number of holdouts was not clear.

“The district expects homeless teachers to show up for work, just as principals, duty staff, engineers and food service staff have done throughout the duration of the pandemic,” he said. District spokesperson Emily Bolton said in a statement. .

A majority of the city’s aldermen have also expressed concern over the reopening plan in a letter to Mayor Lori Lightfoot and Director General of Public Schools Janice Jackson.

“These tensions are manifesting not only in Chicago, but in cities across the country,” my colleague Kate Taylor, who reports on the conflict, told me. “The positions are particularly extreme in Chicago, especially the position of the teachers’ union. The union has taken one of the strongest positions against reopening any union in the country.

Distance learning has been difficult for students across the country. But few have had more difficulty than children from immigrant households who rarely speak English at home.

“I’ve become more shy because I can’t really talk to other students in online classes anymore,” said Taniya Ria, a sixth grade student who moved to New York City from Bangladesh in 2019. “I have the impression that the year is going to be wasted. “

When she arrived, Taniya did not know a word of English. Within months, she started translating for her mom, made American friends in class, and got good grades. Then the pandemic arrived.

This fall, she took classes on an iPhone from her family’s one-bedroom apartment in the Bronx, struggling to understand her teachers through the small screen. The words and grammar she once knew have evaporated, along with her hard-earned confidence.

“It’s hard for me to explain what I mean correctly,” Taniya said. “And there are so many people in class that I’m nervous about making a mistake.”

She is not alone. English language learners in parts of Virginia, California and Maryland lag behind their peers, according to district data.

In schools, students learn English directly and in more subtle ways, observing teachers ‘facial expressions and other students’ responses to directions. But little clues rarely translate through a screen.

When Taniya first noticed her English slipping in September, she was reading aloud, pulling from a stack of picture books and young adult novels stacked on her dresser.

But over time it became more difficult to pronounce the words and it took longer to complete each chapter. Finally, she gave up trying. “I feel like it’s all my fault,” she said.


  • President-elect Joe Biden has appointed Miguel Cardona, the Connecticut school chief, as secretary of education. State teachers praised Cardona for its flexibility and transparency during the pandemic.

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom of California unveiled a $ 2 billion plan to get elementary school students back into classrooms starting in February. This effort could be the first large-scale state-run funding plan to reopen schools.

  • Governor Jim Justice plans to reopen all middle and elementary schools in West Virginia by Jan. 19, regardless of the county’s infection rates. Teachers and school staff over the age of 50 will be given priority to be vaccinated.

  • Ohio will prioritize adults working in school buildings for vaccines.

  • The UK has closed all primary schools in London for the next two weeks, in an effort to combat a new, more contagious variant of the coronavirus.

  • A good read: Washington Post’s Perry Stein and Laura Meckler took a close look at the unrest Washington DC. It’s a damning story of mismanagement, mistrust and shifting demands: “A close examination of the district’s experience shows how difficult it has been to develop viable strategies – and how much power teachers wield, in especially when they have a strong union behind them.

  • An opinion: “Outgoing education secretary Betsy DeVos will be remembered as perhaps the most disastrous leader in the history of the education department, ”the Times editorial board wrote.


The fall semester may have been the worst ever. Today, even as cases reach their highest level ever, vaccines are slowly becoming available. How do you think the spring semester will go?

Write to us here. We will share some of your thoughts in a future edition of this newsletter.

Sign up here to receive the briefing by email.

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Lawmakers resolve dispute with Fed as they attempt to strike stimulus deal

Mr Toomey and his Republican allies argued that his initial proposal only codified what Congress intended in March when it enacted the $ 2.2 trillion pandemic stimulus bill, which affected funds to support the Fed’s emergency lending programs. But the reach of the language proposed by Mr Toomey went beyond that, raising alarm among Democrats, who said they were enlisting prominent figures to lobby against it.

Ben S. Bernanke, who led the Fed during the 2008 financial crisis, issued a statement warning that it was “vital that the Federal Reserve’s ability to respond quickly to damaging credit market disruptions is not constrained.” .

Referring to the March stimulus bill, Bernanke added: “The relief bill should at least ensure that the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending authorities, as they stood before the adoption of the CARES law, remain fully intact and available to respond in the future. crises. “

Mr Schumer said Jerome H. Powell, the current Fed chairman, whom he called “hardly a fiery liberal”, was “strongly opposed” to Mr Toomey’s proposal. The Fed declined to say whether Mr. Powell, a Republican who was first appointed central bank governor by former President Barack Obama, had discussed the issue with Mr. Schumer in recent days. Mr Schumer’s office did not respond to a request for more details.

In a private call with House Democrats on Saturday, President Nancy Pelosi of California denounced the proposal, telling lawmakers that “for them to write in there that it can never happen again is just beyond pale, ”according to a caller, who disclosed the comments on condition of anonymity.

“It’s a way for them to say to Joe Biden, ‘We are binding your hands. No matter what happens on the pike, you can’t do that, ”Pelosi told Democrats.

Mr Toomey denied he was seeking to hamper the Biden administration and pointed out that he had sought for months to stop the Fed’s pandemic programs. But the language he proposed to attach to the stimulus package was broader than that.

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Congress wants stimulus deal as Fed dispute poses final hurdle

Referring to the March stimulus bill, Bernanke added: “The relief bill should at least ensure that the Federal Reserve’s emergency lending authorities, as they stood before the adoption of the CARES law, remain fully intact and available to respond in the future. crises. “

Mr Schumer said Jerome H. Powell, the current Fed chairman, whom he called “hardly a fiery liberal”, was “strongly opposed” to Mr Toomey’s proposal. The Fed declined to comment on whether Mr. Powell, a Republican appointed by former President Barack Obama, had discussed the issue with Mr. Schumer in recent days.

During the private call with House Democrats on Saturday, Ms Pelosi denounced the proposal, telling lawmakers that “for them to write in there that it can never happen again is just beyond pallor “, according to a person on the call, who revealed the comments on the condition of anonymity.

“It’s a way for them to say to Joe Biden, ‘We are binding your hands. No matter what happens on the pike, you can’t do that, ”Pelosi told Democrats.

Mr Toomey defended the provision, arguing that Democrats had pushed for very generous terms on the municipal program in particular, in an effort to help state and local governments access cheap funding. Republicans have long opposed providing a direct stream of aid to state and local governments, and Democrats have sought to provide relief in other ways.

“Some of my colleagues want to turn these facilities into a use that was never intended for them,” Toomey said. “Tax and social policy is the rightful domain of the people who are accountable to the American people, and it’s us – it’s Congress.”

Mr Toomey denied he was seeking to hamper the Biden administration and pointed out that he had sought for months to stop the Fed’s pandemic programs. But the language he proposed to attach to the stimulus package was broader than that.

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Dispute over Nazi-looted Pissarro painting returns to court

When Léone Meyer discovered in 2012 that a painting that Nazi looters had stolen from her father was in the collection of an American museum, her first instinct was to demand that it be returned.

But Ms. Meyer, who lives in Paris, and the University of Oklahoma’s Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, struck a deal in 2016: the 1886 painting, “La Bergère Rentrant des Moutons” or “Shepherdess Bringing in Sheep, ”By Camille Pissarro, would be exhibited in a museum in France for five years, then rotate every three years between the university and one or more French institutions chosen by Ms. Meyer. Ms. Meyer, who is 80, also agreed that, during her lifetime or by will, she would donate the painting to an artistic institution in France.

In 2018, Ms. Meyer, a Holocaust survivor who owned the painting, attempted to donate it to the Musée d’Orsay, where it has been on display since 2017, for its permanent collection.

But the museum refused, telling Ms Meyer that it did not want to bear the cost and risk of transporting the painting to America every three years, which would have been required under the terms of the settlement (Ms Meyer had insured the painting while it was on a temporary display). Ron Soffer, an attorney for Ms Meyer, said any other French institution she proposed him to would likely do the same.

Ms. Meyer, who owns the painting, is now seeking to prevent it from being on display at the University of Oklahoma, where it is expected to return in July. She also took legal action in France to obtain permanent ownership without rotation.

But the university does not agree that the refusal of the French museum to accept the work – and the possibility that the painting could remain indefinitely in America – is a reason for canceling the original agreement.

Ms. Meyer now “inexplicably seeks to break” a settlement that “was heralded as the first international art-sharing agreement between the United States and France,” said university president Joseph Harroz, Jr. , and the University of Oklahoma Foundation Chairman and CEO Guy Patton said in a statement Thursday.

The university admitted that the painting was stolen by the Nazis from Ms Meyer’s father, but said in previous legal proceedings that it was unwilling to return the work due to procedural rules and the limitation period. . She also provided evidence that the former owners, the Weitzenhoffer family, who bequeathed her to the university in 2000 after buying her from a New York gallery, had acted in good faith.

But Ms Meyer’s lawyer said a ruling from France’s highest court in July determined that possessors of the stolen art must return the work to the rightful owner free of charge, regardless of how they took it. came to own it.

Mr Soffer said Ms Meyer had proposed a compromise of a partner exhibition between the university and the Musée d’Orsay, in which the French museum would loan other works to the university, such as a painting by Renoir. But the university’s position is that the deal is done.

“Despite all the good faith that the OU Foundation and the University of Oklahoma have shown Ms. Meyer, it is disappointing that she is actively working to reverse the deal,” the statement said. “We are ready to challenge this unjustified threat in American and French courts.”

The case is expected to be heard by a French court in January.