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Video: Biden presents $ 1.9 trillion economy rescue package

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Biden Introduces $ 1.9 Trillion Economy Rescue Package

President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Thursday proposed a spending package to combat the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus. The plan includes $ 1,400 in direct payments to individuals and more generous unemployment benefits.

During this pandemic, millions of Americans, through no fault of their own, have lost the dignity and respect that come with work and a paycheck. Millions of Americans never thought they would be out of work. Many of them have never even considered the idea – face eviction, waiting hours in their cars to feed their families as they drive to a food bank. A growing chorus of senior economists agree that the time of crisis – at this time of crisis, with interest rates at historically low levels, we cannot afford inaction. A bailout also includes immediate help for Americans most affected and in need. We will complete the work of providing a total of $ 2,000 in cash to those who need it most. The $ 600 already allocated is simply not enough. One in seven households in America, more than one in five Black and Latin households in America, report not having enough to eat. We will therefore expand emergency nutrition assistance to 30 – for 43 million children and their families enrolled in the SNAP program by the end of this year. To the millions of you who are just looking for a chance to fight in this economy, I promise you, we will not forget you. We understand what you are going through. We will never, ever give up.

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Endangered turtle rescue effort becomes Thanksgiving odyssey

The rescue mission was meant to be straightforward: fly 30 endangered turtles to their new home in New Orleans from Cape Cod, Mass.

Instead, the volunteers encountered weather and mechanical difficulties that made the pace of the trip more in line with the speed of the turtles they were rescuing.

The turtles were Kemp’s rays and had been rescued from the freezing waters along Cape Cod, where hundreds of sea turtles beached each year “stunned by the cold,” the term used to describe turtles made hypothermic and lethargic because of low temperatures.

They were on their way to the Coastal Wildlife Network at the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans for further rehabilitation before their eventual release to the Gulf of Mexico.

On Wednesday morning, the plane left full of turtles housed in cardboard banana boxes covered with napkins, said Jessica Regnante, a volunteer at Turtles Fly Too, a non-profit organization that provides air transport for endangered species.

Ms Regnante’s husband, Robert Tingley, flew the plane as she monitored the temperature to make sure the turtles were at a comfortable 75-degree temperature.

The turtles were mostly calm except for one who kept poking her head out of a hole in the box near her seat, she said. She had been warned that turtles were biting, so she kept her fingers out of reach.

Then came strong headwinds; First around 60 miles per hour, then close to 100, and a line of storms that forced them to alter their outdoor flight plans on several occasions.

Still, the flight was smooth but slow, “like the speed of turtles,” Ms. Regnante said.

During a last-minute fuel shutdown in Chattanooga, Tennessee, a boulder in the taxiway was slammed into the propeller, causing severe damage to it, she said.

“It was just one thing after another,” she says. “I was just like, ‘Guys, this is gonna be okay.'”

Stranded at an airport with 30 turtles and a plane on the ground the night before Thanksgiving, the rescue team began frantically calling animal rescue organizations to find a temperature-controlled spot for the turtles.

“Being out of the water and being transported is a stressful situation for turtles that are already in pretty bad shape,” said Kate Sampson, coordinator of the National Marine Fisheries Service, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who helped with the mission.

In less than an hour, the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga sent two heated vans for the turtles and drove them to the aquarium where they were evaluated by a vet and “put away for the night,” Ms. Sampson said. .

On Thanksgiving morning, Ms. Regnante and Mr. Tingley picked up the turtles from the aquarium in a van and drove them to a meeting point in Alabama. From there, the turtles were handed over to Audubon Coastal Wildlife Network staff members in New Orleans for the final leg of the trip.

“It was a tremendous rally of support,” Ms. Sampson said. “The people at Tennessee Aquarium were getting ready for turkey day, without thinking about it at all, and they stepped up to help us.

Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtles are the rarest and most endangered of the seven species of sea turtles. Every year, hundreds of them are rescued from beaches along Cape Cod, said Connie Merigo, head of the rescue service at the New England Aquarium in Boston.

Turtles follow ocean currents and warm water and move north from their hatching sites along the Gulf of Mexico. Some do not register the drop in water and air temperatures and the shortening of the days until it is too late and they are trapped in the cold Atlantic, Ms. Merigo.

Volunteers from the Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary, run by the Massachusetts Audubon Society, walk the waterline at high tide to rescue blown turtles and bring them to various rehabilitation facilities, including the New England Aquarium , where they are evaluated and slowly reheated. .

Ms Merigo said some rescued turtles floated for weeks or months without food and had a body temperature of 30 or 40 degrees. That’s at least 20 degrees cooler than their optimum temperature. They are often emaciated and show signs of trauma, including broken fins or fractured shells.

Having survived their long journey, the rescued turtles settled into their new home at the Audubon Nature Institute in New Orleans, where they will receive treatment until they are strong enough to be released, usually in one to three months, said Gabriella Harlamert, the institute’s marine mammal and sea turtle stranding and rehabilitation coordinator.

On Saturday, most of the rescued turtles were swimming in the institute’s 30,000-gallon pool and were fed fish, squid and shrimp, she said.

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Pentagon offers little reason to rescue trucking companies

WASHINGTON – The Department of Defense provided few details to a congressional oversight committee on why a struggling trucking company YRC Worldwide was deemed essential to national security, a designation that earned it a $ 700 million stimulus loan.

The loan, which was approved in July by the Treasury Department, has been the subject of a Congressional inquiry into whether the money was properly allocated and why YRC, which ships military supplies, was named as essential to national security. The Congressional Oversight Commission, which was set up to monitor stimulus funds, also examined whether YRC’s ties to the White House were a factor in a loan.

In a letter to members of the commission, the Defense Department provided limited explanation as to why YRC deserved such government assistance.

The letter, which was reviewed by the New York Times, stated that YRC was eligible for the loan because it was the Department of Defense’s largest domestic transportation provider, carrying food, electronics and d ‘other supplies to military bases across the country. The explanation echoed the rationale shared by the Treasury Department when approving the loan in July, but provided no additional reason why the company, which was on a shaky financial footing and had been sued by the government, should receive a bailout when other transportation providers did. available.

YRC lost over $ 100 million in 2019 and was being sued by the Justice Department for defrauding the federal government for a period of seven years. The case is not resolved.

The Defense Department said in the letter that it had access to other shipping companies such as FedEx and UPS. YRC is the fourth largest small freight carrier in the United States.

Asked why the company was deemed essential to national security, Ellen M. Lord, Under Secretary of Defense for Procurement and Sustainment, wrote: “It is important that our troops have the supplies they need to be able to perform their duties and defend the country. “

The Defense Department confirmed that it sent the letter to members of the commission last week. Amber Venzon, the chief clerk of the Congressional Oversight Committee, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

In a Congressional Oversight Committee report earlier this month, the Treasury Department said that YRC provides 68 percent of the Department of Defense’s small transportation and provides services to the Department of Homeland Security and the US Customs and Border Protection Agency. As to why this made it critical to national security, the Treasury turned over to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, who is responsible for this certification.

A new commission report released on Friday did not include the Pentagon letter but noted that it had been received and expressed frustration with the Pentagon.

“The committee finds the Defense Ministry’s delay inexcusable and its responses incomplete,” the report said. “The committee looks forward to further consideration of this issue in its November report.”

In the letter, Ms Lord said the Defense Department had not contacted other trucking companies to see if they could meet its needs if YRC scaled back or ceased operations and said the agency no had not developed contingency plans in the event of YRC shutting down.

Members of the Commission had expressed concerns that the company could have received a loan because of its ties to the White House. YRC is financially supported by Apollo Global Management, a private equity firm with close ties to Trump administration officials.

Lawmakers on both sides wrote letters to the Treasury Department earlier this year urging the Trump administration to support YRC, which employs 30,000 workers.

The $ 17 billion fund to help businesses deemed essential to national security was created from the $ 2.2 trillion economic relief bill passed by Congress in March. Businesses can apply for the loans to the Treasury Department, which must require the Department of Defense to affirm that they meet national security requirements.

The Pentagon said in the letter that 19 other companies had been certified as essential to national security through the program. YRC is the only company to have received a loan to date.