Breaking New

Walmart will start taking employees’ temperatures and let them wear masks

Walmart will begin taking workers’ temperatures at stores and warehouses before they begin their shifts. Any employee with a temperature above 100 degrees will be sent home to seek medical treatment, if necessary, but will be paid for showing up.

The retailer will also make medical masks and gloves available for employees who want to wear them. “They will be high-quality masks, but not N95 respirators — which should be reserved for at-risk healthcare workers,” the company said.

The CDC has recommended that healthy people do not need to wear personal protective gear. Still, some workers at Walmart, Amazon warehouses and other chains have expressed concerns that they do not have access to gloves or masks on the job and say they want to wear them.

“If an associate feels more comfortable wearing masks, we want to give them that opportunity to do so,” Dan Bartlett, spokesperson for Walmart, said on a call with reporters Tuesday.

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, there is a nationwide face-mask shortage and even hospitals are struggling to get supplies. Walmart waited to secure protective gear to avoid limiting equipment that could go to strained health care workers and hospitals, Bartlett said. The company will need more than seven million masks each week for its employees, he said. The first shipment will arrive in one to two weeks.

Walmart is the largest private employer in the United States, with a workforce of around 1.5 million and 4,700 US stores. The company’s decision may influence other chains’ policies on masks and temperature screenings.

Walmart (WMT), Amazon (AMZN), grocery stores and other retailers staying open during the crisis are under enormous pressure to balance meeting customer demand with protecting their workforce.

On Monday, a group of warehouse workers at Amazon and Instacart workers who fulfill grocery orders staged protests calling for their companies to improve safety protections, pay and benefits during the coronavirus crisis. A group of Whole Foods workers has called for a “sick out” Tuesday over similar concerns. Amazon owns Whole Foods.

Walmart says it is taking “prudent” steps to protect workers, according to Bartlett.

In recent weeks, Walmart and other large retailers have also installed sneeze guards at checkout and pharmacies and signs with instructions on social distancing. The company has shortened its hours, said it stepped up cleaning measures, and is using wipes and sprayers to clean down shopping carts. The company is working to add “one-way” aisles to promote social distancing, Bartlett said Tuesday.

He encouraged shoppers to limit their trips to stores, although Walmart has not implemented any formal policies on the number of customers who can be inside at any one time.

“They have to go somewhere to get food,” he said. “And so we’re trying to find a way to strike that right balance to make sure that people have the access they need, but do it in the most responsible way.”

Leonard Marcus, co-director of the National Preparedness Leadership Initiative at the Harvard School of Public Health, said Walmart’s measures should have been taken earlier but that retailers have been constrained by the lack of federal guidelines.

“Without overarching guidelines from the federal government, this has been a story of each state, each city, and each business doing it their own way,” he said.

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Breaking New

Biden: Trump should ‘stop talking and start listening to the medical experts’

Trump set the Easter goal earlier Tuesday on Fox News. It’s a date that few health experts believe will be sufficient in containing the spread of coronavirus.

“Look, we all want the economy to open as rapidly as possible. The way to do that is let’s take care of the medical side of this immediately,” Biden said in an interview with CNN.

The former vice president said he could envision some parts of the country and some sectors being ready to return to work on Trump’s timeline.

“But the idea that we’re in a position where we’re saying, by Easter, he wants to have everybody going back to work? What’s he talking about?” Biden said.

Biden said Trump is “not responsible for the coronavirus” but that the President is “responsible for the delay in taking the actions that need to be taken.”

He said Trump should have invoked the Defense Production Act earlier and used its powers to require companies to rapidly ramp up production of medical equipment like masks and ventilators.

“He says he’s a war-time president — well God, act like one. Move. Fast,” Biden said.

Biden has been off the campaign trail for two weeks as the pandemic has forced candidates to cancel rallies and fundraisers and order staff to work from home. His campaign converted a room in his Wilmington, Delaware, home into a broadcast studio, and Biden began a media blitz Tuesday.

In the interview, Biden said he has not been tested for coronavirus because he has not exhibited any symptoms, and that he is following medical experts’ advice — including keeping distance from his grandchildren when they visit and ensuring everyone who enters his house, including the Secret Service, wears gloves and masks.

At one point in the interview, Biden coughed into his hand. Tapper told Biden that doing so was “kind of old school” and that he should cough into his elbow.

“Actually that is true,” Biden said. “But fortunately I’m alone in my home. But that’s OK. I agree. You’re right.”

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Breaking New

Women who settled with The Spotted Pig owner want to start new restaurant

Trish Nelson is one of 11 former employees who settled with Ken Friedman and told Vanity Fair this week she wants to buy the building with two others, who have asked to remain anonymous in order to not jeopardize their current jobs.

“To be able to take over that particular space and turn it into a Stonewall Inn for women and the working class — I think it would be an important iconic space for our country to have,” Nelson told CNN. “And a reminder of — this is what happened and this is what the human spirit is about. We move forward.”

The building that housed the restaurant is owned by rapper and businessman Jay-Z, according to a person familiar with the matter. The hip-hop star also was a small investor in The Spotted Pig. Since the restaurant closed on January 26, Jay-Z has received the offer from the women and others to buy the building.

The source tells CNN that the building is not for sale.

But Nelson says the women are interested in leasing the space and that they are still communicating with Jay-Z’s team. A representative for Jay-Z had no comment on Thursday.

Closing is ‘the saddest thing I’ve had to face’

An investigation by New York Attorney General Letitia James’ office found that Friedman oversaw a “sexualized workplace” where he and celebrity chef Mario Batali harassed female employees. Employees were groped and asked to send nude photos, her report found.

On January 7, James announced that the former employees — 10 women and one man — settled with the restaurant and Friedman, agreeing to split $240,000 and a 10-year profit-sharing agreement. James’ office acknowledged that the settlement money would need to come from Friedman as the restaurant was operating in the red at the time.

Just weeks after the settlement was announced, The Spotted Pig closed — which left Nelson and other women who settled caught off guard.

“It was a gut punch,” Nelson said.

She and the others were set to receive 20% of the company’s profits over the next decade, including from any sale. But that would not hold if the company went defunct.

New York attorney general has opened an investigation into Mario Batali

In a statement, Friedman said he did “everything possible” to keep the restaurant open, including personally lending more than half a million dollars to the business.

“The Pig has had very substantial debt including to vendors and food suppliers, and as has previously been made public, it has been running in the red for a long time,” Friedman said in his statement. “I essentially spent my family’s savings to keep The Spotted Pig open but sadly it wasn’t enough. I was not successful in selling and personally am on the verge of bankruptcy. Its closing is the saddest thing I’ve had to face in my professional life.”

Friedman agreed to step down as an operator for the restaurant as part of the settlement.

‘Ground zero’ for sexual harassment in the industry

Nelson said it would be symbolic to open a female-owned restaurant at the site of The Spotted Pig, which she considers “ground zero for sexual harassment in the restaurant industry.”

Attorney General James found that the restaurant “maintained a hostile workplace where numerous female employees were subjected to severe and pervasive incidents of unwanted touching and unwelcomed sexual advances.”
Nelson previously told CNN about one incident allegedly involving Friedman when she worked at The Spotted Pig between 2006 and 2007. She said she was crouched down at the restaurant, stacking glassware.
Mario Batali sells stake in his restaurant group

“He pulled my head towards his crotch and said, ‘While you’re down there … ‘” Nelson said, insinuating that she should perform oral sex on him. “Those kinds of humiliating events took place on a regular basis.”

Nelson also told CNN that Batali created a “constantly sexually aggressive environment” at the restaurant.

The attorney general’s report said Batali “regularly groped female employees and grabbed their breasts and buttocks on multiple occasions,” and that Friedman would make “sexually explicit comments and repeated sexual advances … during and after work.”

“No matter how high-profile the establishment, or how seemingly powerful the owners, today’s settlement reiterates the fact that we will not tolerate sexual harassment of any form in the workplace,” James said in her settlement announcement.

After the announcement, Friedman released a statement in which he disagreed with several of the allegations. But he expressed hope that the settlement would bring comfort to the affected employees.

“I’m sorry for the harm I have caused, and for being part of an environment where women were afraid to speak up,” he said. “I will spend the rest of my life regretting my actions, and trying to be someone worthy of the respect and love of my family.”

The attorney general’s office has an ongoing inquiry into allegations against Batali. A representative for the chef did not immediately respond to requests for comment when contacted by CNN.

Batali said in a statement last year: “I vehemently deny any allegations of sexual assault. My past behavior has been deeply inappropriate and I am sincerely remorseful for my actions.”

A ‘utopia for the restaurant industry’

The three women don’t know what they’d call the restaurant they hope to build in place of The Spotted Pig, but their working name for it is the Empowered Sow.

Nelson said that in order to change the abusive culture that sometimes permeates high-caliber restaurant kitchens, workers need to be treated well.

Nelson told CNN she and her partners are working with renowned chefs from across the world to create a business plan that would create a desirable working environment for employees — complete with 40-hour work weeks, benefits, paid sick days and a third-party HR department whose focus would be to protect the people. It would be, she said, “a utopia for the restaurant industry.”

“We’re working-class women. We’re not coming in with a ton of money and huge egos. We just have our life experience in this industry,” Nelson told CNN.

CNN’s Anna Sturla contributed to this report.

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Breaking New

Senate Republican eyes rule change to kick start Trump impeachment trial

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee said on Sunday he wants the Senate to launch an impeachment trial of President Donald Trump within days and wrap it up this month, even if it means changing Senate rules.

The Democratic-controlled House of Representatives last month voted to impeach Trump for abuse of power in pressuring Ukraine to investigate a political rival and for obstructing the House impeachment probe.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, however, has not yet sent the articles of impeachment to the Republican-led Senate, where the president would be tried, as Democrats have sought to pressure Republicans to call witnesses.

Speaking on Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he wants to change the Senate rules to kick start a trial if Pelosi does not send the articles of impeachment.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, said on Friday the Senate cannot proceed with a trial under its rules until it receives them.

McConnell has argued that any decision on potential witnesses should come after senators have heard opening arguments and have had a chance to ask questions.

“My goal is to start this trial in the next coming days,” Graham said. “If we don’t get the articles this week, then we need to take matters in our own hands and change the rules.”

“This thing needs to be over with in January,” he said, arguing that a delay denies Trump an opportunity to confront the accusations and impedes Congress’ ability to pursue other business.

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) arrives prior to hearing testimony from Justice Department Inspector General Michael Horowitz before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing “Examining the Inspector General’s report on alleged abuses of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)” on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 11, 2019. REUTERS/Erin Scott

McConnell’s office on Sunday did not comment on Graham’s call for a possible rule change.

An aide to Pelosi referred to a statement she issued on Friday in which she accused McConnell of being complicit in Trump’s “cover-up of his abuses of power.”

U.S. Representative Adam Schiff, the Democratic Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee that led the House impeachment proceedings said on CNN: “Both Democrats and Republicans are now having to go on the record and say, do we want witnesses? Do we want to see the documents? Do we want the American people to hear the evidence? Do we want a real trial? Or do we want a cover-up? It’s clear, I think, from the president and Mitch McConnell they don’t want a trial anymore.”

With no agreement in sight on how to proceed, senators on Monday are expected to resume consideration of a nominee to head the Small Business Administration as they return to town for business after a holiday break.

Trump is accused of abusing his power by asking Ukraine to announce a corruption investigation of former Vice President Joe Biden, a leading candidate for the Democratic nomination to face Trump in the November presidential election.

He was also accused of obstructing Congress by directing administration officials and agencies not to cooperate with the House impeachment inquiry.

Trump says he did nothing wrong and has dismissed his impeachment as a partisan bid to undo his 2016 election win.

With Trump’s fellow Republicans controlling the Senate with a 53-47 majority, he is unlikely to be convicted and removed from office, which would require a two-thirds majority vote.

Slideshow (3 Images)

Democrats, however, hope they could peel off a few Republicans to push through a resolution for witnesses, which would only require a simple majority.

Allowing witness testimony could bring up new evidence damaging to Trump.

“We need the truth,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said on Twitter. “Not a cover-up. Not a nationally televised mock trial with no evidence.”

Reporting by Tim Ahmann; Editing by Doina Chiacu and Diane Craft

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Breaking New

Senate should set aside witness dispute and start impeachment trial: McConnell

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to reporters as he departs the Senate floor in the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S. January 3, 2020. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Friday the Senate should begin the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump even though it has not resolved a dispute over whether top White House aides will be called as witnesses.

“We should address mid-trial questions such as witnesses after briefs, opening arguments, senator questions and other relevant motions,” McConnell said on the Senate floor as the chamber returned from a holiday break.

The Senate is due to hold a trial to consider whether Trump should be removed from office, after the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives voted in December to impeach the president for pressuring Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden, a potential rival in the 2020 presidential election.

McConnell, a Republican, and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer have been at loggerheads since late last year over how Trump’s impeachment trial in the Senate should be conducted. No date has been set for the opening of the trial.

Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Andy Sullivan, Chizu Nomiyama and Bill Berkrot

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Breaking New

Golden retrievers rescued from slaughterhouses start off 2020 with their lives

CHESAPEAKE, Va. — As revelers start off 2020 with New Year’s resolutions, four golden retrievers are starting off with new homes, new owners and their lives. These dogs were rescued from slaughterhouses in China.

They were brought over with help from the Southeastern Virginia Golden Retriever Rescue, or SEVA GRREAT.

“It’s a very tragic situation looking at pictures and videos of what the dogs do go through over there,” Susan Stanitski, a volunteer with the group, said.

They worked with animal rescue coordinators in China to bring those dogs to the United States. Those coordinators recorded the dogs in cages on a truck being and transported to a slaughterhouse. SEVA GRREAT and the coordinators worked on getting clearances for the dogs so they could make the trans-pacific trip.

“They had a nice, long flight from Beijing over to JFK, about a 17-, 18-hour flight,” Stanitski said. “We picked them up from JFK and then brought them back here.”

Organization members traveled to New York City just before Christmas to pick up the dogs at John Fitzgerald Kennedy International Airport. They then made the trip back to Hampton Roads.

The new owners said the dogs are getting acclimated to their new lives in the United States in the week and a half they have been here. They added that there is still some training that needs to be done.

One of those golden retrievers is 6-month-old Ranger. His owner, Karin Pettinger, said she is teaching him about toys, using the stairs and getting in and out of a car.

“To watch him sort of discover all of these new things that dogs in the United States take for granted and are taught to do as little, tiny pups,” Pettinger explained, “he’s still learning his way around and figuring out how to be a dog.”

Another retriever, Ashley, has settled in more quickly, according to her owner, Susan Kenter.

“She has adjusted really well,” Kenter said. “She’s fantastic, she loves people, she loves other dogs and she’s really happy here today, I think, playing with a bunch of other golden retrievers.”

The dogs spent New Year’s Day morning running around a backyard with each other. Their running around suggested they have adapted to this setting from that of a cage.

Related: PETA Norfolk rescues 11 dogs from Puerto Rico devastation 

“I would imagine that their fate would be in the slaughterhouse and probably on someone’s plate at some point,” Stanitsky said.

SEVA GRREAT said it is looking for volunteers to help take care of other rescued golden retrievers. Information on volunteering, how to help out or if you are interested in adopting a rescued golden retriever can be found on SEVA GRREAT’s website.

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Celebrity Entertaiment

Vanna White’s first solo ‘Wheel of Fortune’ shows start airing

When “Wheel of Fortune” host Pat Sajak underwent emergency surgery in November, Vanna White was asked to fly solo for the first time since the game show’s inception 37 years ago.

Episodes featuring the letter-turner’s first turn at the helm began airing Monday on the Disney-owned ABC channel.

“Tonight’s my first night of hosting Wheel! I’m excited and nervous! Stay tuned!” tweeted White, 62, who has been turning letters since the trivia game show first aired in 1982. She was called upon to pinch-hit for Sajak as host after he canceled tapings due to a blocked intestine.

White told The Post last week that her initial response was, “You’re kidding, right?,” adding that she “only had one rehearsal before we shot my first show,” which began taping the day after Sajak fell ill.

Despite the short notice, the longtime letter turner hosted three weeks worth of shows, including two weeks of “Wheel of Fortune’s” annual “Secret Santa Holiday Giveaway,” airing through Dec. 20, with Disney as a promotional partner. In accordance, the letter board was manned by Minnie Mouse for Monday’s episode.

The closest Sajak’s sidekick came to filling in before was in 1996 — when Sajak couldn’t finish an episode due to a bout of laryngitis.

Still, White’s maiden solo hosting gig proved logistically challenging. The substitute emcee says she had to rapidly adjust to the “scoreboard you don’t see on-camera and a used letter board off-camera” as well as “all kinds of behind-the-scenes things you don’t see.” However, White says the hardest part was being “concerned about Pat and his health.”

Nonetheless, her temporary hosting gig received a flurry of support on social media. “Well done! South Carolina is so proud of our homegirl!” tweeted one “Wheel Of Fortune” fan. “Love to see it!” added another.

However, others were less enthused by her performance with one Twitter wit snarking “I’m awkward, but not Vanna White hosting ‘Wheel of Fortune,’ awkward.”

White’s solo episodes will air this week and the next, followed by two weeks of shows Sajak taped before his surgery. Vanna will return to hosting again during the week of Jan. 6 with a special guest at the puzzle board.

“Then the planets will realign, and it’s back to normal,” according to a tweet from Sajak this past Saturday.

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Breaking New

Twitter is going to start deleting inactive accounts

The company on Tuesday warned users who haven’t logged in for at least six months that their accounts could soon be gone.

“We’re working to clean up inactive accounts to present more accurate, credible information people can trust across Twitter,” a spokesperson told CNN Business. “Part of this effort is encouraging people to actively log in.”

The move won’t affect those who spend time on the domain, but don’t necessarily tweet much. Twitter defines activity by logging in, and recognizes that “not all signs of account activity are publicly visible,” according to policy guidelines outlined on its website.

It’s unclear when exactly accounts will start being purged, or how many users will be affected. The company said it is reaching out to “many accounts” that don’t meet its requirements, but declined to share a timeline or an estimate of the number it considers to be inactive.

These handles will be deactivated over the course of “many months — not all at once,” the company added.

It’s not clear how Twitter will deal with an account that is inactive because the user has died. A spokesperson said the company does not currently have a way “to memorialize someone’s Twitter account once they have passed on, however the team is thinking about ways to do this.”

The push against inactive users highlights a broader effort to tidy up the platform. Twitter (TWTR) has pulled the plug on large numbers of users before — although for entirely different reasons.
Policymakers have long called on the tech company to crack down on fake pages or feeds that are used to spread disinformation and other abuse. And the company routinely takes down spam or automated pages, and says its “focus is increasingly on proactively identifying problematic accounts and behavior.”
In January, for example, it revealed it had suspended several networks of accounts that it said had been found to be potentially “connected to sources within Iran, Venezuela and Russia. And last year, it said it would remove tens of millions of accounts that were previously locked due to suspicious activity after a New York Times report highlighted the proliferation of fake followers on Twitter’s platform.
While the latest move would dent the company’s overall user base, it is unlikely to hurt two of Twitter’s most important metrics: daily and monthly active users. Like other social media networks, Twitter’s numbers are carefully tracked by Wall Street each quarter to gauge the company’s ongoing reach and relevance.

— Ahiza Garcia contributed to this report.

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Breaking New

Trump visits medical center to start annual checkup

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday kicked off his annual physical exam with a visit to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he underwent a quick exam and some laboratory tests, the White House said.

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers remarks on honesty and transparency in healthcare prices inside the Roosevelt Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 15, 2019. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

“Anticipating a very busy 2020, the President is taking advantage of a free weekend here in Washington, D.C., to begin portions of his routine annual physical exam at Walter Reed,” White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham said in a statement.

She said the president also visited the medical staff and thanked them for their care of wounded service members, and met with the family of a special forces soldier injured in Afghanistan.

“The President remains healthy and energetic without complaints, as demonstrated by his repeated vigorous rally performances in front of thousands of Americans several times a week,” Grisham said.

She provided no details about the exam or laboratory tests Trump underwent during his ninth visit to the medical center.

Trump’s unexpected and unscheduled trip to the medical center triggered questions on social media since it came months before the annual physical has been carried out in the past.

Trump did not speak to reporters before or after the trip to the medical center.

The White House typically determines what data will be released from the President’s health exam. Trump is not compelled to release any information, and there is no template for the presidential exam.

In February, Trump was declared “in very good health” by the White House physician after hours of examinations.

Trump, known for his love of hamburgers and well-done steaks and an aversion to the gym, gained weight from his physical in 2017, pushing his body mass index into the obese category.

Reporting by Jan Pytalski in Washington; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Diane Craft

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Celebrity Entertaiment

Netflix may start cracking down on password sharing

Netflix may not be so chill about users piggybacking off friends and family’s streaming accounts in the future.

The streaming service announced future plans for a crackdown on password sharing during a quarterly earnings call earlier this week.

Netflix product chief Greg Peters said he was aware that some users share their password information to circumvent paying for a monthly subscription, but didn’t disclose how many users actually share credentials.

“We continue to monitor [password sharing],” Peters said. “We’ll continue to look at the situation and we’ll see those consumer-friendly ways to push on the edge of that but we’ve got no big plans at this point in time in terms of doing something different there.”

The streaming service already limits the number of devices that can stream from one account and users can currently share accounts to some extent, but are required to limit to one household by setting up individual profiles.

Netflix did not disclose how it would monitor password sharing, but as The Daily Dot pointed out, the company could look to limit IP addresses, which could become a problem for families who live apart.

The streaming platform also announced it added 6.77 million paid subscribers in the quarter ended in September, chalking up some of the success to hit shows like “Stranger Things” and “13 Reasons Why.”

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