Iconic Baltimore Bridge Collapses In Stunning Accident - The Wednesday AM Quickie 3/27/24

Here's a compelling argument for Joe Biden to pardon Charles Littlejohn, the IRS contractor whose leaks revealed a lot about how billionaires evade taxes. -Jacob

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Baltimore's Iconic Francis Scott Key Bridge Collapses In Stunning Accident

The picturesque Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore collapsed around 1:30am Tuesday morning when a cargo ship struck one of its support pillars. The container ship, named Dali and sailing for Sri Lanka, appeared to lose power and navigation ability before colliding with the pylon. Portions of the bridge soon collapsed. Two people were pulled out of the frigid water, but six others were missing and presumed dead.

The ship had radioed in about its power failure, which allowed for city officials to stop vehicular traffic on the bridge. The 984-foot long ship was moving at a relatively slow but ultimately deadly 9 miles per hour. "By being able to stop cars from coming over the bridge, these people are heroes. They saved lives last night," said Maryland Gov. Wes Moore.

Besides the loss of life and the destruction of a famous civic landmark, the accident will disrupt shipping and vehicle traffic in the area for some time. Baltimore is the largest auto port in the country, processing 800,000 imported cars annually. President Biden announced that the federal government would foot the bill for rebuilding the bridge.

The accident appeared to be just that – a tragedy potentially stemming from mechanical failure – but the NTSB is investigating. The ship was chartered by Maersk, a colossal shipping company whose history is thick with Capitol Hill lobbying, union battles, and allegedly suppressing whistleblowers.

UK Court Rules That US Must Refuse Death Penalty in Assange Case

Wikileaks publisher Julian Assange can't be extradited to the United States unless the US government promises to rule out the death penalty as a possible punishment, according to a ruling issued by a British court on Tuesday. Assange has been fighting extradition for years – first by seeking asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy and now in a court battle entering its twilight hours. The judges suggested that three of Assange's arguments against extradition had potential merit while six others did not. The death penalty-related ruling is considered only a temporary stay before a definitive decision is reached sometime in the coming months. Assange has reportedly been ill, and his supporters warn that he would not survive an attempt to move him to the United States.

RFK Jr. Announces a Very Wealthy Running Mate

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. unveiled his vice presidential running mate yesterday: a rich Silicon Valley lawyer named Nicole Shanahan. An ex-wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin, Shanahan had already donated millions to RFK Jr., including helping bankroll the JFK-referencing Super Bowl ad that infuriated other members of the Kennedy family. RFK Jr. called her "the next vice president the United States, my fellow lawyer, a brilliant scientist, technologist, a fierce warrior mom" – a nice list of descriptors for someone almost totally unknown to the public. But Shanahan's name recognition only matters in rarified tech and finance circles, where she's well connected. If she can bring in enough donations from Burning Man-loving moguls, the RFK Jr. campaign can keep chugging along till November.

QUICKEST QUICKIES: Working Life Edition

  • Washington State Establishes "Stripper Bill of Rights" Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill into law that establishes workplace protections for strippers. The bill includes measures to prevent workplace harassment, identify human trafficking, and keep dancers safe on the job. It's one of the first legislative measures of its kind in the country and a potential model for other states. via Truthout and Associated Press.
  • Phoenix Passes New Ordnance to Protect Workers from Heat The Phoenix City Council passed an ordnance establishing safety protections for city contractors working outdoors. Airport and construction workers shared stories about the difficulties of laboring in potentially dangerous heat. The regulation is the first of its kind for the state of Arizona. via Arizona Republic.
  • Florida Bans Heat Protections for Outdoor Workers In contrast to Phoenix, the state of Florida recently banned local governments from providing outdoor heat protections for workers. The law may put farmworkers and other laborers in even greater jeopardy as the climate warms. via Inside Climate News.
  • NBC Hires, Then Fires Former GOP Official Ronna McDaniel NBC News hired recently deposed Republican National Committee chair Ronna McDaniel, only to let her go after four days of internal employee discontent and a storm of outside criticism. While not the first political operative hired by a news network, her participation in the attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election was seen by some as beyond the pale. via New York Times.


$8 billion

That's approximately how much Trump Media & Technology Group was valued at during its first day of trading on Tuesday. As the New York Times noted, an $8 billion market cap is more than "Mattel, Alaska Airlines, and Western Union." Trump owns 60 percent of the company, which lost more than $49 million last year on dismal revenue numbers. The stock trades under the ticker symbol DJT – of course – and closed at $57.99 yesterday.


3/27: It’s Hump Day! Sam speaks with Lisa Heinzerling, law professor at Georgetown University, to discuss the impact of the Supreme Court’s upcoming rulings on Loper Bright Enterprises  v. Raimondo & Relentless v. Department of Commerce, as well as the court hearing arguments yesterday regarding mifepristone and medication abortion. Then, Sam speaks with Heather Herbert, a hospice resident nurse at PeaceHealth Medical Center in Springfield, Oregon, to discuss the recent strike action at the hospital and the new labor complaints they’ve filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).


Republicans Finally Abandon GOP's Biden Impeachment Failure

Do you remember when Joe Biden was going to be impeached?

"A Mockery" - Bernie Sanders Slams State Dept's Israel Claims

The State Department makes excuses for why its own aid can't be delivered to Palestinians.


"The gig economy is clogging up the court with all of this stuff, all the time. It's just nuts. We really need this stuff to be resolved and stay resolved and stop with all the uncertainty for everybody."

-- Law professor Samantha Prince, speaking to CBS News about a Wisconsin court ruling that affirmed another court ruling that drivers in Amazon's Flex program are employees. While the ruling is considered a victory for Amazon delivery drivers, it reflects the need for broader, systemic solutions to the misclassification of gig workers, an issue that's currently being litigated piecemeal through court rulings like this one.

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