White House, Congress to hammer out short-term funding measure to avoid Oct. 1 shutdown

US Capitol Building

Important Takeaways:

  • Current funding for most government programs expires on Sept. 30. If no action is taken before the next fiscal year begins on Oct. 1, large swaths of government functions would shut down.
  • The need for a stop-gap spending bill — one that might extend through late November or early December — has been a foregone conclusion for months
  • Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell on Wednesday told a business group in Kentucky: “I think we’re going to end up with a short-term congressional resolution, probably into December as we struggle to figure out exactly what the government’s spending level is going to be.”
  • Such a measure is expected to be attached to new emergency money to pay for natural disasters throughout the United States and to bolster Ukraine’s battle against Russia.

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Port of Seattle: Bitter contract negotiations creating supply chain problem that ripples into your grocery stores

Port of Seattle

Revelations 13:16-18 “Also it causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Port of Seattle remains shut down; Consumers could feel impact
  • Actions led by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) have shut down cargo operations at the Port of Seattle Saturday, according to the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).
  • The shutdown is threatening supply chains and worrying retailers. That means the impact could soon be felt by consumers, too.
  • The Pacific Maritime Association blames the work stoppage on the members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union in the midst of bitter contract negotiations.
  • If this work stoppage continues, everyday shoppers could feel the effects, just like they did during the pandemic. Most people remember the supply chain issues then.

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New York gyms set to re-open to athletes, members shedding ‘quarantine 15’

By Aleksandra Michalska

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Before coronavirus shut down the United States, gym re-opening used to mean simply unlocking the front door and greeting the herds squeezed into spandex pants.

Now, as New York gyms gird to re-open as soon as Monday, exercise centers like Chelsea Piers Fitness in Manhattan are upgrading air filters to hospital grade, disinfecting sand on the beach volleyball court, spreading work-out equipment 6 feet apart, and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning.

“Reopening is going to be intense. It’s going to be tough,” said Chelsea Piers trainer Oscar Herrera as preparations to re-open one of the largest gyms in New York City kicked into high gear.

While New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said gyms could reopen with restrictions as early as Monday, hopes of quickly reopening in New York City were dealt a setback by Mayor Bill de Blasio, who said none would reopen before Sept. 2.

State restrictions include limiting admittance to one-third of capacity, temperature checks and wearing masks at all times. Gyms must maintain sign-in sheets to help contact tracers.

New York will join at least 43 states and Washington, D.C., in permitting gyms to reopen to some extent since the coronavirus pandemic forced shutdowns beginning in March, said Meredith Poppler, spokeswoman for the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, a nonprofit trade group.

Last year, 3 million part-time and full-time employees worked in as many as 50,000 health and fitness clubs in the United States, she said.

In New York City alone, some 2,111 gyms employ 86,551 workers.

“We estimate the industry lost $700 million per week during the height of the shutdown, and $7 billion lost through July 1,” Poppler said.

Tempers flared over gym shutdowns among those who regularly pump iron to boost health and happiness and shed gained weight, often called the “quarantine 15”. In Bellmawr, New Jersey, two owners of Atilis Gym were arrested last month for defying state shutdown orders and their business license was revoked.

At the enormous exercise center located on a Manhattan pier jutting into the Hudson River, Chelsea Piers member Faye Stenning, founder of Grit Coaching, said she was thrilled the gym would be reopening.

“Fitness is a huge part of people’s lives,” Stenning said.

(Reporting by Aleksandra Michalska; Writing by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)

Robbers grab 100,000 surgical masks at gunpoint as Ukraine enters shutdown

By Matthias Williams and Pavel Polityuk

KIEV (Reuters) – Ukrainian shops, restaurants and transport shut down on Tuesday as the country tightened restrictions to contain the spread of the coronavirus, while police arrested five people suspected of trying to rob 100,000 surgical masks at gunpoint in Kiev.

The country has seven confirmed cases of the coronavirus so far, including one death. The government has encouraged people to stay at home wherever possible except to buy food and medicine, but has stopped short of introducing curfews.

Following a series of emergency steps introduced by President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, parliament in a special session on Tuesday approved measures including fines and prison sentences for people who broke mandatory quarantine.

The economic fallout from the epidemic also continued to bite as the hryvnia currency slipped to 27 to the dollar for the first time since June 2019.

The central bank said it would not impose foreign currency restrictions and added it had $25 billion in reserves to continue market interventions.

Nevertheless it warned of an economic hit on Ukraine, which is still fighting a simmering conflict against Russian-backed forces in the eastern Donbass region that has killed more than 13,000 people since 2014.

In Lviv, a picturesque city of cobblestone streets in western Ukraine that is popular with tourists, restaurants and cafes closed and supermarket attendants wore masks and gloves while working at the tills.

“Of course, no one is happy about the restaurant shutdown,” said Mark Zarhin, the owner of a restaurant chain.

“It is like a perfect storm in Lviv. We face both ‘plague’ and war today. It is the worst. But it’s not the fact that we close the restaurants that is bad, but the fact that we don’t know for how long. We cannot predict anything.”

The nationwide shutdown will include the closure of the Chernobyl area, the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in April 1986 that has since become a visitor attraction.

Kiev’s main airport was mostly empty after the government banned passenger flights to and from the country, and announced a shutdown of domestic air travel from Wednesday.

The authorities also announced the arrest of a group of people who, initially posing as members of the state security service, stole a stash of 100,000 surgical masks at gunpoint from a private seller who had stored them in his car.

“Instead of negotiating the purchase and sale conditions, the criminals attacked (the seller), took the masks and beat the man,” Kiev police chief Andriy Kryshchenko said. “Wearing police uniforms and threatening to use firearms, the criminals took possession of the whole batch of goods.”

(Additional reporting by Sergiy Karazy; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

Chinese Officials Shut Down Christian Orphanage

A boarding school in Beijing that had been taking care of Christians orphans and providing them with an education has been shut down by the Chinese government.

A teacher at the Angel Orphanage told the China Aid Association that the school was forced to move from their home in the Fangshan District of Beijing to Guangling, Shanxi.  The school has been in Beijing for nine years but the government suddenly denied the school’s permit.

“Before the Oct. 1 holiday, our leaders suddenly said that the children must leave, and they brought some students to Guangling, Shanxi,” Yu, said. “Then they went to the education committee to process paperwork for the students’ transfer. When some children arrived in Shanxi, the school still hadn’t found a proper place to stay.”

A teacher who was identified only as Yu told China Aid that the local officials were angered because Christians from America came to teach the children in the summer.

China Aid reported that the government has shut down at least four Christian schools in the four months.