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News RT

Dutch emergency services battle fire at abandoned NUCLEAR PLANT, urge residents to lock windows and doors (VIDEOS) — RT World News

Dozens of firefighters have been deployed to tackle a blaze at a disused nuclear facility in Dodewaard in the Netherlands. Police have asked the public to stay away and lock all doors and windows to avoid exposure to the fumes.

The fire broke out shortly before noon local time on Thursday in Dodewaard, which is roughly 100 km from Amsterdam. Eyewitness video from the scene shows fire crews battling the blaze on the roof.

The cause of the fire is as yet unknown, but it may have started after work was carried out on the roof recently, according to a spokesperson for the Gelderland-Zuid Safety Region, who added that there may be gas bottles up there. Nearby residents have been told to remain indoors and lock all doors and windows and cut off any ventilation systems.

Police have established a security cordon, while asking cyclists, motorists and other passers-by eager for a look at the incident to leave the area immediately. 

The plant has been out of service since 1997 but is not expected to be dismantled until 2045, when radiation at the site drops to safe levels. All fuel rods were removed from the site in 2003, so there is no immediate danger of radioactive fallout. 

The main operational areas of the plant were bricked up and contained within a so-called ‘safe zone’, to prevent areas that previously housed radioactive material from being exposed to the outside world. 

The power company conglomerate behind the facility is embroiled in a legal battle with the government over who should cover the estimated €80 million cost of decommissioning.

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News Popular Resistance

The Pandemic Has Shown That We Need A Public Option For Banking Services

The Pandemic Has Shown That We Need A Public Option For Banking Services

The Pandemic Has Shown That We Need A Public Option For Banking Services2020-05-18PopularResistance.Orghttps://popularresistance-uploads.s3.amazonaws.com/uploads/2020/04/publicbank-e1589818416424.jpg200px200px

As marginalized families without bank accounts struggle to get stimulus checks, it’s time to fix the rusty pipes of our inequitable financial system.

The COVID-19 pandemic response has shown that the very foundations of our economy are shaky, fragile, and — for some of us — downright dangerous. We’re once again watching working people, especially working people of color, bear the brunt of the fallout. Meanwhile, big companies traded on the stock market took two-thirds of the money meant to bail out small businesses.

But in getting relief out, it’s also become clear that we have a plumbing problem. We are forced to rely on the banks as middlemen to deliver government assistance. Some of them are seizing our stimulus payments to pay themselves. And as big banks have exited the business of serving poor people, 1 in 4 U.S. households are now underbanked or unbanked. This has predictably led to marginalized communities and households waiting in distress for life-sustaining stimulus, simply because they lack access to a bank account.

The good news is that there’s another way. The pandemic has shown that we need a public option for basic banking services. Legal scholars Morgan Ricks, John Crawford, and Lev Menand have called for the Federal Reserve System to directly offer accounts to all U.S. citizens, residents, and small businesses. Today, only privileged banks and governmental entities are allowed to have these high-interest, low-fee accounts. But the Fed could easily offer the same option to everyone and provide better consumer safeguards than Wall Street, as well as higher interest, faster payments, and complete deposit protection. As a recent New York Times editorial endorsing FedAccounts for getting out stimulus payments put it: “Stop Dawdling. People Need Money.”

The Fed could also work with USPS to broaden its reach — strengthening our postal system at a time when it is facing continued attacks from predators. As our friends at the Roosevelt Institute have put it, Fed Accounts For All could make sending money as easy as transferring funds through Venmo or Paypal — but with Fed Accounts For All, everyone could do it, without relying on Wall Street (or Silicon Valley).

Even after the pandemic, Fed Accounts For All could make it easier to prioritize assistance through more direct fiscal policy, avoiding ongoing issues with delayed funds, debt collection, and frozen bank accounts. A public option for basic banking services, and an improved, publicly accountable payments system, are necessary parts of a recovery infrastructure that works for everyone.

House Financial Services Chair Maxine Waters introduced legislation to create FedAccounts, and the Ranking Member on the Senate Banking Committee, Sherrod Brown, also introduced a bill to use FedAccounts. Their proposals would ensure that no one needs to use an expensive check casher to access their stimulus payment because the Fed in partnership with the U.S. Postal Service could deliver the payments to every household.

These bills were incorporated into the House version of the CARES Act in March. Unfortunately, the Senate stripped this provision out of the bill that passed. But it’s not too late for them to get it right in the next stimulus bill. Our unbanked and underbanked neighbors are depending on it.

Raúl Carrillo is a Fellow at the Americans for Financial Reform Education Fund. Follow him @RaulACarrillo.

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News NPR

No FEMA Legal Services Funding For Coronavirus : NPR

President Trump has not approved FEMA funding for legal help for Americans affected by the coronavirus. So-called Disaster Legal Services are usually available to survivors of disasters.

Evan Vucci-Pool/Getty Images


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President Trump has not approved FEMA funding for legal help for Americans affected by the coronavirus. So-called Disaster Legal Services are usually available to survivors of disasters.

Evan Vucci-Pool/Getty Images

Unprecedented job losses and furloughs have pushed millions of Americans to the brink of eviction during the coronavirus pandemic, but the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the White House have failed to fund a legal assistance program that is routinely available to disaster survivors.

After hurricanes, wildfires and other disasters, including recent tornadoes in Tennessee, the president has directed FEMA to provide money for legal hotlines in affected areas. The hotlines are run through a partnership with the American Bar Association, which provides local attorneys to work for free. The federal government pays up to $5,000 per hotline to cover operational costs such as phone equipment and software.

The Disaster Legal Services program is part of a larger suite of FEMA benefits known as individual assistance, which the governors of at least 30 states have requested in connection with the pandemic.

But the White House has not approved those requests.

The missing funding becomes more pressing every day because, unlike most weather disasters, the pandemic is causing long-term economic destruction. More than 33 million Americans have filed for unemployment in the last seven weeks. Temporary bans on evictions will likely expire in many cities beginning later this month, and families that delayed questions of custody, divorce or even intimate partner violence amid the growing pandemic will need help settling those issues as courts reopen.

“I think this will be the biggest legal aid crisis we will face in my lifetime,” says Laura Tuggle, the executive director of the nonprofit Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, who has also provided legal assistance in the region after hurricanes Katrina, Rita, Gustav and Ike as well as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Congress included $50 million in legal aid funding in the March 28 coronavirus stimulus bill, but that money has already been distributed to more than 130 legal aid groups around the country which are struggling to meet demand.

“Now is the time,” for FEMA to make legal services funding available, Tuggle says. “Frankly, I think every community in the United States is going to be in the same boat. It’s an all-hands-on-deck situation.”

The delay in legal services help adds to the emerging picture of FEMA as fumbling the federal pandemic response. In March, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo accused the agency of driving up prices for crucial materials and failing to supply the state with an adequate number of ventilators.

As the pandemic spread across the country, a team of volunteers working under President Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, sought to direct FEMA contracts to politically connected Republicans, according to The New York Times.

FEMA says state requests for individual assistance are “under review.”

“The approval of programs in response to a disaster declaration request is made at the discretion of the president,” a FEMA spokesperson wrote in an email to NPR. The White House did not respond to questions from NPR.

Craig Fugate, who served as FEMA administrator during the Obama administration, says it is up to the President to make legal assistance funding available.

“If disaster legal services were activated it would help those folks who cannot otherwise afford legal services,” says Fugate. “You just think, with all of the deaths we’ve seen, families are going to have to start thinking about probating estates [and] wills, and all of the other legal ramifications that come when we lose a loved one.”

Illness and eviction

Eviction is one of the most widespread legal issues that Americans face as a result of the pandemic, and losing access to housing can have profound public health implications.

In New Orleans, sanitation worker Bobby Parker says he went from working 80 hours every two weeks to working 32 hours, and when he was late paying rent on April 1 his landlord changed the locks on his apartment.

Parker is HIV-positive and his medications were locked inside. “I’m at-risk,” he says. “I was scared.”

A city case worker already assigned to help Parker access public benefits connected him to a lawyer at a local legal aid group. It took more than two weeks and the threat of a lawsuit, but the lawyer was able to get the landlord to let him back into the apartment. While he was locked out, Parker alternated between sleeping outside and staying with a friend whose wife sometimes worked overnight shifts.

Parker says if he hadn’t had a lawyer, “I’d probably be a victim, testing positive for COVID-19.”

Without FEMA funding, most states have been unable to offer legal hotlines, making it more difficult for people to get the type of help the New Orleans resident received. The FEMA-funded hotlines connect callers with pro bono lawyers, who often refer clients to local legal aid groups.

In Cleveland, where the outbreak has been relatively small, legal aid attorneys have nonetheless seen a surge in demand because so many people have lost jobs and are struggling to pay rent and bills.

In New York City, local lawyers say they’ve seen a massive influx of requests including calls from essential employees who have been illegally locked out of their apartments, workers who need help paying for food, and emergency and retail workers desperate to draft wills and other documents in case they die of COVID-19.

Residents affected by Superstorm Sandy wait outside a FEMA tent in 2012. FEMA has made disaster legal services available after past disasters, including Sandy and Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

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Residents affected by Superstorm Sandy wait outside a FEMA tent in 2012. FEMA has made disaster legal services available after past disasters, including Sandy and Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

Seth Wenig/AP

“Our calls for public benefits assistance increased by 150% compared to the four weeks prior to the crisis,” says Raun Rasmussen, the executive director of the legal aid group Legal Services NYC. He expects that when courts reopen, “there’s going to be an explosion of need as things start opening up in the next few weeks and months.”

FEMA-funded legal hotlines would help meet that demand. But only three states — Texas, Michigan and Nebraska — have been able to activate their statewide legal hotlines this spring, according to the American Bar Association.

“We have a handful of state partners that we work with that are very well equipped to respond to disasters, and they have hotlines that they can easily switch on,” explains Linda Anderson Stanley, the director of the Disaster Legal Services program at the association. But many states have not experienced a disaster that warranted a legal hotline for 10 years or more, “and they don’t have the capacity or the funds to just flip a switch and turn on a hotline.”

One stark indication of the demand for legal help comes from states that have experienced other natural disasters during the pandemic. After tornadoes in Tennessee and earthquakes in Puerto Rico this spring, the White House and FEMA approved individual assistance connected to those disasters. Legal hotlines were activated on a limited basis for affected communities.

But Stanley says the vast majority of calls to those hotlines weren’t about the natural disasters. Instead, people call with questions about the coronavirus pandemic.

When Congress isn’t enough

In late March, Congress appropriated $50 million in extra legal funding in its coronavirus stimulus bill. “What Congress has, in my view, correctly determined, is that legal services are very helpful in both the response to and recovery from natural disasters,” says Ron Flagg, the president of the Legal Services Corporation, the nonprofit that distributes the funds to local legal aid societies.

Flagg says the money Congress has made available so far is helpful, but not nearly sufficient to meet the growing need for coronavirus-related legal help. The Legal Services Corporation has already distributed virtually every dollar, and has asked Congress to allocate another $50 million in the next stimulus bill.

Flagg and others point out that Congressional appropriations are generally paired with FEMA legal funding. After hurricanes and wildfires in 2017 and 2018, Congress twice appropriated $15 million in extra legal aid funding, while FEMA funded legal hotlines in areas affected by the same disasters.

Stanley of the American Bar Association says it is frustrating to still be waiting for FEMA funding. “By now I expected there to be a change,” she says. “We’re really struggling to figure out where the breakdown is.”

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Gateway Pundit News

Federal Judge Grants Restraining Order Against Democrat Governor of Kentucky, Allows Churches to Resume In-Person Services

A federal judge on Friday granted a temporary restraining order against Democrat Governor Andy Beshear and said Kentucky churches can hold -in-person services.

Judge Greg Van Tatenhove ruled in favor of Tabernacle Baptist Church in Nicholasville, Kentucky and argued the Democrat Governor’s ban of church services was unconstitutional, reported WHAS.

WHAS ABC reported:

A federal judge has made a late-night ruling, saying churches in Kentucky can hold in-person services on Sunday. This comes two weeks before Governor Andy Beshear said those services could resume on May 20.

Attorney General Cameron released the following statement regarding the rulings by two federal courts:

“Two federal courts tonight issued orders, in two separate cases, against Governor Beshear’s unconstitutional executive orders prohibiting religious services. Both rulings affirm that the law prohibits the government from treating houses of worship differently than secular activities during this pandemic.

Freedom of religion, enshrined in the founding documents of our nation and our Commonwealth, has been affirmed many times over by our judiciary and was once again upheld tonight. The rulings should serve as a reminder that the pillars of our nation stand strong even in the midst of a crisis and are not to be ignored, cast aside, or downplayed, regardless of the circumstances.

I encourage all houses of worship to prayerfully and carefully consider when it is the right time to resume in-person services consistent with health guidelines. Although these rulings protect the religious liberty of Kentuckians, we must continue to do our part to protect the health of our fellow citizens by reopening carefully.”

TRENDING: CROOKED OBAMA PANICS! Deep State Reporter Isikoff Releases His “Leaked” Call – Former President’s Fingerprints All Over Attempted Coup and More Documents Are Coming!

Last month the state of Kentucky cracked down on Easter weekend worshippers by recording the license plates of people who attend services and forcing them to “self-quarantine” for two weeks afterwards.

Democrat Governor Andy Beshear announced the effort on the Friday before Easter, saying that the state “will be recording the license plates of those who show up to any mass gatherings and provide that information to the local health departments, who will in turn order those individuals to be quarantined for 14 days,”

Churches and pastors fought back against the tyranny and sued Governor Beshear.

Two federal courts ruled against Beshear on Friday, releasing the shackles of tyranny (for now).

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Coindesk News

TokenSoft Expands Security Token Services to Europe With New Swiss Entity

TokenSoft is bringing its security token issuance platform to Europe through a Switzerland-based counterpart, TokenSoft International AG. 

The regulated STO platform announced Wednesday that it struck a licensing deal with its eponymous European partner, who now has exclusive continental distribution rights for TokenSoft’s tokenization software.

Mason Borda, CEO of TokenSoft Inc., told CoinDesk the agreement was a natural fit for the crypto-friendly Swiss. Regulators there have been far more straightforward about security token oversight than watchdogs in the U.S.

“Due to the regulatory clarity in Switzerland and due to the comfort that the regulators have there with blockchain-based assets, the pace of innovation has been a little bit faster in Switzerland and so that’s why we do see more activity out in Switzerland,” he said.

TokenSoft retooled its STO software to comply with Swiss regulations as well as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, the omnibus data privacy law better known by its acronym, GDPR, Borda said. The software also supports on-site custody. 

Now, that software will have access to the European market through TokenSoft International AG. A press release said the company is “uniquely positioned” to the Swiss market. 

“We’re seeing increased demand in the European markets and we’re proud to partner with TokenSoft International AG to help meet that demand,” Borda said in a statement.

The firm, which is not owned by TokenSoft Inc. or one of its subsidiaries, was incorporated in the Swiss canton of Zug in early February with the purpose of “providing services in the field of information technology, in particular in connection with the trading of blockchain-based effects,” according to the company registration page.

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The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

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News RT

India’s services business activity grinds to near complete halt due to nationwide Covid-19 shutdown — RT Business News

The IHS Markit India Services Business Activity Index plummeted at a historic rate during April, posting a shocking 5.4 points in comparison with the previous month’s 49.3. A reading below 50 on the scale represents contraction.

According to the IHS Markit report, last month’s reading was an “extreme decline” and “the most severe contraction in services output since records began in December 2005.”

Commenting on the data, Joe Hayes, economist at IHS Markit, said: “The Indian services economy posted its worst ever month-on-month drop in business activity during April. The extreme slide in the headline index, which fell by over 40 points, shows us that the strict lockdown measures have led to the sector essentially grinding to a complete standstill.”

Hayes added: “Historical comparisons with GDP data suggest that India’s economy contracted at an annual rate of 15 percent in April.”




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Nationwide lockdown could cost Indian economy over $4 BILLION A DAY



Activity fell severely as a result of the nationwide lockdown, leading businesses to shut down their operations as demand collapsed. Restrictions on movement across India contributed to the steep drop in new orders during April.

International sales also plunged, as signaled by the respective index falling to 0.0. According to some firms, measures to stem the spread of the virus overseas caused demand to fall across all key export markets.

Expectations towards future output slumped for a second successive month to their weakest since December 2015.

“It is clear that the economic damage of the Covid-19 pandemic has so far been deep and far-reaching in India, but the hope is that the economy has endured the worst and things will begin to improve as lockdown measures are gradually lifted,” said Hayes.




Also on rt.com
South Asian nations to face worst economic slump in 40 years as coronavirus cripples economies — World Bank



The Indian government imposed a nationwide lockdown in late March and has extended it twice since then. According to Reuters reports, the government could prolong the lockdown for another two weeks.

There are around 50,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus infections in India, resulting in 1,700 deaths.

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

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