Uber, Lyft Spend Big, Win in California Vote to Restrict Drivers From Becoming Employees

first_imgSan Francisco-based Uber and Lyft had threatened to pull out of California if they lost. They got additional support in the fight from DoorDash, Instacart, and Postmates which all could have had their businesses upended if it failed.Labour-friendly Democrats in the Legislature last year passed the landmark law known as AB5 to expand a 2018 ruling by the California Supreme Court that limited businesses from classifying certain workers as independent contractors.The companies sought an exemption, taking their fight to voters with a campaign that included TV ads, mailers and messages that appeared on their app for both customers and drivers.- Advertisement – Shares of both companies surged 11 percent to 13 percent before the opening bell Wednesday after the huge victory.The outcome was a defeat for labour unions that had pushed for a state law aimed directly at Uber and Lyft, mandating they provide drivers with protections like minimum wage, overtime, health insurance and reimbursement for expenses.Supporters of Proposition 22 said the outcome showed voters wanted to preserve the flexibility of the current system. Opponents said the companies had bought their own law and vowed to continue fighting for drivers’ rights.- Advertisement – Uber, Lyft and other app-based ride-hailing and delivery services spent $200 million (roughly Rs. 1,500 crores) in a winning bet to circumvent California lawmakers and the courts to preserve their business model by keeping drivers from becoming employees eligible for benefits and job protections.The titans of the so-called gig economy bankrolled the most expensive ballot measure in state history, which was decided Tuesday with 58 percent of more than 11 million voters choosing to keep drivers classified as independent contractors able to set their own hours.- Advertisement – Opponents said the companies exploit drivers to keep profits high and the ballot measure would deprive workers of rights like overtime pay and workers’ compensation.Supporters said the measure would allow drivers to maintain the freedom to work hours they choose and would provide other benefits.Bill French, 62, a former high school baseball coach who voted for the measure in Huntington Beach, said he retired early so he could supplement his pay as an Uber driver and work when he wants.“I don’t need them to control me and tell me when I’m going to work and not going to work,” French said.More than $225 million (roughly Rs. 1,700 crores) was spent on the race, with unions kicking in about $20 (roughly Rs. 150 crores) million of that.“The obscene amount of money these multibillion-dollar corporations spent misleading the public doesn’t absolve them of their duty to pay drivers a living wage,” Art Pulaski of the California Labor Federation said in a statement. “The end of this campaign is only the beginning in the fight to ensure gig workers are provided fair wages, sick pay and care when they’re hurt at work.”The spending, which didn’t account for $30  (roughly Rs. 2,200) coupons Uber Eats and other services offered customers to promote their brands, will likely put future ballot measure funding on steroids, said political science professor David McCuan of Sonoma State University.“What Prop. 22 does is it raises the tide of all ballot measures,” McCuan said. “It sets records that are just going to be blown past the next time. … It makes the parallel route of direct democracy a playground that will be measured in the billions in a few (election) cycles.”The measure had support nearly statewide except in the San Francisco Bay Area and a sliver of coastal counties to the north.Although drivers would remain independent contractors exempt from mandates such as sick leave and expense reimbursement, they would receive some “alternative benefits,” including a guaranteed minimum wage and subsidies for health insurance if they average 25 hours of work a week.Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi sent a letter to drivers late Tuesday thanking them for their support and promising details in coming weeks on how they can enroll in benefits such as accident insurance.The will of the voters could undermine a recent appeals court decision that sided with state Attorney General Xavier Becerra, who sued the companies for misclassifying drivers as contractors in violation of AB5.Are iPhone 12 mini, HomePod mini the Perfect Apple Devices for India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below. – Advertisement –last_img read more

Treasury Secretary Warren? Progressives Line Up to Press Their Agenda on Biden

first_img– Advertisement – “I believe that if Joe Biden is in the White House, it changes the dynamic where people know that there will be a president who will sign these things into law,” Ms. Jayapal said. “And that will help us a lot.”“That’s the question: Are Republicans going to continue to be enablers of an outrageous Trump agenda even when he’s out of the White House?” she added. “Or are they actually going to start speaking for their constituents?” And without enough Democratic allies in the Senate, there is almost no chance that the chamber will pass even the agenda that Mr. Biden supported in the run-up to the election, such as lowering the eligibility age for Medicare to 60 from 65.“If Mitch McConnell was ultimately to control the Senate, it would dramatically lower the ceiling of what’s possible legislatively and increase the urgency of appointing good people to the executive branch to make things happen there,” said Adam Green, a co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, a sister organization of the Progressive Change Institute, and an ally of Ms. Warren’s.Progressives have not abandoned hope of passing legislation, either, even if a Republican Senate makes doing so much more difficult. They are optimistic that there is broadly palatable legislation that the Senate may still pass, including a coronavirus relief bill, a $15 federal minimum wage and investment in infrastructure.- Advertisement –center_img The database, which now has from 500 to 600 names, covers everything from cabinet positions to under secretary posts in more obscure executive-branch offices and bureaus, like the president of the Export-Import Bank and the director of the Patent and Trademark Office. The group hopes to deliver the list to the Biden transition team by the end of the week.Progressives recognize that their work on appointments and policy may be much harder if there is a Republican Senate, as appears increasingly likely. It may not confirm appointments to key government posts whom Republicans view as too far left, a course of action that Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, has already suggested he would pursue.- Advertisement –last_img read more

Biden’s transition team may have to sue to get access that should have been immediately provided

first_imgIn addition to the sharing of information, the official start of the transition is necessary before the mechanisms are open that allow Biden’s team to run background checks and security clearances. Without that step, they won’t be able to arrive in Washington, D.C. with a staff that’s authorized to handle the day to day affairs of government—though the lack of clearances didn’t really delay Trump, and they simply ignored the rules. The lack of background checks also didn’t seem to be a concern since Trump’s team didn’t bother to appoint people who were qualified for their roles.The possibility that Trump might not concede for weeks—or ever—means that Biden’s team is also looking at doing the last thing they want to do: start the transition with a lawsuit.Trump’s response was not completely unexpected. After all … he is Trump. So Biden’s staff had already looked into the necessary steps even before the election. That’s why Biden was able to hit the ground running on a transition office and staff who are currently not dependent on Trump’s cooperation. But the current status can’t continue forever, or even for very long. An effective transition is going to require a full exchange of information and co-location of staff to get everyone up to speed before the really quite short window (71 days remaining) closes. – Advertisement – As The Washington Post reports, it’s not just Murphy who isn’t picking up the phone when the Biden-Harris transition team calls. Officials across multiple agencies have already prepared briefing books and set aside offices especially for an incoming administration. Those offices and documents should be available right now. But they’re not. Instead, the Trump White House has spread the word not to recognize the outcome of the election or to cooperate in sharing information. Everything remains locked up until Murphy puts her signature on the paperwork. And Murphy is not about to move until Trump tells her to. On a press call Monday night, Biden’s transition staff discussed some of the information that isn’t available to them. That includes communications with foreign governments, details on national security operations, and even the no longer public data from hospitals on their status during the pandemic. All of it is critical to planning that Biden’s team needs to do well before the step into the White House. All of it is currently blocked by Trump’s refusal to move forward.- Advertisement – – Advertisement –center_img The economy is in recession. The nation is facing a devastating pandemic. Alliances and treaties with overseas partners are in tatters. For Biden to be effective in dealing with any of it, there has to be an effective transition.So, as ABC News reports, a transition official made it clear Monday night that “legal action is certainly a possibility.” Exactly what that legal action might look like isn’t clear, simply because no one has had to take this step before. No matter how nasty elections might have been, White House residents have recognized that not just the good of the nation, but their legacy and the future of their party leaned heavily on how they responded in defeat. Trump simply does not care. last_img read more

15 Gifts Any Beauty Lover Would Adore

first_img– Advertisement – And so, we try to quell our beauty obsession, at the very least opting for less expensive products or a more minimal routine. Sometimes that ends up working just fine, but that doesn’t mean those cult-favorite, higher-end products disappear from our wish list. They’re constantly showing up in our mind (and in our Instagram ads). But are they realistic to buy? Not always. And definitely not all of them at once. But for the holidays? Whether you’re looking to gift yourself some fancier beauty or finally hook a loved one up with the products they’ve been yearning for all year long, we’ve put together the ultimate list to shop from. Check it out below! Us Weekly has affiliate partnerships so we may receive compensation for some links to products and services.Having a beauty obsession is a little dangerous. Don’t get Us wrong — discovering new makeup and skincare products is fun and exciting, and there’s no better feeling than seeing your skin clear up and your eyelashes start to lengthen and curl. The issue is that having a 10-step skincare routine and a 10-step makeup routine can add up. Fast. And that’s not even including hair products. Some say pain is beauty, but sometimes it seems like money is the main factor.- Advertisement –last_img read more

Gareth Southgate insists Jack Grealish can play with Mason Mount for England | Football News

first_img– Advertisement – Gareth Southgate insists Jack Grealish can play with Mason Mount for England, while Grealish praised the Three Lions manager for his “brilliant” work with him.Grealish put in a fine performance at Wembley in only his second England start as Southgate’s side beat Republic of Ireland 3-0, setting up the second goal for Jadon Sancho.- Advertisement – There has been much debate surrounding Grealish’s inclusion in the side, after the Aston Villa captain remained on the bench for England’s last two competitive fixtures, with Southgate preferring Chelsea’s Mount against Belgium and Denmark last month.But Southgate says both can play in the same XI, with Mount playing in a midfield two on Thursday night, and Grealish on the left of a front three.Asked on ITV if they can both play together, Southgate replied: “Yeah of course. There’s a lot of other players in the squad as well, we have great competition for places. I was pleased with the way they moved the ball, Harry Winks did well, Bukayo Saka on the left looked a lot more comfortable than his first game.£- Advertisement – With Grealish and Jadon Sancho routinely swapping flanks during the game, Southgate added: “The two players in those roles, Jadon and Jack, they’ve got the freedom to go either side and create overloads, and at times they did that really well.”Grealish himself added: “I want to play as much as possible; all I have to do is impress the manager as much as I can, since I’ve been here he’s been brilliant with me, speaking to me on and off the pitch, telling me what he wants me to do, and that’s what I’ve tried to do, so finger’s crossed.”Southgate gives ‘important experience’ to youngsters Gareth Southgate speaks to Jude Bellingham before his introductionImage:Gareth Southgate speaks to Jude Bellingham before his introduction By the end of the match, the average age of England’s XI was around 22, and Southgate said in his post-match press conference that the experience was vital as Jude Bellingham and Dean Henderson made their debuts, while Bukayo Saka also impressed on his second cap.- Advertisement – “I think it was an important experience for several of the players, we knew we had experience in the three centre-backs and goalkeeper, and that was important to give stability to the team, because in front of that weren’t as physically strong as we sometimes are.“I thought the to midfield players used the ball quite well, and the combination with the full backs and forward players was exciting.”Asked if England needed to call up more players after Marcus Rashford (shoulder) and Conor Coady (self-isolating) were ruled out of the Nations League clashes with Belgium and Iceland, Southgate said: “I think we’re OK on numbers. We think we’ve got the cover, but let’s hope that is the case.”Player ratings: Grealish and Mount shineSouthgate named a team that included a number of fringe players and many of them will have earned more trust from their manager after this.Here’s our verdict on the England team…What’s next?England are back in UEFA Nations League action away to Belgium on Sunday November 15 at 7.45pm live on Sky Sports Premier League and Sky Sports Main Event, before hosting Iceland on November 18.last_img read more

WHO reports 30 Ebola cases in Sudan

first_imgJun 11, 2004 (CIDRAP News) – The outbreak of Ebola hemorrhagic fever in southern Sudan had increased to 30 cases with seven deaths as of yesterday, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported today. See also: The outbreak has grown slowly since it was reported in Yambio County of Western Equatoria province in May, according to WHO reports. The agency originally reported 19 cases with four deaths on May 24. By Jun 7 officials said there were 28 cases with seven deaths. A total of 157 contacts of patients are being followed up, the WHO said. In addition, “intensive social mobilization activities are being carried out” to contain the outbreak. These include workshop for teachers, counseling for patients and their family members, and distribution of educational materials in schools and community centers. WHO statementhttp://www.who.int/csr/don/2004_06_11/en/last_img

Avian flu shadows Vietnam’s Lunar New Year traditions

first_imgFeb 3, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – As Vietnamese prepare to welcome the Year of the Rooster, the chicken is uppermost in the minds of many.The Lunar New Year, or Tet, is a time of extended celebration in Vietnam. But this year is different. The threat of avian influenza, which has killed 12 Vietnamese and at least one Cambodian since Dec 30, 2004, is dampening the traditional celebrations, particularly as they involve poultry.Vietnamese often describe Tet to Americans as the equivalent of celebrating Christmas, Thanksgiving, New Year’s Day, and one’s birthday all at once. The official holiday starts Feb 9, but planning begins about 2 weeks earlier. People spruce up their homes, pay their debts, and start cooking. Many travel to visit relatives, often carrying live poultry with them.A whole chicken is a prized part of Tet, restaurateur Mai Pham wrote in “Pleasures of the Vietnamese Table,” which is excerpted online at www.adoptvietnam.org. The chicken symbolizes prosperity and abundance, and is added to ancestor-worship altars.Yen V. Pham, executive director of Vietnamese Social Services of Minnesota, said chickens are a fine gift to honor important relatives. Pham recalled that as a teenager in southern Vietnam that he would tie the feet of a chicken or duck to make it easier to transport them as a gift for his uncle. Pham’s family would travel 20 miles from Bien Hoa City to the uncle’s home on a three-wheeled motorized vehicle, the chickens secured in back. The family crowded into one home for Tet, sleeping on floors or couches for days of visiting, playing games, and eating.”You stay together, you have a warm family feeling,” he said.Boiled chicken, roasted chicken, duck, and pork are all staples of Tet recipes, Pham explained.Safety worries change menusBut the widespread outbreak of avian flu among poultry, as well as new rules and tighter surveillance to identify ill birds, may eclipse the starring role of poultry on the table for Tet.For example, take the family of Hanna Nguyen, 21, a junior at the University of Minnesota and vice president of the Vietnamese Student Association. She speaks twice a month with family members in Vietnam. An aunt in Vietnam recently told her the family’s Tet celebration will be different.”She said the bird flu is coming back and this New Year they can’t have chicken,” Nguyen said yesterday. “She wanted to make a meal with chicken and herbs. All my cousins love it. But this year, they’re not going to have it.” Her aunt won’t serve chicken because of concern that it wouldn’t be safe, she explained.For the same reason, Nguyen’s family avoided eating chicken almost entirely last summer during their visit, she added. In Vietnam, “People are so poor they might tell you a chicken is safe just to get some money to put food on the table,” Nguyen saidOne of her family’s Tet customs involves boiling a chicken and honoring their ancestors in a traditional ceremony, Nguyen said. The chicken indicates respect and remembrance for ancestors. Often a household member, usually the oldest, tears off a drumstick, and the family examines it to help predict their luck in the coming year.”If the tendon is red, that symbolizes luck, a prosperous and happy upcoming year,” Nguyen said. “Yet if the tendon is brown, it is a sign and forecast that the upcoming year will not go as smoothly.”Tet is a time when even families who can’t afford to eat meat often will splurge, Nguyen explained. It’s also a time of heightened concern for agencies that monitor avian flu.Because of the recent spate of human deaths from H5N1 flu, the World Health Organization has called for stronger control measures during Tet to prevent the spread of avian flu through increased poultry marketing, consumption, and mass travel. An estimated 200,000 Vietnamese living abroad return to Vietnam to celebrate Tet, the Associated Press (AP) reported on Jan 28.Travelers face checkpointsLast year the Vietnamese government banned the sale and transport of poultry before Tet in an effort to contain avian flu. Officials have not announced such a ban this year, according to the AP. But as Vietnamese travel to visit relatives, laden with gifts and food for Tet, many will pass through checkpoints set up to help contain the disease.Checkpoints have been set up around all major cities to ensure that birds have been inspected and come from areas free of avian flu outbreaks, the AP reported today. The Veterinary Department in the northern province of Son La has opened at least 38 checkpoints to prevent the movement of potentially sick chickens, the Voice of Vietnam Web site reported yesterday. However, the AP said a ban on the movement poultry out of four hard-hit provinces had been lifted because 21 days had passed with no new outbreaks.Riot police have been posted at poultry checkpoints around Ho Chi Minh City to keep people from bringing in infected or uncertified poultry. About 300,000 chickens in the city were to be slaughtered, and the remaining 150,000 were to be raised under stricter hygiene rules, the Voice of Vietnam reported last week.Poultry consumption is down in big cities such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, according to an online report Feb 1 by ABC news. Vietnam has banned imports of poultry from adjacent countries, so some supermarkets and restaurants now offer chicken from Australia and Brazil.This week Ho Chi Minh City ordered the speedy slaughter of the estimated 210,000 ducks being raised in the city and barred farmers from restocking ducks for the rest of this year, the online newspaper Vietnam News reported yesterday.Ducks and pigeons being raised for food will be burned or buried alive, animal health officials told Reuters news service.The impact of this avian flu outbreak is likely to last well beyond the Year of the Rooster.Nguyen and her family visited Vietnam last summer, dividing their time in the Hoc Mon region near Ho Chi Minh City between relatives who lived in the city and those who lived on farms. She saw evidence of the government’s attempts to quell avian flu.”We went by a deserted, burned chicken farm. My aunt said they burned it down when the bird flu hit,” Nguyen said.Even her grandmother has felt the effects. “She has a small little farm, 10 to 15 chickens she raised for eggs,” Nguyen said. “They had to kill her chickens.”Nguyen wondered aloud how the flu would affect that rural area of Hoc Mon. “That whole area is farmland. Everybody has chickens,” she said.last_img read more

WHO issues definitions for human H5N1 cases

first_imgAug 29, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – The World Health Organization (WHO) today released a list of case definitions for human H5N1 avian influenza infection to improve reporting and tracking of the disease.The WHO said the use of standard definitions will help national and international authorities report and classify human cases, promote better communication, and allow the comparison of data across time and between places. The agency worked with several partners to develop the definitions.Officials listed several caveats about using the terminology. The case definitions apply only to the current phase of pandemic alert (phase 3, no or very limited human-to-human transmission) and may change as new information emerges about the disease or its epidemiology. National authorities should notify the WHO only about probable or confirmed H5N1 cases. The definitions are not intended to provide complete case descriptions, but to standardize case reporting.Clinical decisions about the care of patients who may have H5N1 infection should be based on clinical judgment and epidemiologic reasoning, not on the case definitions, the WHO said. The agency said that although most patients with H5N1 infection have had fever and lower respiratory symptoms, the clinical spectrum is broad.The case definitions include:Person under investigation: A person whom public health authorities are investigating for possible H5N1 infection.Suspected H5N1 case: A patient who has unexplained acute lower respiratory illness with a fever greater than 38°C (100.4°F) and cough, shortness of breath, breathing difficulty, and one or more of the following exposures 7 days before symptom onset:Close contact within 1 meter (eg, caring for, speaking with, or touching) with a person who is a suspected, probable, or confirmed H5N1 caseExposure to (eg, handling, slaughtering, defeathering, butchering, or preparing for consumption) poultry or wild birds, their remains, or their feces where H5N1 infections in animals or humans have been suspected or confirmed in the last monthConsumption of raw or undercooked poultry where H5N1 infections in animals or humans have been suspected or confirmed in the last monthClose contact with a confirmed H5N1-infected animal other than poultry or wild birds (eg, cat or pig)Handling human or animal samples suspected of containing the H5N1 virus in a laboratory or other setting.Probable H5N1 case (notify WHO):Definition 1: A person who meets the criteria for a suspected case and has either (1) evidence of acute pneumonia on a chest radiograph plus respiratory failure (hypoxemia, severe tachypnea) or (2) laboratory confirmation of influenza A but insufficient laboratory evidence for H5N1Definition 2: A person dying of an unexplained respiratory illness who is epidemiologically linked by time, place, and exposure to a probable or confirmed H5N1 case.Confirmed H5N1 case (notify WHO): A patient who meets the criteria for a suspected or probable case and has had one of the following test results from a national, regional, or international influenza laboratory whose H5N1 test results are accepted by the WHO:Isolation of an H5N1 virusPositive H5 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) results from tests using two different PCR targets (eg, primers specific for influenza A and H5 hemagglutinin)A fourfold or greater rise in neutralization antibody titer for H5N1 based on testing of an acute serum specimen (collected 7 days or less after symptom onset) and a convalescent serum specimen. The convalescent neutralizing antibody titer must be 1:80 or higherA microneutralization antibody titer for H5N1 of 1:80 or greater in a single serum specimen collected at day 14 or later after symptom onset and a positive result using a different serologic assay, such as a horse red blood cell hemagglutination inhibition titer of 1:160 or more or an H5-specific Western blot positive result.See also:Aug 29 WHO statement on case definitions for human H5N1 infectionslast_img read more

H5N1 virus in Maryland ducks confirmed as mild

first_imgSep 13, 2006 (CIDRAP News) – Final tests confirmed that a mild strain of H5N1 avian influenza virus, not the deadly type, was found in wild mallard ducks in Maryland last month, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said yesterday.In August, investigators found the virus in fecal samples from resident mallards on the state’s eastern shore that showed no signs of illness. The samples were sent to the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratory (NVSL) in Ames, Iowa, where nine tested positive for an H5N1 virus. Subsequent genetic analysis suggested that the virus was a mild strain, but more tests were slated to characterize the pathogenicity.In yesterday’s announcement, the USDA confirmed the samples contained the “North American strain” of low-pathogenic H5N1 virus. Low-pathogenic strains commonly occur in wild birds and cause only minor sickness or no noticeable disease. However, they can evolve into lethal strains.The same low-pathogenic form of the virus was confirmed in Michigan swans in late August. Also, test results are pending on samples recently taken from Pennsylvania ducks, which tested positive for the mild strain on initial screening tests in early September.The rash of positive tests for the mild strain of H5N1 avian flu comes amid expanded wild bird testing programs spearheaded by the USDA and the Department of the Interior in collaboration with state game personnel.In other news, chickens in southern Sudan have tested positive for the lethal form of H5N1, according to a Reuters report today. A Sudanese agriculture official said the samples were taken in August. He also said his department had received more reports of deaths and sickness in domestic birds last week and that test results are pending.According to data from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Sudan’s last report of avian flu outbreaks in poultry was in April.A health official in Egypt, Sudan’s northern neighbor, reported last week that H5N1 had resurfaced at a chicken farm in the southern part of the country.See also:Sep 12 USDA press release on H5N1 test results in Maryland ducksSep 5 CIDRAP News story “Tests indicate mild H5N1 virus in ducks in 2 states”Dec 30, 2005, CIDRAP News story “H5N1 avian flu viruses: What’s in a name?”last_img read more

Policy group calls US biodefense progress mediocre

first_img Domestically, the PSA recommends that one official, perhaps someone with the National Security Council or State Department, be appointed to coordinate all federal policy relating to biological threats. The Partnership for a Secure America (PSA) released its report at a press conference in Washington, DC. The 122-page report, posted on the PSA’s Web site, gives the nation an overall grade of C for the measures it has taken to reduce the terrorism threat since the Sep. 11, 2001, attacks. Developing resilience by stockpiling and developing new countermeasures: C-. Project BioShield has supported the acquisition and stockpiling of medical countermeasures, but concerns have been raised about decision-making and coordination within the program. Regarding the development of new countermeasures, there has been little coordination with the European Union and other developed countries. Mechanisms for the oversight of dual-use research have been developed in the United States, but internationally are more limited. The panel said the United States should work toward better transparency and trust by participating in and complying with the BWC and should support the appointment of a global authority to coordinate international cooperation on reduction of biological threats. Confidence building to distinguish dual-use research: D+. Accusations and mistrust over the 6-year weakening of the BWC have undermined international cooperation and security. Also, the US government has strongly opposed the creation of a global organization to oversee and coordinate bioterroism prevention policies. However, the State Department is aware of the concerns, and efforts are under way to promote new detection technology and assess how scientific advances related to bioterror threats could influence treaty requirements. The group assessed and graded six areas of activity to come up with the overall grade for the nation’s biodefense efforts: Interdiction by law enforcement: B-. Federal policies to strengthen laws and promote cooperation among law enforcement groups are helpful, but need a more comprehensive strategy and better resources. The US government is part of a security initiative, along with 80 other nations, to intercept WMD materials, but the focus is mainly on nuclear materials. A mixed pictureThe panel’s report on biological terrorism was written by Barry Kellman, professor of international law and director of the International Weapons Control Center at the DePaul University College of Law in Chicago. The PSA panel generally found that federal officials have made progress toward thwarting and responding to bioterror threats, as well as participating in international efforts to track infectious diseases. However, it said the biggest obstacle has been poor coordination and cooperation between federal departments. Denial of access to bioterror agents: B. Funding for global threat reduction is strong for most programs, but they still account for less than 2% of the total biodefense budget. Multinational cooperation, particularly with the former Soviet Union, has been weakened by US disengagement from the BWC. Though biosecurity efforts have been strengthened with Asia and the Middle East, the measures haven’t addressed large parts of the world, particularly sub-Saharan Africa. Sep 10, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – A bipartisan commission of former US government officials , in issuing a report card today on the federal government’s progress toward preventing terrorist attacks with weapons of mass destruction (WMD), gave the nation a C- for its efforts to reduce the threat of bioterrorism. See also:center_img Also, the group recommended that federal officials work toward strengthening national and international “biocriminal” legislation and law enforcement capacity and training related to biodefense. More multilateralism neededThe panel made several recommendations related to each of the areas that were assessed. They urged the government to work with multinational partners to develop biosecurity standards, mandatory registries of pathogens and labs, and oversight of international trade in pathogens, materials, and equipment. Mitigation through public health preparedness and response: B. Between 2004 and 2006 the US government spent $84 million on key programs to improve international surveillance and detection capacity. However, plans to improve global cooperation are moving slowly, and planning for a biological attack has lacked a focus on multidimensional threats, such as a repeated attack that would drain response resources. “And US disengagement from the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) has undercut the confidence necessary for effective multilateral cooperation,” the report says. Detection of plans for biological attacks: C-. US labs that work with bioterror agents are poorly monitored, and global efforts to track work on and movement of bioterror agents are lacking. “Such officials should undertake a prompt review of major policies in this arena to assess priorities, identify significant gaps, and enable synergies,” the group wrote. The nonprofit group’s 22-member advisory board includes several members of the 9/11 Commission and advisors to and members of past presidential administrations. The PSA is led by Lee Hamilton, a former Democratic representative from Indiana, and Warren Rudman, a former Republican senator from Washington. The group said the report card is a part of its larger effort to assess the US government’s progress toward implementing the recommendations of the 9/11 Commission. PSA overall report card on WMD terror prevention PSA report on bioterrorism preparednesshttp://www.psaonline.org/downloads/BIOLOGICAL%20report%208-28-08.pdflast_img read more