Cleveland-Heights University Heights School District threatens to halt health care benefits if teachers strike

On November 27, the Cleveland-Heights-University Heights School District (CH-UH) located just outside of Cleveland, Ohio announced it will stop the payment of health care benefits for the roughly 500 teachers and other school employees that are planning to strike on December 2. Teachers and other school employees have been working without a contract since June 30.

The strike threat by CH-UH teachers takes place as the COVID-19 pandemic is raging out of control in Ohio and across the US amid a continued push by the ruling class to re-start in person learning. Ohio is experiencing a daily average of 7,817 new cases and 42 daily deaths.

Dayton, Ohio (Photo: Nyttend/Wikipedia)

Elizabeth Kirby, superintendent of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District, said in a statement, “When public school teachers choose to go on strike, they are knowingly walking away from wages and benefits.” She also called on the leadership of the Cleveland Heights Teachers Union (CHTU) American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 795 to inform members of the retaliatory measures planned by the school district.

The district’s threat to end payments for health care to roughly 500 teachers and other school employees in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic is a brutal attempt to intimidate a growing wave of opposition by educators across the US and internationally to the homicidal school reopening policy of the ruling class. A similar attempt to intimidate school workers took place earlier this month, with a court granting a restraining order requested by local school officials against Dayton, Ohio school bus drivers, who organized a sickout over failed contract talks.

The action by CH-UH and Dayton school officials, expose the bipartisan attack on public education. Both Cuyahoga County, where Cleveland Heights is located, and Dayton are dominated by the Democratic Party.

Both areas have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Ohio Department of Health, there have been 9,737 COVID-19 cases in Cuyahoga County and 4,344 cases in Montgomery County—where Dayton is located—between November 11 and November 24. On November 18 the Centerville schools outside of Dayton announced they would return to remote only learning after a surge of COVID-19 cases.

The department of health has also labeled Cuyahoga a “Level 3 Public Emergency,” meaning the county has a “very high exposure and spread” of the virus. Montgomery County is a “Level 4 Public Emergency,” meaning it has “sever exposure and spread.”

According to the CH-UH reporting, between November 18 and 25 there have been seven new COVID-19 cases among staff and one case among students.

As part of previous negotiations between the CHTU and CH-UH officials, the district has insisted that teachers accept massive hikes in health care premiums. A proposed tentative agreement—which was voted down by the CHTU membership in late September—called for health care premiums to increase from 6 percent to 15 percent on top of new co-pays and deductibles. The CHTU has claimed that the increase in premiums would have cost between $3,000 and $5,000 for many teachers.

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Scientists Introduced A Chemically Altered Face Mask To Halt The Spread Of The Coronavirus

For most of us 2020 has been an unprecedented and challenging year due to the unexpected global pandemic which spread throughout the whole globe. Mentally it may be hard to conceptualize what it means to be in a truly global pandemic and how the virus could spread globally. Usually, when we think about the word ‘global’ the first thing that comes to mind is telecommunications because it is through telecommunications that we perceive the world to be global, as it allows to connect with the rest of the world simultaneously, through messaging and media. This simultaneous nature of telecommunications is what makes it ‘global’ because for something to be global it must spread very quickly through space. In much the same way electromagnetic waves travel quickly through space to allow telecommunications , the spread of the Corona virus is spread due to the fast diffusion of virus particles through air, thus making Corona virus a global phenomenon. Luckily, scientists at Northwestern University have come up with a simple way of altering the mask in such a way that would change the chemical composition of the exhaled droplets, thereby helping to halt the spread of this virus. According to Jiaxing Huang, Professor of Materials Science and Engineering at Northwestern University, the vulnerability of the virus lies in its structure: “virus structures are actually very delicate and ‘brittle,’ if any part of the virus malfunctions, then it loses the ability to infect.”

It is pricelessly this brittle nature of the virus that allowed researchers to come up with an idea that would lessen the spread of the virus by altering the composition of the exhaled droplets. As we know, the way to control the spread of the Corona virus is through various precautions such as social distancing and wearing a mask. However, one problem is that Corona virus is airborne and spreads through the diffusion of virus particles through space even from asymptomatic carriers, or people who may not show any symptoms of the Corona virus. “Where there is an outbreak of infectious respiratory disease, controlling the source is most effective in preventing viral spread,” said Haiyue Huang, an author in the study. “After they leave the source, respiratory droplets become more diffuse and more difficult to control.” 

To do so, they introduced a chemical layer in the mask, which would modify the mask layer with anti-viral chemicals, thereby sanitizing the exhaled air of the mask wearer and controlling the exhaled droplets. After experimenting with several chemical substances, researchers selected two anti-viral and non-volatile chemicals that would create a local environments which would react with the exhaled air, and modify the composition of the droplets. Additionally, they ensured that these chemicals could not be vaporized and then inhaled by the wearer. Through growing a thin layer of the polymer on the mask, a favorable chemical environment was created. Testing various materials, researchers found that the droplets are indeed

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Copper Firm Told to Halt Work After Zambia Waste Spill

(Bloomberg) —

a light that is on fire: copper

© Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg

Zambia’s environmental authority halted operations at a copper-processing plant after a waste dam at the facility burst, flooding a stream that flows into a major river and destroying crops and fish.

The plant operators, Rongxin Investments Ltd., were also instructed to clean up the affected area and submit a restoration report, the Zambia Environmental Management Agency said in an emailed statement Friday.

The spillage occurred on Thursday after an embankment at the dam collapsed, “discharging huge volumes of tailings into the Luela Stream,” ZEMA said. The stream flows into the Kafue River, the biggest tributary of the the country’s main river, the Zambezi.

a light that is on fire

© Photographer: Dado Galdieri/Bloomberg

“ZEMA is working with other government agencies and departments to ensure that further regulatory action is taken,” the agency said.

More than 200 meters of land along the stream was polluted and crops belonging to several small-scale farmers buried in the waste when the stream burst its banks, it said.

(Corrects name of regulator in second paragraph)

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Vertex Pharma Off After Analysts Comment on Drug-Trial Halt

Vertex Pharmaceuticals  (VRTX) – Get Report shares dropped Thursday after the company said it’s halting development of its VX-814 drug for a lung and liver malady due to liver toxicity, and some analysts reacted negatively.

Vertex shares recently traded at $229, down 16%. They had gained 24% year to date through Wednesday amid enthusiasm for VX-814 and the Boston company’s other drugs.

As for the analysts, SVB Leerink’s Geoffrey Porges lowered his price target to $267 from $283, though he affirmed his rating at outperform.

The VX-814 halt “shows how bare” Vertex’s pipeline is, he wrote in a commentary, according to Bloomberg. 

Vertex doesn’t have nearly the pipeline it needs to sustain a company of its size, Porges said. So he expects acquisitions in the next year.

But Vertex management doesn’t have a good history with acquisitions, and investors won’t tolerate bad deals, Porges said.

Credit Suisse analyst Evan Seigerman wrote in a commentary that the liver-toxicity issue throws into question Vertex’s non-cystic-fibrosis pipeline, Bloomberg reports. But he still rates the stock outperform with a share-price target of $328.

After the VX-814 data, investors are “now concerned about the expansion beyond” cystic fibrosis, the company’s linchpin, Seigerman said. 

As for deal-making, Vertex is unlikely to purchase commercial-stage assets in light of management’s comments, he said.

After Vertex released its earnings in July, Morningstar analyst Anna Baran offered some positive comments. 

“Vertex reported second-quarter results slightly ahead of our expectations, with Trikafta, the triple combination therapy for cystic fibrosis, continuing to perform well and add new patients,” she wrote. Baran put fair value for the stock at $259.

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