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New Orleans agrees to give firefighters $75 million in 30-year-old back pay dispute

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New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu said on Friday the city had agreed to pay $75 million to settle a longstanding dispute with its firefighters over back wages, ending a quarrel in which he was threatened with house arrest.

“After decades of gridlock, court battles and uncertainty for our firefighters and for taxpayers, together we have solved this problem, hopefully once and for all,” Landrieu said at a news conference

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Under the deal, the city agreed to pay firefighters $75 million over more than a dozen years to resolve the standoff dating back to the 1980s.

Finalizing the complex agreement, which involves pension reforms, will require action by the state legislature and city council, Landrieu said. Voters will be asked to approve a tax increase to help pay for it.

Under a 1980s judgment, the city owed firefighters $75 million in back wages, plus $67 million in interest, because it had not given firefighters raises required by state law.

The mayor did not address all of the details of the deal in his remarks at the news conference, which was also attended by union officials.

Landrieu was held in contempt by a civil district judge over the dispute last month, but he was spared weekend house arrest during an appeal.

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The deal marks a significant accomplishment for the two-term mayor. New Orleans has been ordered by the federal government to carry out costly reforms to its prison and police department, and has also has been struggling to afford more police officers and make street repairs.

(Reporting by Letitia Stein in Tampa, Fla.; Editing by Mohammad Zargham)


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A whopping 14 percent of new US COVID-19 cases are coming from Texas

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With the daily number of new coronavirus infections in Texas now exceeding that of most other states, experts say Texas has become a hot spot of the global pandemic and that more aggressive measures are needed to slow the virus’ spread.

Texas’ new confirmed cases of the coronavirus now make up around 14% of the U.S. total — measured by a seven-day average — a significantly higher proportion than its 9% share of the nation’s population. Since July 1, the U.S. has reported 358,027 new infections. Of those, 50,599 were in Texas.

On Tuesday, the Texas Department of State Health Services reported more than 10,000 new cases — representing nearly 20% of the nation’s new cases for the day. It could be a “catch-up” from the July 4 holiday, DSHS spokesman Chris Van Deusen said, noting that numbers reported Sunday and Monday were lower.

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Devastating new ad uses Ronald Reagan’s words against Trump to stunning effect

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The Lincoln Project is not the only right-wing group that has been creating attack ads slamming President Donald Trump. Another is Republican Voters Against Trump, which uses the words of President Ronald Reagan in its latest video to illustrate Trump’s failures as president.

In the ad — which lasts one minute and 40 seconds — RVAT contrast Reagan’s words with images of the U.S. during the Trump era. The message is not subtle: Under Trump, the United States is a long way from Reagan’s vision for the country.

The ad isn’t aimed at liberals and progressives, many of whom would argue that Reagan’s economic policies were bad for the American working class during the 1980s. It asks Republicans: “Has your party left you?”

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The sheep-like loyalty of Trump supporters is starting to backfire

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Donald Trump thinks his voters are morons. This universal truth was once again demonstrated this week by a Facebook ad working Trump’s new statue-oriented campaign strategy. The ad declared, “WE WILL PROTECT THIS” and featured a photo of … no, not some racist-loser Confederate general astride a horse but “Cristo Redentor,” the famous statue of Jesus Christ that sits atop Mount Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro, which, for those keeping track, is not in the United States but in Brazil, a sovereign nation in a different continent.

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