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Judge says Trump admin violated rules in ordering pork plants to speed up production amid pandemic

Plus: Smith backs end of filibuster; use of force experts on the arrest of George Floyd; solar energy benefits often miss low-income neighborhoods; and more.

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REUTERS/Daniel Acker
Surprising for the Trump admin. The AP’s Josh Funk reports (via the Star Tribune): “A federal judge has thrown out a rule allowing pork plants to speed up production lines because the U.S. Department of Agriculture didn’t properly consider the risks to workers. … The judge in Minnesota ruled Wednesday that the agency’s Food Safety and Inspection Service didn’t follow proper procedures before President Donald Trump’s administration issued the rule in 2019. The lawsuit was filed by the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union along with local unions in Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri and Oklahoma and the nonprofit consumer advocacy group Public Citizen.”

Smith is over the filibuster. In the Guardian, Daniel Strauss writes: “It’s rare a federal lawmaker makes a complete about-face on an issue with major legislative consequences. … But for Senator Tina Smith of Minnesota, the need to shift her position on one of the most crucial issues facing the Biden administration – reform of the filibuster rule – has become too strong to ignore. … She now believes that without reform, the filibuster – a rule by which the minority party in the Senate can block legislation – will do serious ‘damage’ to American democracy, she told the Guardian.

Use of force experts on the arrest of George Floyd. The AP’s Stephen Groves writes: “Floyd said over and over that he was claustrophobic as he struggled to avoid being forced into the squad car. One officer can be heard cursing Floyd on body camera footage as he braced himself against the vehicle and arched his body. At one point, Floyd threw his upper body out of the car, and officers tried to push him back in. … ‘The trajectory of the event could have been slowed down,’ said Geoffrey Alpert, a criminology professor at the University of South Carolina. ‘There was no rush, no split-second decision. There was no reason to push things.’ … Alpert and Masson both questioned why the officers didn’t try to put Floyd into a larger vehicle such as an ambulance or van, given that he said he was claustrophobic.”

Solar equity gap? At Sahan Journal, Andrew Hazzard reports: “The newly installed solar panels on the Emerge Second Chance Recycling Facility are ready for the sun. It’s still a rarity in Minnesota’s successful solar garden program, but advocates are trying to ensure that more solar energy finds its way to those who live in polluted areas and struggle to pay their utility bills. … Now, after five years of planning by the nonprofit Minneapolis Climate Action, its roof hosts a 180-megawatt community garden that will power the plant and about 30 Minneapolis homes. … The Second Chance Community Solar Garden is not the norm in Minnesota. While community gardens have fueled rapid growth in the state’s solar production, experts believe the program has failed to account for residents who pay the most for power and live in more polluted neighborhoods.

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