News briefs for November 20

Tyson suspends Iowa plant managers amid virus betting claim

IOWA CITY, Iowa — Tyson Foods suspended top officials at its largest pork plant on Thursday and launched an investigation into allegations that they bet on how many workers would get infected during a widespread coronavirus outbreak.

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The company’s president and CEO, Dean Banks, said he was “extremely upset” about the allegations against managers at its plant in Waterloo, Iowa, saying they do not represent the company’s values. He said the company has retained the law firm Covington & Burling LLP to conduct an investigation, which will be led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.

“If these claims are confirmed, we’ll take all measures necessary to root out and remove this disturbing behavior from our company,” Banks said in a statement.

Banks said the accused have been suspended without pay. A spokesman for the Arkansas-based company said it would not release their names during the investigation by Holder, who served as attorney general for six years under President Barack Obama.

Tyson has faced a backlash over recently amended wrongful death lawsuits in which plaintiffs’ lawyers allege that Waterloo plant manager Tom Hart “organized a cash buy-in, winner-take-all betting pool for supervisors and managers to wager on how many employees would test positive for COVID-19.”

Mexico becomes 4th country to hit 100,000 COVID-19 deaths

MEXICO CITY — Mexico passed the 100,000 mark in COVID-19 deaths Thursday, becoming only the fourth country — behind the United States, Brazil and India — to do so.

José Luis Alomía Zegarra, Mexico’s director of epidemiology, announced that Mexico had 100,104 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.

But the living will bear the scars too: along with their lost friends and loved ones, many surviving coronavirus victims in Mexico say the psychosis caused by the pandemic is one of the most lasting effects.

Mexico resembles a divided country, where some people are so unconcerned they won’t wear masks, while others are so scared they descend into abject terror at the first sign of shortness of breath.

Giannulli reports to prison in college bribery case

BOSTON — Fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli reported to prison on Thursday to begin serving his five-month sentence for bribing his daughters’ way into college, officials said.

Giannulli’s wife, “Full House” actor Lori Loughlin, is already behind bars for her role in the college admissions bribery scheme involving prominent parents and elite schools across the country. She began her two-month prison term late last month.

Giannulli, 57, whose Mossimo clothing had long been a Target brand until recently, is in custody at a federal prison in Lompoc near Santa Barbara, California, a Bureau of Prisons spokesperson said. Loughlin, 56, is at the federal lockup in Dublin, California.

The couple was among the most high-profile parents charged in the scheme, involved hefty bribes to get undeserving teens into schools with rigged test scores or bogus athletic credentials, authorities say.

Giannulli and Loughlin admitted in May to paying half a million dollars to get their two daughters into the University of Southern California as crew recruits even though neither girl was a rower. Their guilty plea was a stunning reversal for the couple, whose lawyers had insisted for a year were innocent and accused investigators of fabricating evidence against them.

Mnuchin rejects renewal of some Fed emergency loan programs

WASHINGTON — Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday he will not extend several emergency loan programs set up with the Federal Reserve, an action that could hamper the ability of the incoming Biden administration to gain important economic support from the central bank to deal with the ongoing pandemic.

The decision drew a terse rebuke from the Fed.

The central bank said it “would prefer that the full suite of emergency facilities established during the coronavirus pandemic continue to serve their important role as a backstop for our still-strained and vulnerable economy.”

But in a letter to Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, Mnuchin said the Fed’s corporate credit, municipal lending and Main Street Lending programs would not be renewed when they expire on Dec. 31.

Under law, the loan facilities required the support of the Treasury Department, which serves as a backstop for the initial losses the programs might incur.

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Mnuchin said that he is requesting that the Fed return to Treasury the unused funds appropriated by Congress for operation of the programs.

He said this would allow Congress to re-appropriate $455 billion to other coronavirus programs. Republicans and Democrats have been deadlocked for months on approval of another round of coronavirus support measures.

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