The Daily Moth 7-19-2018

July 20, 2018

Democrats Want To Subpoena Interpreter From Trump-Putin Meeting; California Supreme Court Blocks Proposal to Split State In 3 Parts; Olympic Figure Skater Stabbed to Death in Kazakhstan; Deaf Woman Wins $775,000 In Lawsuit Against Costco; Starbucks Announces First “U.S. Signing Store” in D.C.

Hello, welcome to the Daily Moth! It is Thursday, July 19. Ready for news?




Democrats Want To Subpoena Interpreter From Trump-Putin Meeting


Several Democratic lawmakers want to subpoena the interpreter for President Trump’s private meeting with Putin so they can know what the two discussed.


Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif) said he made a motion in the House Intel Committee to subpoena the interpreter, Marina Gross, who is an American, to testify in private. But Republicans voted it down.


Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) also wanted the interpreter to be subpoenaed for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.


They argue that the interpreter needs to testify so Americans can know what Trump discussed and agreed to with Putin, citing concerns about national security and Trump’s conflicting statements on if Russia interfered in the 2016 elections.


But so far, it seems like Republicans will block any efforts to subpoena the interpreter.


This has raised ethical discussions — is it right to require an interpreter to reveal information from a meeting?


The International Association of Conference Interpreters (AIIC) released a statement today to respond to this.


They pointed to their code of ethics — it says interpreters are bound by the strictest secrecy of all information in a private meeting.


AIIC said that country leaders must be able to trust interpreters; that interpreters should never be required to give testimony.


Now — it is an interesting thought for the Deaf community, because we use interpreters every day. Is this an appropriate request?


I proposed this question on Twitter, saying it felt “wrong” for a lawmaker to demand an interpreter because of their obligation to keep their work confidential. I got mixed responses.


One person said it would be like opening Pandora’s box, with a domino effect against all interpreters.


Another said this was different, because Trump is supposed to work for America, and Americans have a right to know what the secret meeting was about.


One said this was a special case about if our president is compromised; that the interpreter might have evidence of crimes by Trump — and that beats privacy concerns.


Another said this would be a breach of ethics, that the government could say “Americans have a right to know what my doctor’s appointments are about if I am using government-funded insurance.”


This person also warned that other country leaders would stop meeting one-on-one if interpreters can be forced to disclose what was said.


So, what do you think?




California Supreme Court Blocks Proposal to Split State In 3 Parts  


The California Supreme Court has blocked the proposal to split California in three parts.


It would have been voted on in November, but that proposal will be removed.


The court said there were significant questions on the proposal’s validity and that allowing a vote could cause more harm than if it was delayed.


The proposal wanted to split California into Northern California, California, and Southern California, with each part having a population of about 13 million.


It it was approved by voters, then by the California Legislature and by the U.S. Congress, it would be the first division of a U.S. state since West Virginia in 1863.


But this idea is dead for now. California for now will be “one state.”




Olympic Figure Skater Stabbed to Death in Kazakhstan


An Olympic figure skater from Kazakhstan, Denis Ten, who won a bronze medal during the 2014 Olympics, was stabbed to death in Kazakhstan. He was 25.


A Kazakh government official said thieves stabbed him as they tried to steal the mirrors off his car. He was brought to the hospital but did not survive.


He was in the South Korea Winter Olympics this year, but struggled with injuries and finished in 27th place. He was admired in Kazakhstan and was recently a part of an ice show there.


U.S. skater Adam Rippon tweeted that he was his friend, that he was kind to everybody, and that his time with us was way too short.




Deaf Woman Wins $775,000 In Lawsuit Against Costco


A deaf woman from Florida, Christine D’Onofrio, won $775,000 in a lawsuit against Costco for discrimination when they terminated her after 24 years of work.


Court documents say she started working in 1989 and never had any issues until she worked under a specific manager around 2003.


Because of the issues, she was transferred to another Costco location. But that manager was also transferred there, and the same issues arose again.


It is said that the Christine (the deaf woman) asked for interpreters or written notes during meetings, but that the manager refused.


Costco did provide Christine a videophone, which she said helped with meetings but didn’t help with her regular work.


Christine said her managers then harassed her for yelling on her videophone and disciplined her for it. She said she never yelled on the videophone.  


Christine later had another issue — she complained that a coworker she was training had a bad attitude. The managers responded by disciplining Christine for being too loud, writing her up.


Christine responded by contacting the above manager and sent a letter to the Costco CEO.


Costco suspended her for one week and fired her afterwards.


Christine, in the lawsuit, said she was terminated because of retaliation on her discrimination complaints. She said  it caused her harm in losing income, damage to her reputation, and emotional distress.


Costco defended themselves saying Christine did get disciplined throughout her employment for serious misconduct and insubordination (not obeying her superiors).


Costco also said the company was not responsible for the managers/supervisors’ actions because they didn’t authorize their decisions — so they are not liable.


After trial with a jury — the jury sided with Christine and awarded her $750,000 for emotional pain and mental anguish and $25,000 as punitive damages for not providing reasonable accommodations.


A lawyer for Christine told the Sun Sentinel that a key piece of evidence that influenced the jury was that the manager/supervisor did not get the same disability sensitivity training as other Costco managers, so the manager did not understand the effects of Christine’s disability.


Another lawyer for Christine said the size of the award shows that the jury believes that Costco looked to protect themselves over Christine, that this was not an accident.

The discrimination complaint was based on the Florida Civil Rights Act of 1992.




Starbucks Announces First “U.S. Signing Store” in D.C.


Starbucks announced they will open the first “Signing Store” in the U.S. in Washington, D.C. at 6th and H street, near Gallaudet University. It will open in October.


Starbucks will hire 20 to 25 Deaf, hard of hearing, and hearing employees from across the country to work there. ASL proficiency is a requirement.


Starbucks said they were inspired by their first “Signing Store” that opened in Malaysia in 2016.


A team of Deaf Starbucks employees were leaders in the effort to launch this store. They traveled to Malaysia last July to learn from them and apply it to the D.C. store.


The store will have DeafSpace design concepts, have artwork and a custom mug designed by a Deaf artist, and various things in it that will make it Deaf-friendly.


Hearing people or non-signers will have other options to order and receive beverages.


Starbucks say they are doing this as a part of their commitment to inclusion, accessibility, and diversity.


On Starbucks’ news page, you can see a captioned video of several Deaf employees describing the vision of the store and how they worked to make this happen.


I’m looking forward to ordering my triple latte when I’m in D.C. in October.




That is all for today. See you tomorrow and stay with the light!


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