Art for episode 1252

1252: Agitprop

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 28m
June 18th, 2020
Share at 0:00

Executive Producers: Sir Fungi The Knight of the Rhizo-sphere, Adam, Jason Simon, Dave Fugazzotto, Duke of America's Heartland and the Arabian Peninsula, James Storey, Andrew Grasso, Alicia Julian, Ross Rebich, Michael Poplin, Sir Karl with a K

Associate Executive Producers: Gavin McElroy, Joel Nelson, Cody the Black Metal Cowboy, Sir Cal of Lavender Blossoms, Nick Miller, SIR Dude named Ben Defender of Megawatts protector of the Electric Grid, Matthew Abbott, Sir Teetse, Kris Malmi, Steve Reilly, Joe Slater, Femke Keuter, Joseph DiVerniero

Cover Artist: Nick the Rat

Chapters

0:00
Start of Show
Woodstock
0:35
Audio Issues at Kayleigh McEnany's White House Press Briefing
Woodstock
4:15
Noodle Gun
Woodstock
26:32
Chinese Influence in US Politics
Woodstock
43:21
Rayshard Brooks Killed by Atlanta Police Officer
Woodstock
50:23
Surge of Coronavirus Cases in Austin
Woodstock
55:44
Fauci Admits Facemasks Were Discouraged For Fear of Supply Constraints
Woodstock
59:22
Austin Mayor Adler Ignores Republican Members Not Wearing Masks During Session
Woodstock
1:05:05
The New Abnormal Podcast: 'Can You Force Fox News To Be Less Racist?'
Woodstock
1:34:15
Police Strikes
Woodstock
1:38:41
Credits
Woodstock
2:24:42
Riots in Dijon, France After Death of 16-Year-Old Chechen Boy
Woodstock
2:28:57
Tensions Surge Between North and South Korea
Woodstock
2:30:13
Hong Kong's National Security Bill Update
Woodstock
2:32:07
Fox News Reports on CHAZ Without Noticing Monty Python Quote
Woodstock
2:34:22
New Wave of Coronavirus Cases in Beijing
Woodstock
2:36:46
Joe Biden
Woodstock
2:40:21
Boogaloo Killings
Woodstock
2:43:35
Southern Poverty Law Center Invests $30 Million in Voter Outreach Organizations With 'Vote Your Voice' Initiative
Woodstock
2:47:34
Trump Walks Down a Ramp
Woodstock
2:54:21
Scott Adams In Search of Systemic Racism
Woodstock
2:56:48
Donations
Woodstock
3:07:39
Birthdays & Title Changes
Woodstock
3:10:42
Meetups
Woodstock
3:13:56
End of Show Clips
Woodstock
3:15:01
PG&E Confesses to Killing 84 People in 2018 California Fire
Woodstock
3:16:30
Hydroxychloroquine
Woodstock
3:20:21
Checkmark Recovery
Woodstock
3:22:59
COVID-19 Around The World
Woodstock
3:24:18
End of Show
Woodstock
Suggest a new chapter
OTG
MASSIVE phone outages across US, major carriers affected '-- RT USA News
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 09:09
The US' three main phone carriers have all suffered outages across the country, with customers on both coasts reporting dead signals. No explanation was immediately provided for the outages, which came amid widespread protests.
T-Mobile and AT&T users reported the outages on Monday afternoon, according to DownDetector, a website that tracks the availability of communications services and websites. Verizon users also reported issues, as did a number of smaller carriers, with most of the US' major metropolitan areas seemingly affected. T-Mobile customers made over 100,000 outage reports, spanning Miami, Atlanta, Chicago and Brooklyn, most noting problems making calls.
Sprint, a subsidiary of T-Mobile, has also experienced problems, in addition to US Cellular.
T-Mobile's president of technology, Neville Ray, said on Twitter that a ''voice and data issue'' occurred, and would soon be fixed by the company's engineers, though he gave no exact time frame. Spokespeople from AT&T and Verizon told TechCrunch that they saw no issues with their networks.
While the cause of the outages remains unclear, a Verizon representative suggested the problem may have originated with ''another national carrier'' '' presumably T-Mobile '' resulting in outage reports for several other services when calls failed to go through, according to Business Insider.
Netizens have speculated the issues were brought on by a distributed denial of service attack, or DDoS, in which attackers send an immense amount of data to deliberately paralyze a network. Some were skeptical about that explanation, however.
This site show a random sample of global DDoS traffic badly plotted on a world map. It does not indicate an attack against the US, it lacks context to make any inferences at all (other than DDoS attacks are happening all day every day). pic.twitter.com/8H9PqlIjbd
'-- MalwareTech (@MalwareTechBlog) June 15, 2020Coming amid ongoing 'Black Lives Matter' street protests, the outages also fueled a slew of conspiracy theories, ranging from government attempts to censor the protests to a full-scale ''alien invasion.''
Verizon outage coming soon to a protesting city near you? Inconclusive of course but the Verizon outage map right now is looking pretty odd... pic.twitter.com/PmoYi2xGy9
'-- Noah Thorp (@noahthorp) June 15, 2020All major communications companies T-Mobile Verizon AT&T suffering outages may be the prelude to an alien invasion.
'-- David Leavitt (@David_Leavitt) June 15, 2020For techies! Looks like we are under a cyber attack. Anyone else experiencing issue? Cell services particularly T-mobile are reporting outages pic.twitter.com/3NyxIhge63
'-- Olga Lautman (@olgaNYC1211) June 15, 2020Like this story? Share it with a friend!
Update on T-Mobile Network Issues | T-Mobile Newsroom
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 08:31
June 16th, 2020 6:23pm PST Update on T-Mobile Voice and Text Performance
Every day we see the vital role technology plays in keeping us connected, and we know T-Mobile customers rely on our network to ensure they have connections with family, loved ones and service providers. This is a responsibility my team takes very seriously and is our highest priority. Yesterday, we didn't meet our own bar for excellence.
Many of our customers experienced a voice and text issue yesterday, specifically with VoLTE (Voice over LTE) calling. My team took immediate action -- hundreds of our engineers worked tirelessly alongside vendors and partners throughout the day to resolve the issue starting the minute we were aware of it. Data connections continued to work, as did our non-VoLTE calling for many customers and services like FaceTime, iMessage, Google Meet, Google Duo, Zoom, Skype and others allowed our customers to stay in touch. Additionally, many customers were able to use circuit-switched voice connections and customers on the Sprint network were unaffected. VoLTE and text in all regions were fully recovered by 10 p.m. PDT last night. I'm happy to say the network is fully operational'... and we're working day in and day out to keep it that way.
Our engineers worked through the night to understand the root cause of yesterday's issues, address it and prevent it from happening again. The trigger event is known to be a leased fiber circuit failure from a third party provider in the Southeast. This is something that happens on every mobile network, so we've worked with our vendors to build redundancy and resiliency to make sure that these types of circuit failures don't affect customers. This redundancy failed us and resulted in an overload situation that was then compounded by other factors. This overload resulted in an IP traffic storm that spread from the Southeast to create significant capacity issues across the IMS (IP multimedia Subsystem) core network that supports VoLTE calls.
We have worked with our IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem) and IP vendors to add permanent additional safeguards to prevent this from happening again and we're continuing to work on determining the cause of the initial overload failure.
So, I want to personally apologize for any inconvenience that we created yesterday and thank you for your patience as we worked through the situation toward resolution. Neville Ray T-Mobile President of Technology
Update - June 15, 2020 10:03pm PST
These issues are now resolved. We again apologize for any inconvenience and thank you for your patience.
June 15th, 2020 8:45pm PST
Starting just after 12 pm ET and continuing throughout the day, T-Mobile has been experiencing a voice and text issue that has intermittently impacted customers in markets across the U.S. We are recovering from this now but it may still take several more hours before customer calling and texting is fully recovered. Neville Ray has shared updates throughout the day but I wanted to share the latest on what we know and what we're doing to address it. This is an IP traffic related issue that has created significant capacity issues in the network core throughout the day. Data services have been working throughout the day and customers have been using services like FaceTime, iMessage, Google Meet, Google Duo, Zoom, Skype and others to connect.
I can assure you that we have hundreds of our engineers and vendor partner staff working to resolve this issue and our team will be working through the night as needed to get the network fully operational.
Mike Sievert CEO
T-Mobile offers an explanation for its twelve-hour outage on Monday | Engadget
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 08:31
As Cloudflare CEO Matthew Prince pointed out that day, internet exchanges didn't show the increase in traffic that would've suggested an attack under way, revealing the ''boring'' explanation of what happened. Throw in DownDetector highlighting reports from highly-populated areas where T-Mobile customers live and reported the outage, along with customers for other carriers who couldn't get through to people on T-Mobile, and you get the storm of misinformation and confusion that surrounded the outage.
The questions that remain to be answered are whether T-Mobile will do anything for the customers left without service for such a long period, and whether or not these answers will satisfy the FCC's investigation.
All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comments
104 Shares
FBI tracked Philly protester through Etsy, LinkedIn to charge her with torching police cars
Thu, 18 Jun 2020 06:42
As demonstrators shouted, fires burned outside City Hall, and Philadelphia convulsed with outrage over the death of George Floyd, television news helicopters captured footage of a masked woman with a peace sign tattoo and wearing a light blue T-shirt setting a police SUV ablaze.
More than two weeks after that climactic May 30 moment, federal authorities say they've identified the arsonist as 33-year-old Philadelphia massage therapist Lore Elisabeth Blumenthal by following the intricate trail of bread crumbs she left through her social media history and online shopping patterns over the years.
The path took agents from Instagram, where amateur photographers also captured shots of the masked arsonist, to an Etsy shop that sold the distinctive T-shirt the woman was wearing in the video. It led investigators to her LinkedIn page, to her profile on the fashion website Poshmark, and eventually to her doorstep in Germantown.
Their pursuit, described in court filings this week, sheds light on the extent to which the FBI and Justice Department have used news footage, online histories, and social media footprints to track down and identify demonstrators believed to be responsible for acts of violence or property destruction.
But civil rights advocates say it also raises questions about the scope of law enforcement surveillance of protest movements and the use of the very social media networks that protesters have relied upon to spread their message.
''Social media has fueled much of the protests, and has also become a fertile ground for government surveillance,'' said Paul Hetznecker, an attorney who has organized a group of lawyers to represent demonstrators, including Blumenthal. ''I think people have lost awareness of that.''
Get the news you need to start your day
For weeks, the FBI and local authorities have urged the public to share any photos or videos that captured violence or looting in the city amid the protests that broke out last month in reaction to Floyd's death at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Blumenthal '-- who if convicted would face a mandatory minimum sentence of seven years in prison '-- is believed to be the first demonstrator arrested based on footage from the Philadelphia protests.
But across the country, several others have been charged based on social media sleuthing and videos uploaded to the internet.
Federal prosecutors in Trenton on Wednesday accused a 27-year-old man of torching a police car '-- an act captured in an online video shot during protests in that city on May 31. A law enforcement officer from the intelligence unit of the Trenton Police Department recognized the man as Earlja J. Dudley, court filings in his case say. Social media searches of Dudley's account allegedly uncovered other photos of him wearing the arsonist's distinctive tank top and baseball cap with the Roman numeral ''XIV'' and green, black and white sneakers.
Posts from bystanders have also led to the arrests of demonstrators allegedly involved in various acts of destruction in Nashville, Chicago, and Buffalo, N.Y. In response, organizations, such as the nonprofit Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, have issued guidebooks for demonstrators on how to shield themselves from government surveillance. The tips include covering tattoos and avoiding wearing distinctive clothing.
In a statement on Blumenthal's case Wednesday, U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain described her alleged crime in Philadelphia as a ''violent and despicable act.''
His office said it will seek to detain her until trial at a detention hearing scheduled for Friday.
''We at the U.S. Attorney's Office fully support the First Amendment right of the people to assemble peaceably and to petition their government,'' he said. ''But torching a police car has nothing to do with peaceful protest or any legitimate message. ... Anybody who engaged in such acts can stand by to put your hands behind your back and head to federal prison. We are coming for you.''
According to filings in Blumenthal's case, FBI agents had little more to go on when they started their investigation than the news helicopter footage of the woman setting the police car ablaze as it was broadcast live May 30.
It showed the woman, in flame-retardant gloves, grabbing a burning piece of a police barricade that had already been used to set one squad car on fire and tossing it into the police SUV parked nearby. Within seconds, that car was also engulfed in flames.
Investigators discovered other images depicting the same scene on Instagram and the video sharing website Vimeo. Those allowed agents to zoom in and identify a stylized tattoo of a peace sign on the woman's right forearm.
INQUIRER STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER A police vehicle is set on fire outside of City Hall in Philadelphia after a protest against the death of George Floyd on Saturday, May 30, 2020.
Scouring other images '-- including a cache of roughly 500 photos of the Philly protest shared by an amateur photographer '-- agents found shots of a woman with the same tattoo that gave a clear depiction of the slogan on her T-shirt.
''Keep the Immigrants,'' it read, ''Deport the Racists.''
That shirt, agents said, was found to have been sold only in one location: a shop on Etsy, the online marketplace for crafters, purveyors of custom-made clothing and jewelry, and other collectibles. The vendor: a New Castle, Del., dealer selling ''screen printed and hand printed feminist wear.''
The top review on her page, dated just six days before the protest, was from a user identifying herself as ''Xx Mv,'' who listed her location as Philadelphia and her username as ''alleycatlore.''
A Google search of that handle led agents to an account on Poshmark, the mobile fashion marketplace, with a user handle ''lore-elisabeth.'' And subsequent searches for that name turned up Blumenthal's LinkedIn profile, where she identifies herself as a graduate of William Penn Charter School and several yoga and massage therapy training centers.
From there, they located Blumenthal's Jenkintown massage studio and its website, which featured videos demonstrating her at work. On her forearm, agents discovered, was the same distinctive tattoo that investigators first identified on the arsonist in the original TV video.
Hetznecker, Blumenthal's lawyer, declined Wednesday to discuss her case in detail except to say that the decision to charge her with a federal crime instead of in state court was discretionary and made ''in order to send a political statement regarding those involved in this protest movement for racial justice.''
He likened the bureau's wider use of social media to identify and prosecute George Floyd demonstrators to COINTELPRO '-- the covert FBI counterintelligence program in the 1950s and '60s aimed at infiltrating and disrupting political organizations such as the feminist and civil rights movements that agents had deemed to be threats to national security.
That program's existence was uncovered by a group of antiwar activists who broke into an FBI field office in in Media in 1971 '-- an act that spawned congressional hearings that eventually shut COINTELPRO down out of concern that it violated the First and Fourth Amendments rights of the activists involved in those movements.
The technological capabilities of modern law enforcement far outstrip the privacy protections afforded under the law, Hetznecker said. And many people lack a general awareness of just how much the communications and information they post online is private or not.
''The question is whether they've undermined the privacy interests of everyone based on the search for one or two individuals,'' he said. ''That's the same paradigm that was used to profile Muslims after 9/11, the same paradigm used for profiling African Americans.''
Norway ends virus tracing app over privacy concerns
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 12:18
OSLO, Norway (AP) '-- Norway has suspended use of its smartphone app meant to track and trace coronavirus contagions after a public spat between health authorities and the information watchdog.
Geir Bukholm, an official at the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, said the decision Monday to delete data and halt any further information gathering from the app ''weakened the country's preparedness'' should the infection rate increase. The app was being tested in three municipalities.
But the Norwegian Data Protection Agency said, amongst other things, that the low infection rate meant data gathering on the app could no longer be justified against privacy concerns.
Norway currently has between 50 and 100 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus, according to the NIPH. There are between 20 and 50 new cases each week.
Fearing a second wave or localized spread of the infection, the health directorate will argue in a meeting with the data watchdog on Friday that the technology should be turned back on.
European governments have been rolling out smartphone tracing apps to help beat back any fresh coronavirus outbreaks. Norway was one of the first out of the blocks but its ''Smittestopp'' raised concerns because it used GPS tracking and uploaded data to central servers every hour.
The app was suspended ahead of an Amnesty International report analyzing contact tracing apps from Europe, the Middle East and North Africa, which found that the Norwegian app was one of the most alarming for privacy because of its ''live or near-live tracking of users' locations.'' The rights group said it shared its findings with authorities earlier this month and urged them to change course.
''This episode should act as a warning to all governments rushing ahead with apps that are invasive and designed in a way that puts human rights at risk,'' said Claudio Guarnieri, head of Amnesty's Security Lab.
Other countries such as Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Latvia are adopting a ''decentralized'' approach using a Google-Apple software interface that experts say is better for privacy because keeps data about contacts on iPhones and Android devices.
Checkmark
Specter of Deflation Rises Again - WSJ
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 12:45
Supply-chain snarls are boosting certain prices, but the big risk for the U.S. economy is deflation
In 2002, former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernankegave a speech titled ''Deflation: Making Sure 'It' Doesn't Happen Here.'' Now, the severity of the recession brought on by the novel coronavirus crisis could make that task very hard.
The Labor Department on Tuesday reported that overall consumer prices fell 0.8% in April from March'--the largest monthly decline since December 2008'--putting the index up just 0.3% from a year earlier. Core prices, which exclude food and energy prices to better capture inflation's trend, fell 0.4%,...
In 2002, former Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernankegave a speech titled ''Deflation: Making Sure 'It' Doesn't Happen Here.'' Now, the severity of the recession brought on by the novel coronavirus crisis could make that task very hard.
The Labor Department on Tuesday reported that overall consumer prices fell 0.8% in April from March'--the largest monthly decline since December 2008'--putting the index up just 0.3% from a year earlier. Core prices, which exclude food and energy prices to better capture inflation's trend, fell 0.4%, marking their largest drop in the history of the data, and were up just 1.4% from a year earlier.
The exact readings on consumer prices in April are, to an extent, less meaningful than usual since the consumer spending baskets the Labor Department bases its price indexes on don't reflect people's spending behavior during the coronavirus epidemic. Gasoline gets a 3% weighting in the overall index, for example, but people aren't driving nearly as much. Food away from home gets 6.2%, but people aren't spending much time at restaurants.
Indeed, as they hunkered down at home, many people's spending experiences were more inflationary than what Tuesday's report entailed. Prices for groceries and other food-at-home items rose 2.6% in April from March, for example.
But the ultimate effect of the crisis seems more likely to weigh on prices than to inflate them, and might ultimately lead to a general decline in prices, or deflation. Although the supply of some goods like fresh meat has been constrained by supply-chain snarls and other issues, surging unemployment will severely constrain many people's ability to spend, sapping overall demand.
For the Fed, the possibility of deflation is a major worry. That is because when prices fall, it is even harder for borrowers to pay down existing debts, leading to rising defaults, while banks become more leery about extending credit. The economy struggles to grow as a result, making recovery even harder to achieve. These fears are partly why the central bank's policy was so easy before the coronavirus crisis hit. With its preferred measure of core inflation running persistently below its 2% target for overall inflation, the Fed was worried that in the event of a downturn it could face a deflation problem.
But this is unlike any downturn the Fed has had to deal with since the Great Depression'--the last time America experienced deflation. In the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis, core inflation fell as low as 0.9%, but inflation had a higher starting point heading into that recession, and the unemployment rate topped out at 10%'--below the 14.7% it reached last month. Unless the labor market snaps back very rapidly, which appears unlikely at this point, consumer prices will continue to face pressure.
In that 2002 speech, Mr. Bernanke, then a Fed governor, laid out a plethora of measures that the central bank could use to combat deflation'--many of which, including buying longer-maturity Treasury debt, the Fed has already embarked on. In the extreme, there was his mention of Milton Friedman's ''helicopter drop'' experiment'--what would happen if a helicopter flew over a community and dropped cash? If deflation takes hold, the Fed coming up with a way to finance payments to households could become a real possibility.
Write to Justin Lahart at justin.lahart@wsj.com
$2,000 for a Watermelon? That's a Bargain as Deflation Returns in Japan - WSJ
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 12:43
TOKYO'--A prized Densuke watermelon grown in northern Japan sold at auction on Monday for about $2,000. That's a lot for a piece of fruit, but down more than 70% from last year's season-opening auction.
It was another sign that Japan, the first modern advanced economy to tackle deflation more than two decades ago, is facing the return of its stubborn foe.
''There was quite a big impact from the coronavirus. Tourism hasn't recovered yet, so demand for gifts and souvenirs is expected to decline,'' said Tomofumi Suematsu, who works at the market that held the melon auction.
On Tuesday, the Bank of Japan said overall prices are likely to go down for now, adding that the nation's economy ''has been in an extremely severe situation due to the impact of the novel coronavirus.'' Consumer prices excluding volatile fresh food prices fell in April from a year earlier, the first year-over-year drop in more than three years.
Deflation, an overall decline in prices, used to be just a Japanese disease, but it is spreading world-wide. Consumer inflation in China fell to a 14-month low in May, and producer prices fell at their fastest pace in more than four years. U.S. inflation is slowing too, prompting a reconsideration of extreme measures that might be needed in the event of deflation.
While consumers welcome discounts at the store, deflation is generally considered bad for an economy because it can reduce corporate investment and growth'--and ultimately bring down wages. In the worst case, all those declines can feed on each other.
''Japan is already entering deflation,'' said Takeshi Niinami, chief executive at Japanese drink maker Suntory Holdings Ltd., in an interview Tuesday.
Industrywide shipments of regular beer'--which typically sells for about $2 a can at retail stores'--fell 40% in May, while shipments of a beer-like low-malt product rose 14%, according to industry figures supplied by Suntory. The low-malt brew costs only about $1.30 a can.
It is the kind of mind-set that took root in Japan starting in the late 1990s. Escaping deflation was the core of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's pro-growth Abenomics strategy when he took office in December 2012, and he has relied on Bank of Japan Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda's aggressive monetary easing.
Since the virus hit, the government and central bank have worked hand-in-hand on measures that would normally spark quick price rises. The government is paying nearly $1,000 in cash to every person and handing out tens of thousands of dollars to businesses.
Parliament has approved spending in the hundreds of billions of dollars, all financed by new government debt'--which the central bank says it will buy in unlimited quantities if necessary.
The nation has mostly shrugged and reverted to its frugal ways. Businesses are responding with the reflex learned over a quarter-century: cut prices.
Suit maker Aoki Holdings Inc. has seen sales plummet because office workers have been staying home. It is selling its latest suit designs at half price.
''Consumers will start to get used to buying at low prices once they experience it,'' said Mizuho Securities economist Toru Suehiro. ''They would think, 'I should probably wait until a sale because the shop had one before.'''
The Bank of Japan's policy board has said it expects core consumer prices to fall by 0.4% to 0.8% in the year ending March 2021 and rise slightly the following year but remain below the bank's 2% target.
Mr. Kuroda, the Bank of Japan governor, said Tuesday he believes prices would start to rise again once the impact of infections eases. Japan has had far fewer infections than the U.S. and Europe and a coronavirus state of emergency was lifted in late May. The government is urging people to adopt a ''new lifestyle'' to protect themselves.
''I don't necessarily think the new lifestyle would lead to price declines,'' Mr. Kuroda said.
However, economists said deflationary pressures could increase later in the year as Japanese companies, which have generally protected the jobs of full-time workers, trim bonuses to reflect lower profits.
Mr. Niinami, the Suntory CEO, said the government needs to hand out even more money to encourage spending.
''We have to keep prices resilient by guaranteeing financially troubled households that their lives will be stable,'' he said.
Write to Megumi Fujikawa at megumi.fujikawa@wsj.com
Fauci
NIH Clinical Center: Meet Our Doctors
Sun, 14 Jun 2020 18:24
You are now leaving the NIH Clinical Center website.
This external link is provided for your convenience to offer additional information. The NIH Clinical Center is not responsible for the availability, content or accuracy of this external site.
The NIH Clinical Center does not endorse, authorize or guarantee the sponsors, information, products or services described or offered at this external site. You will be subject to the destination site's privacy policy if you follow this link.
More information about the NIH Clinical Center Privacy and Disclaimer policy is available at http://www.cc.nih.gov/disclaimers.html
Christine Grady, Anthony Fauci's Wife: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know '' Heavy.com
Sun, 14 Jun 2020 19:24
Christine Grady is married to Anthony Fauci, who has served as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases since 1984.
Fauci has become a household name amid the coronavirus outbreak and often appears alongside President Trump during daily news briefings. Fauci has repeatedly advocated for Americans to continue social distancing practices in order to flatten the curve. It was reported on May 11 that Fauci was entering a ''modified quarantine'' after being near a White House staffer who tested positive for COVID-19. On May 12, he testified before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, via teleconference, about how to reopen the country. You can read more about his testimony here.
Fauci's wife is also in the medical field, though she is not in the spotlight as much as her husband. Grady works as a nurse-bioethicist at the National Institutes of Health. They have three daughters together.
Grady says she has to remind her husband to take care of his own health. Fauci has been working 20-hour days since the pandemic began. Grady told CNBC, ''I try to get him to rest, to drink water, to eat well, to sleep, and to be selective about what he agrees to and say no to some things.''
Here's what you need to know.
1. Christine Grady Worked With AIDS Patients Early On In Her Career National Institutes of Health Christine Grady, R.N., Ph.D
Christine Grady played a major role in the early fight against AIDS in the 1980s and was a leading voice on the topic during a time when medical professionals were still learning about the disease and its origins. In a 1997 interview for the NIH, Grady explained she was never intimidated to care for patients diagnosed with HIV or AIDS, and continued her work during all three of her pregnancies. Grady said she was asked about this shortly before going to work for the NIH.
''We were sitting around and people were talking about this disease. They were asking, 'Wouldn't you be afraid to take care of these people?' Nobody else was a health care professional in this group. I was the only one. At that point I knew that I was coming to the NIH and that I was going to be working in infectious diseases. I guess that at some level I knew there was HIV here, although we did not call it that then. I knew that they were studying this issue here, or they should be. I remember at the time defending this issue by saying that you take care of people because that is your job. You do not worry about what they have. You cannot, or you would not be able to do what you have to do. I was dismissing it pretty offhandedly, probably out of ignorance. I did not have fear, but I probably did not have enough knowledge even to be afraid.''
Grady also explained that, in her work as a nurse, she understood that AIDS patients wished to be treated with respect as individuals and not judged for any lifestyle choices.
''When you are a nurse, you are with the person for a lot longer, especially when they are sick and in the hospital'... So you get this sort of image of vulnerability and almost nakedness, if you will, of the patient that you are exposed to, that you know this person at a level that many people do not. It is different from person to person, but they sometimes look to you to understand something about them as a whole person and to be able to help with whatever you can do in your limited context, to put that into the sense of who they are.
I have to say, I learned that eloquently from some people that had AIDS that I took care of, because they would say in the beginning, they would'... I would talk to them about, 'What do you want nurses to know? What do you want nurses to think about when they take care of you?' They would say, 'The most important thing that you can do is not to judge me. I am me. I am not some statistic, a homosexual with Pneumocystis pneumonia. Sure, I happen to be homosexual, I happen to have Pneumocystis, but that is just things about me. I am me. I have got my thoughts, my feelings, my experiences, my life, and all those are important to how I am dealing with this, how I am accepting or not accepting treatment, how I am reacting to treatment, what I am going to do when I get out of here, those kinds of things.'''
Grady's knowledge about HIV and AIDS earned her the attention of the White House. In the late 1980s, she served on President Ronald Reagan's ''Commission on the HIV Epidemic.''
2. Grady's Thesis About the Search For an HIV Vaccine Was Published As a Book In 1995Christine Grady's Ph.D. thesis was about the ethical issues surrounding the development of a vaccine to prevent or treat HIV and AIDS. The report, titled ''The Search for an AIDS Vaccine: Ethical Issues in the Development and Testing of a Preventive HIV Vaccine,'' was published as a book in 1995.
In the book, Grady detailed the research that had been done up to that point and discussed the ethics of using human subjects to develop a potential vaccine.
Grady's expertise and interest in the ethical issues involved with patient care influenced her career path. She has served as the Chief of the Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center since 2012, according to her LinkedIn profile. Grady began serving as the acting chief in September 2011 and had been the deputy director of the department since 1996.
3. Grady Says Her Parents Instilled In Her a Sense of Social Duty By Taking Her to Civil Rights Marches As a ChildChristine Grady grew up in New Jersey with four siblings. According to the NIH, no one in Grady's family worked in the medical field.
But she was inspired to pursue nursing as a career by her parents, who instilled in her a sense of civic responsbility. Grady told the NIH in 1997, ''When we were children, I can remember at young ages going on civil rights marches and things like that, because my parents took us there. We did not know what they were really about, because at the time, although I was older than some of my brothers and sisters, I was not that old. Some of those things did not register directly then, but I think they had an impact later on. So I have always been interested'-- again, there was my parents' influence'--in social issues.''
Grady graduated from Georgetown University with degrees in nursing and biology in 1974. She also earned a Master of Science in Nursing from Boston College. She later returned to Georgetown University for her Ph.D. in philosophy.
4. Christine Grady Worked For Project Hope In Brazil For Two YearsEarly on in her career, Christine Grady lived and worked in Brazil for two years. She was involved with Project Hope, an international non-profit health care organization headquartered in Bethesa, Maryland.
Grady told the NIH she applied to the program as an undergraduate student due to a ''sense of our responsibility to the rest of the world.'' She said officials at Project Hope chose Brazil for her and that she did not know a word of Portuguese before arriving in the South American country. However, she learned the language quickly through her work and by living with a Brazilian roommate who did not speak English.
Grady explained that her time in Brazil was eye-opening because she had to work with limited resources. For example, she told the NIH that syringes were washed and used multiple times because there were too few to go around. She said she often had to inject patients using syringes with blunt needles.
5. Christine Grady & Anthony Fauci Met While Caring For a Patient Getty Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Anthony Fauci on October 24, 2014.
Christine Grady met her husband of more than thirty years while caring for a patient. Anthony Fauci explained in a 2015 interview that he and Grady ''met over the bed of a patient.'' Grady was called in to translate for a patient who spoke Portuguese.
Fauci raved about his wife in that interview as a ''triple threat. She went to school to get her PhD in philosophy, worked, and had three children.''
Grady and Fauci got married in 1985. They have three adult daughters: Jennifer, Megan and Alison.
Their children are all grown and out of the house, but Grady and Fauci have maintained a large home for their daughters to visit. A search of online property records shows the couple bought their 4,000 square-foot, 4-bedroom Washington, D.C. home in 2014. The house was valued approximately $1.9 million in 2019.
READ NEXT: Cops: Oregon Man Stole Thousands of N95 Masks
Abolish
Atlanta cop Garrett Rolfe who shot Rayshard Brooks could face murder charge
Mon, 15 Jun 2020 07:34
June 14, 2020 | 4:39pm | Updated June 14, 2020 | 8:47pm
Enlarge Image Former Atlanta Police Department officer Garrett Rolfe Atlanta Police Department/Handout via REUTERS
The Atlanta cop who shot and killed Rayshard Brooks could face a felony murder charge, Fulton County's top prosecutors said Sunday.
Fulton District Attorney Paul Howard said his office will decide this week if Garrett Rolfe, who was fired following Friday's fatal shooting, will be charged in the case '-- and said that could mean a murder charge, he told CNN.
''(Brooks) did not seem to present any kind of threat to anyone, and so the fact that it would escalate to his death just seems unreasonable,'' Howard told the network. ''If that shot was fired for some reason other than to save that officer's life or prevent injury to him or others, then that shooting is not justified under the law.''
''There are really three charges that are relevant,'' he said. ''One would be the murder charge in the state of Georgia. That charge is a charge that is directly related to an intent to kill. The second charge is felony murder. And that is a charge that involves a death that comes as a result of the commission of an underlying felony, and in this case, that underlying felony would be aggravated assault.''
''But I believe in this instance, what we have to choose between '-- if there's a choice to be made '-- is between murder and felony murder.''
Howard said in a release that an autopsy of Brooks' body was completed Sunday, and that the medical examiner's report and ballistics information will be required for him to make the call.
However, he said prosecutors ''are still experiencing some difficulty in obtaining all of the body cam and dash cam footage from the Atlanta Police Department.''
Brooks, 27, was shot by Rolfe during a foot chase following a field sobriety test in the parking lot of an Atlanta Wendy's restaurant Friday. Rolfe and a second officer, Devin Brosnan, chased Brooks after he grabbed one of their Tasers and ran off.
He was shot three times in the back while fleeing. Rolfe was fired Saturday and Brosnan was put on administrative leave.
Brooks' shooting is the latest caught-on-video death of a black man by police in recent months '-- and has sparked new outrage among protesters already inflamed by the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of a white Minneapolis police officer and the February killing of black jogger Ahmaud Arbery by three white men now charged with murder in Brunswick, Georgia.
The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is now probing Brooks' shooting death, and Howard said his office will make a decision on whether to file criminal charges ''around Wednesday.''
''There's one good thing about video,'' Howard told CNN's Fredricka Whitefield, ''because in the video we actually get a chance to hear the officer's first statement after the shooting took place. And what the officer said is not that his life was saved. What his statement was, he said, 'I got him.'''
DA Says Brooks Wasn't 'Threat' Toward Cop He Shot Taser At, Said Two Weeks Ago Taser Is 'Considered' A 'Deadly Weapon' | The Daily Wire
Thu, 18 Jun 2020 06:08
Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard announced on Wednesday that the police officer who killed Rayshard Brooks last week was being charged with felony murder and that Brooks did not pose a threat to the officer even though Brooks fired a taser at the officer.
The remarks from Howard come after he charged a police officer earlier this month ''for pointing a taser'' at someone because a taser is considered to be a ''deadly weapon'' under Georgia law.
In explaining the charges against former Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe, Howard said, ''We've concluded at the time Mr. Brooks was shot that he did not pose an immediate threat of death or serious physical injury to the officer or officers.''
Howard continued by noting that Brooks fired a taser, which he took from the officer on scene, at Rolfe and that Rolfe opened fire on Brooks after that.
''But I don't know if you can see it clearly,'' Howard told the media in announcing the charges on Wednesday while showing a blown-up photograph of the incident. ''The prongs from the taser were actually fired above Officer Rolfe here.''
Howard went on to say that after Brooks fired the taser at Rolfe, the distance between the two increased, leading Howard to say, ''So based upon that information, we have concluded that Mr. Brooks was running away at the time that the shot was fired. Mr. Brooks was shot twice in the back.''
Earlier this month, however, Howard announced charges against several police officers in a case about alleged excessive use of force against two college students during the protests that took place after the death of George Floyd.
In announcing charges against one of the officers, Howard said that the officer was charged with ''aggravated assault'' for ''pointing a taser'' at one of the students because ''under Georgia law a taser is considered a deadly weapon.''
WATCH:
DA Paul Howard: ''We've concluded at the time Brooks was shot that he did not pose an immediate threat of death or serious physical to the officer'... Brooks [fired] a taser [at the cop]''
He charged a cop on 06/02 ''for pointing a taser'' since ''a taser is considered a deadly weapon'' pic.twitter.com/mGMXh7RGtX
'-- Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) June 18, 2020
On Wednesday evening, the Atlanta Police Department announced that they were receiving a ''higher than usual number of call outs with the incoming shift.''
APD tweeted: ''Earlier suggestions that multiple officers from each zone had walked off the job were inaccurate. The department is experiencing a higher than usual number of call outs with the incoming shift. We have enough resources to maintain operations & remain able to respond to incidents.''
Atlanta Democrat Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms told CNN during an interview that the situation in the city has been ''very tough'' over the past few weeks over the two incidents with law enforcement.
''Across the country, morale is down with police departments, and I think ours is down ten-fold,'' Bottoms said.
When asked by Cuomo how many officers were calling out in this ''apparent revolt,'' Bottoms responded: ''Well, we don't have a count yet because we were in the midst of a shift change, but what I do know is that we do have enough officers to cover us through the night.''
''Our streets won't be any less safe because of the number of officers who called out,'' she added. ''But it's just my hope again that our officers will remember the commitment that they made when they held up their hand and they were sworn in as police officers.''
The Daily Wire, headed by bestselling author and popular podcast host Ben Shapiro, is a leading provider of conservative news, cutting through the mainstream media's rhetoric to provide readers the most important, relevant, and engaging stories of the day. Get inside access to The Daily Wire by becoming a member .
Cuomo's New York: 250 Inmates Freed from Prison Rearrested 450 Times
Mon, 15 Jun 2020 07:08
At least 250 convicted and accused criminals freed from New York's Rikers Island prison have been rearrested 450 times thanks to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D) jailbreak directive.
New York Police Department (NYPD) data reported by NBC New York's Melissa Russo reveals that since Cuomo issued a statewide order demanding jails and prisons release inmates to abide by social distancing measures in late March, at least 250 inmates from Rikers Island have been rearrested.
Russo reports:
Of approximately 2,500 defendants sprung from Rikers early because of COVID safety planning, at least 250 have been arrested again since, according to Michael LiPetri, chief of Crime Control Strategies for the NYPD. [Emphasis added]
Chief LiPetri tells NBC New York the NYPD did not object to releasing older defendants, nor those with underlying medical conditions. But he says the consequences of the larger-scale release of prisoners are now showing up in the arrest data, with those 250 re-offenders being arrested 450 times so far during the pandemic. [Emphasis added]
One such case detailed by Russo involves 27-year-old Jonathan Martinez who has been charged in six incidents since November 2019 including forcible touching and allegedly robbing a Sephora store.
Martinez was previously convicted for strangling his girlfriend in 2014. On March 16, Martinez was released from Rikers Island under Cuomo's directive.
Seven days later, Martinez was arrested by the NYPD for allegedly robbing a person at knifepoint. After his arrest, Martinez was released without ever having to pay bail thanks to Cuomo's bail reform law that eliminated cash bail for a number of nonviolent and violent crimes.
About a month later, Martinez was again arrested by the NYPD for alleged robbery. Again, Martinez was released from jail. Then, this month, Martinez was twice arrested for vandalizing stores in Manhattan that the owners said they struggled to reopen due to the Chinese coronavirus crisis.
While the mass release of convicted and accused criminals in New York continues and violent crime surges, Mayor Bill de Blasio is vowing to cut NYPD funding. The reduction in funding for the police would come as murders have jumped 160 percent over the last week and burglaries are up 402 percent.
John Binder is a reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter at @JxhnBinder.
Police Shootings Database (Updated: 06/14/2020) '' Killed By Police
Sun, 14 Jun 2020 19:30
My condolences to the families, friends and loved ones of those who've been killed by police.
The Latest Police Shootings Database:472 People Have Been Shot and Killed by Police in 2020 '' Full database (Updated: 06/14/2020)1004 People Have Been Shot and Killed by Police in 2019 '' Full database992 People Have Been Shot and Killed by Police in 2018 '' Full database986 People Have Been Shot and Killed by Police in 2017 '' Full database962 People Have Been Shot and Killed by Police in 2016 '' Full database994 People Have Been Shot and Killed by Police in 2015 '' Full databasePolice killed 1004 people in 2019. Black people were 24% of those killed despite being only 13% of the population.Police Brutality StatisticsPolice killed 994 people in 2015Police killed 962 people in 2016Police killed 986 people in 2017Police killed 992 people in 2018Police killed 1004 people in 2019
Infographics, Reports, and Maps Source: mappingpoliceviolence.org
Machiavelli on Twitter: "I'm Rayshard Brooks, I was sentenced to 7 yrs for beating my kids, but was out on parole due to covid-19. I drove drunk to Wendy's. When a cop tried to arrest me for my 2nd DUI, I took his taser & fired at him, because I knew
Sun, 14 Jun 2020 22:30
@ TheRISEofROD I'm Rayshard Brooks,I was sentenced to 7 yrs for beating my kids, but was out on parole due to covid-19.I drove drunk to Wendy's.When a cop tried to arrest me for my 2nd DUI, I took his taser & fired at him, because I knew that I'd be sent back to jail.I'm a martyr now...
Jake Moore @ JakeMoo22377928
2h I suspected from the first time I saw the video he was either on probation or parole, and knew he'd be headed to jail for being arrested DUI.He beat his kids. He was convicted & sentenced. He was definitely wrong to fight them & shoot the taser.All he had to do was submit.
View conversation · Enter a topic, @name, or fullname
How Much Do US Cities Spend On Policing? | Zero Hedge
Mon, 15 Jun 2020 09:09
The state of America's policing has come under scrutiny after George Floyd's shocking death in Minneapolis. That resulted in massive protests all over the country with people demanding reform and an end to police brutality and racism. It has created a debate about "defunding" the police and redirecting more money into community outreach programs.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently said he would make cuts to the NYPD's $6 billion budget and set funding aside for communities and his view is at odds with President Trump. On Monday, Trump said that "there won't be defunding, there won't be dismantling of our police, and there is not going to be any disbanding of our police.''
As Statista's Niall McCarthy notes, over the past 30 years, the U.S. has dramatically increased police spending while funding has fallen for mental health services, community outreach programs, housing subsidies and food benefits programs for disadvantaged low-income communities that have to deal with high levels of criminality. Data from The Center for Popular Democracy, Law for Black Lives and the Black Youth Project 100 estimates that the U.S. spends a collective $100 billion on policing per year and another $80 billion on incarceration. It also shows the amount spent on policing per person in a selection of major cities which ranges from $381 to $772.
Well before George Floyd lost his life, an earlier version of the report revealed serious issues about policing in Minneapolis, stating that "racial disparities there are especially stark" and that "black and indigenous people were more than eight and-a-half times more likely than whites to be arrested for low-level offenses". It also said that "black people comprise 19 percent of the Minneapolis population but account for 59 percent of low-level arrests. Whites, by contrast, comprise 64 percent of the population but only 23 percent of low-level arrests". In 2017, Minneapolis spent $408 per person on its police force. Unfortunately, that figure was not available for 2020, unlike the other cities listed on this infographic.
You will find more infographics at Statista
After Freddie Gray was killed by police officers in 2015, Baltimore also received national attention for its heavy-handed policing and levels of racial division. Back in 2017, the report noted that its police department was under scrutiny due to years of corruption, misconduct and brutality that eroded trust with communities of color. Out of the city's operating budget more than a quarter of funding is allocated to policing, some $536 million. Spending on policing per person is the highest of any major city in U.S. at $904. By comparison the figure in New York was $672 while it was $436 in Los Angeles.
The report notes that police funding levels increased in all cities analyzed in the 2017 report (though 2020 data was not available for Minneapolis) and the figures for new cities included in the analysis show that some reform has occurred. Milwaukee is noted as an example where grassroots groups successfully demanded police divestment, which has happened, and the police department's budget is now lower than in previous years.
You will find more infographics at Statista
The same old trends are evident as in previous years in most major cities, however with the NYPD's $5.6 billion budget accounting for 7.7 percent of New York City's general fund. A general fund is used by a city to support municipal services like law enforcement, the fire department and parks, as well as planning, community development and administrative support services.
The share of the general fund is far higher in other cities such as Los Angeles. The LAPD has a 2020 budget of $1.7 billion according to the report and that accounts for over a quarter of the general fund. The share is even higher in Chicago at 37 percent with the total police budget approximately $1.68 billion. In Minneapolis, the city where George Floyd lost his life, the 2017 data shows that the police budget accounted for 35.8 percent of the general fund, totalling $163 million.
Several NYPD officers rushed to hospital after drinking shakes contaminated with BLEACH at local restaurant '' report '-- RT USA News
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 09:18
Three police officers in New York City have been taken to hospital after being served shakes that allegedly contained a ''toxic substance'' at a popular Manhattan fast food restaurant. The officers were assigned to handle protests.
News about the incident, which reportedly unfolded at a Shake Shack restaurant in lower Manhattan on Monday, has spread on social media, where it was confirmed by New York City's largest police union in a tweet.
#BREAKING When NYC police officers cannot even take meal without coming under attack, it is clear that environment in which we work has deteriorated to a critical level. We cannot afford to let our guard down for even a moment. pic.twitter.com/fbMMDOKqbV
'-- NYC PBA (@NYCPBA) June 16, 2020In a letter penned by the president of New York's Police Benevolent Association, Patrick J. Lynch, the union told its members that the officers had a health scare after they decided to dine in at the local Shake Shack location on Broadway and Fulton Street while on duty as part of the protest detail.
As they sat sipping their drinks, they discovered ''that a toxic substance, believed to be bleach, had been placed in their beverages,'' Lynch wrote, noting that it only hit officers that something fishy was going on with their drinks after they had ''already ingested a portion of their beverages.''
Also on rt.com 'Seismic shift in policing': NYPD disbands controversial plainclothes 'anti-crime' unit Alleging the drinks may have been tampered with, Lynch said that everyone on the force must stay vigilant, adding: ''We cannot afford to let our guard down for even a moment.''
When New York City police officers cannot even take meal without coming under attack, it is clear that environment in which we work has deteriorated to a critical level.
Shake Shack responded to the incident late on Monday night, stating the company was ''horrified'' by reports of the officers' poisoning and that it is now ''working with the police in their investigation'' '' which has yet to be formally announced.
We are horrified by the reports of police officers injured at our 200 Broadway Shack in Manhattan. We are working with the police in their investigation right now.
'-- SHAKE SHACK (@shakeshack) June 16, 2020The city's second-largest police union '' the Detectives Endowment Association of the City of New York (DEA) '' has also thrown its own weight behind the allegation.
🚨URGENT SAFETY MESSAGE🚨Tonight, three of our fellow officers were intentionally poisoned by one or more workers at the Shake Shack at 200 Broadway in Manhattan. Fortunately, they were not seriously harmed. Please see the safety alert'¤µ¸ https://t.co/D8Lywivhdu
'-- Detectives' Endowment Association (@NYCPDDEA) June 16, 2020DEA President Paul DiGiacomo claimed that the officers were ''intentionally poisoned by one or more workers at Shake Shack,'' adding that all three officers were not seriously hurt in the incident and are recovering in hospital. He did not mince his words, accusing ''pandering elected officials'' of ''emboldening'' criminals who attack police officers ''simply because of the uniform we wear.''
The PBA later said that several union members visited Bellevue Hospital to check on the sickened officers.
At Bellevue Hospital, checking in on the police officers whose drinks were apparently poisoned at a lower Manhattan Shake Shack tonight. Also stopping by the scene to update the media. pic.twitter.com/D1sjHx8IsM
'-- NYC PBA (@NYCPBA) June 16, 2020So far, no suspects have been publicly identified and no arrests have been made, but Shake Shack employees are being questioned, according to local media. A sample from one of the shakes was also sent to a lab for testing, but its results have not yet come back.
Like this story? Share it with a friend!
Noodle Gun
Struggle session - Wikipedia
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 10:02
A struggle session was a form of public humiliation and torture that was used by the Communist Party of China (CPC) at various times in the Mao era, particularly years immediately before and after the establishment of the People's Republic of China and during the Cultural Revolution. The aim of a struggle session was to shape public opinion and humiliate, persecute, or execute political rivals and those deemed class enemies.[1]
In general, the victim of a struggle session was forced to admit various crimes before a crowd of people who would verbally and physically abuse the victim until he or she confessed. Struggle sessions were often held at the workplace of the accused, but they were sometimes conducted in sports stadiums where large crowds would gather if the target was well-known.[1]
Etymology Edit According to Lin Yutang, the expression comes from "pÄp n" (æ‰¹å¤ , literally "to criticize and judge") and "d²uzhÄ'ng" (é¬¥ç­ literally "to fight and struggle"), so the whole expression conveys the message of "inciting the spirit of judgment and fighting". Instead of saying the full phrase "pÄp n d²uzhÄ'ng", it was shortened to "pÄd²u" (批鬥 ).[citation needed ]
Origins and purpose Edit Struggle sessions developed from similar ideas of criticism and self-criticism in the Soviet Union from the 1920s. The term refers to class struggle; the session is held, ostensibly, to benefit the target, by eliminating all traces of counterrevolutionary, reactionary thinking. Chinese communists resisted this at first, because struggle sessions conflicted with the Chinese concept of saving face, but struggle sessions became commonplace at Communist Party meetings during the 1930s due to public popularity.[2]
Later struggle sessions were adapted to use outside the CPC as a means of consolidating its control of areas under its jurisdiction. Frederick T. C. Yu identified three categories of mass campaigns'--economic, ideological, and struggle'--employed by the CPC in the years before and after the establishment of the PRC.[3] Economic campaigns sought to improve conditions, often by increasing production in particular sectors of the economy. Ideological campaigns sought to change people's thinking. Struggle campaigns were similar to ideological campaigns, but ''their focus is on the elimination of the power base and/or class position of enemy classes or groups.''[4]
Tactics in early struggle sessions Edit Struggle campaigns emerged as a tactic to secure the allegiance of the Chinese people during the land reform (å'Ÿå'°æ--¹é'(C) ) campaign.[5] That campaign sought to mobilize the masses through intensive propaganda followed by ''Speak Bitterness'' (诉è‹... ) sessions in which peasants were encouraged to accuse land owners. The strongest accusations were incorporated into scripted and stage-managed public mass accusation meetings (控诉大会 ). Cadres then cemented the peasants' loyalty by inducing them to actively participate in violent acts against landowners. This process served multiple purposes. First, it demonstrated to the masses that the party was determined to subdue any opposition (generally labeled ''class enemies''), by violence if necessary. Second, potential rivals were crushed. Third, those who attacked the targeted foes became complicit in the violence and hence invested in the state. All three served to consolidate the party's control, which was deemed necessary because party members constituted a small minority of China's population.[6][7][8]
Both accusation meetings and mass trials were largely propaganda tools to accomplish the party's aims. Klaus M¼hlhahn, professor of China Studies at Freie Universit¤t Berlin, wrote:
Carefully arranged and organized, the mass trials and accusatory meetings followed clear and meticulously prearranged patterns. Dramatic devices such as staging, props, working scripts, agitators, and climactic moments were used to efficiently engage the emotions of the audience'--to stir up resentment against the targeted groups and mobilize the audience to support the regime.[9][10]
Julia C. Strauss observed that public tribunals were ''but the visible d(C)nouement of a show that had been many weeks in preparation.''[11]
Accounts Edit Margaret Chu, writing retrospectively for the Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation's Mindszenty Report, in November 1998, said:
''...the Cultural Revolution began and I was transferred to another labor camp'... Two years after I had been in this new camp, I received a parcel from my family. Immediately, an inmate accused me of giving something out of it to another prisoner. I was dragged to the office. Without any investigation, the officer assembled the entire camp to start a struggle session against me. In the session the officer suddenly asked me whether I had committed my alleged original crime leading to my 8-year sentence. I was stunned. It then dawned on me that this session was in fact prearranged. The parcel was only a pretense. Their real motive was once again to force me to admit all my alleged crimes. "I did not commit any crimes," I asserted firmly. Immediately two people jumped on me and cut off half of my hair. The officer screamed again: "are you guilty?" I replied firmly again, "no." Two people then used a rope to tie my hands back tightly. It was connected to a loop around my shoulder and underneath my armpits. It was knotted in such a way that a slight movement of my hands would cause intense pain. This struggle session lasted for two hours. Afterwards, they untied me and handcuffed me instead. The handcuffs became a part of me for the next one hundred days and nights...'[12]
Anne F. Thurston, in Enemies of the People, gave a description of an infamous struggle session for the professor You Xiaoli:
'You Xiaoli was standing, precariously balanced, on a stool. Her body was bent over from the waist into a right angle, and her arms, elbows stiff and straight, were behind her back, one hand grasping the other at the wrist. It was the position known as "doing the airplane." Around her neck was a heavy chain, and attached to the chain was a blackboard, a real blackboard, one that had been removed from a classroom at the university where You Xiaoli, for more than ten years, had served as a full professor. On both sides of the blackboard were chalked her name and the myriad crimes she was alleged to have committed...'
The scene was taking place at the university, too, in a sports field at one of China's most prestigious institutions of higher learning. In the audience were You Xiaoli's students and colleagues and former friends. Workers from local factories and peasants from nearby communes had been bussed in for the spectacle. From the audience came repeated, rhythmic chants ... "down with You Xiaoli! Down with You Xiaoli!"
"I had many feelings at that struggle session," recalls You Xiaoli. "I thought there were some bad people in the audience. But I also thought there were many ignorant people, people who did not understand what was happening, so I pitied that kind of person. They brought workers and peasants into the meetings, and they could not understand what was happening. But I was also angry."[13]
Disuse after 1978 Edit Struggle sessions were disowned in China after 1978, when the reformers led by Deng Xiaoping took power. Deng Xiaoping prohibited struggle sessions and other kinds of Mao-era violent political campaigns.[citation needed ]
See also Edit Anti-Bolshevik League incidentClass warfareFutian incidentTwo Minutes Hate, from Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-FourZhen FanReferences Edit ^ a b Lipman, Jonathan Neaman; Harrell, Stevan (1990). Violence in China: Essays in Culture and Counterculture. SUNY Press. pp. 154''157. ISBN 9780791401156. OCLC 18950000. ^ Priestland, David (2009). The Red Flag: A History of Communism. Grove Press. p. 246. ISBN 978-0-8021-1924-7. ^ Yu, Frederick T. C. (1967). "Campaigns, Communications, and Development in Communist China". In Lerner, Daniel (ed.). Communication and Change in the Developing Countries. Honolulu, HI: East-West Center Press. pp. 201''202. ISBN 9780824802172. OCLC 830080345. ^ Cell, Charles P. (1977). Revolution at Work: Mobilization Campaigns in China. New York: Academic Press. p. 9. ISBN 9780121647506. OCLC 2968117 , summarizing Yu's categories. ^ Li, Lifeng (2015). "Rural Mobilization in the Chinese Communist Revolution: From the Anti-Japanese War to the Chinese Civil War". Journal of Modern Chinese History. 9 (1): 95''116. doi:10.1080/17535654.2015.1032391. ^ Wu, Guo (March 2014). "Speaking Bitterness: Political Education in Land Reform and Military Training Under the CCP, 1947-1951". The Chinese Historical Review. 21 (1): 3''23. doi:10.1179/1547402X14Z.00000000026. ^ Solomon, Richard H. (1971). Mao's Revolution and the Chinese Political Culture. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. pp. 195''200. ISBN 9780520018068. OCLC 1014617521. ^ Perry, Elizabeth J. (2002). "Moving the Masses: Emotion Work in the Chinese Revolution". Mobilization: An International Journal. 7 (2): 111''128. doi:10.17813/maiq.7.2.70rg70l202524uw6. ^ M¼hlhahn, Klaus (2009). Criminal Justice in China: A History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. pp. 182''183. ISBN 9780674033238. OCLC 938707409. ^ Also, Strauss, Julia (December 2006). "Morality, Coercion and State Building by Campaign in the Early PRC: Regime Consolidation and After, 1949-1956". The China Quarterly. No. 188. pp. 906''908. ^ Strauss, Julia C. (2011). "Traitors, Terror, and Regime Consolidation on the Two Sides of the Taiwan Straits: 'Revolutionaries' and 'Reactionaries' from 1949 to 1956". In Thiranagama, Sharika; Kelly, Tobias (eds.). Traitors: Suspicion, Intimacy, and the Ethics of State-Building. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 105. ISBN 9780812242133. OCLC 690379541. ^ "A Catholic Voice Out of Communist China - November 1998 Mindszenty Report". 2008-03-13. Archived from the original on 2008-03-13 . Retrieved 2011-03-07 . ^ "Enemies of the People". World and ischool. June 1987 . Retrieved 2011-03-07 .
A Reckoning at Cond(C) Nast - The New York Times
Mon, 15 Jun 2020 08:10
''It's hard to be a person of color at this company,'' a staff member said. In response to an uprising, Anna Wintour and the chief executive, Roger Lynch, offered apologies.
The Cond(C) Nast leaders Anna Wintour and Roger Lynch at a fashion show in New York last year. Credit... Brian Ach/Getty Images This was supposed to be Cond(C) Nast's year.
The publisher of Vogue, Vanity Fair and The New Yorker was going to be profitable again after years of layoffs and losses.
Then advertising revenue suddenly dropped as the coronavirus pandemic cratered the economy. More recently, as protests against racism and police violence grew into a worldwide movement, company employees publicly complained about racism in the workplace and in some Cond(C) Nast content.
In response, the two leaders of the nearly all-white executive team '-- the artistic director, Anna Wintour, and the chief executive, Roger Lynch '-- offered apologies to the staff.
At an all-hands online meeting on Friday, employees asked if Ms. Wintour, the top editor of Vogue since 1988 and the company's editorial leader since 2013, would be leaving. Mr. Lynch and the communications chief, Danielle Carrig, shot down the question, saying Ms. Wintour was not going anywhere, said three people who attended the meeting but were not authorized to discuss it publicly.
Image Ms. Wintour sent an apologetic email to Vogue's staff, saying she had made ''mistakes.'' Credit... Christophe Petit Tesson/EPA, via Shutterstock Tumult has hit Cond(C) Nast, a company built partly on selling a glossy brand of elitism to the masses, at a time when its financial outlook is grim. Last year, the U.S. division lost approximately $100 million on about $900 million in revenue, said several people with knowledge of the company, who were not authorized to speak publicly. The European arm also had losses.
Mr. Lynch said in an interview Friday that he was ''not familiar'' with the cited figures, adding that the company's merger of its domestic and international operations, part of a recent restructuring, had been costly.
In April, the company instituted pay cuts for anyone making over $100,000. Then came layoffs '-- 100 jobs gone out of roughly 6,000.
Cond(C) Nast is one of many media organizations, including The New York Times, whose employees have questioned company leaders as people around the world have taken part in protests prompted by the killing of George Floyd, a black man who died last month in Minneapolis after a white police officer pinned him to the ground.
The company has been led by the Newhouse family since 1959. Steven Newhouse heads the parent company, Advance, and his cousin Jonathan Newhouse is chairman of Cond(C) Nast's board. Advance also controls more than 40 newspapers and news sites across the country. Many of them, including The Plain Dealer of Cleveland and The Star-Ledger in Newark, have struggled. The Newhouse family has protected itself against losses with significant investments in the cable giant Charter and the media conglomerate Discovery.
Before the internet took readers away from print, Cond(C) Nast was known for thick magazines edited by cultural arbiters who traveled in the same circles as the people they covered. As digital media rose, Cond(C) Nast was slow to adapt. Budgets tightened. Magazines including Gourmet, Mademoiselle and Details folded.
By the time Mr. Lynch, a former head of the music streaming service Pandora, succeeded Robert A. Sauerberg as the chief executive last year, Cond(C) Nast was in triage mode. After his arrival, it unloaded three publications: Brides, Golf Digest and W.
On Monday, Cond(C) Nast reckoned with how the company deals with issues related to race. Adam Rapoport, the longtime top editor of Bon App(C)tit, resigned after a photo surfaced on social media showing him in a costume that stereotypically depicted Puerto Rican dress.
Image Adam Rapoport resigned as Bon App(C)tit's top editor after a photo of him in a racially insensitive costume surfaced. Credit... Bryan Bedder/Getty Images He apologized to staff members in a videoconference. After Mr. Rapoport left the call, the staff voiced complaints about the Bon App(C)tit workplace. Some minority employees said they had been used as ethnic props in Bon App(C)tit's videos, a growing segment of the Cond(C) Nast business.
''It's so hard to be a person of color at this company,'' said Ryan Walker-Hartshorn, a black woman who worked as an assistant to Mr. Rapoport. ''My blood is still boiling.''
She recalled a 2018 meeting of editors to discuss how to make the magazine's Instagram account more diverse. In a room of about eight editors, three were people of color.
''And we're all very junior, no power,'' Ms. Walker-Hartshorn said in an interview. ''I was like, 'You're asking us how to make our Instagram black without hiring more black people?'''
At a company forum on Tuesday, Mr. Lynch said Bon App(C)tit employees should have raised their concerns earlier, a comment that rubbed many the wrong way. In a closed-door session later that day, he apologized to a group of staff members who had pushed for Mr. Rapoport's ouster.
''I want you to know I take this personally, and I take personal responsibility for it,'' he said, according to an audio recording of the meeting obtained by The New York Times.
A onetime banker at Morgan Stanley, Mr. Lynch spent much of his career at Dish, the satellite TV service. As a hobby he played lead guitar in a classic-rock cover band, the Merger. He moved from San Francisco to New York and updated his wardrobe to join Cond(C) Nast.
Mr. Lynch, 57, has emphasized diversity efforts and environmental programs in emails to the staff. He said in the interview on Friday that he was developing an overall company strategy as he assembled his executive team. In December he hired Deirdre Findlay as the chief marketing officer, making her the company's highest-ranking black executive.
Image Mr. Lynch in 2018, when he ran Pandora. He became chief executive of Cond(C) Nast last spring. Credit... Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg His former executive assistant, Cassie Jones, who is black, quit shortly after he gave her a gift she considered insulting, three people with knowledge of the matter said.
In November, after she had spent four months working for him, Mr. Lynch called Ms. Jones into his office and handed her ''The Elements of Style,'' a guide to standard English usage by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White. Mr. Lynch said he thought she could benefit from it.
With its suggestion that her own language skills were lacking, the gift struck Ms. Jones as a microaggression, the people said. A few days later, she quit. Before leaving the headquarters at 1 World Trade in Lower Manhattan, she placed the book on his desk.
Mr. Lynch said he hadn't meant to insult Ms. Jones, who declined to comment for this article. ''I really only had the intention '-- like every time I've given it before '-- for it to be a helpful resource, as it has been for me,'' he said. ''I still use it today. I'm really sorry if she interpreted it that way.''
Before Mr. Lynch's arrival, David Remnick, the editor in chief of The New Yorker, objected to a plan that would have lowered the magazine's subscription price and raised ad rates. He has brought aboard a diverse crew of journalists, including Jia Tolentino, Hua Hsu and Vinson Cunningham, while adding digital subscriptions.
Three people with knowledge of the company said The New Yorker was likely to surpass Vogue as Cond(C) Nast's biggest contributor to U.S. profits by the end of 2020. The people added that about 80 percent of The New Yorker's revenue came from readers, which helped the magazine weather the advertising downturn. The magazine did not cut staff during the recent layoffs.
Image Cond(C) Nast, with headquarters in Lower Manhattan, has cut the pay of employees making over $100,000 and laid off 100 workers. Credit... Vincent Tullo for The New York Times On June 4, Ms. Wintour sent an apologetic note to the Vogue staff. ''I want to say this especially to the Black members of our team '-- I can only imagine what these days have been like,'' Ms. Wintour wrote.
She added, ''I want to say plainly that I know Vogue has not found enough ways to elevate and give space to Black editors, writers, photographers, designers and other creators. We have made mistakes, too, publishing images or stories that have been hurtful or intolerant. I take full responsibility for those mistakes.''
The British-born Ms. Wintour has been credited internally for championing Radhika Jones, one of few top editors of color in the company's history.
Ms. Jones, the former editorial director of the book department at The Times who took over Vanity Fair from Graydon Carter in 2017, changed the magazine's identity. The first cover subject she chose, for the April 2018 issue, was the actress and producer Lena Waithe, a black woman photographed by Annie Leibovitz in a plain T-shirt. Later covers featured Michael B. Jordan, Janelle Monae and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Ms. Jones has put out 16 Vanity Fair covers featuring people of color.
When Ms. Jones arrived, she was pilloried by fashion insiders who questioned her style sense. Her choice of legwear '-- tights with illustrated foxes '-- drew stares, according to a report in Women's Wear Daily. Ms. Wintour later showed her support for Ms. Jones at a welcome party by handing out gifts: tights with foxes on them.
Image Vanity Fair's top editor, Radhika Jones, sat through a difficult meeting early in her time at the magazine. Credit... Michael Kovac/Getty Images At a quarterly meeting of company executives in April 2019, on Mr. Lynch's second day at Cond(C) Nast, Ms. Jones presented her plan for Vanity Fair's fall issues, a prime landing spot for fashion and luxury advertisers. (From September to December last year, the Vanity Fair covers featured Kristen Stewart, Lupita Nyong'o, Joaquin Phoenix, and Chrissy Teigen, John Legend and their children.)
Two executives criticized Ms. Jones's plan, according to three people who were at the meeting and were not authorized to discuss it publicly. In particular, Susan Plagemann, the chief business officer of Cond(C) Nast's style division, challenged Ms. Jones at length, saying the plan would be difficult to sell to advertisers. To defuse the tension, Ms. Wintour banged her fist on the table, saying, ''We need to move on,'' according to the three people who were at the meeting.
Ms. Plagemann, who is white, joined the company in 2010 as Vogue's chief business officer and worked closely with Ms. Wintour; in 2018, she was elevated to her current job. Three people with knowledge of the matter said she was vocal about her negative view of Vanity Fair under its new editor.
She had criticized Ms. Jones's choices of cover subjects, telling others at the company that the magazine should feature ''more people who look like us,'' two of the people said. A third person said he had heard her use words expressing a similar sentiment. All the people said they interpreted the phrase and similar remarks as referring to well-off white women who adopt an aesthetic common among the fashion set.
Through a Cond(C) Nast spokesman, Ms. Plagemann denied making those statements and denied expressing a dim view of Ms. Jones's Vanity Fair.
In the interview on Friday, Mr. Lynch addressed Ms. Jones's stewardship of the magazine more broadly. ''The challenge with her taking that new direction would be alienating some of the traditional Vanity Fair audience,'' he said. ''I really applaud what she's done.''
The uprising at Cond(C) Nast was overdue, some staff members said. ''We've been asking for change for months now,'' Sohla El-Waylly, an assistant editor at Bon App(C)tit, said in an interview.
In the Tuesday meeting with Bon App(C)tit staff members, Mr. Lynch said he hoped to prove a commitment to diversity with the choice of Mr. Rapoport's replacement. Later in the call, he suggested that some staff members wanted to hurt Bon App(C)tit financially to bring about change, a comment that irked some in the meeting.
''It felt infantilizing, as if we were teenagers rebelling,'' said Jesse Sparks, an editorial assistant.
Mr. Lynch said in the interview that he had meant to underscore the urgency of the matter. ''I wanted to make sure they understood the brand they worked so hard to build was actually being harmed, and I think I even apologized to them in that meeting,'' he said.
A Bon App(C)tit personality, Claire Saffitz, has generated over 200 million views with ''Gourmet Makes,'' a show in which she makes homemade versions of Twinkies and other junk food. She represents a new kind of Cond(C) Nast, one built on a kind of rough-cut authenticity, but her popularity has drawn attention to the problem of representation.
Image ''We've been asking for change for months now,'' said Sohla El-Waylly, an assistant editor at Bon App(C)tit. Credit... Francesco Sapienza for The New York Times Ms. El-Waylly, who was a regular guest on the show, said her addition to ''Gourmet Makes'' had been cynically motivated. ''They just want me there to play the part to make it look like they have people of color on staff,'' she said.
She said she was not paid for her appearances, as her white counterparts were. Cond(C) Nast disputed that and said Ms. El-Waylly's salary covered her video appearances.
On Wednesday, the company's head of video, Matt Duckor, stepped down. Several employees had accused him of bias. Many people at the company are rooting for more change.
''What's crazy is what it took for this stuff to happen,'' Ms. Walker-Hartshorn said. ''It took George Floyd.''
WATCH: Mike Gundy, Chuba Hubbard promise change within Oklahoma State football program - CBSSports.com
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 09:42
The Mike Gundy-OAN shirt controversy has been addressed. Now, it's time for change, according to Oklahoma State's biggest star. Gundy, along with running back Chuba Hubbard, appeared in a video Monday evening smoothing over what very well could have been a stunning boycott within the program.
Following numerous tweets of support from his teammates, along with some concerning statements from Oklahoma State's administrators, Gundy and Hubbard appeared together in the video on Hubbard's account. Gundy said that, following a team meeting, he was "looking forward to making some changes and it starts at the top," while Hubbard apologized for taking his issue to Twitter.
"In light of today's tweet with the T-shirt I was wearing, I met with some players and realized it's a very sensitive issue with what's going on in today's society," Gundy said. "We had a great meeting and made aware of some things players feel like can make our organization, our culture even better than it is here at Oklahoma State. I'm looking forward to making some changes and it starts at the top with me. We have good days ahead."
Said Hubbard: "I went about it the wrong way by tweeting. I'm not someone that has to tweet something to bring change. I should have went to him as a man. I'm more about action. That was bad on my part. But from now on we're going to focus on bringing change and that's the most important thing."
The dustup on Monday began after Hubbard, the nation's leading rusher in 2019, came across a tweet showing Gundy on a fishing trip wearing a shirt representative of the One America News Network. OAN is considered a fringe right-wing cable channel seen as heavily pro-Donald Trump for which Gundy previously expressed his affinity.
"I will not stand for this," Hubbard tweeted. "This is completely insensitive to everything going on in society, and it's unacceptable. I will not be doing anything with Oklahoma State until things CHANGE."
Additionally on Monday evening in the wake of the controversy, linebacker Amen Ogbongbemiga, who previously voiced his support for Hubbard, said, "we are happy to have came to a conclusion and opened a gateway to create some serious CHANGE around Oklahoma State. My teammates and I have all agreed we will go ahead and resume all workouts and activities. We're all in this together."
Want more college football in your life? Listen below and subscribe to the Cover 3 College Football podcast for top-notch insight and analysis beyond the gridiron.
"Internal Uprising" Within LA Times Newsroom Over Racial Inequality, Coverage Of BLM Protests | Zero Hedge
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 10:01
Journalists at the Los Angeles Times are upset with how the paper has covered the George Floyd protests - with one black reporter suggesting that the paper's focus on rampant looting is 'pandering' to white people.
In an internal Slack exchange last week about recent coverage of protests, however, LA Times film reporter Sonaiya Kelley, who is black, said the newspaper had focused too squarely and too often on the question of looting.
"We can't constantly pander to our primarily white audience with stories like this that affirm their biases," she wrote. "One of the responsibilities of the job is to state the facts and tell it true. There's so much implicit bias in those few sentences alone. And it's alienating the viewers we're trying to attract. As well as the [people of color] journalists like me who contribute so much to this paper and then have to read stories like this that oversimplify our struggles and realities." -NPR
The Times' Executive Editor Normal Pearlstine responded to the objections with a series of promises, including to capitalize the "B" in "Black Americans," as is done for Latinos and Asian Americans. Pearlstine also promised to hire a new senior news executive for diversity, and that the next hires for the metro desk will be black.
"The conversation taking place at The Los Angeles Times and across the country reflects a necessary and long overdue shift in thinking about racism," wrote Pearlstine in an internal memo last week obtained by NPR. "Without exception The Times is opposed to racism. We must re-evaluate and improve upon our own performance as we commit The Times to documenting and fighting racism whenever and wherever we encounter it."
The memo followed an intense virtual meeting held by editors of the metro news desk with its staffers, attended by some of the most senior news leaders, though not Pearlstine. And the internal Slack messaging boards have been burning up.
A veteran news executive with national stature who has held the top job for two years in Los Angeles, Pearlstine appears to face increasing skepticism. The population of Los Angeles County is about 9% black. Black journalists made up about 4% of the newspaper's overall newsroom last year. And there is just one black reporter on the metro desk of nearly 90 people covering greater Los Angeles, the largest desk at the paper. There is also a black editor and a newly added black columnist. -NPR
"I think if you look at raw numbers, we are as inclusive a newsroom as any I'm aware of in a major media company in the U.S.," Pearlstine told NPR.
Perhaps the LA Times is having difficulty finding black talent given the giant delta between races when it comes to communications degrees.
Times owner and executive chairman, Patrick Soon-Shiong, told NPR of Pearlstine's devotion to the newsroom: "I am responding with a heavy heart to those who have questioned that commitment," adding "I hired Norm Pearlstine not only for his integrity and passion for great journalism, but also because he shared our desire to create a leadership team where women and people of color are ascendant."
Others have accused Pearlstine of ignoring racial disparities in the newsroom long ago.
Pearlstine was hired as executive editor in June 2018 after serving as a senior adviser to Soon-Shiong, a billionaire inventor and physician who had just bought the newspaper. A former top news executive at The Wall Street Journal, Time Inc. and Bloomberg News, Pearlstine had initially been expected to counsel Soon-Shiong about who to select to lead the newsroom.
Just a few weeks later, in July 2018, Pearlstine went to a lunch at a Spanish fusion restaurant in downtown Los Angeles with a half-dozen new colleagues, including editors. Several warned him that he needed to find ways to give notable pay increases to black and Latino reporters, according to three veteran Times journalists. A number of prominent black reporters had been poached by the New York Times, ESPN and other outlets over the years. The colleagues told Pearlstine the pay inequities were glaring.
Several weeks later, LA Times city editor Hector Becerra wrote to Pearlstine asking for a raise for several journalists and highlighting one in particular, Angel Jennings, according to an email reviewed by NPR. -NPR
"The L.A. Times does not have a good reputation when it comes to black journalists," said Becerra, adding that Angel Jennings is the "only African-American reporter in Metro," and "one of the only ones in the entire L.A. Times."
Pearlstine rejected the requests to boost minority pay - saying that the company's new ownership was beginning negotiations with the newsroom's first union, the Los Angeles Times Guild - which he expected to conclude quickly with 'significant pay bumps for many reporters,' including Jennings - but which have taken over a year.
Read the rest of the report here.
Aunt Jemima: It was Never About the Pancakes | Black Excellence
Thu, 18 Jun 2020 07:09
It is nearly impossible to have grown up in America and not be familiar with Aunt Jemima. However, when thinking of Aunt Jemima, people often associate a person to the name not the pancakes. Before Aunt Jemima came to be an American icon, an initial interest needed to be established. This is the story of the woman who became a food, that became a product, which became one of the most recognizable figures in history: Aunt Jemima.
Aunt Jemima was first introduced as a character in a minstrel show '' an American form of entertainment developed in the late 19th century. Each show consisted of comic skits, variety acts, dancing, and music. The shows were performed by white people in blackface for the purpose of playing the roles of black people.
Minstrel shows portrayed black people as dimwitted, lazy, easily frightened, chronically idle, superstitious, happy-go-lucky buffoons .
The inspiration for Aunt Jemima came specifically from the song ''Old Aunt Jemima'' written by a black performer named Billy Kersands in 1875. It was a staple of the minstrel circuit. The song was based on a song sung by slave hands. ''Old Aunt Jemima'' was performed by men in blackface. One of the men depicted Aunt Jemima '' a Slave Mammy of the Plantation South .
The lyrics tell of the promise to be set free yet remaining a slave forever. ''My old missus promise me . . .When she died she-d set me free . . . She lived so long her head got bald . . . She swore she would not die at all . . .''
While the lyrics depicted a reality, Aunt Jemima did not. There was a big difference between the stage Mammy and the actual female household slave. In fact, many argue that the Slave Mammy that became the stereotype never actually existed. Well-known New York blogger, Julian Abagond had this to say :
''The Mammy pictured female household slaves as: fat, middle-aged, dark-skinned, undesirable . . . happy to serve whites, always smiling . . . The ugly truth is that they were: thin . . . young . . . light-skinned, a daughter of rape; desirable to white men and therefore raped, utterly powerless, extremely unhappy . . .''
WATCH this short video based on this article:
The Mammy was created by white Southerners to redeem the relationship between black women and white men within slave society. Slave owners sexually exploited and abused their female slaves. Catherine Clinton's book The Plantation Mistress: Woman's World in the Old South , notes that ''Mammy was made to appear unattractive so no white man could want her over his white wife therefore 'proving' that white men did not find black women sexually desirable.'' She was also proof that black women were happy as slaves. The Mammy helped put to rest any worries white people may have had around her, or women who looked like her.
Aunt Jemima's pancake mix began in 1889 when two speculators, Chris Rutt and Charles Underwood, bought a flour mill. Together they developed the idea of a self-rising flour that only needed water. Initially, it was called 'Self-Rising Pancake Flour'. Rutt was inspired to rename the mix after attending a minstrel show, featuring ''Aunt Jemima.'' Rutt decided to use the name and the image of Aunt Jemima to promote his new pancake mix. However, Rutt and Underwood were unable to make the product a success and in 1890 they sold the business to the Davis Milling Company. The Davis Milling Company developed an advertising plan to use a real person to portray Aunt Jemima. The woman they found was Nancy Green.
Nancy Green was born a slave in Kentucky in 1834.
Wikimedia Commons In 1863 the Emancipation Proclamation set slaves free and Green moved to Chicago after the Civil War. There she worked for the Walker family as a domestic servant. It was the Walkers who brought Green to the Davis Milling Company to audition for Aunt Jemima. She was 56 at the time . Nancy Green debuted as Aunt Jemima at the 1893 World's Exposition in Chicago. The Davis Milling Company constructed the world's largest flour barrel to grab people's attention. Then they put Nancy Green on display (much like the flour) and gave her an act. She dressed as Aunt Jemima, sang songs, cooked pancakes, and told romanticized stories about the Old South '' a happy place for blacks and whites alike, now accessible only by nostalgia, or by buying Aunt Jemima's pancake recipe .
Green was a huge success. Her booth attracted so many people that special policemen were assigned to keep the crowds moving. The Davis Milling Company received over 50,000 orders, and the fair officials awarded Green a medal and certificate for her showmanship. After the Expo, Green signed a lifetime contract with the company and traveled on promotional tours across the country. By 1910 more than 120 million Aunt Jemima breakfasts were being served annually, roughly equal to the population of the country. Green as Aunt Jemima was so successful that in 1914 the company renamed itself , 'The Aunt Jemima Mills Company.'
The Davis Milling Company's marketing plan was brilliant. They delivered their customers something they had always wanted but could never have: a 'real life Mammy'. Along with the pancake mix, pamphlets were given out telling Aunt Jemima's 'life story'. According to the pamphlet, she had been the house slave of Colonel Higbee , whose plantation was known across the South for its delicious pancakes. After the war the Davis Milling Company, who had heard of the pancakes, paid Aunt Jemima in gold to share with them her secret recipe. That was the kind of feel-good story people wanted to hold onto. And with the pamphlet and Aunt Jemima's famous pancake mix, they could.
Aunt Jemima's 'secret' pancake recipe was nothing more than wheat ¬‚our, corn ¬‚our, lime phosphate, and salt. But that wasn't important. The Davis Milling Company weren't selling pancakes; they were selling The Mammy fantasy. The only ingredient that really mattered was Aunt Jemima.
The Aunt Jemima fable formed the background for decades of future advertising. Davis hired James Webb Young to create advertisements featuring Aunt Jemima. Young teamed up with N. C. Wyeth, a well-known painter and illustrator. Billboards were displayed with Nancy Green's image and the caption, ''I'se in town, honey.'' The ads became popular in 1910 but it was in the 1920s and 1930s that the Aunt Jemima ads reached the height of their fame.
The full-page color advertisements ran regularly in Ladies' Home Journal , Good Housekeeping , and The Saturday Evening Post and told tales of the leisure and splendor of the Plantation South. Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix, a labor-saving product, was marketed with comparisons to a time and place when some American white women had the ultimate labor-saving device: a slave. A line from a 1927 ad read: ''Make them with Aunt Jemima Pancake Flour, and your family will ask where you got your wonderful Southern Cook.'' Or, just another way to say, ''Your family will ask where you purchased a Slave Mammy such as this.'' Slavery, and moreover, the fantasy of having slaves, was still the main attraction of the Aunt Jemima brand.
No one portrayed Aunt Jemima for ten years following the death of Nancy Green in 1923. Then in 1933, the Quaker Oats Company (which had acquired the company in 1926) hired Anna Robinson to play Aunt Jemima at the Chicago World's Fair . At 350 pounds, she was much heavier than Green and she was darker in complexion. The Quaker Oats Company loved her look and she was sent to New York to pose for pictures. An entire campaign was designed around Robinson as Aunt Jemima and her association with celebrities. She had personal appearances and was photographed at some of the most famous places making pancakes for Hollywood royalty, radio personalities, and Broadway stars. The advertisements derived from those photography sessions ''ranked among the highest read of their time''
Ironically, out of all the celebrities she posed with, none were more famous than Robinson herself. But Robinson wasn't famous for being their peer; she was famous for being Aunt Jemima, their slave.
Having celebrities pose with Robinson brought the Aunt Jemima brand more sales and success than ever before. People have always wanted what celebrities have. Be it a designer dress, a car, or the ultimate status symbol: a Mammy.
In the first half of the 1900's the Mammy was increasingly popular and was featured in a multitude of films, radio programs, and television shows. But no Mammy was more popular than Aunt Jemima.
The 1934 movie Imitation of Life told the story of a Mammy, Aunt Delilah, who inherited a pancake recipe. She gave the valuable recipe to Miss Bea, her boss who successfully marketed the recipe ('Imitation of Life').
Aunt Jemima Asparagus Roll-Ups Recipe 1955 Ad. Food. Stock Number: 20817. The Aunt Jemima Radio Show ran from 1930 to 1942. This Aunt Jemima was portrayed by the white actress Tess Gardella. Gardella was a blackface performer best known for playing the character on both stage and screen. The show included the Jemima Chorus. Between songs Aunt Jemima would explain why her pancakes were so easy to make and offered a ''Happy Thought for the Day.'' The show was essentially a minstrel act for radio .
The images of Aunt Jemima are part of the ''Hateful Things Gallery'', a traveling exhibition that's put together by the Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia in Big Rapids, Michigan. The museum, under Ferris State University, has a motto of ''using objects of intolerance to teach tolerance and promote social justice.'' Aunt Jemima's images appear along side other pieces ''that represent nearly 150 years of ani-Black, racist objects and images.''
By the 1950s Aunt Jemima could be found in newspapers, magazines, radio, and television. There were dolls, bowls, and salt and pepper shakers made in her likeness. People had grown up with Aunt Jemima as a part of their lives.
Despite its popularity, there has never been a time when the Aunt Jemima character has not been considered racist. According to Smith, Andrew F. in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Food and Drink in America , the famous Mammy came under increasing scrutiny in the 1950s and 1960s during the Civil Rights Movement.
Throughout the 1960s, the Quaker Oats Company lightened Aunt Jemima's skin and made her look thinner in print images. In 1968, the company replaced her bandana with a headband, trimmed her waistline, and gave her a more youthful image. They removed the Southern Plantation settings and she no longer had a speaking role. If this was the Quaker Oats Company's attempt to present Aunt Jemima as a less racist figure, they failed. By making her lighter, thinner, and younger, along with taking her off of the plantation and muting her voice, Aunt Jemima represented a house slave more than she ever had before.
RELATED: The 5 Most (Racially) Divisive Presidents in History
Local chapters of the NAACP began pressuring schools and fair organizers not to invite Aunt Jemima to appear. In 1967 the Quaker Oats Company canceled its television campaign and in 1970 they removed Aunt Jemima's name from the Disneyland restaurant.
In 1989, after activists reportedly threw Quaker Oats into Lake Michigan and threatened boycotts in protest of the minstrel-inspired image, the company modified Aunt Jemima's likeness once again. The Quaker Oats Company claimed that the change was to ''celebrate the 100 year anniversary of the icon.'' Aunt Jemima's headband was removed and replaced with dark curly hair. She was also given pearl earrings. The company said it was repositioning the brand icon as a ''black, working, grandmother'' '' words that have been used since the days of the minstrel show to describe the Mammy. Despite the 'makeover' Aunt Jemima continued to be the black, obedient, female domestic whose only pleasure was to serve you.
In 1993, the Quaker Oats Company debuted a series of television ads for the pancake mix featuring the singer Gladys Knight as a spokeswoman and using Aunt Jemima's face only sparingly. They had the black, southern, Gladys Knight singing, smiling, and serving her 'grandkids'. There was no need for the picture when they had the real thing. It was a page right out of the Davis Milling Company's book.
Today there is only one place to find Aunt Jemima advertising and that is on the Aunt Jemima Website . The website is designed to look like an Aunt Jemima pancake package. There's a thick red border on the bottom and the top of the page. There is even the Aunt Jemima picture with her name, or, the brand's name, right below it in the top left corner just like on the boxes. The website uses a variety of tools in an attempt to separate the product from its past.
On the website if there is a caption, it's made clear that it comes from the Aunt Jemima Company not Aunt Jemima. ''Our products'', ''Our Syrups'', '' . . . our corn meal mixes and quick grits.'' Under the Our History tab there is a timeline. Like the rest of the website it is sparse. Both Nancy Green and Anna Robinson are included as portraying Aunt Jemima. It's noted in 1989 Aunt Jemima got a 'contemporary' look. In the background there are snapshots of ads throughout the years featuring black families, white families, postcards, and pancakes. At the end of the timeline there's the Today button. It reads : ''Aunt Jemima Pancakes stand for warmth, nourishment and trust '' qualities you'll find in loving moms from diverse backgrounds who want the very best for their families.''
After learning of the product's history '' that which is not given on the website '' one can read between the red lettering. ''Aunt Jemima Pancakes stand for warmth, nourishment and trust '' qualities you'll find in loving moms (a Mammy) from diverse backgrounds (slavery) who want the very best for their families (masters).''
True to form, there is no mention of ingredients or taste. There's no reference to food. Nourishment is listed as a quality you'll find in the person '' in this case the Slave Mammy '' who you can count on to feed you, care for you, and work hard for you. You are her only priority and your ease and comfort is all she needs to be fulfilled. That is what this company is selling. It is what they have always sold. Despite what the company would like you to believe, t he product has never been pancakes. Remember that next time you mix up and pour out some Aunt Jemima into your skillet for breakfast.
Quaker Foods to Rename 'Aunt Jemima,' Scrub Logo for 'Racial Equality'
Thu, 18 Jun 2020 07:07
Quaker Foods, the company behind the ''Aunt Jemima'' brand of syrup and other breakfast foods, says it will rename this line of products and discontinue its label's image of a black woman ''to make progress toward racial equality.''
Aunt Jemima has been featured on these products for 130 years.
NBC reported on the development:
The picture has changed over time, and in recent years Quaker removed the ''mammy'' kerchief from the character to blunt growing criticism that the brand perpetuated a racist stereotype that dated to the days of slavery. But Quaker, a subsidiary of PepsiCo, said removing the image and name is part of an effort by the company ''to make progress toward racial equality.''
''We recognize Aunt Jemima's origins are based on a racial stereotype,'' Kristin Kroepfl, vice president and chief marketing officer of Quaker Foods North America, said in a press release. ''As we work to make progress toward racial equality through several initiatives, we also must take a hard look at our portfolio of brands and ensure they reflect our values and meet our consumers' expectations.''
Kroepfl said the company has worked to ''update'' the brand to be ''appropriate and respectful'' but it realized the changes were insufficient.
As an example of ''consumers' expectations,'' NBC quoted Rich(C) Richardson, an associate professor at Cornell University, who said Aunt Jemima is ''a retrograde image of black womanhood on store shelves.''
''It's an image that harkens back to the antebellum plantation '... Aunt Jemima is that kind of stereotype is premised on this idea of Black inferiority and otherness,'' Richardson said.
''It is urgent to expunge our public spaces of a lot of these symbols that for some people are triggering and represent terror and abuse,'' he declared.
''Quaker said the new packaging will begin to appear in the fall of 2020, and a new name for the foods will be announced at a later date,'' NBC reported. ''The company also announced it will donate at least $5 million over the next five years 'to create meaningful, ongoing support and engagement in the Black community.'''
The purge of Aunt Jemima comes as a wave of municipalities across the United States are removing historical monuments for similar complaints of racial insensitivity. Crowds of protesters have defaced or even destroyed statues of notable figures from the Civil War-era Confederate States of America, Founding Fathers, veterans, and even abolitionists. The current unrest was sparked by a string of racially-charged killings: Ahmaud Arbery in Georgia, Breonna Taylor in Kentucky, and George Floyd in Minnesota. As the Black Lives Matter movement organized protests across the nation, some of which descended into violent riots and looting, tensions flared again after Atlanta police shot and killed Rayshard Brooks.
Mere weeks before this unrest, another food brand removed a longstanding label icon over perceived racial insensitivity. Land O'Lakes announced in April it would remove the likeness of a Native American woman from its butter products after 92 years.
Follow Penny Starr on Twitter
Nolte: Woke Staffers Threaten Strike Unless Publisher Blacklists JK Rowling's Upcoming Book
Thu, 18 Jun 2020 06:56
A bunch of book burners who work for Hachette have threatened to strike if the publisher does not blacklist JK Rowling's new book.
JK Rowling, the 54-year-old Harry Potter author, is under fire because she rejects that a biological male magically becomes a woman by simply saying, ''I'm a chick now.''
Rowling has been thoughtful on this issue, she's been compassionate, and she's been science-based. She also believes, correctly, that this trans madness erases women and homosexuals. If there is no sex, she says, if sex is just a social construct, there can be no same-sex attraction, there can be nothing unique about being a woman, so those two identities are erased.
Further, say goodbye to women's sports. These lunatic trans activists believe that any man who claims to be a woman should be allowed to compete against women with all the physical advantages that come with being a biological male. Among other things, no woman will ever win a weightlifting competition, foot race, or rowing contest again. Anything that involves strength or speed or parallel parking , the advantages all go to the ''woman'' in the wig with five o'clock shadow.
And let's not forget how this trans madness affects the person suffering from gender dysphoria. Instead of giving these folks the compassionate and intense psychological care they so desperately need, we are patronizing the mentally ill and championing the dual horror shows of hormone therapy and surgical mutilation'' which, in some cases, are irreversible and does untold psychological and physical damage, especially to the children of parents so eager to jump on this destructive fad they use Little Harold's affection for the color pink as an excuse to give the kid breasts.
Anyway, the Woke Taliban at Hatchett who work in the department that would publish Rowling's upcoming children's book, The Ickabog, are threatening a strike:
Yesterday morning at publishing house Hachette, several of those involved in Miss Rowling's new children's book, The Ickabog, are said to have staged their own rebellion during a heated meeting. One source said: 'Staff in the children's department at Hachette announced they were no longer prepared to work on the book.
They said they were opposed to her comments and wanted to show support for the trans lobby. These staff are all very ''woke'', mainly in their twenties and early thirties, and apparently it is an issue they feel very strongly about.'
This should not come as a surprise. Hatchette is a victim of its own fecklessness. If you recall, this is the same publishing house that allowed its staffers to kill Woody Allen's biography. These fascist crybullies staged a walkout demanding Hatchette blacklist Allen's memoir, and that's precisely what Hatchette did. And like this one aimed at Rowling, that was another revolt by the Woke Taliban based on total nonsense '-- the lie that Woody Allen molested his daughter some 30 years ago.
This is not the only blacklist Rowling faces. Hollywood is turning its back on her and the far-left Variety reported last week that her latest film franchise, Fantastic Beasts, is in jeopardy of being blacklisted over her perfectly sensible beliefs on gender and biological sex.
As of now, Hatchette is standing firm, but we'll see how long that lasts.
And for the record, last week I told you this was going to happen:
If she holds firm, and I hope she does, she will not only be blacklisted, she will be hounded from here on. Her publisher will be hounded (see: Allen, Woody). Anyone who does business with her will be hounded to renounce her, as Daniel Radcliffe and Eddie Redmayne have already done.
This kind of corporate pressure is precisely how blacklisting worked in the 1950s, and it is how blacklisting works today.
The Woke Taliban are emboldened, so this is going to get a lot worse before it eventually gets better.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC. Follow his Facebook Page here.
Developers remove games from Steam over Valve's Black Lives Matter silence | GamesIndustry.biz
Thu, 18 Jun 2020 06:53
Share this article
Original story, June 16, 2020: Several indie developers have removed their games from Steam to protest against Valve's lack of support for the Black Lives Matter movement.
They came forward following an announcement from Art Sqool's Julian Glander, who said he was pulling his games from Steam. He shared on Twitter that he doesn't see himself publishing on Valve's platform ever again.
"Over the past few weeks, Steam and Valve have chosen not to address the Black Lives Matter movement, failing to make even a broad and generic statement about racial justice," Glander said in a message he sent to Valve alongside his request to remove his games from the store.
"It's clearer than ever that the owners of this platform feel beholden to a base of angry white male gamers. This makes me especially sad because I feel that some of these people are the people who most need to hear the message of Black Lives Matter."
He added that he finds having his games associated with Steam "embarrassing and a little nauseating" and urged other indie developers to join him in removing their games from the store.
Following Glander's announcement, Ghost Time Games founder Gabriel Koenig came forward to say he had put a request to remove his games from the platform earlier this week.
"We have the power to demand change," he said on Twitter. "Dev friends, consider using your voice. Steam will not be getting any more money from me.
"Giving up Steam was not a decision I took lightly. I've been making ~$1000 a month in sales lately, and leaving that behind made me feel uncomfortable. But if I continued to profit from their store I'd be complicit with their silence on hate."
Dan Sanderson, developer of First Winter, also announced he was pulling the title from Steam, adding that it's the "very least [he] could do."
Valve has yet to issue a statement addressing the current Black Lives Matter movement, which was sparked by the death of George Floyd at the hands of the police in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25.
Many companies in the games industry have expressed their support to the movement, with distribution platform Itch.io leading the way with its Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality, which was purchased by over 810,000 people, raising more than $8.1 million for charities related to the BLM movement.
Update, June 17, 2020: Following Glander's announcement that he was removing his games from Steam, organiser Shawn Alexander Allen tweeted that Valve had 'pledged to be a big sponsor of the Game Devs of Color Expo,-- as well as a support for the Black Voices in Gaming event hosted by Media Indie Exchange founder Justin Woodward.
GamesIndustry.biz reached out to Valve for comments, with a spokesperson confirming that 'Shawn's tweet is accurate,-- without providing further details.
ABC finally casts the first black Bachelor, but it took too long to get here '' Fortune
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 10:06
At long last, after 40 seasons and 18 years on the air with multiple active shows in the franchise, ABC has finally cast its first black lead on The Bachelor.
The network made the surprise announcement on Friday morning on Good Morning America that 28-year-old real estate broker Matt James will be the next Bachelor on the 25th season of the reality show.
The announcement caught many fans by surprise. There was no fanfare leading up to Friday's reveal. Typically, the next lead of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette is announced at the end of the preceding show's season. Obviously, given the COVID-19 pandemic and with entertainment production shut down for months, nothing is quite on schedule this summer. (A new season of The Bachelorette should have been airing by now, and was set to start filming in mid-March, but it has been postponed indefinitely.)
ABC had the opportunity to make the announcement in primetime earlier this week as the network is airing greatest hits''like montages, scraping together previously seen (and relatively no new) footage from previous seasons on Monday nights for the next several weeks. And even if the first mashup episode'--a flashback to Sean Lowe's season in 2013'--was filmed weeks ago, it's not as if producers couldn't have filmed a last-minute update with host Chris Harrison from his makeshift home studio.
Matt James will be the next lead on ABC's ''The Bachelor'' in 2021.Courtesy of ABC
James is also a surprise choice because he has never appeared on any of the programs within The Bachelor franchise. He was set to be a contestant on the upcoming season of The Bachelorette, and he was known to ''Bachelor Nation'' (a term referring to the collective fanbase as well as former participants on the various programs) through social media and The Bachelor subreddit community as the friend of Bachelorette runner-up and fan favorite Tyler Cameron.
Producers have toyed with the show's formula for picking the next lead over the years, but the conventional standard that had evolved was the next lead would come from the top three or four finalists on the last season of the preceding show. So if producers were casting for the female lead on The Bachelorette, they would be looking at the top three or four finalists on The Bachelor. Sometimes that pool included even the ''winner'' in cases where the relationship fell apart right after cameras stopped rolling.
That formula was easy enough to understand, but it almost always ended up precluding people of color from being the lead on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette. It took years for Warner Bros., which produces the show in association with ABC, to start casting more contestants of color, and even then, those contestants were often sent home by the white leads within a few episodes at the beginning of each season. It wasn't until attorney Rachel Lindsay was cast as the lead in 2017 on the 13th season of The Bachelorette (after she was in the top three of Nick Viall's season of The Bachelor) that the producers finally cast a black lead.
And it's not as if producers didn't have multiple opportunities to cast more contestants of color'--let alone a lead. They could have gone back to casting leads who hadn't appeared on the franchise, as they did with James, which is also what they did in the first several years of the show.
Ahead of the most recent season of The Bachelor, there was a fervent online campaign among fans to cast United States Air Force veteran and portfolio manager Mike Johnson as the lead after charming turns on both The Bachelorette and Bachelor in Paradise, a co-ed version of the show that operates like musical chairs and is reminiscent of MTV's Spring Break in the 1990s. Instead, producers went with Delta pilot Peter Weber, which suffice to say, ended with very mixed results.
It would be easy to dismiss the announcement of James as the next lead as nothing more than trivial matters from a reality dating show. But The Bachelor, including all of its spinoffs, is one of the most-watched and most lucrative franchises on primetime television. It's become part of the pop culture lexicon. To deny its influence and what the lead represents is dismissive of the messages this show does send to its viewers.
For many fans, not getting Johnson as the first black Bachelor last summer was the final straw, suggesting producers were more concerned about pleasing certain demographics within the fanbase than actually making any improvements in diversity. As demonstrations broke out nationwide and globally in late May and early June to protest police brutality and to support the Black Lives Matter movement, a group of fans within Bachelor Nation launched a Change.org petition arguing that ABC and Warner Bros. have a responsibility to cast more BIPOC leads and contestants.
Now, given the surprise nature of ABC's announcement coupled with the news cycle focused on the Black Lives Matter movement and a push in the news and via social media to amplify black voices, it would be easy for critics to argue that producers rushed this out to undercut anyone suggesting the franchise is at best, tone-deaf, or at worst, racist. Producer Robert Mills, who oversees The Bachelor for ABC, told Variety that the decision to cast James had been ''talked about for quite some time,'' suggesting he was already in the running as the lead for his own season even before being cast on the currently on-hold season of The Bachelorette with Clare Crawley.
Mills also denied that James's casting had anything to do with comments made by Lindsay on the official Bachelor podcast, Bachelor Happy Hour, which she cohosts with another former Bachelorette, Becca Kufrin. During the most recent episode of the show, Lindsay discussed in depth her experience as the only black lead in the franchise, and her dismay with producers over the lack of interest in promoting diversity within the cast. Lindsay said that if changes weren't made soon, she would cut ties with the franchise altogether.
''It wasn't a response to that. We could have made this announcement earlier or later,'' Mills told Variety.
While the announcement that James would be the first black Bachelor was met with praise and even joy by some fervent fans online, it's hard not to feel irritated that it took nearly two decades for one of the most prominent and long-lasting reality television shows to finally get the message.
And in the midst of the pandemic, it's unclear when James's season will air'--or when or where it will even film. There have been rumors that producers plan to quarantine the cast and crew for two weeks at a resort location and then film for several weeks from there, but nothing has been confirmed yet. The only detail ABC has announced is that the next season will air in 2021.
More must-read lifestyle coverage from Fortune : COVID-19 has changed how people exercise, but that doesn't mean gyms are going awayThe soda market is popping with new contenders. Will they stay or fizzle out?5 new books to read in JuneThe fall of CrossFit founder and CEO Greg Glassman, who resigned after racist remarks WATCH: How the battered food-service industry is weathering the coronavirus Subscribe to raceAhead, a newsletter on race, culture, and diversity in corporate America.
'The Good Place' Producer Megan Amram Apologizes for Offensive Tweets '' Variety
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 23:07
Matt Sayles/Invision/AP/Shutterstock
Megan Amram, a producer and co-writer on NBC's ''The Good Place,'' has apologized for posting offensive tweets several years ago that have resurfaced.
''I would like to address some tweets from over the past decade that have been circulating recently. I fear this will not convey everything that I want it to, but I am speaking from the heart and trying my best to communicate my sincere regret. I am deeply embarrassed and more apologetic than you can ever know,'' she wrote on Twitter Wednesday night.
Several Twitter users recently found tweets Amram made in the early 2010s, some making jokes about Asian Americans, Jewish people and people with disabilities.
Amram apologized to the Asian American community in her statement on Twitter.
''My instinct is to share the varying degrees of explanation for every tweet that has offended, but I know full well there are no excuses. I will be sorry for as long as I live that I have hurt even one person, and I very much understand why my words have hurt many more. Also, I specifically would like to apologize to the Asian American community, who I have hurt most with my tweets. I very much understand why you are hurt,'' she wrote.
She added that as her platform grew, she made an effort to educate herself and support people of color and the LGBTQ community in the years since posting the tweets.
Popular on Variety
''As my platform grew, I learned the power I had to amplify voices and the responsibility that came along with it. My platform and jobs are meaningful tools to foster diverse writers, combat workplace discrimination, educate myself, donate and to consciously and vocally support BIPOC, LGBTQ people and more. Every day I go into my jobs, my life and my friendships trying to promote those ideals. I have been doing this work on myself and for others for years and can only promise that I will continue to do so, both publicly and privately. This is not lip service, it is something very important to the core of what I am trying to do with my life,'' she wrote.
In addition to ''The Good Place,'' Amram has written for ''Silicon Valley'' and ''Parks and Recreation'' and created the comedy web series ''An Emmy for Megan.''
''The bottom line is I tweeted some careless, hurtful things. I wish I could take them back, not to 'get out of trouble,' but because it is weighing heavily on my heart. But I can't. So instead, I have spent the last decade attempting to unlearn the complicit racism I participate in as a white person and becoming the vocally supportive ally I think I am now,'' she wrote. ''I have been silent on this in the hopes that my current actions would speak louder than my past words, and that was my mistake, but I would like to make it very clear now how deeply sorry I am. I'm not posting the tweets here since I do not want to hurt people again with those words. But I want to be very clear: I am sorry. I mean it and I will prove that every day for the rest of my life.''
NFL commissioner Goodell encourages teams to sign Kaepernick | FOX 5 DC
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 11:14
Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers kneels for the National Anthem before their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Levi's Stadium on October 23, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Roger Goodell would like to see Colin Kaepernick back in the NFL this season.
The NFL commissioner said during ESPN's ''The Return of Sports'' special on Monday that he is encouraging teams to sign the 32-year old quarterback, who hasn't played the past three seasons. Kaepernick was with the San Francisco 49ers in 2016 when he kneeled during the national anthem to protest racial injustice.
''If he wants to resume his career in the NFL, then obviously it's gonna take a team to make that decision. I welcome that, support a club making that decision and encourage them to do that," Goodell said during his interview with ESPN's Mike Greenberg.
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said last week that he received a call from another team about Kaepernick. Carroll and the Seahawks brought in Kaepernick for a workout in 2017 and had another planned in 2018 before it was canceled.
Related: 'We were wrong for not listening': Roger Goodell encourages NFL players to 'peacefully protest'
Goodell set up a tryout for Kaepernick in Atlanta last year for scouts of all 32 teams to attend, but it unraveled at the last moment due to lack of media access and what Kaepernick's representatives saw as an unusual liability waiver. Instead of the workout taking place at the Falcons' training complex, Kaepernick conducted an impromptu session at a high school in front of media and scouts from eight teams.
The NFL released a video on June 5 in which Goodell apologized for the league for not doing a good job of listening to concerns by players on racial inequality. Goodell though was roundly criticized for the apology not mentioning Kaepernick.
The video came out a day after many players released a video criticizing the league for not condemning racism following the May 25 death of George Floyd.
''We had spent time prior to that understanding all the frustration, fear and sadness. When the video came out on Thursday it was very powerful. It was appropriate for me to respond,'' Goodell said. ''We should have listened to our players earlier including Colin Kaepernick, Eric Reid, Kenny Stills, Malcolm Jenkins and so many people really brought these issues to light.''
Atanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan said Goodell's video was a great step in the right direction.
''We all need to be on the same page and address some of the uncomfortable things that need addressed,'' he said.
Related: Trump says Drew Brees shouldn't have apologized for comments on kneeling during national anthem
Goodell did not answer how the league would respond if President Donald Trump continued to criticize them if players kneeled for the National Anthem. Goodell also said that he wants to include Kaepernick's voice on how the league should approach social issues.
''I hope we're at a point now where everybody's committed to making long-term, sustainable change,'' Goodell said. ''If his efforts are not on the field but continuing to work in this space, we welcome him to that table and to help us, guide us, help us make better decisions about the kinds of things that need to be done in the communities.''
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said when the league gathers at the Disney campus it would provide an opportunity for the league to do more to promote social and societal change -- especially since players, who will be confined to the campus, will have plenty of free time on their hands and with what's expected to be a sizable media contingent present.
''How can we use our larger platform, the NBA together with our players, really to affect change?'' Silver asked. ''There's an appropriate role, of course, for protests. There's an appropriate role for those who choose not to engage in the game of basketball down in Florida. But ... for those who decide to come, together with the league, what are those things we can be doing?''
Related: NFL commits to donating $250 million over 10 years to support programs that combat systemic racism
Another interesting point in what Silver said was the acknowledgment that some players may choose not to go to the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex for the restart of the season. A group of players, led by Kyrie Irving, has made it clear in recent days that they want their colleagues to think about the ramifications of playing at a time of racial and social unrest.
Portland guard Damian Lillard has been part of a protest and said he hopes that people realize ''that the black community has had enough'' when it comes to injustice. But he also said he plans to play, even though he expressed some reservations about how safe it will be from a health perspective.
''This is what we do. This is our job,'' Lillard said. ''And this is how we take care of our families. And this is my way of providing for communities and impacting my community. So to play the game I love, to resume the season, I guess it's a risk I'm willing to take.''
Goodell, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and MLS commissioner Don Garber acknowledged there will be positive tests once their sports return, but that they are hoping to isolate those as quickly as possible along with aggressive use of contact tracing.
Lewis Hamilton woest op Helmut Marko: 'Ik hoop dat je medewerkers zien waar jouw prioriteiten liggen' - Grand Prix 33
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 09:34
Mercedes F1 MediaOpnieuw is er een rel in de Formule 1. Lewis Hamilton is woedend op Red Bull-adviseur Helmut Marko, die tijdens een interview met het Duitse RTL laconiek zou hebben gereageerd op het Black Lives Matter-protest.
Op sociale media circuleerden woensdagochtend quotes van Helmut Marko, die gereageerd zou hebben op de uitspraken van Lewis Hamilton in de afgelopen weken. De Oostenrijker zou volgens meerdere Twitteraars geroepen hebben dat Max zich alleen concentreert op het winnen van het kampioenschap, terwijl anderen (Lewis) zich liever bezig houden met afleiding.
Lewis reageert op Instagram door te vertellen dat het Black Lives Matter-protest geen afleiding is voor hem, het is een prioriteit. Zijn hele leven is Lewis gepest en kapot gemaakt door zijn huidskleur, waarbij ook zijn familie vaak slachtoffer werd. De Brit hoopt dat de mensen van kleur, die bij Red Bull werken, wakker worden na deze uitspraken van Marko en weten waar de prioriteiten van hun baas ligt.
Maar volgens betrouwbare F1-journalisten is het helemaal niet zeker of Marko deze uitspraken ¼berhaupt gedaan heeft. In recente interviews met RTL heeft Helmut het BLM-protest helemaal niet genoemd en is de naam van Lewis niet eens naar voren gekomen.
Zie hieronder de reactie van Lewis op zijn Instagram-verhaal!
UPDATE: Lewis heeft zijn Instagram-verhaal inmiddels verwijderd.
Soledad O'Brien: CNN Exec Said Only "Right Kind of Black" Could Appear on Her Show - David Harris Jr
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 09:33
Blow, who also works as a CNN contributor, responded to O'Brien's tweet on Sunday, saying, ''I don't know how to take this 'good negro' talk'...''
Martin also responded to the story, appearing to support the claims.
''Dude, the internal sh** I had to encounter at CNN would blow folks away,'' Martin wrote, adding in another tweet directed at Blow: ''Bruh, the sh** said about me by certain people there behind closed doors '...''
O'Brien's tweets came in response to a Huffington Post story about ABC News executive Barbara Fedida alleging that Fedida has a long history of insensitive and racist comments, including once when she referred to cotton-picking with respect to a black reporter.
The story also noted that Fedida frequently referred to female employees at the company as ''c**ts,'' according to staffers who heard her use the word.
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell: I Want Colin Kaepernick To 'Help Us, Guide Us' On Social Issues | The Daily Wire
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 08:17
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said during an interview on Tuesday that he wants a team to sign former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick and that if Kaepernick does not make it back on the field then he is invited to the ''table'' to ''help'' and ''guide'' the NFL on social issues.
''Well, listen, if he wants to resume his career in the NFL, then obviously it's going to take a team to make that decision,'' Goodell said during an interview with ESPN. ''But I welcome that, support a club making that decision and encourage them to do that.
''If his efforts are not on the field but continuing to work in this space, we welcome him to that table and to help us, guide us, help us make better decisions about the kinds of things that need to be done in the communities,'' Goodell continued. ''We have invited him in before, and we want to make sure that everybody's welcome at that table and trying to help us deal with some very complex, difficult issues that have been around for a long time.''
Goodell added, ''But I hope we're at a point now where everybody's committed to making long-term, sustainable change.''
Kaepernick has been widely criticized for some of his actions, including kneeling during the national anthem, donating money to a group honoring convicted cop killer and wanted terrorist Assata Shakur, wearing socks portraying police officers as pigs, and wearing shirts of brutal Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.
Kaepernick has also claimed that the United States has conducted ''American terrorist attacks against Black and Brown people for the expansion of American imperialism.'' That remark was featured in a tweet from Kaepernick and came after U.S. forces killed Qasem Soleimani, the head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force, which is a designated terrorist organization.
In November, the NFL organized a private workout for Kaepernick in Atlanta in an apparent attempt to help him secure a spot in the league.
''The NFL arranged this workout opportunity for Colin Kaepernick, and teams will have the opportunity to evaluate his readiness and level of interest in resuming his NFL career,'' ESPN's Adam Schefter tweeted at the time. ''His agents have said he wants to return to the NFL, and the league hopes this provides that chance.''
Kaepernick, who has been criticized for kneeling during the national anthem, abruptly cancelled the workout right before it was scheduled to take place because he said that he wanted to have his own camera crew there to film it and wanted to open the workout session to the media.
''The workout was originally set for 3 p.m. and was to be held at the Atlanta Falcons' practice facility in Flowery Branch,'' CBS News reported. ''At 2:30, representatives for the free agent quarterback informed the league that Kaepernick would instead be conducting the workout at 4 p.m. at Drew High School in Riverdale, Georgia.''
The new location for the workout that Kaepernick gave was 60 miles away.
The Daily Wire reported:
After dissing the NFL, Kaepernick, a multimillionaire endorsed by Nike, attended his own workout in a ''Kunta Kinte'' t-shirt, comparing himself to a defiant slave from the movie ''Roots.'' The film showcases an iconic scene wherein Kunta Kinte is whipped by his master for refusing to acknowledge his slave name, Toby.
Kaepernick reportedly did not receive any offers or interest after his workout, but a wide receiver who participated in the workout was later signed to an NFL team's practice squad.
The Daily Wire, headed by bestselling author and popular podcast host Ben Shapiro, is a leading provider of conservative news, cutting through the mainstream media's rhetoric to provide readers the most important, relevant, and engaging stories of the day. Get inside access to The Daily Wire by becoming a member .
LETTER: Boy Scouts Introduce Black Lives Matter Inspired 'Diversity And Inclusion' Badge, Will Be Required To Become Eagle Scout | The Daily Wire
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 08:09
In a letter posted Monday, the National Executive Committee for the Boy Scouts of America announced a new badge related to ''diversity and inclusion'' in conjunction with the far-left, anti-cop Black Lives Matter movement.
The new badge will be a prerequisite to becoming an Eagle Scout, according to the committee.
Though Black Lives Matter is clearly political, calling for the national defunding of police departments and the disruption of the nuclear family, the Scouts claim the move is apolitical and about mere anti-racism.
''We condemn the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and all those who are not named but are equally important,'' the letter to scout families reads. ''We hear the anguish, feel the heartbreak, and join the country's resolve to do better.''
''The Boy Scouts of America stands with Black families and the Black community because we believe that Black Lives Matter,'' the executive committee emphasized. ''This is not a political issue; it is a human rights issue and one we all have a duty to address.''
''That is why, as an organization, we commit to [i]ntroducing a specific diversity and inclusion merit badge that will be required for the rank of Eagle Scout,'' the letter continues. ''It will build on components within existing merit badges, including the American Cultures and Citizenship in the Community merit badges, which require Scouts to learn about and engage with other groups and cultures to increase understanding and spur positive action.''
The Scouts will also be ''[r]equiring diversity and inclusion training for all BSA employees starting July 1,'' and ''[c]onducting a review of property names, events, and insignia, in partnership with local councils, to build on and enhance the organization's nearly 30-year ban on use of the Confederate flag and to ensure that symbols of oppression are not in use today or in the future.''
The organization noted that these moves are only their ''next steps but certainly not our last.''
Read the full letter, below (via CBS 11 News):
Dear Scouting family,
As our country reckons with racial injustice, we all must consider our role and our failures and commit to meaningful action.
The twelve points of the Scout Law that define a Scout are all important, but at this moment, we are called on to be brave. Brave means taking action because it is the right thing to do and being an upstander even when it may prompt criticism from some. We realize we have not been as brave as we should have been because, as Scouts, we must always stand for what is right and take action when the situation demands it.
There is no place for racism '' not in Scouting and not in our communities. Racism will not be tolerated.
We condemn the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and all those who are not named but are equally important. We hear the anguish, feel the heartbreak, and join the country's resolve to do better.
The Boy Scouts of America stands with Black families and the Black community because we believe that Black Lives Matter. This is not a political issue; it is a human rights issue and one we all have a duty to address.
That is why, as an organization, we commit to:
Introducing a specific diversity and inclusion merit badge that will be required for the rank of Eagle Scout. It will build on components within existing merit badges, including the American Cultures and Citizenship in the Community merit badges, which require Scouts to learn about and engage with other groups and cultures to increase understanding and spur positive action.
Reviewing every element of our programs to ensure diversity and inclusion are engrained at every level for participants and volunteers by applying a standard that promotes racial equality and denounces racism, discrimination, inequality and injustice.
Requiring diversity and inclusion training for all BSA employees starting July 1 and taking immediate action toward introducing a version for volunteers in the coming months.
Conducting a review of property names, events and insignia, in partnership with local councils, to build on and enhance the organization's nearly 30-year ban on use of the Confederate flag and to ensure that symbols of oppression are not in use today or in the future.
These are our next steps but certainly not our last.
We will also continue to listen more, learn more and do more to promote a culture in which every person feels that they belong, are respected, and are valued in Scouting, in their community, and across America.
As a movement, we are committed to working together with our employees, volunteers, youth members, and communities so we can all become a better version of ourselves and continue to prepare young people to become the leaders of character our communities and our country need to heal and grow.
Yours in Scouting,
The Boy Scouts of America, National Executive Committee
Dan Ownby '' National Chair
Roger Mosby '' President and CEO
Scott Sorrels '' National Commissioner
Devang Desai
Jack Furst
Skip Oppenheimer
Nathan Rosenberg
Alison Schuler
Michael Sears
Thear Suzuki
Brad Tilden
Jim Turley
The Daily Wire, headed by bestselling author and popular podcast host Ben Shapiro, is a leading provider of conservative news, cutting through the mainstream media's rhetoric to provide readers the most important, relevant, and engaging stories of the day. Get inside access to The Daily Wire by becoming a member .
Sleeping Giants cofounder launches firm for brands to stop funding hat
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 16:45
Back in November 2016, Nandini Jammi cofounded the advertising watchdog Sleeping Giants with Matt Rivitz to keep brands accountable and aware of what online content their advertising was funding. It routinely called out major brands for funding racist and discriminatory content on such outlets as Breitbart, Fox News, and Tucker Carlson's The Daily Caller.
Their efforts caught on, leading to Sleeping Giants affiliates in countries around the world, from Europe to Brazil. In January, the French Senate passed a law against online hate that included the ''Sleeping Giants amendment,'' after the still anonymous activists running Sleeping Giants France, that forces advertisers to report their advertisement site lists to the public every month.
Now, after three years of voluntarily helping brands identify the sites that their ads are'--in some cases'--unintentionally funding, Jammi and her business partner Claire Atkin have launched a new consultancy called Check My Ads to formalize their work.
''I've been working on Sleeping Giants for years, and why am I still seeing ads for normal companies on sites like The Gateway Pundit?'' says Jammi, referencing the far-right wing outlet known for spreading conspiracy theories. ''How much longer do we have to keep doing this? This problem hasn't been solved at all, which is strange because the ad industry claims to have been working on this problem for years. So why are the basics not taken care of?''
Proctor & Gamble has announced a $5 million fund to ''fight for justice'' like it's some kind of a big deal.
For context, this is the same co that casually realized in 2017 that they'd pissed away $200 million in ad fraud. @marcpritchard1, you're not doing enough. https://t.co/HbgkeeZCpn
'-- Nandini Jammi (@nandoodles) June 14, 2020
Atkin and Jammi first met at a Vancouver conference last year, and their new firm aims to help marketers first identify whether their ad budgets are inadvertently funding hate speech, conspiracy, and disinformation. Then they want to help translate that knowledge into a better, safer media strategy and establish best practices going forward.
Jammi places the bulk of the blame for where many marketers find themselves at the feet of the ad-tech giants. Over the last decade, such firms as Integral Ad Science, Rubicon Project, and Criteo have created the systems controlling the programmatic ad ecosystem that rules most digital advertising. She says these firms talk a big game when it comes to brand safety, but the proof of their deficiency is the continued relevance and need for the work of Sleeping Giants. These are volunteers showing multimillion-dollar corporations where their systems are going wrong and hurting their brand clients.
''They place the ads wherever because they get paid on impressions,'' says Jammi. ''I'm seeing the worst sites on the internet being monetized by these ads, and when I flag it to these companies, they remove it immediately but they are working under the cover of, 'Oops, we didn't catch that one. . . . Thanks for bringing it up!'''
What happens when you check your ads? Here's an IRL example from today's BRANDED:@HeadphoneDotCom was spending $1200/day & appearing on hate sites w/ @Criteo. After we checked their ads, they're now spending $40/day for the SAME RESULTS. https://t.co/MhaOQU0yKd
'-- Nandini Jammi (@nandoodles) June 10, 2020
There's also a major issue right now around brands blocking certain keywords to protect their ads from showing up alongside offensive or even uncomfortable content. The problem with that is when you block a term like ''racism,'' you could also be blocking legitimate journalism that would actually make your brand look better. In a recent issue of Jammi and Atkin's newsletter, Branded, which they started earlier this year, Atkin wrote how Fidelity Investments had both ''immigration'' and ''racism'' on its keyword blocklist, preventing the financial company from funding any essential reporting around two incredibly important issues.
Last week, Vice Media's VP of global revenue products and services, Paul Wallace, said that while stories related to George Floyd, protests, riots and Black Lives Matter were getting the most traffic, the advertising rates were 57% lower on them than articles unrelated to those terms.
Jammi wants to make it clear that Check My Ads has no outside backing, nor are they trying to sell any ad technology. ''We're here to keep your brand safe,'' she says. ''We want you to be able to get your brand out there, make your marketing goals, but help you do it responsibly and sustainably.''
She says the new company is designed to be a counterbalance to many in the ad-tech industry that she says are giving their client misinformation, putting their own interest and bottom lines ahead of brands.
''The results are obvious, as the brands are the ones who have to deal with the fallout of these mishaps,'' she says. ''We think that brands and brand marketers hold the power in this system. That entire optical illusion of the ad-tech system revolves around brand marketers never checking their ads. Every layer claims to be vetting inventory, using only premium publishers, but obviously the outcome does not match the claim.''
The other reason they founded Check My Ads is that after three years at Sleeping Giants, Jammi is tired of waiting for someone else to step in to fix what she sees as a systemic problem in programmatic advertising. ''We don't have years to keep fighting individual hate sites,'' says Jammi. ''It shouldn't be up to a volunteer organization to do this for them.''
Monday, June 15 Scoreboard: Tucker Carlson Had the Most-Watched Show in All of Prime-Time TV | TVNewser
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 21:09
By A.J. Katz on Jun. 16, 2020 - 5:23 PM Comment
25-54 demographic (Live+SD x 1,000)
Total Day: FNC: 380 | CNN: 302 | MSNBC: 204Prime: FNC: 691 | CNN: 450 | MSNBC: 298
FNC:CNN:MSNBC:4PMCavuto:296Tapper:365Wallace:2165PMFive:529Blitzer:363MTPDaily:2046PMBaier: 432Blitzer:346Melber:2197PMMacCallum:465Burnett:385News:1818PMCarlson:832Cooper:432All In:2169PMHannity:668Cuomo:449Maddow:40210PMIngraham:570Lemon:464 O'Donnell: 27611PMBream:379Lemon:359Williams:224Total Viewers (Live+SD x 1,000)
Total Day: FNC: 2.044 | CNN: 1.090 | MSNBC: 1.369Prime: FNC: 3.662 | CNN: 1.633 | MSNBC: 2.138
FNCCNNMSNBC:4PMCavuto:1.984Tapper:1.237Wallace:1.7965PMFive:3.263Blitzer:1.318MTPDaily:1.4586PMBaier: 2.569Blitzer:1.252Melber:1.4257PMMacCallum:2.265Burnett:1.357News:1.3118PMCarlson:4.198Cooper:1.590All In:1.6709PMHannity:3.683Cuomo:1.730Maddow:2.74810PMIngraham:3.097Lemon:1.574O'Donnell:1.99711PMBream:1.796Lemon:1.065Williams:1.670Comments
Tucker Carlson Losing Sponsors. Is Fox News Losing Ad Cash? '' Variety
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 13:27
Tucker Carlson is, once again, losing advertisers. But the real question is whether Fox News Channel is losing any of the cash those sponsors regularly invest in its overall programming.
In recent days, another tranche of sponsors has made public statements about yanking commercials from ''Tucker Carlson Tonight,'' a mainstay of Fox News Channel's heavily-watched primetime lineup. These advertisers are responding to outrage over the host's recent comment about protests over the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police '' an incident that has spurred a national referendum on the way people of various races and backgrounds are treated in America.
Black Lives Matter, Carlson said during his Monday broadcast, ''may be a lot of things, this moment we're living through, but it is definitely not about Black lives. Remember that when they come for you, and at this rate, they will.'' Fox News said the ''they'' in Carlson's comment referred to Democratic politicians.But the remark spurred intense negative reaction, and two activist groups, Sleeping Giants and Media Matters for America, called attention to it and flagged it on social media to some of Carlson's recent sponsors.
Disney, Papa John's and Poshmark are among the advertisers who said they would ensure their commercials would not appear in Carlson's program in the future. In a Twitter post, the CEO of T-Mobile, Mike Sievert, even appeared to dismiss the idea that his company's money would ever support Carlson's program again: ''Bye-bye, Tucker Carlson!''
But all the advertisers involved are spending money elsewhere on Fox News, the network said in a statement, noting that ''all national ads and revenue from Carlson's show have moved to other programs.'' Some of the show's regulars, like MyPillow, Fisher Investments and the Sandals resort, continued to run ads in the show this week,
When controversy swirls, TV advertisers can quickly generate goodwill and free themselves from unwanted scrutiny by issuing statements about how their commercials will never again support whatever content has offended the public. Rarely, however, is their money pulled back from the network that airs the program that stirred pushback.
In 2015, Discovery's TLC faced backlash after revelations surfaced that Josh Duggar, the oldest child in the Duggar clan that was at the center of the popular series ''19 Kids and Counting, molested teenage girls more than a decade prior. General Mills, Yum Brands' Pizza Hut, PepsiCo's Pure Leaf Iced Tea, Choice Hotels and Crayola LLC all vowed they were cutting support of the program immediately. But none of them took back any of the ad money they had previously agreed to spend on TLC or other Discovery-owned outlets.
To be sure, no network wants to see advertising pulled from a single show. The logistical hurdles that result can be extreme. A TV outlet must re-schedule advertising flights in other parts of its schedule, where viewership may be smaller, requiring commercials to run more frequently. That in turn can squeeze out other clients like direct-response advertisers who often run ads in daytime and late-night slots.
And a lack of ad support can indeed push a network to cancel a program. In 2011, retailing giant Lowe's announced it would no longer support ''All-American Muslim,'' a TLC series that examined the lives of Muslim-American families living in Dearborn. Michigan. It was widely believed at the time that Lowe's simply continued advertising across Discovery properties and likely ''re-expressed'' the ad buy it had with the media company. ''Muslim'' completed its first season, but was not picked up for a second. In 2009, about a dozen advertisers, including Procter & Gamble and Geico, pulled their commercials from Fox News' late-afternoon show ''Glenn Beck,'' after the host called President Obama a racist and said he had a ''deep-seated hatred'' for white people. Beck's show continued on Fox News until 2011, when anchor and network decided to part ways.
Yet pulling dollars can cause problems for sponsors too. Yank too much money out of an agreed-upon plan with a network, and guarantees for stable pricing may disappear.
Fox News has faced challenges in the past few years luring big national advertisers to both Carlson's program as well as Laura Ingraham's 10 p.m. show, ''The Ingraham Angle,'' in the wake of other remarks the hosts have made about topics ranging from immigrants to one of the victims of the school shootings in Parkland, Florida.
But the network's parent company in recent months has seen new activity. In the company's most recent fiscal quarter, ad revenue at Fox News grew by 15%, according to remarks made by Fox Corporation CEO Lachlan Murdoch to investors, During the current pandemic, he added, advertisers from the fast food, tech, insurance and streaming sectors who wanted to reach larger audiences have moved dollars into Fox News programming, ''mitigating most of the pullback in the categories that you would expect, such as auto, entertainment and retail.''
Some ad dollars have continued to flow to the network's most controversial programs. In April, national ads put behind Fox News' weekday primetime shows rose 65%, according to Standard Media Index, a tracker of ad spending.
In the first quarter of 2020, Ingraham's ''Angle'' took in about $18.6 million, according to Kantar, a tracker of ad spending, compared to nearly $13.9 million in the year-earlier period. Carlson's program took in $33.3 million in the first three months of 2020, according to Kantar, compared with nearly $25.8 million in the year-earlier . Ingraham's program has been taking in between $1.3 million and $1.5 million per week in April and May, according to Kantar, while Carlson's has captured between $1.4 million and $2 million.
All the cable-news outlets are facing headwinds in 2020. Despite the fact that an election year usually brings a surge of new ad dollars, the current pandemic has forced many advertisers to change plans.
Fox News Channel is seen taking in $1.16 billion in ad revenue in 2020, according to Kagan, a market-research firm that is part of S&P Global Intelligence, down 7.6% from around $1.25 billion last year. Those figures are significantly higher than what rivals CNN or MSNBC are seen capturing. CNN is expected to win $619.2 million in 2020 advertising, according to Kagan, down 9% from the $680.5 million it took in last year. MSNBC, meanwhile, is expected to capture $672.4 million in 2020, down about 7.8% from the $728.9 million it received in 2019.
Fox News would no doubt love to get Apple, General Motors and Unilever to buy ads behind Tucker Carlson every night. Until advertisers do more than issue Twitter statements about where their ad dollars might go, however, its executives may only be forced to do so much before turning to other matters.
BLM
Thread by @ScottAdamsSays: Today is the last day of my seven day challenge to provide a current example of systemic racism in America. No examples yet, just conceptual'...
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 09:38
Today is the last day of my seven day challenge to provide a current example of systemic racism in America. No examples yet, just conceptual takes.
One view is that racist people in a non-racist system creates "systemic racism." For example, the justice system is colorblind by intention, but not by outcome. The reason for different outcomes is assumed to be racism, but studies can't isolate that variable.
And here we have a new problem. If "look at the data" is an argument for ANYTHING, why are we having mass protests about police killing black citizens at a higher rate than other groups when the data says otherwise?
If you think the data says police are killing black citizens at a higher rate than other groups it is because you are not good at analyzing things. Which puts you in good company with 95% of the public.
Maybe 5% of the public knows the numbers you see in the media are INTENTIONALLY misleading. For example, if you think it means something that a higher percentage of the black population is killed by police, you are in the 95% who are being duped by data that is misleading.
Don't trust me about the data? Good call. You shouldn't. Trust the left-leaning people who are experts at analyzing data and statistics. They are all hiding. Hear the dog not barking. No professional data/statistics expert on the left are helping us sort out the data. Why?
You fucking know why. They would be cancelled by their own team if they told the truth. Don't believe me? Again, good call. We live in a world where no one is credible. So let me offer a test of my claim.
Find me the most credible and left-leaning data/statistics expert, and put that expert in a long-form interview with a well-informed right-leaning interviewer on the topic of police violence. Let's say
@benshapiro. This will not happen. Ask yourself why.
You know that executive order Trump just signed that creates a national database of police misconduct? Half the country is in for a big surprise if the data is deemed credible. To be fair, that surprise could go either way.
Cancel culture has forced white people to lie to black people for self-preservation. No solutions are possible when debate is effectively outlawed and the data experts are in hiding.
We are now experiencing mass protests over an issue the data can't find, in a context of continuous race relations improvements, and everyone started out on the same side after seeing the George Floyd video. More white people than black protested.
How did we get to this absurd point in which the country is being ripped apart by AGREEMENT? Well, it wasn't because millions of independent-minded citizens looked at the data and made wise decisions, many of them in agreement with their own side by coincidence.
The biggest red pill in the world is the realization that your opinions on politics are assigned to you by people who know how to make you believe you made up your own mind. There is probably some genetic propensity for conservatism or liberalism, but not policy details.
Most of you know I'm a trained hypnotist and I write about the techniques of persuasion. Viewed through my filter, the current upheaval in the country is predicated on something real and important-to-fix (racism), but the way we are ACTING on it comes from external persuasion.
I don't see a public trying to find solutions. What I see is hypnotized puppets fighting other hypnotized puppets while the puppet-masters cash their checks. And no, I don't blame George Soros. This isn't about money influence. It's about something far more powerful.
You aren't yet ready for the truth. But you will be.
What is Systemic Racism? - WorldAtlas
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 10:33
By Mark Owuor Otieno on November 14 2017 in Society
The US justice system contributes to the systematic racism against African Americans. Sociologist Joe Feagin, in his book "Racist America: Roots, Current Realities, & Future Reparations", developed the Systemic Racism theory and summarized it as racism in all the social, political, and economic institutions, structures, and social relationships within a society. Scholars like Oliver Cox, Frederick Douglass, Anna Julia Cooper, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Kwame Ture supported the research and development of this theory. Feagin did comprehensive research and analysis that led to his conclusion that society's foundation, particularly that of American society, is racist in nature and manifests in institutions, practices, policies, ideas, and behaviors all of which favor the majority white population at the expense of other races. Though based on racist history in the US, this theory also explains how racism and other forms of ethnic marginalization functions all over the world.
Cost of Systemic Racism in the USBecause white people enjoy political, social, economic, and cultural power, they have certain privileges not available to People of Color (POC) as a. A majority of the white population also oppose US diversity programs within the education and employment sectors and often claim this is reverse racism. Slogans such as ''Black Lives Matter'' do not go unanswered as some members of the white population usually respond with slogans like ''all lives matter'' or ''blue lives matter'' without a background reason for the slogans. Systemic racism has repercussions for POC especially blacks which include; shorter lifespans, lesser income and wealth, limited access to quality education, limited political participation, inferiority complex and state-sanctioned killings by security organs among others. Worse still, whites still expect POC to carry the burden of proving racism even though whites contribute most to the vice. Upon providing proof, POC still have to bear the backlash of more accusations and excuses that follow.
Examples of Systemic Racism in the US Justice SystemAlthough a politically controversial topic, there are overwhelming facts to support the notion that the US justice system is racist especially looking at the targeting and punishing of African-Americans. Looking at data on police stoppings, shootings, drug arrests, bailing process, legal representation, trial, sentencing, jury selection, freedom, and parole, a trend of biasness appears. On drug use, African-Americans constitute 13% of the population and 14% of drug users, but 37% of drug-related arrests and 56% of inmates of crimes relating to drugs. In New York, colored people make up 50% of the population but Latinos and Blacks make up over 80% of NYPD stops. In fact, in most US cities, Blacks are thrice likely to be arrested than whites. During a trial, African-Americans are more likely to be in prison as they wait for trial than whites and since most may not afford to hire lawyers, underpaid and undermotivated public defenders are more likely to defend such cases. Data from Alabama also indicates that a higher representation in the jury is white, especially in cases involving death penalty whereas US Sentencing Commission reported that blacks tend to receive 10% longer sentences than whites for the same crime. The US Bureau of Justice and Statistics indicated that 32% (one in three) of blacks, 17% of Latinos, and 6% of whites have a chance of being arrested. With a black-juvenile population of 16%, they represent 28% of arrests and 37% of inmates.
Systemic Discrimination Law and Legal Definition | USLegal, Inc.
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 10:31
Systemic discrimination refers to patterns of behavior, policies or practices that are part of the structures of an organization, and which create or perpetuate disadvantage for racialized persons. It has a broad impact on an industry, profession, company, or geographic area.
Examples of systemic practices include:
a. discriminatory barriers in recruitment and hiring;
b. discriminatorily restricted access to management trainee programs and to high level jobs;
c. exclusion of qualified women from traditionally male dominated fields of work; disability discrimination such as unlawful pre-employment inquiries;
d. age discrimination in reductions in force and retirement benefits; and
e. compliance with customer preferences that result in discriminatory placement or assignments.
"The Black Lives Matter Foundation" Raised Millions. It's Not Affiliated With The Black Lives Matter Movement.
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 10:07
BuzzFeed News; Getty ImagesWhen Elena Iliadis searched for ''Black Lives Matter'' on GoFundMe, the popular online fundraising platform, she didn't do much research on the first verified foundation that popped up.
Inspired to help the cause, the 19-year-old Georgetown University sophomore and her a capella group, the Phantoms, raised nearly $1,100 for what they thought was the global movement to bring racial justice and defund the police. It wasn't until she was contacted by BuzzFeed News that the student learned her group had been collecting money for a completely unaffiliated cause.
The Black Lives Matter Foundation, a Santa Clarita, California''based charitable organization that has one paid employee and lists a UPS store as its address, has a very different goal, according to its founder: ''bringing the community and police closer together.''
The Phantoms weren't the only ones to mistakenly support the Black Lives Matter Foundation. In the wake of George Floyd's killing, corporations including Apple, Google, and Microsoft raised $4 million for the soundalike foundation '-- and almost delivered the money. Hundreds of grassroots fundraisers also directed more money and attention.
''I don't have anything to do with the Black Lives Matter Global Network. I never met them; never spoke to them. I don't know them; I have no relationship with them,'' Robert Ray Barnes, the founder of the Black Lives Matter Foundation, told BuzzFeed News in a lengthy interview. ''Our whole thing is having unity with the police department.''
Advertisement
''Our whole thing is having unity with the police department.''While Black Lives Matter has morphed from a 2013 hashtag following the acquittal of Trayvon Martin's killer into an international movement, its early lack of centralized leadership or formal hierarchy left opportunities for copycats like Barnes' foundation. Based on estimates from BuzzFeed News, donors raised at least $4.35 million for the Black Lives Matter Foundation in the first weeks of June, though the bulk of that was frozen before it could be disbursed. In some cases, companies including GoFundMe were unaware the foundation had no affiliation with the wider movement and froze funds only after being contacted by BuzzFeed News.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, a Black Lives Matter spokesperson confirmed that the groups are indeed ''two completely separate organizations'' and that Barnes' foundation ''has nothing to do with us.''
''The Santa Clarita group is improperly using our name,'' the spokesperson said. ''We intend to call them out and follow up.''
Courtesy Elena IliadisGeorgetown sophomore Elena Iliadis created a GoFundMe page for a fundraiser that mistakenly solicited donations for the Black Live Matter Foundation, which advocates for building relationships with the police.
Advertisement
But Barnes, a 67-year-old music producer in LA, defended his organization and its name. ''No one owns the concept,'' Barnes said, adding that as a Black man, his life had been tainted by painful experiences with the police, including the 2011 death of his wife's ex-husband allegedly at the hands of the Los Angeles Police Department.
Though the social movement entered the national consciousness during the Ferguson demonstrations in August 2014, he claimed Black Lives Matter had actually ''stolen'' his name and idea, and cast the global movement as an opaque organization that hasn't been transparent about how it uses donations. Barnes registered his foundation in May 2015.
''The Santa Clarita group is improperly using our name. We intend to call them out and follow up.''''It appears there is a lot of scamming going on, but how can it have to do with me?'' Barnes asked. ''I had plenty of motivation to create the Black Lives Matter Foundation and the people who were doing Black Lives Matter weren't interested in a foundation. They never created it. Now all of the sudden they're interested in it.''
Further obscuring the situation is the movement's official name, ''Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, Inc'' '-- which wasn't registered in the state of Delaware until 2017 '-- while Barnes owns and operates the Black Lives Matter Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit registered in California. Because the official movement is not a nonprofit '-- it raises money through a charity partner called Thousand Currents '-- Barnes' organization has benefited from the brand confusion as people have conflated the two and donated money to his charity via GoFundMe, PayPal, or employee donation matching platforms.
Advertisement
Provided to BuzzFeed NewsA receipt showing a company-matched donation from Apple to the Black Lives Matter Foundation
''They took my name and put this 'inc' behind it,'' Barnes said. ''They took my name. I own that name. I haven't stolen anything from them. They have stolen from me. They have lied and been able to profit using my name.''
Barnes refused to tell BuzzFeed News how much his foundation has raised to date. He hasn't done anything with donations thus far, but insisted he intends to use those funds to create his ''prototypes'' for community and police bonding. As of 2017, the year of its most recent publicly available tax filings, Barnes' Black Lives Matter Foundation had raised more than $300,000 in donations, a figure that has grown with the actual movement's rise in notoriety, a national shift in public opinion on systemic racism, and a rush in charitable giving this spring.
Although the names are similar, the organizations have very different stances on police relations. While the Black Lives Matter movement has advocated for the ''national defunding of the police'' and reinvestment of money into Black community resources, Barnes' foundation wants to ''help bring the police and the community closer together in an effort to save lives.''
Advertisement
''Today, we think most people would agree, that regardless of race, something must done to heal the riffs between some communities and the police, and with your help we at BLMFoundation have the very ideas to do just that,'' reads a Black Lives Matter Foundation mission statement posted to Benevity, a charity platform used by Apple, Google, and other companies to encourage employee giving.
"I haven't stolen anything from them. They have stolen from me."In the statement that quotes from both Harry Potter and former president Barack Obama, Barnes presents a vision for ''Community Organized Programs'' or ''COP events'' that would bring police officers and members of certain neighborhoods together for an annual buffet dinner and other gatherings. He also describes a program that would distribute bulletins featuring positive news about police for display at local businesses.
''Crime exists now and will forever continue, so we desperately need the services of the police; however, we need the services of good police,'' Barnes writes of the foundation. ''We need police officers that will respect all life equally and apply deadly force only when absolutely necessary. I know this may sound a little crazy, but what happened to warning shots and shooting unarmed fleeing suspects in the leg?''
Barnes acknowledged to BuzzFeed News that his organization has a very different mission than the Black Lives Matter movement currently changing the country.
Advertisement
''We don't want to be enemies of the police. We will let the movement do that,'' the music producer said. ''We want to get to the point where we have programs and that's where the change will happen. That's where we come in.''
While his organization has existed for five years, Barnes has yet to launch any of the programs because it's taken him a while to ''outline a real plan of action.'' One such idea is ''have a cup with a cop'' local meetings where residents would chat with police officers over coffee and donuts.
''It can't be done overnight. The idea is to go slow,'' Barnes said of the work, calling his program ''a blueprint for how we can work with police.''
One such idea is ''have a cup with a cop'' local meetings where residents would chat with police officers over coffee and donuts. Santa Clarita, however, does not have a police department. The city, where the foundation is based, contracts with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and a spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that it has never heard of Barnes or his organization. Santa Clarita's city manager was also not aware the foundation existed.
The foundation's 2017 tax filing '-- its most recently available '-- shows that it took in more than $279,000 in contributions and gifts that year, while spending $89,000 on expenses, including $24,000 for Barnes' salary. Besides a $5,150 cash grant to something called the ''Family Renewal Develop Center'' in Carson, California, there are no other disbursements or indications the foundation has worked on its stated goal of fostering better community relationships with police. BuzzFeed News was unable to reach the center for comment.
Advertisement
Barnes says he donated to some churches, a veterans foundation, which his family started, and scholarship funds, but could not provide names or details when pressed further. And while he claimed to be operating his foundation properly, the California attorney general's office issued a cease and desist order to Barnes' organization in December for failing to file annual financial reports.
A spokesperson from the California attorney general's office acknowledged BuzzFeed News' request for comment, but did not provide a statement.
Despite the order, the Black Lives Matter Foundation was still listed on online donation platforms, which have only recently started to untangle the problem presented by its similar name. GoFundMe stopped all active campaigns associated with the foundation earlier this month and froze a collective $350,000, which included more than $1,000 from Georgetown sophomore Iliadis and her a capella group.
''You would assume it's popular for a reason and I didn't have any reason to assume it wouldn't be the official one,'' Iliadis said. ''It feels terrible to know the money might have gone to who knows what and that's very concerning.''
Courtesy Elena IliadisAuto-populated suggestions on GoFundMe prominently suggested Black Lives Matter Foundation.
Advertisement
A GoFundMe spokesperson said the company uses PayPal's Giving Fund to allow people to select charities and that because the foundation had been included in PayPal's database, it then was allowed on the fundraising platform.
''We'll work with all campaign organizers to make sure the money goes to the right place to support the Black Lives Matter movement,'' the GoFundMe spokesperson said. From 2018 to 2019, the platform sent $1,400 in donations to the Black Lives Matter Foundation. GoFundMe said it will refund that money if the donors did not intend for those funds to the Santa Clarita''based organization.
A PayPal spokesperson told BuzzFeed News that the Black Lives Matter Foundation had been added to its Giving Fund database because it was an IRS-registered charity. They called the addition ''a unique situation'' because the Black Lives Matter name hadn't been trademarked.
''I didn't have any reason to assume it wouldn't be the official one.''PayPal declined to say how much money had been raised for the Black Lives Matter Foundation as a result of its inclusion in the widely used database, but noted that it was working to redirect funds to charities directly associated with the Black Lives Matter movement following questions from BuzzFeed News.
On another fundraising platform, Benevity, some of the world's largest corporations had directed their employees to support the Black Lives Matter Foundation, which racked up seven figures-worth of donations. Via the service, which allows employers to track and match employee donations to charities, companies including Apple, Google, Microsoft, and Dropbox raised $4 million between May 31 and June 5, according to Benevity founder Bryan de Lottinville.
Advertisement
The size of that sum was fueled by companies like Apple and Microsoft which promised to double or triple employee donations to approved racial justice causes. In letters to their employees, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella and Dropbox CEO Drew Houston listed the Black Lives Matter Foundation as a charity approved by their companies, though both linked to the website for the actual movement. Apple's internal Benevity portal listed the Black Lives Matter Foundation as an organization eligible for the company's two-to-one match for the month of June.
Employees of those companies tweeted about matching donation programs, some with screenshots of the Benevity platform featuring Barnes' Black Lives Matter Foundation. Within Google, employees led a donation campaign for the foundation through Benevity, the search and advertising company confirmed to BuzzFeed News.
Advertisement
De Lottinville said that while the Black Lives Matter Foundation had raised millions of dollars from companies on Benevity's service, it hadn't yet distributed the funds to the organization. Money is typically pooled together before it's sent in single payment at the end of the month, he told BuzzFeed News, and some donors had expressed concerns about the Black Lives Matter Foundation to Benevity, leading it to initially add a disclaimer to the organization's page before ''deactivating'' it on June 5.
''Part of the problem is that it's using the exact same name, and it's a 501(c)(3) and is in good standing with the IRS,'' he told BuzzFeed News. He noted the foundation's description seemed ''a little contradictory'' with the stated goals of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Benevity and its partner companies plan to offer Black Lives Matter Foundation donors the option of rerouting the funds to the actual Black Lives Matter movement or other racial justice causes. De Lottinville said that over the past three years, Benevity had collected and sent about $80,000 in donations to the foundation, $5,700 of that from May alone. He did not say if it would be taking any action on funds already disbursed to Barnes' foundation.
He noted the foundation's description seemed ''a little contradictory'' with the stated goals of the Black Lives Matter movement. Advertisement
YourCause, an employee donation service used by companies like SiriusXM and Electronic Arts, had featured the Black Lives Matter Foundation on a list of popular causes on its donation portal, according to a recent donor who spoke with BuzzFeed News. A spokesperson for the site said in a statement that it has ''a vigorous vetting process to ensure the legitimacy of these nonprofit organizations.'' However, the spokesperson declined to say how much the platform had raised for the Black Lives Matter Foundation or how much money it had delivered to the organization in the past. ''We are doing our due diligence to ensure that donations for Black Lives Matter are going to the intended cause,'' they said.
Smaller donation platforms were also unaware the Black Lives Matter Foundation was not affiliated with the global movement, explaining that the nonprofit was pulled into their sites from larger databases. Josh Kelly, a spokesperson for Bonfire, a site that allows for fundraisers through the sale of apparel, explained that his company pulls in groups from nonprofit information services Charity Navigator and GuideStar and relies on those databases to vet organizations.
Bonfire has since frozen the $14,000 raised by 738 people and slated to go to Barnes' foundation and will reach out to those fundraisers to ensure the money goes ''where it's supposed to be.''
Pledgeling, another fundraising website, added the Black Lives Matter Foundation to its database in 2017 following the request of a user. That year, the foundation went on to raise $1,000, before the company realized donors might be confusing the organization with the movement.
Advertisement
Cassie Fowler, Pledgeling's chief impact officer, said that the company attempted to reach the foundation but never heard back. ''Given our concern for donor confusion and the lack of response from the nonprofit, we proactively placed a warning label on their nonprofit profile page in 2017 alerting donors that there are multiple organizations with the same name,'' she said.
As a result, only three donors appear to have created campaigns for the Black Lives Matter Foundation this year, raising just $42.
Barnes said he sympathizes with Black Lives Matter supporters who unwittingly sent money to his organization thinking they were donating to the global movement. But he says it's a rare occurrence, arguing that people really do want to support his organization and its programs, which he finally feels ready to bring to fruition.
''Timing is everything,'' he said. ''I have nothing to hide. I am for real. This is part of my heart. I even wrote a song called 'Hands Up, Don't Shoot.' Maybe I'll release it now.'' '—
UPDATE Jun 15, 2020, 9:40:57 PM GMTCompanies using Benevity raised $4 million between May 31 and June 5. Initially, Benevity founder Bryan de Lottinville stated that the period extended to June 7.
Ryan Mac is a senior tech reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in San Francisco.
Contact Ryan Mac at ryan.mac@buzzfeed.com.
Got a confidential tip? Submit it here.
Topics In This Article Google
Horowitz: SCOTUS decision redefining sexuality will wreak havoc on society - Conservative Review
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 08:20
When Anthony Kennedy discovered a right to force states to redefine marriage in the 2015 Obergefell case, he promised that religious liberty would remain untouched. ''The First Amendment ensures that religious organizations and persons are given proper protection as they seek to teach the principles that are so fulfilling and so central to their lives and faiths, and to their own deep aspirations to continue the family structure they have long revered,'' wrote the former justice for the majority at the time.
Yeah, right.
Thanks to Justice Gorsuch's contorted reading of the word ''sex'' in anti-discrimination law, you now have a right to sue for protection for biological traits you do not possess. This means that legitimate rights of others will now have to yield. Anyone who can't see the devastating real-world effects of this decision '' well beyond firing someone simply because you hate their private behavior '' is clearly not paying attention.
Codifying into anti-discrimination law the concept that a man who says he is a woman must be treated according to his mental illness is not something we can live with as a society. Gorsuch might want to dismiss the earth-shattering ramifications of his opinion, but he knows well that there are already pending lawsuits to demand that men be treated as women, in very dangerous or disruptive ways that go well beyond trying to use the boot of government to stamp out mean or discriminatory behavior.
Here is an outline of some of the most immediate threats from this decision. These are not hypothetical societal and legal problems; these issues are in contention as we speak and have now been decided by this court.
Forcing states and doctors to perform castrations
Forcing employers to retain gay employees and not fire them simply because of their private behavior sounds very innocuous and even laudatory. But what about forcing doctors to perform ''sex change'' operations and forcing states to fund them? Codifying the desires of someone afflicted with gender dysphoria into sex-based anti-discrimination law will force states and hospitals to treat anyone who believes they are really the opposite gender as that preferred gender.
In fact, the Supreme Court has already tacitly mandated this. In May, justices declined to take Idaho's appeal from the Ninth Circuit, where the lower court ordered the state to pay for a castration surgery for a male serving time in Idaho prison for sexually abusing a 15-year-old boy.
Similarly, a federal judge in Wisconsin mandated that the Badger State use its Medicaid funding to pay for ''gender confirmation'' mutilations, which can include castration, mastectomies, hysterectomies, genital reconstruction, and breast augmentation.
Those radical decisions will now be backed up in all circuits. There are already numerous lawsuits suing employers to provide castration and hormone procedures under the employer health insurance mandate of Obamacare. Obamacare uses civil rights laws to bar discrimination in offering health care coverage. It would be easy for the courts to now apply Gorsuch's interpretation of Title VII to other areas of discrimination in the ACA statute.
Will Gorsuch be there for us to overturn those decisions?
Women's bathrooms, locker rooms, and all-female sports
Barring a male who says he is a female from an all-girls sports team, bathroom, or locker room now constitutes sex-based discrimination. Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 reads as follows:
No person in the United States shall, on the basis of sex, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any education program or activity receiving Federal financial assistance.
It's not even a jump to apply this ruling to that law; it's a logical outgrowth. All separate gender school activities and private dressing rooms are out the window because the 1972 law, which liberals already felt included transgenderism, will now be so interpreted.
College dorms
As Justice Alito warns, similar lawsuits may be brought under the Fair Housing Act against colleges that have separate dorms for males and females. Also, female prisoners will be subjected to males living with them. Again, once sex is redefined, it is no longer limited to employment or animus-based discrimination. As Alito warned, ''The Court '... argues, not merely that the terms of Title VII can be interpreted that way but that they cannot reasonably be interpreted any other way. According to the Court, the text is unambiguous.'' This wasn't even a close call for the majority, and it will therefore reverberate across all areas of law, politics, and society.
Religious schools must become pagan
We were told not to worry about Obergefell creating a right to gay marriage because it was merely an issue of a marriage certificate and would never affect private religious institutions. Well, what happens now if a cross-dresser or a prominent homosexual activist wants to teach in a Catholic, Orthodox Jewish, or Muslim school? The majority opinion blithely denied these concerns and noted how title VII protects religious liberty by offering some long-standing exceptions. However, those exceptions have been interpreted more and more narrowly as time goes on. The same way Gorsuch has evolved on the definition of a sex, the courts are evolving on religious protections, and the former will now accelerate the latter.
What about pedophilia, nudity, and the next frontier in our ''evolving'' society?
Justice Gorsuch dismissed (p. 30-32) the dissent's charge that he was backfilling into the statute ideas that its crafters would regard as absurd and immoral as ''naked policy appeals'' and as complaints about ''undesirable policy consequences.''
What happens when the next letters of the alphabet get codified into the sacrilege of the sexual behavior legal protections, such as ''N'' for nudity and ''P'' for pedophilia?
''My sexual orientation is to be with children.''
''My sexual orientation is to express myself freely and be proud of my body, not to hide it.''
You might laugh, but at the speed with which transgenderism became in vogue, there is nothing stopping more sexual fetishes from joining the quasi ''legal'' distinction with a fancy acronym. The mainstreaming of pedophilia is already under way. Could employers still not fire those individuals for being disruptive to the decorum of the office the same way they can't fire a man who walks in one day dressed like a woman, even if he has to deal with clients? Those ideals can be read into the word ''sex'' of a 1964 statute just as much as transgenderism can. After all, gay expanded to LGB and T, and then an undefined ''Q'' got added in. Others add on IAPK to include ''intersex, asexual, pansexual, and kink.'' It has broadly become known in those circles as ''LGBTQ+.''
So, Justice Gorsuch, now that man and woman no longer mean what they mean, can you tell us what is and is not included in ''sex'' and why there should be protection for some fetishes or mental disorders over others? Can we lay down that marker now so that it doesn't grow?
Freedom of speech
As Justice Alito warned in his dissent, the New York City government has already made it a criminal offense not to address someone by his or her preferred pronoun.
''After today's decision, plaintiffs may claim that the failure to use their preferred pronoun violates one of the federal laws prohibiting sex discrimination,'' wrote Alito.
Supporters of this decision claim that because the court did not create a constitutional right, merely a retroactive reinterpretation of statue, Congress is still free to legislate. But who are we kidding here? The Civil Rights Act is as politically untouchable as the Fourteenth Amendment, and there is no way Congress will have the guts to deal with this fallout. State legislatures will be cut out from the process entirely.
Also, as Alito warns, the jump from codifying transgenderism into statute to into the Constitution is nothing more than a hiccup for its supporters to overcome, and the court has consistently done that in the past. There are already numerous cases percolating in the lower courts to do just that. Once the lower courts codify a new right, we have seen the Supreme Court first ignore the lower court radicalization and then downright legitimize it.
Yesterday, Mitch McConnell didn't even mention this travesty in his press briefing. Trump bizarrely commented, ''they ruled and we live with their decision'' and called it a ''very powerful decision.''
Very powerful, indeed. Now who will stand up for the forgotten Americans and use separation of powers to push back against this travesty?
Author: Daniel Horowitz Daniel Horowitz is a senior editor of Conservative Review. Follow him on Twitter @RMConservative.
Civil Rights Law Protects L.G.B.T. Workers, Supreme Court Rules - The New York Times
Mon, 15 Jun 2020 11:10
The court said the language of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibits sex discrimination, applies to discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Tiffany Munroe waving a Pride flag during a rally to call attention to violence against transgender people of color in Brooklyn on Sunday. Credit... Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times June 15, 2020Updated 11:27 a.m. ET
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that a landmark civil rights law protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination, handing the movement for L.G.B.T. equality a stunning victory.
The vote was 6 to 3, with Justice Neil M. Gorsuch writing the majority opinion. He was joined by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
The case concerned Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employment discrimination based on race, religion, national origin and sex. The question for the justices was whether that last prohibition '-- discrimination ''because of sex'''-- applies to many millions of gay and transgender workers.
The decision, covering two cases, was the court's first on L.G.B.T. rights since the retirement in 2018 of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinions in all four of the court's major gay rights decisions.
Those decisions were grounded in constitutional law. The new cases, by contrast, concerned statutory interpretation.
Lawyers for employers and the Trump administration argued that the common understanding of sex discrimination in 1964 was bias against women or men and did not encompass discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. If Congress wanted to protect gay and transgender workers, they said, it could pass a new law.
Lawyers for the workers responded that discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation or transgender status must as a matter of logic take account of sex.
The court considered two sets of cases. The first concerned a pair of lawsuits from gay men who said they were fired because of their sexual orientation. The second was about a suit from a transgender woman, Aimee Stephens, who said her employer fired her when she announced that she would embrace her gender identity at work.
The cases concerning gay rights are Bostock v. Clayton County, Ga., No. 17-1618, and Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, No. 17-1623.
The first case was filed by Gerald Bostock, a gay man who was fired from a government program that helped neglected and abused children in Clayton County, Ga., just south of Atlanta, after he joined a gay softball league.
The second was brought by a skydiving instructor, Donald Zarda, who also said he was fired because he was gay. His dismissal followed a complaint from a female customer who had expressed concerns about being strapped to Mr. Zarda during a tandem dive. Mr. Zarda, hoping to reassure the customer, told her that he was ''100 percent gay.''
Mr. Zarda died in a 2014 skydiving accident, and his estate pursued his case.
Most federal appeals courts have interpreted Title VII to exclude sexual orientation discrimination. But two of them, in New York and Chicago, have ruled that discrimination against gay men and lesbians is a form of sex discrimination.
In 2018, a divided 13-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, in New York, allowed Mr. Zarda's lawsuit to proceed. Writing for the majority, Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann concluded that ''sexual orientation discrimination is motivated, at least in part, by sex and is thus a subset of sex discrimination.''
In dissent, Judge Gerard E. Lynch wrote that the words of Title VII did not support the majority's interpretation.
''Speaking solely as a citizen,'' he wrote, ''I would be delighted to awake one morning and learn that Congress had just passed legislation adding sexual orientation to the list of grounds of employment discrimination prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I am confident that one day '-- and I hope that day comes soon '-- I will have that pleasure.''
''I would be equally pleased to awake to learn that Congress had secretly passed such legislation more than a half-century ago '-- until I actually woke up and realized that I must have been still asleep and dreaming,'' Judge Lynch wrote. ''Because we all know that Congress did no such thing.''
The case on transgender rights is R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, No. 18-107. It concerns Aimee Stephens, who was fired from a Michigan funeral home after she announced in 2013 that she was a transgender woman and would start working in women's clothing. Ms. Stephens died on May 12.
''What I must tell you is very difficult for me and is taking all the courage I can muster,'' she wrote to her colleagues in 2013. ''I have felt imprisoned in a body that does not match my mind, and this has caused me great despair and loneliness.''
Ms. Stephens had worked at the funeral home for six years. Her colleagues testified that she was able and compassionate.
Two weeks after receiving the letter, the home's owner, Thomas Rost, fired Ms. Stephens. Asked for the ''specific reason that you terminated Stephens,'' Mr. Rost said: ''Well, because he was no longer going to represent himself as a man. He wanted to dress as a woman.''
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, in Cincinnati, ruled for Ms. Stephens. Discrimination against transgender people, the court said, was barred by Title VII.
''It is analytically impossible to fire an employee based on that employee's status as a transgender person without being motivated, at least in part, by the employee's sex,'' the court said, adding, ''Discrimination 'because of sex' inherently includes discrimination against employees because of a change in their sex.''
Justices rule LGBT people protected from job discrimination
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 09:55
The Supreme Court is seen in Washington, early Monday, June 15, 2020. The justices of the U.S. Supreme Court gather for a formal group portrait to include a new Associate Justice, top row, far right, at the Supreme Court Building in Washington. Seated from left: Associate Justice Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Associate Justice Samuel Alito Jr. Standing behind from left: Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Elena Kagan and Associate Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh. The Supreme Court is seen in Washington, early Monday, June 15, 2020. The columns of the Supreme Court are seen with the Capitol at right, in Washington, early Monday, June 15, 2020. June 15, 2020The court decided by a 6-3 vote that a key provision of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 known as Title VII that bars job discrimination because of sex, among other reasons, encompasses bias against LGBT workers.
''An employer who fires an individual for being homosexual or transgender fires that person for traits or actions it would not have questioned in members of a different sex," Justice Neil Gorsuch wrote for the court. ''Sex plays a necessary and undisguisable role in the decision, exactly what Title VII forbids."
Justices Samuel Alito, Brett Kavanaugh and Clarence Thomas dissented. ''The Court tries to convince readers that it is merely enforcing the terms of the statute, but that is preposterous," Alito wrote in the dissent. ''Even as understood today, the concept of discrimination because of 'sex' is different from discrimination because of 'sexual orientation' or 'gender identity.'"
Kavanaugh wrote in a separate dissent that the court was rewriting the law to include gender identity and sexual orientation, a job that belongs to Congress. Still, Kavanaugh said the decision represents an ''important victory achieved today by gay and lesbian Americans."
The outcome is expected to have a big impact for the estimated 8.1 million LGBT workers across the country because most states don't protect them from workplace discrimination. An estimated 11.3 million LGBT people live in the U.S., according to the Williams Institute at the UCLA law school.
But Monday's decision is not likely to be the court's last word on a host of issues revolving around LGBT rights, Gorsuch noted. Lawsuits are pending over transgender athletes' participation in school sporting events, and courts also are dealing with cases about sex-segregated bathrooms and locker rooms, a subject that the justices seemed concerned about during arguments in October. Employers who have religious objections to employing LGBT people also might be able to raise those claims in a different case, Gorsuch said.
''But none of these other laws are before us; we have not had the benefit of adversarial testing about the meaning of their terms, and we do not prejudge any such question today," he wrote. The cases were the court's first on LGBT rights since Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement and replacement by Kavanaugh. Kennedy was a voice for gay rights and the author of the landmark ruling in 2015 that made same-sex marriage legal throughout the United States. Kavanaugh generally is regarded as more conservative.
The Trump administration had changed course from the Obama administration, which supported LGBT workers in their discrimination claims under Title VII. During the Obama years, the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission had changed its longstanding interpretation of civil rights law to include discrimination against LGBT people. The law prohibits discrimination because of sex, but has no specific protection for sexual orientation or gender identity.
In recent years, some lower courts have held that discrimination against LGBT people is a subset of sex discrimination, and thus prohibited by the federal law. Efforts by Congress to change the law have so far failed.
The Supreme Court cases involved two gay men and a transgender woman who sued for employment discrimination after they lost their jobs. Aimee Stephens lost her job as a funeral director in the Detroit area after she revealed to her boss that she had struggled with gender most of her life and had, at long last, ''decided to become the person that my mind already is.'' Stephens told funeral home owner Thomas Rost that following a vacation, she would report to work wearing a conservative skirt suit or dress that Rost required for women who worked at his three funeral homes. Rost fired Stephens.
The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati, Ohio, ruled that the firing constituted sex discrimination under federal law. Stephens died last month. Donna Stephens, her wife of 20 years, said in a statement that she is "grateful for this victory to honor the legacy of Aimee, and to ensure people are treated fairly regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity.''
The federal appeals court in New York ruled in favor of a gay skydiving instructor who claimed he was fired because of his sexual orientation. The full 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled 10-3 that it was abandoning its earlier holding that Title VII didn't cover sexual orientation because ''legal doctrine evolves.'' The court held that ''sexual orientation discrimination is motivated, at least in part, by sex and is thus a subset of sex discrimination.''
That ruling was a victory for the relatives of Donald Zarda, who was fired in 2010 from a skydiving job in Central Islip, New York, that required him to strap himself tightly to clients so they could jump in tandem from an airplane. He tried to put a woman with whom he was jumping at ease by explaining that he was gay. The school fired Zarda after the woman's boyfriend called to complain.
Zarda died in a wingsuit accident in Switzerland in 2014. In a case from Georgia, the federal appeals court in Atlanta ruled against Gerald Bostock, a gay employee of Clayton County, in the Atlanta suburbs. Bostock claimed he was fired in 2013 because he is gay. The county argues that Bostock was let go because of the results of an audit of funds he managed.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals dismissed Bostock's claim in a three-page opinion that noted the court was bound by a 1979 decision that held ''discharge for homosexuality is not prohibited by Title VII.''
Associated Press writer Ed White contributed to this report from Detroit.
Subjects Government and politics, Discrimination, Human rights and civil liberties, Social issues People Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy Locations United States, North America, Atlanta, Georgia Organisations Supreme Court of the United States, United States government
Why drag is an important part of Black Lives Matter
Mon, 15 Jun 2020 10:27
Jo Mama's friends warned her not to protest against police brutality while dressed in drag. If something happened, they argued, people could grab items off of her, or she could become a target.
''So I went in drag on purpose. Kind of in defiance, to be like, 'You're going see me,''' the Chicago queen said. ''I'm going to be present. You can't miss me and you're going to hear my voice.''
With Pride month celebrations halted amid the coronavirus pandemic, Black drag queens are continuing their legacy of protesting inequalities in the U.S. by taking to the streets in support of the Black Lives Matter movement, donating to social justice organizations, supporting Black businesses and using their social media platforms to spread messages of support and to share resources. All while wearing glitter-flecked dresses, high heels, wigs and masks.
Their advocacy comes as protests have unfolded across the nation in recent weeks after the death of George Floyd, a Black man in Minneapolis who was pinned to the ground by officers after being accused of passing a fake $20 bill at a grocery store. Black Lives Matter organizers are calling for local officials to defund police departments and for all Americans to do more to end centuries of systemic racism against Black people in the U.S.
Remember:Why we owe Pride to black transgender women who threw bricks at cops
For Bob the Drag Queen, winner of ''RuPaul's Drag Race'' season 8, the movement is ''compounded by a lot of things. Pandemic, people have been living in their homes without income for almost three months. ''I can just easily see how that would put someone at their wit's end.''
Bob, 33, has been directing her more than 1.2 million Instagram followers and 421,000 Twitter followers to resources on how to be an effective ally and help drive legislative change.
At a time when peaceful protesters have been attacked and gassed by police officers and National Guards members, many Black drag queens, who can stand out even in large crowds, understand that they are putting themselves at risk by advocating loudly for change. But the need to fight against systemic racism and discrimination outweighs those risks, they said.
They are building on a storied history of Black drag queens squaring off against violence to demand civil rights. In 1969, bar patrons and neighborhood residents in New York City's Greenwich Village rioted and protested after police raided the Stonewall Inn. The uprising that unfolded across six days of protests and violent clashes with law enforcement outside the popular gay bar is heralded as the catalyst for LGBTQ rights in the United States.
And while no one is really sure who threw the first brick, Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, pioneering transgender activists and drag performers of color who were at the riots, have been credited for being pivotal figures in the uprising and the fight for LGBTQ rights. After the riots, Johnson and Rivera advocated on behalf of those affected by HIV and AIDS, and LGBTQ homeless youth, founding the Street Transvestite Action Revolutionaries in New York, a group that provided support to poor young people shunned by their families.
Before that, the Council on Religion and the Homosexual '' a joint venture of liberal Protestant clergy, and gay and lesbian activists '' held a drag ball at San Francisco's California Hall on New Year's Day 1965. Police, who had threatened to arrest anyone dressed in drag, showed up with lights and cameras and repeatedly entered the venue to "make inspections," but when attorneys at the event challenged officers, they were arrested. The next day, clergy leaders held a press conference decrying police harassment against LGBTQ people, helping to raise awareness for the movement.
''I'm a big believer that drag at its core is its own kind of punk act of defiance,'' said Jo Mama, 34.
After marching in drag in a Black Lives Matter protest, she organized her own march in Chicago's Boystown neighborhood, one of the largest LGBTQ communities in the Midwest, with Black drag speakers. The event ''Drag March for Change'' is focused on demanding justice for Black victims of police violence and raising awareness for violence against Black trans women. It's scheduled for Sunday and has almost 7,000 marked as interested on Facebook.
Many LGBTQ leaders have historically overlooked Black LBGTQ people's unique experiences and role in advancing civil rights in the U.S., said Earl Fowlkes Jr., president and CEO of the Center For Black Equity, a nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., focused on economic and social equity for Black LGBTQ people. Fowlkes said the Stonewall protests were "a reaction from gender non-comforming individuals who were sick of the racism from the police department, and tired from the racism they were seeing from the LGBTQ community."
He is relieved many Pride marches this year have been canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
''My fear is that some of the more insensitive leaders from the Pride organizations would still have these marches despite what's going on and there would be a further rift between the LGBTQ community and the Black community,'' Fowlkes added.
That was the case for Los Angeles Pride, one of the nation's largest annual Pride celebrations, which announced last week it would hold a ''solidarity march'' in support of Black Lives Matter-led protests and asked police to staff the event. But the organizers did not reach out to any Black Lives Matter activists before announcing the decision, raising questions about whether the Pride event was putting Black people in danger of police violence and ignoring their needs.
At protests, it's important for allies to show support but stay in their lane, said New Jersey drag queen Harmonica Sunbeam. She has been doing virtual events ranging from drag queen Bingo to coordinating Drag Queen Story Hour for North Jersey during lockdown, but last weekend she decided it was time to hit the streets and march in her first Black Lives Matter protest.
There is a tendency for fans of the art of drag to prioritize what white drag queens say and do over their Black counterparts. Black drag queens who participate in the most visible drag show right now, ''RuPaul's Drag Race,'' said they have been targeted by online bullying and death threats.
''This fight is our fight first and we welcome anyone else to join with us, but always know your place,'' Harmonica Sunbeam, 50, said.
That means letting Black people do the groundwork of organizing a protest, she said.
Miss Toto, a Chicago drag queen who has been doing online fundraisers for Black Lives Matter causes, said it's essential to listen to what ''Black drag queens are saying without trying to dismiss it.''
Miz Cracker, a white drag queen currently competing in "RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars" 5, said allies should use their platform to share what Black queens have to say. Miz Cracker wore full drag to attend a Pride vigil on June 1 honoring Black Lives Matter and protesting the violence against Black trans women. She attended as part of a group of other drag performers and trans activists of color.
''Use your privilege to make sure that Black people are heard. I'm not trying to talk about myself right now, I'm trying to pass on the knowledge of the Black people I admire,'' Miz Cracker said.
White allies might inadvertently say or do the wrong thing, but they should be open to constructive criticism, she said.
''One of the hardest things to do is hear someone say 'you shouldn't have done that, 'you shouldn't have said that.' And if you can hear that, that's very important, that's a huge step toward being an ally and an activist,'' Miz Cracker, 36, said.
Miss Toto initially debated whether to attend a protest in drag or not, but ultimately decided that as a first aid and CPR-trained individual, she would be more valuable out of drag in case something terrible happened. In recent weeks, she's organized online drag shows that focus on raising awareness for the Black Lives Matter movement to her roughly 21,000 Instagram followers and 12,000 Twitter followers.
''It makes them listen suddenly when you put a wig on and some lashes,'' said Miss Toto, 27.
She tries to make her shows relevant to what's going on in the world by ''stacking'' them with Black performers and having donations funneled toward organizations working on racial inequality, including: The Bail Fund, combating mass incarceration, Contigo Fund, providing funds to organizations helping LGBTQ Latinxs, and the Equal Justice Initiative, working on mass incarceration and excessive punishment.
''That's another way that I've kind of politicized and polarized my drag,'' she said.
Many Black drag queens supporting the movement are balancing whether they should go out and protest or risk getting coronavirus. As the COVID-19 outbreak continues taking the lives of LGBTQ Americans, especially those of color, it is leaving a population already vulnerable to health care and employment discrimination suffering from high job losses and a growing rate of positive cases, according to preliminary data collected from multiple LGBTQ advocacy groups.
''Most people at (protests) are wearing masks and being aware of the virus, as well. But in many ways going to this is a statement, you're aware of the virus but this is more important,'' Jo Mama said.
Bob the Drag Queen was worried about spreading the virus, so she provided support for the protest movement by going down to the police precincts to pick up friends from jail instead of marching in the streets.
''I want to go visit my mom when this is all said and done, and my mom has a compromised immune system,'' she said.
Many Black drag queens are also encouraging fans to support Black businesses and examining their own behaviors '' including their social media presence.
''If you can't find a single person of color in the first five photos, then you have a problem. That looks like it could be a symptom of racism. You need to examine why that is,'' Jo Mama said.
Follow David Oliver and Josh Rivera on Twitter: @doliver8 and @Josh1Rivera.
OSU football coach Mike Gundy issues apology: 'Black lives matter to me'
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 07:42
My Tools Search Read It Later Recently Read Newsletters Ads NewsOK HomeOpinionVideosBRANDINSIGHTPrint ReplicaArchives Shopping ClassifiedsHomesJobsAutos ShopNewspaper Ads Account Subscriber servicesMobile-Friendly Account ManagementLog OutSettingsAdvertise with UsPAY YOUR AD BILLPrivacy policyTerms of use NewsOK: Oklahoma City News, Sports, Weather & Entertainment
by Jacob Unruh Published: Tue, June 16, 2020 4:30 PM Updated: Tue, June 16, 2020 6:27 PM
Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy fives the student section a thumbs up following the college football game between the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Kansas State Wildcats at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. OSU won 26-13. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]STILLWATER '-- Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy sat in front of the camera and forcefully delivered an apology.
He disassociated with One America News Network '-- a far-right, pro-Donald Trump cable news network rated by Media Bias/Fact Check as being "not a credible news source'' '-- by saying he was ''disgusted'' when he learned of the network's controversial view on the organization Black Lives Matter and its movement.
Gundy sided with his players, many of whom protested program-related activities alongside superstar Chuba Hubbard after a photo of Gundy wearing an OAN Network shirt was posted on social media.
''I want to apologize to all members of our team, former players and their families for the pain and discomfort that has been caused over the last two days,'' Gundy said. ''Black lives matter to me. Our players matter to me.''
He then promised changes within the program.
''These meetings with our team have been eye-opening and will result in positive changes for Oklahoma State football,'' Gundy concluded.
To cap perhaps the wildest 36 hours in OSU offseason history, Gundy showed remorse in a minute-long video aimed to reunite his program.
''A step in the right direction,'' Hubbard tweeted.
OSU safety Tre Sterling also tweeted: ''Real men accept their mistakes and make them right! I respect our Coach and everyone else needs to! Let's get the season going!''
Just 24 hours before, OSU players threatened a boycott of the program and Gundy. Hubbard began the movement with a tweet.
''I will not stand for this,'' Hubbard tweeted about a photo of Gundy wearing an OAN Network shirt. ''This is completely insensitive to everything going on in society, and it's unacceptable. I will not be doing anything with Oklahoma State until things CHANGE.''
Several current and former players supported Hubbard's tweet. Gundy's words in April favoring the network weren't unnoticed. Several former players alluded to more behind-the-scenes problems.
OSU president Burns Hargis and athletic director Mike Holder each issued statements supporting the players.
Before nightfall, Gundy and Hubbard hugged in a video together, with Hubbard apologizing for not approaching Gundy in person. Gundy promised changes, but did not apologize.
(Story continued below...)
On Tuesday, Hubbard offered more clarity on his video comments, but did not back down from his original stance.
''I had to hold him accountable either way,'' Hubbard wrote. ''I am glad things happened the way they did because things are being changed as we speak!''
By Tuesday evening, Hubbard's movement took a giant leap forward.
Gundy said he met with players throughout the day. Their view of his T-shirt was heard. He said he listened.
''I sincerely hope the Oklahoma State family near and far will accept my humble apology as we move forward,'' Gundy said.
Related Photos Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy fives the student section a thumbs up following the college football game between the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Kansas State Wildcats at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. OSU won 26-13. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]
Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy fives the student section a thumbs up following the college football game between the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the Kansas State Wildcats at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Sept. 28, 2019. OSU won 26-13. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman]Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy waves to faves following the college football game between the Oklahoma State University Cowboys and the Kansas Jayhawks at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019. OSU won 31-13. [Sarah Phipps/The Oklahoman] Jacob Unruh
Jacob Unruh is a graduate of Northeastern State University. He was born in Cherokee and raised near Vera where he attended Caney Valley High School.During his tenure at NSU, Unruh wrote for The Northeastern (NSU's student newspaper), the... Read more 'º
Comments
CCP
Charles Lieber indicted on false statement charges
Thu, 18 Jun 2020 07:03
Credit: Katherine Taylor/Reuters/Newscom
Charles Lieber leaving the federal courthouse in Boston after he was release on bail in January.
Charles M. Lieber, an expert in nanoscience and former chair of Harvard University's Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department, was indicted by a federal grand jury on June 9. The grand jury formally charged Lieber with two counts of making false statements about his association with China's Thousand Talents program. He will appear before a Boston federal court to answer the charges at a later date, according to a press release from the US Department of Justice.
Lieber was first arrested for alleged fraud on Jan. 28. He has been out on $1 million bail since Jan. 30. He is currently on leave from Harvard.
US federal authorities allege that unbeknownst to Harvard, Lieber accepted a position at Wuhan University of Technology in 2011 and joined the Thousand Talents program from 2012 to 2015. Lieber and his research group have received more than $15 million in research grants from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Department of Defense (DOD), agencies that require their grantees to disclose all sources of research funding, potential financial conflicts of interest, and foreign collaborations.
The indictment claims that Lieber told investigators from the DOD that he was never asked to participate in the Thousand Talents Program. It also says that Lieber misled Harvard, causing the university to falsely claim to the NIH that he had never participated in the Chinese program.
''The government has this wrong. Professor Lieber has dedicated his life to science and to his students,'' Lieber's attorneys Marc Mukasey and Torrey Young say in a statement. ''When justice is done, Charlie's good name will be restored and the scientific community again will be able to benefit from his intellect and passion.''
Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright (C) 2020 American Chemical Society
Sign up for C&EN's must-read weekly newsletter
"); document.getElementById("form6999").reset(); }, error: function (jXHR, textStatus, errorThrown) { alert("This field is required"); } }); } }); });
54 Scientists Given NIH Grants Fired for Failure to Disclose Foreign Ties
Mon, 15 Jun 2020 10:12
At least 54 scientists who received grants from the National Institutes of Health have been fired for failure to disclose their ties to foreign governments, particularly China, according to an ongoing investigation.
The NIH since 2018 has been investigating instances of fraud by scientists who received federal grant money. In 93 percent of cases investigated by NIH, these scientists failed to disclose their ties to China. Nearly $165 million in grants had been disbursed to these scientists.
The findings, first reported by Science magazine, provide evidence that China has amplified its efforts to place its scientists into sensitive U.S.-funded research programs. Once in the NIH system, these scientists can steal research and send it back to China, where it can be used to boost the Communist regime.
Congress has been concerned about stolen U.S. scientific research for some time. A 2019 investigation by the Senate Permanent Select Committee on Investigations found that Chinese scientists enlisted in the country's Thousand Talents Program, which recruits overseas researchers to bring their talents back to China, "set up 'shadow labs' in China '... and, in some cases, transfer U.S. scientists' hard-earned intellectual capital."
Three quarters of the scientists found to have hidden their ties to foreign governments like China had active NIH grants.
NIH identified 399 scientists of possible concern, according to Science magazine. The FBI confirmed that at least 30 percent, or 121 individuals, lied about their ties to foreign governments.
Adam Kredo is senior writer reporting on national security and foreign policy matters for the Washington Free Beacon. An award-winning political reporter who has broken news from across the globe, Kredo's work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Commentary Magazine, the Drudge Report, and the Jerusalem Post, among many others. His Twitter handle is @Kredo0. His email address is kredo@freebeacon.com.
Fifty-four scientists have lost their jobs as a result of NIH probe into foreign ties | Science | AAAS
Mon, 15 Jun 2020 11:59
The National Institutes of Health has been investigating grantees suspected of not disclosing their links to foreign institutions, notably in China.
National Institutes of Health By Jeffrey MervisJun. 12, 2020 , 6:00 PM
Some 54 scientists have resigned or been fired as a result of an ongoing investigation by the National Institutes of Health into the failure of NIH grantees to disclose financial ties to foreign governments. In 93% of those cases, the hidden funding came from a Chinese institution.
The new numbers come from Michael Lauer, NIH's head of extramural research. Lauer had previously provided some information on the scope of NIH's investigation, which had targeted 189 scientists at 87 institutions. But his presentation today to a senior advisory panel offered by far the most detailed breakout of an effort NIH launched in August 2018 that has roiled the U.S. biomedical community, and resulted in criminal charges against some prominent researchers, including Charles Lieber, chair of Harvard University's department of chemistry and chemical biology.
''It's not what we had hoped, and it's not a fun task,'' NIH Director Francis Collins said in characterizing the ongoing investigation. He called the data ''sobering.''
In the vast majority of cases, Lauer reported, the person being investigated has been an Asian man in his 50s. Some three-quarters of those under investigation had active NIH grants, and nearly half had at least two grants. The 285 active grants totaled $164 million.
Lauer also presented data on the nature of the violations that NIH has uncovered. Some 70% (133) of the researchers had failed to disclose to NIH the receipt of a foreign grant, and 54% had failed to disclose participation in a foreign talent program. In contrast, Lauer said, only 9% hid ties to a foreign company, and only 4% had an undisclosed foreign patent. Some 5% of cases involved a violation of NIH's peer-review system.
Lauer said the fact that 82% of those being investigated are Asian ''is not surprising'' because ''that's who the Chinese target'' in their foreign talent recruitment programs. Some 82% are men, and their median age is 56, with the youngest being 48 and the oldest 59. Slightly more than one-half had been an NIH peer reviewer in the past 2 years, and 41% of those under investigation (77 scientists) have been banned from further participation in NIH's well-regarded system of vetting grant proposals.
NIH has been in the forefront of federal efforts to identify and block behavior that many U.S. government officials say poses a significant threat to the country's economic well-being and to national security. Several bills pending in Congress seek to limit that threat in various ways, including by limiting the flow of scientific talent from China to the United States, and by restricting access to federally funded research that provides a foundation for cutting-edge technologies and new industries.
Lauer's presentation also provided a glimpse into the scope of that broader investigation. There are 399 scientists ''of possible concern'' to NIH, he told the advisory council, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation has fingered 30% (121) of them. An additional 44 have been flagged by their own institutions. Of that pool, Lauer said, investigations into 63%, or 256 scientists, came out ''positive.'' Investigations into some 19% came up ''negative,'' he noted, whereas the status of the remaining 18% is ''pending.''
While Austin's in Crisis, Mayor Escapes on Lavish Holiday | Texas Scorecard
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 22:54
AUSTIN '-- While violent homelessness chaos unravels in the streets and working families' wallets are getting plundered by city hall, the mayor is busy relaxing in a mountain-view infinity pool.
Amid startling citywide crises that he helped create, Mayor Steve Adler took to Twitter over the holidays and posted a picture of himself wading in an infinity pool that overlooked bayside mountains.
''Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Hollidays [sic],'' Adler tweeted.
With Sarah, her fianc(C) Matt, and Diane'... wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and Happy Hollidays. pic.twitter.com/mVhSPiq6rj
'-- Mayor Adler (@MayorAdler) December 25, 2019
For many Austinites, though, Adler's actions haven't exactly made their spirits bright.
Over the past several years, Adler has constantly voted to take more money from Austinites. In fact, compared to just 11 years ago, city hall is now taking 100 percent more cash from the median homeowner'--what used to be a $705 median tax bill, Adler has helped raise to over $1,400 per year.
On top of that, Adler and the Austin City Council have raised both rent and cost-of-living prices through their strict construction regulations, affecting the builds of new apartments and homes.
Still more, over the last several months, Adler led an effort to legalize homeless camping throughout the city'--a controversial decision that sparked a wildfire of community outrage, alarming public safety risk, and statewide backlash. Adler and the city council eventually overturned their law, but only partially.
Despite all of that, while Austin families struggle to afford Adler's Austin and pay up the cash he and the city council demand, the mayor appears to have had a great time vacationing overseas. Though the location of the mountain-view pool was unspecified, Adler posted a picture three days earlier of he and his family touring the famous terracotta warriors site in China.
''Must be nice cyphoning [sic] all that tax money to something luxurious!!!'' one citizen replied to Adler's tweet.
''What was your carbon footprint?'' another citizen asked.
''This is the perfect example of how out of touch Adler is!'' another tweeted. ''Austin is a mess, horrible traffic, homeless camps, racism amongst top leaders, extremely high taxes. But here he is waving from a luxurious spot.''
Spotlight: Innovation set to propel U.S. city Austin's ties with China - Xinhua | English.news.cn
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 22:40
Xinhua Photo
AUSTIN, the United States, March 12 (Xinhua) -- The southern U.S. city of Austin is seeking to expand its relations with China, welcoming, with arms wide open, exchanges and cooperation opportunities in education, innovation and beyond.
"Our relationship with China has really accelerated recently," Austin Mayor Steve Adler told Xinhua on the sidelines of the ongoing South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festivals.
Historically, the relationship between Austin, the state capital of Texas, and China had primarily been through educational exchanges, according to Adler.
This changed when the city began to bring in more technology companies, and as a result, a lot more people from China. "As we have moved forward now, there's a lot more interaction that goes beyond that, with companies, with innovation platforms," the mayor said.
Adler said he is planning a second trip to China this year. "We are trying very hard to build relationships between Austin companies and Austinites, and Chinese companies and Chinese people," he said.
A Chinese delegation of more than 100 people, twice the size of that last year, came to this year's SXSW, a signature event in Austin which gathers innovators and entrepreneurs from across the globe to breed and fund new ideas.
Chinese companies, including e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, sent innovators to inspire others with their design ideas and get inspired.
China has an increasingly large presence at the SXSW, and as the whole festival is growing more and more international, Chinese involvement is a big part of that, Adler said.
"Chinese delegations now are creating quite a storm and quite an excitement, just because of the size of the delegations, the interest in sharing new technologies, new innovations and new platforms, investing Chinese companies here in Austin as well as opening up Chinese markets for businesses in Austin to be able to flourish with," he said.
Austin has been growing rapidly and earned itself a reputation as one of the most innovative cities in the United States. It is home to 46 incubators and a great many tech giants, such as Dell, according to city officials.
"Austin boasts great ideas and environment for innovation, which is hugely attractive to Chinese companies," Chinese Consul General in Houston Li Qiangmin said Friday after an event held on the sidelines of the SXSW to promote Chengdu, capital city of southwestern China's Sichuan Province.
Both "forward-looking," Austin and Chengdu are "cities that are technology and innovation centers," Adler said, adding that different kinds of relationships could hopefully be forged between the two.
"Conversations and meetings like this will lead to science city, friendship city kinds of relationship. That is in our future," he said.
"The delegation from Chengdu is the largest ever we've received from a Chinese city," the Austin mayor added, commending the delegations from China as "a very significant part of what makes SXSW very special."
There is a great deal of interaction going on between Austin and China, the Chinese consul general said, citing the "big investment" Dell has made in Chengdu and several other Chinese cities.
More and more people, companies and cities in China are willing to seek cooperation with Austin, he noted.
Austin's Mayor, Hon. Steven Adler, Leads Economic Development Mission to Asia with Texas Growth Fund | Texas Growth Fund
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 13:14
The Honorable Mr. Steven Adler, mayor of Austin Texas, recently led an economic development delegation with Texas Growth Fund to China, South Korea, Singapore and Taiwan.
First Lady Diane Land, Hon. Mayor Mr. Steven Adler, Texas Growth Fund CEO Rob GritzEB-5 Thought Leaders at Reception & Dinner, ShanghaiWhile in China, the Mayor and First Lady attended a reception and dinner in Shanghai with EB-5 executive thought leaders, hosted by Texas Growth Fund. They introduced the exciting investment environment afforded by Austin's booming technology, real estate and infrastructure sectors.
For many in attendance, it was the first time they had learned that Austin is the fastest-growing city in the United States, as well as a major creative center where technology meets music and media, with a diversified economy and an unmatched quality of life.
You can learn more about America's number one city for jobs and culture by clicking here.
Texas Growth Fund is fortunate to have so vibrant a local economy in which to provide opportunities to EB-5 and private equity investors, and to have so welcoming a culture to share with our overseas partners '' at present, Texas Growth Fund has four EB-5 projects in the city of Austin, and another close by at the University of Houston, Texas.
Please contact us for more information.
Innovation set to propel U.S. city Austin's ties with China
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 13:10
Austin Mayor Steve Adler addresses an event promoting southwest China's city of Chengdu in the south U.S. city of Austin, March 8, 2019. Austin is seeking to expand its relations with China, welcoming, with arms wide open, exchanges and cooperation opportunities in education, innovation and beyond. "Our relationship with China has really accelerated recently," Austin Mayor Steve Adler told Xinhua on the sidelines of the ongoing South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festivals. (Xinhua/Wang Ying)
AUSTIN, the United States, March 12 (Xinhua) -- The southern U.S. city of Austin is seeking to expand its relations with China, welcoming, with arms wide open, exchanges and cooperation opportunities in education, innovation and beyond.
"Our relationship with China has really accelerated recently," Austin Mayor Steve Adler told Xinhua on the sidelines of the ongoing South by Southwest (SXSW) Conference and Festivals.
Historically, the relationship between Austin, the state capital of Texas, and China had primarily been through educational exchanges, according to Adler.
This changed when the city began to bring in more technology companies, and as a result, a lot more people from China. "As we have moved forward now, there's a lot more interaction that goes beyond that, with companies, with innovation platforms," the mayor said.
Adler said he is planning a second trip to China this year. "We are trying very hard to build relationships between Austin companies and Austinites, and Chinese companies and Chinese people," he said.
A Chinese delegation of more than 100 people, twice the size of that last year, came to this year's SXSW, a signature event in Austin which gathers innovators and entrepreneurs from across the globe to breed and fund new ideas.
Chinese companies, including e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, sent innovators to inspire others with their design ideas and get inspired.
China has an increasingly large presence at the SXSW, and as the whole festival is growing more and more international, Chinese involvement is a big part of that, Adler said.
"Chinese delegations now are creating quite a storm and quite an excitement, just because of the size of the delegations, the interest in sharing new technologies, new innovations and new platforms, investing Chinese companies here in Austin as well as opening up Chinese markets for businesses in Austin to be able to flourish with," he said.
Austin has been growing rapidly and earned itself a reputation as one of the most innovative cities in the United States. It is home to 46 incubators and a great many tech giants, such as Dell, according to city officials.
"Austin boasts great ideas and environment for innovation, which is hugely attractive to Chinese companies," Chinese Consul General in Houston Li Qiangmin said Friday after an event held on the sidelines of the SXSW to promote Chengdu, capital city of southwestern China's Sichuan Province.
Both "forward-looking," Austin and Chengdu are "cities that are technology and innovation centers," Adler said, adding that different kinds of relationships could hopefully be forged between the two.
"Conversations and meetings like this will lead to science city, friendship city kinds of relationship. That is in our future," he said.
"The delegation from Chengdu is the largest ever we've received from a Chinese city," the Austin mayor added, commending the delegations from China as "a very significant part of what makes SXSW very special."
There is a great deal of interaction going on between Austin and China, the Chinese consul general said, citing the "big investment" Dell has made in Chengdu and several other Chinese cities.
More and more people, companies and cities in China are willing to seek cooperation with Austin, he noted.
45 Communist goals for America - TheBlaze
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 10:12
It was Jan. 10, 1963, that Congressman Albert S. Herlong. Jr. from Florida read the list of 45 Communist goals for America into the Congressional Record. The purpose of him reading this was to gain insight into liberal elite ideas and strategies for America that sound awfully familiar today.
On Wednesday's episode of "Pat Gray Unleashed," Pat and producer Keith revisited Cleon Skousen's book and compared it to the current state of affairs in America and to the Democratic Party's platform.
1. U.S. should accept coexistence as the only alternative to atomic war.2. U.S. should be willing to capitulate in preference to engaging in atomic war.
These encapsulate the Kennan Doctrine, which advocated for the "containment" of communism. Establishment figures supporting the amoral containment policy at least implicitly worked with the communists in scaring the wits out of the American people concerning atomic war.
President Ronald Reagan undid the doctrine when he took an aggressive stand against the Evil Empire by backing freedom fighters from around the world that were struggling against the left-wing communist jackboot. As a result, the Soviet Union and its satellites imploded, a considerable and unexpected setback to the international communist edifice.
3. Develop the illusion that total disarmament by the U.S. would be a demonstration of "moral strength."
The nuclear freeze advocates supported a freeze on
4. Permit free trade between all nations regardless of Communist affiliation and regardless of whether or not items could be used for war.
Today, there are calls to end the embargo on the slave island of Cuba, there were complaints about the embargo against Iraq, and the U.S., not Saddam Hussein, was blamed for the suffering of the Iraqi people. Would they have advocated for free trade with Hitler and his National Socialist regime?
5. Extend long-term loans to Russia and Soviet satellites.
6. Provide American aid to all nations regardless of Communist domination.
Such aid and trade over decades contributed greatly to the left-wing communist liquidation of over 100 million people worldwide, according to the well-documented "Black Book of Communism."
This aid and trade marks a shameful chapter in American history. Without the aid and trade, the left-wing international communist behemoth would have imploded on its own rot a lot sooner and umpteen millions would have been saved from poverty, misery, starvation and death.
7. Grant recognition of Red China and admission of Red China to the U.N.
Not only did President Jimmy Carter fulfill this goal but he also betrayed America's allies in Nicaragua, El Salvador, Iran, Afghanistan, Angola and elsewhere.
8. Set up East and West Germany as separate states in spite of Khrushchev's promise in 1955 to settle the Germany question by free elections under supervision of the U.N.
9. Prolong the conferences to ban atomic tests because the U.S. has agreed to suspend tests as long as negotiations are in progress.
10. Allow all Soviet satellites individual representation in the U.N.
11. Promote the U.N. as the only hope for mankind. If its charter is rewritten, demand that it be set up as a one-world government with its own independent armed forces.
There are still American intellectuals, and elected members of Congress, who dream of an eventual one world government and who view the U.N., founded by communists such as Alger Hiss, the first secretary-general, as the instrument to bring this about.
World government was also the dream of Adolf Hitler and J.V. Stalin. World government was the dream of Osama bin Laden and the 9/11 hijackers.
12. Resist any attempt to outlaw the Communist Party.
13. Do away with loyalty oaths.
14. Continue giving Russia access to the U.S. Patent Office.
While the idea of banning any political party runs contrary to notions of American freedom and liberty, notions that are the exact opposite of those held by the left-wing communists themselves, nevertheless these goals sought to undermine the constitutional obligation of Congress to investigate subversion. The weakening of our government's ability to conduct such investigations led to the attack of 9/11.
It is entirely proper and appropriate for our government to expect employees, paid by the American taxpayer, to take an oath of loyalty.
15. Capture one or both of the political parties in the U.S.
In his book "Reagan's War," Peter Schweizer demonstrates the astonishing degree to which communists and communist sympathizers have penetrated the Democratic Party. In his book, Schweizer writes about the presidential election of 1979.
16. Use technical decisions of the courts to weaken basic American institutions, by claiming their activities violate civil rights.
This strategy goes back to the founding of the American Civil Liberties Union by Fabian Socialists Roger Baldwin and John Dewey and Communists William Z. Foster and Elizabeth Gurley Flynn among others.
17. Get control of the schools. Use them as transmission belts for Socialism and current Communist propaganda. Soften the curriculum. Get control of teachers associations. Put the party line in textbooks.
18. Gain control of all student newspapers.
19. Use student riots to foment public protests against programs or organizations that are under Communist attack.
The success of these goals, from a communist perspective, is obvious. Is there any doubt this is so?
20. Infiltrate the press. Get control of book review assignments, editorial writing, policy-making positions.
21. Gain control of key positions in radio, TV & motion pictures.
22. Continue discrediting American culture by degrading all form of artistic expression. An American Communist cell was told to "eliminate all good sculpture from parks and buildings," substituting shapeless, awkward and meaningless forms.
23. Control art critics and directors of art museums. " Our plan is to promote ugliness, repulsive, meaningless art."
24.Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them "censorship" and a violation of free speech and free press.
25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio and TV.
26. Present homosexuality, degeneracy and promiscuity as "normal, natural and healthy."
This is the Gramscian agenda of the "long march through the institutions" spelled out explicitly: gradual takeover of the "means of communication" and then using those vehicles to debauch the culture and weaken the will of the individual to resist.
Today those few who still have the courage to advocate public morality are denounced and viciously attacked. Most Americans are entirely unwitting regarding the motives behind this agenda.
27. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with "social" religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity, which does not need a "religious crutch."
This has been largely accomplished through the communist infiltration of the National Council of Churches, Conservative and Reform Judaism, and the Catholic seminaries.
28. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the grounds that it violates the principle of "separation of church and state"
Replacing belief in the creator with belief in the earthly man-controlled State.
29. Discredit the American Constitution by calling it inadequate, old fashioned, out of step with modern needs, a hindrance to cooperation between nations on a worldwide basis.
And replace our nation of "laws, not men" with royal decree emanating from appointed judges and executive orders. Replace elected officials with bureaucrats.
30. Discredit the American founding fathers. Present them as selfish aristocrats who had no concern for the "common man."
31. Belittle all forms of American culture and discourage the teaching of American history on the ground that it was only a minor part of "the big picture." Give more emphasis to Russian history since the Communists took over.
Obliterating the American past, with its antecedents in principles of freedom, liberty and private ownership is a major goal of the communists then and now.
32. Support any socialist movement to give centralized control over any part of the culture '' education, social agencies, welfare programs, mental health clinics, etc.
Public ownership of the means of production, the core principle of totalitarianism.
33. Eliminate all laws or procedures which interfere with the operation of the Communist apparatus.
34. Eliminate the House Committee on Un-American Activities.
35. Discredit and eventually dismantle the FBI.
36. Infiltrate and gain control of more unions.
37. Infiltrate and gain control of big business.
Turn America into a socialist police state.
38. Transfer some of the powers of arrest from the police to social agencies. Treat all behavioral problems as psychiatric disorders which no one but psychiatrists can understand or treat.
The Soviets used to send "social misfits" and those deemed politically incorrect to massive mental institutions called gulags. The Red Chinese call them
39. Dominate the psychiatric profession and use mental health laws as a means of gaining coercive control over those who oppose communist goals.
Psychiatry remains a bulwark of the communist agenda of fostering self-criticism and docility.
40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce.
Done! The sovereign family is the single most powerful obstacle to authoritarian control.
41. Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks and retarding of children to suppressive influence of parents.
Outcome-based education, values clarification or whatever they're calling it this year.
42. Create the impression that violence and insurrection are legitimate aspects of the American tradition; that students and special interest groups should rise up and make a "united force" to solve economic, political or social problems.
This describes the dialectical fostering of group consciousness and conflict, which furthers the interests of authoritarianism.
43. Overthrow all colonial governments before native populations are ready for self-government.
The results of this successful campaign are increasingly obvious in the world today.
44. Internationalize the Panama Canal.
45. Repeal the Connally Reservation so the U.S. cannot prevent the World Court from seizing jurisdiction over domestic problems. Give the World Court jurisdiction over domestic problems. Give the World Court jurisdiction over nations and individuals alike.
This would mark a complete subversion of our Constitution and an end to representative sovereign government as we know it, which is the whole idea.
Zoom Acknowledges It Suspended Activists' Accounts At China's Request : NPR
Mon, 15 Jun 2020 09:08
Zoom acknowledged Thursday that it had suspended three accounts belonging to activists at China's request. Two of the accounts belonged to U.S.-based activists and the third to a labor leader in Hong Kong. Mark Lennihan/AP hide caption
toggle caption Mark Lennihan/AP Zoom acknowledged Thursday that it had suspended three accounts belonging to activists at China's request. Two of the accounts belonged to U.S.-based activists and the third to a labor leader in Hong Kong.
Mark Lennihan/AP Teleconferencing company Zoom acknowledged it shut down the accounts of several activists and online commemorations of the Tiananmen Square massacre at China's request. The revelation followed media reports, citing Hong Kong and U.S.-based activists, who found their accounts suspended.
Zoom confirmed the reports, in a blog post Thursday, saying China had notified it in late May and early June of four public gatherings hosted on the platform.
According to the post, China asserted the activities were illegal and requested the events and hosts' accounts be terminated. Zoom said it determined a majority of participants in three of the events came from China and shut them down. The host accounts for the gatherings were then suspended.
"Zoom does not currently have the ability to remove specific participants from a meeting or block participants from a certain country from joining a meeting," the company said.
None of the three accounts '-- two belonging to U.S.-based activists and the third to a Hong Kong activist '-- were based in mainland China. The company said it would no longer block accounts outside of mainland China at Beijing's request, but did not say outright how it would handle such requests that affect users within mainland China. Instead, Zoom said, it would develop technology to block users based on geography.
"This will enable us to comply with requests from local authorities when they determine activity on our platform is illegal within their borders; however, we will also be able to protect these conversations for participants outside of those borders where the activity is allowed," the company said.
Thursday's acknowledgement also drew the attention of U.S. lawmakers, over Zoom's cooperation with Chinese authorities. On Friday, a bipartisan group of senators, including Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Ed Markey, D-Mass., sent a letter to the company's CEO Eric Yuan.
In the letter, lawmakers asked which Chinese laws mandated that the company suspend the accounts of U.S.-based activists Zhou Fengsuo and Wang Dan. The senators also wanted to know why the company terminated the account of labor leader Lee Cheuk Yan who is based in Hong Kong. Lawmakers called the suspensions deeply concerning.
"Your company has admitted that it did so at the request of the Chinese government to comply with the laws of the People's Republic of China (PRC), because some of the participants resided inside the PRC. ... Zoom's millions of daily users across the world who support and demand basic freedoms deserve answers," the senators wrote.
On Friday, Lee told NPR that his event was part of a series of weekly talks: "Is China's autocratic regime a threat to the world?" He said he found his account was blocked just before the third session.
"If you said that, you know, you follow the law of [a] country, but that country [suppresses] free speech. ...Which side are you on? Free speech or suppression of free speech?" Lee said.
NPR's John Ruwitch contributed to this story.
Who Is Karl Marx: Meet the Anti-Capitalist Scholar | Teen Vogue
Thu, 18 Jun 2020 06:29
You may have come across communist memes on social media. The man, the meme, the legend behind this trend is Karl Marx, who developed the theory of communism, which advocates for workers' control over their labor (instead of their bosses). The political philosopher turned 200-years-old on May 5, but his ideas can still teach us about the past and present.
The famed German co-authored The Communist Manifesto with fellow scholar Friedrich Engels in 1848, a piece of writing that makes the case for the political theory of socialism '-- where the community (rather than rich people) have ownership and control over their labor '-- which later inspired millions of people to resist oppressive political leaders and spark political revolutions all over the world. Although Marx was raised in a middle-class family, he later became a scholar who struggled to make ends meet '-- a working-class man, he thought, who could take part in a political revolution.
The Communist Manifesto is most usually the work of Marx taught in schools, and he is one of the most assigned economists in United States college classes. Many may not know that he also studied law in university. He authored three volumes of Das Kapital, which outlined the fundamentals of Marxist theory of capitalism and also organized workers through the International Working Men's Association, otherwise known as the First International. He was an editor of a newspaper that was eventually censored by the Prussian government for speaking out against censorship and challenging the government. His writings have inspired social movements in Soviet Russia, China, Cuba, Argentina, Ghana, Burkina Faso, and more. Many political writers and artists like Angela Davis, Frida Kahlo, Malcolm X, Claudia Jones, Helen Keller, and Walter Rodney integrated Marxist theory into their work decades after his death.
So how can teens learn the legacy of Marx's ideas and how they're relevant to the current political climate? Teen Vogue chatted with two educators about how they apply these concepts to current events in the classroom.
Public high school teacher Mark Brunt teaches excerpts from The Communist Manifesto alongside curriculum about the industrial revolution in his English class. He uses The Jungle by Upton Sinclair '-- a text published in 1906 that revealved the exploitative workplace conditions of the meat industry in Chicago and other industrialized cities many immigrants were subject to in the late 19th century '-- to understand what it was like to work in a factory a little more than a hundred years ago.
Brunt talks about how these factory workers did all of the leg work '-- including slaughtering animals and packaging meat on top of working long days with little, if any, time off '-- to keep the factories intact, yet had very little control over their work, including their working conditions, compared to the profiteering factory owners.
''I do a little role-playing with [my class],'' Brunt tells Teen Vogue. ''[I tell them,] I'm the boss, you're my workers, and you want to try to take me down. I have the money. I own the factory. I control the police. I control the military. I control the government. What do you guys have?''
His students usually blink at him, he says, totally clueless. He insists they actually have something huge, that he, as the boss, will never have: ''It's always just one student, whose hand shoots up and goes, 'We outnumber you!''' Brunt says.
He then introduces Marx's distinction between the proletariat '-- the working class as a whole '-- and bourgeoisie '-- the ruling class who controls the workers and profits from their labor. The tension between the proletariat and bourgeoisie make up the class conflict, or class struggle, he explains.
Although ongoing teacher strikes aren't necessarily Marxist movements, today we can see still see these tensions between classes at play in the Untied States, between state governments and striking teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Arizona, demanding higher pay and more public school funding.
However, in a Marxist revolution, the proletariat will come together to overthrow the bourgeoisie and ultimately, win the class conflict by taking control over their work, or striking. And if such a revolution occured in Brunt's classroom, his students would overthrow him as a teacher '-- and the principal, the superintendent, and so on.
In his advanced class, Brunt also introduces the idea of false consciousness, which is defined as the many ways the working class is mislead to believe certain ideologies '-- like the belief that the boss should always be in charge, no matter what.
''False consciousness is when you think that the social conditions are different than they actually are,'' he says. ''You're tricked into thinking your allies are different and your enemies are different than they actually are.''
Former Drexel University professor George Ciccariello-Maher uses Marx to teach history through an emotional, fluid, and ever-changing lens. He challenges his students to envision a society without capitalism, reminding them that different '-- though still imperfect and flawed '-- economic systems existed before, such as feudalism.
''When I teach Marx, it's got a lot to do with questions of how to think critically about history. Marx says we live under capitalism [but] capitalism has not always existed,'' Ciccariello-Maher tells Teen Vogue. ''It's something that came into being and something that, as a result, just on a logical level, could disappear, could be overthrown, could be abolished, could be irrelevant. There's this myth of the free market, but Marx shows very clearly that capitalism emerged through a state of violence.''
Some examples of violence that aided in the establishment of capitalism in the United States include stealing the land of Indigenous people and trafficking Africans through slavery.
We're oftentimes taught that history moves slowly, but many Marxists disagree with that notion, and believe that that the current socioeconomic system is precarious and can be overthrown at any time.
''Dialectics means that the history moves forward not slowly or gradually or bit by bit, but it moves forward through the sort of crushing blows of struggles between generally two opposing ideas or groups or concepts or people,'' Ciccariello-Maher says.
While you may not necessarily identify as a Marxist, socialist, or communist, you can still use Karl Marx's ideas to use history and class struggles to better understand how the current sociopolitical climate in America came to be. Instead of looking at President Donald Trump's victory in November 2016 as a snapshot, we can turn to the bigger picture of what previous events lead us up to the current moment.
Get the Teen Vogue Take. Sign up for the Teen Vogue weekly email.
Related: Everything You Need to Know About Capitalism
North Korea demolishes inter-Korean liaison office at Kaesong | NK News
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 09:14
Update at 17:20, 18:45, 18:55, 19:45 KST: this article has been updated to include North Korean state media confirmation that the office has been destroyed, and South Korean government response.
North Korean authorities on Tuesday demolished an inter-Korean liaison office in the border city of Kaesong, South Korea's Ministry of Unification (MOU) and North Korean state media confirmed.
The demolition took place around 14:50, and comes amid heightened inter-Korean tensions in the past week prompted in part by North Korean anger at the South's failure to stop activists sending anti-regime leaflets into the North.
North Korean state media reported that the office had been destroyed in a ''terrific explosion.''
''The relevant field of the DPRK put into practice the measure of completely destroying the north-south joint liaison office in the Kaesong Industrial Zone,'' a statement, carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), said.
The move, it said, had come in response to widespread public anger over anti-regime leaflets sent by defectors in the South, and in accordance with the ''mindset of the enraged people to surely force human scum and those, who have sheltered the scum, to pay dearly for their crimes.''
South Korea said its defense minister and the chief of the military Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) had been briefed on the situation, and had moved to a ''combat control office'' to manage the situation.
Seoul also conveyed an emergency meeting of its Presidential National Security Council (NSC) later in the day, where officials reportedly expressed ''strong regret'' at the move.
''The North destroying the South-North joint liaison office is an act that goes against the expectations of those who wish for the development of South-North relations and the settlement of peace on the Korean Peninsula,'' a statement distributed by the Blue House.
''The government makes it clear that the responsibility for everything that follows this is entirely on the North's side,'' the statement continued. ''We will strongly respond if the North continues to take measures that exacerbate the situation.''
Seoul's Ministry of National Defense (MND) warned that the ROK will ''respond strongly'' should the North carry out any military provocation, adding that it is closely monitoring the North's military movements around the clock.
Suh Ho, vice unification minister and South Korean head of the liaison office, held a briefing Tuesday evening also voicing ''strong regret'' and complaint against the ''senseless act'' of detonating the building.
The North's destruction of the office has ''astounded not only our people but the whole world,'' Suh said, warning that Pyongyang will have to take ''due responsibility'' for such action.
The news follows comments by top official Kim Yo Jong on Saturday warning that the inter-Korean liaison office at Kaesong would soon be ''collapsed.''
A growing domestic propaganda campaign has accompanied these warnings: Ruling party daily the Rodong Sinmun on Monday carried a number of statements purportedly made by enraged citizens keen to mete out revenge against Southern ''enemies.''
The newspaper also quoted local miners as saying they were ready to help ''blow up'' the inter-Korean liaison office, which was opened in 2018.
South Korea's government was in 2018 reported to have spent a total of KRW9.7 billion ($8.6 million) on the refurbishment of the joint facility, originally intended to facilitate dialogue between the two Koreas.
Pyongyang said the move was in accordance with the ''mindset of [our] enraged people'' | Photo: KCNANo South Koreans were working at the office at the time of the demolition, South Korea confirmed, which was temporarily closed on January 31 amid fears around the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
One expert said that Tuesday's move served as part of North Korean efforts to punish the South Korean government for what it saw as broken promises '-- and warned that further escalation may be likely in the future.
''The North Koreans have decided to teach the Moon administration a lesson '-- to show them it's not the Americans that can cause them a headache,'' Andrei Lankov, a director at the Korea Risk Group, which owns and operates NK News, said.
''The Moon administration should have understood that they are not dealing with fellow nationalist idealists, but the smartest brand of hyper realists in operation ,'' he added.
''North Korea needs money,'' Lankov continued. ''They expected economic and financial aid '-- exactly what the South Koreans have avoided giving to them.''
While unsure whether the DPRK would go as far as to shell areas in the South or even move to assassinate high-profile defector activists, Lankov did say Pyongyang may move to destroy other South Korean property in the North.
''T he sounds of explosion may also soon be heard from the Mount Kumgang tourist zone,'' he said.
North Korea's military earlier on Tuesday announced it would soon advance troops into previously-demilitarized areas.
Update at 17:20, 18:45, 18:55, 19:45 KST: this article has been updated to include North Korean state media confirmation that the office has been destroyed, and South Korean government response.
North Korean authorities on Tuesday demolished an inter-Korean liaison office in the border city of Kaesong, South Korea's Ministry of Unification (MOU) and North Korean state media confirmed.
China Pledges to Cancel African Debt Amid COVID-19 Outbreak, President Says - Sputnik International
Thu, 18 Jun 2020 07:25
Asia & Pacific19:22 GMT 17.06.2020Get short URL
https://cdn1.img.sputniknews.com/img/107964/42/1079644233_0:0:2101:1182_1200x675_80_0_0_b85f932a43a06eb0a18c69955afff418.jpg
Sputnik International
https://cdn2.img.sputniknews.com/i/logo.png
Sputnik
https://cdn2.img.sputniknews.com/i/logo.png
https://sputniknews.com/asia/202006171079644282-china-pledges-to-cancel-african-debt-amid-covid-19-outbreak-president-says/
MOSCOW (Sputnik) - China will cancel the debt of several African countries in the form of interest-free government loans and will accelerate the construction of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) headquarters, Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday, amid the global coronavirus disease epidemic.
"China will start ahead of schedule the construction of the Africa CDC headquarters this year. China will work with Africa to fully deliver the health care initiative adopted at the FOCAC Beijing Summit, and speed up the construction of China-Africa Friendship Hospitals and the cooperation between paired-up Chinese and African hospitals," president Xi said during the Extraordinary China-Africa Summit on Solidarity against COVID-19 in Beijing.
He also outlined the process of debt cancellation for a number of African countries.
"Within the FOCAC [Forum on China-Africa Cooperation] framework, China will cancel the debt of relevant African countries in the form of interest-free government loans that are due to mature by the end of 2020. For those African countries that are hardest hit by the coronavirus and are under heavy financial stress, China will work with the global community to give them greater support, by such means as further extending the period of debt suspension, to help them tide over the current difficulty," Xi promised, adding that Beijing hopes other countries and financial institutions follow suit.China and Africa have been enjoying a mutually beneficial partnership in various areas for decades, with the FOCAC serving as the main platform for facilitating cooperation between Beijing and its partners on the continent.
India-China clash: Diplomats 'strongly protest' over border clashes - BBC News
Thu, 18 Jun 2020 07:13
Image copyright Reuters Image caption The two nations have an agreement that says no guns should be taken within two kilometres of the border The Indian and Chinese foreign ministers have exchanged protests over clashes in a disputed Himalayan border area which led to the deaths of at least 20 Indian troops.
India's Subrahmanyam Jaishankar said China tried to erect a structure inside Indian territory, while China's Wang Yi said Indian troops attacked first.
But in a phone call both men promised not to escalate the situation.
It was the first deadly clash at the disputed border for at least 45 years.
Soldiers reportedly brawled with sticks and bats but no shots were fired.
China has not released casualty figures. Unconfirmed reports in Indian media say at least 40 Chinese soldiers died. Some Indian soldiers are still believed to be missing.
Earlier Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the Indian deaths "will not be in vain" and that India would be "proud that our soldiers died fighting the Chinese" in the clash in the Ladakh region on Monday.
Addressing the confrontation for the first time in a televised address on Wednesday, he said: "India wants peace but when provoked, India is capable of giving a fitting reply, be it any kind of situation."
What did the two diplomats say?An Indian government statement following the phone conversation said that Chinese troops had tried to put up a structure on the Indian side of the de facto border, the Line of Actual Control (LAC), in the strategically important Galwan Valley.
It described this as "premeditated and planned action that was directly responsible for the resulting violence and casualties" and urged China to "take corrective steps".
The statement concluded that neither side would take action to escalate matters.
Meanwhile a Chinese statement quoted Mr Wang as saying: "China again expresses strong protest to India and demands the Indian side launches a thorough investigation... and stop all provocative actions to ensure the same things do not happen again."
"Both sides should resolve the dispute through dialogue, and keep the border safe and tranquil," he added.
What happened?The fighting occurred in the precipitous, rocky terrain of the Galwan Valley.
Indian media say soldiers engaged in direct hand-to-hand combat, with some "beaten to death". During the fight, one newspaper reported, others fell or were pushed into a river.
Image copyright Reuters Image caption A satellite image of Galwan Valley shows the rocky and barren terrain The Indian army initially said a colonel and two soldiers had died. It later said that "17 Indian troops who were critically injured in the line of duty" had died from their injuries, taking the "total that were killed in action to 20".
"I understand that some [further] Indian soldiers went missing. The Indian side is still working to release them from Chinese custody," defence analyst Ajai Shukla told the BBC.
Indian forces appear to have been massively outnumbered by Chinese troops.
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption Paul Adams asks whether China is being bolder in the wake of the pandemicA senior Indian military official told the BBC there were 55 Indians versus 300 Chinese, who he described as "the Death Squad".
"They hit our boys on the head with metal batons wrapped in barbed wire. Our boys fought with bare hands," the officer, who did not want to be named, said.
His account, which could not be verified, tallies with other reports in the Indian media detailing the savagery of the combat.
The clash has provoked protests in India, with people burning Chinese flags.
China has not confirmed how many of its personnel died or were injured. The BBC's Robin Brant in Beijing says that China has never given contemporaneous confirmation on military deaths outside of peacekeeping duties.
Our correspondent adds that on this occasion China's propagandists may not want to fan nationalist flames at home by making much of any loss, or admit to a significant and demoralising loss.
This is not the first time the two nuclear-armed neighbours have fought without conventional firearms on the border. India and China have a history of face-offs and overlapping territorial claims along the more than 3,440km (2,100 mile), poorly drawn LAC separating the two sides.
India shows restraintAnalysis by Geeta Pandey, BBC News, Delhi
The first comments from the Indian government on the violent standoff on the Chinese border came nearly 24 hours after the news broke on Tuesday.
And Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his cabinet colleagues - the defence minister and the home minister - have chosen their words carefully.
Usually boastful and given to grandstanding, Mr Modi and his ministers have displayed utmost restraint in their public messages this time, mostly sticking to mourning the loss of soldiers.
The prime minister did say: "India wants peace but, if instigated, it is capable of giving a befitting reply." But this is seen as aimed more at his political rivals and supporters domestically, rather than as a warning to Beijing.
China is not Pakistan and memories of the humiliating defeat in the 1962 war are all too real for any misadventure.
How tense is the area?The LAC is poorly demarcated. The presence of rivers, lakes and snowcaps means the line can shift. The soldiers either side - representing two of the world's largest armies - come face-to-face at many points.
Border patrols have often bumped into each other, resulting in occasional scuffles.
The last firing on the border happened in 1975 when four Indian soldiers were killed in a remote pass in the north-eastern state of Arunachal Pradesh. The clash was variously described by former diplomats as an ambush and an accident.
But no bullets have been fired since.
At the root of this is a 1996 bilateral agreement that says "neither side shall open fire... conduct blast operations or hunt with guns or explosives within two kilometres of the Line of Actual Control".
But there have been tense confrontations along the border in recent weeks. In May Indian and Chinese soldiers exchanged physical blows on the border at Pangong Lake, also in Ladakh, and in the north-eastern Indian state of Sikkim hundreds of miles to the east.
India has accused China of sending thousands of troops into Ladakh's Galwan Valley and says China occupies 38,000 sq km (14,700 sq miles) of its territory. Several rounds of talks in the last three decades have failed to resolve the boundary disputes.
The two countries have fought only one war, in 1962, when India suffered a humiliating defeat.
There are several reasons why tensions are rising again now - but competing strategic goals lie at the root.
The two countries have devoted extensive money and manpower to building roads, bridges, rail links and air fields along the disputed border.
Image copyright Press Information Bureau Image caption India has built a new road in what experts say is the most remote and vulnerable area along the LAC in Ladakh Both India and China see each other's construction efforts as calculated moves to gain a tactical advantage, and tensions often flare up when either announces a major project.
India also disputes part of Kashmir - an ethnically diverse Himalayan region covering about 140,000 sq km - with Pakistan.
India-China clash: 20 Indian troops killed in Ladakh fighting - BBC News
Thu, 18 Jun 2020 07:13
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption India and China have been locked in a border dispute for decades At least 20 Indian soldiers were killed in a clash with Chinese forces in a disputed Himalayan border area, Indian officials say.
The incident follows rising tensions, and is the first deadly clash in the border area in at least 45 years.
The Indian army initially said three of its soldiers had been killed, adding that both sides suffered casualties.
But later on Tuesday, officials said a number of critically injured soldiers had died of their wounds.
India's external affairs ministry accused China of breaking an agreement struck the previous week to respect the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in the Galwan Valley.
BBC diplomatic correspondent James Robbins says violence between two armies high up in the Himalayas is very serious, and pressure will grow on the two nuclear powers not to allow a slide into full-scale conflict.
What have both sides said about the incident?Early on Tuesday the Indian army said three of its soldiers, including an officer, had died in a clash in Ladakh, in the disputed Kashmir region.
Later in the day, it released a statement saying the two sides had disengaged.
It added that "17 Indian troops who were critically injured in the line of duty" and died from their injuries, taking the "total that were killed in action to 20".
China did not confirm any casualties, but accused India in turn of crossing the border onto the Chinese side.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said India had crossed the border twice on Monday, "provoking and attacking Chinese personnel, resulting in serious physical confrontation between border forces on the two sides", AFP news agency reported.
Both sides insist no bullet has been fired in four decades, and the Indian army said on Tuesday that "no shots were fired" in this latest skirmish.
How a clash that did not involve an exchange of fire could prove so lethal is unclear. There are reports that it was fought with rocks and clubs
Local media outlets reported that the Indian soldiers had been "beaten to death".
How tense is the area?The LAC is poorly demarcated. The presence of rivers, lakes and snowcaps means the line can shift. The soldiers either side - representing two of the world's largest armies - come face to face at many points.
But there have been tense confrontations along the border in recent weeks.
India has accused China of sending thousands of troops into Ladakh's Galwan valley and says China occupies 38,000sq km (14,700sq miles) of its territory. Several rounds of talks in the last three decades have failed to resolve the boundary disputes.
The two countries have fought only one war so far, in 1962, when India suffered a humiliating defeat.
In May, dozens of Indian and Chinese soldiers exchanged physical blows on the border in the north-eastern state of Sikkim. And in 2017, the two countries clashed in the region after China tried to extend a border road through a disputed plateau.
Image copyright Press Information Bureau Image caption Tensions have risen over a road built by India in Ladakh There are several reasons why tensions are rising now - but competing strategic goals lie at the root, and both sides blame each other.
India has built a new road in what experts say is the most remote and vulnerable area along the LAC in Ladakh. And India's decision to ramp up infrastructure seems to have infuriated Beijing.
The road could boost Delhi's capability to move men and materiel rapidly in case of a conflict.
India also disputes part of Kashmir - an ethnically diverse Himalayan region covering about 140,000sq km - with Pakistan.
The two nuclear armed neighbours have a chequered history of face-offs and overlapping territorial claims along the more than 3,440km (2,100 mile), poorly drawn Line of Actual Control separating the two sides.
Border patrols have often bumped into each other, resulting in occasional scuffles. But no bullets have been fired in four decades.
That is why Sunday's night's clash following months of roiling tension has taken many by surprise.
Whatever the result, the latest incident is likely to trigger a fresh wave of anti-China sentiments in India.
It will also present daunting foreign policy and security challenges to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government, which is struggling to contain a surge of Covid-19 infections and revive an economy which looks headed for recession.
VOA
CDC Media Guidance Blacklists VOA Interview Requests | Voice of America - English
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 09:39
WASHINGTON - A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention email released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) tells communications staff to ignore media requests from Voice of America, according to documents published by the Knight First Amendment Institute.
Documents released under the FOIA include an April 30 email sent from Michawn Rich with the subject ''Rundown.'' The email describes a CDC media request process to help a co-worker named Rachael to ''navigate [her] new role.''
Rich, a Department of Agriculture spokesperson, was moved to the CDC to help handle communications related to the pandemic earlier this year, Politico reported.
Under a section on approving media requests before they are sent to the Department of Health and Human Services or Office of the Vice President, the email states: ''NOTE: as a rule, do not send up requests for Greta Van Sustern [sic] or anyone affiliated with Voice of America.''
It then links to a story published in the White House daily newsletter that accused the U.S.-funded broadcaster of promoting foreign propaganda.
CDC guidance screenshotThe names of the other people mentioned in the document include the CDC's acting director of public affairs and CDC public affairs officers.
The CDC acknowledged receiving VOA's request for comment and said a spokesperson would follow up. At the time of publication, VOA had not received a response.
FILE - Greta Van Susteren interviews President Donald Trump in Singapore, Aug 12, 2018. (White House photo by Shealah Craighead)Veteran U.S. news anchor and lawyer Van Susteren hosts the weekly ''Plugged In'' news show with VOA and also works for the U.S. broadcaster Gray Television, where she hosts a weekly political program.
''The thing that's stunning to me is that it's VOA and I'm specifically named and nobody at the CDC, or the White House, or anyplace else has ever said that my reporting on the coronavirus or anything else has been unfair or inaccurate,'' Van Susteren told VOA, adding that it was ''absurd to blackball a person.''
Van Susteren has reported extensively on the pandemic for both news outlets and interviewed Vice President Mike Pence about the pandemic for her syndicated Gray TV show, ''Full Court Press,'' that aired April 5.
VOA Director Amanda Bennett said the broadcaster was shocked and troubled by the internal CDC documents.
''VOA, a federally-funded independent news organization, strongly rejects the accusations and calls on the CDC to immediately withdraw the instructions,'' Bennett said in a June 14 statement.
''For a federal agency's public affairs office to categorically deny in advance interview requests from VOA journalists, including our colleague Greta Van Susteren, based on a White House opinion statement referring to an Associated Press story about COVID-19 shared by the VOA newsroom as 'propaganda,' is even more troubling,'' the statement said
VOA issued a public statement to the propaganda allegations on April 10.
The CDC email was one of four documents released in response to a FOIA by the Knight Institute, an independent group focused on expanding freedom of the press, filed on March 19, and a lawsuit to expedite the request on April 2. The institute published the documents on June 12.
The documents cover CDC policies on social media use, media requests and releasing information to the news media. A document titled ''Draft CDC Communication and Media Strategy for the Coronavirus Disease 2019 Response'' was fully redacted.
FILE - Vice President Mike Pence speaks about the coronavirus in the James Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House, in Washington, April 17, 2020.The Knight Institute said the lawsuit came in response to reports alleging that CDC experts were being prevented from speaking with the press or public and had been told to coordinate with the Vice President's Office before speaking with journalists.
''We brought this lawsuit because we were concerned about the politicization of public health messaging and we thought it was critical for the public to know if and how the administration was stage-managing CDC communications, so that the public was able to judge for themselves the accuracy of any statements,'' Anna Diakun, staff attorney of the Knight First Amendment Institute, told VOA.
''From the documents we've received so far, the Office of the Vice President's role has been totally redacted, so it is impossible for us to know exactly what role that office is playing,'' she said.
The Knight Institute is to receive more documents on June 18 that Diakun said the center hopes will address what role if any the Vice President's Office played.
The Vice President's Office declined VOA's request for comment.
''What may be unusual is that it's been exposed, I don't know if it's unusual.'' Van Susteren said of the alleged blacklisting.
''No administration, whether it's Obama, Bush 41, or Clinton or anybody going back has liked the media,'' she said. ''But I've been at all these news organizations and I have never had this happen to me before.''
Trump's VOA Criticism Shows US-Funded News Doesn't Mean US-Approved
Public dispute highlights unique position of government-funded, editorially independent journalism
VOA Director Bennett said it was difficult to determine the effect the CDC ban may have had on the international broadcaster's coverage of the pandemic.
''Efforts such as those outlined in the CDC memo can result in the kind of chilling effect on our journalism that we regularly see in the markets we broadcast to that have no free press '' including in China and Russia,'' she said in a statement.
Diakun said the Knight Institute was concerned to see from the FOIA request that CDC staff were told to ignore press queries from VOA. ''It is imperative that the CDC ensures steady and timely access to information, especially in the midst of a public health crisis,'' she told VOA.
Voice of America leaders to resign amid friction with Trump - POLITICO
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 09:39
''It is time for us to leave you,'' Bennett and Sugawara wrote in an email to the VOA workforce obtained by POLITICO, revealing they had sent their resignations earlier Monday morning to Pack.
''We depart with the gratitude and joy that has marked our time together, with a dedication to our mission and admiration for each one of you,'' they wrote.
On Sunday, VOA reported that a top communications official at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had directed staffers to ignore media requests from the broadcaster.
That mandate came in an April 30 email sent from the CDC official, Michawn Rich, which detailed in part the process for approving interview requests before they are forwarded to the Department of Health and Human Services or Office of the Vice President.
''NOTE: as a rule, do not send up requests for Greta Van Sustern [sic] or anyone affiliated with Voice of America,'' the email states. Van Susteren is a longtime news anchor and attorney who now works as a host for VOA.
The email also included a link to a story which appeared April 10 in the White House's evening newsletter, accusing VOA of spending American taxpayer dollars to ''Promote Foreign Propaganda.''
The CDC did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the VOA report.
POLITICO previously reported in March that Rich, who was named communications director at the Agriculture Department last year, had been detailed to the CDC to assist with communications related to the coronavirus.
The newly disclosed correspondence between CDC employees, released as part of the agency's response to a Freedom of Information Act filing from the Knight First Amendment Institute, represented an attempt to effectively spurn VOA's requests shortly after the White House's attack on the news outlet.
President Donald Trump and his allies have expressed outrage in recent months over VOA's coronavirus coverage as the administration sought to cast blame on China for the pandemic.
The president's social media manager Dan Scavino Jr., specifically homed in on a story about the lifting of a lockdown order in Wuhan, China, tweeting in April: ''American taxpayers'--paying for China's very own propaganda, via the U.S. Government funded Voice of America! DISGRACE!!''
''If you heard what's coming out of the Voice of America, it's disgusting,'' Trump added days later during a White House coronavirus task force briefing. ''What things they say are disgusting toward our country. And Michael Pack would get in, and he'd do a great job.''
Two weeks ago, the White House was successful in shepherding Pack's confirmation, despite an open civil investigation by the D.C. attorney general's office into discrepancies in tax returns related to a nonprofit organization Pack runs.
In their all-staff message Monday, Bennett and Sugawara did not reference the White House's accusations against VOA or the internal CDC email, but they did allude to concerns regarding Pack's objectivity and ability to transform the broadcaster into a political organ of the administration.
Those anxieties have existed since Trump's election in 2016, when critics feared the incoming president and Bannon would move to weaponize VOA as a conservative-leaning version of state TV.
Bannon previously blasted Bennett in an interview with POLITICO as a ''classic 'useful idiot' who kowtows to Beijing's Party Line.''
And although Pack has described Bannon as his ''mentor'' in documentary filmmaking, Bennett and Sugawara reassured VOA employees that ''nothing about you, your passion, your mission or your integrity changes" after their departures.
''Michael Pack swore before Congress to respect and honor the firewall that guarantees VOA's independence, which in turn plays the single most important role in the stunning trust our audiences around the world have in us,'' they wrote.
Nahal Toosi contributed to this report.
Michael Pack installs Trump loyalists to leadership posts, memo says
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 23:12
President Donald Trump's pick to be the CEO of a federal media agency is moving ahead with installing loyal administration officials to key leadership roles.
The newly appointed chief of staff to the U.S. Agency for Global Media [USAGM], once known as the Broadcasting Board of Governors, sent out a memo to staff about the changes that are being made. The new chief is Emily Newman, who was an advisor to the Department of Homeland Security prior to becoming a leader within USAGM, her financial disclosure report shows.
Beyond adding new leaders to the agency, Michael Pack, the chief executive, terminated the membership of longtime board members on Wednesday that have been part of USAGM entities for years, including those on the boards of Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty, Radio Free Asia and the Open Technology Fund.
"I have terminated your membership on the board, effective immediately," Pack said in emails reviewed by CNBC.
Newman said in the memo, which was first reviewed by CNBC, that the changes were being directed by Pack himself and that certain personnel must report to their new department leaders. She also appeared to put in a warning to members of the staff about communicating with anyone outside the agency.
"Until further notice, no actions are to be taken, and no external communications are to be made, without explicit approval from the Chief Operating Officer; Vice President for Legal, Compliance, and Risk Management; Deputy Chief of Staff; or Chief of Staff," the memo reads.
The decision to add leaders that, based on their track record, have had a staunch loyalty to Trump, comes after Democrats have voiced concern that Pack could be on on the brink of moving ahead with purging the staff. Pack, a conservative documentary filmmaker with ties to former White House chief strategists Steve Bannon, wrote a memo to the staff on Wednesday, introducing himself and laying out three objectives, including raise morale at the agency.
"USAGM consistently ranks at the bottom in surveys of mid-sized Agencies in terms of morale and job satisfaction. I will make it a priority to improve morale here," Pack said at the time. USAGM oversees the Voice of America, a news network that has been publicly under siege by Trump and his allies. Two network officials have already resigned since Pack was confirmed by the U.S. Senate earlier this month. Meanwhile, a nonprofit run by Pack is under investigation by the Washington, D.C., attorney general for potential self-dealing.
Those listed as new department heads within the organization include Michael Williams, who first worked at the Office of Management and Budget and later became a Deputy Assistant to the President. He also had a stint as general counsel for the American Suppressor Association, a lobbying group that pushes states to ease restrictions on gun suppressors, according to their website. Williams will be the vice president for legal, compliance and risk management, the memo says.
Williams also once worked on Trump's inaugural committee as an associate general counsel and the president's 2016 campaign as director of election day operations, his financial disclosure report says.
The new director of public affairs is Jonathan Bronitsky, who once worked at the Office of Personnel Management, was a chief speechwriter at the U.S. Department of Justice and held a similar role at the Claremont Institute, a conservative think tank that was once led by Pack himself.
Andre Mendes will be USAGM's new chief operating officer. He was previously employed by the U.S. Department of Commerce but, prior to that, had executive leadership roles at the federal media organization.
When reached for comment, Bronitsky said he would work to confirm the roles and past work history of those mentioned in this story. He did not call back before publication. A White House spokesperson also did not return requests for comment.
One of the Democrats that have sounded the alarm about a potential firing spree at USAGM is Rep. Elliot Engel, (D-NY), the Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.
"I have learned that Michael Pack, the new CEO of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, intends to force out a number of the agency's career senior leadership tomorrow morning," Engel said in a recent statement. "My fear is that USAGM's role as an unbiased news organization is in jeopardy under his leadership. USAGM's mission is 'to inform, engage, and connect people around the world in support of freedom and democracy''--not to be a mouthpiece for the President in the run up to an election."
Copy of the memo:
Effective immediately, prior delegations of CEO authority have been revoked and re-delegated to the following individuals, until further notice:
Effective immediately, the following will report to the USAGM Chief Operating Officer, Andre Mendes:
o Deputy Director for Operations
o Chief Financial Officer
o Chief Strategy Officer
o Director of Technology, Services and Innovation
Effective immediately, the following will report to the USAGM Vice President for Legal, Compliance, and Risk Management, Michael Williams:
o General Counsel
o Executive Director
o Chief Risk Officer
Effective immediately, the following will report to the USAGM Principal Director of Public Affairs, Jonathan Bronitsky:
o Chief Global Communications Officer
o Director, Office of Policy
Effective immediately, the following will report to the Deputy Chief of Staff, Diane Cullo:
o Director of Management Services
o Acting Director of Congressional Affairs
Until further notice, no actions are to be taken, and no external communications are to be made, without explicit approval from the Chief Operating Officer; Vice President for Legal, Compliance, and Risk Management; Deputy Chief of Staff; or Chief of Staff. Meetings will be scheduled this week to include discussion of delegations and functions.
Models and Data
Forecasting for COVID-19 has failed - International Institute of Forecasters
Mon, 15 Jun 2020 09:41
John P.A. Ioannidis1, Sally Cripps2, Martin A. Tanner3
1 Stanford Prevention Research Center, Department of Medicine, and Departments of Epidemiology and Population Health, of Biomedical Data Science, and of Statistics, Stanford University, and Meta-Research Innovation Center at Stanford (METRICS), Stanford, California, USA2 School of Mathematics and Statistics, The University of Sydney and Data Analytics for Resources and Environments (DARE) Australian Research Council, Sydney, Australia3 Department of Statistics, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, USA
Correspondence to: John P.A. Ioannidis, MD, DSc, Stanford Prevention Research Center, 1265 Welch Road, Medical School Office Building, Room X306, USA. E-mail: [email protected]
11 June 2020
COVID-19 is a major acute crisis with unpredictable consequences. Many scientists have struggled to make forecasts about its impact [1]. However, despite involving many excellent modelers, best intentions, and highly sophisticated tools, forecasting efforts have largely failed.
Experienced modelers drew early on parallels between COVID-19 and the Spanish flu [2] that caused >50 million deaths with mean age at death being 28. We all lament the current loss of life. However, as of June 8, total fatalities are ~410,000 with median age ~80 and typically multiple comorbidities.
Predictions for hospital and ICU bed requirements were also entirely misinforming. Public leaders trusted models (sometimes even black boxes without disclosed methodology) inferring massively overwhelmed health care capacity (Table 1) [3]. However, eventually very few hospitals were stressed, for a couple of weeks. Most hospitals maintained largely empty wards, waiting for tsunamis that never came. The general population was locked and placed in horror-alert to save the health system from collapsing. Tragically, many health systems faced major adverse consequences, not by COVID-19 cases overload, but for very different reasons. Patients with heart attacks avoided visiting hospitals for care [4], important treatments (e.g. for cancer) were unjustifiably delayed [5], mental health suffered [6]. With damaged operations, many hospitals started losing personnel, reducing capacity to face future crises (e.g. a second wave). With massive new unemployment, more people may lose health insurance. The prospects of starvation and of lack of control for other infectious diseases (like tuberculosis, malaria, and childhood communicable diseases for which vaccination is hindered by the COVID-19 measures) are dire [7,8].
Table 1: Some predictions about hospital bed needs and their rebuttal by reality: examples from news coverage of some influential forecasts
StatePrediction madeWhat happenedNew YorkNew York Times, April 10, 2020
Forbes, May 26, 2020
''Sophisticated scientists, Mr. Cuomo said, had studied the coming coronavirus outbreak and their projections were alarming. Infections were doubling nearly every three days and the state would soon require an unthinkable expansion of its health care system. To stave off a catastrophe, New York might need up to 140,000 hospital beds and as many as 40,000 intensive care units with ventilators.'' 4/10/2020''But the number of intensive care beds being used declined for the first time in the crisis, to 4,908, according to daily figures released on Friday. And the total number hospitalized with the virus, 18,569, was far lower than the darkest expectations.'' 4/10/2020''Here's my projection model. Here's my projection model. They were all wrong. They were all wrong.'' Governor Andrew Cuomo 5/25/2020
TennesseeNashville Post, April 6, 2020
Tennessean, June 4, 2020
''Last Friday, the model suggested Tennessee would see the peak of the pandemic on about April 19 and would need an estimated 15,500 inpatient beds, 2,500 ICU beds and nearly 2,000 ventilators to keep COVID-19 patients alive.''''Now, it is projecting the peak to come four days earlier and that the state will need 1,232 inpatients beds, 245 ICU beds and 208 ventilators. Those numbers are all well below the state's current health care capacity.''''Hospitals across the state will lose an estimated $3.5 billion in revenue by the end of June because of limitations on surgeries and a dramatic decrease in patients during the coronavirus outbreak, according to new estimates from the Tennessee Hospital Association.'' 6/4/2020
CaliforniaThe Sacremento Bee, March 31, 2020
Medical Express, April 14, 2020
''In California alone, at least 1.2 million people over the age of 18 are projected to need hospitalization from the disease, according to an analysis published March 17 by the Harvard Global Health Institute and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health'... California needs 50,000 additional hospital beds to meet the incoming surge of coronavirus patients, Gov. Gavin Newsom said last week.''''In our home state of California, for example, COVID-19 patients occupy fewer than two in 10 ICU beds, and the growth in COVID-19-related utilization, thankfully, seems to be flattening out. California's picture is even sunnier when it comes to general hospital beds. Well under five percent are occupied by COVID-19 patients.''Modeling resurgence after reopening also failed. E.g. a Massachusetts General Hospital model [9] predicted over 23,000 deaths within a month of Georgia reopening. The actual number was only 896.
Table 2 lists some main reasons underlying this forecasting failure. Unsurprisingly, models failed when they used more speculation and theoretical assumptions and tried to predict long-term outcomes, e.g. using early SIR-based models to predict what would happen in the entire season. However, even forecasting built directly on data alone fared badly. E.g., the IHME failed to yield accurate predictions or accurate estimates of uncertainty [10] (Figure 1). Even for short-term forecasting when the epidemic wave has waned, models presented confusingly diverse predictions with huge uncertainty (Figure 2).
Table 2: Potential reasons for the failure of COVID-19 forecasting along with examples and extent of potential amendments
ReasonsExamplesHow to fix: extent of potential amendmentsPoor data input on key features of the pandemic that go into theory-based forecasting (e.g. SIR models)Early data providing estimates for case fatality rate, infection fatality rate, basic reproductive number and other key numbers that are essential in modeling were inflated.May be unavoidable early in the course of the pandemic, when limited data are available; should be possible to correct when additional evidence accrues about true spread of the infection, proportion of asymptomatic and non-detected cases, and risk-stratification. Investment should be made in the collection, cleaning and curation of data.Poor data input for data-based forecasting (e.g. time series)Lack of consensus as to what is the 'ground truth'' even for seemingly hard-core data such as daily the number of deaths. They may vary because of reporting delays, changing definitions, data errors, and more reasons. Different models were trained on different and possibly highly inconsistent versions of the data.As above: investment should be made in the collection, cleaning and curation of data.Wrong assumptions in the modelingMany models assume homogeneity, i.e. all people having equal chances of mixing with each other and infecting each other. This is an untenable assumption and in reality, tremendous heterogeneity of exposures and mixing is likely to be the norm. Unless this heterogeneity is recognized, estimated of the proportion of people eventually infected before reaching herd immunity can be markedly inflatedNeed to build probabilistic models that allow for more realistic assumptions; quantify uncertainty and continuously re-adjust models based on accruing evidence.High sensitivity of estimatesFor models that use exponentiated variables, small errors may result in major deviations from realityInherently impossible to fix; can only acknowledge that uncertainty in calculations may be much larger than it seems.Lack of incorporation of epidemiological featuresAlmost all COVID-19 mortality models focused on number of deaths, without considering age structure and comorbidities. This can give very misleading inferences about the burden of disease in terms of quality-adjusted life-years lost, which is far more important than simple death count. For example, the Spanish flu killed young people with average age of 28 and its burden in terms of number of quality-adjusted person-years lost was about 1000-fold higher than the COVID-19 (at least as of June 8, 2020).Incorporate best epidemiological estimates on age structure and comorbidities in the modeling; focus on quality-adjusted life-years rather than deaths.Poor past evidence on effects of available interventionsThe core evidence to support ''flatten-the-curve'' efforts was based on observational data from the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic on 43 US cites. These data are >100-years old, of questionable quality, unadjusted for confounders, based on ecological reasoning, and pertaining to an entirely different (influenza) pathogen that had ~100-fold higher infection fatality rate than SARS-CoV-2. Even thus, the impact on reduction on total deaths was of borderline significance and very small (10-20% relative risk reduction); conversely many models have assumed 25-fold reduction in deaths (e.g. from 510,000 deaths to 20,000 deaths in the Imperial College model) with adopted measuresWhile some interventions in the broader package of lockdown measures are likely to have beneficial effects, assuming huge benefits is incongruent with the past (weak) evidence and should be avoided. Large benefits may be feasible from precise, focused measures (e.g. early, intensive testing with through contact tracing for the early detected cases, so as not to allow the epidemic wave to escalate [e.g. Taiwan or Singapore]; or draconian hygiene measures and thorough testing in nursing homes) rather than from blind lockdown of whole populations.Lack of transparencyMany models used by policy makers were not disclosed as to their methods; most models were never formally peer-reviewed and the vast majority have not appeared in the peer-reviewed literature even many months after they shaped major policy actionsWhile formal peer-review and publication may take more time unavoidably, full transparency about the methods, and sharing of the code and data that inform these models is indispensable. Even with peer-review, many papers may still be glaringly wrong, even in the best journals.ErrorsComplex code can be error-prone and errors can happen even by experienced modelers; using old-fashioned software or languages (e.g. Fortran) can make things worse; lack of sharing code and data (or sharing them late) does not allow detecting and correcting errorsPromote data and code sharing; use up-to-date tools and processes that minimize the potential for error through auditing loops in the software and code.Lack of determinacyMany models are stochastic and need to have a large number of iterations run, perhaps also with appropriate burn-in periods; superficial use may lead to different estimatesPromote data and code sharing to allow checking the use of stochastic processes and their stability.Looking at only one or a few dimensions of the problem at handAlmost all models that had a prominent role in decision-making focused on COVID-19 outcomes, often just a single outcome or a few outcomes (e.g. deaths, or hospital needs). Models prime for decision-making need to take into account the impact on multiple fronts (e.g. other aspects of health care, other diseases, dimensions of the economy, etc.)Interdisciplinarity is desperately needed; since it is unlikely that single scientists or even teams can cover all this space, it is important for modelers from diverse ways of life to sit on the same table. Major pandemics happen rarely and what is needed are models which fuse information from a variety of sources. Information from data, from experts in the field, from past pandemics, need to fused in a logically consistent fashion if we wish to get any sensible predictions.Lack of expertise in crucial disciplinesThe credentials of modelers are sometimes undisclosed; when they have been disclosed, these teams are led by scientists who may have strengths in some quantitative fields, but these fields may be remote from infectious diseases and clinical epidemiology; modelers may operate in subject matter vacuumMake sure that the modelers' team is diversified and solidly grounded in terms of subject matter expertise.Groupthink and bandwagon effectsModels can be tuned to get desirable results and predictions, e.g. by changing the input of what are deemed to be plausible values for key variables. This is especially true for models that depend on theory and speculation, but even data-driven forecasting can do the same, depending on how the modeling is performed. In the presence of strong groupthink and bandwagon effects, modelers may consciously fit their predictions to what is the dominant thinking and expectations '' or they may be forced to do so.Maintain an open-minded approach; unfortunately, models are very difficult, if not impossible, to pre-register, so subjectivity is largely unavoidable and should be taken into account in deciding how much forecasting predictions can be trusted.Selective reportingForecasts may be more likely to be published or disseminated, if they are more extremeVery difficult to diminish, especially in charged environments; needs to be taken into account in appraising the credibility of extreme forecasts.Failure in epidemic forecasting is an old problem. In fact, it is surprising that epidemic forecasting has retained much credibility among decision-makers, given its dubious track record. Modeling for swine flu predicted 3,100-65,000 deaths in the UK [11]. Eventually only 457 deaths occurred [12]. The prediction for foot-and-mouth disease expected up to 150,000 deaths in the UK [13] and led to slaughtering millions of animals. However, the lower bound of the prediction was as low as only 50 deaths [13], a figure close to the eventual fatalities. Predictions may work in ''ideal'', isolated communities with homogeneous populations, not the complex current global world.
Figure 1: Predictions for ICU beds made by the IHME models on March 31 for three states, California, New Jersey and New York. For New York the model over predicted enormously, and then it under predicts. For New Jersey, a neighboring state, the model started well but then it under predicts, while for California it predicted a peak which never eventuated.
Despite these obvious failures, epidemic forecasting continued to thrive, perhaps because vastly erroneous predictions typically lacked serious consequences. Actually, erroneous predictions may have been even useful. A wrong, doomsday prediction may incentivize people towards better personal hygiene. Problems starts when public leaders take (wrong) predictions too seriously, considering them crystal balls without understanding their uncertainty and the assumptions made. Slaughtering millions of animals in 2001 aggravated a few animal business stakeholders, most citizens were not directly affected. However, with COVID-19, espoused wrong predictions can devastate billions of people in terms of the economy, health, and societal turmoil at-large.
Figure 2: Snapshot from https://reichlab.io/covid19-forecast-hub/ (a very useful site that collates information and prediction from multiple forecasting models) as of 11.14am PT on June 3, 2020. Predictions for number of US deaths during week 27 (only ~3 weeks downstream) with these 8 models ranged from 2419 to 11190, a 4.5-fold difference, and the spectrum of 95% confidence intervals ranged from fewer than 100 deaths to over 16,000 deaths, almost a 200-fold difference.
Let's be clear: even if millions of deaths did not happen this season, they may happen in the next wave, next season, or with some new virus in the future. A doomsday forecast may come handy to protect civilization, when and if calamity hits. However, even then, we have little evidence that aggressive measures which focus only on few dimensions of impact actually reduce death toll and do more good than harm. We need models which incorporate multicriteria objective functions. Isolating infectious impact, from all other health, economy and social impacts is dangerously narrow-minded. More importantly, with epidemics becoming easier to detect, opportunities for declaring global emergencies will escalate. Erroneous models can become powerful, recurrent disruptors of life on this planet. Civilization is threatened from epidemic incidentalomas.
Cirillo and Taleb thoughtfully argue [14] that when it comes to contagious risk, we should take doomsday predictions seriously: major epidemics follow a fat-tail pattern and extreme value theory becomes relevant. Examining 72 major epidemics recorded through history, they demonstrate a fat-tailed mortality impact. However, they analyze only the 72 most noticed outbreaks, a sample with astounding selection bias. The most famous outbreaks in human history are preferentially selected from the extreme tail of the distribution of all outbreaks. Tens of millions of outbreaks with a couple deaths must have happened throughout time. Probably hundreds of thousands might have claimed dozens of fatalities. Thousands of outbreaks might have exceeded 1,000 fatalities. Most eluded the historical record. The four garden variety coronaviruses may be causing such outbreaks every year [15,16]. One of them, OC43 seems to have been introduced in humans as recently as 1890, probably causing a ''bad influenza year'' with over a million deaths [17]. Based on what we know now, SARS-CoV-2 may be closer to OC43 than SARS-CoV-1. This does not mean it is not serious: its initial human introduction can be highly lethal, unless we protect those at risk.
Blindly acting based on extreme value theory alone would be sensible if we lived in the times of the Antonine plague or even in 1890, with no science to identify the pathogen, elucidate its true prevalence, estimate accurately its lethality, and carry out good epidemiology to identify which people and settings are at risk. Until we accrue this information, immediate better-safe-than-sorry responses are legitimate, trusting extreme forecasts as possible (not necessarily likely) scenarios. However, caveats of these forecasts should not be ignored [1,18] and new evidence on the ground truth needs continuous reassessment. Upon acquiring solid evidence about the epidemiological features of new outbreaks, implausible, exaggerated forecasts [19] should be abandoned. Otherwise, they may cause more harm than the virus itself.
Acknowledgement: The authors thank Vincent Chin for helpful discussions and for providing Figure 1.
Conflicts of interest: None.
REFERENCES
1. Holmdahl I, Buckee C. Wrong but useful '-- what Covid-19 epidemiologic models can and cannot tell us. N Engl J Med 2020 (in press).2. https://www.imperial.ac.uk/mrc-global-infectious-disease-analysis/covid-19/report-9-impact-of-npis-on-covid-19/, accessed June 2, 2020.3. IHME COVID-19 health service utilization forecasting team, Christopher JL Murray. Forecasting COVID-19 impact on hospital bed-days, ICU-days, ventilator-days and deaths by US state in the next 4 months. medRxiv 2020, doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.03.27.20043752.4. De Filippo O, D'Ascenzo F, Angelini F, et al. Reduced rate of hospital admissions for ACS during covid-19 outbreak in northern Italy. N Engl J Med 2020. doi:10.1056/NEJMc2009166.5. Sud A, Jones ME, Broggio J, et al. Collateral damage: the impact on cancer outcomes of the covid-19 pandemic. medRxiv 2020 (preprint). https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.21.20073833v2.full.6. Moser DA, Glaus J, Frangou S, et al. Years of life lost due to the psychosocial consequences of covid-19 mitigation strategies based on Swiss data. medRxiv 2020 (preprint). https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.04.17.20069716v2.a7. Melnick T, Ioannidis JP. Should governments continue lockdown to slow the spread of covid-19? BMJ 2020;369:m1924.8. Ioannidis JP. The totality of the evidence. Boston Review. In: http://bostonreview.net/science-nature/john-p-ioannidis-totality-evidence, last accessed June 2, 2020.9. In: https://www.massgeneral.org/news/coronavirus/COVID-19-simulator, last accessed June 2, 2020.10. Marchant R, Samia NI, Rosen O, Tanner MA, Cripps S. Learning as we go: An examination of the statistical accuracy of COVID19 daily death count predictions. medRxiv 2020 doi: https://doi.org/10.1101/2020.04.11.2006225711. https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/jul/16/swine-flu-cases-rise-britain12. UK government. The 2009 influenza pandemic review. In: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/61252/the2009influenzapandemic-review.pdf. Last accessed June 2, 202013. Ferguson NM, Ghani AC, Donnelly CA, Hagenaars TJ, Anderson RM. Estimating the human health risk from possible BSE infection of the british sheep flock. Nature 2002;415:420-4.14. Cirillo P, Taleb NN. Tail risk of contagious diseases. Nature Physics 2020; https://doi.org/10.1038/s41567-020-0921-x15. Walsh EE, Shin JH, Falsey AR. Clinical impact of human coronaviruses 229E and OC43 infection in diverse adult populations. J Infect Dis 2013;208:1634-42.16. Patrick DM, Petric M, Skowronski DM, et al. An outbreak of human coronavirus OC43 infection and serological cross-reactivity with SARS coronavirus. Can J Infect Dis Med Microbiol 2006;17(6):330.17. Vijgen L, Keyaerts E, Mos E, Thoelen I, Wollants E, Lemey P, et al. Complete genomic sequence of human coronavirus OC43: Molecular clock analysis suggests a relatively recent zoonotic coronavirus transmission event. J Virol. 2005;79:1595''1604.18. Jewell NP, Lewnard JA, Jewell BL. Predictive mathematical models of the COVID-19 pandemic: underlying principles and value of projections. JAMA. 2020. Epub 2020/04/17. doi: 10.1001/jama.2020.6585.19. Ioannidis JP. Coronavirus disease 2019: The harms of exaggerated information and non-evidence-based measures. Eur J Clin Invest 2020;50:e13222.
Volkskrant-hoofdredacteur Pieter Klok: "Tegengeluid publiceren geen noodzaak" (video)
Mon, 15 Jun 2020 11:17
Pieter Klok, de hoofdredacteur van De Volkskrant, heeft in gesprek met NPO Radio 1 opzien gebaard met een aantal controversile uitspraken. Zo zegt hij onder meer het geen noodzaak te vinden om een tegengeluid tegen het RIVM te publiceren, omdat dat een instituut is met mensen die dag en nacht werken.
Corona-nieuwsDe afgelopen maanden is Nederland overspoeld met nieuws over het coronavirus. Een groep virologen wisselt elkaar bijna dagelijks af aan de talkshowtafels, waar ze het niet altijd eens zijn met elkaar. Volgens Klok is het dus belangrijk om de adviezen van het RIVM en het daaropvolgende beleid van het kabinet maar gewoon te volgen. Zelfs als iemand met bewijzen voor een alternatief beleid bij De Volkskrant aanklopt, zal Klok dat niet publiceren.
Bekijk het gesprek met Pieter Klok op NPO Radio 1 hieronder.
<em>Volkskrant</em>-hoofdredacteur Pieter Klok: &quot;Tegengeluid publiceren geen noodzaak&quot; (video) Pieter Klok, de hoofdredacteur van De Volkskrant, heeft in gesprek met NPO Radio 1 opzien gebaard met een aantal controversile uitspraken. Zo zegt hij onder meer het geen noodzaak te vinden om een tegengeluid tegen het RIVM te publiceren, omdat dat een instituut is met mensen die dag en nacht werken.Corona-nieuwsDe afgelopen maanden is Nederland overspoeld met nieuws over het coronavirus. Een groep virologen wisselt elkaar bijna dagelijks af aan de talkshowtafels, waar ze het niet altijd eens zijn met elkaar. Volgens Klok is het dus belangrijk om de adviezen van het RIVM en het daaropvolgende beleid van het kabinet maar gewoon te volgen. Zelfs als iemand met bewijzen voor een alternatief beleid bij De Volkskrant aanklopt, zal Klok dat niet publiceren.Bekijk het gesprek met Pieter Klok op NPO Radio 1 hieronder.Bekijk ookMedia krijgt geen toegang bij schouw Nicky Verstappen: "Ze zijn bang voor chaos"Bekijk deze video >>Pieter Klok van de Volkskrant kraakt de Telegraaf: "Hun antwoorden liggen al vast"Bekijk deze video >> Volkskrant-hoofdredacteur Pieter Klok: "Tegengeluid publiceren geen noodzaak" (video)
Praat meeGeef hieronder je commentaar op
Volkskrant-hoofdredacteur Pieter Klok: "Tegengeluid publiceren geen noodzaak" (video) of klik hier als je dit een leuke video vindt:
There is no scientific evidence to support the disastrous two-metre rule
Thu, 18 Jun 2020 05:41
Queuing outside shops, dodging each other once inside, and not getting too close to other people anywhere: social-distancing has become the norm. The two-metre rule, however, is also seriously impacting schools, pubs, restaurants and our ability to go about our daily lives. The Government is reviewing the policy, but what evidence is there that keeping our distance makes any difference to catching Covid?
The influential Lancet review provided evidence from 172 studies in support of physical distancing of one metre or more. This might sound impressive, but all the studies were retrospective and suffer from biases that undermine the reliability of their findings. Recall bias arises in research when participants do not remember previous events accurately, and it is problematic when studies look back in time at how people behaved, including how closely they stood from others.
More concerning was that only five of the 172 studies reported specifically on Covid exposure and proximity with infection. These studies included a total of merely 477 patients, with just 26 actual cases of infection. In only one study was a specific distance measure reported: ''came within six feet of the index patient''. The result showed no effect of distance on contracting Covid.
In another study of 121 healthcare workers exposed to a patient with unrecognised Covid-19, three workers went on to test positive. Yet all three had unprotected patient contact: two never wore a facemask, respirator, eye protection or gown, making it impossible to identify the specific effects of distance. In the one study with the most substantial effect, no distance measure was reported. It was designed to test any association between sleep quality, stress and risk of infection, not distance.
On further independent inspection of 15 studies included in the review, we found multiple inconsistencies in the data, numerical mistakes and unsound methods in 13 of them. When assumptions over distance were made, we could not replicate any of them.
Might evidence from so-called super-spreading events show more promise? Following a choir practice in Skagit County, Washington, 32 cases of Covid were confirmed among the attendees. But how Covid was transmitted has not been established. Several opportunities for droplet transmission occurred, but also fomite transmission via objects which are likely to carry infection. The choir members did sit near to each other, but they also shared cookies and oranges. No one reported any physical contact. Vital information is missing.
The Lancet review says ''robust randomised trials are needed to better inform the evidence for [social distancing] interventions''. We do not disagree, and neither do the Centers for Disease Control Prevention in the US. In a supporting review of non-pharmaceutical measures for pandemic influenza, they found the evidence base was mainly derived from observational studies, was poor quality and that there was a need to undertake controlled studies to clarify the effectiveness of social distancing.
The evidence does show that the risk of catching infections is higher in healthcare settings than in the community, and higher indoors than outdoors. What the evidence cannot say is that there is any measured distance that reduces your risk. The tendency to develop, interpret and report information confirming one's prior beliefs has distorted conventional methods for creating guidance based on the best available evidence. Confirmation bias warps our thinking and can have a significant effect on the proper functioning of society by misrepresenting the evidence.
GP consultation data, on the other hand, has shown that simply encouraging social distancing and handwashing reduced transmission of acute respiratory tract infections by about half pre-lockdown. Handwashing and encouragement are what we need, not formalised rules. This means trying to keep a distance from each other where possible and avoiding spending time indoors in crowded places. Much of the evidence informing policy in this outbreak is poor quality; let us hope that evidence-informed decision-making will at some point resume.
Carl Heneghan is director and Tom Jefferson is an honorary research fellow at the Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine, University of Oxford
Travis County sets single-day record with 220 new coronavirus cases - News - Austin American-Statesman - Austin, TX
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 18:56
Employees at Savalino sanitize, sort, and ship masks from it's east Austin production facility. Savilino was making aprons and leather goods for service industry workers before the pandemic, now it?s making thousands of cloth masks and has added dozens of workers to its payroll. [JAMES GREGG/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]'–²
Christopher Matos wears a bandana over his face while running on East 7th Street on Monday April 6, 2020, during the coronavirus pandemic. Austin and Travis County are recommending the use of fabric face coverings when away from home to slow the spread of the coronavirus. [JAY JANNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]'–²
A woman looks into the window of the Paramount Theater located on Congress Avenue in Austin on Wednesday. Austin Mayor Steve Adler shuttered bars and restaurants in the state's capital Tuesday. The shutdown, which also includes entertainment venues like the Paramount, aims to halt the spread of the new coronavirus. [BRONTE WITTPENN/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]'–²
Congress Avenue is devoid of its usual heavy traffic in this photo taken around 11:30 a.m. Tuesday as government officials close establishments and tell people to stay home. [JAY JANNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]'–²
Travis County officials on Wednesday reported two new deaths from COVID-19, the disease linked to the coronavirus, and set a single-day record of 220 newly confirmed cases.
The previous single-day record for new lab confirmed cases in Travis County was set June 9, with 161 new cases.
A total of 108 people in Travis County have died because of the coronavirus as of Wednesday. The total number of confirmed cases in the county is now at 4,991.
Interim Austin-Travis County Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott on Wednesday urged the public to continue wearing masks in public places and to keep six feet of distance between other people, adding that he thinks "public health should not be a political issue."
Gov. Greg Abbott has said that he does not oppose a local order in Bexar County that implements mask requirements for businesses. Travis County and Austin officials on Wednesday said they are considering similar orders.
A recent spike in the number of coronavirus-related hospitalizations has led city and county leaders to extend stay-home orders to Aug. 15 and issue updated recommendations reflecting Travis County's move into a higher risk category.
Health officials said last week they are seeing an increase in cases partly because fewer residents are using face coverings in public or practicing social distancing.
They had previously said the daily number of new cases has trended upward as the state has allowed more businesses to reopen. The number of infections might be seven to eight times higher than what the reported data show, they added.
Officials have also warned that the recent protests against police brutality may result in a spike in coronavirus cases and have urged protesters to get tested, even if they're not showing symptoms.
The county on Wednesday reported that the number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 is now 3,817.
Data released Wednesday included a breakdown of the Travis County cases by race and ethnicity.
Of those who tested positive for the coronavirus, 60% are Hispanic, according to recent Austin data. Travis County health officials have said that concerns remain about the disproportionate impact the virus is having on the Hispanic community as well as people living in nursing homes.
Non-Hispanic whites account for about 28% of cases, 6% are black and 2% are Asian.
In some cases, the race or ethnicity of Travis County residents with the coronavirus is listed as "unknown" or "other," Austin officials said.
Loading...
View the Travis County coronavirus dashboard below:
View the Williamson County coronavirus dashboard below:
View the Hays County coronavirus dashboard below:
View the Bastrop County coronavirus dashboard below:
Previous updates:
APRIL 13
The City of Austin and Travis County extended stay-at-home orders until May 8 and included new mandates for people to wear facial covers when in public.
APRIL 4
Two more people in Travis County have died from coronavirus in the past 24 hours and 30 more people have confirmed cases, county officials announced Saturday night.
There are now 460 confirmed cases in the county, officials said. There have been a total of six deaths.
The two latest reported deaths were a woman in her 50s and a man in his 30s, officials said Saturday.
APRIL 3
A fourth person in Travis County with coronavirus has died as the number of confirmed cases on Friday climbed to 430.
The new number is up from the 351 positive cases officials reported Wednesday '-- an increase of 79 new cases, the largest daily jump since the pandemic began. Health officials said the hike was due to increased testing.
Three of the people who died were women older than 70 and one was a man in his 60s, Austin officials said.
Sixty-eight of the 430 people are hospitalized, Austin officials said Friday.
The majority of those who have tested positive for the illness in Travis County are between 20 and 39 years old, according to health officials' data.
MARCH 28:
Capital Metro announced that it will offer free rides for all customers starting Wednesday. The city of Austin also announced that it would close all park amenities, with the exception of restrooms and water fountains, in order to promote social distancing and comply with recent stay-at-home orders issued by city and Travis County authorities.
MARCH 27:
Austin and Travis County officials said a woman, who they described as older than 70 with significant underlying health conditions, died from the illness earlier that week. Officials said they would not release further details about the woman to protect her family's privacy.
MARCH 26:
Austin-Travis County Interim Health Authority Dr. Mark Escott said new data from the University of Texas showed that reducing personal interactions by 90% in coming weeks would save thousands of lives in the greater Austin community alone.
MARCH 25:
President Donald Trump issued a major disaster declaration for Texas as the state grapples with a growing number of coronavirus cases.
Hays County has issued a stay-at-home order to slow down the spread of the new coronavirus.
MARCH 24:
Leaders with the City of Austin, Travis County and Williamson County ordered residents to stay home to reduce the spread of the coronavirus.
MARCH 23:
A shelter-in-place order was to go into effect over the next few days after medical and government officials began circulating a draft of the order. Adler said it is similar to one issued for Dallas County on Sunday.
MARCH 21:
While restrictions on gatherings do not apply to grocery stores and pharmacies, Mayor Steve Adler called for new retailer restrictions. Adler that night signed an updated order that required grocery stores, pharmacies and warehouse stores to put in place controls that allow for six-foot social distancing, such as placing markers on the floor.
On March 22, Austin hospitals implemented a policy that prohibits visitors from entering medical facilities in an effort to slow the coronavirus spread and protect patients and hospital staff. Exceptions to the policy are made for laboring and post-partum patients; patients with disabilities or impairments or who are elderly; pediatric and neonatal patients; patients requiring surgery or other medical procedures; and patients requiring end-of-life care.
MARCH 20:
The number of people diagnosed with COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, is expected to grow rapidly in the coming days as testing ramps up across the state.
"You are going to see an exponential increase in the number of people who test positive on a daily basis," Governor Greg Abbott said. "People just need to be prepared and not shocked for the mathematical reality."
MARCH 18:
The St. David's HealthCare hospital system announced that one of its physicians tested positive for COVID-19, the illness linked to the new coronavirus.
MARCH 17:
To combat the spread, Travis County and Austin officials last week prohibited gatherings of 10 or more people and ordered restaurants' dining rooms and bars to close. However, officials did make allowances for restaurant curbside pickup, takeout and delivery under the order.
CORONAVIRUS IN TEXAS: What we know, latest updates
More helpful links:
'' Here's how get tested for coronavirus in Austin
'' How to make your own face mask to help stop the spread of coronavirus
'' How to get help in Austin with food, healthcare during coronavirus pandemic
'' Coronavirus in Austin: Read our list of take-out service and closures at restaurants
'' Coronavirus in Texas: Mental health resources to seek out amid anxiety
Masks and Muzzles
With Abbott's OK, Austin requires masks at businesses - News - Austin American-Statesman - Austin, TX
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 18:51
A sign asks guests to wear a mask at the Sagebrush, a live music venue in South Austin, on June 2. [JAY JANNER/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]'–²
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott adjusts his mask after giving an update on the categories of medical surge facilities and how it effects Level 5 of maintaining staffed beds during a press conference at Texas Department of Public Safety on Tuesday, June 16, 2020. [RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]'–²
Glenn Williams, owner of the Rolling Rooster, posted a sign informing customers that masks are required to enter his restaurant at the Victory Grill in East Austin on April 30. [RICARDO B. BRAZZIELL/AMERICAN-STATESMAN]'–²
Austin Mayor Steve Adler issued an order Wednesday, mandating that all businesses come up with a plan to require facial coverings.
The order came after Gov. Greg Abbott gave his approval to a new Bexar County rule that requires businesses to mandate masks for workers and customers.
As the state reported another day of record-setting COVID-19 infections, Abbott was asked if the Bexar County order went too far.
No, he told a Waco TV station, indicating that it was consistent with his emergency orders during the pandemic.
With that clarification in place, Adler moved ahead with similar guidelines in Austin, which requires businesses to "develop and implement a health and safety policy or plan related to COVID-19." The plan must require, at minimum, that all employees and visitors wear face coverings.
Adler's order offers several exceptions for facial coverings, including when a person is alone "in a separate single space, whether indoors or outdoors." It also lays out exceptions for those with members from their same household and when a person is eating or drinking in a restaurant or bar.
"During this time, we will transition to a more direct order on masks, working with our business community so our whole city moves forward together and so that everyone can get prepared," Adler said in a statement.
The city's order likely would work in tandem with Travis County.
A county spokesman said Travis County Judge Sam Biscoe is working with attorneys to research Bexar County's order and is considering issuing something similar "very soon."
Under the order issued Wednesday by Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff, businesses must require employees and customers wear face coverings starting Monday.
Bexar County businesses could face a $1,000 fine for failure to develop and implement the policy, but '-- keeping in line with Abbott's previous orders '-- no penalties can be enforced on individuals who fail to wear a face covering.
Amid uncertainty about the scope of Abbott's orders and what they allow, the governor said it seemed Wolff had read his reopening plan and "finally figured that out."
"There has been a plan in place all along that all that was needed was for local officials to actually read the plan that was issued by the state of Texas," Abbott said in an interview Wednesday with KWTX-TV in Waco.
Health officials largely agree that wearing a face covering, in addition to social distancing, can help limit the spread of the coronavirus.
But the National Federation of Independent Business, a lobbying group for small companies, complained that Bexar County's order will hurt businesses that are already struggling during the pandemic.
"The shutdown had a devastating impact on the Texas economy," the federation's state director, Annie Spilman, said in a statement. "Orders like Judge Wolff's put owners in the difficult position of policing their customers while trying to reopen and rebuild their businesses."
Abbott's approval of the local mask rule came one day after nine Texas mayors, including Adler, asked the governor to allow local governments to draft and enforce their own rules on facial coverings.
Abbott's statewide executive orders, which supersede local orders, do not require face coverings for Texans. Abbott also has specified that local officials cannot jail Texans for violating his orders.
Democrats have argued that the lack of enforcement makes it difficult for local governments to require social distancing and other policies to slow the coronavirus spread.
In a letter to Abbott, U.S. Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Austin, urged the governor to give local officials the authority to set their own rules and regulations on public health.
"Unshackle local leaders to lead since you will not," Doggett wrote Wednesday.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations have continued to rise across the state and in Austin.
State health officials reported a record 2,793 COVID-19 patients in Texas hospitals on Wednesday, the sixth day in a row the state had hit a high in hospitalizations.
The Texas Department of State Health Services also reported 3,129 new COVID-19 cases, a record high. Abbott had said the state expects see a surge in new cases because of additional reporting out of prisons, but it's not clear how many of Wednesday's cases could be attributed to prison outbreaks.
GOP Reps: You Can't Make Me Wear A Mask! Nancy Pelosi: Hold My Beer | Crooks and Liars
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 10:38
Some of the usual whack jobs in the Republican caucus have refused to wear face coverings in Congress. Now, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi brings down the hammer. Via the Washington Post:
Late Tuesday, she asked committee chairs to require masks at all hearings '-- and authorized the sergeant at arms to bar anyone who refuses to cover their face, according to a senior aide familiar with the request.
''This requirement will be enforced by the Sergeant at Arms and non-compliant Members will be denied entry,'' the senior aide said in an email to The Washington Post. ''Ultimately, Chairs will have the option of not recognizing Members in committee proceedings that fail to comply with the mask requirement.''
Pelosi made the decision after getting new guidelines from the attending physician of Congress, based on the consensus that masks are key to slowing the spread of coronavirus. His updated guidance now requires face masks in the House for anyone meeting ''in a limited enclosed space, such as a committee hearing room, for greater than 15 minutes.''
Look for Republican attention seekers to use this for even more posturing:
Matt Gaetz (known for joking about masks, being exposed to COVID-19, and rushing rooms he's been denied entry to) is going to do something stupid, isn't he? https://t.co/Rz7hgUzibK
'-- emptywheel (@emptywheel) June 17, 2020
Vaccines and Cures
Judges demand answers after children die in controversial cancer vaccine trial in India | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 14 Jun 2020 19:01
Judges in India's Supreme Court have demanded answers after children died during a controversial cervical cancer vaccine trial.
Young tribal girls received shots of pharmaceutical company Merck's Gardasil vaccine and Cervarix, manufactured by GlaxoSmithKline.
The vaccines are given to girls as young as nine in many countries - including the UK and the US - to protect against the human papilloma virus, one of the major causes of cervical cancer.
But the Indian court yesterday heard a challenge by campaigners who claim the study - funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation - failed to obtain the informed consent of the children or their parents.
They say that a 'study' carried out for the foundation by a US organisation was in fact an illegal drugs trial.
Unaware: Aman Dhawan (pictured), 16, is one of many youngsters who took part in the trial without being aware they had been signed up to test Merck's new Gardasil 9 drug, aimed at preventing cervical cancer
'Guinea pig': Sana Ansari, 19, her brother Mazhar and sister Asiya were all enrolled in the trial of Gardasil 9 drug - but she and her family say she had no idea she was testing the drug
The petitioners have also asked judges to look into the way trials were conducted into Merck's new cervical cancer vaccine Gardasil 9.
A MailOnline investigation published earlier this month uncovered claims that children as young as nine suffered side-effects after being used as unwitting human guinea pigs for the new drug.
Gardasil 9, which is expected to be worth £1.2 billion a year in sales, has already been approved for use in the US and could be available in the UK later in the year.
At a hearing of India's Supreme Court in Delhi yesterday judges expressed frustration that the country's government had failed to provide answers to what had happened during the earlier trials of the original Gardasil and Cervarix.
They gave the government a month to explain what action had been taken to investigate and what efforts had been made to obtain the consent of those taking part in the trials.
They wanted to know whether there had been any follow-up or monitoring of the girls to see whether they had suffered adverse health consequences.
And the judges also ordered the government to produce an opinion on the issue of liability and compensation.
Side effects: Aman Dhawan, 16, from Indore, lost weight and strength after being enrolled in the Gardasil 9 trial, which he didn't know he had signed up for either
Lawyers for the campaigners who brought the case said they were pleased with the fact that, for the first time, liability and compensation for the victims had come up in court.
'It is a very encouraging development that the judges are now discussing accountability and not just accountability but also compensation, so the tone of the hearing today was very positive for us because it's clear from all the parties, including from government reports, that there were, at best, serious irregularities and, at worst, gross violations of fundamental human rights,' said Kerry McBroom, one of the lawyers.
An investigation by an Indian parliamentary committee had previously concluded that the trials amounted to a serious breach of trust and medical ethics amounting to child abuse and 'a clear cut violation of the human rights of these girl children and adolescents'.
The committee's report said it had been established that clinical trials of the vaccines had been carried out 'under the pretext of an observation/demonstration project' in violation of all laws and regulations laid down by the government for such trials.
The group accused of carrying out the trial under the 'pretext' of carrying out an academic study - PATH - said it 'strongly disagreed with the findings, conclusions, and tone of the released report and its disregard of the evidence and facts.'
Injected: Mazhar Ansari (pictured), 18, who was enrolled in a trial of Merck's new Gardasil 9 drug
Revealed: Whistleblower Dr Anand Rai (pictured), 37, lifted the lid on the scandal of illegal drugs trials in the city and now has been given an armed guard to protect him
In court yesterday a bench of judges headed by Justice Dipak Misra criticised the Indian government for failing to act on the committee's report.
'It should be the concern of [the government] that health of people is preserved,' they said.
'Don't leave the matter to court. It is for the government to find out a way.
'If parliamentary committee has done something then it is obligatory for the executive government to take action on this report.
'File affidavit stating protocol to be followed by getting consent of people to undergo trial and the process to find out what is the effect of vaccination and whose liability is it to pay compensation.'
Merck and GSK have both been ordered to respond to the allegations made by campaigners.
Yesterday's hearing was told that Merck had provided a six volume document amounting to around 2,000 pages of evidence - but that GSK had so far failed to respond.
Gardasil is now given to girls aged 12 and 13 as a vaccination against HPV, a sexually transmitted virus which causes most cases of cervical cancer
Both companies have denied any wrongdoing. In court yesterday the judges also heard from lawyers for PATH - the US-based group that organised the 'study' - which emphasised the vaccines were safe and the vaccinations had been carried out in the interests of public health.
McBroom said she and her team would be referring to the latest trials of Gardasil 9 in their closing submissions.
MailOnline's investigation into Gardasil 9 revealed how several children used in those trials claimed to have suffered problems including weight loss, fatigue, dizziness and menstrual problems.
They and their parents maintained that they did not give their informed consent and that that they were not aware that they were taking part in the trial of an untested drug.
Among those who took part was 16-year-old Aman Dhawan, who lives in the Pancham Ki Phel slum in the city of Indore.
His family say they were told the drug was a new medicine that would prevent a range of diseases, including malaria.
But Aman said that after he was given the vaccine he began to see changes in his body and he lost weight and strength.
WHAT IS CERVICAL CANCER? C ervical cancer is the second most common type of cancer in women and kills more than 265,000 people every year, most of them in developing countries, according to Cancer Research UK.
It is caused by changes to the cells in the cervix - which sits at the neck of the womb.
Diagnosed early, it is usually possible to treat - but can mean a woman needs a hysterectomy, radiotherapy or chemotherapy.
But cervical cancer isn't easy to spot: it often has no symptoms in its early stages, although some women may have bleeding in-between periods, after sex or after the menopause.
However, these symptoms don't definitely point to cervical cancer so women are encouraged to be screened regularly to check for signs of the disease.
In England, this takes place from the age of 25 and is commonly known as a 'smear test'.
The test shows up any abnormalities in the cells of the cervix. Abnormal tests do not necessarily mean a woman has cervical cancer, as most are caused by infection or treatable pre-cancerous cells, NHS guidance says.
Most are caused by the human papilloma virus (HPV) - a common virus spread through sex.
There are many strains of the virus - many of which do not cause cancer. Just two are known to be responsible for 70 per cent of all cervical cancer.
To cut the rates of cervial cancer, vaccinations against HPV were introduced in 2008. The vaccinations are now routinely given to 12 and 13-year-old girls.
It is hoped it will reduce the incidences of cervical cancer, which caused 920 deaths in 2012, according to the latest figures available.
A COVID-19 vaccine will work only if trials include Black participants, experts say
Thu, 18 Jun 2020 06:41
Calethia Hodges has an arduous task: persuade Black people who have a deep mistrust of experimental drugs and medical institutions to participate in clinical trials to help find a vaccine for the deadly coronavirus.
It is quite the paradox. African Americans have been disproportionately devastated by COVID-19, but they are inadequately represented in human studies that would treat a disease that has claimed more than 116,000 lives in the United States. Almost a quarter of those were Black, according to a study called Color of Coronavirus by APM Research Lab.
"And that's why I do what I do," said Hodges, a clinician at Infinite Clinical Trials outside Atlanta. "And that's why I am here, in this neighborhood that is predominantly African American."
Calethia Hodges recruits African Americans for human trials. Courtesy Calethia HodgesAfrican American participation in the trial is critical, medical experts have said. Researchers of pharmacogenetics '-- the science that studies how genetic factors affect reactions to drugs '-- stress that medicine could produce different results based on race and genetic, socioeconomic and environmental dynamics.
Translation: A vaccine might not work in African Americans if African Americans do not participate in the clinical trials to create the drug.
And so the power of persuasion ranks high on Hodges' job. She has to overcome the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male, when infected Black men were solicited to be a part of a 40-year study (1932 to 1972) to treat the disease with penicillin and were offered free medical exams, free meals and burial insurance.
But they were not given the drug, and 28 of the original 399 Black men died of syphilis, 100 died of related complications, 40 of their wives were infected, and 19 of their children were born with congenital syphilis. That dark past remains a hurdle to clear.
"The reasons I hear African Americans will not participate are heartbreaking and disappointing," Hodges said. "I have heard about the Tuskegee experiment a lot. And I have heard 'They [doctors] will give me the virus.' And 'They will put a chip inside me.' Many say their parents raised them 'to never participate in medical research.' It's all tough to overcome."
The Morning Rundown
Get a head start on the morning's top stories.
Dr. Larry Graham, a retired pulmonologist, understands the lack of trust but insists that African Americans have to get over it.
"Genetics related to racial differences make it essential that we be involved in broad-based and diverse clinical trials of medications and vaccines," he said. "The expanding discipline of pharmacogenetics has taught us that we may respond differently than other races to both medicines and vaccines. We must be sure it works in Black folks. This can only be determined by our inclusion in the research-based trials of such vaccines."
But Dr. Aletha Maybank, the American Medical Association's chief equity officer and group vice president of its Center for Health Equity, said she is concerned that there is not an urgency from institutions to include African Americans in the myriad vaccine studies underway.
Dr. Aletha Maybank said institutions must build relationships with Black communities to gain trust in clinical trials. Ted Grudzinski / American Medical Association"There is a fear with COVID-19 how intentional the hundreds of trials are about diversity," Maybank said. "I'm not clear and would make the assumption that they are not intentional. If so, I haven't heard about it yet.
"But if the distrust pre-COVID-19 was strong, the chances are even less now that Black people will participate. I worry about exploitation and medicines' being used on patients without their knowledge or consent."
Hodges said coronavirus human trials at her location will not occur for another month or two. She has been successful in getting African Americans to participate in other trials '-- most recently for women who experience "hot flashes" '-- through distributing educational pamphlets. "Information is power," she said.
It also helps that Hodges is Black. "They see me and give me a chance to at least share my information with them," she said.
And in extreme cases, she said, she invokes the experience of some cancer patients to make her point.
"When the patient with cancer hears, 'There's nothing else we can do,' they turn often to clinical trials," Hodges said. "It's the last resort. With the coronavirus, the question becomes: 'Would you rather be on a ventilator or try a drug?' That's a view that might get people to participate."
For Maybank, the way to bridge the divide is simple: work at it.
"With any relationship, you build it," she said. "Folks doing work from leading institutions have asked, 'How do we build trust?' Well, it's not rocket science. It's about building relationships. Are you getting to know me beforehand? Are you speaking in a language I understand? Are the concepts broken down so that they are digestible? Are you present? Are you giving resources to our neighborhoods beforehand? That's not rocket science. It's building a relationship. That's how you build trust. And trust is a fundamental value in humans. There's no rocket science behind it."
Dr. John Maupin, the former president of Meharry Medical College and Morehouse School of Medicine, said a collection of historically Black colleges and universities that focus on public health is working to form a consortium that will focus on "culturally sensitive care."
Dr. John Maupin believes HBCUs' role in testing will increase the number of African American participants. Courtesy John Maupin"Specific clinical research," he said. "How do you administer treatments? Do you present a cure at an early or later stage? Is a higher dosage needed? Those questions have to be answered, because everybody's different. Races have different genetic makeup and genetic impact. So it's critically important that clinical trials are across the spectrum of individual differences that pick up their minute differences that may not be noticed from one racial makeup to another. That's why we have to be there."
Maupin acknowledges that the challenge to change minds is significant. "The problem is: Do I trust them? That's why the ability for a Morehouse and Meharry to have a clinical research center is vital," he said. "It will allow Black people to come.
"We have to have more [HBCUs conducting trials] because people will trust them more than they will some other institutions. I'm not saying all are untrustworthy. I'm saying there would be greater trust in institutions led by those who come from the patients' backgrounds."
Hodges took it a step further. "I often tell patients they have a chance to take a drug that not only could help them, but could be very important to the next generation."
CORRECTION (June 17, 2020, 10:45 a.m. ET): A previous version of this article misstated the estimated percentage of Black Americans who have died from the coronavirus, according to a study called Color by Coronavirus by APM Research Lab. Almost a quarter of the more than 116,000 Americans who have died were Black, not more than half.
HCQ
FDA withdraws emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine | TheHill
Mon, 15 Jun 2020 11:37
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has withdrawn the emergency use authorization for two controversial coronavirus treatment drugs promoted by President Trump Donald John TrumpRon Perlman, Matt Gaetz get into back-and-forth on Twitter The NYT and the Cotton op-ed: Opinion or party line? Robert Gates joins calls for Army bases named after Confederate leaders to be renamed MORE because of serious safety issues.
The agency said recent clinical trial failures mean chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine may not be effective at treating COVID-19 or preventing it in people who have been exposed, and that their potential benefits do not outweigh the risks.
Doctors have warned that the drugs can cause serious heart problems, but the FDA had previously allowed their use for hospitalized patients and during clinical trials.
Trump spent weeks promoting the drugs as a potential miracle treatment for COVID-19, despite scant evidence. The FDA then issued the emergency use authorization in March. Critics accused the agency of caving to pressure from the administration, which the FDA has denied.
In April, roughly a month after issuing the emergency authorization, the agency warned against using hydroxychloroquine outside of hospitals and clinical trials because of the risk of potentially fatal cardiac problems.
Last month, Trump said he had been taking hydroxychloroquine, in combination with zinc, as a way to prevent getting COVID-19 after a White House aide was diagnosed with the disease, which is caused by the novel coronavirus. He said he felt fine after finishing the regime, and even said he would take the drugs again if he was ever exposed to coronavirus.
''I think it gives you an additional level of safety,'' Trump said at the time, downplaying the warnings that the drug can cause significant heart problems.
Trump's promotion of the drugs has led to shortages for people that need it for other conditions. Hydroxychloroquine, which was initially approved as an anti-malaria drug, is also used to treat lupus and rheumatoid arthritis.
In revoking the emergency authorization, FDA noted that recent data from a large randomized controlled trial showed no difference between using hydroxychloroquine and standard COVID treatment alone.
However, because the drugs are on the market and approved for other uses, it could still be prescribed for "off-label" use in COVID patients. Clinical trials studying the drugs can also continue. The World Health Organization and the National Institutes of Health are still conducting trails.
The administration's embrace of hydroxychloroquine allegedly led to the ouster of Rick Bright, who led the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and oversaw federal efforts to find a vaccine and treatment for the coronavirus.
Bright filed a whistleblower complaint claiming he was demoted and reassigned after he refused to promote the drug's widespread use.
Bright initially wrote to FDA to authorize the emergency use, a move he now claims he made under duress.
The revocation of the emergency use authorization comes after a request from Gary Disbrow, the current acting director of BARDA who succeeded Bright.
--This report was updated at 12:21 p.m.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update: FDA Warns of Newly Discovered Potential Drug Interaction That May Reduce Effectiveness of a COVID-19 Treatment Authorized for Emergency Use | FDA
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 09:26
For Immediate Release: June 15, 2020Today, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning health care providers about a newly discovered potential drug interaction related to the investigational antiviral drug remdesivir, which has received emergency use authorization for the treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients with severe disease.
Based on a recently completed non-clinical laboratory study, the FDA is revising the fact sheet for health care providers that accompanies the drug to state that co-administration of remdesivir and chloroquine phosphate or hydroxychloroquine sulfate is not recommended as it may result in reduced antiviral activity of remdesivir. The agency is not aware of instances of this reduced activity occurring in the clinical setting but is continuing to evaluate all data related to remdesivir.
In addition, the FDA revised the fact sheet for health care providers to clarify dosing and administration recommendations and to provide additional safety data and supporting data from clinical trials conducted by both the National Institutes of Health and the drug sponsor, Gilead Sciences Inc. The fact sheet for patients and caregivers was also updated to include additional information about possible allergic reactions and to alert patients to tell their healthcare providers if they are taking chloroquine phosphate or hydroxychloroquine sulfate.
''Over the course of this unprecedented pandemic, the FDA has issued emergency use authorizations for a variety of medical products after evaluating the available scientific evidence and carefully balancing any known or potential risks against the benefits of making these products available during the current public health emergency. We understand that, as we learn more about these products, changes may be necessary based on new data '' such as today's updates for health care providers about a potential drug interaction and other important information about using remdesivir to treat COVID-19 patients,'' said Patrizia Cavazzoni, M.D., acting director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. ''As we have done throughout the pandemic, the FDA continues to evaluate all of the emergency use authorizations issued and their related materials and will continue to make changes as appropriate based on emerging science and data.''
Following an evaluation of the emergency use authorization criteria and the scientific evidence available, the FDA issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) in May 2020 allowing for remdesivir to be distributed in the U.S. and to be administered intravenously by health care providers, as appropriate, to treat suspected or laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 in adults and pediatric patients hospitalized with severe disease. The safety and efficacy of remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19 continue to be evaluated, and preliminary clinical trial results have shown that on average, patients treated with remdesivir had more rapid time to recovery.
The EUA requires that fact sheets about using remdesivir in treating COVID-19 be made available to health care providers and to patients and caregivers. These fact sheets include information on possible side effects such as: increased levels of liver enzymes, which may be a sign of inflammation or damage to cells in the liver; and allergic reactions, which may include low blood pressure, high heart rate, low heart rate, shortness of breath, wheezing, angioedema (for example, lip or tongue swelling), difficulty swallowing, rash, nausea, vomiting, sweating, shivering and respiratory distress.
The FDA, an agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, protects the public health by assuring the safety, effectiveness, and security of human and veterinary drugs, vaccines and other biological products for human use, and medical devices. The agency also is responsible for the safety and security of our nation's food supply, cosmetics, dietary supplements, products that give off electronic radiation, and for regulating tobacco products.
###
Related Information Content current as of:06/15/2020
Regulated Product(s) Health Topic(s)
ALGOS
Undress or fail: Instagram's algorithm strong-arms users into showing skin '' AlgorithmWatch
Mon, 15 Jun 2020 11:40
By Judith Duportail, Nicolas Kayser-Bril, Kira Schacht and ‰douard Richard
An exclusive investigation reveals that Instagram prioritizes photos of scantily-clad men and women, shaping the behavior of content creators and the worldview of 140 millions Europeans in what remains a blind spot of EU regulations.
Sarah is a food entrepreneur in a large European city (the name was changed). The company she created helps women feel at ease with their food intake and advocates ''intuitive eating''. Like many small-business owners, Sarah relies on social media to attract clients. Instagram, Europe's second-largest social network after Facebook, is a marketing channel she could not do without, she said.
But on Instagram, which is heavily oriented towards photos and videos, she felt that her pictures did not reach many of her 53,000 followers unless she posed in swimwear. Indeed, four of her seven most-liked posts of the last few months showed her in a bikini. Ely Killeuse, a book author with 132,000 followers on Instagram who agreed to speak on the record, said that ''almost all'' of her most liked pictures showed her in underwear or bathing suits.
It could be the case that their audiences massively prefer to see Sarah and Ely in bathing suits. But since early 2016, Instagram arranges the pictures in a user's newsfeed so that the photos a user ''cares about most will appear towards the top of the feed''. If the other pictures Sarah and Ely post are less popular, it could be that they are not shown to their followers as much.
Which photos are shown and which are not is not just a matter of taste. Entrepreneurs who rely on Instagram to acquire clients must adopt the norms the service encourages to reach their followers. Even if these norms do not reflect the values they built their businesses on, or those of their core audience and clients.
2,400 photos analyzedTo understand what pictures Instagram prioritized, the European Data Journalism Network and AlgorithmWatch asked 26 volunteers to install a browser add-on and follow a selection of professional content creators. We selected 37 professionals from 12 countries (14 of them men) who use Instagram to advertise brands or to acquire new clients for their businesses, mostly in the food, travel, fitness, fashion or beauty sectors.
The add-on automatically opens the Instagram homepage at regular intervals and notes which posts appear on top of the volunteers' newsfeeds, providing an overview of what the platforms considers most relevant to each volunteer.
If Instagram were not meddling with the algorithm, the diversity of posts in the newsfeed of users should match the diversity of the posts by the content creators they follow. And if Instagram personalized the newsfeed of each user according to their personal tastes, the diversity of posts in their newsfeeds should be skewed in a different way for each user. This is not what we found.
Between February and May, 1,737 posts published by the content creators we monitor, containing 2,400 photos, were analyzed. Of these posts, 362, or 21%, were recognized by a computer program as containing pictures showing women in bikinis or underwear, or bare chested men. In the newsfeeds of our volunteers, however, posts with such pictures made up 30% of all posts shown from the same accounts (some posts were shown more than once).
Posts that contained pictures of women in undergarment or bikini were 54% more likely to appear in the newsfeed of our volunteers. Posts containing pictures of bare chested men were 28% more likely to be shown. By contrast, posts showing pictures of food or landscape were about 60% less likely to be shown in the newsfeed.
These results, which can be read in detail on a dedicated page, pass standard tests of statistical significance.
Waiting for an auditThe skew towards nudity might not apply to all Instagram users. While it was consistent and apparent for most volunteers, a small minority were served posts that better reflected the diversity published by content creators. It is likely that Instagram's algorithm favors nudity in general, but that personalization, or other factors, limits this effect for some users.
Our results fall short of a comprehensive audit of Instagram's newsfeed algorithm. They only document what happened in the newsfeeds of our volunteers. (You can help us improve the results by installing the add-on, we will publish updates as more data comes in.) Without access to Facebook's internal data and production servers, it will always be impossible to draw definitive conclusions.
Facebook did not answer our precise questions but sent a statement: ''This research is flawed in a number of ways and shows a misunderstanding of how Instagram works. We rank posts in your feed based on content and accounts you have shown an interest in, not on arbitrary factors like the presence of swimwear.''
We nevertheless have reasons to believe that our findings are representative of how Instagram generally operates.
Maximizing engagementIn a patent published in 2015, engineers at Facebook, the company that runs Instagram, explained how the newsfeed could select which pictures to prioritize. When a user posts a picture, it is analyzed automatically on the spot, according to the patent. Pictures are given an ''engagement metric'', which is used to decide whether or not to show an image in the user's newsfeed.
The engagement metric is partly based on past user behavior. If a user liked a specific brand and a photo shows a product of the same brand, the engagement metric increases. But the engagement metric can also be computed based on past behavior from all users of the service. The patent specifically states that the gender, ethnicity and ''state of undress'' of people in a photo could be used to compute the engagement metric.
While Instagram claims that the newsfeed is organized according to what a given user ''cares about most'', the company's patent explains that it could actually be ranked according to what it thinks all users care about. Whether or not users see the pictures posted by the accounts they follow depends not only on their past behavior, but also on what Instagram believes is most engaging for other users of the platform.
Spurious correlationsFacebook automatically analyzes pictures with a software, known as computer vision, before its algorithm decides which ones to show in a user's newsfeed. Such software draws automated inferences from a training data set, made of thousands of manually annotated images. Its limitations could impact how Instagram prioritizes pictures in newsfeeds.
Computer scientists have known for years that such systems replicate and amplify the biases of their training data, leading to spurious, or fallacious, correlations. For instance, a program tasked with identifying wolves and dogs based on pictures of the canines found online will not recognize the animals in the human sense of the word. Instead, it will give the label ''wolf'' to any animal on a snowy background.
Training data for computer vision is usually produced by poorly-paid workers with an incentive to work quickly and provide results that fit the expectations of their employers. This leads them to uncritically adopt the categories offered to them and to overlook the subtleties a photo might contain, wrote Agathe Balayn, a PhD candidate at the Delft University of Technology on the topic of bias in automated systems.
The consequences can be severe. In December, a Brazilian artist tried to advertise one of his Instagram posts. The request was denied on the grounds that the post contained violent content. It only depicted a boy and Formula One racer Lewis Hamilton. Both were dark-skinned. In April, a yoga teacher was denied an advertisement on the ground that the picture showed profanity, even though she was only doing the side crane pose. She is Asian-American.
(In our experimental setup, we also used a computer vision system, Google Vision. While its results are egregious '' the label ''beauty'', for instance, was only returned for females '' it is very likely that its biases are similar to Facebook's computer vision engine, were it only because it was built in part by the same people.)
A fine line to threadInstagram's guidelines state that nudity is ''not allowed'' on the service, but favors posts that show skin. The subtle difference between what is encouraged and what is forbidden is decided by unaudited, and likely biased, computer vision algorithms. Every time they post a picture, content creators must thread this very fine line between revealing enough to reach their followers but not revealing so much that they get booted off the platform.
A 2019 survey of 128 Instagram users by the US magazine Salty showed that abusive removal of content was common. Just how common such occurrences are, and whether People of Color and women are disproportionately affected, is impossible to say as long as Instagram's algorithms remain unaudited.
However, a review of 238 patents filed by Facebook containing the phrase ''computer vision'' showed that, out of 340 persons listed as inventors, only 27 were female. Male-dominated environments usually lead to outcomes that are detrimental to women. Seat-belts in cars, for instance, are only tested on male dummies, leading to higher rates of injuries for women. Our research shows that Facebook's algorithms could follow this pattern.
Fear of the shadow-banSarah and other entrepreneurs who rely on Instagram were terrified to speak to the press. Most professional Instagram content creators fear retaliation from Facebook, in the form of account deletion or shadow-bans (a practice where a user's posts are shown to none or very few of their followers, without the user's knowledge) '' a death sentence for their business.
A young entrepreneur with about 70,000 followers, who said that Instagram was ''very important'' for her business, specifically told AlgorithmWatch that she did not want to be named for fear of a shadow-ban. Ely Killeuse, who talked on the record, said that having another source of income was the ''number one condition'' for her. Too much dependence on Instagram would mean losing her freedom and her sanity, she added.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which came into force in 2018, and the Platforms to Business (P2B) regulation, which will be applicable from 12 July 2020, already provide many guarantees for users and professionals. In particular, GDPR states that users have a ''right to explanation'' regarding automated decisions, and the P2B regulation shall force online intermediation services to disclose the ''main parameters determining [algorithmic] ranking''.
This new measure should not force platforms to disclose the inner workings of their algorithms, according to Petra de Sutter, who chairs the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection at the European Parliament. Preventing Instagram from sorting its users' newsfeeds would not be legally feasible, she wrote in an email to AlgorithmWatch. Instead, the transparency P2B will bring should allow for well-informed policy decisions at a later point, she added. As for fears of shadow-bans, Ms de Sutter considers them overblown. ''A question never brought retaliation'', she wrote.
P2B might be different, but two years after GDPR came into force, several experts deplore a very lacunary implementation. One problem is that the Irish data protection authority, who is responsible for regulating Facebook's Dublin-based European subsidiary, appears to be woefully understaffed and ''does not seem to understand GDPR'', as a specialist in platform work put it to AlgorithmWatch. Another issue lies in the lack of policing. No authority, at the European level or within Member States, has the power or the tools needed to audit any of the giant platforms, including Instagram, leaving many of GDPR's provisions unenforced.
Possible discriminationWhile our results show that male and female content creators are forced to show skin in similar ways if they want to reach their audience, the effect could be larger for females, and be considered a discrimination of female entrepreneurs. However, although discrimination based on gender is prohibited by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, no legal avenues exist for an Instagram user to start legal proceedings. The specifics of social media entrepreneurship are not taken into account in legislation.
Miriam Kullmann, an assistant professor at WU Vienna University of Economics and Business, wrote to AlgorithmWatch that European anti-discrimination legislation deals almost exclusively with employment relationships. Self-employed persons, such as the professionals we monitored, are not protected.
Some groups do fight for the rights of independent creators on social media. IG Metall, Europe's largest union, supports a collective action of YouTubers, demanding more fairness and transparency from Google (which owns YouTube) when a video was demonetized. They do not plan to extend their program to content creators on Instagram or other platforms.
One in three EuropeansWith the number of European entrepreneurs creating content from Instagram likely ranging in the thousands, the impact of their posts is massive, as they routinely boast hundreds of thousands of followers. Facebook claims that close to 140 million residents of the European Union, or one in three, used Instagram in April.
Among the 18-to-24-year-olds, Instagram penetration is about 100% in every EU country. The stay-at-home orders linked to the Covid-19 pandemic increased the time spent on Instagram by staggering amounts. In one week in locked-down Italy, Instagram views doubled over normal, Facebook reported to investors.
A roll of one's ownAlmost a century ago, famed British author Virginia Woolf said that women needed ''a room of one's own'' to allow for their creativity to flourish. Deferring to the opinion of external authorities, she wrote, was like inviting rot to develop at the heart of one's work.
On Instagram, deferring to the opinion of the authorities that built the newsfeed algorithm is not a choice. Refusing to show body parts dramatically curtails one's audience. Male and female entrepreneurs must abide by the rules set by Facebook's engineers if they want to stand a chance of making a living.
Do you use Instagram professionally? Have you seen your posts or your account suspended, disabled or shadow-banned? We'd love to hear from you. Contact Nicolas Kayser-Bril securely at kayserbril@protonmail.com or Signal +491702875332.
Subscribe to our biweekly newsletter for updates on automated systems and algorithmic accountability.
25 for 45
Trump's Walk Down Ramp at West Point Raises Health Questions - The New York Times
Sun, 14 Jun 2020 22:28
Politics | Trump's Halting Walk Down Ramp Raises New Health QuestionsThe president also appeared to have trouble raising a glass of water to his mouth during a speech at West Point a day before he turned 74, the oldest a president has been in his first term.
Video President Trump's descent down a ramp after speaking at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in New York reopened questions about his health. Credit Credit... Anna Moneymaker/The New York Times June 14, 2020Updated 4:34 p.m. ET
President Trump faced new questions about his health on Sunday, after videos emerged of him gingerly walking down a ramp at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and having trouble bringing a glass of water to his mouth during a speech there.
Mr. Trump '-- who turned 74 on Sunday, the oldest a U.S. president has been in his first term '-- was recorded hesitantly descending the ramp one step at a time after he delivered an address to graduating cadets at the New York-based academy on Saturday. The academy's superintendent, Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, walked alongside him. Mr. Trump sped up slightly for the final three steps, as he got to the bottom.
Another video circulated of Mr. Trump taking a sip of water from a glass tucked inside his lectern on the dais at West Point. Mr. Trump held the glass with his right hand and brought it to his mouth, but appeared to momentarily have trouble lifting his arm farther. He used his left hand to push the bottom of the glass so that it reached his lips.
Mr. Trump posted defensively on Twitter late Saturday night about the video circulating of his walk, and offered a description that did not match the visuals.
''The ramp that I descended after my West Point Commencement speech was very long & steep, had no handrail and, most importantly, was very slippery,'' Mr. Trump wrote. ''The last thing I was going to do is 'fall' for the Fake News to have fun with. Final ten feet I ran down to level ground. Momentum!''
There was no evidence that the ramp was slippery, and the skies were clear during the ceremony.
The videos again raised questions about the health of Mr. Trump, whose advisers have never fully explained his abrupt visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in November, saying at the time only that it was intended to get a jump on his annual physical.
The White House doctor released a memo this month that summarized Mr. Trump's yearly checkup, but provided little information beyond blood pressure (normal) and a description of his course of hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic after the president was exposed to two staff members who tested positive for the coronavirus. The summary was not the customary report released in the past by Mr. Trump and other presidents after a physical.
Mr. Trump's difficulty traversing stairs and ramps has come up before, most notably in January 2017, when he clutched the hand of Theresa May, then the British prime minister, as they walked at the White House.
The president has frequently tried to raise questions about the health and mental fitness of his rivals, while growing indignant when his own is questioned.
Most recently, he and his allies have questioned the mental acuity of the presumptive Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., who is 77. But Mr. Trump spent much of the fall general election in 2016 challenging the ''strength and stamina'' of his Democratic rival at the time, Hillary Clinton, who suffered a bout of pneumonia and was videotaped unsteadily being led into a van at the annual ceremony at the World Trade Center site to commemorate the victims of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Mr. Trump's personal physician before he was president, Dr. Harold N. Bornstein, has said publicly that Mr. Trump dictated a note the doctor wrote about his fitness when he was a candidate.
''If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency,'' the doctor wrote in the note, which was released in December 2015.
EuroLand
Germany set to pay 42% more into EU budget in coming years, report says - Reuters
Mon, 15 Jun 2020 09:04
BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's contribution to the European Union budget would rise by 42%, or 13 billion euros ($14.63 billion) annually in the coming years, based on proposals from Brussels, the newspaper Die Welt said on Monday, citing government calculations.
Welt said the latest proposals from Brussels required member states to pay around 1.075% of their gross domestic product into the budget over the next seven years, based on 2018 GDP, meaning a total volume of 1.1 trillion euros.
EU leaders are due to hold a virtual meeting on Friday to discuss the bloc's budget for 2021-27, called the Multiannual Financial Framework, as well as the planned coronavirus recovery fund.
German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said the 27 EU nations will have a first exchange on Friday.
''It's of course too early to float specific numbers now,'' he said at a regular news conference in Berlin.
Seibert added it had been clear even before the coronavirus pandemic that German contributions would rise substantially.
Reporting by Michelle Martin, additional reporting by Thomas Seythal; editing by Larry King; Editing by Paul Carrel
France vows to halt Dijon unrest over Chechen score-settling | News , World | THE DAILY STAR
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 10:39
Jun. 16, 2020 | 05:46 PM
This frame grab provided by BFM TV shows youths, some holding sticks, walking by a burning car in Dijon, central France, Monday June 15, 2020. (BFM TV via AP)
Agence France Presse
you've reached a subscriber-only article. Sign up now and access the full breadth of The Daily Star content in minutes.
subscribe now unrestricted access 1 month...$12 | 3 months...$30 | 6 months...$55 | 1 year...$99 Existing users can login here or register for a new account. Advertisement
"; completeHTML += "" + text[0] + "" + text[1] + "
"; } document.getElementById("ulNews").innerHTML = completeHTML; } } } } } GetLiveNews();
War on Cash
Spaanse regering wil geen contant geld meer in Spanje
Mon, 15 Jun 2020 10:23
MADRID '' Tijdens de corona-crisis wordt overal aangeraden om niet met contant geld te betalen maar met de pinpas, credit card, contactless of de smartphone. De reden daarvoor is natuurlijk de mogelijkheid (al is die erg klein) dat het coronavirus op het briefgeld en munten zit. Maar als het aan de regering ligt zal het contant geld helemaal uit het straatbeeld moeten verdwijnen in de nabije toekomst.
Wanneer en of dat zal gaan gebeuren is nog de vraag maar het elimineren van het brief- en muntgeld in Spanje heeft veel te maken met het tegengaan van fraude, zwart geld en zwartwerken. Het is niet een heel erg origineel idee van de Spaanse politici want de buurlanden Portugal en Frankrijk hebben soortgelijke maatregelen al aangenomen.
Uiteraard is het niet de bedoeling dat het contant geld van de ene op de andere dag uit het straatbeeld zal verdwijnen maar er zou wel een geleidelijke afschaffing van het betalen in contant geld moeten komen. Feit is echter dan nog steeds 82% van de inwoners van Spanje de prioriteit geeft aan contant geld vergeleken met 16% die kiest voor exclusief gebruik van kaarten.
1.000 euro limietWat wel praktisch zeker zal zijn is dat het Ministerie van Belastingzaken de limiet van contant betalen zal gaan verlagen van 2.500 naar 1.000 euro. Het is niet de eerste keer dat de huidige regering dit limiet wil verlagen want dat idee gaat terug naar begin 2019 toen het plan uiteindelijk niet door kon gaan.
Europese Centrale BankDe Europese Centrale Bank heeft echter al een waarschuwing gelanceerd want zo herinnert de ECB de Spaanse regering eraan dat het niet meer gebruiken van contant geld niet is toegestaan binnen de Europese Unie. Ook over de mogelijke verlaging van de grens van 2.500 naar 1.000 euro is de ECB niet blij want dat zou een belemmering kunnen zijn bij de afwikkeling van legitieme transacties.
COVID SCAMS
She survived the coronavirus. Then she got a $400,000 medical bill. - Chicago Tribune
Sun, 14 Jun 2020 23:40
NEW YORK - Janet Mendez started receiving bills soon after returning in April to her mother's home from Mount Sinai Morningside hospital, where she nearly died of COVID-19. First, there was one for $31,165. Unable to work and finding it difficult to walk, Mendez decided to put the bill out of her mind and focus on her recovery.
The next one was impossible to ignore: an invoice for $401,885.57, although it noted that the hospital would reduce the bill by $326,851.63 as a ''financial assistance benefit.'' But that still left a tab of more than $75,000.
''Oh my God, how am I going to pay all this money?'' Mendez, 33, recalled thinking. The answer came to her in about a second: ''I'm not going to be able to pay all this.''
Mendez is optimistic that her insurance company will cover a large part of the costs, but only after receiving a series of harassing phone calls from the hospital about payment.
A spokesman for the hospital told The New York Times that Mendez erroneously received a bill that should have gone directly to her insurance company or the government. Coronavirus patients, through a series of federal aid packages, are supposed to be largely exempt from paying for the bulk of their care.
But mistakes are likely to occur, particularly given the number of people who have recently lost their health insurance amid an economic downturn and widespread job loss. And when they do happen, patients like Mendez will be the ones to have to sort out the complicated billing process at a time when they are still recovering from COVID-19.
''We're looking at a tsunami,'' said Elisabeth Benjamin, a vice president at the Community Service Society of New York, which is trying to help Mendez get her bill reduced. ''The earthquake has struck, and now we're waiting for the bills to roll on in.''
When Mendez got over the initial shock and examined her bill more closely, she was struck by how vague and arbitrary the charges seemed. She was billed $3,550 for ''inpatient charges'' and another $42,714.52 for ''pharmacy'' but without any breakdown of what medicines she received or how much each cost.
Mendez said the bill should have at least been itemized, listing each drug she was being charged for '-- and the price. She was, after all, unconscious for much of her hospitalization.
''I don't know what medicines they put in me,'' she said. ''I can't say they did this or they didn't do this.''
Most of the line items on her hospital bill are vague. Some of the most expensive are four entries that simply read ''Medical '-- Cardiac Care.'' Each one ranges from $41,000 to $82,000.
Part of the confusion was that Mendez had recently changed health insurers, and she had arrived at the hospital struggling to breathe and without her new insurance information. The hospital billing department concluded she was uninsured and sent her a bill directly.
''To be clear, neither this patient nor any Mount Sinai patient should receive a bill or be expected to directly pay for their COVID-19 care,'' a spokesman for Mount Sinai Health System, Jason Kaplan, wrote in an email, describing it as an isolated error.
While eye-popping medical bills are nothing new, COVID-19 patients are supposed to be largely exempt. During Mendez's hospitalization, a huge bailout of hospitals was taking shape.
In New York City, hospitals received more than $3 billion in federal payments last month from an early round of bailout payments. The hospital where Mendez was treated, Mount Sinai Morningside (formerly Mount Sinai St. Luke's), received at least $63.7 million.
The federal dollars are intended to help compensate hospitals and health care providers for the expense of treating COVID-19 patients like Mendez. The money is also meant to help make up for the revenue hospitals lost as elective procedures were canceled and non-COVID patients dwindled.
The money comes with some conditions that are intended to protect patients from medical debt. For instance, health care providers are not permitted to seek extra payment from patients with health insurance who received care at an out-of-network hospital. Nor can they ''balance-bill'' '-- that is, bill the patient for the difference between what the insurer will pay and the hospital's charges.
But the protections do not fully insulate patients. Even if a hospital takes federal money, some of the doctors who treat patients there can send their own bills to patients directly.
Mendez received a bill separate from the hospital. The doctors who cared for her individually charged between $300 and $1,800 for each day. Some days, four different doctors billed her for treatment.
Depending on their insurance plan, patients may still be stuck with paying co-payments, deductibles and a percentage of the bill '-- which can amount to thousands of dollars, although some plans may limit out-of-pocket costs, said Jack Hoadley, a health policy researcher at Georgetown University.
And significantly, some of the conditions imposed with the bailout funds apply only to patients with insurance.
Hospitals can seek reimbursement from the government for treating uninsured patients through a different process. But it may turn out that uninsured patients still receive bills.
Mendez has submitted the bill to Cigna, her new insurer, and said that she was led to believe her share of it will be less than $10,000.
Like thousands of other gravely ill COVID-19 patients in New York City, Mendez, an office administrator for a Domino's Pizza franchise, had been deeply sedated and placed on a ventilator to keep her breathing soon after arriving at the hospital March 25. She was in the hospital for 19 nights.
When she awoke, she could not remember her own name or where she was, she said in an interview.
Breaking News Newsletter
As it happens
Get updates on the coronavirus pandemic and other news as it happens with our breaking email alerts
It was a day or two before her memory returned and her confusion receded.
When she was discharged, an ambulance took her to her mother's home.
At first her mother tried to keep the bills from her. But then Mendez said she began to get phone calls from Mount Sinai asking her how she intended to pay.
She is hopeful that insurance will cover the vast majority of the charges. But she is also worried that more bills will arrive.
''I haven't seen anything that says 'ambulance' on it,'' she said, wondering if she was going to be charged for the ride to the hospital. Then she remembered that she left the hospital by ambulance as well. ''Maybe I'll be charged for both of them.''
c.2020 The New York Times Company
COVID-19 Outbreak Hits Elon Musk's Tesla Plant - San Francisco News
Thu, 18 Jun 2020 06:32
FREMONT'--Following CEO Elon Musk's order to re-open his Fremont Tesla factory in May against health guidelines, several Tesla workers have tested positive for the coronavirus on June 9. For privacy reasons, the exact number of employees who tested positive will not be disclosed.
Starting in March, Musk was an outspoken critic via Twitter about the shelter-in-place orders, posting criticisms about the government's response and about the coronavirus in general. One tweet in April he called the shelter-in-place orders ''de facto house arrest,'' and in a March 7 tweet he wrote: ''The coronavirus panic is dumb.''
In May, Musk was determined to re-open his Fremont factory in order to start production of pre-orders despite the risk of consequences for doing so. After he declared the plant would re-open on May 11, he tweeted ''tesla is restarting production today against Alameda County rules. I will be on the line with everyone else. If anyone is arrested, I ask that it only be me.''
Tesla has almost 10,000 employees at the factory in Fremont. In May, Musk got approval from Alameda County health officials to restart vehicle production early, but only under certain conditions. As part of the agreement, Tesla released a plan to maintain worker safety, such as the wearing of gloves and masks, installing barriers between workers in the factory, adhering to social distancing guidelines, and checking worker's temperatures. In addition, the agreement with Alameda includes a provision to report all positive cases, which the company has not officially done yet.
It remains unclear whether Musk is still maintaining the conditions he agreed to. On June 15, workers held a gathering outside of the Fremont factory, demanding that Tesla publicly divulge what it knows about the employees that have tested positive, and to commit to providing and maintaining better protections for its production line workers.
Tesla hasn't responded to a request for comment about positive cases or its workers coronavirus concerns.
Alpha OmegaEnergy on Twitter: "WOW!!! 🮠#Breaking #BreakingNews Members of Parliament of #Brazil break into hospital that claimed to have 5,000 infected & 200 deaths from #COVID19 & CAUGHT THEM RED HANDED NOT ONE PERSON, they have FRAUDED THE W
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 11:21
Alpha OmegaEnergy @ AOECOIN
5h #COVID19 FACTS-When they test your nose they count one "case"-when test your nose they count 2nd "case"-when check serology (many NEVER CHECK) they count a 3rd case-Number of cases are 3x what should be-Case positives are ALL 200+ NON covid items a PCR picks up.
View conversation · Alpha OmegaEnergy @ AOECOIN
5h Watch out!! FAKE Trollbots from the Satanic Leftists are LYING outright saying this is a fake video & other LIES. No Followers, TROLL FARM profiles you can look & see. Many hate Trump posts or Hate for bolsonaro etc. All CORRECT insider info that reveals corruption is attacked!!
View conversation ·
Green New Deal
Trump policy change could be game changer for small nuclear reactors
Mon, 15 Jun 2020 09:47
| June 13, 2020 12:00 AM
A new Trump administration policy enabling U.S. government financing for nuclear energy projects abroad could help accelerate the use of smaller reactors, a budding technology that supporters see as a lifeline for the struggling industry.
''The U.S. will have a whole suite of technologies in different sizes available in the next couple of years, and that really changes the game in terms of this modernization of policy,'' said Rich Powell, executive director of ClearPath, a conservative clean energy group.
The U.S. International Development Finance Corporation proposed this week to reverse an Obama-era ban that prevents it from funding civil nuclear projects overseas, a development first reported by the Washington Examiner.
The corporation's press release announcing the policy change specifically touts how it can help promote advanced nuclear technologies, including small modular reactors and microreactors that ''will have significantly lower costs than traditional nuclear power plants, and may be well-suited for developing countries.''
The United States has not built a traditional large nuclear reactor since the 1970s, with recent projects canceled or delayed because of mounting expenses. Existing plants are closing at a rapid rate due to competition from cheaper natural gas and renewables.
But the industry is banking on developing smaller, cheaper reactors. Policymakers in both parties support the technology as a zero-carbon alternative that can supplement intermittent wind and solar in the power grid of the future.
The U.S. is developing more of these new reactors than any country in the world, but analysts say they are still a decade or so away from being widely operational.
''The future of the nuclear industry, especially in the U.S., is going to be in next-generation reactors,'' said Jackie Kempfer, a nuclear energy policy adviser at Third Way, a center-left think tank. ''With the DFC policy change, we finally have momentum on all the moving pieces that we need to commercialize these technologies.''
Other nuclear powers such as China and Russia are investing in smaller reactors, too, with the advantage of being backed by state governments.
Developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America have less sophisticated grids that are largely unable to accommodate large nuclear plants, but could make use of smaller reactors that are easier and cheaper to build, safer to run, and more flexible to use.
Smaller reactors can be used not just for electricity, the main use of nuclear today, but also in manufacturing and for process heating, so they can also serve an economic development function for poor countries looking to do more than just keep the lights on.
Todd Moss, the executive director of the Energy for Growth Hub, said the U.S. is at least two years behind Russia in its commercial nuclear diplomacy efforts, with the Kremlin already engaging in agreements with developing countries that see nuclear as a clean energy alternative.
''We are some ways out until we are breaking ground on SMRs, but right now, the Russians are aggressively selling their SMR models in a whole range of countries,'' Moss said.
NuScale, the company racing to be the first to operate a small modular nuclear reactor, has agreements (memos of understanding) with companies in many countries, says its CEO John Hopkins. But deals take a long time to finalize. Hopkins said the new DFC policy would help his company overcome financing challenges in developing countries.
NuScale, based in Oregon, hopes this year to be the first company to obtain a license to operate a small reactor in the U.S. and expects to have its light-water reactors in commercial use by 2026.
''The proposed DFC changes would go a long way to help NuScale compete against companies that are foreign government-owned or supported,'' Hopkins told the Washington Examiner, adding it would ''significantly level the playing field.''
Simon Irish, the CEO of Terrestrial Energy USA, a company developing a molten salt advanced nuclear reactor, said the DFC policy change presents a ''important financing option'' that will make the U.S. more competitive.
The Export-Import Bank, the other big U.S. export financing authority, has not had a similar prohibition on nuclear projects, but it can only offer credit or lending.
Congress created the DFC in 2018 to serve as a counterweight to Chinese soft power in Africa and elsewhere. It provides companies operating in developing countries with direct equity financing, loans, and political risk insurance. It has a total investment limit of $60 billion, double what it was for the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the agency it replaced.
''This DFC decision clearly shows that financing developments are keeping pace with the development of advanced nuclear technologies, which have great potential for job creation, economic growth, and as an effective clean energy alternative to fossil fuel use,'' Irish told the Washington Examiner.
Some skeptics of small nuclear reactors argue the DFC policy change is happening too soon to make a difference and is unlikely to help the technology overcome existing regulatory and economic obstacles.
''We are really a long way from getting these things off the ground and making them a reality,'' said Allison Macfarlane, a former chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission who is now a professor at George Washington University. ''I don't know if this is much of a game changer.''
The smaller reactors have lower capital costs and are built in multiples at a time in a standardized fashion at a factory, not on-site where the power will be generated.
But they produce less electricity than a traditional reactor, meaning they don't enjoy the same economy of scale.
Developing countries could prefer gas and renewables, which are cheaper, without having to deal with the baggage of safety concerns that has tainted public perception of nuclear power.
''It's like the first Tesla: The first one costs millions, but once you mass produce, you drive down costs and become competitive,'' Moss said. ''Every country will make their own decisions based on costs, availability, and the environmental footprint.''
Powell acknowledged nuclear, even in a smaller form, won't be for ''everyone'' and said the DFC would look to partner on projects in countries with ''some basic level of civil society accountability and a competent government.''
But the U.S, which built the civil nuclear energy industry in the 1950s, risks falling behind if its policies don't keep up.
''We have a stronger commitment to nonproliferation than the Russians and the Chinese,'' Powell said. ''The question is not if developing countries go nuclear or not. We want it to be us who gives it to them.''
2020
Left-leaning Catholics furious over Trump tweeting Archbishop Vigan²'s letter | News | LifeSite
Mon, 15 Jun 2020 09:52
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 11, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) '-- After President Donald Trump posted a tweet yesterday thanking Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigan² for his open letter to him, media and opinionators were quick to react, sometimes ridiculing both the president and the former papal nuncio to the United States.
''So honored by Archbishop Vigan²'s incredible letter to me,'' wrote the president in a tweet last night, concerning the letter Vigan² penned, published June 6 by LifeSiteNews.
At the time of this writing, the president's tweet has been ''Liked'' over 134,000 times.
The Washington Post and major Catholic news outlets such as Rome Reports, which covers the Vatican; the National Catholic Register; and the Catholic News Agency (CNA) produced mostly straight news stories about the tweet and recounting the events that led to it.
However, within minutes of the president's social media posting, a writer for America Magazine '-- a Jesuit mouthpiece '-- felt duty-bound to offer ''context for journalists who don't cover the church everyday.''
Michael J. O'Loughlin warned that the site that the president had linked to '-- LifeSiteNews '-- ''is a fringe Catholic outift [sic] that pushes conspiracy theories and dislikes (to put it mildly) Pope Francis.''
''The archbishop he mentions pushes 'deep state' and 'deep church' conspiracy theories,'' tweeted O'Loughlin.
Context for journalists who don't cover the church everyday: the site he links to is a fringe Catholic outift that pushes conspiracy theories and dislikes (to put it mildly) Pope Francis. The archbishop he mentions pushes ''deep state'' and ''deep church'' conspiracy theories. https://t.co/Z9jtRlzQVJ
'-- Michael J. O'Loughlin (@MikeOLoughlin) June 10, 2020''Vigano was the Vatican's rep to the US and was instrumental setting up the Pope Francis/Kim Davis in 2015, without the pope's knowledge about the movement Davis represented. In retirement, Vigano has committed himself to undermining Pope Francis,'' continued the Jesuit magazine writer. Pope Francis is a Jesuit.
''Trump has been courting white Catholics in recent months, a demographic key to the president's 2016 win. Trump launched a 'Catholics for Trump' group, counts on the support of 'Priests for Life,' and hosted a call with Cardinal Dolan and other church leaders about schools,'' lamented O'Loughlin.
Vigano was the Vatican's rep to the US and was instrumental setting up the Pope Francis/Kim Davis in 2015, without the pope's knowledge about the movement Davis represented. In retirement, Vigano has committed himself to undermining Pope Francis.
'-- Michael J. O'Loughlin (@MikeOLoughlin) June 10, 2020Fr. James Martin, SJ, retweeted O'Loughlin's postings.
''Trump trying to grab Catholics by the Vig*,'' quipped Massimo Faggioli, Villanova University theologian and Commonweal contributor, in a tweet.
Trump trying to grab Catholics by the Vig*
'-- Massimo Faggioli (@MassimoFaggioli) June 11, 2020''I foresee a paper at the AAR on the ecclesiology of 'deep church,'' he added.
I foresee a paper at the AAR on the ecclesiology of "deep church"
'-- Massimo Faggioli (@MassimoFaggioli) June 11, 2020''President Donald Trump watches Fox News, so I hope he caught this story that calls disgraced Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigan² a 'Rome archbishop' as if he had some influence. In the event, he is not even in Rome and his influence is zilch,'' wrote the National Catholic Reporter's Michael Sean Winters.
''But, as I mentioned the other day, if Vigan² and Trump become pen pals, look for the president to start telling his next rally about the third secret of Fatima. Buckle up!'' warned Winters.
PETITION: Ask Archbishop Gregory to apologize to President Trump and the Knights of Columbus! Sign the petition here.
''President Trump has tweeted his support for Archbishop Vigan², former papal ambassador to the US (Vigan² has just released a letter backing Trump),'' began The Tablet's Christopher Lamb in a series of tweets.
''This risks damaging relations between the US and the Holy See given Vigan²'s call for Francis to resign in 2018,'' continued Lamb.
''It puts high profile Catholics in the US who claim loyalty to Pope Francis and support for President Trump in a difficult position. How can you claim to do both?'' he asked.
''Any weaponising by Trump of Vigan² and his theories during the 2020 election campaign is likely to trouble the consciences of Catholics who had previously supported the President,'' Lamb concluded.
President Trump has tweeted his support for Archbishop Vigan², former papal ambassador to the US (Vigan² has just released a letter backing Trump).1/ This risks damaging relations between the US and the Holy See given Vigan²'s call for Francis to resign in 2018
'-- Christopher Lamb (@ctrlamb) June 10, 2020Lamb later offered a fuller explanation of his view at the Tablet, in an article ominously headlined, ''Trump's attack on the papacy is likely to backfire.''
''With a single tweet, President Donald Trump has put the relationship between the United States and the Holy See under strain while potentially jeopardising his support among Catholics,'' declared Lamb.
''I wonder for how long the institutional level of the Catholic Church - in Rome, at the USCCB, in DC - can pretend that this is not happening,'' wrote Massimo Faggioli, commenting on Lamb's hypothesizing.
I wonder for how long the institutional level of the Catholic Church - in Rome, at the USCCB, in DC - can pretend that this is not happening https://t.co/VBHa0se3rr
'-- Massimo Faggioli (@MassimoFaggioli) June 11, 2020Last month, Faggioli penned an article for Commonweal Magazine suggesting that Archbishop Vigan² was ''using the pandemic to undermine Pope Francis.''
Italy's Huffington Post was alarmed that ''During the night, the U.S. President sided with the former nuncio.''
The headline for Maria Antonietta Calabr²'s story blared, ''Trump and Vigan²: The strange couple against Francesco.''
''The 'exchange' between Trump and Vigan² has therefore to do with two successions: the next American presidential election and the future of the Catholic Church and the outcome of the future conclave,'' wrote Calabr².
The Washington Post's religion writer, Michelle Boorstein, tweeted, ''In normal times, this would be huge news: Trump tweets praise for letter saying there are two sides in America, who are enemies: 'just as God and Satan are eternal enemies.'''
In normal times, this would be huge news: Trump tweets praise for letter saying there are two sides in America, who are enemies: ''just as God and Satan are eternal enemies'' https://t.co/prt7Dkrmsu
'-- Michelle Boorstein (@mboorstein) June 11, 2020''Vigano's recent comments make apocalyptic claims about a one-world government, denounce the Second Vatican Council, and claim the 3rd secret of Our Lady of Fatima was not fully revealed by Pope St. John Paul II,'' tweeted JD Flynn, editor-in-chief for Catholic News Agency (CNA).
Vigano's recent comments make apocalyptic claims about a one-world government, denounce the Second Vatican Council, and claim the 3rd secret of Our Lady of Fatima was not fully revealed by Pope St. John Paul II.https://t.co/iUC1Rdr68n
'-- JD Flynn (@jdflynn) June 11, 2020The sprawling, 2,600-word CNA account reached back to Vigan²'s explosive August 2018 testimony, critical of the hierarchy's handling of then-cardinal Theodore McCarrick's sexual predation, and then spanned all of the former nuncio's subsequent writings.
Many fear Trump's visit to Tulsa could spark violence
Thu, 18 Jun 2020 06:33
OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) '-- Black community leaders in Tulsa said they fear a large rally by President Donald Trump in the city this weekend could spark violence, and the state's governor asked Trump not to visit the site of a race massacre where up to 300 black residents were killed by white mobs in 1921.
Tens of thousands of Trump supporters are expected in Tulsa Saturday for the first of a series of rallies across the country to rev up his reelection campaign. The gathering at the 19,000-seat BOK Center, and at a 40,000-capacity convention center nearby, would overlap a two-day local celebration of Juneteenth, which marks the end of slavery in the country.
Both events are in the city's downtown area. The Rev. Al Sharpton is among the speakers at the Juneteenth observance in the Greenwood district, where several dozen blocks of black-owned businesses were burned in the massacre. A separate anti-hate rally is set for Saturday night in a Tulsa park about a 30-minute walk away.
Community leaders and organizers say all the events should be peaceful, but worry about the potential for clash involving Trump supporters, participants in several anti-Trump protests planned downtown, and those attending the Juneteenth program. Tulsa experienced several days of large protests after the death of black Minneapolis resident George Floyd May 25, but violence and damage were limited.
''We're all terribly concerned,'' said Rev. Ray Owens, pastor of the Metropolitan Baptist Church, a historically black church on the city's north side. ''I'm hearing rumors of people coming from both sides who may be inclined to incite some kind of physical conflict or war of words. That worries me.''
Wednesday, the QuikTrip convenience store chain announced the closing of its downtown area locations ''out of possible safety concerns for our employees.'' Up to 250 Oklahoma Army National Guardsmen will be activated as a ''force multiplier'' for local, state and federal law enforcement providing security, said Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin.
Tulsa's long history of racial tension was exacerbated in recent weeks by the arrest of two black teenagers for jaywalking. Another flashpoint was the fatal shooting of an unarmed black man, Terence Crutcher, by a Tulsa police officer in 2016.
''All of those things are the backdrop for Donald Trump's visit,'' said Marq Lewis, a black community organizer and founder of We the People Oklahoma. ''His visit is definitely inflammatory.''
Adding to the tension is fear about a recent spike in coronavirus cases in Tulsa and how it could be worsened by throngs of people cramming into downtown and indoor arenas.
Oklahoma's Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt had invited Trump and Vice President Mike Pence to tour the city's Greenwood district during their visit, then backpedaled after being told it was a bad idea.
He said he doesn't know what Trump will do. ''That is something that will ultimately be the President's decision,'' Stitt said.
Trump supporters started arriving from around the country as early as Monday, some camping outside the BOK Center in the 90-degree-plus heat. Several acknowledged concerns about violence between rally goers and protesters.
''That is in the back of everyone's mind down here,'' said 41-year-old Trump supporter Delmer Phillips. ''We know that if protesters show up, it could get nasty. That's ultimately what I fear the most.''
State Sen. Kevin Matthews, a Democrat whose district includes the Greenwood area, said Stitt didn't consult community members before extending the offer. An appearance in Greenwood by Trump would be ''a slap in face,'' he said.
Meanwhile, Franklin said there will be a massive police presence downtown Saturday.
''The eyes of the world are on Tulsa, Oklahoma, during this event and we are ready for it,'' he said.
Deep State
Essay: Anatomy of the Deep State | BillMoyers.com
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 09:31
Rome lived upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face. Industry is the only true source of wealth, and there was no industry in Rome. By day the Ostia road was crowded with carts and muleteers, carrying to the great city the silks and spices of the East, the marble of Asia Minor, the timber of the Atlas, the grain of Africa and Egypt; and the carts brought out nothing but loads of dung. That was their return cargo.
'-- The Martyrdom of Man by Winwood Reade (1871)
There is the visible government situated around the Mall in Washington, and then there is another, more shadowy, more indefinable government that is not explained in Civics 101 or observable to tourists at the White House or the Capitol. The former is traditional Washington partisan politics: the tip of the iceberg that a public watching C-SPAN sees daily and which is theoretically controllable via elections. The subsurface part of the iceberg I shall call the Deep State, which operates according to its own compass heading regardless of who is formally in power. [1]
During the last five years, the news media have been flooded with pundits decrying the broken politics of Washington. The conventional wisdom has it that partisan gridlock and dysfunction have become the new normal. That is certainly the case, and I have been among the harshest critics of this development. But it is also imperative to acknowledge the limits of this critique as it applies to the American governmental system. On one level, the critique is self-evident: In the domain that the public can see, Congress is hopelessly deadlocked in the worst manner since the 1850s, the violently rancorous decade preceding the Civil War.
Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country'...
As I wrote in
The Party is Over, the present objective of congressional Republicans is to render the executive branch powerless, at least until a Republican president is elected (a goal that voter suppression laws in GOP-controlled states
are clearly intended to accomplish). President Obama cannot enact his domestic policies and budgets: Because of incessant GOP filibustering, not only could he not fill the large number of vacancies in the federal judiciary, he could not even get his most innocuous presidential appointees into office. Democrats controlling the Senate have responded by weakening the filibuster of nominations, but Republicans are sure to react with other parliamentary delaying tactics. This strategy amounts to congressional nullification of executive branch powers by a party that controls a majority in only one house of Congress.
Despite this apparent impotence, President Obama can liquidate American citizens without due processes, detain prisoners indefinitely without charge, conduct dragnet surveillance on the American people without judicial warrant and engage in unprecedented '-- at least since the McCarthy era '-- witch hunts against federal employees (the so-called ''Insider Threat Program''). Within the United States, this power is characterized by massive displays of intimidating force by militarized federal, state and local law enforcement. Abroad, President Obama can start wars at will and engage in virtually any other activity whatsoever without so much as a by-your-leave from Congress, such as arranging the forced landing of a plane carrying a sovereign head of state over foreign territory. Despite the habitual cant of congressional Republicans about executive overreach by Obama, the would-be dictator, we have until recently heard very little from them about these actions '-- with the minor exception of comments from gadfly Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky. Democrats, save a few mavericks such as Ron Wyden of Oregon, are not unduly troubled, either '-- even to the extent of permitting seemingly perjured congressional testimony under oath by executive branch officials on the subject of illegal surveillance.
These are not isolated instances of a contradiction; they have been so pervasive that they tend to be disregarded as background noise. During the time in 2011 when political warfare over the debt ceiling was beginning to paralyze the business of governance in Washington, the United States government somehow summoned the resources to overthrow Muammar Ghaddafi's regime in Libya, and, when the instability created by that coup spilled over into Mali, provide overt and covert assistance to French intervention there. At a time when there was heated debate about continuing meat inspections and civilian air traffic control because of the budget crisis, our government was somehow able to commit $115 million to keeping a civil war going in Syria and to pay at least £100m to the United Kingdom's Government Communications Headquarters to buy influence over and access to that country's intelligence. Since 2007, two bridges carrying interstate highways have collapsed due to inadequate maintenance of infrastructure, one killing 13 people. During that same period of time, the government spent $1.7 billion constructing a building in Utah that is the size of 17 football fields. This mammoth structure is intended to allow the National Security Agency to store a yottabyte of information, the largest numerical designator computer scientists have coined. A yottabyte is equal to 500 quintillion pages of text. They need that much storage to archive every single trace of your electronic life.
Yes, there is another government concealed behind the one that is visible at either end of Pennsylvania Avenue, a hybrid entity of public and private institutions ruling the country according to consistent patterns in season and out, connected to, but only intermittently controlled by, the visible state whose leaders we choose. My analysis of this phenomenon is not an expos(C) of a secret, conspiratorial cabal; the state within a state is hiding mostly in plain sight, and its operators mainly act in the light of day. Nor can this other government be accurately termed an ''establishment.'' All complex societies have an establishment, a social network committed to its own enrichment and perpetuation. In terms of its scope, financial resources and sheer global reach, the American hybrid state, the Deep State, is in a class by itself. That said, it is neither omniscient nor invincible. The institution is not so much sinister (although it has highly sinister aspects) as it is relentlessly well entrenched. Far from being invincible, its failures, such as those in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, are routine enough that it is only the Deep State's protectiveness towards its higher-ranking personnel that allows them to escape the consequences of their frequent ineptitude. [2]
How did I come to write an analysis of the Deep State, and why am I equipped to write it? As a congressional staff member for 28 years specializing in national security and possessing a top secret security clearance, I was at least on the fringes of the world I am describing, if neither totally in it by virtue of full membership nor of it by psychological disposition. But, like virtually every employed person, I became, to some extent, assimilated into the culture of the institution I worked for, and only by slow degrees, starting before the invasion of Iraq, did I begin fundamentally to question the reasons of state that motivate the people who are, to quote George W. Bush, ''the deciders.''
Photo: Dale Robbins
Cultural assimilation is partly a matter of what psychologist
Irving L. Janis called ''groupthink,'' the chameleon-like ability of people to adopt the views of their superiors and peers. This syndrome is endemic to Washington: The town is characterized by sudden fads, be it negotiating biennial budgeting, making grand bargains or invading countries. Then, after a while, all the town's cool kids drop those ideas as if they were radioactive. As in the military, everybody has to get on board with the mission, and questioning it is not a career-enhancing move. The universe of people who will critically examine the goings-on at the institutions they work for is always going to be a small one. As Upton Sinclair said, ''It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.''
A more elusive aspect of cultural assimilation is the sheer dead weight of the ordinariness of it all once you have planted yourself in your office chair for the 10,000th time. Government life is typically not some vignette from an Allen Drury novel about intrigue under the Capitol dome. Sitting and staring at the clock on the off-white office wall when it's 11:00 in the evening and you are vowing never, ever to eat another piece of takeout pizza in your life is not an experience that summons the higher literary instincts of a would-be memoirist. After a while, a functionary of the state begins to hear things that, in another context, would be quite remarkable, or at least noteworthy, and yet that simply bounce off one's consciousness like pebbles off steel plate: ''You mean the number of terrorist groups we are fighting is classified?'' No wonder so few people are whistle-blowers, quite apart from the vicious retaliation whistle-blowing often provokes: Unless one is blessed with imagination and a fine sense of irony, growing immune to the curiousness of one's surroundings is easy. To paraphrase the inimitable Donald Rumsfeld, I didn't know all that I knew, at least until I had had a couple of years away from the government to reflect upon it.
The Deep State does not consist of the entire government. It is a hybrid of national security and law enforcement agencies: the Department of Defense, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Justice Department. I also include the Department of the Treasury because of its jurisdiction over financial flows, its enforcement of international sanctions and its organic symbiosis with Wall Street. All these agencies are coordinated by the Executive Office of the President via the National Security Council. Certain key areas of the judiciary belong to the Deep State, such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, whose actions are mysterious even to most members of Congress. Also included are a handful of vital federal trial courts, such as the Eastern District of Virginia and the Southern District of Manhattan, where sensitive proceedings in national security cases are conducted. The final government component (and possibly last in precedence among the formal branches of government established by the Constitution) is a kind of rump Congress consisting of the congressional leadership and some (but not all) of the members of the defense and intelligence committees. The rest of Congress, normally so fractious and partisan, is mostly only intermittently aware of the Deep State and when required usually submits to a few well-chosen words from the State's emissaries.
I saw this submissiveness on many occasions. One memorable incident was passage of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Amendments Act of 2008. This legislation retroactively legalized the Bush administration's illegal and unconstitutional surveillance first revealed by The New York Times in 2005 and indemnified the telecommunications companies for their cooperation in these acts. The bill passed easily: All that was required was the invocation of the word ''terrorism'' and most members of Congress responded like iron filings obeying a magnet. One who responded in that fashion was Senator Barack Obama, soon to be coronated as the presidential nominee at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. He had already won the most delegates by campaigning to the left of his main opponent, Hillary Clinton, on the excesses of the global war on terror and the erosion of constitutional liberties.
As the indemnification vote showed, the Deep State does not consist only of government agencies. What is euphemistically called ''private enterprise'' is an integral part of its operations. In a special series in The Washington Post called ''Top Secret America,'' Dana Priest and William K. Arkin described the scope of the privatized Deep State and the degree to which it has metastasized after the September 11 attacks. There are now 854,000 contract personnel with top-secret clearances '-- a number greater than that of top-secret-cleared civilian employees of the government. While they work throughout the country and the world, their heavy concentration in and around the Washington suburbs is unmistakable: Since 9/11, 33 facilities for top-secret intelligence have been built or are under construction. Combined, they occupy the floor space of almost three Pentagons '-- about 17 million square feet. Seventy percent of the intelligence community's budget goes to paying contracts. And the membrane between government and industry is highly permeable: The Director of National Intelligence, James R. Clapper, is a former executive of Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the government's largest intelligence contractors. His predecessor as director, Admiral Mike McConnell, is the current vice chairman of the same company; Booz Allen is 99 percent dependent on government business. These contractors now set the political and social tone of Washington, just as they are increasingly setting the direction of the country, but they are doing it quietly, their doings unrecorded in the Congressional Record or the Federal Register, and are rarely subject to congressional hearings.
Photo: Dale Robbins
Washington is the most important node of the Deep State that has taken over America, but it is not the only one. Invisible threads of money and ambition connect the town to other nodes. One is Wall Street, which supplies the cash that keeps the political machine quiescent and operating as a diversionary marionette theater. Should the politicians forget their lines and threaten the status quo, Wall Street floods the town with cash and lawyers to help the hired hands remember their own best interests. The executives of the financial giants even have de facto criminal immunity. On March 6, 2013, testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee,
Attorney General Eric Holder stated the following: ''I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them when we are hit with indications that if you do prosecute, if you do bring a criminal charge, it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy.'' This, from the chief law enforcement officer of a justice system that has practically
abolished the constitutional right to trial for poorer defendants charged with certain crimes. It is not too much to say that Wall Street may be the ultimate owner of the Deep State and its strategies, if for no other reason than that it has the money to reward government operatives with a second career that is lucrative beyond the dreams of avarice '-- certainly beyond the dreams of a salaried government employee.
[3]The corridor between Manhattan and Washington is a well trodden highway for the personalities we have all gotten to know in the period since the massive deregulation of Wall Street: Robert Rubin, Lawrence Summers, Henry Paulson, Timothy Geithner and many others. Not all the traffic involves persons connected with the purely financial operations of the government: In 2013, General David Petraeus joined KKR (formerly Kohlberg Kravis Roberts) of 9 West 57th Street, New York, a private equity firm with $62.3 billion in assets. KKR specializes in management buyouts and leveraged finance. General Petraeus' expertise in these areas is unclear. His ability to peddle influence, however, is a known and valued commodity. Unlike Cincinnatus, the military commanders of the Deep State do not take up the plow once they lay down the sword. Petraeus also obtained a sinecure as a non-resident senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard. The Ivy League is, of course, the preferred bleaching tub and charm school of the American oligarchy. [4]
Petraeus and most of the avatars of the Deep State '-- the White House advisers who urged Obama not to impose compensation limits on Wall Street CEOs, the contractor-connected think tank experts who besought us to ''stay the course'' in Iraq, the economic gurus who perpetually demonstrate that globalization and deregulation are a blessing that makes us all better off in the long run '-- are careful to pretend that they have no ideology. Their preferred pose is that of the politically neutral technocrat offering well considered advice based on profound expertise. That is nonsense. They are deeply dyed in the hue of the official ideology of the governing class, an ideology that is neither specifically Democrat nor Republican. Domestically, whatever they might privately believe about essentially diversionary social issues such as abortion or gay marriage, they almost invariably believe in the ''Washington Consensus'': financialization, outsourcing, privatization, deregulation and the commodifying of labor. Internationally, they espouse 21st-century ''American Exceptionalism'': the right and duty of the United States to meddle in every region of the world with coercive diplomacy and boots on the ground and to ignore painfully won international norms of civilized behavior. To paraphrase what Sir John Harrington said more than 400 years ago about treason, now that the ideology of the Deep State has prospered, none dare call it ideology. [5] That is why describing torture with the word ''torture'' on broadcast television is treated less as political heresy than as an inexcusable lapse of Washington etiquette: Like smoking a cigarette on camera, these days it is simply ''not done.''
Photo: Dale Robbins
After Edward Snowden's revelations about the extent and depth of surveillance by the National Security Agency, it has become publicly evident that Silicon Valley is a vital node of the Deep State as well. Unlike military and intelligence contractors, Silicon Valley overwhelmingly sells to the private market, but its business is so important to the government that a strange relationship has emerged. While the government could simply dragoon the high technology companies to do the NSA's bidding, it would prefer cooperation with so important an engine of the nation's economy, perhaps with an implied
quid pro quo. Perhaps this explains the extraordinary indulgence the government shows the Valley in intellectual property matters. If an American ''jailbreaks'' his smartphone (i.e., modifies it so that it can use a service provider other than the one dictated by the manufacturer), he could receive
a fine of up to $500,000 and several years in prison; so much for a citizen's vaunted property rights to what he purchases. The libertarian pose of the Silicon Valley moguls, so carefully cultivated in their public relations, has always been a sham. Silicon Valley has long been tracking for commercial purposes the activities of every person who uses an electronic device, so it is hardly surprising that the Deep State should emulate the Valley and do the same for its own purposes. Nor is it surprising that it should conscript the Valley's assistance.
Still, despite the essential roles of lower Manhattan and Silicon Valley, the center of gravity of the Deep State is firmly situated in and around the Beltway. The Deep State's physical expansion and consolidation around the Beltway would seem to make a mockery of the frequent pronouncement that governance in Washington is dysfunctional and broken. That the secret and unaccountable Deep State floats freely above the gridlock between both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue is the paradox of American government in the 21st century: drone strikes, data mining, secret prisons and Panopticon-like control on the one hand; and on the other, the ordinary, visible parliamentary institutions of self-government declining to the status of a banana republic amid the gradual collapse of public infrastructure.
The results of this contradiction are not abstract, as a tour of the rotting, decaying, bankrupt cities of the American Midwest will attest. It is not even confined to those parts of the country left behind by a Washington Consensus that decreed the financialization and deindustrialization of the economy in the interests of efficiency and shareholder value. This paradox is evident even within the Beltway itself, the richest metropolitan area in the nation. Although demographers and urban researchers invariably count Washington as a ''world city,'' that is not always evident to those who live there. Virtually every time there is a severe summer thunderstorm, tens '-- or even hundreds '-- of thousands of residents lose power, often for many days. There are occasional water restrictions over wide areas because water mains, poorly constructed and inadequately maintained, have burst. [6] The Washington metropolitan area considers it a Herculean task just to build a rail link to its international airport '-- with luck it may be completed by 2018.
It is as if Hadrian's Wall was still fully manned and the fortifications along the border with Germania were never stronger, even as the city of Rome disintegrates from within and the life-sustaining aqueducts leading down from the hills begin to crumble. The governing classes of the Deep State may continue to deceive themselves with their dreams of Zeus-like omnipotence, but others do not. A 2013 Pew Poll that interviewed 38,000 people around the world found that in 23 of 39 countries surveyed, a plurality of respondents said they believed China already had or would in the future replace the United States as the world's top economic power.
The Deep State is the big story of our time. It is the red thread that runs through the war on terrorism, the financialization and deindustrialization of the American economy, the rise of a plutocratic social structure and political dysfunction. Washington is the headquarters of the Deep State, and its time in the sun as a rival to Rome, Constantinople or London may be term-limited by its overweening sense of self-importance and its habit, as Winwood Reade said of Rome, to ''live upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face.'' ''Living upon its principal,'' in this case, means that the Deep State has been extracting value from the American people in vampire-like fashion.
We are faced with two disagreeable implications. First, that the Deep State is so heavily entrenched, so well protected by surveillance, firepower, money and its ability to co-opt resistance that it is almost impervious to change. Second, that just as in so many previous empires, the Deep State is populated with those whose instinctive reaction to the failure of their policies is to double down on those very policies in the future. Iraq was a failure briefly camouflaged by the wholly propagandistic success of the so-called surge; this legerdemain allowed for the surge in Afghanistan, which equally came to naught. Undeterred by that failure, the functionaries of the Deep State plunged into Libya; the smoking rubble of the Benghazi consulate, rather than discouraging further misadventure, seemed merely to incite the itch to bomb Syria. Will the Deep State ride on the back of the American people from failure to failure until the country itself, despite its huge reserves of human and material capital, is slowly exhausted? The dusty road of empire is strewn with the bones of former great powers that exhausted themselves in like manner.
Photo: Dale Robbins
But, there are signs of resistance to the Deep State and its demands. In the aftermath of the Snowden revelations,
the House narrowly failed to pass an amendment that would have defunded the NSA's warrantless collection of data from US persons. Shortly thereafter, the president, advocating yet another military intervention in the Middle East, this time in Syria, met with such overwhelming congressional skepticism that he changed the subject by grasping at a diplomatic lifeline thrown to him by Vladimir Putin.
[7]Has the visible, constitutional state, the one envisaged by Madison and the other Founders, finally begun to reassert itself against the claims and usurpations of the Deep State? To some extent, perhaps. The unfolding revelations of the scope of the NSA's warrantless surveillance have become so egregious that even institutional apologists such as Senator Dianne Feinstein have begun to backpedal '-- if only rhetorically '-- from their knee-jerk defense of the agency. As more people begin to waken from the fearful and suggestible state that 9/11 created in their minds, it is possible that the Deep State's decade-old tactic of crying ''terrorism!'' every time it faces resistance is no longer eliciting the same Pavlovian response of meek obedience. And the American people, possibly even their legislators, are growing tired of endless quagmires in the Middle East.
But there is another more structural reason the Deep State may have peaked in the extent of its dominance. While it seems to float above the constitutional state, its essentially parasitic, extractive nature means that it is still tethered to the formal proceedings of governance. The Deep State thrives when there is tolerable functionality in the day-to-day operations of the federal government. As long as appropriations bills get passed on time, promotion lists get confirmed, black (i.e., secret) budgets get rubber-stamped, special tax subsidies for certain corporations are approved without controversy, as long as too many awkward questions are not asked, the gears of the hybrid state will mesh noiselessly. But when one house of Congress is taken over by tea party Wahhabites, life for the ruling class becomes more trying.
If there is anything the Deep State requires it is silent, uninterrupted cash flow and the confidence that things will go on as they have in the past. It is even willing to tolerate a degree of gridlock: Partisan mud wrestling over cultural issues may be a useful distraction from its agenda. But recent congressional antics involving sequestration, the government shutdown and the threat of default over the debt ceiling extension have been disrupting that equilibrium. And an extreme gridlock dynamic has developed between the two parties such that continuing some level of sequestration is politically the least bad option for both parties, albeit for different reasons. As much as many Republicans might want to give budget relief to the organs of national security, they cannot fully reverse sequestration without the Democrats demanding revenue increases. And Democrats wanting to spend more on domestic discretionary programs cannot void sequestration on either domestic or defense programs without Republicans insisting on entitlement cuts.
So, for the foreseeable future, the Deep State must restrain its appetite for taxpayer dollars. Limited deals may soften sequestration, but agency requests will not likely be fully funded anytime soon. Even Wall Street's rentier operations have been affected: After helping finance the tea party to advance its own plutocratic ambitions, America's Big Money is now regretting the Frankenstein's monster it has created. Like children playing with dynamite, the tea party and its compulsion to drive the nation into credit default has alarmed the grown-ups commanding the heights of capital; the latter are now telling the politicians they thought they had hired to knock it off.
The House vote to defund the NSA's illegal surveillance programs was equally illustrative of the disruptive nature of the tea party insurgency. Civil liberties Democrats alone would never have come so close to victory; tea party stalwart Justin Amash (R-MI), who has also upset the business community for his debt-limit fundamentalism, was the lead Republican sponsor of the NSA amendment, and most of the Republicans who voted with him were aligned with the tea party.
The final factor is Silicon Valley. Owing to secrecy and obfuscation, it is hard to know how much of the NSA's relationship with the Valley is based on voluntary cooperation, how much is legal compulsion through FISA warrants and how much is a matter of the NSA surreptitiously breaking into technology companies' systems. Given the Valley's public relations requirement to mollify its customers who have privacy concerns, it is difficult to take the tech firms' libertarian protestations about government compromise of their systems at face value, especially since they engage in similar activity against their own customers for commercial purposes. That said, evidence is accumulating that Silicon Valley
is losing billions in overseas business from companies, individuals and governments that want to maintain privacy. For high tech entrepreneurs, the cash nexus is ultimately more compelling than the Deep State's demand for patriotic cooperation. Even legal compulsion can be combatted: Unlike the individual citizen, tech firms have deep pockets and batteries of lawyers with which to fight government diktat.
This pushback has gone so far that on January 17, President Obama announced revisions to the NSA's data collection programs, including withdrawing the agency's custody of a domestic telephone record database, expanding requirements for judicial warrants and ceasing to spy on (undefined) ''friendly foreign leaders.'' Critics have denounced the changes as a cosmetic public relations move, but they are still significant in that the clamor has gotten so loud that the president feels the political need to address it.
When the contradictions within a ruling ideology are pushed too far, factionalism appears and that ideology begins slowly to crumble. Corporate oligarchs such as the Koch brothers are no longer entirely happy with the faux-populist political front group they helped fund and groom. Silicon Valley, for all the Ayn Rand-like tendencies of its major players, its offshoring strategies and its further exacerbation of income inequality, is now lobbying Congress to restrain the NSA, a core component of the Deep State. Some tech firms are moving to encrypt their data. High tech corporations and governments alike seek dominance over people though collection of personal data, but the corporations are jumping ship now that adverse public reaction to the NSA scandals threatens their profits.
The outcome of all these developments is uncertain. The Deep State, based on the twin pillars of national security imperative and corporate hegemony, has until recently seemed unshakable and the latest events may only be a temporary perturbation in its trajectory. But history has a way of toppling the altars of the mighty. While the two great materialist and determinist ideologies of the twentieth century, Marxism and the Washington Consensus, successively decreed that the dictatorship of the proletariat and the dictatorship of the market were inevitable, the future is actually indeterminate. It may be that deep economic and social currents create the framework of history, but those currents can be channeled, eddied, or even reversed by circumstance, chance and human agency. We have only to reflect upon defunct glacial despotisms such as the USSR or East Germany to realize that nothing is forever.
Throughout history, state systems with outsized pretensions to power have reacted to their environments in two ways. The first strategy, reflecting the ossification of its ruling elites, consists of repeating that nothing is wrong, that the status quo reflects the nation's unique good fortune in being favored by God and that those calling for change are merely subversive troublemakers. As the French ancien r(C)gime, the Romanov dynasty and the Habsburg emperors discovered, the strategy works splendidly for a while, particularly if one has a talent for dismissing unpleasant facts. The final results, however, are likely to be thoroughly disappointing.
The second strategy is one embraced to varying degrees and with differing goals, by figures of such contrasting personalities as Mustafa Kemal Atat¼rk, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Charles de Gaulle and Deng Xiaoping. They were certainly not revolutionaries by temperament; if anything, their natures were conservative. But they understood that the political cultures in which they lived were fossilized and incapable of adapting to the times. In their drive to reform and modernize the political systems they inherited, their first obstacles to overcome were the outworn myths that encrusted the thinking of the elites of their time.
As the United States confronts its future after experiencing two failed wars, a precarious economy and $17 trillion in accumulated debt, the national punditry has split into two camps. The first, the declinists, sees a broken, dysfunctional political system incapable of reform and an economy soon to be overtaken by China. The second, the reformers, offers a profusion of nostrums to turn the nation around: public financing of elections to sever the artery of money between the corporate components of the Deep State and financially dependent elected officials, government ''insourcing'' to reverse the tide of outsourcing of government functions and the conflicts of interest that it creates, a tax policy that values human labor over financial manipulation and a trade policy that favors exporting manufactured goods over exporting investment capital.
Mike Lofgren on the Deep State Hiding in Plain Sight
All of that is necessary, but not sufficient. The Snowden revelations (the impact of which have been surprisingly strong), the derailed drive for military intervention in Syria and a fractious Congress, whose dysfunction has begun to be a serious inconvenience to the Deep State, show that there is now a deep but as yet inchoate hunger for change. What America lacks is a figure with the serene self-confidence to tell us that the twin idols of national security and corporate power are outworn dogmas that have nothing more to offer us. Thus disenthralled, the people themselves will unravel the Deep State with surprising speed.
[1] The term ''Deep State'' was coined in Turkey and is said to be a system composed of high-level elements within the intelligence services, military, security, judiciary and organized crime. In British author John le Carr(C)'s latest novel,
A Delicate Truth, a character describes the Deep State as '''... the ever-expanding circle of non-governmental insiders from banking, industry and commerce who were cleared for highly classified information denied to large swathes of Whitehall and Westminster.'' I use the term to mean a hybrid association of elements of government and parts of top-level finance and industry that is effectively able to govern the United States without reference to the consent of the governed as expressed through the formal political process.
[2] Twenty-five years ago, the sociologist
Robert Nisbet described this phenomenon as ''the attribute of No Fault'.... Presidents, secretaries and generals and admirals in America seemingly subscribe to the doctrine that no fault ever attaches to policy and operations. This No Fault conviction prevents them from taking too seriously such notorious foul-ups as Desert One, Grenada, Lebanon and now the Persian Gulf.'' To his list we might add 9/11, Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.
[3] The attitude of many members of Congress towards Wall Street was
memorably expressed by Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-AL), the incoming chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, in 2010: ''In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks.''
[4] Beginning in 1988, every US president has been a graduate of Harvard or Yale. Beginning in 2000, every losing presidential candidate has been a Harvard or Yale graduate, with the exception of John McCain in 2008.
[5] In recent months, the American public has seen a vivid example of a Deep State operative marketing his ideology under the banner of pragmatism. Former Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates '-- a one-time career CIA officer and
deeply political Bush family retainer '-- has camouflaged his retrospective defense of military escalations that have brought us nothing but casualties and fiscal grief as the straight-from-the-shoulder memoir from a plain-spoken son of Kansas who disdains Washington and its politicians.
[6] Meanwhile, the US government took the lead in restoring Baghdad's sewer system
at a cost of $7 billion.
[7] Obama's abrupt about-face suggests he may have been skeptical of military intervention in Syria all along, but only dropped that policy once Congress and Putin gave him the running room to do so. In 2009, he went ahead with the Afghanistan ''surge'' partly because General Petraeus'
public relations campaign and back-channel lobbying on the Hill for implementation of his pet military strategy pre-empted other options. These incidents raise the disturbing question of how much the democratically elected president '-- or any president '-- sets the policy of the national security state and how much the policy is set for him by the professional operatives of that state who engineer faits accomplis that force his hand.
STORIES
Why are so many people not wearing coronavirus masks? - Los Angeles Times
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 23:19
At lunchtime Tuesday on the sweet, little tree-lined main drag in downtown Glendora, people were out and about under pleasant pandemic skies, and most were not wearing masks.
I'd say it was one-third with, two-thirds without.
I can't say I was surprised. Even though L.A. County is still seeing more than 1,100 new cases of COVID-19 per day, a lot of people have begun acting as if the pandemic is over. I get that we're all sick of putting our lives on hold. But as the death toll continues to mount, it's too soon to abandon basic precautions.
In Los Angeles County, a recent inspection of about 2,000 newly reopened restaurants found that roughly half were out of compliance with safety rules, while in San Diego, a public health warning was issued because of crowds partying mask-free in the Gaslamp District.
On Sunday, I took my dog for a walk at the Eagle Rock Recreation Center and saw 10 sweaty bodies banging into one another on the basketball court while another several hung out waiting to get into the game, and not one mask.
Last week, Orange County's public health director resigned after her call for mandatory face masks prompted a death threat, a security detail and a poster of her with a Hitler mustache and swastikas. On Tuesday in Santa Ana, face mask supporters were pushed and mocked by foes who chanted, ''Hey hey, ho ho, these masks have got to go.''
This, in a country with nearly 117,000 COVID-19 deaths and counting.
In Glendora, some of the people without face coverings were with relatives, and others were carrying masks in their pockets. But it wasn't hard to find people who told me they didn't buy into the argument that masks necessarily limit the spread of the coronavirus.
''It's probably driven by political scare tactics,'' said a 77-year-old retiree strolling with his wife, neither of them wearing masks. He added that he didn't know anyone who has gotten COVID-19, but if reported cases are up, maybe it's simply because there's more testing rather than a worrisome surge.
A man named Jon told me that he's in a bar every night, no one in the place wears a mask, and he doesn't have a problem with that. He said he lost his job in the cement business because the economy shut down, and while he knows the coronavirus is a killer, he wondered why L.A. County focuses so much on new COVID-19 cases and not on the number of people who recover from the virus.
A woman named Elise came by with a son who was riding a scooter, neither of them wearing a mask. Elise said she doubted that masks do much good.
And then I came upon Robin and her daughter Natasha, both maskless. Robin said she likes to breathe in the fresh air on a nice day, and they cover up in stores, as required. But they weren't sold on the usefulness of masks. Natasha said even the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has contradicted itself on the matter.
No question, there's still a lot to learn about the virus, and opinions on masks have varied. But for the record, the CDC currently ''recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.''
We implemented safety precautions too late in the U.S., costing lives, and we've given up on them too soon, which will cost more. A new University of Washington model forecasts that the COVID-19 death toll could top 200,000 by October.
''Increased mobility and premature relaxation of social distancing led to more infections and we see it in Florida, Arizona, and other states,'' said the director of the study. ''This means more projected deaths.''
Meanwhile, a new study '-- published last week by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences '-- found that face coverings reduced the number of new infections in New York City by 66,000 between April 6 and May 9.
''We conclude that wearing of face masks in public corresponds to the most effective means to prevent inter-human transmission,'' said the report, ''and this inexpensive practice, in conjunction with extensive testing, quarantine, and contact tracking, poses the most probable fighting opportunity to stop the COVID-19 pandemic, prior to the development of a vaccine.''
There you go. Masks are inexpensive. They are a minor inconvenience. And they are an important part of a strategy to save lives, not to mention that by wearing a mask you let it be known that you care about the health of others.
Somehow the mask requirement became identified as anti-business, when actually the wearing of masks and the observance of other safety measures are what will make reopening possible without a sharp uptick in cases. A little more patience and sacrifice might be the quickest route to greater recovery that benefits everyone.
In California, the number of new cases per day continues to climb. And some states that rushed to return to normal '-- Arizona turned on the party lights a month ago '-- are now national hot spots for new cases.
In Tulsa, Okla., public health officials have reported a weekly doubling of COVID-19 hospitalizations, even as they plead with President Trump to cancel a scheduled rally there Saturday at which masks will be provided but not required.
''It's the perfect storm of potential over-the-top disease transmission,'' a Tulsa official told the New York Times.
I can understand how, in a quiet burg like Glendora, where large gatherings don't happen, it's easy to be lulled into a false sense of security. I saw lots of kids without masks on the streets, riding bikes and scooters, and wandering around as if this were a normal, disease-free summer.
But it isn't.
The virus is indeed deadliest in nursing homes and jails, and older people tend to be harder hit, but it knows no boundaries of age or circumstance. The state reported this week that 44% of new cases are in people 34 and younger.
A man named Jack, from Rancho Cucamonga, was playing it safe. He and his wife both wore masks on their visit to Glendora.
''It's crazy here,'' said Jack, bewildered at the resistance to advice from public health officials.
''Eighty percent don't wear masks here,'' said a guy sitting outside a coffee shop with his dog. His mask was on the table, and his wife said they wear masks if they're in a store or near anyone else. But not everyone is buying in.
''They think it's a hoax, or they're Trump supporters,'' said a guy named Gary, who sat eight feet away with his mask on the table and his dog at his side.
On Tuesday, the hoax had infected 2.1 million people in the U.S., and the number of fake funerals is now speeding toward 120,000.
Steve.lopez@latimes.com
Justice Department Proposes Rolling Back Legal Protections For Online Platforms : NPR
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 22:36
Facebook has faced criticism from employees and outside groups for not blocking President Trump's inflammatory posts. Richard Drew/AP hide caption
toggle caption Richard Drew/AP Facebook has faced criticism from employees and outside groups for not blocking President Trump's inflammatory posts.
Richard Drew/AP Updated at 3:36 p.m. ET
The Justice Department is proposing legislation to curtail online platforms' legal protections for the content they carry.
The proposal comes nearly three weeks after President Trump signed an executive order to limit protections for social media companies after Twitter began adding fact checks to some of his tweets.
"These reforms are targeted at platforms to make certain they are appropriately addressing illegal and exploitive content while continuing to preserve a vibrant, open, and competitive internet," Attorney General William Barr said in a statement Wednesday.
"When it comes to issues of public safety, the government is the one who must act on behalf of society at large," he said. "Law enforcement cannot delegate our obligations to protect the safety of the American people purely to the judgment of profit-seeking private firms."
In signing the executive order on May 28, Trump said, the tech companies have "unchecked power to censor, restrict, edit, shape, hide, alter" a large sphere of human interaction.
Trump has called for revoking Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, a law passed by Congress in 1996 that says online platforms are not legally responsible for what users post. The Justice Department said its proposal would "update the outdated immunity for online platforms" under Section 230.
"Taken together, these reforms will ensure that Section 230 immunity incentivizes online platforms to be responsible actors," Barr said.
The department said its recommendations fall into four main categories: giving online platforms incentives to address illicit content, clarifying federal powers to address unlawful content, and "promoting open discourse and greater transparency."
The recommendations come amid ongoing scrutiny of the power of big tech firms like Google, Facebook and Amazon by Congress and federal and state agencies.
Legal observers described Trump's executive order as "political theater" and said it did not change existing federal law and would have no bearing on federal courts. Twitter has said attempts to erode the decades-old legal immunity may "threaten the future of online speech and Internet freedoms."
Twitter put fact-checking warnings on two of Trump's tweets that claimed, without evidence, that casting ballots by mail allows for voter fraud. Trump said the labels amounted to censorship. Twitter also put a warning label on a Trump tweet about protesters that the company said violated its terms for glorifying violence. The president tweeted that "when the looting starts, the shooting starts."
Facebook has taken a different approach, allowing Trump's posts to stand. CEO Mark Zuckerberg says that while Trump's posts are upsetting, Facebook should not police what politicians say on the platform. Zuckerberg wrote that "our position is that we should enable as much expression as possible unless it will cause imminent risk of specific harms or dangers spelled out in clear policies."
Zuckerberg's stance has drawn wide criticism from Facebook employees, lawmakers and civil rights groups.
Seattle CHOP organizer: 'I'm not here to peacefully protest' | Fox News
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 19:48
Documentary filmmaker Ami Horowitz went to Seattle's Capitol Hill Organized Protest area recently and shared with Fox News footage of his interaction with Jaiden Grayson and other leaders of the movement.
"Every day that I show up here, I'm not here to peacefully protest," Grayson told the "U.N. Me" filmmaker, who also embedded himself in Minneapolis protests earlier this month.
"I'm here to disrupt until my demands are met," Grayson continued. "You cannot rebuild until you break it all the way down."
STREET PREACHER TELLS SEATTLE PROTESTER: ELECT BIDEN 'TO SEE BLACK MEN GET KILLED'
The CHOP group has blocked off six city blocks in downtown Seattle, where the East Precinct is located, as an act of protest for the police-involved death of George Floyd on May 25. On Tuesday, protesters reached an agreement with the city to reduce the occupied area to three blocks and to allow traffic. The agreement came a day after the Seattle City Council voted to ban police from using chokeholds and crowd-control devices like tear gas and pepper spray.
Grayson said that they will not stop until their demands are met "by any means necessary."
Jaiden Grayson, one of the CHOP organizers, speaks to documentary filmmaker Ami Horowitz.
"It's not a slogan. It's not even a warning," Grayson said. "I'm letting people know what comes next."
"If the Seattle Police Department turns in their badges, we'll have made a move forward," Grayson said.
The group has published a list of demands for the city council and mayor, including abolishing the police, prisons, courts and criminal justice system "as we know it today."
SEATTLE POLICE CHIEF SAYS NO PART OF CITY IS 'COP-FREE' AFTER BUSINESS OWNER'S COMPLAINT
"The unraveling of that system is also what will fuel the black minds in the black bodies that will recreate a new world," she told Horowitz in the video.
Grayson, who identified herself as "an African brought to America," commended Horowitz. "I don't understand why more journalists are not asking those questions. We run to black people the minute that they're killed and we have been seeing them be killed for so long that the PTSD from that is unbelievable. You have people still b--ching about 9/11, unbelievable. One act of terror."
Every day that I show up here, I'm not here to peacefully protest. I'm here to disrupt until my demands are met.
'-- Jaiden Grayson
A man who said he was an original member of the Seattle Black Panther Party explained that police are needed and that the movement had "taken a move in the wrong direction."
"Shutting down the streets and calling it some kind of autonomous zone is a bunch of bulls--t," he said in the footage.
But the majority of those gathered at what Horowitz called a "Confederacy of Dunces," didn't share that sentiment.
"If there's no change, there might be a lot more destroying until there is!" a hooded man wearing sunglasses and a black face cover, told him, "but I think some destruction and looting kinda sends the message to people and breaking their s--t is justified."
Another said, "'F--k the property. f--k the consumption, f--k capitalism."
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
A woman then said, "white people owned slaves so f--k them."
One protester told him "a super devout Christian guy came here and he was spouting about God is glory, he hates homosexuals, he hates abortion. He was sitting there, you know, spreading very divisive words and he was allowed to do it. Nobody hit him. He didn't get tackled to the ground."
A bystander can be heard replying, "That Christian guy did get tackled. They had him on the ground choking him out."
Horowitz has previously filmed an expose on the United Nations' inability to live up to its stated purpose and founding ideals of a more peaceful world. Another video of his led to an executive order by President Trump. He taped a Middle East conference co-hosted by Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill that was paid for in large part by the government. During the event, a rapper performed an anti-Semitic song. The Department of Education issued a lawsuit against the universities and Trump signed an order against anti-Semitism on college campuses.
In 2016, Horowitz filmed a short video amid the Black Lives Matter movement asking predominantly black and Hispanic residents in Harlem, N.Y., if cops' lives matter, too. He also asked white people in gentrified Brooklyn if violence was justified.
Powell Files Stunning Motion Against Gleeson: It's A 'wrap-up smear' against Flynn. - Sara A. Carter
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 14:23
S idney Powell, the defense attorney for Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, filed a scathing response in the court Wednesday against federal Judge John Gleeson's amicus brief, which asked the court to reject the Justice Department's request to drop all charges against Flynn. Powell's motion is powerful and contains a lengthy time-line revealing the stunning evidence discovered by DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, as well as, the litany of new evidence uncovered by U.S. Attorney Jeffery Jensen, who was appointed by the Justice Department to conduct an independent review of Flynn's case.
Powell argues in her brief that the ''irony and sheer duplicity'' of Gleeson's accusations ''against the Justice Department now'--which is finally exposing the truth'--is stunning.''
Gleeson submitted his lengthy brief on July 10, on behalf of D.C. Federal Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who appointed him as the amicus and is refusing to drop the case against Flynn. He is doing all this despite the fact that both the Justice Department and defense agree the charges should be dropped against President Donald Trump's former National Security Advisor.
Powell also pointed out in her motion of opposition Wednesday that Gleeson's amicus filing on behalf of Sullivan is a ''wrap-up smear'' against Flynn.
''It demonstrates the difference between a Department of Prosecutions and a Department of Justice,'' Powell argues in her conclusion regarding Gleeson's amicus. ''It shows how the Department of Justice, as the government's representative in every federal criminal case, has the power to walk into courtrooms and ask judges to remedy injustices. For these reasons and those stated in our other briefs, the only lawful action this court can take is to dismiss the case with prejudice on the Government's motion and vacate the plea.''
Further Powell states in her motion, that Gleeson's ''Amicus elides the reality of the egregious government misconduct of the FBI Agents'--particularly that of [former FBI Director James] Comey, {Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew] McCabe, [former Special Agent Peter] Strzok, [Former FBI Attorney Lisa] Page, [FBI Special Agent] Joe Pientka, [former FBI Assistant of Counterintelligence Bill] Priestap and others who met repeatedly to pursue the targeted ''take-out'' of General Flynn for their political reasons and those of the ''entirety lame duck usic.'' Much of this has been revealed in the December 19, 2019, IG Report, the 86 pages of newly produced exonerating material produced by U.S. Attorney Jensen, filed in the Government's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No. 198), and hundreds of the texts between Strzok and Page demonstrating abject bias.''
''Amicus is lost down the rabbit hole on the other side of the looking glass'-- where ''nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn't. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn't be. And what it wouldn't be, it would,'' argues Powell.
Last week, Powell argued before the U.S. District Court of Appeals D.C. Circuit against Sullivan's decision to appoint Gleeson. She noted that the government submitted an extensive and thoroughly documented motion to dismiss this prosecution based on the discovery of ''extraordinary exculpatory evidence that came to light from an independent review'... It can not go on any longer.''
Powell referred to Jensen, who was personally appointed by Attorney General William Barr, when evidence of FBI malfeasance surfaced in Flynn's case. Jensen discovered through his investigation exculpatory evidence revealing that senior FBI and Justice Department officials withheld significant information from Flynn's defense that would have played a crucial role in his case. One piece of evidence, was a January 4, FBI memo that stated that the investigation into Flynn should be dropped because no derogatory information had been found on the three star general. That memo was issued a day before a meeting with President Obama at the White House, along with other senior officials from the administration about Flynn. Shortly after, former Special Agent Peter Strzok, who led the probe against the Trump campaign, decided not to drop the investigation against Flynn. Strzok, along with FBI Special Agent Joe Pientka (which is discussed in detail further in this article), were sent to the White House on January 24, 2017 to conduct the infamous 'perjury trap' interview with Flynn.
In fact, Comey has previously joked that they sprung the interview on Flynn, who had no counsel present, and was set up by the FBI, despite the fact that the agents who interviewed him did not believe he was lying to them during the interview.
This court exuviated any appearance of neutrality when it unlawfully appointed Amicus as its own adversary to make these scurrilous arguments, Sidney Powell
Gleeson's amicus against Flynn ''is an affront to the Rule of Law and a raging insult to the citizens of this country who see the abject corruption in this assassination by political prosecution. This court exuviated any appearance of neutrality when it unlawfully appointed Amicus as its own adversary to make these scurrilous arguments,'' Powell argued in her filing.
Last week, Gleeson submitted his lengthy amicus on behalf Sullivan, saying the Justice Departments decision to drop the charges against Flynn is a ''gross abuse of prosecutorial power'' and urged a court to reject its attempt to drop the criminal case in his 73-page brief.
Recently SaraACarter.com reported on Gleeson's connections to former Special Counsel prosecutor Andrew Weissmann, who was the top prosecutor for Robert Mueller in targeting Flynn and other Trump officials.
Gleeson's past connections to Weissmann have been a topic of scrutiny, as I previously reported.
Gleeson argued that Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI during a 2017 interview and that there is no real recourse for change '' in fact, he stated in his argument that the court should also factor into its sentencing Flynn his withdrawal of that guilty plea, saying to withdraw is perjury.
''It really is truly unbelievable,'' said David Schoen, a civil rights and defense attorney. ''I'm going to say to you that John Gleeson is one of the last people whoever should have been put in this position. If we're concerned about the integrity of the system, John Gleeson goes back side by side colleagues for many years, with none other than Andrew Weissmann.''
In fact, Schoen said based on the relationship with Weissmann, Gleeson has a major conflict of interest and would almost likely argue on behalf of his former colleague. Schoen, who has represented the Democratic Party in the past, said there is significant evidence that has been discovered that exonerates Flynn and exposes the FBI's malfeasance.
The timeline established in Powell's motion is truly powerful and reveals that evidence.
Powell also argues Flynn never withheld any information from the United States government and always briefed the Defense Intelligence Agency of any travels or foreign contacts. Flynn previously served as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency under President Obama.
''Moreover, in evidence still withheld are General Flynn's briefings to the DIA on all foreign contacts,'' she stated in her motion. ''In addition, it is only the Government's alleged false statements that were false. Flynn Intel Group did nothing in secret. Former CIA Director James Woolsey and former FBI executive Brian McCauley were at the only meeting that involved a ''Turkish official.'' General Flynn fully briefed DIA on that meeting, and on advice of counsel, Flynn Intel Group had timely filed a Lobbying Disclosure Act form. Multiple lawyers and firms deemed no FARA registration was required at all.''
But the timeline is stunning and for those who have been following the case of Flynn closely since I began reporting on it more than four years ago it exposes the actions of former FBI Director James Comey's team in targeting Flynn and the Trump campaign.
[On December 15, 2019, the Government produced 637 pages of long- promised FD-302s and handwritten notes of the FBI Agents. These included 113 pages of 16 FD-302s; 206 pages of FBI handwritten notes.]
Below is Part of Powell's Detailed Timeline And What Transpired:August 15, 2016: Strzok and Page text about the ''insurance policy'' they discussed in McCabe's office.August 16, 2016: FBI opens the case against Flynn. IG Report at 2.August 17, 2016: The first interview of General Flynn was conducted surreptitiously by slipping (Special) Agent (Joe) Pientka into a presidential briefing to nominee Trump and General Flynn. IG Report at 340-341. This was unprecedented and a clear policy was added to prevent its reoccurrence.FBI Special Agent Joe Pientka's stated purpose of this interview was ''to provide the recipients 'a baseline on the presence and threat posed by foreign intelligence services to the National Security of the U.S.'' IG Report at xviii. In actuality, the Trump campaign was never given any defensive briefing about the alleged national security threats. IG Report at 55.''the FBI viewed that briefing as a possible opportunity to collect information potentially relevant to the Crossfire Hurricane and Flynn investigations.'' IG Report at 340.''One of the reasons for [Pientka's] selection was that ODNI had informed the FBI'' that Flynn would be one of the three in attendance on behalf of the Trump campaign. IG Report at 341.Pientka told the IG: ''[T]he briefing provided him 'the opportunity to gain assessment and possibly have some level of familiarity with [Flynn]. So, should we get to the point where we need to do a subject interview'...I would have that to fall back on.''' IG Report at 341.Agent Pientka said that his ''assessment'' meant: ''[Flynn's] 'overall mannerisms. That overall mannerisms and then also if there was anything specific to Russia, or anything specific to our investigation, That was mentioned by him, or quite frankly we had an . . . investigation, right. And any of the other two individuals in the room, if they, any kind of admission, or overhear, whatever it was there to record that.Agent Pientka was the Supervisor of Crossfire Hurricane. IG Report at 305.Agent Pientka helped pick the team of investigators for General Flynn. IG Report at 65.The agents interviewing General Flynn reported to Agent Pientka, and then Agent Pientka reported operational activities to Strzok. IG Report at 65.Bruce Ohr provided information collected by Christopher Steele, through his contract with Fusion GPS, to the FBI ''out of the blue.'' IG Report at 99. Agent Pientka reviewed this information. IG Report at 100.Agent Pientka was responsible for making sure the FISA applications were verified by providing a ''factual accuracy review,'' IG Report at 151, yet he included false and incomplete information for the court, and he failed to inform the court of significant exculpatory information.Agent Pientka even ''speculated'' that Steele's information was corroborated'--when it was not'--and he was responsible for numerous ''inaccuracies,'' ''omissions,'' and ''unsupported statements'' in the FISA applications. See generally IG Report at Chs. 5, 9.One of the FBI lawyers falsified a document in support of one of the FISA applications. IG Report at 160.Agent Pientka supervised Case Agent 1 (IG Report at 81) and withheld exculpatory information from the court that was material to determining warrants. IG Report at 232- 233.Unverified information from Source 2 (Halper) was used to obtain FISA warrants to wiretap Carter Page, and thus reach General Flynn. IG Report at 313-33. Halper was closed by the FBI in 2011 but reopened by Case Agent 1. Case Agent 1 reported to Agent Pientka during Crossfire Hurricane.''Agent Pientka told the OIG that he did not know about Source 2, or know that Case Agent 1 was Source 2's handler, prior to Case Agent 1 proposing the meeting [on August 11, 2016], which Agent Pientka approved.'' IG Report at 313.There was ''no supporting documentation'' to support that ''Source 2 has routinely provided reliable information that has been corroborated by the FBI.'' IG Report at 418.Despite the lack of information, this was relied upon in the first FISA application, and the Steele dossier which included two references to General Flynn.'''...during the presidential election campaign, the FBI was invited by ODNI to provide a baseline counterintelligence and security briefing (security briefing) as part of ODNI's strategic intelligence briefing given to members of both the Trump campaign and the Clinton campaign'... We also learned that, because Flynn was expected to attend the first such briefing for members of the Trump campaign on August 17, 2016, the FBI viewed that briefing as a possible opportunity to collect information potentially relevant to the Crossfire Hurricane and Flynn investigations. We found no evidence that the FBI consulted with the Department leadership or ODNI officials about this plan.'' IG Report at 340.Strzok was primarily responsible for preparing Agent Pientka and ''providing him with instruction on how to handle the FBI's portion of the ODNI strategic intelligence briefings, but others also assisted, including the Intel Section Chief and possibly Lisa Page.'' Id. at 342. ''[H]e and Strzok created the briefing outline together, and he prepared himself through mock briefings attended by Strzok, Lisa Page, the Intel Section Chief, and possibly the OGC Unit Chief.'' IG Report at 340.Inspector General found ''members of the Crossfire Hurricane team repeatedly failed to provide OI [Office of Intelligence] with all relevant information.'' IG Report at 362.
Something Big was Downloaded from Deep Space Yesterday - nosleep
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 13:24
It's going to be hard not to dox myself with this post. I'll do the best I can, but it's still risky.
I'm a network engineer who was just laid off from Sprint. I am one of hundreds who were laid off yesterday as part of the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint.
You may remember that T-Mobile and Sprint's networks went down yesterday for most of the day. The downtime also affected other telecom providers because all of our networks eventually interact when people try to call other people on other networks. The downtime was a disaster, especially around the timing of the merger completion.
Thing is, the real reason it went down is being covered up. Externally, it's being blamed on a routing issue in the network. Internally, we were told that some bad configurations were committed in a way that resisted rollbacks. If you work in this field, you'll know that doesn't make sense.
It's possible that the mix-up in explanation is because a CEO vaguely listened to an engineering team and turned around to say what they thought they heard, like a high-stakes game of Telephone. Sure, it's possible.
But all the events of the last few months have me questioning all of that.
I found out through co-workers and people I've met at T-Mobile that we signed a large but secretive contract with the federal government to provide networking capabilities with high priority for government traffic.
While the contract was being bid on, a lot of work that came through my queue was dedicated to changes in network infrastructure to support another high priority connection queue. After T-Mobile was awarded the contract, even more change orders came through to finish setting everything up to spec.
The Sprint merger was fast-tracked and approved as part of the contract awarded to T-Mobile. It was a strategic request formualated as a better way to serve the governments needs for network connectivity.
But corporate maneuvers on how to acquire companies and accumulate wealth are not why I'm writing this.
On June 15, 2020 something big moved through the network. If you want to visualize it, imagine a whale moving close to the surface of the ocean. The water not quite breaking the surface, but the water wells up and the movement is visible.
That's what I saw on my systems. Our whole team did. We could see the movement from one cluster of nodes to another. Everyone was panicking, trying to get the network back online yesterday. The big contract we had been awarded was on the line, which is why the FCC has been so angry in response, calling the outage "unacceptable".
There's a lot on the line here, money-wise.
But, again, this isn't about the money.
Today, I found out I was being let go.
With my remaining access, before I got cut off, I managed to check some things.
The surge in data came from specific nodes across North America. I've checked, and they're all set up to serve satellites. As in, deep space imaging satellites. Ones that record data from space to see if can find the lifecycle of stars or other civilizations that broadcast. SETI, in some cases.
They all received huge surges in data, almost simultaneously. Those waves of data flowed through the network as one, causing the outage because the government access was given such a high priority that it shut out other customers.
We're talking about 17 hours of dense data coming in and passing through the network to their various backup storage facilities and processing farms. If my calculations and estimations are correct, that's several exabytes of data. Received through satellites pointed into deep space.
17 hours worth of transmission data, enough to flood a nation-wide network and bring it to a crawling halt for all other data.
I have no idea what it was. I no longer have the access to do more investigation. I plan to do what I can with what I have now, but I can already tell it won't be as easy as it was earlier today to dig into this.
All I know now is that something big was downloaded from deep space yesterday.
(20) Chuba Hubbard on Twitter: "I will not stand for this.. This is completely insensitive to everything going on in society, and it's unacceptable. I will not be doing anything with Oklahoma State until things CHANGE." / Twitter
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 10:50
Something went wrong, but don't fret '-- let's give it another shot.
New WhatsApp payments feature
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 10:48
WhatsApp, the popular instant messaging app owned by Facebook, has introduced a feature that allows users to make payments or send money to individuals and businesses. Announced first for availability in Brazil on 15 June 2020, it is expected that this payments functionality will be extended to more countries after it was initially tested in India during 2018.
Brazil, with approximately 120 million active users, is WhatsApp's second largest market behind India. With the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic having forced many people to be weary of handling physical money and going into public places, the WhatsApp payments feature could prove popular.
"The over 10 million small and micro businesses are the heartbeat of Brazil's communities. It's become second nature to send a zap to a business to get questions answered. Now in addition to viewing a store's catalog, customers will be able to send payments for products as well. Making payments simple can help bring more businesses into the digital economy, opening up new opportunities for growth. In addition, we're making sending money to loved ones as easy as sending a message, which could not be more important as people are physically distant from one another. Because payments on WhatsApp are enabled by Facebook Pay, in the future we want to make it possible for people and businesses to use the same card information across Facebook's family of apps." reads a statement on WhatsApp's blog.
Example of how payments work within a WhatsApp chat. Source: WhatsAppFees typically hinder adoption of financial inclusion solutionsMany projects and solutions that aim to "bank the unbanked" typically attract high fees for their users to send or receive money. This, at the end of the day defeats the purpose of labelling themselves "financially inclusive."
However, with WhatsApp, they have said that their payments feature will use Facebook Pay and will be free of transaction fees for individual users and businesses will be charged a fee for receiving money.
"Sending money or making a purchase on WhatsApp is free for people. Businesses will pay a processing fee to receive customer payments, similar to what they may already pay when accepting a credit card transaction."
Security concernsAnother concern is around security and to some extent, privacy. Facebook has previously admitted, on several occasions, that some of its users personal data was accessed and leaked without due authorization.
Now, with people linking their payment details to their mobile phone numbers and possibly Facebook accounts, this presents an even bigger threat. The company has however tried to wave away these fears by stating that it has adopted several security measures to ensure the security is not breached.
"We have built payments with security in mind and a special six digit PIN or fingerprint will be required to prevent unauthorized transactions. To start, we will support debit or credit cards from Banco do Brasil, Nubank, and Sicredi on the Visa and Mastercard networks -and we are working with Cielo, the leading payments processor in Brazil. We have built an open model to welcome more partners in the future."
Share this article via:
Jeffrey Katzenberg resorting to unusual tactics to avoid Quibi suit
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 10:46
Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg is resorting to unusual tactics to fend off a lawsuit against his struggling video startup Quibi, The Post has learned.
Despite publicly blasting patent infringement claims by video company Eko as meritless, Quibi has quietly hired private investigators to dig up dirt on the rival '-- including its founder Yoni Bloch and its billionaire backer Paul Singer, who's bankrolling the Quibi lawsuit, sources said.
The Post has spoken with five ex-Eko employees who have fielded calls from Quibi's private eyes in recent weeks. They say the investigators didn't ask about the technology issues in the lawsuit and focused instead on Bloch's management style, Eko's work culture and internal disputes that might be brewing beneath the surface.
A techie who worked at Eko eight years ago said he was asked ''if there was any shouting in the office'' or if he noticed if Eko was in ''financial trouble.''
''I wasn't aware of financial problems '... and the environment was great,'' said this person, who asked not to be identified. ''They asked if I was aware who invested in the company. I suspected that they were trying to get some dirty information,'' he said. ''It's not like I was hiding anything. The phone call kept me busy while I was shopping.''
In March, Eko sued the well-funded Katzenberg startup, claiming it stole Eko's technology for playing videos either vertically and horizontally, depending on how the user is holding the smartphone. The March 20 lawsuit alleges that Quibi employees had access to Eko's technology through nondisclosure agreements.
Quibi, which has tapped big stars like Kevin Hart, Jennifer Lopez and Nick Jonas for its short-form videos, has denied the claims, and has asked a Los Angeles federal court judge to issue a declaratory judgment in its favor.
The dispute comes as Quibi, launched in the midst of the pandemic with a focus on under-10-minute films, struggles to sign up subscribers. In a court hearing last month, Quibi's lawyers argued that Eko's demands to disable the technology pending the outcome of their case would hinder its ability to sign up new customers.
Austin Beers, who worked at Eko until 2015, said he was called on June 4 by a man who explained he was working with Quibi's lawyers.
''He asked, 'how ethical was the company?', 'Did they cut any corners' and if I knew any of the investors, particularly Paul Singer,'' Beers said.
Beers, who has never met Singer, said some of the questions appeared to stem from bad reviews about Eko on Glassdoor.com. Beers acknowledged that the startup culture means long hours and that his bosses, who were Israeli, had an intense management style.
''Americans are used to a softer style, a compliment sandwich. Americans love that. Israelis think that's bulls''t. It took me four months to realize that it's just passion, not personal.''
Assaf Dagan, who co-founded a now-defunct startup with Bloch called Hykoo in 2015, said a man and woman called him last week asking about Bloch's ''conduct.''
''They asked some questions about Yoni's conduct and our relationship. How did it end when he closed the company? Were people angry at Yoni?'' Dagan said.
The investigators also asked whether Bloch had taken the company's storytelling technology with him to Eko '-- leaving Hykoo to flounder.
''There was a narrative they were digging about Yoni using this technology behind our backs,'' Dagan said before dismissing the notion.
Sources say the calls came from a number associated with the W Group, a Walnut Creek, Calif., private investigation firm founded by Scott Wilcox. Neither Wilcox nor Quibi's Morrison & Foerster lawyers replied to requests for comment.
In a statement, Quibi said: ''This litigation is completely without merit, and we are using every resource at our disposal to defend against it '-- and will continue to do so.''
Despite TV shows like ''The Good Wife'' popularizing the idea of private investigators being called on every case, legal experts say it's not common, and suggests Quibi may be seeking to undercut Eko's claims outside of court.
''They are trying to get some dirt, to find something embarrassing to cause the other side to want to drop the lawsuit,'' opined Brad Simon, a partner at Windels Marx who specializes in white-collar crime. Such ''sleazy tactics'' are not often looked upon kindly by judges, but they have become a strategy in ''high stakes'' litigations, he added.
''This is the sort of thing that happens when one side is desperate,'' another lawyer, who asked not to be named, said.
Amputee says American Airlines crew told her to 'scoot' down airplane aisle to use bathroom
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 10:43
An Idaho woman who had a leg amputated said American Airlines crew members forced her to crawl down an airplane aisle to use the bathroom and told her she needed to disrobe in view of other passengers.
Tammy Spears of Jerome, Idaho, sued American Airlines and ticket portal CheapOair in federal court in Utah Monday, saying the airline neglected to make sure the aircraft had a narrow wheelchair needed to navigate the slim aisles on the Airbus A321 jet. The incident occurred last August on a flight between Salt Lake City and Charlotte, the first part of Spears' journey to visit her sister in Richmond, Va.
According to the lawsuit, Spears needed to use the bathroom during the four-hour flight, but there was no way to get her there because the plane didn't have a wheelchair. Eventually, she ''was directed by American's flight attendants, and other agents, to 'scoot' on the floor of the cabin,'' according to the suit.
''How can you think that someone boarding a four-hour flight could not use the restroom?'' said Spears' attorney Diane Marger Moore.
Moore said the entire situation stemmed from the airline forgetting to have a wheelchair on board, despite being notified in advance that Spears required one.
''We take the safety and comfort of our customers very seriously and we're committed to providing a positive experience for everyone who travels with us," said a statement from American Airlines spokesman Matt Miller. "We have been in contact with Ms. Spears and her family on multiple occasions, and we will address the allegations in the lawsuit in due course.''
A representative for CheapOair's parent company said Spears never made a request for accommodation through the website.
''We sympathize with Ms. Spears experience, but the conversation in this regard must be between her and the airline,'' said Kathi Moore, a spokeswoman for Fareportal, the parent company of CheapOair, in a prepared statement.
Tammy Spears of Jerome, Idaho is suing American Airlines because she claims she was forced to "scoot" down an airplane aisle when the carrier forgot to bring a wheelchair aboard the flight. (Courtesy Tammy Spears)It's not the first time an airline, even American, has been accused of mishandling a passenger in need of a wheelchair.
A paraplegic man sued United Airlines in January after saying he had to scoot down the aisle on several occasions while traveling for his honeymoon, according to ABC 7 Chicago. Another man, a double amputee, sued American Airlines in 2017, saying the airline called the police on him for hobbling down the aisle of an airplane and accused him of being intoxicated. That case was dismissed when the judge said the man didn't suffer any injuries.
In this most recent case, Moore said Spears was repeatedly humiliated as she was forced to try to get down the aisle without the assistance of a wheelchair, even though another passenger tried to help by ''pushing'' and ''pulling'' Spears. Flight attendants asked Spears to ''hop'' down the aisle, the lawsuit said.
''This was a 'Laurel and Hardy' flight crew, and I say this with great respect for air crews and what they do,'' Moore said.
Once Spears was able to scoot to the restroom, she was unable to lift herself because she was exhausted, according to the complaint. Passengers and crew members tried to help lift her by pushing luggage underneath Spears to get her up.
''Having reached the lavatory near the cockpit and forward of the first-class cabin, American's cabin attendants and agents began to disrobe [Spears] in plain view of flight attendants and several of the first-class passengers,'' the lawsuit said. ''[Spears] was too humiliated and exhausted, and her need had become too urgent, to resist.''
Once she got into the lavatory, the crew told Spears to leave the door open, the lawsuit said.
After the ordeal, a first-class passenger gave up his seat for Spears, a gesture she said saved her a humiliating trip back to her economy-class seat, according to the suit.
Her lawyer said both Fort Worth-based American and New York-based CheapOair were at fault for not making sure that there was a wheelchair on the flight. American should have procured a wheelchair or put Spears on another flight, the attorney said.
After the flight landed in Charlotte, Spears was taken to a room by American Airlines and ''interrogated'' and told why the airline wasn't responsible, the lawsuit said.
Moore said there weren't any more problems during her connecting flight on American Airlines or her return flights to Salt Lake City.
''This was her first flight after having an amputation,'' Moore said. ''And she was completely humiliated.''
Eureka! Israeli Hackers Discover Way to Spy On Conversations Via Lightbulbs - Sputnik International
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 10:42
Tech13:44 GMT 17.06.2020(updated 14:36 GMT 17.06.2020) Get short URL
An earlier study exposed how malign actors can hack Amazon Alexa and Apple Siri using laser light beams to send remote audible commands '' but this is the first time it's been demonstrated hackers can convert audio in real time without using external sources, such as malware.
A research paper produced by researchers at Israel's University of Negev and Weizmann Institute of Science has revealed hackers can use an innovative technique to eavesdrop on private conversations by tracking vibrations in a lightbulb.
The technique, which the researchers dub ''Lamphone'', works by intercepting vibrations in lightbulbs produced by changing air pressure created by sound. The researchers who captured the vibrations and turned them into audio claim they were able to listen to conversations from up to 25 meters away.
"We show how fluctuations in air pressure on the surface of the hanging bulb, which cause the bulb to vibrate very slightly, can be exploited by eavesdroppers to recover speech and singing, passively, externally and in real time," the paper states.Terrifying TrifectaThe technique relies on three technologies - a telescope, which is placed in the field of view on the hanging bulb from a distance, an electro-optical sensor mounted on top of the telescope, and a sound recovery system to capture the sound and process it.
When a conversation takes place in a room, the sound creates fluctuations in the air pressure on the surface of the blub, causing it to vibrate - the analog electro-optical sensor then captures this vibration as an optical signal and processes it using an audio recovery algorithm.
"We evaluate Lamphone's performance in a realistic setup and show that Lamphone can be used by eavesdroppers to recover human speech (which can be accurately identified by the Google Cloud Speech API) and singing (which can be accurately identified by Shazam and SoundHound) from a bridge located 25 meters away from the target room containing the hanging light bulb," the study authors say.In one test, the researchers were able to clearly pick up a pre-recorded speech by US President Donald Trump - in another, to see how and indeed whether the technique could pick up non-speech audio, the researchers listen to The Beatles' famed Let It Be.
Because Lamphone only requires light vibration for capturing the audio, it doesn't necessitate the victims' direct engagement - one major drawback to the technique, however, is it requires a direct 'line of sight' to the lightbulb, within 25 meters. Nonetheless, employing telescopes with different lens diameters might allow the technique to function from farther away, it's alleged.
Still, one way to counter a Lamphone attack would be to use weaker bulbs that emit less light, in the process limiting light captured by the sensor, according to the report. Another is by reducing the vibration with the help of a heavier bulb.
"There's less vibration from a heavier bulb in response to air pressure on the bulb's surface. This will require eavesdroppers to use better equipment (e.g. a more sensitive ADC, a telescope with a larger lens diameter, etc.) in order to recover sound," the researchers conclude.
N Korea rejects South's offer of envoys, vows to redeploy border troops | News , World | THE DAILY STAR
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 10:18
Jun. 17, 2020 | 05:00 PM
South Korean army soldiers enter their military guard post in Paju, South Korea, near the border with North Korea, Wednesday, June 17, 2020. North Korea said Wednesday it will redeploy troops to now-shuttered inter-Korean cooperation sites, reinstall guard posts and resume military exercises at front-line areas, nullifying the tension-reducing deals reached with South Korea just two years ago. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Reuters
you've reached a subscriber-only article. Sign up now and access the full breadth of The Daily Star content in minutes.
subscribe now unrestricted access 1 month...$12 | 3 months...$30 | 6 months...$55 | 1 year...$99 Existing users can login here or register for a new account. Advertisement
"; completeHTML += "" + text[0] + "" + text[1] + "
"; } document.getElementById("ulNews").innerHTML = completeHTML; } } } } } GetLiveNews();
Spain's government plans movement towards 'cashless' society - Olive Press News Spain
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 10:02
SPAIN may take future steps towards cash transactions becoming something of the past, according to a plan put forward by the ruling coalition in Madrid's Congreso.
The PSOE-Unidas Podemos coalition are suggesting that gradual moves towards a 'cashless' society by a greater use of bank cards would be a good way of reducing black market and tax dodging activities.
The proposals have no legal statute but will nevertheless be debated, as the parliamentary group sees the replacement of all cash as a final long-term aim.
The coronavirus pandemic saw card usage rise 7.69% and use of cashpoints plummet 17.72%.
It also follows a move from the Bank of Spain to raise contactless payment limits to '‚¬50, from '‚¬20, before a user needs to enter their PIN in order to avoid coronavirus transmissions.
Meanwhile, a draft bill to combat tax fraud will include reducing the maximum cash amount that can be legally used in a transaction from '‚¬2,500 to '‚¬1,000.
With the economic impact of the pandemic set to be severe, further moves against tax dodging seem inevitable.
Kitchener name change debate being revisited | CTV News
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 09:06
KITCHENER -- Should the name of the city of Kitchener be changed?
The debate is being revisited following a Facebook post by Jenna Thomas of Kitchener, who says she feels a lot of people aren't aware of the history behind the name.
READ THE UPDATE: City says it has 'no plans' to change name amid calls to ditch Kitchener
It was in the spring of 1916, during the middle of the First World War, that the city then known as ''Berlin'' voted for a name change.
While one of the possible options being considered was ''Corona,'' the city settled on Kitchener because of British general Horatio Herbert Kitchener.
"He was one of the most successful of the British generals against the Indigenous forces of Africa, India, and places like that in the time of the British Empire,'' said local historian Rych Mills.
Kitchener was a famous face on a recruitment poster, as his success was considered a morale boost at the time.
He died shortly before the name vote.
''People love a military hero,'' said Mills. ''That's the way of the world, whether we like it or not - we can't understand it now.''
In her public Facebook post, Thomas writes, ''there is no room in our city for hate and the name sure does have some heavy meaning behind it.
''We should be detaching ourselves from the atrocities committed through history but instead we are glorifying those responsible."
Thomas is urging her friends to contact their municipal representatives to express their concerns about the name Kitchener.
''There's a lot of greys in history, and if you are going to do history in black and white, you might as well go back to school and start from the beginning, because it is not black and white,'' said Mills.
In a statement to CTV News, a representative from the City of Kitchener says there is no plan to revisit their name at the time.
"It is not surprising that recent world events have us contemplating the origin of our city's name," the statement reads in part. "While we in no way condone, diminish, or forget his actions, Kitchener has become so much more than its historic connection to a British field marshal.
"Our name is not a celebration of an individual leader's hurtful legacy."
In Rotterdam wordt het weer veilig op straat: straatterroristen krijgen gesubsidieerd D66-boksles | ThePostOnline
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 08:03
(Dit is geen satire.) Een meerderheid van de Rotterdamse gemeenteraad gaat akkoord met een plan van D66 om 'jongeren met een mes op zak' voortaan gesubsidieerde bokslessen te geven zodat het 'weer veiliger wordt op straat'. Een meerderheid van de gemeenteraad in Rotterdam betekent: GroenLinks, PvdA, DENK, SP, NIDA,ChristenUnie-SGP en D66. Dit meldt de Telegraaf (toch echt een serieuze krant en dus geen satire, nogmaals).
En dan komt nu de '''inhoudelijke''' onderbouwing van dit plan door D66-raadslid Nadia Arsieni (wij wijzen u er nogmaals op dat dit geen satire is):
''Rotterdam is een echte boksstad. We hebben in Rotterdam veel boksscholen en ik heb veel mensen gesproken die zich dag en nacht inzetten om te voorkomen dat jongeren het slechte pad op gaan. Hier kunnen we als gemeente veel slimmer mee gaan werken.''
Wij herhalen (geen satire, remember?):
''Rotterdam is een echte boksstad.''
Het is onduidelijk waarom Rotterdamse straatcriminelen nu zo op achterstand worden gezet door ze te leren met een hun vuisten te vechten, terwijl je veel efficinter terreur kunt plegen met geavanceerdere wapens. Zo zou het Rotterdamse stadsbestuur er veel beter aan doen 'jongeren met een mes op zak' te voorzien van een zwaar kaliber automatisch aanvalswapen inclusief en flinke voorraad munitie of op z'n minst een samoeraizwaard danwel kettingzaag. Daarmee is het immers sneller en uitgebreider slachtoffers maken dan met je vuisten alleen.
Maargoed, dit is allemaal geen satire maar bloedserieuze D66-ernst in 'boksstad' Rotterdam alwaar het binnenkort veel veiliger is dankzij 'jongeren' die in een door de staat gesponsord trainingskamp hebben geleerd zo snel mogelijk iemand knock out te slaan. Boa's ofzo, of de politie. Of willekeurige voorbijgangers. Off D66'ers in een bakfiets, ohnee, die wonen nooit in een wijk waar 'jongeren met een mes op zak' dagelijks ervaren hoe de rechtstaat hun beste vrind is, heel gek.
Dit was dus geen satire. Ws het maar satire.
How Shuttered Music Venues Became Protester Havens - Rolling Stone
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 07:56
Washington, D.C.'s famed 9:30 Club was supposed to be celebrating its 40th anniversary this year '-- instead, it shut down in early March due to COVID-19 with no opening date in sight. Now, amid anti-police brutality protests in our nation's capital and beyond, it's become a haven for protesters looking for a break, a bathroom or some milk to dull the sting of pepper spray.
Last Saturday, the 9:30 Club opened its doors for five hours to protesters, offering them charging facilities, hand sanitizer, water, restrooms and basic first-aid. The venue limited the crowd '-- which topped at a couple of hundred '-- to 10 people at a time in its lobby due to social-distancing rules.
''We have always thought of the 9:30 Club as a safe space,'' says Audrey Fix Schaefer, communications director for the club alongside Lincoln Theatre, the Anthem and Merriweather Post Pavilion. ''It's a place where people could come in and leave their lives behind at the door, escape from reality and be side by side with friends and family and perfect strangers singing off-key to the same song.'' So, when grassroots organization Safe Spaces for D.C. reached out and asked the club to open its lobby to protesters demonstrating in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd, Schaefer and her team replied: ''Oh, my gosh, yes. Please. We would love to help.''
Since protests started spreading across in the country after Floyd's death, more and more venues, theaters and clubs previously shuttered by COVID-19 have opened their doors to demonstrators, finding new purpose amid the pandemic. Instead of catering to music fans and patrons of the arts, they now offer aid to protesters as they call on the U.S. and state governments to overhaul police reform and put a stop to violence against black citizens.
In the weeks since the protests began, a group called Open Your Lobby formed to ask venues to provide a safe space for those in the streets '-- all locations and relevant stats complied on a Google map. ''This initiative started because we were on the ground during the initial weekend of protests, and we saw people struggling to find refuge in a largely boarded up city,'' a rep told Rolling Stone in a statement. ''Theater spaces came to mind because they are centrally located with bathrooms and resources which haven't been used for weeks.''
The 9:30 Club '-- for one '-- has been closed since March 11th, when Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a state of emergency due to COVID-19; the last show hosted there was the Dead Kennedys. Like many arms of the music industry, the club and the rest of the properties Schaefer works with found themselves without a source of income, scrambling to help keep employees by creating relief funds and a food pantry.
New York City venue Club Cumming found themselves in a similar situation. Owned by actor Alan Cumming, the venue previously hosted drag and cabaret shows until the city's nightlife shut down in mid-March. According to general manager Samuel Benedict, the club was forced to let everyone go after the shutdown so that they could file for unemployment '-- unfortunately, though, many of the performers are freelancers and thus did not qualify. To remedy that situation, the club started a community chest to raise money for employees left with no source of income.
As protests continued to proliferate in New York last weekend, the venue shifted the focus of the community chest to raise funds for Black Lives Matter and relevant charities. ''Alan reached out to a lot of his contacts from showbiz and they donated different items or experiences,'' Benedict says. Users can bid on items like coffee with comedian Hannah Gadsby, cocktails with Monica Lewinsky and signed items from the likes of John Waters, with proceeds going to the community chest and BLM funds.
''We've always had signs that say 'resist,' so us opening up our lobby for protests made sense'' '' Club Cumming's Samuel Benedict
As for opening the lobby in the midst of protests, Benedict says the venue has always been politically active. ''We've always had signs that say 'resist,' so us opening up our lobby for protests made sense for a lot of the patrons that our establishment attracts,'' he says. As such, they made sure they had water, PPE, snacks and other resources on hand for protesters. A dozen people are able to enter at a time (due to COVID-19) and volunteers also bring water and other resources to people on the streets. ''The plan is to go as long as we're needed,'' Benedict says. ''We're a bit off the beaten half in terms of where all of the demonstrations are happening. So basically we're [also] like runners; we're a bit of a headquarters where we can store supplies for protesters.''
Oakland, California, theater the Flight Deck is located in the heart of where protests are happening, so it was a natural decision to open its doors for protesters. Like nearly all venues in the area, the theater has been closed since March, but when booking manager Carolina Morones and marketing manager Sango Tajima heard that Bay area venues were opening to protesters, they immediately made sure the Flight Deck was ready for demonstrators. ''Our location is kind of unique because we're located right next to Oscar Grant Plaza, which is kind of a huge gathering place for a lot of protests and for a lot of actions,'' Tajima says. ''So I'm just kind of keeping track of what is happening in that area and whether we should stay open or not.''
''I'll add that the Black Lives Matter movement is so, so important to the Oakland community in particular because we have historically been a black and brown community,'' Morones says. ''And we have a mayor [Libby Schaaf] who is continuing to funnel funds into the Oakland police department. So the conversation around defunding and abolishing police is very, very important.''
So far, progress has been slow but steady when it comes to overhauling the U.S. police force; Floyd's home city of Minneapolis, for one, pledged to dismantle the police in the wake of his death. Still, the persistence of demonstrations around the country speaks to the fact that more work is to be done. And '-- since concerts and the like will likely not resume until 2021 '-- venues will likely continue to offer respite to protesters in need.
Police unions become target of labor activists who see them as blocking reform
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 07:55
Supporters of the Los Angeles Police Protective League gather at Los Angeles City Hall in 2014. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)
It was a far cry from "defund the police," but the response was severe anyway. In 2019, Steve Fletcher, a first-term member of the Minneapolis City Council, decided to oppose a budget proposal to add more officers to the Police Department.
Business owners soon started calling Fletcher, who represents part of downtown, complaining of slow police responses to 911 calls about shoplifting. Store owners told Fletcher the officers who eventually responded had a message: "We'd love to help you with this, but our hands are tied by the council; talk to your council member," Fletcher said in an interview.
Fletcher suspected the hand of the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, which supported the budget proposal. The federation, like many police unions, has been a vocal and formidable force in city politics. (The federation did not respond to requests for comment, and a police spokesman called Fletcher's allegation of a slowdown "false and emphatically untrue.")
But after a Minneapolis officer knelt on the neck of George Floyd for more than eight minutes, killing him '-- unleashing a national protest movement that has yielded criminal charges against him and the other three officers on the scene '-- the police union, like many others, has become a target for otherwise labor-friendly liberals like Fletcher who see them as major obstacles to reform.
''I've been a labor organizer and a union member who's gone on strike, so I have a deep history with the labor movement, was born into a labor family," Fletcher said. But when it comes to police unions, after his experience in Minneapolis, he now thinks "there need to be real constraints around what can be bargained."
Many activists have called for legal reforms to limit police collective-bargaining agreements and union-backed laws that limit transparency into misconduct or make it harder to fire officers for wrongdoing.
Some union contracts allow departments to erase disciplinary records, give officers access to investigative records before they are questioned or allow the officers to essentially prevent their departments from publicly releasing internal records '-- making it easier for officers to beat misconduct charges or to prevent the public from knowing about them.
One University of Chicago Law School working paper from 2019 on newly unionized sheriff's deputies in Florida concluded that "collective bargaining rights led to about a 40% increase in violent incidents of misconduct among sheriffs' offices."
The labor movement in the U.S. is facing questions about what its relationship should be with the hundreds of thousands of police officers who make up a major portion of unionized public-sector workers. The AFL-CIO has faced growing calls to disaffiliate from the International Union of Police Assns., and some liberal activists have started calling for Democratic politicians to reject campaign contributions from police unions.
"Even for people who have a deep long-standing genuine commitment to the labor movement ... there's a recognition that the power of unionization, the power of collective bargaining is being abused in indefensible ways by police unions," said Benjamin Sachs, a Harvard law professor and faculty director of the school's labor and work-life program, which will be studying potential legal reforms to collective bargaining by police.
Police officers are heavily unionized compared with many private-sector workers, and they have enjoyed generally high approval ratings from the public compared with other government services. Police unions can also be a big spending force in political campaigns, like in Los Angeles, giving them influence before they even reach the bargaining table.
Like many unions, police officers' leaders are unapologetic advocates for their members, often willing to wage bare-knuckle political fights, including during the recent wave of protests. But unlike many unions, police unions' members have the power to arrest and kill, and their central role in public safety gives them immense '-- and sometimes intimidating '-- leverage.
In New York City, the Sergeants Benevolent Assn. violated Twitter's rules when it tweeted private arrest-record information about Mayor Bill de Blasio's daughter, Chiara, after she was arrested at a May 30 protest, adding, "How can the NYPD protect the city of NY from rioting anarchists when the Mayor's object throwing daughter is one of them?" (She had not been accused of throwing anything.) The account had also recently tussled with the city's health commissioner over a lack of masks for officers, at one point tweeting that she "has blood on her hands."
In Delaware County, Pa., the local police union posted a warning to potential critics on June 3: "If you choose to speak out against the police or our members, we will do everything in our power to not support your business." (The union later apologized for the comment.) One member was reportedly suspended from the Media Borough Police Department when he added, "Try us. We'll destroy you."
After the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency said Tuesday it would no longer transport local police to anti-police-brutality protests, the officers' union, the San Francisco Police Officers Assn., shot back on Twitter, "Hey Muni, lose our number next time you need officers for fare evasion enforcement or removing problem passengers from your buses and trains."
Floyd's death became a breaking point for many labor supporters. As protests swelled in Seattle, the Martin Luther King Jr. County Labor Council, which represents more than 100,000 area union workers, passed a resolution demanding that its affiliated Seattle Police Officers Guild "become an anti-racist organization" and acknowledge "that racism is a structural problem in our society and in law enforcement" or risk a vote of expulsion.
"It is absolutely incumbent upon us to seek justice for Black workers and Black families in America,'' said Nicole Grant, the council's executive secretary-treasurer, "and we have to be able to have every union leader say 'Black lives matter' and back it up with their actions, and that's the moment we're in."
But higher-ranking labor leaders, including some who are Black, have generally been reluctant to take on the calls for outright disaffiliation, instead preferring to work on reforms from the inside.
When it comes to police violence, "we're disproportionately impacted," said April Sims, secretary treasurer of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, who is Black. But Sims believes every worker has the right to belong to a union. She adds, though, that "the police unions could do lot to move their institutions to becoming more anti-racist."
In a resolution adopted Tuesday by AFL-CIO's general board, the federation declared it would not disaffiliate from its police unions. "We believe the best way to use our influence on the issue of police brutality is to engage our police affiliates rather than isolate them," the resolution said, adding: "Disengagement breeds division, not unity. This is a moment to do what is hard and meaningful and uncomfortable. And that requires building a better labor movement from within."
The largest union representing police officers, the Fraternal Order of Police, which is not affiliated with the AFL-CIO, took umbrage at arguments that their collective-bargaining agreements fostered police brutality.
"A contract is a binding agreement between two parties who mutually agreed on the terms, not a mandate imposed by a labor union," its president, Patrick Yoes, said in a statement. "To suggest that law enforcement managers are forced into agreements with provisions they find unacceptable is at variance with common sense."
Which makes Minneapolis city officials' actions this week significant: The city has withdrawn from collective bargaining with its police union, whose officers have been working under an expired contract.
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced "that he is taking an intentional pause from the contract negotiations with the Federation," police spokesman John Elder said by email Saturday. "They will be bringing in a national agency to review the contract to ensure it is serving those it is meant to be served by."
Fletcher thinks the move might violate labor laws requiring the city to bargain, but the position he supports '-- dismantling the existing Police Department and rethinking criminal justice in the city '-- would defang its police union. There's no such thing as a union without members, after all.
''The right thing to do is to stop funding an institution that is causing our city a great deal of harm and does not seem to be reformable," Fletcher said.
Beijing City Releases Inconsistent Data on New Virus Infections as Outbreak Worsens
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 07:52
A new outbreak in the city of Beijing has prompted authorities to enact strict measures to contain the virus.
A city official said on June 15 that the entire city has entered ''war-time mode,'' while people infected with the virus after visiting Beijing have been located in Hebei, Sichuan, and Liaoning provinces'--spurring fears that the virus was spreading further.
Meanwhile, authorities cited contradictory figures for new virus infections. New internal documents that The Epoch Times obtained revealed yet another figure.
Chinese medical specialists attributed the new outbreak to contaminated salmon that was sold at a Beijing market, leading to authorities halting imports of European salmon'--though experts say the fish itself is unlikely to carry the disease.
OutbreakChina's National Health Commission announced on June 15 that 36 new patients were diagnosed with the CCP virus in Beijing the day prior.
Later on Monday, Beijing announced that between June 11 to 14, 79 people were confirmed to be infected and experiencing symptoms, with seven others as asymptomatic carriers. China counts the latter in a separate category.
However, internal documents from Ditan Hospital, the only hospital in Beijing known to be currently treating COVID-19 patients, obtained by The Epoch Times, showed that on June 14, the facility treated 375 patients who had fever'--41 of them diagnosed with COVID-19.
That is five more than the officially announced figure of 36.
For the dates of June 11, 12, and 13, the hospital's data matched the officially reported ones: one, six, and 36.
But Chinese authorities' data itself was also inconsistent. Gao Xiaojun, spokesman of the Beijing municipal health commission, said at a press conference that about 200,000 residents in the city received nucleic acid tests in the past days.
''On June 14, Beijing tested samples from 76,499 people. Fifty-nine of them are positive,'' Gao said. But Gao didn't explain why the number doesn't match with the officially announced 36 diagnosed patients and 6 asymptomatic carriers for June 14, which totals 42 positives.
The outbreak has spread to other parts of the country. Southwestern China's Sichuan Province reported on June 15 that there was one newly diagnosed patient, who came back to Sichuan from Beijing on June 9. Her husband is still in Beijing and was also diagnosed with COVID-19 on June 14.
Also on Monday, northern China's Hebei Province reported three confirmed patients and one asymptomatic carrier. They are the grandmother, mother, father, and six-year-old child in the same family. All four had visited Beijing recently, and two of them visited the Xinfadi food market, which authorities claim to be ground zero of the new outbreak.
The sprawling Xinfadi market is a complex of warehouses and trading halls spanning an area the size of nearly 160 soccer pitches. Xinfadi is more than 20 times larger than the seafood market in the city of Wuhan where some of the first CCP virus cases were recorded. Thousands of tons of vegetables, fruits, and meat change hands at the market each day.
'War-time Mode'Senior Beijing city government official Xu Ying said at a daily news conference on Monday: ''The containment efforts have rapidly entered into a war-time mode.''
Xu said 7,200 neighborhoods and nearly 100,000 epidemic-control workers had entered the ''battlefield.''
The new cases have led many areas in Beijing to reimpose tough measures first seen when the virus was spreading across the country in January, including round-the-clock security checkpoints, closing schools and sports venues, and reinstating temperature checks at malls, supermarkets, and offices.
Residents were also advised to avoid crowds and gathering in groups for meals.
Some districts also sent officials to residential compounds in what they described as a ''knock, knock'' operation to identify people who had visited Xinfadi.
On Sunday afternoon, the Huaxiang area of Fengtai district, Beijing was designated as a ''high-risk region'' for virus spread. 12 neighborhoods were added to the list of ''medium-risk regions,'' making it a total of 22 areas.
Governments in many parts of China also warned residents against non-essential travel to the capital and imposed quarantine requirements on visitors from Beijing.
Salmon OriginsAuthorities have not yet identified how exactly the virus spread from the Xinfadi market.
Since June 12 evening, state-run media have suggested that the outbreak originated from imported salmon, because authorities found traces of the virus on a cutting board that was used for processing imported salmon at the market.
On Saturday, China's National Health Commission ordered ''a comprehensive inspection'' of all seafood markets in Beijing.
During a Monday broadcast on state-run CCTV, Yang Peng, a specialist on infectious disease control at the Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC), was quoted as saying that after genetic sequencing, the virus found at the market was similar to the strain found in Europe.
''The preliminary judgment is that the virus is related to'... contaminated seafood or meat, or people who entered the market,'' Yang said.
Wu Zunyou, the chief specialist at China CDC, told state-run newspaper People's Daily on June 15: ''The source of the virus at this outbreak is not from Beijing. It must be from another place.''
But Wu said the genetic sequencing doesn't necessarily mean the virus is from Europe. ''It's also possible that it's from North America or Russia.''
Dr. Sean Lin, former lab director of the viral disease branch at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, said it is impossible for salmon to transmit a type of coronavirus to humans.
''Normally [consuming contaminated] fish can cause digestive system diseases, such as enteritis, bacterial gastroenteritis, and so on,'' Lin added.
Zhang Yuxi, chairman of the Xinfadi market, also told state-run newspaper Beijing News that all nine employees who work at salmon booths in the market have tested negative for the virus.
Still, almost all Beijing markets and restaurants removed salmon from their shelves and menus on Saturday.
Some European suppliers of salmon said they can no longer sell to China.
''We can't send any salmon to China now, the market is closed,'' said Stein Martinsen, head of sales and marketing at Norway Royal Salmon.
Norway's Food Safety Authority also said there was no evidence fish could be infected with the virus.
Reuters contributed to this report.
Obama to join Biden for virtual fundraiser - Axios
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 07:27
Barack Obama is making his fundraising debut for his former vice president with an online event next week, targeting tens of thousands of small-dollar donors, according to an invitation obtained by Axios.
Why it matters: Obama's participation with Biden in the live, virtual event on June 23 marks the ramping up of the former president's engagement to try to defeat President Trump.
Details: In an invitation scheduled to go to supporters Monday evening, Obama is asking potential contributors to donate ''any amount you can'' for ''the most important election of our lifetimes."
Rather than directly address the the protests against racial disparities in policing and the coronavirus, Obama asks for "Americans of all backgrounds and political stripes to join together."He tells supporters that voting for Biden is a way to rebuild the economy, expand health insurance coverage and declare that "all of us are equal and each of us should have the chance to make of our lives what we will."Obama endorsed his former vice president in April after Biden won the support of former rival Bernie Sanders. The campaign hasn't yet said how often Obama is expected to appear in person with Biden or on his behalf.The campaign is looking to surpass a virtual event with former candidate Pete Buttigieg, which raised $1 million from approximately 36,000 donors.Between the lines: The fundraiser is a warning shot for the Trump campaign and a preview of the one-two punch that Team Biden hopes to deliver leading up to the conventions and beyond.
But Obama's engagement also hints at a long, difficult campaign ahead. The Biden campaign knows that it will need the financial resources to compete with the Trump's well-funded campaign '-- and the enthusiasm to get Democrats to the polls.Biden and the Democratic Party announced an $81 million joint haul for May.
''Fire Through Dry Grass'': Andrew Cuomo Saw COVID-19's Threat to Nursing Homes. Then He Risked Adding to It. '-- ProPublica
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 06:23
ProPublica is a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power. Sign up to receive our biggest stories as soon as they're published.
On April 3, Stephanie Gilmore, a 34-year-old nurse working at the Diamond Hill nursing home in Troy, New York, was summoned to a supervisor's office. The home's administrator and nursing director were there to relay some distressing news.
Gilmore said they told her that a resident in the home had recently gone to the hospital, where she tested positive for COVID-19. The resident was set to return to Diamond Hill, making her the first confirmed COVID-19 case at the 120-bed facility north of Albany.
Help Us Report on CoronavirusAre you a public health worker, medical provider, elected official, patient or other COVID-19 expert? Help make sure our journalism is responsible and focused on the right issues.
Note: If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, such as difficulty breathing or bluish lips, get medical attention immediately. The CDC has more information on what to do if you are sick.
The risks to the home's staff and other residents were obvious: The virus was ravaging nursing homes across the country.
But the week before, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his health commissioner, Howard Zucker, had all but made such discharges mandatory. If a hospital determined a patient who needed nursing home care was medically stable, the home had to accept them, even if they had been treated for COVID-19. Moreover, the nursing home could not test any such prospective residents '-- those treated for COVID-19 or those hospitalized for other reasons '-- to see if they were newly infected or perhaps still contagious despite their treatment. It was all laid out in a formal order, effective March 25. New York was the only state in the nation that barred testing of those being placed or returning to nursing homes.
In the weeks that followed the March 25 order, COVID-19 tore through New York state's nursing facilities, killing more than 6,000 people '-- about 6% of its more than 100,000 nursing home residents. In all, as many as 4,500 COVID-19 infected patients were sent to nursing homes across the state, according to a count conducted by The Associated Press.
The state declined to say if it knew how many COVID-19 patients had been sent or returned to Diamond Hill. Officials with Diamond Hill refused to disclose the number.
By June, 18 of Diamond Hill's residents had died from the virus and 58 had been infected. At least 50 of the facility's more than 100 workers had also been sickened with COVID-19.
As Deaths Mounted at Diamond Hill, New COVID-19 Patients Were Transferred In Source: Rensselaer County Department of HealthStates that issued orders similar to Cuomo's recorded comparably grim outcomes. Michigan lost 5% of roughly 38,000 nursing home residents to COVID-19 since the outbreak began. New Jersey lost 12% of its more than 43,000 residents.
In Florida, where such transfers were barred, just 1.6% of 73,000 nursing home residents died of the virus. California, after initially moving toward a policy like New York's, quickly revised it. So far, it has lost 2% of its 103,000 nursing home residents.
The decision by Cuomo and Zucker, whose department regulates all nursing homes in the state, drew fire as soon as it was announced from medical experts, nursing home operators and the families of residents. Cuomo himself had said protecting nursing home residents was the state's top priority, once calling the threat ''fire through dry grass.''
Steve McLaughlin, the county executive where Diamond Hill is located, viewed the state's directive as madness and chose to defy it, refusing to allow any COVID-19 patients to be returned to, or placed in, the one nursing home run by the county. The 320-bed facility, Van Rensselaer Manor, has not seen a single COVID-19 death.
Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy have defended their approach as a way to open up crucial beds at a moment when it appeared hospitals would be overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients needing intensive care.
Charles Branas, who leads the epidemiology department at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, said he could appreciate New York state's concern about a shortage of hospital beds in hard-hit areas.
''The New York state advisory looks like it was intended as a 'reverse triage' strategy to clear acute and critical care hospital beds, regardless of whether those beds had people with COVID-19 or not,'' Branas said. ''Possibly, the positive trade-off they had in mind with the policy was that more lives would be saved with additional open critical care beds than would be lost in transfer to nursing homes.''
But Branas said he believes the policy could well have increased New York's COVID-19 death toll by a magnitude that will be determined by future researchers. ''If you introduce 4,500 people sick with a potentially lethal disease into a vulnerable and notoriously imperfectly monitored population,'' he said, ''people are apt to die.''
Former employees and families of patients portray Diamond Hill as a case study of a facility ill-prepared to cope with the complexities of containing the virus. The day Gilmore was told of the resident with COVID-19, she said she was also told that the information should not be shared with other staffers or patients '-- the management didn't want to provoke panic. Gilmore said she refused to go along and was later fired.
Three days after Diamond Hill was informed of its first case, six other residents tested positive, suggesting the virus had been present at the home for days, maybe weeks. The resident with COVID-19 who was returned to the home might have provided more fuel for the virus's spread.
Gilmore said the home made inadequate adjustments to try to care for its residents' safely. The COVID-19 patients were not isolated in a separate unit, and the facility lacked adequate protective gear for staff, she said. Gilmore and county officials said staffers who'd been exposed were encouraged to break their quarantines and return to work.
All told, the virus has claimed the lives of nine women and nine men at Diamond Hill, three younger than 60, three older than 90. Among those lost: a church deacon, a bowling alley manager, a former nurse and a beloved grandfather called Pop Pop by his grandchildren.
''Uncalled for, unnecessary, should never have occurred, and wouldn't have but for a tragically misguided order from the state,'' McLaughlin, the Rensselaer County executive, said of the outcomes at Diamond Hill.
The state Health Department said its personnel visited the home at least twice in April as part of broader efforts to track and control the virus inside the state's nursing homes. They deemed Diamond Hill capable of caring for its residents. Documents show Zucker, the health commissioner, was fully aware of events at Diamond Hill and reassured local leaders that the department had offered help moving patients to other facilities, but was told it wasn't needed.
Cuomo and Zucker, after escalating criticism, revoked the March 25 directive on May 10.
The Cuomo administration would not say who conceived of the order or answer the question of whether it believed the order had led to additional deaths. The administration said the Health Department was conducting ''a thorough review'' of COVID-19's impact on nursing homes.
''Science will determine whether the spread in nursing homes came as a result of returning residents or from asymptomatic staff who were already there,'' said Jonah Bruno, a spokesman for the New York Health Department.
Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, left, and Cuomo, center, at a coronavirus briefing on March 27. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)Officials have said the directive was based on federal guidance saying that nursing homes could accept residents with COVID-19 as long as they had enough personal protective equipment, could disinfect medical equipment regularly, could limit the movement of patients, could house them in their own rooms if necessary and meet other requirements. It's not clear, however, who in New York was responsible for assessing this '-- the discharging hospitals, the receiving nursing homes or the state.
The state Health Department said Diamond Hill instituted ''universal isolation precautions'' but did not explain what that meant. The state also said the home ceased taking COVID-19 patients in late April but did not say what led to that development.
A complicating factor in evaluating the effect of the March 25 directive is that the state Health Department did not track in real time what happened when COVID-19 patients were transferred from hospitals to nursing homes. One senior nursing home industry official said the state Health Department didn't even begin comprehensively counting COVID-19 deaths in these facilities until well into April, although the department has disputed that claim.
Bruno said the agency had adjusted the way it tracked deaths as the pandemic progressed. He added that the state did hundreds of safety checks on homes throughout the state and cited scores for various shortcomings. But he would not say if that information had been shared with the hospitals and families making decisions about the suitability of homes to receive COVID-19 patients.
Diamond Hill sent ProPublica a statement saying that its management team had taken over the facility recently, and that it had taken dozens of measures to protect the facility from the coronavirus, informed residents and their families of the presence of the virus, and worked with the county and state to keep patients and staff safe. The facility appears to have changed its name recently to Collar City Nursing and Rehabilitation. The statement did not answer questions about Gilmore's specific allegations, citing ''labor laws.''
''Despite our stepped up efforts, the stealth virus entered our community in early April likely through someone who appeared perfectly healthy,'' the statement said. ''While we were likely successful in delaying infections and reducing spread, like thousands of other skilled nursing facilities affected, we were not able to fully quash the virus.''
In an interview, Ari Grinspan, Diamond Hill's CEO, declined to respond to questions about the state's March 25 order, the home's preparedness or the deaths of specific residents.
''Now is not the time for a facility to be in the spotlight,'' he said. ''It gives others the chance to pick on you.''
''There will be a time when the pandemic mercifully ends, that we can talk on the record about the role of facilities and the government in what has happened.''
''It Was Chaos''Gilmore started work at Diamond Hill on Oct. 31, 2019, months before the first virus case was reported in the United States. Even then, she said, the facility was in ''damage control'' mode.
Family members visiting a patient with dementia on her 74th birthday found her in a bed soiled with urine and feces. The state Health Department investigated, citing the home for failing to provide basic care, and the family shared pictures with the media.
Diamond Hill's owners brought in new managers, Gilmore among them, but in retrospect, she said, the move was mainly for optics. ''So they could tell the news we have new management,'' she said.
Stephanie Gilmore, a former nurse at Diamond Hill. (Kholood Eid for ProPublica)Gilmore saw no sign of meaningful improvement. She and another former nurse told ProPublica the facility was chronically short of staff and equipment. Sometimes the facility had as few as four aides and one nurse looking after as many as 80 patients on a single floor, each suffering a variety of ailments that screamed for attention '-- incontinence, dementia, basic mobility.
In late February, she recalled an elderly patient being admitted from a local hospital. Gilmore said she told the administrators the resident needed a special oxygen delivery device to stay alive. Diamond Hill didn't have one, but the administrators took the admission anyway. Gilmore and another former Diamond Hill nurse said the patient died the next day.
Diamond Hill did not respond to questions about that patient.
As the coronavirus began to grip New York City, 162 miles south of Troy, Gilmore's concerns intensified. On March 13, she hammered out an email in all capital letters to the owners of the company, with the subject line: ATTEMPTING TO DO THE IMPOSSIBLE!
''As a nursing professional, it's unsafe to admit residents into the facility when we are critical with staffing and unable to care for the residents already in the building'... I have tried to assist in any way that I can, however I am being stretched way too thin,'' she wrote.
Gilmore told ProPublica she advocated in meetings for hiring roughly 20 additional aides and six nurses.
Grinspan, the home's CEO, attempted to reassure her, she said.
''We are working feverishly on hiring and bettering the situation, while we hope our appreciation to you and your peers are known,'' he said in an email back.
Gilmore thanked him, but the situation only got worse. She said she checked in as many as five new patients per day coming into the facility's 40-bed rehabilitation unit from all over the capital region. To her, it seemed only a matter of time before the virus began to spread in a facility already straining to provide proper care.
In reviewing paperwork for new residents, she became even more troubled. There was no indication whether incoming patients had ever been tested for the coronavirus.
Gilmore said her superiors brushed off her concerns, offering vague promises to isolate new residents. She saw little evidence that the home had the space or staff to do that.
Then came the April 3 meeting with her superiors about the woman who was diagnosed with COVID-19. With the request to keep it secret, her frustration boiled over.
''We aren't going to tell the direct care staff that they were exposed?'' she said she asked.
''No,'' she recalled her bosses saying. ''We don't want to cause a panic.''
''I was like, well, we can't do that,'' she said. She thought it might be against the law.
Diamond Hill, in its statement to ProPublica, said it alerted all residents, their families and the state Health Department of any coronavirus infections in a timely and responsible manner.
But Gilmore said she left her boss's office and called the county Health Department herself. By coincidence, she reached Shannon Testo, a registered nurse in charge of communicable disease testing. Testo, who also spoke to ProPublica, told Gilmore that she had tried to contact Diamond Hill earlier that day.
She needed the administrators there to tell her who the positive patient had been in contact with, but she told Gilmore the home's administrators had stopped returning her calls.
Gilmore gave Testo a handwritten list of staff that had treated the patient. She was on it. Testo told her she would have to quarantine herself for 14 days. Gilmore signed an order from the county promising to do so.
Later that day, Diamond Hill's management circulated a memo to staff members informing them that the home had its first coronavirus case and that many of them had been exposed.
Several staffers called out sick. Some, like Gilmore, also quarantined themselves at the county's request.
The entrance to Diamond Hill in Troy, New York, where a new sign reads Collar City Nursing and Rehabilitation. (Kholood Eid for ProPublica)After Gilmore's call, Testo and Lisa Phillips, the county Health Department's director of patient services, said they reported the situation to the state Department of Health, which then tested 30 randomly selected residents on April 6 using the limited number of tests available at the time. The county said at least six tests came back positive. The state told ProPublica it tested 26 residents and three came back positive.
Testo and Phillips said they tried to trace the contacts of the six positive patients, but Diamond Hill declined to answer their questions.
''With other facilities, the administrators gave us all the information we needed about who the positive patients may have had contact with,'' Phillips said. ''But Diamond Hill, they kept telling us that the staff was protected, they had PPE, and therefore they had no contact, but then we started getting calls from other people who worked there saying they did not have PPE.''
Testo and Phillips also said they later received reports from Diamond Hill employees that the administration tried to entice their employees to return to work before they completed their 14-day quarantines.
''They were offering Dunkin' Donuts gift cards to staff members who were sick but had no fever,'' Testo said.
Diamond Hill did not respond to the county's specific claims about how it managed the outbreak, but it insisted in its statement that it had cooperated with both the state and county to combat the virus's spread.
Gilmore said she twice received requests from Diamond Hill administrators to come back to work in spite of the county's order that she stay home. She tested negative for the coronavirus and returned to work on April 13. When she came back into the nursing home, she could not believe her eyes.
The facility had fewer staff than ever, but more patients. Gilmore said at least four aides and two nurses, including one who handled infection control, had quit. Others called out sick for fear of exposure. Those who continued working often had no protective gear. Patients who had the coronavirus were housed right next to those who did not, or even in the same room. ''It was chaos,'' she said.
''Their system was that they would keep everyone new to the facility in isolation for seven to 14 days, but some of them are not coherent,'' Gilmore said. ''They have dementia, and they were just wandering around.''
At that point, Gilmore said Diamond Hill's corporate parent, the WeCare Centers, dispatched a new nurse manager to help bring some sense of order to the growing crisis. Gilmore said the new manager made things worse by continuing to insist that the facility was doing just fine.
She said she complained to him and then sent another email to Grinspan, the CEO, which she shared with ProPublica.
''I would not have reached out, if this didn't require immediate attention,'' she wrote. ''These issues have been a problem since before this covid situation. The staff are coming to me with concerns... about residents covid status being withheld and PPE. The state already has issues with the way the facility handled the situation.''
''I have seen nurses come and go as fast as they came due to a lack of staffing, support and appreciation,'' she said.
Gilmore said she was fired on April 15, two days after she sent her email to Grinspan.
She said she was told that she was not management material and was in fact ''anti-management.''
To the surprise of Testo and Phillips, even as the case counts and staff complaints grew at Diamond Hill, state health officials seemed fine with allowing more COVID-19 patients to be discharged to the facility. The county officials said they were on weekly conference calls with the state Health Department and the home's top administrators throughout April.
''They were telling the state that they were able to take more patients and the state wasn't getting involved. We didn't necessarily agree, because we were getting calls from their staff saying they were in crisis mode,'' Phillips said. The state's people raised no objections, however. ''They were saying, 'If the [hospital] feels it's safe to discharge residents there and they say they can accept the patient, then that is their decision.'''
Documents show that Zucker, the health commissioner, said the facility had been assessed multiple times during April and into early May, and that no deficiencies were found.
''We have been in frequent communication with Diamond Hill nursing and rehabilitation center and they have attested to the Department that they are in full compliance with state and federal guidelines and have stated unequivocally that they are in need of no further assistance at this time,'' Zucker wrote in a May 10 letter to McLaughlin, the county executive.
Gilmore described her experience on local television and has filed a complaint against her managers at Diamond Hill with the New York State Division of Human Rights, alleging employment discrimination.
ProPublica shared Gilmore's story with the state Health Department. In a statement, it said that it had no record of her complaint, but that her ''allegations would be unacceptable if true.''
Phillips and Testo said that if Gilmore hadn't spoken up, the outbreak underway at Diamond Hill might have escaped scrutiny for far longer.
''Without those calls to us, the state never would have investigated,'' Phillips said. ''She was worried that the administration was not being forthcoming with information we needed. So she took it upon herself to alert us.''
The calls to the state came too late for Cynthia Falle, 73, a quadriplegic woman who had spent three years at Diamond Hill.
Cynthia Falle's niece, Sandra Wood, holds a portrait of her aunt and Joe Connelly, Falle's partner of 38 years. (Kholood Eid for ProPublica)In mid-March, she contracted pink eye and showed other signs of failing health. Her family said they urged the administration to test her for the coronavirus. Twice, the facility refused, insisting a test was unnecessary and all she needed were antibiotics.
Her brother, Robert Falle, said that he complained to the state Department of Health, and that by late March the department had ordered Diamond Hill to test her. The facility told Sandra Wood, Falle's niece, the test had been done on April 4, and that on April 6 it had come back negative.
On April 13, a deteriorating Falle was taken to Samaritan Hospital. Wood said the hospital staff told her records they received from Diamond Hill did not reflect a COVID-19 test of any kind.
Wood said Falle was tested at Samaritan, the result was positive and she was dead within a week.
Diamond Hill did not respond to questions about Falle's care.
Falle had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy at age 3 and eventually lost the ability to move her limbs, yet her family said her life remained remarkably full until COVID-19 took it away. She'd fallen in love, traveled with her partner of 38 years, became a church deacon and worked with health care professionals to improve care for people with disabilities.
''Cindy will be remembered for her indomitable spirit, sense of humor, love, genuine interest in the people she knew and her amazing ability to thrive even under what many would consider insurmountable odds,'' her obituary read.
Wood and Connelly pushed for Falle to receive better care. (Kholood Eid for ProPublica) ''It Was Dictatorial''McLaughlin, the Rensselaer County executive, watched the troubles unfold at Diamond Hill with a sense of impotent fury. The home was the county's worst hot spot, its cases and deaths dwarfing those everywhere else.
He'd had a simple reaction to Cuomo and Zucker's March 25 order '-- ''No way. Not ever.'' '-- and had blocked the transfer of COVID-19 patients from hospitals to the county-run Van Rensselaer Manor unless they tested negative before being moved. But he couldn't do that at Diamond Hill, a privately run home overseen by the state.
Some New York nursing home professionals themselves, already hit hard by the pandemic, say they had concerns much like McLaughlin's about the New York order. Those concerns were then compounded, they said, by the state acting without consulting them.
''We were struggling and overwhelmed already,'' said Elaine Healy, a medical director for a New Rochelle nursing home and acting president of the New York Medical Directors Association. ''When the directive came, the thing that was most stunning was not only the content but the manner in which it was delivered. It was a one-way communique with no opportunity for dialogue and no opportunity to express concerns with the Department of Health. It was dictatorial.''
Other states, notably California, adjusted their policies on hospital discharges to nursing homes after getting the industry's input, said Christopher Laxton, who heads the Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, an organization of some 55,000 nursing home medical directors, physicians, nurses and other health care professionals.
Not New York, Laxton said, where Cuomo and Zucker ''unaccountably failed to include clinical expertise in operational leadership when these policies were formed and we don't know why.''
Bruno, the Health Department spokesman, disputed that claim. In an email, he noted that the state had weekly webinars with health care professionals beginning Feb. 2 and said it had engaged in ongoing dialogue with a range of experts, doctors, nurses, family members and advocates.
''There's been no shortage of industry, expert or stakeholder opinions in anything we've done during the most devastating global pandemic in a century,'' he said.
The state, in defending its performance in safeguarding nursing homes, told ProPublica New York ranks 35th among the 50 states when counting nursing home deaths as a percentage of its statewide loss of more than 30,000 lives.
McLaughlin inveighed against the state discharge order in interviews and on Twitter, attacking its logic in his more rural part of New York. In an April 28 letter petitioning Cuomo and Zucker to end the policy, he noted that hospitals in Rensselaer County had not been overwhelmed by the virus and that beds for COVID-19 patients remained available.
He wrote again on May 1, saying Diamond Hill was tied to 12 of the county's 20 COVID-19 deaths to that point and asking why COVID-19 patients were being discharged to a facility with long-standing care problems, particularly with infection control. He noted Diamond Hill had been cited in a June 2019 federal report as needing special oversight.
McLaughlin has long been at odds with Cuomo over a variety of issues, and he has sharply criticized various aspects of the governor's preparation for, and response to, the COVID-19 pandemic.
Steve McLaughlin, the Rensselaer County executive, at a COVID-19 testing site in Troy. (Kholood Eid for ProPublica)McLaughlin, in an interview with ProPublica, said the governor was a bully who ran from responsibility when his policies went awry.
Rich Azzopardi, an adviser to Cuomo, had acerbic words for McLaughlin.
''From the very beginning of this global pandemic, our response has been based on data, science, and the ability to adjust our approach as the evidence dictates,'' he said in an emailed statement. ''Steve McLaughlin's response has been based on political cheap shots, public relations stunts, and an inability to make fact-based decisions.''
New York state lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats, have now called for an independent investigation of Cuomo's policy.
Richard Gottfried, chair of the New York Assembly Health Committee, said he has asked Attorney General Letitia James to bring in outside counsel to examine not just the March 25 directive, but the state's long-term oversight, funding and standards for nursing homes.
In an interview, he said that the state has done ''nothing about the chronic problem of understaffing in nursing homes,'' that it has kept ''Medicaid funding for nursing homes sparse'' and that state inspection teams are ''seriously understaffed and have a track record of very lax enforcement.''
''All of that leads to inadequate care, a culture that tolerates poor care and does not properly support the nursing homes that are trying to provide quality care,'' Gottfried said.
The Cuomo administration fired back at Gottfried.
''As long-time chair of the Assembly health committee and with 30 years in the state legislature, nobody in Albany has been in a better position than Assemblyman Gottfried to affect real change in the long-term health care system,'' Azzopardi said in his statement. ''We welcome him to the discussion and applaud him for speaking out about the chronic problems in nursing homes under his three decades of leadership.''
Five days after the Cuomo administration reversed its policy on discharging COVID-19 patients to nursing homes, a 76-year-old woman died of COVID-19 at Samaritan Hospital after having been infected at Diamond Hill.
McLaughlin ran into her son shortly after her death. He had few words of comfort.
The son said he'd last seen his mother on Feb. 25, but then all visitors had been barred. He said on the phone one day in April he noticed a change in her voice. She was soon hospitalized and spent three weeks in an intensive care unit before dying.
Now he wishes he'd brought her to live with him before she got COVID-19.
''I feel like I could have brought her home if they'd let me,'' said the son, who did not want to be identified by name because he is exploring legal action against the home.
Diamond Hill did not respond to questions about the case.
The woman had held a variety of jobs across 30 years of her working life '-- for Montgomery Ward, for the state motor vehicle department, for a local bowling center. She'd gone into Diamond Hill for what was supposed to be a brief stint of rehab.
''I thought I was putting her someplace safe,'' her son said. ''Instead, I put her 6 feet under.''
Mollie Simon and Benjamin Hardy contributed reporting.
Tell Us More About CoronavirusAre you a public health worker, medical provider, elected official, patient or other COVID-19 expert? Help make sure our journalism is responsible and focused on the right issues.
This form requires JavaScript to complete. Powered by Screendoor.
Trump administration sues Bolton over memoir | TheHill
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 06:21
The Trump administration on Tuesday filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent John Bolton John BoltonBolton book publisher hits DOJ lawsuit: Part of 'long running series' to quash book READ: Justice Dept. lawsuit seeking to block Bolton book Trump administration sues Bolton over memoir MORE from publishing a highly anticipated memoir describing his 17 months serving as President Trump Donald John TrumpHouse Democrat warns of potential staff purge at US media agency Judge denies request to stop Trump rally due to coronavirus concerns Fauci on coronavirus infections: 'We're still in a first wave' MORE 's national security adviser.
The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, alleges that Bolton's book, due to be released on June 23, contains classified information that stands to compromise national security if published before a government review is completed.
''[Bolton] regularly came into possession of some of the most sensitive classified information that exists in the U.S. government,'' the lawsuit states. ''Within two months of his departure from government service, defendant had negotiated a book deal allegedly worth about $2 million and had drafted a 500-plus page manuscript rife with classified information, which he proposed to release to the world.''
The Department of Justice asked the court to declare that Bolton's account of his time as a top Trump adviser from April 2018 to September 2019 violated his nondisclosure agreement.
The lawsuit also seeks to stop Bolton from disclosing contents from his memoir without U.S. government permission and to order his publisher, Simon & Schuster, to ''retrieve and dispose of'' any copies of the book held by third parties. Bolton's attorney has denied that the book contains classified material.
The move had been expected since Monday when reports surfaced that the administration was eyeing a lawsuit to prevent publication of the memoir, titled ''The Room Where It Happened,'' and comes exactly one week before it is due for public release. The book is said to offer a scathing account of the White House from the former national security adviser's point of view.
''If he wrote a book, I can't imagine that he can because that's highly classified information,'' Trump told reporters on Monday when asked about plans to file a lawsuit.
''I will consider every conversation with me as president highly classified. So that would mean if he wrote a book and if the book gets out, he's broken the law and I would think he would have criminal problems,'' Trump added, later claiming he hadn't viewed the book's contents.
The memoir's release has been delayed for months as a result of a prepublication review process spearheaded by the White House National Security Council (NSC) that began when Bolton submitted the book for review in late December.
According to the Justice Department's complaint, NSC official Ellen Knight had completed her review of Bolton's book around April 27 ''and was of the judgment that the manuscript draft did not contain classified information.'' Knight informed Bolton that the process remained ongoing when he asked for an update thereafter, the complaint states.
It says that Michael Ellis, NSC's senior director for intelligence, subsequently began a review of the manuscript on May 2 and raised concerns it contained classified information. An NSC attorney sent Bolton's attorney Chuck Cooper a letter on June 8 saying the draft contained classified information and that the manuscript could not be published until the review was completed, after press reports said that Bolton planned to release the book on June 23.
After receiving that letter, Cooper penned an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal accusing the White House of a "transparent attempt to use national security as a pretext to censor Mr. Bolton, in violation of his constitutional right to speak on matters of the utmost public import." Simon & Schuster also said last week that Bolton worked with the NSC to incorporate changes to the book that addressed officials' concerns and that the final product reflects those changes.
Cooper did not immediately return a request for comment on Tuesday evening.
The memoir is expected to contain details about Trump's interactions with Ukraine related to his impeachment by the House of Representatives last December. Bolton has been an extremely controversial figure as a result of his refusal to testify before the chamber.
The former national security adviser later said he would testify before the GOP-controlled Senate if served a subpoena, but the upper chamber ultimately voted to bypass witnesses and eventually acquitted Trump of the impeachment charges in two largely party-line votes.
Updated: 6:58 p.m.
C. T. Buckley to Marry Lucy S. Gregg - The New York Times
Wed, 17 Jun 2020 00:12
Style | C. T. Buckley to Marry Lucy S. Gregg Credit... The New York Times Archives See the article in its original context from
October 7, 1984
,
Section 1,
Page
94
Buy ReprintsTimesMachine is an exclusive benefit for home delivery and digital subscribers.
About the Archive
This is a digitized version of an article from The Times's print archive, before the start of online publication in 1996. To preserve these articles as they originally appeared, The Times does not alter, edit or update them.
Occasionally the digitization process introduces transcription errors or other problems; we are continuing to work to improve these archived versions.
Mr. and Mrs. Donald Phinney Gregg of Bethesda, Md., and Putney, Vt., have announced the engagement of their daughter, Lucy Steuart Gregg, to Christopher Taylor Buckley, the son of Mr. and Mrs. William F. Buckley Jr. of New York and Stamford, Conn.
The future bride, who graduated magna cum laude from Williams College, where she was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, is a reports officer for the State Department.
Her marriage ended in divorce. Her father, who is the assistant to the Vice President for national security affairs, retired from the Central Intelligence Agency in 1982 after 31 years. Miss Gregg's mother, Margaret Curry Gregg, is in charge of membership and programs for the Asia Society in Washington.
The future bride is a granddaughter of Mr. and Mrs. R. Eugene Curry of Armonk, N.Y., where Mr. Curry is chairman of the Mianus River Gorge, a nature conservancy. She is also a granddaughter of Mrs. Abel J. Gregg of Washington, whose late husband was the national secretary of boys' work of the Young Men's Christian Asssociation.
Mr. Buckley, the author of ''Steaming to Bamboola: The World of a Tramp Freighter,'' is the editor-at- large for Esquire magazine and a former speech writer for Vice President Bush. He graduated from the Portsmouth Abbey School and cum laude from Yale University.
He is a grandson of Mrs. William F. Buckley of Sharon, Conn., and Camden, S.C., and the late Mr. Buckley, who held controlling interests in several oil companies, and the late Mr. and Mrs. Austin C. Taylor of Vancouver, British Columbia, where Mr. Taylor was an industrialist. Mr. Buckley's father is the columnist, author and television personality.
Jeffrey Epstein, Trump's Mentor and the Dark Secrets of the Reagan Era
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 23:56
J effrey Epstein, the billionaire who now sits in jail on federal charges for the sex trafficking of minors, has continued to draw media scrutiny in the weeks after his arrest on July 6. Part of the reason for this continued media interest is related to Epstein's alleged relationship to the intelligence services and new information about the true extent of the sexual blackmail operation Epstein is believed to have run for decades.
As MintPress reported last week, Epstein was able to run this sordid operation for so long precisely because his was only the latest incarnation of a much older, more extensive operation that began in the 1950s and perhaps even earlier.
Starting first with mob-linked liquor baron Lewis Rosenstiel and later with Roy Cohn, Rosenstiel's protege and future mentor to Donald Trump, Epstein's is just one of the many sexual blackmail operations involving children that are all tied to the same network, which includes elements of organized crime, powerful Washington politicians, lobbyists and ''fixers,'' and clear links to intelligence as well as the FBI.
This report, Part II of this series titled ''The Jeffrey Epstein Scandal: Too Big To Fail,'' will delve into Cohn's close ties to the Reagan administration, which was also closely tied to the same organized crime network led by the infamous mob figure Meyer Lansky, which was discussed in Part I . Of particular importance is the ''Iran Contra'' network, a group of Reagan officials and associates who played key roles in the Iran Contra scandal. Though it has remained relatively unknown for years, many key figures in that same network, and several fronts for the CIA that were involved in funneling money to the Central American Contra paramilitaries, were also trafficking minors for their sexual exploitation and use in sexual blackmail rings.
Several of these rings made headlines at one point or another over the years '-- from the ''call boy ring'' run by Washington lobbyist Craig Spence, to the Franklin child-sex and murder ring run by Republican operative Larry King, to the scandal that enveloped the Catholic charity Covenant House in the late 1980s.
Yet, as this report will show, all of these rings '-- and more '-- were connected to the same network that involved key figures linked to the Reagan White House and linked to Roy Cohn '-- revealing the true scope of the sordid sexual blackmail operations and sex rings that involved the trafficking of children within the U.S. and even in Central America for their exploitation by dangerous and powerful pedophiles in the United States.
Appalling for both the villainous abuse of children itself and the chilling implications of government by blackmail, this tangled web of unsavory alliances casts a lurid light on the political history of the United States from the Prohibition Era right up to the present day and the Age of Trump, a fact made increasingly clear as more and more information comes to light in relation to the Jeffrey Epstein case.
''Roy could fix anyone in the city'' Since Donald Trump burst onto the political scene in 2015, the legacy of his mentor, Roy Cohn '' as well as Cohn's influence on his most famous protege '-- have begun to garner renewed media attention. Many of the profiles on Cohn following Trump's rise have focused solely on certain shadowy aspects of Cohn's history, particularly his association with major figures in New York organized crime , his corrupt dealings, and his eventual disbarment. Some of these portrayals even went so far as to label Cohn as politically impotent. While Cohn was known to deal with a sizable amount of sleaze in his career, such depictions of the man fail to note that he had created an influence machine of unrivaled power that included some of the most prominent people in media and politics as well as a cadre of celebrities.
Cohn was closely associated with numerous celebrities, famous politicians and political operatives. Many of his birthday parties over the years attracted such famous figures such as artist Andy Warhol, fashion designer Calvin Klein, and comedian Joey Adams, as well as notable political figures including former Mayor of New York Abraham Beame and then-Assemblyman from Brooklyn and future Senator Chuck Schumer, among others. In 1979 Margaret Trudeau, mother of current Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, attended Cohn's birthday party, where she famously toppled his custom birthday cake; and of course Donald Trump, who became Cohn's protege in the mid-1970s, was a frequent fixture at social events held in Cohn's honor.
The politicians, journalists and celebrities invited to Cohn's exclusive parties were said to be those who '' had open accounts in Cohn's 'favor bank ,''' his nickname for his unofficial balance sheet of political favors and debts that was surely informed and influenced by his extensive involvement in sexual blackmail operations from the 1950s well into the 1980s.
Many of Cohn's celebrity friendships were cultivated through his relationship with and frequent appearances at the famous and famously debaucherous New York nightclub Studio 54, which was described by Vanity Fair as ''the giddy epicenter of 70s hedonism, a disco hothouse of beautiful people, endless cocaine, and every kind of sex.'' Cohn was the long-time lawyer of the club's owners, Steve Rubell and Ian Schrager.
Studio 54 co-owner Steve Rubell and Roy Cohn, left, talk to reporters outside U.S. District Court in Manhattan on, Nov. 2, 1979. Photo | AP
Among Cohn's closest friends were Barbara Walters, to whom Cohn often referred as his ''fiancee'' in public, and whom he later introduced to the head of the U.S. Information Agency, Chad Wick, and other high rollers in the Reagan White House. Yet, Walters was just one of Cohn's powerful friends in the media, a group that also included Abe Rosenthal, executive editor of the New York Times ; William Safire, long-time New York Times columnist and New York Magazine contributor; and George Sokolsky of The New York Herald Tribune , NBC and ABC . Sokolsky was a particularly close friend of both Cohn and former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, whose involvement in Cohn's sexual blackmail operation is described in Part I of this investigative series. Sokolsky ran the American Jewish League Against Communism with Cohn for several years and the organization later named its Medal of Honor after Sokolsky.
Cohn was also the attorney and friend of media mogul Rupert Murdoch and, according to New York Magazine , ''Whenever Roy wanted a story stopped, item put in, or story exploited, Roy called Murdoch;'' and, after Murdoch bought the New York Post , Cohn ''wielded the paper as his personal shiv.'' According to the late journalist Robert Parry , the friendship between Murdoch and Cohn first began thanks to their mutual support for Israel.
Cohn also leaned on his life-long friend since high school, Si Newhouse Jr., to exert media influence. Newhouse oversaw the media empire that now includes Vanity Fair, Vogue, GQ, The New Yorker, and numerous local newspapers throughout the United States, as well as major interests in cable television. New York Magazine also noted that ''Cohn used his influence in the early '80s to secure favors for himself and his Mob clients in Newhouse publications.'' In addition to Newhouse, Cohn's other high school pals , Generoso Pope Jr. and Richard Berlin, later became the owners of the National Enquirer and the Hearst Corporation, respectively. Cohn was also a close friend of another media mogul, Mort Zuckerman, who '' along with Rupert Murdoch '' would go on to befriend Jeffrey Epstein.
Cohn's media confidants, like journalist William Buckley of The National Review and Firing Line, often attacked Cohn's political enemies '' particularly long-time Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau '-- in their columns, using Cohn as an anonymous source. Buckley, whom historian George Nash once called ''the preeminent voice of American conservatism and its first great ecumenical figure,'' received the George Sokolsky medal alongside Cohn's mob-linked client and ''Supreme Commander'' Lewis Rosenstiel from the Cohn-run American Jewish League Against Communism in 1966. Buckley later got a heavily discounted $65,000 loan to buy a luxury boat from a bank where Cohn held influence and whose president Cohn had hand picked, according to a 1969 article in LIFE magazine.
Buckley '-- along with Barbara Walters, Alan Dershowitz and Donald Trump '-- would later serve as character witnesses for Cohn during his 1986 disbarment hearings and all but Buckley would later draw controversy for their relationships with Jeffrey Epstein.
With connections like this, it's no wonder that Stanley Friedman '-- a law partner of Cohn, who was later imprisoned over a kickback and bribery scandal while serving as New York's deputy mayor '-- told journalist Marie Brenner in 1980 that ''Roy could fix anyone in the city.''
Politically ubiquitous and polygamous Roy Cohn's ''favor bank'' and his unique position as a liaison between the criminal underworld, the rich and famous, and top media influencers made him a force to be reckoned with. Yet, it was his political connections to leadership figures in both the Republican and Democratic parties and his close relationship to long-time FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, among other figures, that made him and his dark secret ''untouchable'' for much of his life. Though most of his political influence was forged in the 1950s, Cohn became even more powerful with the rise of Ronald Reagan.
Even though he nominally maintained his affiliation with the Democratic Party throughout his life, Cohn was a well-known ''fixer'' for Republican candidates and this is clearly seen in his outsized roles during the 1976 and 1980 presidential campaigns of Ronald Reagan. It was during the latter that Cohn would meet another of his proteges, Roger Stone, whom he infamously instructed to leave a hefty bribe tucked in a suitcase at the doorstep of the Liberal Party's headquarters during the 1980 campaign. During this campaign, Cohn would also meet Paul Manafort '-- an associate of Stone and later Trump's 2016 campaign manager '-- and introduce both to Donald Trump.
Cohn's law partner, Tom Bolan, was also an influential force in the Reagan campaign and later chaired Reagan's transition team in 1980. Reagan then named Bolan, whom he considered a friend, a director of the Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the government's development finance institution, and he was also the New York finance co-chairman in the Reagan campaign in both 1980 and 1984. Bolan was also close to others in Cohn's circle, such as William F. Buckley Jr., Donald Trump and Rupert Murdoch.
Furthermore, Bolan was instrumental in securing federal judgeships for several individuals who would later become influential, including future FBI Director Louis Freeh. Cohn was also able to get friends of clients appointed as federal judges, including Donald Trump's sister, Maryanne Trump Barry. After Barry was appointed as a federal judge, Trump called Cohn to thank him for pulling strings on his sister's behalf.
Though Cohn was not given a public position in the Reagan administration, he was not merely a ''dirty trickster'' who worked in the shadows during the Reagan campaigns. In fact, he worked closely with some of the more visible faces of the campaign, including the then-communications director for Reagan's 1980 campaign and later CIA director, William Casey. According to Christine Seymour '-- Cohn's long-time switchboard operator from the late 1960s up until his death in 1986, who listened in on his calls '-- Casey and Cohn were close friends and, during the 1980 campaign, Casey ''called Roy almost daily.''
Seymour also noted that one of Cohn's other most frequent phone pals and closest friends was Nancy Reagan and she was also one of his clients . Reagan, whose influence over her husband was well-known, was so close to Cohn that it was largely his death from AIDS that led her to ''encourage her husband to seek more funding for AIDS research.''
Prior to Cohn's death, Nancy and her husband Ronald secured his spot in an exclusive experimental AIDS treatment program, despite the Reagan administration's well-documented ''non-response'' to the AIDS crisis of the era. Ronald Reagan was also a friend of Cohn's and, according to late journalist Robert Parry , ''lavished favors on Cohn, including invitations to White House events, personal thank-you notes and friendly birthday wishes'' over the course of his presidency.
Given that Reagan heavily courted the evangelical right and promoted ''family values'' as president, the close ties between not only himself, but his inner circle, with Cohn may seem odd. However, Reagan, like Cohn, had deep ties to the same organized-crime factions that were among Cohn's clients and affiliates of the same Mafia figures close to Cohn's own mentor, Lewis Rosenstiel (see Part I ).
Not unlike Cohn, Reagan's own mentor , Lew Wasserman, had close ties to the mob. Wasserman, the long-time president of MCA and the well-known Hollywood mogul, is known for not only making Reagan's film and television career, but also supporting his successful push to become president of the Screen Actors Guild, which later launched Reagan's political career. In addition, MCA was a major financier of Reagan's successful gubernatorial bid in 1966 and, not long after Reagan became president, his administration controversially shut down a massive Department of Justice (DOJ) probe into MCA's ties to organized crime.
Ronald Reagan, center, with A.C. Lyles and Lew Wasserman, right. Photo | A.C. Lyles
According to Shawn Swords, a documentary filmmaker who explored Reagan's ties to MCA in Wages of Spin II: Bring Down That Wall :
Ronald Reagan was an opportunist. His whole career was guided by MCA '-- by Wasserman and [MCA founder] Jules Stein, who bragged that Reagan was malleable, that they could do what they wanted with him'...That thing about Reagan being tough on [organized] crime '-- that's a fallacy.''
Swords' characterization of this relationship is supported by an unnamed Hollywood source cited in a declassified DOJ document, who called Reagan ''a complete slave of MCA who would do their bidding on anything.''
What elements of organized crime were connected to Wasserman? As a young man, Lew Wasserman joined the Mayfield Road Gang, which was run by Moe Dalitz, a close friend of Meyer Lansky who, per the FBI , was a powerful figure in Lansky's criminal enterprise, second only to Lansky himself among members of the Jewish mob.
Lew Wasserman would later marry Edith Beckerman, whose father was Dalitz's lawyer . Wasserman's closest friend and lawyer , Sidney Korshak, also had close ties to Dalitz and once partnered with Lansky in the Acapulco Towers Hotel. Notably, the magazine New West stated in 1976 that Korshak was the '' logical successor to Meyer Lansky. '' Korshak, as a lawyer, fit a niche similar to Roy Cohn and gained a reputation as the bridge between organized crime and respectable society.
In addition, the DOJ probe into MCA that the Reagan administration quashed was reportedly spurred after the Justice Department learned that an influential member of the Gambino crime family, Salvatore Pisello, was doing business with the massive entertainment company. At that time, the boss of the Gambino crime family, Paul Castellano, was a client of Roy Cohn.
Cohn, Murdoch and the Contras Though Cohn's influence in the Reagan administration and his friendship with the Reagan family and their inner circle has been acknowledged, less well-known is how Cohn aided the CIA's covert propaganda efforts that were part of the larger scandal known as Iran-Contra.
Cohn, whose influence over the press has already been detailed, forged close ties with the director of the U.S. Information Agency, Chad Wick, even hosting a luncheon in Wick's honor that was widely attended by influential figures in the conservative press, as well as senators and representatives. Soon after, then-CIA Director and Cohn friend William Casey was spearheading an extensive PR campaign aimed at shoring up public support for Reagan's Latin American policies, including support of the Contra paramilitaries.
This domestic propaganda effort was technically illegal and required that the CIA outsource the job to the private sector to minimize the risk of fall-out. As Robert Parry reported in 2015, Wick took the lead in obtaining private funding for the effort and, just a few days after Wick promised to find private support, Cohn brought his close friend, the media mogul Rupert Murdoch, to the White House.
Reagan meets with Rupert Murdoch, U.S. Information Agency Director Charles Wick, and Roy Cohn in the Oval Office in 1983. Photo | Reagan presidential library
Parry later noted that, after this meeting, ''documents released during the Iran-Contra scandal in 1987 and later from the Reagan Library indicate that Murdoch was soon viewed as a source for the private funding'' for the propaganda campaign.
After that initial meeting, Murdoch became the top media ally of this Casey-directed propaganda effort, and also became increasingly close to the Reagan White House. Murdoch, as a consequence, benefited greatly from Reagan's policies and his friendship with the administration, which allowed Murdoch to increase his U.S. media holdings and to create the Fox Broadcasting Corporation in 1987.
''The man in the black tuxedo'' Roy Cohn was not the only one close to the Reagan administration who was simultaneously running sexual blackmail operations that abused and exploited children. In fact, there were several figures, all of whom shared direct connections to CIA Director William Casey and other close friends and confidants of Cohn.
One of these individuals was Robert Keith Gray, the former chairman and CEO of the powerful Washington-based public relations firm of Hill and Knowlton, which 60 Minutes once called ''an unelected shadow government'' due to its influence in the capitol. According to the Washington Post , Gray himself was ''one of the most sought-after lobbyists in Washington'' and a Post reporter once called him ''a kind of legend in this town, '...the man in the black tuxedo with snow-white hair and a smile like a diamond.''
Yet, Gray was much more than a powerful PR executive.
Gray, who had previously been a close adviser to both Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, was a very successful Republican fundraiser who ''collects money in six-figure globs,'' according to a 1974 report in the Washingtonian. He first came into close contact with what would become Ronald Reagan's inner circle during Reagan's unsuccessful 1976 presidential campaign and later as deputy director of communications during Reagan's campaign in 1980. The latter position would see him work directly under William Casey, who later became CIA director.
Gray would go on to co-chair Reagan's Inauguration Committee and afterwards would return to the PR business, taking on several clients including Saudi arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi and hedge fund manager Marc Rich. Both Khashoggi and Rich will be discussed more in detail in Part III of this report '-- particularly Rich, who was an asset of Israeli intelligence outfit Mossad, and whose later criminal pardon by Bill Clinton was largely orchestrated by members of the Mega Group like Michael Steinhardt and Israeli politicians like Ehud Barak.
The connection between Gray and Casey is particulary telling, as it was later revealed by former Nebraska state senator-turned-investigator John DeCamp that Gray was a specialist in homosexual blackmail operations for the CIA and was reported to have collaborated with Roy Cohn in those activities. Cohn and Gray were likely to have known each other well, as during Reagan's 1980 presidential campaign Casey '-- then Gray's boss '-- was calling Roy Cohn ''every day,'' according to Cohn's former switchboard operator Christine Seymour .
Gray was a known associate of CIA agent and Naval Intelligence officer Edwin Wilson, having served in the 1970s on the board of Consultants International, an organization that Wilson had founded and that the CIA used as a front company. Though Gray attempted to distance himself from Wilson after the latter was caught illegally selling weapons to Libya in 1983, a Navy review of Wilson's intelligence career, unearthed by journalist Peter Maas , stated that Gray described Wilson as a man of ''unqualified trust'' and that Gray and Wilson had been in professional contact ''two or three times a month'' as early as 1963.
Though Wilson's main specialty was front companies used to covertly ship and smuggle goods on behalf of U.S. intelligence, he also ran sexual blackmail operations for the CIA, particularly around the time of the Watergate scandal, according to his former partner and fellow agent at the CIA, Frank Terpil.
Terpil later told author and investigative journalist Jim Hougan:
Historically, one of Wilson's Agency jobs was to subvert members of both houses [of Congress] by any means necessary'.... Certain people could be easily coerced by living out their sexual fantasy in the flesh'.... A remembrance of these occasions [was] permanently recorded via selected cameras'.... The technicians in charge of filming '... [were] TSD [Technical Services Division of the CIA]. The unwitting porno stars advanced in their political careers, some of [whom] may still be in office.''
According to Terpil, Wilson ran his operation out of the George Town Club, owned by lobbyist and Korean intelligence asset Tongsun Park. According to the Washington Post , Park set up the club on behalf of the Korean Central Intelligence Agency ''as a primary means in an illegal effort to influence U.S. politicians and officials.'' The president of the George Town Club at the time of Wilson's alleged activities at the site was Robert Keith Gray.
DeCamp later reported that Wilson's activities were a spin-off of the same sexual blackmail operation in which Cohn became involved during the McCarthy era with Lewis Rosenstiel and J. Edgar Hoover.
Father Ritter and his favored youths The operation allegedly ran by Gray and Wilson was not the only sexual blackmail operation connected to Cohn's network or to influential American politicians of the era. Another pedophile network that was connected to a close associate of former President George H.W. Bush in the early 1990s was run as an affiliate of the Catholic charity Covenant House, which was founded and run by Father Bruce Ritter.
In 1968, Ritter asked his superior '-- Cardinal Francis Spellman of the Archdiocese of New York '-- for permission to take homeless teenagers, boys and girls, into his home in Manhattan. As was noted in Part I of this series, Spellman was accused of pedophilia and ordained known pedophiles while serving as the highest-ranking Catholic priest in the United States. Spellman was also a close associate, client and friend of Roy Cohn, as well as of his law partner Tom Bolan, and Spellman was alleged to have been seen at least one of Cohn's ''blackmail parties.'' In addition, Spellman's nephew, Ned Spellman, worked for Roy Cohn, according to LIFE magazine.
Ritter, like Spellman and other priests who served under Spellman, was eventually accused of having sexual relationships with many of the underaged boys he had taken in, and of spending Covenant House funds on lavish gifts and payments to the vulnerable teenagers he exploited.
One of Ritter's victims, Darryl Bassile, wrote an open letter to him a year after the priest's preying on teenage boys was exposed by the press: ''You were wrong for inflicting your desires on a 14-year-old .'‰.'‰. I know that someday you will stand before the one who judges all of us and at that time there will be no more denial, just the truth.''
Notably, when Ritter's activities at Covenant House were exposed in 1989 by the New York Post , Charles M. Sennott, the Post reporter who wrote the story, would later state that ''the secular powers more than the archdiocese or the Franciscans protected him [Ritter].'' Sennott's report was attacked viciously by columnists in other New York media outlets, powerful politicians including then-Governor of New York Mario Cuomo, as well as by Cardinal Spellman's successor, Cardinal John O'Connor.
The likely reason these ''secular powers'' came to the aid of the embattled Ritter, who was never charged for having sexual relationships with minors and was merely forced to resign from his post, is that Covenant House and Ritter himself were deeply tied to Robert Macauley, Bush Sr.'s roommate at Yale and a long-time friend of the Bush family. Macauley was described by the New York Times as ''instrumental'' to Covenant House fundraising after he joined its board in 1985 and brought on several ''other wealthy or well-connected people,'' including former government officials and investment bankers.
George and Barbara Bush meet residents at New York's Convent House, June 22, 1989. Father Bruce Ritter is seated in the background. Rick Bowmen | AP
Macauley's organization, the AmeriCares Foundation, which was later accused of funneling money to the Contras in Central America, was one of the main sources of funding of Covenant House. One of the members of AmeriCares advisory board was William E. Simon, former U.S. secretary of the treasury under the Nixon and Ford administrations, who also ran the Nicaraguan Freedom Fund, which sent aid to the Contras.
AmeriCares was also known to work directly with U.S. intelligence. As the Hartford Courant noted in 1991: ''Knowledgeable former federal officials, many with backgrounds in intelligence work, help AmeriCares maneuver in delicate international political environments.''
Furthermore, Ritter was known to have visited Macauley's Connecticut estate and served as Vice President of AmeriCares until he was forced to resign from Covenant House. Notably, George H.W. Bush's brother, Prescott, was also on the AmeriCares advisory board . After George H.W. Bush died last year, AmeriCares stated that he had been ''instrumental in founding the health-focused relief and development organization.''
Years before Ritter was outed as a pedophile who preyed on the disadvantaged and vulnerable teenagers who sought refuge at his charity, Covenant House was praised heavily by President Ronald Reagan, even earning a mention in his 1984 State of the Union address, which called Ritter one of the country's ''unsung heroes.'' From 1985 to 1989, Covenant House's operating budget grew from $27'‰million to $90 million and its board came to include powerful individuals including top executives at IBM, Chase Manhattan Bank and Bear Stearns.
It was during this time that Covenant House grew into an international organization, opening branches in several countries, including Canada, Mexico and elsewhere in Central America. Its first branch in Central America was opened in Guatemala and was headed by Roberto Alejos Arzu, a CIA asset whose plantation was used to train the troops used in the CIA's failed ''Bay of Pigs'' invasion of Cuba. Alejos Arzu was also an associate of the former U.S.-backed dictator of Nicaragua, Anastasio Somoza, and a member of the Knights of Malta, a Catholic order to which former CIA Director William Casey and Roy Cohn's law partner Tom Bolan also belonged. Alejos Arzu also worked for AmeriCares and was tied to several Central American paramilitary groups.
Intelligence community sources cited by DeCamp assert that the Alejos Arzu-led branch of Covenant House procured children for a pedophile ring based in the United States. Years later, Mi Casa, another U.S.-run charity in Guatemala that George H.W. Bush had personally toured with his wife Barbara in 1994, was accused of rampant pedophilia and child abuse.
The downfall of ''Washington's Jay Gatsby'' After having left his job as an ABC News correspondent in the 1980s, Craig Spence found success as a prominent conservative Washington lobbyist. Spence would soon find his fortunes shift dramatically when, in June 1989, it was revealed that he had been pimping out children to the power elite in the nation's capital throughout the 1980s in apartments that were bugged with video and audio recording equipment. Much like Jeffrey Epstein, who ran a similar operation, Spence was often likened to Jay Gatsby, the mysterious, wealthy figure from the well-known Fitzgerald novel The Great Gatsby.
A 1982 New York Times article written about Spence said that his ''personal phone book and party guest lists constitute a 'Who's Who' in Congress, Government and journalism'' and stated that Spence was ''hired by his clients as much for whom he knows as what he knows.'' Spence was also known to throw lavish parties, which the Times described as ''glitter[ed] with notables, from ambassadors to television stars, from senators to senior State Department officials.'' Roy Cohn, William Casey and Roy Cohn's journalist friend William Safire were just some of the other attendees at Spence's festivities.
''According to Mr. Spence,'' the Times article continues, '' Richard Nixon is a friend. So is [former Attorney General under Nixon] John Mitchell. [ CBS journalist] Eric Sevareid is termed 'an old, dear friend.' Senator John Glenn is 'a good friend' and Peter Ustinov [British actor and journalist] is 'an old, old friend.''' Notably, Ustinov wrote for The European newspaper soon after it was founded in 1990 by Robert Maxwell, the father of Epstein's alleged madam Ghislaine Maxwell and a known Mossad agent.
It was revealed just seven years after the Times' published its doting profile of Spence that his ''glittery parties for key officials of the Reagan and Bush administrations, media stars and top military officers'' had been bugged in order ''to compromise guests.'' According to the explosive report published by the Washington Times , Spence was linked to a ''homosexual prostuition ring'' whose clients included ''government officials, locally based U.S. military officers, businessmen, lawyers, bankers, congressional aides, media representatives and other professionals.'' Spence also offered cocaine to his guests as another means of acquiring blackmail.
According to the report, Spence's home ''was bugged and had a secret two-way mirror, and '... he attempted to ensnare visitors into compromising sexual encounters that he could then use as leverage.'' One man who spoke to the Washington Times said that Spence sent a limousine to his home, which took him to a party where ''several young men tried to become friendly with him.'' According to DeCamp, Spence was known to offer young children for sex to attendees at his blackmail parties, along with illegal drugs like cocaine.
Several other sources, including a Reagan White House official and an Air Force sergeant who had attended Spence-hosted parties, confirmed that Spence's house was filled with recording equipment, which he regularly used to spy on and record guests, and his house also included a two-way mirror that he used for eavesdropping.
The report also documented Spence's connections to U.S. intelligence, particularly the CIA. According to the Washington Times report , Spence ''often boasted that he was working for the CIA and on one occasion said he was going to disappear for awhile 'because he had an important CIA assignment.''' He was also quite paranoid about his alleged work for the agency, as he expressed concern ''that the CIA might 'doublecross him' and kill him instead and then make it look like a suicide.'' Not long after the Washington Times report on his activities was published, Spence was found dead in the Boston Ritz Carlton and his death was quickly ruled a suicide.
The Washington Times report also offers a clue as to what Spence may have done for the CIA, as it cited sources that had claimed that Spence had spoken of smuggling cocaine into the U.S. from El Salvador, an operation that he claimed had involved U.S. military personnel. Given the timing of these comments from Spence, Spence's powerful connections, and the CIA's involvement in the exchange of cocaine for weapons in the Iran Contra scandal, his comments may have been much more than just boasts intended to impress his party guests.
One of the most critical parts of the scandal surrounding Spence, however, was the fact that he had been able to enter the White House late at night during the George H.W. Bush administration with young men whom the Washington Times described as ''call boys.''
Spence later stated that his contacts within the White House, which allowed him and his ''call boys'' access, were ''top level'' officials and he specifically singled out George H.W. Bush's then-National Security Advisor Donald Gregg. Gregg had worked at the CIA since 1951 before he resigned in 1982 to become National Security Advisor to Bush, who was then vice president. Prior to resigning from his post at the CIA, Gregg had worked directly under William Casey and, in the late 1970s, alongside a young William Barr in stonewalling the congressional Pike Committee and Church Committee, which investigated the CIA beginning in 1975. Among the things that they were tasked with investigating were the CIA's ''love traps,'' or sexual blackmail operations used to lure foreign diplomats to bugged apartments, complete with recording equipment and two-way mirrors.
Barr would later become Bush's Attorney General, rising to that post yet again under Trump. Furthermore, Barr's father worked for the precursor to the CIA, the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) and recruited a young Jeffrey Epstein, then a high school drop-out, to teach at the elite Dalton School, from which Epstein was later fired. A year prior to hiring Epstein, Donald Barr published a science fiction fantasy novel about sex slavery . Notably, the same year Donald Barr hired Epstein, his son was working for the CIA. Bill Barr has refused calls to recuse himself from the Epstein case, even though he worked at the same law firm that has represented Epstein in the past.
Donald Gregg is also connected to Roy Cohn's ''influence machine'' through his daughter's marriage to Christopher Buckley, the son of conservative journalist William Buckley, close confidant and friend of both Roy Cohn and Cohn's law partner Tom Bolan.
The Washington Times reports on Spence's child sex ring also reveal his close ties to none other than the ubiquitous Roy Cohn. One of the Times ' sources for its first story on the scandal alleged that he had attended a birthday party for Roy Cohn that Spence had hosted at his home and that CIA Director William Casey was also in attendance. Spence was also said in the report to often brag about his social companions and regularly mentioned Cohn and claimed to have hosted Cohn at his house on occasions other than the aforementioned birthday party.
''Bodies by God'' The revelation of Craig Spence's ''call boy ring'' soon led to the discovery of the infamous Franklin child sex abuse and ritual murder scandal. That sordid operation was run out of Omaha, Nebraska by Larry King , a prominent local Republican activist and lobbyist who ran the Franklin Community Federal Credit Union until it was shut down by federal authorities.
Buried in a May 1989 article in the Omaha World Herald's probe into King's Credit Union and sex ring , is a telling revelation: ''In the 6 1/2 months since federal authorities closed Franklin, rumors have persisted that money from the credit union somehow found its way to the Nicaraguan contra rebels.''
The possibility that King's fraudulent credit union was covertly funding the Contras was supported by subsequent reporting by the Houston Post's Pete Brewton, who discovered that the CIA, in conjunction with organized crime, had secretly borrowed money from various savings and loans (S&L) institutions to fund covert operations. One of those S&Ls had Neil Bush, George H.W. Bush's son, on its board and it had done business with King's organization.
Another link between King and the Iran Contra team is the fact that King had co-founded and subsequently donated over $25,000 to an organization affiliated with the Reagan administration, Citizens for America, which sponsored speaking trips for Lt. Col. Oliver North and Contra leaders. The director of Citizens for America at the time was David Carmen, who simultaneously ran a public relations firm with the former head of covert operations at the Casey-led CIA, his father Gerald, who had also been appointed by Reagan to head the General Services Administration and to a subsequent ambassadorship.
One of the investigative journalists who researched the Craig Spence ring later told DeCamp that Spence's ring was connected to King:
The way we discovered Larry King and his Nebraska-based call boy ring, was by looking through the credit card chits of Spence's ring, where we found King's name.''
It was later revealed that King and Spence were essentially business partners as their child trafficking rings were operated under a larger group that was nicknamed ''Bodies by God.''
Exactly how many groups operated under this umbrella group, ''Bodies by God,'' is unknown. Yet, what is known is that the rings run by both King and Spence were connected to each other and both were also connected to prominent officials in the Reagan and subsequent George H.W. Bush administrations, including officials with ties to the CIA and Roy Cohn and his network.
Indeed Spence, just months before his alleged suicide in the Boston Ritz Carlton, had hinted to Washington Times reporters Michael Hedges and Jerry Seper, who had originally broken the story, that they had merely scratched the surface of something much darker:
All this stuff you've uncovered [involving call boys, bribery and the White House tours], to be honest with you, is insignificant compared to other things I've done. But I'm not going to tell you those things, and somehow the world will carry on.''
It is also worth noting the role of the FBI in all of this, particularly in the Franklin child sex abuse scandal. Indeed, Larry King's child sex abuse ring was quickly and aggressively covered up by the FBI, which used a variety of under-handed tactics to bury the reality of King's sordid operation. Here, it is important to recall the key role former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover played in similar sexual blackmail operations that abused children (See Part I ) and the close relationship between Hoover, Roy Cohn and Lewis Rosenstiel, who later employed Hoover's former right-hand man at the FBI, Louis Nichols.
Years later, documents released by the FBI would show that Epstein became an FBI informant in 2008, when Robert Mueller was the Bureau's director, in exchange for immunity from then-pending federal charges, a deal that fell through with Epstein's recent arrest on new federal charges. In addition, former FBI Director Louis Freeh would be hired by Alan Dershowitz, who is accused of raping girls at Epstein's homes and was once a character witness for Roy Cohn, to intimidate Epstein's victims. As previously mentioned, Freeh's past appointment as a judge for the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York was orchestrated by Cohn's law partner Tom Bolan.
Thus, the FBI's cover-up of the Franklin case is just one example of the Bureau's long-standing practice of protecting these pedophile rings when they involve members of the American political elite and provide the Bureau with a steady supply of blackmail. It also makes it worth questioning the impartiality of one of the main prosecutors in the Jeffrey Epstein case, Maurene Comey , who is the daughter of former FBI Director James Comey.
The rot at the top While there were several sexual trafficking operations connected to both Roy Cohn and the halls of power under the Reagan administration, in a matter of months after Cohn's death it appears that another individual became a central figure in the powerful network that Cohn had cultivated.
That individual, Jeffrey Epstein, would be recruited, after his firing from the Dalton School, by Alan ''Ace'' Greenberg, a close friend of Cohn, to work at Bear Stearns. After leaving Bear Stearns and working as an alleged financial ''bounty hunter'' for clients that are said to have included the Iran-Contra-linked arms dealer Adnan Khashoggi, Epstein would come into contact with Leslie Wexner, a billionaire close to the Meyer Lansky-linked Bronfman family, who himself was tied to members of organized crime syndicates once represented by Cohn.
The same year that Wexner would begin his decades-long association with Epstein, another Cohn friend with ties to the Reagan White House and the Trump family, Ronald Lauder, would provide Epstein with an Austrian passport containing Epstein's picture but a false name.
Lauder, Wexner and the Bronfmans are members of an elite organization known as the Mega Group, which also includes other Meyer Lansky-connected ''philanthropists'' like hedge fund manager Michael Steinhardt . While Epstein shares considerable overlap with the network described in this report and Part I of this series, he is also deeply connected to the Mega Group as well as its associates, including Ghislaine Maxwell's father, Robert Maxwell.
Part III of this series will focus on the Mega Group and its ties to the network that has been described in Parts I and II. In addition, the role of the state of Israel, the Mossad, and several global pro-Israel lobby organizations will also be discussed in relation to this network of sexual blackmail operations and Jeffrey Epstein.
It is here that the full breadth of the Epstein scandal comes into view. It is a criminal and unconscionable blackmail operation that has been run by influential figures, hidden in plain sight, for over half a century, exploiting and destroying the lives of untold numbers of children in the process. Over the years, it has grown many branches and spread well beyond the United States, as seen by the activity of Covenant House in Latin America and Epstein's own international effort to recruit more girls to be abused and exploited.
All of this has taken place with the full knowledge and blessing of top figures in the world of ''philanthropy'' and in the U.S. government and intelligence communities, with great influence over several presidential administrations, particularly since the rise of Ronald Reagan and continuing through to Donald Trump.
Feature photo | Graphic by Claudio Cabrera
Whitney Webb is a MintPress News journalist based in Chile. She has contributed to several independent media outlets including Global Research, EcoWatch, the Ron Paul Institute and 21st Century Wire, among others. She has made several radio and television appearances and is the 2019 winner of the Serena Shim Award for Uncompromised Integrity in Journalism.
Reception for Sen. Mike Lee (R, UT) - Political Party Time
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 21:14
Sunlight Foundation The Center for Responsive Politics Nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit, the Center for Responsive Politics is the nation's premier research group tracking money in U.S. politics and its effect on elections and public policy.
Join the Party! Get updates from the Center for Responsive Politics.
@PolPartyTime
Unlocking the Confusion Around Chokeholds - Training & Careers - POLICE Magazine
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 20:43
As a result of the death of Eric Garner in 2014 during an encounter with police officers, and the scrutiny that ensued, there has been significant controversy over police officers using chokeholds when attempting to detain suspects. After unlawfully selling cigarettes, Garner, an African-American man, died in Staten Island during an attempted arrest by New York City police officers on July 17, 2014. Video footage of the arrest showed the arm of Officer Daniel Pantaleo on Garner's neck prior to the latter's death, which occurred during the scuffle. On December 3 of that same year, a grand jury elected not to indict Pantaleo, and after investigation, the FBI agreed with this decision.
The decision not to indict Pantaleo raised great public outrage and prompted demonstrations across the United States, especially in the African-American community. This put a lot of pressure on legislators to "do something" to remedy what many believed was the murder of an African-American man by a police officer. State and federal legislators began to introduce and enact state and federal laws specific to the use of chokeholds by police officers. Previously, something as specific as a chokehold or neck restraint would be regulated through departmental policy and procedures, and the proper use of these techniques would be supported through rigorous training. However, agencies and officers are now afraid to put an arm around the neck of an active resister or aggressive assailant, and using such a technique is reserved for deadly force situations alone. As a result, it is important to define the term "chokehold" more precisely, in order to comprehend that it is a broad term that refers to a variety of actions. Only then can we define the use, benefits, and dangers of the chokehold.
There is much confusion surrounding what exactly a chokehold entails, in part because of its expansive meaning, and as such I can understand the lack of comprehension to a certain extent.
There are so many terms used to convey the act of grabbing someone around the neck, and multiple methods involved in the performance of this maneuver. Terms from both martial arts and police practice include: rear naked choke, wind choke, air choke, tracheal choke, true choke, push choke, choke hold, vascular neck restraint, lateral vascular neck restraint, blood choke, bilateral carotid compression, strangle hold, and sleeper hold. As police officers, we have all encountered some if not all of these terms, and too many people, especially civilians, lump them all into one category: the chokehold. To try to simplify things, I will break this down into two categories, using the terms "air choke" and "blood choke." The two are very different, and while the blood choke is relatively safe, the air choke is considerably more dangerous.
Air Choke
The air choke is performed when an officer's forearm places pressure on the front of an assailant's neck/throat area, and it is also known as the tracheal choke, true choke, wind choke, and push choke. The purpose of the choke is to restrict air to the arrestee, and as such if the procedure is applied for a certain length of time, death can ensue. Another risk is that this choke can inflict damage on the upper airway, including the trachea, larynx, and hyoid bone, which can also result in the death of the assailant.
In Tennessee v. Garner the U.S. Supreme Court held that under the Fourth Amendment, police officers need to have probable cause to believe there is an imminent threat of death or great bodily harm to the officer or someone else to justify the use of deadly force. As a result, I would recommend that this choke only be used against a deadly force assailant. A deadly force assailant can be defined as one whose actions are likely to cause death or great bodily harm to the officer or someone else.
Blood Choke
A blood choke involves the use of an officer's arm to apply pressure to one or both sides of an assailant's neck. This choke involves compressing the arteries and/or the jugular veins, which restricts blood flow and thus oxygen to the brain. Other names for the blood choke include rear naked choke, vascular neck restraint, lateral vascular neck restraint, bilateral carotid compression, strangle hold, and sleeper hold.
During a blood choke, the front of the assailant's neck is left open for breathing, and the technique is therefore distinct from the air choke. Officers can learn to apply this technique safely through proper training that teaches them to position themselves behind the assailant, leading to very little risk to the arrestee. The most likely consequences of the blood choke include an assailant's immediate compliance or loss of consciousness. Recognizing the sudden onset of the latter is important, as despite being unconscious the assailant could still be moving with eyes open, or could be rigid. Once the blood choke is terminated, consciousness usually returns within 5-20 seconds. Many experts argue that this technique is less injurious than a knockout punch. There is very little strength required to apply this technique, making it a useful tool for an officer who is smaller or weaker than the assailant.
The blood choke is recommended for active resisters and aggressive assailants, but as with all techniques and tactics, the officer must use reasonable force as specified by Graham v. Connor. In Graham, the Supreme Court ruled use of force by a police officer is based on an objective reasonableness standard, the totality of the circumstances, and the officer's perception at that moment. The Court ruled that officers cannot be judged using hindsight because officers often have to make split-second decisions.
Training and Education
If you are going to use a chokehold, you need proper training and need to know if it is permitted by policy. Proper training includes recognizing unconsciousness, so that chokes are not applied any longer than necessary, especially the air choke. Further, it is vital that officers understand that certain members of the population are at higher risk of incurring injury or death as a result of a chokehold. Such individuals include those with cardiac disorders and younger people whose central nervous systems have not completely developed.
Continuing training is necessary in order to ensure that officers are up-to-date with the latest knowledge about chokeholds, and to help them maintain their familiarity with performing them. Such education needs to include the anatomy of the neck, medical issues, necessary precautions, and proper application. Also, it is essential that officers receive training on reviving an assailant who has fallen unconscious. Such skills should be learned from expert trainers, and not just from an article, as both practice and theory are necessary in order to master the safe use of a chokehold.
Both the air choke and blood choke require initial and continued training, as it is vital that officers understand possible medical issues, necessary precautions, the anatomy of the neck, and proper application before attempting to perform such techniques.
The purpose of this article, it should be strongly stressed, was not to describe and define chokes to the point where readers feel comfortable using these techniques, but rather to clarify some of the confusion involving chokeholds.
From here, readers should seek appropriate training in order to practice such maneuvers in a safe environment, before attempting to use them in the field. Importantly, officers should follow their state laws and their departmental policies and procedures involving such techniques, and train as much as possible.
Dr. Michael Schlosser, Ph.D., is the director of the University of Illinois Police Training Institute, and the Institute's lead control and arrest tactics instructor. He retired from the Rantoul (IL) Police Department as a lieutenant.
10 CFR § 1047.7 - Use of deadly force. | CFR | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 20:40
§ 1047.7 Use of deadly force.
(a) Deadly force means that force which a reasonable person would consider likely to cause death or serious bodily harm. Its use may be justified only under conditions of extreme necessity, when all lesser means have failed or cannot reasonably be employed. A protective force officer is authorized to use deadly force only when one or more of the following circumstances exists:
(1) Self-Defense. When deadly force reasonably appears to be necessary to protect a protective force officer who reasonably believes himself or herself to be in imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm.
(2) Serious offenses against persons. When deadly force reasonably appears to be necessary to prevent the commission of a serious offense against a person(s) in circumstances presenting an imminent danger of death or serious bodily harm (e.g. sabotage of an occupied facility by explosives).
(3) Nuclear weapons or nuclear explosive devices. When deadly force reasonably appears to be necessary to prevent the theft, sabotage, or unauthorized control of a nuclear weapon or nuclear explosive device.
(4) Special nuclear material. When deadly force reasonably appears to be necessary to prevent the theft, sabotage, or unauthorized control of special nuclear material from an area of a fixed site or from a shipment where Category II or greater quantities are known or reasonably believed to be present.
(5) Apprehension. When deadly force reasonably appears to be necessary to apprehend or prevent the escape of a person reasonably believed to: (i) have committed an offense of the nature specified in paragraphs (a)(1) through (a)(4) 1 of this section; or (ii) be escaping by use of a weapon or explosive or who otherwise indicates that he or she poses a significant threat of death or serious bodily harm to the protective force officer or others unless apprehended without delay.
1 These offenses are considered by the Department of Energy to pose a significant threat of death or serious bodily harm.
(b) Additional Considerations Involving Firearms. If it becomes necessary to use a firearm, the following precautions shall be observed:
(1) A warning, e.g. an order to halt, shall be given, if feasible, before a shot is fired.
(2) Warning shots shall not be fired.
Executive Order on Safe Policing for Safe Communities | The White House
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 20:39
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:
Section 1. Purpose. As Americans, we believe that all persons are created equal and endowed with the inalienable rights to life and liberty. A fundamental purpose of government is to secure these inalienable rights. Federal, State, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement officers place their lives at risk every day to ensure that these rights are preserved.
Law enforcement officers provide the essential protection that all Americans require to raise their families and lead productive lives. The relationship between our fellow citizens and law enforcement officers is an important element in their ability to provide that protection. By working directly with their communities, law enforcement officers can help foster a safe environment where we all can prosper.
Unfortunately, there have been instances in which some officers have misused their authority, challenging the trust of the American people, with tragic consequences for individual victims, their communities, and our Nation. All Americans are entitled to live with the confidence that the law enforcement officers and agencies in their communities will live up to our Nation's founding ideals and will protect the rights of all persons. Particularly in African-American communities, we must redouble our efforts as a Nation to swiftly address instances of misconduct.
The Constitution declares in its preamble that one of its primary purposes was to establish Justice. Generations of Americans have marched, fought, bled, and died to safeguard the promise of our founding document and protect our shared inalienable rights. Federal, State, local, tribal, and territorial leaders must act in furtherance of that legacy.
Sec. 2. Certification and Credentialing. (a) State and local law enforcement agencies must constantly assess and improve their practices and policies to ensure transparent, safe, and accountable delivery of law enforcement services to their communities. Independent credentialing bodies can accelerate these assessments, enhance citizen confidence in law enforcement practices, and allow for the identification and correction of internal deficiencies before those deficiencies result in injury to the public or to law enforcement officers.
(b) The Attorney General shall, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, allocate Department of Justice discretionary grant funding only to those State and local law enforcement agencies that have sought or are in the process of seeking appropriate credentials from a reputable independent credentialing body certified by the Attorney General.
(c) The Attorney General shall certify independent credentialing bodies that meet standards to be set by the Attorney General. Reputable, independent credentialing bodies, eligible for certification by the Attorney General, should address certain topics in their reviews, such as policies and training regarding use''of-force and de-escalation techniques; performance management tools, such as early warning systems that help to identify officers who may require intervention; and best practices regarding community engagement. The Attorney General's standards for certification shall require independent credentialing bodies to, at a minimum, confirm that:
(i) the State or local law enforcement agency's use-of-force policies adhere to all applicable Federal, State, and local laws; and
(ii) the State or local law enforcement agency's use-of-force policies prohibit the use of chokeholds '-- a physical maneuver that restricts an individual's ability to breathe for the purposes of incapacitation '-- except in those situations where the use of deadly force is allowed by law.
(d) The Attorney General shall engage with existing and prospective independent credentialing bodies to encourage them to offer a cost-effective, targeted credentialing process regarding appropriate use-of-force policies that law enforcement agencies of all sizes in urban and rural jurisdictions may access.
Sec. 3. Information Sharing. (a) The Attorney General shall create a database to coordinate the sharing of information between and among Federal, State, local, tribal, and territorial law enforcement agencies concerning instances of excessive use of force related to law enforcement matters, accounting for applicable privacy and due process rights.
(b) The database described in subsection (a) of this section shall include a mechanism to track, as permissible, terminations or de-certifications of law enforcement officers, criminal convictions of law enforcement officers for on-duty conduct, and civil judgments against law enforcement officers for improper use of force. The database described in subsection (a) of this section shall account for instances where a law enforcement officer resigns or retires while under active investigation related to the use of force. The Attorney General shall take appropriate steps to ensure that the information in the database consists only of instances in which law enforcement officers were afforded fair process.
(c) The Attorney General shall regularly and periodically make available to the public aggregated and anonymized data from the database described in subsection (a) of this section, as consistent with applicable law.
(d) The Attorney General shall, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, allocate Department of Justice discretionary grant funding only to those law enforcement agencies that submit the information described in subsection (b) of this section.
Sec. 4. Mental Health, Homelessness, and Addiction. (a) Since the mid-twentieth century, America has witnessed a reduction in targeted mental health treatment. Ineffective policies have left more individuals with mental health needs on our Nation's streets, which has expanded the responsibilities of law enforcement officers. As a society, we must take steps to safely and humanely care for those who suffer from mental illness and substance abuse in a manner that addresses such individuals' needs and the needs of their communities. It is the policy of the United States to promote the use of appropriate social services as the primary response to individuals who suffer from impaired mental health, homelessness, and addiction, recognizing that, because law enforcement officers often encounter such individuals suffering from these conditions in the course of their duties, all officers should be properly trained for such encounters.
(b) The Attorney General shall, in consultation with the Secretary of Health and Human Services as appropriate, identify and develop opportunities to train law enforcement officers with respect to encounters with individuals suffering from impaired mental health, homelessness, and addiction; to increase the capacity of social workers working directly with law enforcement agencies; and to provide guidance regarding the development and implementation of co-responder programs, which involve social workers or other mental health professionals working alongside law enforcement officers so that they arrive and address situations together. The Attorney General and the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall prioritize resources, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, to support such opportunities.
(c) The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall survey community-support models addressing mental health, homelessness, and addiction. Within 90 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Health and Human Services shall summarize the results of this survey in a report to the President, through the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, which shall include specific recommendations regarding how appropriated funds can be reallocated to support widespread adoption of successful models and recommendations for additional funding, if needed.
(d) The Secretary of Health and Human Services shall, in coordination with the Attorney General and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, prioritize resources, as appropriate and consistent with applicable law, to implement community-support models as recommended in the report described in subsection (c) of this section.
Sec. 5. Legislation and Grant Programs. (a) The Attorney General, in consultation with the Assistant to the President for Domestic Policy and the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, shall develop and propose new legislation to the Congress that could be enacted to enhance the tools and resources available to improve law enforcement practices and build community engagement.
(b) The legislation described in subsection (a) of this section shall include recommendations to enhance current grant programs to improve law enforcement practices and build community engagement, including through:
(i) assisting State and local law enforcement agencies with implementing the credentialing process described in section 2 of this order, the reporting described in section 3 of this order, and the co responder and community-support models described in section 4 of this order;
(ii) training and technical assistance required toadopt and implement improved use''of-force policies and procedures, including scenario-driven de-escalation techniques;
(iii) retention of high-performing law enforcement officers and recruitment of law enforcement officers who are likely to be high-performing;
(iv) confidential access to mental health services for law enforcement officers; and
(v) programs aimed at developing or improving relationships between law enforcement and the communities they serve, including through community outreach and listening sessions, and supporting non profit organizations that focus on improving stressed relationships between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.
Sec. 6. General Provisions. (a) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:
(i) the authority granted by law to an executive department or agency, or the head thereof; or
(ii) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals.
(b) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and subject to the availability of appropriations.
(c) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
DONALD J. TRUMP
THE WHITE HOUSE,June 16, 2020.
Drug dexamethasone provides first evidence of improving COVID-19 survival | PBS NewsHour
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 17:35
Health Jun 16, 2020 12:11 PM EDTResearchers in England say they have the first evidence that a drug can improve COVID-19 survival: A cheap, widely available steroid called dexamethasone reduced deaths by up to one third in severely ill hospitalized patients.
Results were announced Tuesday and researchers said they would publish them soon. The study is a large, strict test that randomly assigned 2,104 patients to get the drug and compared them with 4,321 patients getting only usual care.
The drug was given either orally or through an IV. After 28 days, it had reduced deaths by 35% in patients who needed treatment with breathing machines and by 20% in those only needing supplemental oxygen. It did not appear to help less ill patients.
''This is an extremely welcome result,'' one study leader, Peter Horby of the University of Oxford, said in a statement. ''The survival benefit is clear and large in those patients who are sick enough to require oxygen treatment, so dexamethasone should now become standard of care in these patients. Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide.''
''Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide.''
'' Peter Horby, one of the study's leaders
Even though the drug only helps in severe cases, ''countless lives will be saved globally,'' said Nick Cammack of Wellcome, a British charity that supports science research.
''Dexamethasone must now be rolled out and accessed by thousands of critically ill patients around the world,'' said Cammack, who had no role in the study. ''It is highly affordable, easy to make, can be scaled up quickly and only needs a small dosage.''
Steroid drugs reduce inflammation, which sometimes develops in COVID-19 patients as the immune system overreacts to fight the infection. This overreaction can prove fatal, so doctors have been testing steroids and other anti-inflammatory drugs in such patients. The World Health Organization advises against using steroids earlier in the course of illness because they can slow the time until patients clear the virus.
Researchers estimated that the drug would prevent one death for every eight patients treated while on breathing machines and one for every 25 patients on extra oxygen alone.
This is the same study that earlier this month showed the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine was not working against the coronavirus. The study enrolled more than 11,000 patients in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland who were given either standard of care or that plus one of several treatments: dexamethasone; the HIV combo drug lopinavir-ritonavir, the antibiotic azithromycin; the anti-inflammatory drug tocilizumab; or plasma from people who have recovered from COVID-19 that contains antibodies to fight the virus.
Research is continuing on the other treatments. The research is funded by government health agencies in the United Kingdom and private donors including the'¯Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
AP medical writer Maria Cheng contributed reporting from London.
Left: A pharmacist displays an ampoule of Dexamethasone at the Erasme Hospital amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brussels, Belgium, June 16, 2020. Photo by REUTERS/Yves Herman
US police reform: Trump signs executive order on 'best practice' - BBC News
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 14:55
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption Trump: 'Without police, there is chaos'US President Donald Trump has signed an executive order introducing several police reforms while rejecting calls to defund or dismantle the police.
His order offers federal grants to improve police practices, including creating a database to trace abuses by officers.
The order comes amid anger over the killing of African Americans by police officers.
Several US cities have proposed more radical reforms.
Speaking at the White House on Tuesday, Mr Trump began by saying he had met a number of African American families who had lost loved ones, including the relatives of Antwon Rose, Botham Jean and Ahmaud Arbery - the black jogger killed in Georgia earlier this year.
No representatives of the families were present with Mr Trump, who spoke while flanked by law enforcement officers.
What did Trump say?In his address, the president again defended police while condemning looters and "anarchy".
"We have to find common ground," Mr Trump said. "But I strongly oppose the radical and dangerous efforts to defund, dismantle and dissolve our police departments."
He added that "without police, there's chaos".
"Americans believe we must support the brave men and women in blue who police our streets and keep us safe," Mr Trump said.
"Americans also believe we must improve accountability, increase transparency and invest more resources in police training, recruiting and community engagement."
The latest drive for reform began after the death in police custody of George Floyd last month.
Image copyright EPA Image caption There have been huge Black Lives Matter protests across the US in recent weeks Mr Floyd died after a white police officer in Minneapolis knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes. The killing spurred global protests led by the Black Lives Matter movement.
There was fresh outrage after the death of another black man, Rayshard Brooks, who was shot during an attempted arrest in Atlanta last Friday.
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption The Wendy's drive-through restaurant was set on fire over Mr Brooks' shootingWhat does the Trump order include?The Trump announcement comes as Democrats and Republicans in the US Congress are developing reforms of their own.
The president's executive order aims to provide incentives for police departments to improve by tying some federal grants to "best practices".
It will create a federal database of complaints against officers. It will also encourage the deployment of social workers alongside officers to deal with non-violent cases involving drug addiction and homelessness.
The White House has stressed the idea is to bring the police closer to communities.
The order will also prioritise federal grants to departments that obtain certifications of high standards regarding de-escalation training and use of force.
"As part of this new credentialing process, chokeholds will be banned except if an officer's life is at risk," Mr Trump said. "Everybody said it's time, we have to do it."
The president said the government was looking into new "less lethal weapons to prevent deadly interactions".
Mr Trump has described the Atlanta incident as "very disturbing", and said his initiative was "about safety".
The president has also condemned George Floyd's death, but rejected suggestions of ingrained racism in police forces.
Critics say the measures fall short of the deep reform that many are seeking.
Following the announcement, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer called on lawmakers to pass bolder legislation.
"Unfortunately, this executive order will not deliver the comprehensive meaningful change and accountability in our nation's police departments that Americans are demanding," he said.
Top House Democrat Nancy Pelosi said the order "falls sadly and seriously short of what is required to combat the epidemic of racial injustice and police brutality that is murdering hundreds of Black Americans".
"During this moment of national anguish, we must insist on bold change, not meekly surrender to the bare minimum," she continued.
The law-and-order presidentAnalysis by Tara McKelvey, BBC White House correspondent
With the signing of the executive order, Trump caved - a bit.
He has called himself a law-and-order president and taken a hard-line approach on the protestors. But on Tuesday, he spoke of changes within the police force.
He used dramatic language, saying he was concerned about justice. He also described the executive order, saying some officers would, for example, now be accompanied by social workers when they go out to help drug addicts or homeless people.
The executive order was hardly the sweeping reform that activists have called for, however.
The president spoke with even more passion about the economy, and the White House was filled with staffers who were not wearing masks.
They - like the president - were trying to convey the message that the nation and its economy are now returning to its once-healthy self.
What other reforms have been proposed?In Minneapolis, some council members have announced plans to defund and dismantle the police department.
In Atlanta, following Rayshard Brooks's death, Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms demanded a series of changes concerning the use of lethal force by police. These include a "duty to intervene" if a police officer sees misconduct by a colleague.
San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York and Chicago are among the cities that have said they will reform their policies on the use of force, and root out racist officers.
In New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo signed legislation on Tuesday requiring state police troopers to wear body cameras and creating a new office to investigate police misconduct.
At a federal level, the Democrats have introduced their own legislation into the House of Representatives.
It calls for a ban on the chokeholds method of restraining suspects, and a ban on no-knock warrants - which allow police to enter a property without notifying residents.
More on George Floyd's death
Iowa governor to sign executive order restoring felon voting rights | TheHill
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 14:44
Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R) said Tuesday she will sign an executive order automatically restoring the right to vote for people with felony convictions.
Iowa is the sole remaining state that requires felons to apply individually to the governor's office to have their voting rights restored. This currently restricts more than 60,000 residents and close to 10 percent of the state's African American population from voting.
"We're working on that right now, sitting down with various groups, listening to what they think is important, what is contained in that executive order," Reynolds told Radio Iowa Tuesday morning, "and then I've got my legal team working on it."
Officials with the NAACP and American Civil Liberties Union and activists affiliated with the Des Moines chapter of Black Lives Matter met with Reynolds Friday and Monday to discuss such an order, Reynolds said. Meeting attendees had previously said that Reynolds pledged to sign an order before November elections, but Reynolds had not confirmed it herself until Tuesday, according to the Des Moines Register.
"We have an important election coming up," Reynolds said. "We're working on the language to see what that looks like, but hopefully it would mirror what we would put in a constitutional amendment so that we could be consistent in what we're trying to do."
Reynolds has frequently pushed state lawmakers to amend the state constitution to automatically restore felons' voting rights after their sentences are complete, with Republican lawmakers defeating the proposal each time, according to the newspaper.
While GOP lawmakers have said an executive order will make a legislative fix unnecessary, Reynolds said she will continue pushing for equivalent legislation.
"I still am not going to give up on a permanent solution," she told Radio Iowa. "I just believe that's the right thing to do and then it doesn't matter who's sitting in the governor's chair."
Sweden: Calls to replace King Charles XII with statue of Greta Thunberg | Times of Sweden | Your home for #RealNews
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 14:42
There are now calls in Sweden to replace historic statues, with a former Mayor suggesting that the famous Swedish King Charles XII, also known as Carolus Rex, be replaced with a statue of the climate activist Greta Thunberg.
After statues having been vandalized across the world by far-left extremists, there are now calls for statues to be removed in Sweden as well.
Statues of Thomas Jefferson, Winston Churchill and Christopher Columbus have all been vandalized in recent protests around the world.
In a opinion piece for Aftonbladet, former Mayor of Ume¥ municipality Jan Bj¶ringe, says that we shouldn't have memorials for ''oppressors''.
He goes on to suggest that we should use technology to create interactive experiences where removed statues once stood. For example using QR codes to give visitors information about a statue that previously stood there.
The former Mayor says that this is not a revision of history, saying that statues are symbols of ideologies, not objective history.
''Remove the autocrat Karl XII and replace him with the climate activist Greta Thunberg'' he writes.
King Charles XII (or Carolus Rex) is one of Sweden's most famous Kings. He is known for being a warrior King, leading the Swedish Empire to victory in defensive wars in the Great Northern war in the 1700s.
In 1700, a triple alliance of Denmark-Norway, Saxony-Poland-Lithuania and Russia launched a threefold attack on the Swedish Empire. However King Charles XII only 18 years old, led the Swedish army through multiple victories despite the Swedish army usually being outnumbered.
By 1706, Charles at only 24 years old had forced his enemies into submission. But by 1709, Charles XII was defeated at the Battle of Poltova.
Later on in the war, Great Britain, Hanover and Brandenburg-Prussia joined the alliance against the Swedish Empire.
The Great Northern War eventually ended in 1721 with the defeat of the Swedish Empire.
The Swedish King is not the only statue that the far-left wants to remove. Now a petition has been started to remove statue of the Swedish botanist, zoologist and physician Carl Von Linn(C) because of racism.
He is known as the father of modern taxonomy, inventing the modern system of naming organisms. He wrote the famous Systema Naturae.
Mychal Denzel Smith - Wikipedia
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 13:44
Mychal Denzel Smith (born November 6, 1986) is a writer, television commentator and author of Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man's Education (2016) and Stakes Is High: Life After the American Dream (2020). He is also a fellow at Type Media Center.
.
Early life [ edit ] Smith attended Hampton University, where he was editor-in-chief of the student newspaper, The Script.[1]
Career [ edit ] The New York Times has called Smith "The Intellectual in Air Jordans."[2]
Smith's work has been published in a number of print and online publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, Complex, GQ, Guernica, Harper's, Paris Review, Buzzfeed, New York Times Book Review, Bleacher Report, The Atlantic, The Guardian, Pitchfork, LitHub, The Nation, MTV, Salon, Ebony, and more. He has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, Democracy NOW!, The Daily Show,[3] PBS Newshour,[4] NPR, Al Jazeera, and a number of other television and radio programs. He appears in and was a consulting producer for "Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story", the Paramount Network docuseries executive produced by Jay-Z.
Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching [ edit ] Smith published Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man's Education in 2016 with Nation Books. In The New York Times, Walton Muyumba reviewed the book as "ambitious, ardent and timely."[5] Melissa Harris-Perry described his book as "affirming, necessary, even delightful, despite its brutality and angst"[6] and Buzzfeed called it a "superbly thoughtful memoir."[7] The Minneapolis Star-Tribune review stated: "Smith's debut defies categorization" but ultimately "is a philosophical work" that "challenges us to confront our legacies of racism, patriarchy, homophobia and violence."[8] The Chicago Tribune wrote: "It might be the first of its kind: a book that offers a comprehensive look into the genesis of black millennial lives through the eyes of a young black man," adding, "This is revolutionary."[9] The book became a New York Times best-seller.[10]
Honors [ edit ] In 2014[11] and 2016[12] he was named to The Root 100 list of most influential African-Americans. Brooklyn Magazine included him on its 2016 list of "100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture."[13] Smith was nominated for the National Association of Black Journalists award for commentary in 2014, and his book Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching was nominated for an NAACP Image Award for "Outstanding Literary Work - Biography/Autobiography" in 2017.[14]
Personal life [ edit ] Smith lives in Brooklyn.[2]
References [ edit ] ^ Christina, Sturdivant. "Page & Perspective: A Young Black Man's Education In The Age Of Obama". The DCist. Archived from the original on 22 June 2016. ^ a b Kurutz, Steven (4 May 2016). "The Intellectual in Air Jordans". The New York Times. ^ Smith, Mychal Denzel. "How Black Men Learn to Behave in "Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching " ". The Daily Show with Trevor Noah - Comedy Central . Retrieved 27 February 2018 . ^ "An author's aspirations in the time of Obama and Trayvon". PBS NewsHour . Retrieved 27 February 2018 . ^ Muyumba, Walton (8 July 2016). "Mychal Denzel Smith Connects the Black Millennial Experience to the African-American Literary Tradition". The New York Times . Retrieved 8 July 2016 . ^ Harris-Perry, Melissa (6 February 2016). "What I'm Reading: Mychal Denzel Smith". Anna Julia Cooper Center. ^ Lee, Jarry (20 May 2016). "18 Incredible New Books You Need To Read This Summer". Buzzfeed . Retrieved 6 February 2018 . ^ Kleber-Diggs, Michael (24 June 2016). "REVIEW: 'Invisible Man,' by Mychal Denzel Smith". Star Tribune . Retrieved 25 November 2017 . ^ Jackson, Daren W. (7 July 2016). "Review: 'Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching' by Mychal Denzel Smith". Chicago Tribune . Retrieved 8 July 2016 . ^ "Books | Best Sellers | Race and Civil Rights". The New York Times. August 2016 . Retrieved 16 April 2017 . ^ "The Root 100 '' 2014". The Root. 1 January 2014 . Retrieved 25 November 2017 . ^ "The Root 100 '' 2016". The Root. 27 September 2016 . Retrieved 25 November 2017 . ^ "The 100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture - Brooklyn Magazine". Brooklyn Magazine. 1 March 2016 . Retrieved 25 November 2017 . ^ McNary, Dave (13 December 2016). " ' Birth of a Nation,' 'Moonlight' Score Six NAACP Image Award Nominations (Full List)". Variety . Retrieved 25 November 2017 . External links [ edit ] Mychal Denzel Smith on Twitter
China annexes 60 square km of India in Ladakh as simmering tensions erupt between two superpowers
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 13:40
China has occupied more than sixty square kilometres of Indian territory in eastern Ladakh, according to a senior Indian Army source, in a dramatic escalation of the simmering tension between the two Asian superpowers.
The Daily Telegraph can reveal that up to 12,000 Chinese troops pushed over the border into India last month amid border clashes as Beijing looks to slap down Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi over his ever-closer relationship with the United States.
The move echoes Xi Jinping's expansionism in the South China Sea where Beijing have moved to construct military bases in contested territory and has been unchallenged due to its superior military.
The United Nations is calling for restraint, and wants talks between the two nations to any escalation of the conflict.
Konchok Stanzin, a councillor from the Chushul constituency, where the incursion has taken place, told The Telegraph: "In the past, we have witnessed face-off between two armies and the situation would cool down within hours.
"It's the first time we are seeing standoff for over a month. We are worried for our lives and our land."
There have been reports this week of some de-escalation, but it is unclear whether this is rooted in on-the-ground movement, or is simply India trying to save face.
Beijing and New Delhi have patrolled either side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC), which splits Chinese Tibet from Indian Ladakh since a ceasefire was agreed in 1962.
Indian patrols in eastern Ladakh pause over winter and spring as heavy snowfall in the Himalayas makes terrain treacherous.
But the coronavirus pandemic meant they were slow to reinforce this year and Chinese troops took advantage, crossing over the LAC on May 5 and 6 at four locations.
A total of forty square kilometres were occupied at Pangong Tso and twenty square kilometres at Galwan River, with smaller incursions at Hot Springs and Demchok, a senior Indian Army source told the Telegraph.
Seventy Indian troops were injured in fist-fighting and stone-throwing as they tried to stop the advance.
Weapons are not used when Chinese and Indian soldiers clash, as this is understood as a full declaration of war.
India, which is admitting Chinese troops are present in "sizeable numbers", is trying to use ongoing bilateral talks to persuade China to retreat from the areas it has occupied.
But China is understood to have built defences at Pangong Tso and moved up to 12,000 troops to the new frontier, according to well-placed sources.
India has also scaled up the presence of troops, transported artillery and Boforus guns to Ladakh.
Confronting India along the border is Beijing's way of putting New Delhi in its place '' Chinese officials are unwilling to tolerate what they view as growing swagger from India, a strategic competitor and neighbour, under Mr. Modi.
Lin Minwang, a Chinese foreign policy expert at Fudan University, said: ''Modi's overall diplomacy has been inclined to ally with the US. China is actually very disappointed with India right now.''
India's infrastructural development along the border - including a road in Lipulekh which has irked emerging Chinese ally Nepal - are viewed by Beijing as ''backstabbing China while it's in a weak position [and] suppressed in a broader strategic competition with the US, so it has made China very angry.''
While Chinese officials have said little publicly, the foreign ministry is defending its actions as necessary and even restrained in response to provocation from India - language similar to how the government justifies territorial claims in the South China Sea.
Tensions during the coronavirus pandemic haven't helped.
Kanti Prasad Bajpai, an expert on China-India relations and professor at the National University of Singapore, said: ''India sent supplies to China and felt the Chinese weren't very grateful '' China publicly thanked countries for sending supplies, but never thanked India publicly.''
As the pandemic spread further afield, India '' like other nations '' had to scrap poor quality medical supplies purchased from China.
Mr Bajpai said:''The Indians felt they were cheated by the Chinese. China rejected accusations that they had gypped the Indians. Around that, there was a bit of bad blood.''
Mr Modi's move to project himself as a bold leader both at home and abroad also puts him at odds with Mr Xi's same tactic to fashion a strongman image.
Experts say a full-scale war remains unlikely largely because of the operating challenges at high altitudes, with a lengthy de-escalation process as neither side will want to give the impression of caving.
But until China and India finally agree on a border demarcation '' which they've never been able to do '' ''the possibility of a border skirmish, limited border conflict, or full-fledged conventional war cannot be taken off the table,'' said Monika Chansoria, a China specialist and senior fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs.
Chinese Delegates Visit the PRC | CEM | The University of Texas at Austin
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 13:09
Austin Mayor Adler visited China as part of a long-term multiparty effort to significantly enhance bilateral economic activity between Central Texas and China. Apparently, his visit was a tipping point in the discussions as on October 12-14, Austin was visited by a delegation from China. On the 12th, they met with our Lt. Governor. On the 13th, they met with business leaders in the area to be exposed to a variety of investment and partnering ideas. UT President Greg Fenves was their luncheon speaker and IC2 was part of the business discussion. On the 14th, they started with breakfast at the Adlers', then to Samsung to show that an Asian company can prosper here, and then came to the PRC for lunch and a tour.
They explicitly asked to visit research at UT with particular interest in microelectronics, supercomputing, clean energy and robotics. With schedule overruns in the morning, the tours had to be truncated, but the shortened tour schedule was augmented by an overview of UT by Maria Arrellaga, of the UT President's office, and an overview of the PRC by Bob Hebner.
Shannon Strank spearheaded the tours, Xianyong Feng served as a bilingual host, and Roy Pe±a served as our chief photographer for the group.
Ironically, the best lead for a possible collaboration for CEM came not from the Chinese visitors, but from a Mexican visitor who was accompanying the delegation.
Slowing the Coronavirus Is Speeding the Spread of Other Diseases - The New York Times
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 12:28
Many mass immunization efforts worldwide were halted this spring to prevent spread of the virus at crowded inoculation sites. The consequences have been alarming.
Three-year-old Allay Ngandema, who contracted measles, ate lunch with his mother, Maboa Alpha, in the measles isolation ward in Boso-Manzi hospital in the Democratic Republic of Congo in late February. Credit... Hereward Holland/Reuters As poor countries around the world struggle to beat back the coronavirus, they are unintentionally contributing to fresh explosions of illness and death from other diseases '-- ones that are readily prevented by vaccines.
This spring, after the World Health Organization and UNICEF warned that the pandemic could spread swiftly when children gathered for shots, many countries suspended their inoculation programs. Even in countries that tried to keep them going, cargo flights with vaccine supplies were halted by the pandemic and health workers diverted to fight it.
Now, diphtheria is appearing in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.
Cholera is in South Sudan, Cameroon, Mozambique, Yemen and Bangladesh.
A mutated strain of poliovirus has been reported in more than 30 countries.
And measles is flaring around the globe, including in Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Nigeria and Uzbekistan.
Of 29 countries that have currently suspended measles campaigns because of the pandemic, 18 are reporting outbreaks. An additional 13 countries are considering postponement. According to the Measles and Rubella Initiative, 178 million people are at risk of missing measles shots in 2020.
The risk now is ''an epidemic in a few months' time that will kill more children than Covid,'' said Chibuzo Okonta, the president of Doctors Without Borders in West and Central Africa.
As the pandemic lingers, the W.H.O. and other international public health groups are now urging countries to carefully resume vaccination while contending with the coronavirus.
Image A Doctors Without Borders motorcycle convoy carrying measles vaccine crossed a log bridge in Mongala Province of the Democratic Republic of Congo in February. Credit... Hereward Holland/Reuters At stake is the future of a hard-fought, 20-year collaboration that has prevented 35 million deaths in 98 countries from vaccine-preventable diseases, and reduced mortality from them in children by 44 percent, according to a 2019 study by the Vaccine Impact Modeling Consortium, a group of public health scholars.
''Immunization is one of the most powerful and fundamental disease prevention tools in the history of public health,'' said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the W.H.O., in a statement. ''Disruption to immunization programs from the Covid-19 pandemic threatens to unwind decades of progress against vaccine-preventable diseases like measles.''
But the obstacles to restarting are considerable. Vaccine supplies are still hard to come by. Health care workers are increasingly working full time on Covid-19, the infection caused by the coronavirus. And a new wave of vaccine hesitancy is keeping parents from clinics.
Many countries have yet to be hit with the full force of the pandemic itself, which will further weaken their capabilities to handle outbreaks of other diseases.
''We will have countries trying to recover from Covid and then facing measles. It would stretch their health systems further and have serious economic and humanitarian consequences,'' said Dr. Robin Nandy, chief of immunization for UNICEF, which supplies vaccines to 100 countries, reaching 45 percent of children under 5.
The breakdown of vaccine delivery also has stark implications for protecting against the coronavirus itself.
At a global summit earlier this month, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a health partnership founded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, announced it had received pledges of $8.8 billion for basic vaccines to children in poor and middle-income countries, and was beginning a drive to deliver Covid-19 vaccines, once they're available.
But as services collapse under the pandemic, ''they are the same ones that will be needed to send out a Covid vaccine,'' warned Dr. Katherine O'Brien, the W.H.O.'s director of immunization, vaccines and biologicals, during a recent webinar on immunization challenges.
Battling Measles in Congo
Image Children waited to be registered for the measles vaccine in Mbata-Siala, in western Democratic Republic of Congo, in March. Credit... Junior Kannah/Agence France-Presse '-- Getty Images Three health care workers with coolers full of vaccines and a support team of town criers and note-takers recently stepped into a motorized wooden canoe to set off down the wide Tshopo River in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Although measles was breaking out in all of the country's 26 provinces, the pandemic had shut down many inoculation programs weeks earlier.
The crew in the canoe needed to strike a balance between preventing the transmission of a new virus that is just starting to hit Africa hard and stopping an old, known killer. But when the long, narrow canoe pulled in at riverside communities, the crew's biggest challenge turned out not to be the mechanics of vaccinating children while observing the pandemic's new safety strictures. Instead, the crew found themselves working hard just to persuade villagers to allow their children to be immunized at all.
Many parents were convinced that the team was lying about the vaccine '-- that it was not for measles but, secretly, an experimental coronavirus vaccine, for which they would be unwitting guinea pigs.
In April, French-speaking Africa had been outraged by a French television interview in which two researchers said coronavirus vaccines should be tested in Africa '-- a remark that reignited memories of a long history of such abuses. And in Congo, the virologist in charge of the coronavirus response said that the country had indeed agreed to take part in clinical vaccine trials this summer. Later, he clarified that any vaccine would not be tested in Congo until it had been tested elsewhere. But pernicious rumors had already spread.
The team cajoled parents as best they could. Although vaccinators throughout Tshopo ultimately immunized 16,000 children, 2,000 others eluded them.
This had been the year that Congo, the second-largest country in Africa, was to launch a national immunization program. The urgency could not have been greater. The measles epidemic in the country, which started in 2018, has run on and on: Since this January alone, there have been more than 60,000 cases and 800 deaths. Now, Ebola has again flared, in addition to tuberculosis and cholera, which regularly strike the country.
Vaccines exist for all these diseases, although they are not always available. In late 2018, the country began an immunization initiative in nine provinces. It was a feat of coordination and initiative, and in 2019, the first full year, the percentage of fully immunized children jumped from 42 to 62 percent in Kinshasa, the capital.
This spring, as the program was being readied for its nationwide rollout, the coronavirus struck. Mass vaccination campaigns, which often mean summoning hundreds of children to sit close together in schoolyards and markets, seemed guaranteed to spread coronavirus. Even routine immunization, which typically occurs in clinics, became untenable in many areas.
The country's health authorities decided to allow vaccinations to continue in areas with measles but no coronavirus cases. But the pandemic froze international flights that would bring medical supplies, and several provinces began running out of vaccines for polio, measles and tuberculosis.
When immunization supplies finally arrived in Kinshasa, they could not be moved around the country. Domestic flights had been suspended. Ground transport was not viable because of shoddy roads. Eventually, a United Nations peacekeeping mission ferried supplies on its planes.
Still, health workers, who had no masks, gloves or sanitizing gel, worried about getting infected; many stopped working. Others were diverted to be trained for Covid.
The cumulative impact has been particularly dire for polio eradication '-- around 85,000 Congolese children have not received that vaccine.
But the disease that public health officials are most concerned about erupting is measles.
More contagious than Covid Image Health workers immunizing against measles in Manila last month. Credit... Aaron Favila/Associated Press Measles virus spreads easily by aerosol '-- tiny particles or droplets suspended in the air '-- and is far more contagious than the coronavirus, according to experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
''If people walk into a room where a person with measles had been two hours ago and no one has been immunized, 100 percent of those people will get infected,'' said Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Stanford University.
In poorer countries, the measles mortality rate for children under 5 ranges between 3 and 6 percent; conditions like malnutrition or an overcrowded refugee camp can increase the fatality rate. Children may succumb to complications such as pneumonia, encephalitis and severe diarrhea.
Updated June 12, 2020
Does asymptomatic transmission of Covid-19 happen?So far, the evidence seems to show it does. A widely cited paper published in April suggests that people are most infectious about two days before the onset of coronavirus symptoms and estimated that 44 percent of new infections were a result of transmission from people who were not yet showing symptoms. Recently, a top expert at the World Health Organization stated that transmission of the coronavirus by people who did not have symptoms was ''very rare,'' but she later walked back that statement.
What's the risk of catching coronavirus from a surface?Touching contaminated objects and then infecting ourselves with the germs is not typically how the virus spreads. But it can happen. A number of studies of flu, rhinovirus, coronavirus and other microbes have shown that respiratory illnesses, including the new coronavirus, can spread by touching contaminated surfaces, particularly in places like day care centers, offices and hospitals. But a long chain of events has to happen for the disease to spread that way. The best way to protect yourself from coronavirus '-- whether it's surface transmission or close human contact '-- is still social distancing, washing your hands, not touching your face and wearing masks.
How does blood type influence coronavirus?A study by European scientists is the first to document a strong statistical link between genetic variations and Covid-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus. Having Type A blood was linked to a 50 percent increase in the likelihood that a patient would need to get oxygen or to go on a ventilator, according to the new study.
How many people have lost their jobs due to coronavirus in the U.S.?The unemployment rate fell to 13.3 percent in May, the Labor Department said on June 5, an unexpected improvement in the nation's job market as hiring rebounded faster than economists expected. Economists had forecast the unemployment rate to increase to as much as 20 percent, after it hit 14.7 percent in April, which was the highest since the government began keeping official statistics after World War II. But the unemployment rate dipped instead, with employers adding 2.5 million jobs, after more than 20 million jobs were lost in April.
Will protests set off a second viral wave of coronavirus? Mass protests against police brutality that have brought thousands of people onto the streets in cities across America are raising the specter of new coronavirus outbreaks, prompting political leaders, physicians and public health experts to warn that the crowds could cause a surge in cases. While many political leaders affirmed the right of protesters to express themselves, they urged the demonstrators to wear face masks and maintain social distancing, both to protect themselves and to prevent further community spread of the virus. Some infectious disease experts were reassured by the fact that the protests were held outdoors, saying the open air settings could mitigate the risk of transmission.
How do we start exercising again without hurting ourselves after months of lockdown?Exercise researchers and physicians have some blunt advice for those of us aiming to return to regular exercise now: Start slowly and then rev up your workouts, also slowly. American adults tended to be about 12 percent less active after the stay-at-home mandates began in March than they were in January. But there are steps you can take to ease your way back into regular exercise safely. First, ''start at no more than 50 percent of the exercise you were doing before Covid,'' says Dr. Monica Rho, the chief of musculoskeletal medicine at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago. Thread in some preparatory squats, too, she advises. ''When you haven't been exercising, you lose muscle mass.'' Expect some muscle twinges after these preliminary, post-lockdown sessions, especially a day or two later. But sudden or increasing pain during exercise is a clarion call to stop and return home.
My state is reopening. Is it safe to go out?States are reopening bit by bit. This means that more public spaces are available for use and more and more businesses are being allowed to open again. The federal government is largely leaving the decision up to states, and some state leaders are leaving the decision up to local authorities. Even if you aren't being told to stay at home, it's still a good idea to limit trips outside and your interaction with other people.
What are the symptoms of coronavirus?Common symptoms include fever, a dry cough, fatigue and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Some of these symptoms overlap with those of the flu, making detection difficult, but runny noses and stuffy sinuses are less common. The C.D.C. has also added chills, muscle pain, sore throat, headache and a new loss of the sense of taste or smell as symptoms to look out for. Most people fall ill five to seven days after exposure, but symptoms may appear in as few as two days or as many as 14 days.
How can I protect myself while flying?If air travel is unavoidable, there are some steps you can take to protect yourself. Most important: Wash your hands often, and stop touching your face. If possible, choose a window seat. A study from Emory University found that during flu season, the safest place to sit on a plane is by a window, as people sitting in window seats had less contact with potentially sick people. Disinfect hard surfaces. When you get to your seat and your hands are clean, use disinfecting wipes to clean the hard surfaces at your seat like the head and arm rest, the seatbelt buckle, the remote, screen, seat back pocket and the tray table. If the seat is hard and nonporous or leather or pleather, you can wipe that down, too. (Using wipes on upholstered seats could lead to a wet seat and spreading of germs rather than killing them.)
How do I take my temperature?Taking one's temperature to look for signs of fever is not as easy as it sounds, as ''normal'' temperature numbers can vary, but generally, keep an eye out for a temperature of 100.5 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. If you don't have a thermometer (they can be pricey these days), there are other ways to figure out if you have a fever, or are at risk of Covid-19 complications.
Should I wear a mask?The C.D.C. has recommended that all Americans wear cloth masks if they go out in public. This is a shift in federal guidance reflecting new concerns that the coronavirus is being spread by infected people who have no symptoms. Until now, the C.D.C., like the W.H.O., has advised that ordinary people don't need to wear masks unless they are sick and coughing. Part of the reason was to preserve medical-grade masks for health care workers who desperately need them at a time when they are in continuously short supply. Masks don't replace hand washing and social distancing.
What should I do if I feel sick?If you've been exposed to the coronavirus or think you have, and have a fever or symptoms like a cough or difficulty breathing, call a doctor. They should give you advice on whether you should be tested, how to get tested, and how to seek medical treatment without potentially infecting or exposing others.
How do I get tested?If you're sick and you think you've been exposed to the new coronavirus, the C.D.C. recommends that you call your healthcare provider and explain your symptoms and fears. They will decide if you need to be tested. Keep in mind that there's a chance '-- because of a lack of testing kits or because you're asymptomatic, for instance '-- you won't be able to get tested.
In 2018, the most recent year for which data worldwide has been compiled, there were nearly 10 million estimated cases of measles and 142,300 related deaths. And global immunization programs were more robust then.
Before the coronavirus pandemic in Ethiopia, 91 percent of children in the capital, Addis Ababa, received their first measles vaccination during routine visits, while 29 percent in rural regions got them. (To prevent an outbreak of a highly infectious disease like measles, the optimum coverage is 95 percent or higher, with two doses of vaccine.) When the pandemic struck, the country suspended its April measles campaign. But the government continues to report many new cases.
''Outbreak pathogens don't recognize borders,'' said Dr. O'Brien of the W.H.O. ''Especially measles: Measles anywhere is measles everywhere.''
Wealthier countries' immunization rates have also been plunging during the pandemic. Some American states report drops as steep as 70 percent below the same period a year earlier, for measles and other diseases.
Once people start traveling again, the risk of infection will surge. ''It keeps me up at night,'' said Dr. Stephen L. Cochi, a senior adviser at the global immunization division at the C.D.C. ''These vaccine-preventable diseases are just one plane ride away.''
Starting again Image Hawa Hamadou, a health worker at the Gamkal(C) health center in Niamey, Niger, has seen a drop in visits by mothers, who are afraid to bring their children for immunizations. Credit... Juan Haro/UNICEF After the W.H.O. and its vaccine partners released the results of a survey last month showing that 80 million babies under a year old were at risk of missing routine immunizations, some countries, including Ethiopia, the Central African Republic and Nepal, began trying to restart their programs.
Uganda is now supplying health workers with motorbikes. In Brazil, some pharmacies are offering drive-by immunization services. In the Indian state of Bihar, a 50-year-old health care worker learned to ride a bicycle in three days so she could take vaccines to far-flung families. UNICEF chartered a flight to deliver vaccines to seven African countries.
Dr. Cochi of the C.D.C., which provides technical and program support to more than 40 countries, said that whether such campaigns can be conducted during the pandemic is an open question. ''It will be fraught with limitations. We're talking low-income countries where social distancing is not a reality, not possible,'' he said, citing Brazilian favelas and migrant caravans.
He hopes that polio campaigns will resume swiftly, fearing that the pandemic could set back a global, decades-long effort to eradicate the disease.
Dr. Cochi is particularly worried about Pakistan and Afghanistan, where 61 cases of wild poliovirus Type 1 have been reported this year, and about Chad, Ghana, Ethiopia and Pakistan, where cases of Type 2 poliovirus, mutated from the oral vaccine, have appeared.
Thabani Maphosa, a managing director at Gavi, which partners with 73 countries to purchase vaccines, said that at least a half dozen of those countries say they cannot afford their usual share of vaccine costs because of the economic toll of the pandemic.
If the pandemic cleared within three months, Mr. Maphosa said, he believed the international community could catch up with immunizations over the next year and a half.
''But our scenarios are not telling us that will happen,'' he added.
Jan Hoffman reported from New York, and Ruth Maclean from Dakar, Senegal.
Hong Kong Airport Installs Full-body Disinfecting Booths
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 12:14
Welcome to Thomas Insights '-- every day, we publish the latest news and analysis to keep our readers up to date on what's happening in industry. Sign up here to get the day's top stories delivered straight to your inbox.
In a bid to control the spread of coronavirus around the world, several airports are leveraging innovative germ-busting technology.
Last month, Airport Authority Hong Kong (AA) began trialing the world's first CleanTech machine at Hong Kong International Airport, which will essentially disinfect people's entire bodies.
Users will be subject to a temperature check to rule out an elevated fever before being permitted to step inside the CLeanTech booth for 40 seconds of disinfection and sanitizing procedures.
The process involves a two-pronged approach; first, the CLeanTech machine uses a UV-based disinfection method to kill bacteria and viruses on the human body using technologies called photocatalyst and ''nanoneedles.'' To avoid cross-contamination between the outside and inside the environment, the booths are kept under negative pressure. Then a sanitizing spray is applied, consisting of BioEm Air Sanitizing and Purifying liquid, designed to disinfect clothing and passengers' carry-on luggage.
At present, the airport staff responsible for assessing passengers for public health and quarantine purposes are trialing the booths.
Virus-fighting Efforts at Hong Kong AirportIn addition to the CLeanTech booths, the airport is using intelligent sterilization robots, equipped with ultraviolet light and air sterilizers to clean high-traffic areas of the terminal and restrooms. The AA reports that these robots can sterilize 99.99% of airborne and surface-based bacteria within 10 minutes.
Antimicrobial coating (a spray that kills germs, bacteria, and viruses) is being applied to surfaces including handles, seats on shuttle buses and trains, check-in desks, baggage claims, and elevator buttons. If these methods prove effective, it's expected that authorities at Hong Kong International Airport will adopt these procedures for the long-term.
''The safety and wellbeing of airport staff and passengers are always our first priority,'' said Deputy Director, Service Delivery Steven Yiu in a press release. ''Although air traffic has been impacted by the pandemic, the AA spares no effort in ensuring that the airport is a safe environment for all users. We will continue to look into new measures to enhance our cleaning and disinfection work.''
Image Credit: Hong Kong International Airport
More from Technology
John Santucci on Twitter: "''—¸''—¸''—¸So, Amazon just posted a description of Mary Trump's book - the president's niece. Publisher confirms July 28 publishing. Read '--> https://t.co/sqFx6kL7gw" / Twitter
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 11:26
ðŸ'BTru2BlueðŸ' @ BTru2Blue
13h Replying to
@Santucci @yashar Why didn't she speak up in 2016?
View conversation · Vilhjlmr, Eater of Spleens @ W_A_Young
13h Replying to
@BTru2Blue @Santucci @yashar She was the NYT source on Tumps tax crimes but then abandoned them, taking one of the NYT writers with her, for the book deal. So, yeah, her civic duty was outbid by S&S.
View conversation · Maxfield Etheridge @ MaxfieldEtheri1
13h Replying to
@Santucci @yashar If Mary manages to expose the broken man behind the myth, this book has the potential to inflict devastating narcissistic injury to Donald. He's spent an entire lifetime fabricating, polishing, and propping up a persona that is as fake as his tan, his weight, and his golf scores.
View conversation · Cool_V ðŸ(C)¸ðŸ...· 🌊 @ cool_v
12h Replying to
@MaxfieldEtheri1 @Santucci @yashar Hope Mary has some good security in place.
View conversation · Dan @ danp2078r
13h Replying to
@Santucci @realDonaldTrump and
2 others Problem is
@realDonaldTrump base doesn't know how to read n
@FoxNews will ignore it So basically won't have any affect like everything else. We Americans just have to vote n make sure everyone votes as
@GOP will try to suppress the votes nationwide. GOP only interested in power
View conversation · Andipo @ andrea_pogan
13h Replying to
@danp2078r @Santucci and
3 others Forget about any remaining Trump supporters. They can't be reached by any means. Logic and facts have not worked. Nothing works. It's a cult and will be studied by historical and Sociocultural anthropologists in 50 years.
View conversation · Wendy Crandall @ wendycrandall
14h Replying to
@Santucci Guess he'll have to classify this, too.
View conversation · '­¸ Merrill - sheltering at home '­¸ @ MerrillLynched
13h Replying to
@wendycrandall @Santucci Not just confidential, ''highly confidential.''
View conversation · Attorney@Law @ TheGlare_TM
13h Replying to
@Santucci Does this book come in a form that I can inject directly into my jugular vein?
View conversation · DogsHateBoots @ DogsHateBoots
13h Replying to
@TheGlare_TM @Santucci That Made me laugh so hard
View conversation ·
People are getting sick from coronavirus spreading through the air '' and that's a big challenge for reopening
Tue, 16 Jun 2020 11:15
I am a scientist that studies infectious diseases and I specialize in severe respiratory infections, but I also serve as a member of my church's safety team.
Over the past few weeks as states began to loosen restrictions, we have been discussing if and how to safely start services again. But the coronavirus is far from gone. As we try and figure out how to hold services while protecting our members, one question is of particular concern: How common is airborne spread of the virus?
How to spread a virusRespiratory infections are generally spread in three possible ways: from direct contact, from droplets and from airborne particles.
Contact transmission occurs when a person touches an object that has live virus on it '' called a fomite '' and gets sick.
Droplets are small particles of mucus or saliva that come from a person's mouth or nose when they cough or talk. They range in size from 5 microns to hundreds of microns in diameter - a red blood cell to a grain of sand. Most droplets, particularly large ones, fall to the ground within seconds and don't usually travel more than 1 or 2 meters. If a person coughed on you and you got sick, that would be droplet transmission.
Airborne transmission happens because of airborne particles known as droplet nuclei. Droplet nuclei are any bit of mucus or saliva smaller than 5 microns across. People produce droplet nuclei when they talk, but they can also be formed when small droplets evaporate and shrink in size. Many of these droplets shrink so much that they begin to float before they hit the ground, thus becoming aerosols.
People produce thousands of these droplet nuclei per second while talking and the aerosolized particles can contain live viruses and float in the air for hours. Th