8/04/2020

Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, August 4, 2020

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Join Us On-line for a Unique 75th Anniversary 



Hiroshima Day Rally 


Thursday, August 6 from 8 AM to 9:30 AM (Pacific Time), with a moment of silence at 8:15 AM, 

when the first atomic bomb was used in war by the United States against the people of Hiroshima.


Date & Time: Thursday, August 6 from 8 AM to 9:30 AM (Pacific Time), with a moment of silence at 8:15 AM, when the first atomic bomb was used in war by the United States against the people of Hiroshima.

Link: This event is free, and all people of good will are invited to participate. Circle your calendar today. Check www.trivalleycares.org before the event to obtain the link. You will be able to simply click the link on our website and participate.

Background: Tri-Valley CAREs and colleagues from Northern California peace and justice groups annually host a rally, march and nonviolent direct action at 8am at the gates of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. This year, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we are moving the event on-line.

Our program: Expect great speakers and musicians for this 75th anniversary rally and commemoration. (See the list below.) Expect also some action footage of Livermore Lab, one of two locations where all U.S. nuclear weapons are designed.

Purpose: Join Tri-Valley CAREs on-line this year to abolish nuclear weapons on the 75th anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Our event, and your participation in it, will stand with the A-bomb survivors, known as Hibakusha as they continue to appeal for a world free of nuclear weapons based on their fervent hope that “no one shall ever again suffer as we have.”

Our event will look at the decision to use the bomb on this special anniversary, and we will address current nuclear weapons policy, including the new warheads being developed today. Together, in word and song we will also celebrate the joys of taking collective action for peace, justice and our Earth.

# Still Here: In this 75th anniversary year, Tri-Valley CAREs has joined with non-profits across the country to highlight and deepen activism for change. We chose the hash tag #StillHere to note nuclear weapons are still here, but so are we…

“We are a coalition of anti-nuclear activists representing a variety of organizations nationwide. We share the common goals of ridding the world of the risk of nuclear weapons, and bringing justice to the communities affected by nuclear weapons testing, production and use. We came together specifically to honor nuclear survivors as we acknowledge that in the 75th year of the nuclear age, survivors and the weapons are still here.”

This national collaboration has enabled two full days of on-line commemorative events, beginning with our rally on August 6 at 8 AM Pacific Time - and continuing with fresh programming throughout the day on August 6 and August 9, when the U.S used an atomic bomb on the people of Nagasaki.

Collaborative website: You will find lots of information and resources your can use at:
 www.HiroshimaNagasaki75.org. Check it out.

We hope to see you at our lively, multi-faceted rally – and, perhaps, at others too as your schedule permits. The same link will work for all of the rallies and events.



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Coalition meeting
Stop Police Violence —
Slash SFPD's Stash!
Thursday, August 6th, 6 pm


Join with community members and activists in the Slash SFPD's Stash coalition, which is calling on the San Francisco city government to make major cuts to the police budget.

By decreasing the cops’ allotment by half or more, the racist practices of the police can be reined in. Funds should be re-directed to provide jobs, training programs, housing, education and healthcare, including mental health and nutrition programs, to the city’s most underserved communities.

All are welcome. Come share your ideas for making police defunding a reality.

Online meeting.


To register: bit.ly/Slash-SFPD-Budget

Find us on social media!

Facebook: fb.com/SlashSFPDStash · Instagram & Twitter: @SlashSFPDstash
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Please contribute to sustain our work. You can donate to the Freedom Socialist Party now via PayPal

To see the booklist at Red Letter Press or to find out more about the Freedom Socialist Party, go to www.socialism.com, or reply to this message. We would love to hear from you!

Add FSP Bay Area to your address book!

Mailing address:

New Valencia Hall
747 Polk St.
San Francisco, CA 94109

Telephone: (415) 864-1278



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SEPTEMBER 3 and 4 - NEW SENTENCING
DATES FOR KINGS BAY PLOWSHARES 7

The remaining six Kings Bay Plowshares 7 defendants were granted a continuance for sentencing by Judge Lisa Godbey Wood of the Southern District Federal court of Georgia in Brunswick from the end of July until September 3rd and 4th. Due to spikes in COVID-19 cases in GA and ensuing travel restrictions the anti-nuclear activists had asked the court to further postpone sentencing toaccommodate their right to be sentenced in person in open court, not by video, witnessed safely by family, supporters and the press.
The new sentencing dates and times are September 3rd: Carmen Trotta at 9 am, Fr. Steve Kelly at 1 pm, Clare Grady at 4 pm. On September 4 will be Mark Colville at 9 am, Patrick O'Neill at 1 pm, Martha Hennessy (granddaughter of Dorothy Day who co-founded the Catholic Worker movement) at 4 pm. It is possible that there will be further delays depending on the course of the virus over the next month. We will try to keep you updated as we find out more as that time approaches.
The defendants had asked for home confinement during this time of COVID-19, as entering prison, especially for those over 60 years of age with health issues, could be a death sentence. Their request was opposed by the prosecution and the probation department which argued the charges involved a threat to human life (their own) by entering a restricted zone on the base where lethal force is authorized. This would raise the level of the offense and make them ineligible for home confinement. Judge Wood upheld this interpretation in the first sentencing of Elizabeth McAlister on June 8. At 80 years-old, the eldest of the KBP7 defendants and widow of Phil Berrigan, she was sentenced by video conferencing while at her home in Connecticut. Liz had served over 17 months before trial. The judge agreed with the US attorney's request for a sentence of time served plus 3 years supervised probation and restitution at $25 monthly (of $33,000 owed by all 7 jointly).

We are still urging people to write to Judge Wood not so much to ask for leniency but for justice and not a death sentence. Details are on the website: https://kingsbayplowshares7.org/2020/05/letters-to-judge-wood/

For the momentous 75th Anniversary of Hiroshima and Nagasaki there will be numerous events happening physically and virtually around the world. We urge you to participate as you can to say no to nuclear weapons. The world is lurching towards a new nuclear arms race and treaties to limit them are being discarded. Trillions will be spent on new submarines and new weapons while the coronavirus is ravaging people throughout the world with limited resources available to stop it. Nevertheless there are some signs of hope. The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons has been ratified by 40 of the 50 nations needed for it to go into effect. Pope Francis has condemned even the possession of nuclear weapons for deterrence as no longer justifiable although the U. S. Church has quite a way to go to catch up.

U.S. vigils and actions are listed on The Nuclear Resister website. http://www.nukeresister.org/future-actions/ Groups normally planning civil resistance on Aug. 6-9 are adjusting plans, with some canceled. Some civil resistance actions, with risk of arrest, are still happening.

The defendants will be participating in local events.
Clare Grady will walk with Buddhist Nun, Jun San, in Ithaca, NY on August 1 at 12 noon. Beginning with a circle next to the pavilion just north of the Children’s Garden it will follow the Water Trail loop going north and back for first 3 miles and possibly on up West Hill, totaling approximately 6 miles.

Patrick O'Neill will participate in a remembrance and repentance service on Zoom at 7:30-8:30 am ET on August 6. Details will be on the KBP7 website.

There will be a vigil at the Kings Bay base on the morning of August 6, 10am-1pm. And a Zoom event that evening, #Blacklivesmatter and the Bomb, 7-8:40pm, with Professor Vincent Intondi. Details for both at:https://www.nonukesyall.org
International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons Events https://www.icanw.org/events

Physicians for Social Responsibility Calendar https://www.psr.org/calendar/tag_ids~111/

                                                          







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Join us to demand that Governor Gretchen Whitmer release Grace from Children’s Village youth prison into her mother’s custody.



https://action.momsrising.org/sign/free-grace-end-criminalization-black-girls/?t=17&akid=14134%2E2915413%2EvEy8sg


Join us to demand that Governor Gretchen Whitmer release Grace from Children’s Village youth prison into her mother’s custody.

During a court hearing on May 14, Judge Mary Ellen Brennan ordered that a 15-year-old high school student, Grace, be sent to Children's Village youth prison in Oakland County, Michigan for not submitting schoolwork. [1]

Imagine being sent to jail, being separated from your family, for missing homework assignments during a pandemic?!

This is an awful situation that we cannot let stand. The start of Grace’s probation coincided with the closing of schools through the remainder of the school year and the start of remote learning. Prior to the order for schools to close, Grace was doing well and had near perfect attendance. Grace shared with her caseworker that she felt unmotivated and overwhelmed when online learning began April 15, about a month after schools closed. Grace’s mom was also concerned that her daughter would struggle without the in-person support from teachers outlined in her Individualized Education Plan. She was right in her concerns, and as remote learning began, Grace did not continue to receive those critical supports.[2]

The reality is schools across the country weren’t prepared for abrupt closures and a pivot to remote learning. And across the country schools, teachers, parents and students have struggled to create continuous learning for students during this pandemic. Grace’s school was no different.

Still Judge Mary Ellen Brennan found Grace “guilty of failure to submit to any schoolwork and getting up for school” and outrageously called Grace a “threat to (the) community” for not doing her homework.
“It just doesn’t make any sense, how is this a better situation for her?” - Charisse, Grace’s mother.
This didn't have to happen. In fact, Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had issued an executive order in March that temporarily suspended the confinement of juveniles who violate probation unless directed by a court order and encouraged eliminating any form of detention or residential placement unless a young person posed a “substantial and immediate safety risk to others.”
Grace is NOT a “substantial and immediate safety risk to others,” and not doing your homework is NOT a crime. Judge Brennan’s ruling to incarcerate a child, sending her away from her family during a pandemic is cruel, harsh, and highlights an alarming trend of Black girls being criminalized at alarming rates in comparison to their white peers.[3]
Join us in demanding that Governor Gretchen Whitmer:
Release “Grace” from Children’s Village youth detention facility into her mother’s custody;
Request the immediate resignation of of Judge Mary Ellen Brennan from the Oakland County Family Court;
Drop all charges against “Grace” immediately;
End the racialized practice of arresting and prosecuting children, and ensure Michigan kids get the support they need including alternatives to incarceration and detention and trauma informed support and services.
Prison is no place for a kid. The United States still incarcerates more young people than any other country. [4] Our kids deserve a future free of criminalization, a future that supports their development and capacity to contribute meaningfully to society. Putting kids in prisons does the opposite of this. In fact they do little to improve community safety when compared to community based efforts that provide alternatives to incarceration by supporting young people, providing the services they need, and providing access to opportunities to address harm in meaningful ways.
Together we can END this toxic culture of criminalizing children, and of putting kids in prison, and we can start with Grace. Sign on to demand Governor Gretchen Whitmer #FreeGrace NOW! Click the link below to sign now:
https://action.momsrising.org/sign/free-grace-end-criminalization-black-girls/
- Beatriz, Monifa, Diarra and the whole MomsRising / MamásConPoder team

CITATIONS:
[1] Teen Who Was Incarcerated After Not Doing Schoolwork Won't Be Released, Judge Says
[2] A Teenager Didn’t Do Her Online Schoolwork. So a Judge Sent Her to Juvenile Detention.
[3] What can be done to stop the criminalization of black girls? Rebuild the system
[4] ACLU YOUTH INCARCERATION

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Urgent Action: Garifuna leader and 3 community members kidnapped and disappeared in Honduras

Share This 
On the morning of Saturday, July 18, Garifuna leader Snider Centeno and other three members of the Triunfo de la Cruz community where kidnapped and disappeared by a group of men wearing bullet proof vests with the initials of the Honduran National Police (DPI in Spanish). The DPI is the Investigative Police Directorate and when it was formed years ago, was trained by the United States. As of this Monday Morning, there is still no word on the whereabouts of Mr. Centeno, Milton Joel Marínez, Suami Aparicio Mejía and El Pri (nickname).
Snider was the president of the elected community council in Triunfo de la Cruz and his community received a favorable sentence from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in 2015. However, the Honduran state has still not respected it. The kidnapping and disappearance of Snider and the 3 other men is another attack against the Garifuna community and their struggle to protect their ancestral lands and the rights of afro-indigenous and indigenous people to live.
National and international pressure forced the Honduran Ministry of Human Rights to put out a statement urging authorities to investigate and act. Your support can make the difference!
For more information and updated on what is happening in Honduras, please follow the Honduras Solidarity Network

Contact Us

Alliance for Global Justice
225 E 26th St Ste 1

Tucson, Arizona 85713-2925
202-540-8336
afgj@afgj.org
Follow Us 
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 Reality Winner Tests Positive for COVID, Still Imprisoned



With great anguish, I’m writing to share the news that NSA whistleblower Reality Winner, still in federal prison, has tested positive for COVID-19. Winner, despite her vulnerable health conditions, was denied home release in April – the judge’s reasoning being that the Federal Medical Center, Carswell is “presumably better equipped than most to deal with the onset of COVID-19 in its inmates”. 
Since that ruling, COVID infections at Carswell have exploded, ranking it now as second highest in the nation for the number of cases, and substantially increasing the likelihood that its medical capacity will be overwhelmed.
This news comes one week after Trump’s commutation of convicted felon Roger Stone, and two months after the home release of Trump’s convicted campaign manager, Paul Manafort:

Roger Stone’s Freedom Is All the More Outrageous While Reality Winner Languishes in Prison

Donald Trump’s commutation of Roger Stone’s prison sentence is galling on numerous levels. It’s a brazen act of corruption and an egregious obstruction of an ongoing investigation of the President and his enablers. There are few figures less worthy of clemency than a Nixonian dirty trickster like Stone. But the final twist of the knife is that Reality Winner, the honest, earnest, anti-Stone of the Russian meddling saga, remains in federal prison.

Continue Reading
Please share this with your networks, and stand with us in support of Reality Winner and her family during this critical time.
Thank you,
 
Jesselyn Radack
Director
Whistleblower & Source Protection Program (WHISPeR)
ExposeFacts
Twitter: @JesselynRadack

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WHISPeR Project at ExposeFacts 1627 Eye Street, NW Suite 600 Washington, DC 20006 

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MOTHERS ON THE MARCH and the BBNO and OTHERS 

Demand the San Francisco Police Officers Association
be declared a 
Non Grata Organization and Shut Down!

Every Friday
1:00pm – 2:00pm

San Francisco Police Officers Association
800 Bryant Street
6th  Street & Bryant
San Francisco

Wear masks; practice social distancing

POA, SHUT IT DOWN!
VIVA LAS MADRES!
VIVA BBNO!
TIERRA Y LIBERTAD!
HASTA LA VICTORIA SIEMPRE!

Photo by Jessica De Guadalupe Aguallo-Hurtado
Of Brown Berets National Organization



ARTICLES:

City leaders pledge to reject SFPOA support – July 27, 2020

Protest calls for SF police union to stand down in blocking any department reforms  - July 27, 2020

https://www.sfchronicle.com/crime/article/Protest-calls-for-SF-police-union-to-stand-down-15438008.php

"While you're worried about 'bad apples', We're wary of the roots. because NO healthy tree, naturally bears Strange 

Fruit."



—Unknown source




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Subject: Shut Down Fort Hood! Justice for Vanessa Guillén. Sign the petition!



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Timeless words of wisdom from Friedrich Engels:



This legacy belongs to all of us:

“Let us not, however, flatter ourselves overmuch on account of our human victories over nature. For each such victory nature takes its revenge on us. Each victory, it is true, the first place brings about the results we expected, but in the second and third places it has quite different, unforeseen effects which only too often cancel the first. The people who, in Mesopotamia, Greece, Asia Minor and elsewhere, destroyed the forest to obtain cultivable land, never dreamed that by removing along with the forests the collecting centres and reservoirs of moisture they were laying the basis for the present forlorn state of those countries. . . Thus at every step we are reminded that we by no means rule over nature like a conqueror over a foreign people, like someone standing outside nature–but that we, with flesh, blood and brain, belong to nature, and exist in its midst, and that all our mastery of it consists in the fact that we have the advantage over all other creatures of being able to learn its laws and apply them correctly.” The Part played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man 1876. —Friedrich Engels




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Marvin Gaye - What's Going On (Official Video 2019)


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5TmORitlKk



Because once is not enough. Because sometimes music is my only solace. Because sometimes it hurts too much too care but to be human is to hurt. Because I feel lucky to have grown up with great music. Because that music was harmonic and melodious. Because that music had soul. Because I grew up with Blues and Motown and Jazz. Because I grew up with Black friends and we played ball everyday and we had fun and we were winners. Because they taught me about music and soul and acceptance. Because they didn't hate me for being white. Because I was brought up with Irish Catholics who taught me that fighting and arguing for justice kept depression in its place. Because they taught me that if you never quit fighting you haven't lost so never quit fighting for justice. Because I was in a union and learned that solidarity is the original religion. Because without solidarity you are alone. And alone is hell and because I have never been in hell. Because I am part of the human race. Because the human race is the only race on earth. Because I am grateful for Marvin Gaye, and John Coltrane, and Sam Cooke and because you know what I am talking about. Because we are going to win and we are going to have fun. Because that's the truth. Because no lie can defeat truth. Because you are there to hear me. Because I know I am not alone.  —Gregg Shotwell

https://www.greggshotwell.com



(Gregg Shotwell is a retired autoworker, writer and poet.)


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"When I liberate myself, I liberate others. If you don't speak out, ain't nobody going to speak out for you."

Fannie Lou Hamer 

Dear Community, 

Do you know what wakes me up every day? Believing that we will win. We always knew that we were on the right side of history—but this summer between unveiling the racist outcomes of COVID-19, the global uprisings and the nationwide 650+ Juneneenth actions, we have momentum like we’ve never had before, and the majority of the country is with us. We know that the next step in our pathway to liberation is to make a strong political move at the ballot box—and we need you to lead the effort to entice, excite, educate, and ignite our people, from the babies to the grannies. Black August belongs to the Electoral Justice Project; it is our turn to set the national Black Political Agenda, and we want you to join us!

In a crisis, we have found resilience and the opportunity to make history. This is the genius of our Blackness—even amid a devastating pandemic that exposed racism and anti-Blackness as the real pre-existing conditions harming our communities, we are rising up and taking action to build power and demand that our rights and dignity be upheld and respected.

This summer, we will continue the legacy of Black Political Power-building and the righteous anger and momentum in the streets to shape a movement that will extend to the November elections and beyond. 

We invite you to join the Movement for Black Lives on Friday, August 28, at for the Black National Convention—a primetime event in celebration of Black Culture, Black Political Power-building, and a public policy agenda that will set forth an affirmative vision for Black Lives.


We are drawing from a legacy of struggle for Black Liberation. In 1964, Black communities across Mississippi and the South united in the face of systemic racism and voter suppression. That summer, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the landmark Civil Rights Act, which after decades of violence and segregation, was won through sheer will. Then, on March 10, 1972, 4,000 Black people from every political affiliation attended the National Black Political Convention in Gary, Indiana, to yield power for Black people. While the historic event generated a new Black Political Agenda and quadrupled the number of Black elected officials by the end of the 1970s, it was not without its divisions and tensions—ranging from questions about the efficacy of Reverend Jesse Jackson’s assertion of a “Liberation Party” to the isolation of then–Presidential Candidate Shirley Chishom.

Despite the varied outcomes, the National Black Political Convention was an influential moment in Black History. Forty-eight years later, we are meeting yet another opportunity for radical change. This Black August, join us as we unveil one of the boldest political platforms our country has ever seen, partnering to ignite millions across the country. www.blacknovember.org

You feel that? We’re going to win. 

With Black Love, 

Jessica Byrd and the Black National Convention Planning Teamp


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CODEPINK.ORG


Tell Blackrock: stop investing in Tasers that police have used to kill thousands of Americans!

BlackRock loves to make a killing on killing: Over a thousand Americans have been killed by Tasers — 32 percent of them are Black Americans. Tasers are made by the colossal law enforcement supplier Axon Enterprise, based in Arizona.
One of their top shareholders happens to be Blackrock. Recently Blackrock has been trying to be sympathetic to the atrocities of murders waged on Black Americans and communities of color. If we ramp up massive pressure and blow the whistle on their deadly stocks, we can highlight that divesting from Tasers and the war in our streets will be a step in the right direction in building a fair and just society.
This issue is important to having peace in our streets. But this will only work if people participate. Send an email to Blackrock to divest from the Taser manufacturer Axon Enterprise which is responsible for the killing of thousands of Americans, and CODEPINK will pull out all the stops to make sure Blackrock execs hear our call:

Tell Blackrock: stop investing in Tasers!

Blackrock could do this. They recently announced that they were divesting from fossil fuels — signaling a shift in their policies. If CEO Larry Fink cares about “diversity, fairness, and justice” and building a “stronger, more equal, and safer society” — he should divest from Tasers.
Plus, compared to Blackrock’s other holdings, Taser stocks aren’t even that significant!

But if Blackrock does this, it could be the first domino we need to get other investment companies on board too. Send an email to BlackRock and share this widely! 

Tell Blackrock: stop investing in Tasers!

If there’s one thing our community stands for, it’s peace and social justice. And one way we can help achieve that is by cutting off the flow of cash into the manufacturing of Tasers. So, let’s come together to make that happen, and help prevent more innocent Americans from being killed with these senseless tools.

With hope,
Nancy, Carley, Jodie, Paki, Cody, Kelsey, and Yousef

Donate Now!

This email was sent to giobon@comcast.net. To unsubscribe,  click here
To update your email subscription, contact info@codepink.org.
© 2020 CODEPINK.ORG | Created with NationBuilder
    
 

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Rayshard Brooks, 27 years old, was shot to death while running away from police in Atlanta Friday, June 12, 2020.

SAY HIS NAME!


https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/14/us/videos-rayshard-brooks-shooting-atlanta-police.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage


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Kimberly Jones

If you haven't seen this, you're missing something spectacular:

On Saturday May 30th filmmaker and photographer David Jones of David Jones Media felt compelled to go out and serve the community in some way. He decided to use his art to try and explain the events that were currently impacting our lives. On day two, Sunday the 31st, he activated his dear friend author Kimberly Jones to tag along and conduct interviews. During a moment of downtime he captured these powerful words from her and felt the world couldn’t wait for the full length documentary, they needed to hear them now.


Kimberly Jones on YouTube 


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Awesome! I always wonder about what protests accomplish. Here’s a list:

So what has protesting accomplished?

👉🏾Within 10 days of sustained protests:
Minneapolis bans use of choke holds.

👉🏾Charges are upgraded against Officer Chauvin, and his accomplices are arrested and charged.

👉🏾Dallas adopts a "duty to intervene" rule that requires officers to stop other cops who are engaging in inappropriate use of force.

👉🏾New Jersey’s attorney general said the state will update its use-of-force guidelines for the first time in two decades.

👉🏾In Maryland, a bipartisan work group of state lawmakers announced a police reform work group.

👉🏾Los Angeles City Council introduces motion to reduce LAPD’s $1.8 billion operating budget.

👉🏾MBTA in Boston agrees to stop using public buses to transport police officers to protests.

👉🏾Police brutality captured on cameras leads to near-immediate suspensions and firings of officers in several cities (i.e., Buffalo, Ft. Lauderdale).

👉🏾Monuments celebrating confederates are removed in cities in Virginia, Alabama, and other states.

👉🏾Street in front of the White House is renamed "Black Lives Matter Plaza.”
Military forces begin to withdraw from D.C.

Then, there's all the other stuff that's hard to measure:

💓The really difficult public and private conversations that are happening about race and privilege.

💓The realizations some white people are coming to about racism and the role of policing in this country.

💓The self-reflection.

💓The internal battles exploding within organizations over issues that have been simmering or ignored for a long time. Some organizations will end as a result, others will be forever changed or replaced with something stronger and fairer.

Globally:

🌎 Protests against racial inequality sparked by the police killing of George Floyd are taking place all over the world.

🌎 Rallies and memorials have been held in cities across Europe, as well as in Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand.

🌎 As the US contends with its second week of protests, issues of racism, police brutality, and oppression have been brought to light across the globe.

🌎 People all over the world understand that their own fights for human rights, for equality and fairness, will become so much more difficult to win if we are going to lose America as the place where 'I have a dream' is a real and universal political program," Wolfgang Ischinger, a former German ambassador to the US, told the New Yorker.

🌎 In France, protesters marched holding signs that said "I can't breathe" to signify both the words of Floyd, and the last words of Adama Traoré, a 24-year-old black man who was subdued by police officers and gasped the sentence before he died outside Paris in 2016.

🌎 Cities across Europe have come together after the death of George Floyd:

✊🏽 In Amsterdam, an estimated 10,000 people filled the Dam square on Monday, holding signs and shouting popular chants like "Black lives matter," and "No justice, no peace."

✊🏽 In Germany, people gathered in multiple locations throughout Berlin to demand justice for Floyd and fight against police brutality.

✊🏾 A mural dedicated to Floyd was also spray-painted on a stretch of wall in Berlin that once divided the German capital during the Cold War.

✊🏿 In Ireland, protesters held a peaceful demonstration outside of Belfast City Hall, and others gathered outside of the US embassy in Dublin.

✊🏿In Italy, protesters gathered and marched with signs that said "Stop killing black people," "Say his name," and "We will not be silent."

✊🏾 In Spain, people gathered to march and hold up signs throughout Barcelona and Madrid.

✊🏾 In Athens, Greece, protesters took to the streets to collectively hold up a sign that read "I can't breathe."

✊🏾 In Brussels, protesters were seen sitting in a peaceful demonstration in front of an opera house in the center of the city.

✊🏾In Denmark, protesters were heard chanting "No justice, no peace!" throughout the streets of Copenhagen, while others gathered outside the US embassy.

✊🏾 In Canada, protesters were also grieving for Regis Korchinski-Paquet, a 29-year-old black woman who died on Wednesday after falling from her balcony during a police investigation at her building.

✊🏾 And in New Zealand, roughly 2,000 people marched to the US embassy in Auckland, chanting and carrying signs demanding justice.

💐 Memorials have been built for Floyd around the world, too. In Mexico City, portraits of him were hung outside the US embassy with roses, candles, and signs.

💐 In Poland, candles and flowers were laid out next to photos of Floyd outside the US consulate.

💐 And in Syria, two artists created a mural depicting Floyd in the northwestern town of Binnish, "on a wall destroyed by military planes."

Before the assassination of George Floyd some of you were able to say whatever the hell you wanted and the world didn't say anything to you...

THERE HAS BEEN A SHIFT, AN AWAKENING...MANY OF YOU ARE BEING EXPOSED FOR WHO YOU REALLY ARE. #readthatagain

Don't wake up tomorrow on the wrong side of this issue. Its not to late to SAY,

"Maybe I need to look at this from a different perspective."

"Maybe I don't know what its like to be black in America..."

"Maybe, just maybe, I have been taught wrong."

There is still so much work to be done. It's been a really dark, raw week. This could still end badly. But all we can do is keep doing the work.

Keep protesting.

WE ARE NOT TRYING TO START A RACE WAR; WE ARE PROTESTING TO END IT,
PEACEFULLY.

How beautiful is that?

ALL LIVES CANNOT MATTER UNTIL YOU INCLUDE BLACK LIVES.

YOU CANNOT SAY 'ALL LIVES MATTER' WHEN YOU DO NOTHING TO STOP SYSTEMIC RACISM & POLICE BRUTALITY.

YOU CANNOT SAY 'ALL LIVES MATTER' WHEN BLACK PEOPLE ARE DYING AND ALL YOU COMPLAIN ABOUT IS THE LOOTING.

YOU CANNOT SAY 'ALL LIVES MATTER' WHEN YOU ALLOW CHILDREN TO BE CAGED, VETERANS TO GO HOMELESS, AND POOR FAMILIES TO GO HUNGRY & LOSE THEIR HEALTH INSURANCE.

DO ALL LIVES MATTER? YES. BUT RIGHT NOW, ONLY BLACK LIVES ARE BEING TARGETED, JAILED, AND KILLED EN MASSE- SO THAT'S WHO WE'RE FOCUSING ON.

🖤🖤🖤BLACK LIVES MATTER🖤🖤🖤

IF YOU CAN'T SEE THIS, YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.

*I do not know the original author*

Copy & paste widely!


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BLACK LIVES MATTER


Ultimately, the majority of human suffering is caused by a system that places the value of material wealth over the value of
human life. To end the suffering, we must end the profit motive—the very foundation of capitalism itself.
—BAUAW
(Bay Area United Against War Newsletter)


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George Floyd's Last Words
"It's my face man
I didn't do nothing serious man
please
please
please I can't breathe
please man
please somebody
please man
I can't breathe
I can't breathe
please
(inaudible)
man can't breathe, my face
just get up
I can't breathe
please (inaudible)
I can't breathe sh*t
I will
I can't move
mama
mama
I can't
my knee
my nuts
I'm through
I'm through
I'm claustrophobic
my stomach hurt
my neck hurts
everything hurts
some water or something
please
please
I can't breathe officer
don't kill me
they gon' kill me man
come on man
I cannot breathe
I cannot breathe
they gon' kill me
they gon' kill me
I can't breathe
I can't breathe
please sir
please
please
please I can't breathe"

Then his eyes shut and the pleas stop. George Floyd was pronounced dead shortly after.



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Credit...

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Trump Comic Satire—A Proposal
          By Shakaboona

PRES. TRUMP HIDES IN WHITE HOUSE BUNKER IN FEAR OF PROTESTORS
Hello everyone, it's Shakaboona here, on May 29, 2020, Friday, it was reported by NPR and other news agencies that when protestors marched on the White House, the Secret Service (SS) rushed Pres. Trump to a protective bunker in the basement of the White House for his safety. When I heard that news I instantly visualized 3 scenes - (Scene 1) a pic of Pres. Saddam Hussein hiding in an underground cave in fear of the U.S. Army, (Scene 2) a pic of Pres. Donald Trump hiding in an underground bunker shaking in fear beneath a desk from U.S. Protestors as Secret Service guards (with 2 Lightning bolts on their collars) in hyper security around him with big guns drawn out, and (Scene 3) a pic of Pres. Trump later stood in front of the church across from the White House with a Bible in hand & chest puffed out & threatened to activate the U.S. Army against American citizen protestors.
 ~ I think this would be an underground iconic image of the power of the People & the cowardice/fear of Pres. Trump, not to mention that I think such a creative comic satire of Trump would demolish his self image (haha). I ask for anyone's help to turn my above visual satire of Trump into an actual comic satire strip & for us to distribute the finished comic satire strip worldwide, esp. to the news media. Maybe we can get Trump to see it and watch him blow a gasket (lol).
 ~ Please everyone, stay safe out there, b/c Trump is pushing this country to the verge of Civil War. Be prepared in every way imaginable. Peace. - Ur Brother, Shakaboona

Write to Shakaboona:
Smart Communications/PA DOC
Kerry Shakaboona Marshall #BE7826
SCI Rockview
P.O. Box 33028
St. Petersburg, FL 33733

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Still photo from Stanley Kubrick's "Dr. Strangelove"released January 29, 1964

Enough is Enough: Global Nuclear Weapons 


Spending 2020

  In its report "Enough is Enough: Global Nuclear Weapons Spending 2020" the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons has produced the first estimate in nearly a decade of global nuclear weapon spending, taking into account costs to maintain and build new nuclear weapons. ICAN estimates that the nine nuclear-armed countries spent $72.9 billion on their 13,000-plus nuclear weapons in 2019, equaling $138,699 every minute of 2019 on nuclear weapons, and a $7.1 billion increase from 2018.
These estimates (rounded to one decimal point) include nuclear warhead and nuclear-capable delivery systems operating costs and development where these expenditures are publicly available and are based on a reasonable percentage of total military spending on nuclear weapons when more detailed budget data is not available. ICAN urges all nuclear-armed states to be transparent about nuclear weapons expenditures to allow for more accurate reporting on global nuclear expenditures and better government accountability.
ICAN, May 2020
https://www.icanw.org/global_nuclear_weapons_spending_2020

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Shooting and looting started: 400 years ago

Shooting, looting, scalping, lynching,
Raping, torturing their way across
the continent—400 years ago—
Colonial settler thugs launched this
endless crimson tide rolling down on
Today…
Colonial settler thugs launched this
endless crimson tide leaving in-
visible yellow crime
scene tape crisscrossing Tallahassee
to Seattle; San Diego to Bangor… 
Shooting Seneca, Seminole, Creek,
Choctaw, Mohawk, Cayuga, Blackfeet,
Shooting Sioux, Shawnee, Chickasaw,
Chippewa before
Looting Lakota land; Looting Ohlone
Land—
Looting Ashanti, Fulani, Huasa, Wolof,
Yoruba, Ibo, Kongo, Mongo, Hutu, Zulu…
Labor.
Colonial settler thugs launched this
endless crimson tide—hot lead storms—
Shooting, looting Mexico for half of New
Mexico; a quarter of Colorado; some of
Wyoming and most of Arizona; Looting
Mexico for Utah, Nevada and California
So, next time Orange Mobutu, Boss Tweet,
is dirty like Duterte—howling for shooting;
Next time demented minions raise rifles to
shoot; Remind them that
Real looters wear Brooks Brothers suits;
Or gold braid and junk medals ‘cross their
chests. Real looters—with Capitalist Hill
Accomplices—
Steal trillions
Not FOX-boxes, silly sneakers, cheap clothes…
© 2020. Raymond Nat Turner, The Town Crier. All Rights Reserved.       



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Veterans Join Call for a Global Ceasefire, The Lasting Effects of War Book Discussion, Sir, No Sir Viewing, VFP's Online Convention, Workshop Proposals, Convention FAQ, No More COVID-19 Money For the Pentagon, Repeal the AUMF, Community Conversation on Hybrid Warfare, St Louis VFP Delivers VA Lunch, In the News and Calendar




Veterans Join Call for a Global Ceasefire 


Veterans For Peace, as a United Nations Department of Global Communication affiliated NGO, is most gratified to see UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres make his plea for a worldwide ceasefire during this global pandemic. 

The first line of the Preamble of the UN's Charter says that they originated to save “succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. But sadly, because the UN was created by the victors of WW2 who remain the powers of the world, and because the UN depends for funding on those same militarily and economically dominant nation-states, primarily the U.S., much more often than not the UN is very quiet on war. 

Please join Veterans For Peace in appealing to U.S. Ambassador to the UN Kelly Craft to support the Secretary General's call for a GLOBAL CEASEFIRE! 


For more information about events go to:

https://www.veteransforpeace.org/?eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=fa5082af-9325-47a7-901c-710e85091ee1




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Courage to Resist
COURAGE TO RESIST ~ SUPPORT THE TROOPS WHO REFUSE TO FIGHT!
www.couragetoresist.org ~ 510.488.3559 ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist

484 Lake Park Ave # 41
OaklandCA 94610-2730
United States
Unsubscribe from couragetoresist.org 

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From Business Insider 2018

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"The biggest block from having society in harmony with the universe is the belief in a lie that says it’s not realistic or humanly possible." 

"If Obama taught me anything it’s that it don’t matter who you vote for in this system. There’s nothing a politician can do that the next one can’t undo. You can’t vote away the ills of society people have to put our differences aside ban together and fight for the greater good, not vote for the lesser evil."

—Johnny Gould (Follow @tandino415 on Instagram)

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When faced with the opportunity to do good, I really think it’s the instinct of humanity to do so. It’s in our genetic memory from our earliest ancestors. It’s the altered perception of the reality of what being human truly is that’s been indoctrinated in to every generation for the last 2000 years or more that makes us believe that we are born sinners. I can’t get behind that one. We all struggle with certain things, but I really think that all the “sinful” behavior is learned and wisdom and goodwill is innate at birth.  —Johnny Gould (Follow @tandino415 on Instagram)


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Support Major Tillery, Friend of Mumia, Innocent, Framed, Now Ill




Major Tillery (with hat) and family


Dear Friends of the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia,

Major Tillery, a prisoner at SCI Chester and a friend of Mumia, may have caught the coronavirus. Major is currently under lockdown at SCI Chester, where a coronavirus outbreak is currently taking place. Along with the other prisoners at SCI Chester, he urgently needs your help.

Major was framed by the Pennsylvania District Attorney and police for a murder which took place in 1976. He has maintained his innocence throughout the 37 years he has been incarcerated, of which approximately 20 were spent in solitary confinement. The U.N. Special Rapporteur on torture has said that 15 days of solitary confinement constitutes torture.

When Mumia had Hepatitis C and was left to die by the prison administration at SCI Mahanoy, Major Tillery was the prisoner who confronted the prison superintendent and demanded that they treat Mumia. (see https://www.justiceformajortillery.org/messing-with-major.html). Although Mumia received medical treatment, the prison retaliated against Major for standing up to the prison administration. He was transferred to another facility, his cell was searched and turned inside out repeatedly, and he lost his job in the prison as a Peer Facilitator.

SCI Chester, where Major is currently incarcerated, has been closed to visitors since mid-March. Fourteen guards and one prisoner are currently reported to be infected with the coronavirus. Because the prison has not tested all the inmates, there is no way to know how many more inmates have coronavirus. Major has had a fever, chills and a sore throat for several nights. Although Major has demanded testing for himself and all prisoners, the prison administration has not complied.

For the past ten days, there has been no cleaning of the cell block. It has been weeks since prisoners have been allowed into the yard to exercise. The food trays are simply being left on the floor. There have been no walk-throughs by prison administrators. The prisoners are not allowed to have showers; they are not allowed to have phone calls; and they are not permitted any computer access. 

This coronavirus outbreak at SCI Chester is the same situation which is playing out in California prisons right now, about which the Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia, along with other groups, organized a car caravan protest at San Quentin last week. Prisons are enclosed indoor spaces and are already an epicenter of the coronavirus, like meatpacking plants and cruise ships. If large numbers of prisoners are not released, the coronavirus will infect the prisons, as well as surrounding communities, and many prisoners will die. Failing to release large numbers of prisoners at this point is the same as executing them. We call for "No Execution by COVID-19"!

Major is close to 70 years old, and has a compromised liver and immune system, as well as heart problems. He desperately needs your help. 

Please write and call Acting Superintendent Kenneth Eason at:

Kenneth Eason, Acting Superintendent
SCI Chester
500 E. 4th St.
Chester, PA 19013

Telephone: (610) 490-5412

Email: keason@pa.gov (Prison Superintendent). maquinn@pa.gov (Superintendent's Assistant)
Please also call the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections at:Department of Corrections
1920 Technology Parkway
Mechanicsburg, PA 17050

Telephone: (717) 737-4531
This telephone number is for SCI Camp Hill, which is the current number for DOC.
Reference Major's inmate number: AM 9786

Email: ra-contactdoc@pa.gov
Demand that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections immediately:

1) Provide testing for all inmates and staff at SCI Chester;
2) Disinfect all cells and common areas at SCI Chester, including sinks, toilets, eating areas and showers;
3) Provide PPE (personal protective equipment) for all inmates at SCI Chester;
4) Provide access to showers for all prisoners at SCI Chester, as a basic hygiene measure;
5) Provide yard access to all prisoners at SCI Chester;
6) Provide phone and internet access to all prisoners at SCI Chester;
7) Immediately release prisoners from SCI Chester, including Major Tillery, who already suffers from a compromised immune system, in order to save their lives from execution by COVID-19.

It has been reported that prisoners are now receiving shower access. However, please insist that prisoners be given shower access and that all common areas are disinfected.


In solidarity,

The Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal




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Kiah Morris

May 7 at 6:44 AM

So, in MY lifetime....

Black people are so tired. 😓

We can’t go jogging (#AhmaudArbery).

We can’t relax in the comfort of our own homes (#BothemJean and #AtatianaJefferson).

We can't ask for help after being in a car crash (#JonathanFerrell and #RenishaMcBride).

We can't have a cellphone (#StephonClark).

We can't leave a party to get to safety (#JordanEdwards).

We can't play loud music (#JordanDavis).

We can’t sell CD's (#AltonSterling).

We can’t sleep (#AiyanaJones)

We can’t walk from the corner store (#MikeBrown).

We can’t play cops and robbers (#TamirRice).

We can’t go to church (#Charleston9).

We can’t walk home with Skittles (#TrayvonMartin).

We can’t hold a hair brush while leaving our own bachelor party (#SeanBell).

We can’t party on New Years (#OscarGrant).

We can’t get a normal traffic ticket (#SandraBland).

We can’t lawfully carry a weapon (#PhilandoCastile).

We can't break down on a public road with car problems (#CoreyJones).

We can’t shop at Walmart (#JohnCrawford)p^p.

We can’t have a disabled vehicle (#TerrenceCrutcher).

We can’t read a book in our own car (#KeithScott).

We can’t be a 10yr old walking with our grandfather (#CliffordGlover).

We can’t decorate for a party (#ClaudeReese).

We can’t ask a cop a question (#RandyEvans).

We can’t cash our check in peace (#YvonneSmallwood).

We can’t take out our wallet (#AmadouDiallo).

We can’t run (#WalterScott).

We can’t breathe (#EricGarner).

We can’t live (#FreddieGray).

We’re tired.

Tired of making hashtags.

Tired of trying to convince you that our #BlackLivesMatter too.

Tired of dying.

Tired.

Tired.

Tired.

So very tired.

(I don’t know who created this. I just know there are so many more names to be added and names we may never hear of.)

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1) Should N.Y. Be Jailing Parolees for Minor Lapses During a Pandemic?
On probation since 2018, Earl Russell was sent to Rikers for sleeping in his own bed instead of in the shelter where he was mandated to stay.
"That routinization comes with all the predictable disparities. In New York City, Black people re-enter the jail system on these technicalities at a rate more than 12 times that of whites."
By Ginia Bellafante, July 31, 2020
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/31/nyregion/ny-parole-violations.html?action=click&module=News&pgtype=Homepage
Dave Sanders for The New York Times

In December, before most of us had directed our attention to the looming terrors of the coronavirus, Earl Russell was already getting apprehensive. At 42, he struggled with high blood pressure and was living in a men’s shelter in Brooklyn. Most people in shelters are there because all their other housing options have run dry, but Mr. Russell had somewhere to go — an apartment in the Rockaways where his girlfriend lived with their 6-year-old daughter, both of whom wanted him home.

The bizarre vagaries of New York state’s parole system were making it impossible for him to join them, however. Returning to his family would have been a violation of the terms of his prison release — an action punishable with jail time.

When Mr. Russell was paroled in 2018, after two years in prison on a weapons-possession charge in the second degree, he was remanded to the shelter system, where he was to remain until the fall of 2021, even though he would be needlessly taking up space in the midst of the city’s ongoing and epic housing emergencies.

At the end of March, in an effort to curtail the spread of Covid-19 among the incarcerated, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced plans to release 1,100 people from jails around the state, who were being held for technical violations of their parole. These infractions are not crimes; they include missing curfew, failing to contact parole officers at designated times, testing positive for alcohol and living at addresses other than the ones compelled, among others.

Two months later, 379 of these technical parole violators had been released from jails in New York City. But their ranks were soon replaced. Mr. Russell was among those who found themselves at Rikers, detained for what logic would concede were minor infractions..

Since March 27, according to new admissions data from the Vera Institute of Justice, 295 people have returned to city jails because of low-level parole transgressions. The first two people to die of Covid-19 on Rikers were there precisely for these reasons: missing parole appointments and failing a drug program. One of them, a man named Raymond Rivera, had waited months for a final decision on his release and died the day after it was rendered.

Already, by the end of May, 160 people had been newly sent to Rikers on technicalities, leading Vincent Schiraldi, a director of Columbia University’s Justice Lab and the city’s former probation commissioner, to correctly predict that some of the gains made by the governor’s edict would essentially be erased by the middle of the summer.

“It was bad policy to be incarcerating so many people for noncriminal violations even before the pandemic,” Mr. Schiraldi told me. “It’s absolutely ridiculous and dangerous now.”

The policy has been in place for decades. When asked for the rationale behind it, the State Department of Corrections did not respond for comment. In the spring, as the decision was made to refrain from issuing arrest warrants for those who had broken the less egregious rules of parole, certain exceptions were carved out for those considered at high risk for offending behaviors.

Given that incidents of domestic violence were sure to rise during the pandemic, anyone who made contact with a partner he or she had abused in the past was eligible for re-arrest, an official in the Cuomo administration explained. So too, was a sex offender who made contact with a minor.

The modern parole system began in New York State in the 19th century as a means of helping ex-convicts adjust to society. Parole officers were volunteers; the whole idea was rooted in a benevolent paternalism.

But in the 1970s, as crime escalated, the system became more punitive .tThe faith that people who did bad things could transform began to wane, and the goal shifted to preventing recidivism. While the state has succeeded in detaining far fewer people on technicalities in recent years, the policy, exercised at the discretion of corrections officials, nevertheless remains.

In a speech two years ago, Governor Cuomo acknowledged the problems inherent in it. “Jails and prisons should not be filled with people who may have violated the conditions of their parole but present no danger to our communities,” he said. New York State spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year enforcing these violations. “Cops troll hospitals looking for violators,’’ Mr. Schiraldi said. “While the guy is dying, they slap a technical on him. At a certain point you routinize the deprivation of people’s liberties so much, you’re just checking a box.”

That routinization comes with all the predictable disparities. In New York City, Black people re-enter the jail system on these technicalities at a rate more than 12 times that of whites.

Before Christmas, Mr. Russell, who had already violated his parole on other occasions by leaving the shelter and going home to his family, sent a text to his parole officer explaining that he could not tolerate his circumstance any longer and might as well be in jail. “With this being said,” he wrote her, “send me back if that’s what you want to do because I’m not returning to the shelter.’’ He helpfully provided his home address.

The logic behind sending him to a shelter to serve out his parole, in the first place, involved a single domestic-violence charge that had been filed against him years earlier. One evening in 2013, Mr. Russell and his current girlfriend were drinking on their stoop and began to argue. According to his recollection, the fight did not get physical, but a neighbor called the police and once officers arrived, he became “unruly’' with them, he said.

As a matter of precaution, it is common for the state’s corrections department to send parolees with any history of domestic incidents to shelters rather than allow them to go home. In Mr. Russell’s case, it did not seem to matter that he had received mandated counseling. The system demands rehabilitation and then all too often denies redemption. In March of last year, his girlfriend wrote to parole officials asking them to let Mr. Russell come home. The request was denied.

In mid-June he was taken into custody and spent the subsequent few weeks in Rikers.

“It was scary. A lot of the corrections officers aren’t wearing masks,” Mr. Russell told me. “Ninety percent of inmates weren’t wearing masks. Then you’re shackled next to people when you are transferred,’’ he said. “Beds were less than a pinkie apart. Sleeping, the guy beneath me, my foot could have kicked his head.”

The Legal Aid Society eventually got him out. Mr. Russell works as a porter in a condominium building in the Ozone Park section of Queens, and his bosses wrote a letter on his behalf explaining that they would welcome him back if he were released.

When he left Rikers, though, he was sent back to a shelter — a hotel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, far from his job and his family. Making it back in time for curfew made it almost impossible to see his partner for dinner or put his daughter to bed. Because parolees are not allowed to drive, he is left incurring the risks and lags of public transportation.

A bill currently before the New York State Legislature would loosen many of the restrictions around parole, making it easier for people exiting the prison system to reintegrate into the real world. Many prosecutors across the state support the bill.

Inevitably, there will be those in and out of government fearful of reform at a moment of rising violence. But diverting technical violators from the jail system could protect public health without endangering public safety. Of the 791 parole violators who had their warrants lifted since the end of March, not one was rearrested for a gun-related crime.

The convergence of the pandemic with a powerful movement to rectify the racial injustices of the past would seem to provide the ideal moment for rethinking the ways we manage people coming out of prison. If it cannot happen now, it seems unlikely that it ever could.

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2) Why Protest Tactics Spread Like Memes
When items like umbrellas and leaf blowers are subverted into objects of resistance, they become very shareable.
By Tracy Ma With Natalie Shutler. Written by Jonah Engel Bromwich. Video by Shane O’Neill, July 31, 2020
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/31/style/viral-protest-videos.html?searchResultPosition=1
Hong Kong, August 2019. Credit...Getty Images

Washington, D.C., May 2020. Credit...Getty Images

A video frame captured in Hong Kong in August 2019 shows a group of pro-democracy protesters, smoke pluming toward them, racing to place an orange traffic cone over a tear-gas canister. A video taken nine months later and 7,000 miles away, at a Black Lives Matter protest in Minneapolis, shows another small group using the same maneuver. Two moments, two continents, two cone placers, their postures nearly identical.

Images of protest spread on social media reveal many other matching moments from opposite sides of the world, and they often feature everyday objects wielded ingeniously.

Leaf blowers are used to diffuse clouds of tear gas; hockey sticks and tennis rackets are brandished to bat canisters back toward authorities; high-power laser pointers are used to thwart surveillance cameras; and plywood, boogie boards, umbrellas and more have served as shields to protect protesters from projectiles and create barricades.

An Xiao Mina, a researcher at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, has studied these echoes. In the summer of 2014, when the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong and the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States that followed the police killing of Michael Brown were taking place, she noted that the protesters spoke a common language, even sharing the same hand gesture characterized by the chant “Hands up, don’t shoot.”

Occasionally, there was even direct acknowledgment between the disparate groups, “as when Ferguson protesters donned umbrellas against the rain and cheekily thanked protesters in Hong Kong for the idea,” Ms. Mina wrote in her 2018 book, “Memes to Movements.”

But often, she noted, the images’ similarity was unwitting. In their spread, their simultaneity and their indirect influence on each other, the protest videos had all the characteristics of memes, those units of culture and behavior that spread rapidly online. The same cultural transfer that gives us uncanny cake-slicing memes and viral challenges also advances the language of protest.

“We live in this world of attention dynamics so it makes sense that tactics start to converge,” Ms. Mina said. She called the images’ tendency to build on each other “memetic piggybacking,” and noted that everyday items that are subverted into objects of protest are “inherently charismatic.”

Franklin López, a founder and former member of Sub.media, an anarchist video collective that has filmed dozens of protests, said that “videos shared through social media and mainstream media reports become rough ‘how-to guides’ on protest tactics.”

“You see peeps in Hong Kong using umbrellas as countersurveillance tools and folks over here will say, ‘hey, brilliant idea!’ and you’ll see umbrellas at the next militant protests,” he said.

Of course, it’s not just social media mimicry. Ms. Mina pointed out that “activists from around the world do actively learn from each other and exchange tactical tips.”

On the topic of direct communication between groups in Hong Kong and the United States, Mr. López said: “Texts outlining not only tactics and strategies but reports of what worked and what didn’t are shared and translated, but also talked about in in-person events, film screenings and internet talks.”

In June, for example, Lausan, a group that formed during the Hong Kong protests that seeks to connect leftist movements in various countries, was a host of a webinar. It provided a forum for Hong Kong and American activists to share strategies.

Katharin Tai, a doctoral candidate in political science at M.I.T. who studies Chinese foreign policy and the intersection of international politics and the internet, separated information sharing between Hong Kong and the United States into two categories.

One was group-to-group sharing of tactics between the sets of protesters, though she noted that because both protest efforts were non-hierarchical, they were not necessarily organized from above.

The second, she said, included the translation of helpful graphics and information — say, which sort of gas masks best protect against tear gas — that are then posted online. “That’s the less organized way, where they’re just kind of pushing it out into the ether,” she said.

The social internet has sped up a long history of direct and indirect dialogue between protest movements around the world.

Mark Bray, an organizer of Occupy Wall Street and a lecturer at Rutgers University, said that sharing or imitating protest strategies and tactics is “as old as protest strategies and tactics are,” but that social media “has exposed people to more different tactics.”

“In that sense, like all kinds of new communications technologies, it has shortened the perceived distance between movements around the world,” said Mr. Bray, who is the author of “Antifa: The Anti-Fascist Handbook,” a history of that movement.

Anastasia Veneti, who teaches at Bournemouth University in England and specializes in media coverage of protest movements, said that photographs and video that have been produced and circulated by the protesters “have influenced professional photographers who have begun to produce similar images.”

“With this global wave of post-2010 activism, we’ve seen that this paradigm or media framing has started to change and to a great extent, this change is to be credited to the fact that protesters themselves are better organized thanks to the use of new media technologies,” she said.

Matching protest images are not only found between Hong Kong and the United States. They crop up in Mexico and Greece, Kurdistan and Catalonia.

But Hong Kong does play a central role in the activist imagination, scholars and activists said, thanks both to the tactical ingenuity of protesters there, as well as Western media’s willingness to cover pro-democracy demonstrations extensively.

Gabriella Coleman, a professor at McGill University who studies digital activism, noted that even nonpolitical publications were moved to cover the Hong Kong protests. “Because Hong Kong is seen as a Western-style democracy that’s being eaten up by its authoritarian parent, there’s no controversy in reporting on it,” she said.

Asked whether Hong Kong loomed particularly large in the eyes of experienced protesters, Mr. López answered emphatically: “Hell yeah!” He called the protests in Hong Kong “epic.”

“More than anything the discipline, organization and persistence of these folks has been awe inspiring,” Mr. López said, adding that the people of Hong Kong “are showing us what is possible.”

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3) Scientists Worry About Political Influence Over Coronavirus Vaccine Project
Operation Warp Speed has moved along at a rapid clip. But some people involved in the process fear pressure to deliver an October surprise for President Trump.
By Sharon LaFraniere, Katie Thomas, Noah Weiland, Peter Baker and Annie Karni, Aug. 2, 2020
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/02/us/politics/coronavirus-vaccine.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage
President Trump has been relentlessly promoting the administration’s vaccine efforts, including during an appearance at a biotechnology laboratory in North Carolina last week.

In April, with hospitals overwhelmed and much of the United States in lockdown, the Department of Health and Human Services produced a presentation for the White House arguing that rapid development of a coronavirus vaccine was the best hope to control the pandemic.

“DEADLINE: Enable broad access to the public by October 2020,” the first slide read, with the date in bold.

Given that it typically takes years to develop a vaccine, the timetable for the initiative, called Operation Warp Speed, was incredibly ambitious. With tens of thousands dying and tens of millions out of work, the crisis demanded an all-out public-private response, with the government supplying billions of dollars to pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, providing logistical support and cutting through red tape.

It escaped no one that the proposed deadline also intersected nicely with President Trump’s need to curb the virus before the election in November.

The ensuing race for a vaccine — in the middle of a campaign in which the president’s handling of the pandemic is the key issue after he has spent his time in office undermining science and the expertise of the federal bureaucracy — is now testing the system set up to ensure safe and effective drugs to a degree never before seen.

Under constant pressure from a White House anxious for good news and a public desperate for a silver bullet to end the crisis, the government’s researchers are fearful of political intervention in the coming months and are struggling to ensure that the government maintains the right balance between speed and rigorous regulation, according to interviews with administration officials, federal scientists and outside experts.

Even in a less politically charged environment, there would be a fraught debate about how much to accelerate the process of trials and approval. The longer that vaccines are tested before being released, the likelier they are to be safe and effective.

But with 1,000 people dying each day in the United States, schools finding it difficult to reopen and the deep recession inflicting economic pain across the country, the desire to find a way to return to normal life is powerful and transcends partisan politics and borders. On Sunday, Russia announced that it planned to start a nationwide inoculation campaign in October with a vaccine that had yet to complete clinical trials, the latest evidence of the global potential for cutting corners.

Despite concerted efforts by the Trump administration and a bevy of pharmaceutical companies it is working with, the original October target has slipped, with the administration now pushing to have hundreds of millions of doses available by the end of the year or early 2021.

But experts inside and outside the government still say they fear the White House will push the Food and Drug Administration to overlook insufficient data and give at least limited emergency approval to a vaccine, perhaps for use by specific groups like front-line health care workers, before the vote on Nov. 3.

“There are a lot of people on the inside of this process who are very nervous about whether the administration is going to reach their hand into the Warp Speed bucket, pull out one or two or three vaccines, and say, ‘We’ve tested it on a few thousand people, it looks safe, and now we are going to roll it out,’” said Dr. Paul A. Offit of the University of Pennsylvania, who is a member of the Food and Drug Administration’s vaccine advisory committee.

“They are really worried about that,” he added. “And they should be.”

Mr. Trump relentlessly touts progress toward a vaccine, raising hopes of quick approval. Touring a North Carolina biotechnology lab last week, he vowed to “deliver a vaccine in record time.” In a tweet last month, he explicitly tied vaccines to his re-election hopes.

On a campaign call with supporters in Pennsylvania on Sunday evening, Mr. Trump said the “F.D.A. has been great, at my instruction,” and he again raised hopes of rapid progress.

“We expect to have a vaccine available very, very early before the end of the year, far ahead of schedule,” he said. “We’re very close to having that finalized.”

The president’s son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner, who is helping to steer the re-election campaign from the White House, is a regular participant in meetings of a board formed to oversee the vaccine effort.

While White House officials do not specifically mention the election during the board’s discussions, people familiar with the conversations say they ask regularly about October, a date that hangs over the effort. Trump campaign advisers privately call a pre-election vaccine “the holy grail.”

The Food and Drug Administration’s approval of a new vaccine is typically an exhaustive process, where agency employees meticulously go through data from clinical trials to review whether the vaccine is both safe and effective. The threshold for approving vaccines is typically higher than it is for therapeutic drugs because they will be used in millions of otherwise healthy people, meaning that even rare side effects could affect many more people than a drug that treats a specific illness.

An independent advisory panel of outside experts also weighs in, and while the agency has the power to make its own decision, it typically follows the advice of its outside panels. The Food and Drug Administration’s senior regulator has the power to approve or deny vaccines for emergency use, but that decision could be overridden by the agency’s top leaders, or by the secretary of health and human services.

White House officials said that Mr. Trump would not distort the vaccine review process to help his campaign. “The rapid research, development, trials and eventual distribution of a Covid-19 vaccine is emblematic of President Trump’s highest priority: the health and safety of the American people,” said Judd Deere, a White House spokesman. “It has nothing to do with politics.”

Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told lawmakers on Friday that he remained “cautiously optimistic that we will have a vaccine by the end of this year and as we go into 2021.”

Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, has not ruled out emergency approval of a vaccine.

“We would consider using an emergency use authorization if we felt that the risks associated with the vaccine were much lower than the risks of not having a vaccine,” he told The Journal of the American Medical Association in an online interview.

He also said regulators would certify that any vaccine would meet the agency’s rigorous standards, adding, “My job as commissioner is to make sure to the fullest extent possible that any pressure that comes to the agency is not reflected downward” onto regulators and scientists studying the vaccines.

At the same time, a senior administration official refused to promise that any emergency approval of a vaccine would be vetted through the Food and Drug Administration’s outside advisory panel of experts, scheduled to meet on Oct. 22.

Operation Warp Speed got its start in April, the brainchild of Dr. Peter Marks, a pencil-thin, bespectacled physician who leads the regulatory unit at the Food and Drug Administration that approves vaccines and therapies.

A “Star Trek” fan, Dr. Marks named the initiative Warp Speed and pitched it in an April 10 phone call to Alex M. Azar II, the secretary of health and human services, who quickly embraced it. In a follow-up phone call a few days later, according to a person familiar with the discussions, several health officials said the October deadline was unrealistic; over the next few months, officials began publicly citing the end of the year or early 2021 as a target.

With his job on the line, Mr. Azar, the target of Mr. Trump’s wrath over the virus, was especially eager to prove his worth to the White House. He teamed up with Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper, whose department has long experience with vaccine development and distribution to protect troops. An expert in complex logistics, Gen. Gustave F. Perna, became the operation’s chief operating officer.

Mr. Kushner, Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House coronavirus coordinator, and others interviewed Dr. Moncef Slaoui, a pharmaceutical industry veteran, and orchestrated his appointment as chief scientific adviser despite concerns within the Food and Drug Administration about conflicts of interest because of his financial ties to two companies that are developing a vaccine. Rather than being bothered by the conflict, Mr. Kushner and others reasoned that it took someone with such industry experience to oversee the effort.

Dr. Slaoui resigned from the board of Moderna, which has received nearly $1 billion in federal support to develop a vaccine. But as of May he still had nearly $10 million of stock in GlaxoSmithKline, a partner with the French drugmaker Sanofi, which last week signed a $2.1 billion agreement to produce 100 million doses. Dr. Slaoui, who is working on a $1 contract, cleared an ethics review by the Department of Health and Human Services and has said he is determined to avoid any conflict.

Shortly after Dr. Slaoui’s appointment, Dr. Marks resigned from the project he conceived and returned full-time to his post as a senior regulator at the Food and Drug Administration, where he will be the key decision maker on whether a vaccine merits approval.

The administration has conducted the vaccine hunt with a focus lacking in much of the rest of its pandemic response. Contracts have been executed at a brisk pace. Mobile trailers have been speedily delivered for experimental doses to be administered. When a company was short on needles, the Pentagon dispatched planes to deliver supplies within 48 hours.

The pharmaceutical companies are reporting the results of their trials at regular intervals, accelerating the review process. With the government paying much of the cost, the companies are beginning the process of manufacturing millions of doses of vaccine essentially on spec so that they can be distributed quickly if they secure approval.

The process has moved at a remarkable clip. Two vaccine candidates, one developed by Moderna in conjunction with Dr. Fauci’s institute and another by Pfizer, last week began Phase 3 trials, the final stage of clinical experimentation. Others are expected soon.

In Mr. Azar’s conference room at the Department of Health and Human Services headquarters, Mr. Kushner and Dr. Birx join meetings with Mr. Azar, Mr. Esper and others. Mr. Kushner repeatedly pushes the group to move faster and has deputized two close associates, Brad Smith and Adam Boehler, to press the case.

The team has sought to ensure that a variety of different types of potential vaccines are being pursued to increase the chances that at least one will work. Dr. Birx has been interested in what is known as a subunit protein vaccine, and at one point called executives at the biotechnology company Genentech and asked what they could do. (Warp Speed is now working with two companies pursuing that type of vaccine.)

Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, also talks with pharmaceutical executives. People briefed on the discussions say the White House has also pushed for progress by the fall on therapeutics — drugs to treat people who fall ill to the disease — including the possibility of an emergency use authorization for one or more of those drugs. Late last month, Mr. Trump called the chief executive of Regeneron Pharmaceuticals to check on the progress of a potential antibody treatment.

Career officials have assured Dr. Hahn that they would stand behind him to head off any vaccine decision not based on science. But Dr. Hahn already lost a measure of credibility with the scientific community for approving the emergency use of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, two anti-malaria drugs promoted by the president as treatments for the coronavirus over the objections of his public health advisers. The Food and Drug Administration later revoked the authorization, concluding the risks outweighed the benefits.

Scientists have argued that it would be unwise to cut corners on a vaccine that is to be injected into some 300 million Americans, adding that a failed effort would fuel public distrust of vaccines generally.

But a senior White House official, who discussed the matter on the condition of anonymity, said that it would also be unethical to withhold an effective vaccine for an extra three or four months while more people died just to check the boxes of a more routine trial process.

Michael R. Caputo, a spokesman for Mr. Azar, said October was not the goal.

“Everybody at H.H.S. hopes Operation Warp Speed will achieve 300 million doses of a safe and effective Covid vaccine for Americans by January 2021,” he said. “We know that’s optimistic. I have never heard mention of any other timeline, and certainly not from the secretary.”

“Careless talk about career F.D.A. regulators somehow approving an unsafe and ineffective vaccine just for politics only undermines confidence in the public health system,” he added.

It is not clear that a vaccine approval shortly before the election would be an “October surprise” sufficient to alter the outcome of the vote. An announcement could give Americans hope that the end is in sight. But some Republican strategists said that it might not help Mr. Trump because his opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee, would surely continue the vaccine process if elected.

“Does it turn everything around for him politically? I don’t know,” said Sarah Longwell, a conservative strategist and prominent Republican opponent of Mr. Trump who regularly conducts focus groups and has found that public attention is more focused on government relief checks and school reopenings.

“If the vaccine is an October surprise, there’s a lot of other things that are cutting against” it as a game-changer, she said.

The drug companies find themselves caught in the middle. While eager to bring products to market as quickly as possible, they face risks in moving too quickly in order to fit an election calendar, analysts said.

“They are acutely aware of the political dynamic here,” said Rob Smith, the director of Capital Alpha Partners, a research firm. A vaccine that flopped would jeopardize their broader business, he said, and it would not make sense “to take a huge reputational risk not just for your vaccine but for all the products across your portfolio to benefit the president politically.”

Dr. Fauci has expressed confidence that the system will hold.

“Historically, the F.D.A. has based their decisions on science,” he told a House committee last week. “They will do so this time also, I am certain.”

Maggie Haberman contributed reporting and Kitty Bennett contributed research.

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4) A Vast Racial Gap in Death Penalty Cases, New Study Finds
Defendants convicted of killing white people, the study found, were far more likely to be executed than the killers of Black people.
By Adam Liptak, Aug. 3, 2020
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/03/us/racial-gap-death-penalty.html?action=click&module=Latest&pgtype=Homepage
Members of the Abolitionist Action Committee participated in an annual protest and hunger strike against the death penalty outside the Supreme Court last year.

WASHINGTON — Black lives do not matter nearly as much as white ones when it comes to the death penalty, a new study has found. Building on data at the heart of a landmark 1987 Supreme Court decision, the study concluded that defendants convicted of killing white victims were executed at a rate 17 times greater than those convicted of killing Black victims.

There is little chance that the new findings would alter the current Supreme Court’s support for the death penalty. Its conservative majority has expressed impatience with efforts to block executions, and last month it issued a pair of 5-to-4 rulings in the middle of the night that allowed federal executions to resume after a 17-year hiatus.

But the court came within one vote of addressing racial bias in the administration of the death penalty in the 1987 decision, McCleskey v. Kemp. By a 5-to-4 vote, the court ruled that even solid statistical evidence of race discrimination in the capital justice system did not offend the Constitution.

The decision has not aged well.

In 1991, after he retired, Justice Lewis F. Powell Jr., the author of the majority opinion, was asked whether there was any vote he would like to change.

“Yes,” he told his biographer. “McCleskey v. Kemp.”

One of the dissenters in the case, Justice John Paul Stevens, was still stewing over it after his own retirement in 2010.

“That the murder of Black victims is treated as less culpable than the murder of white victims provides a haunting reminder of once-prevalent Southern lynchings,” he wrote that year in The New York Review of Books.

Opponents of the death penalty have been deeply critical of the decision, comparing it to the Dred Scott case, the Supreme Court’s 1857 ruling that enslaved Black people were property and not citizens.

“McCleskey is the Dred Scott decision of our time,” Anthony G. Amsterdam, a law professor at New York University, said in a 2007 speech. “It is a declaration that African-American life has no value which white men are bound to respect. It is a decision for which our children’s children will reproach our generation and abhor the legal legacy we leave them.”

The McCleskey decision considered a study conducted by David C. Baldus, a law professor who died in 2011. It looked at death sentences rather than executions, and it made two basic points.

The first was that the race of the defendant does not predict the likelihood of a death sentence. The second was that the race of the victim does.

Killers of white people were more than four times as likely to be sentenced to death as killers of Black people, Professor Baldus found.

The new study, published in The Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, examined not only death sentences but also whether defendants sentenced to death were eventually executed. “The problematic sentencing disparity discovered by Baldus is exacerbated at the execution stage,” wrote the study’s authors, Scott Phillips and Justin Marceau of the University of Denver.

Professor Baldus’s study examined more than 2,000 murders in Georgia from 1973 to 1979, controlling for some 230 variables.

Though some have argued that Professor Baldus did not consider every possible variable, few question his bottom-line conclusion, and other studies have confirmed it.

In 1990, the General Accounting Office, now called the Government Accountability Office, reviewed 28 studies and determined that 23 of them found that the race of the victim influenced “the likelihood of being charged with capital murder or receiving a death sentence.”

“This finding was remarkably consistent across data sets, states, data collection methods and analytic techniques,” the report said. A 2014 update came to a similar conclusion.

One factor Professor Baldus could not analyze, given the decades that often pass between sentencings and executions, was whether the race of the victim correlated to the likelihood of the defendant being put to death.

The new study, the product of exhaustive research, supplied the missing information. It found that 22 of the 972 defendants convicted of killing a white victim were executed, as compared with two of the 1,503 defendants convicted of killing a Black victim.

The new study also confirmed just how rare executions are. Of the 127 men sentenced to death in the Baldus study, 95 left death row thanks to judicial action or executive clemency; five died of natural causes; one was executed in another state; one escaped (and was soon beaten to death in a bar fight); and one remains on death row.

A more general and less granular 2017 study compared two sets of nationwide data: homicides from 1975 to 2005 and executions from 1976 to 2015. Its conclusions were similarly striking.

About half of the victims were white, that study found, but three-quarters of defendants put to death had killed a white person. About 46 percent of the victims were Black, but only 15 percent of defendants who were executed had killed a Black person.

Eric M. Freedman, a law professor at Hofstra, said courts and lawmakers had failed to confront the question of racial bias in the administration of capital punishment.

“The continuing adherence of the Supreme Court to McCleskey is a continuing statement that Black lives do not matter,” he said. “The continuing failure of Congress and the state legislatures to remedy the situation is a continuing admission that the states are unable to run racially unbiased death penalty systems.”

Professor Phillips, one of the authors of the new study, said the issue was part of a broader societal struggle.

“It’s not necessarily that the death penalty has a race problem,” he said. “It’s more that the United States has a race problem that happens to infect the death penalty.”


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5) Coronavirus Live Updates: Fight Over Aid Package Drags On
Tens of millions of Americans have lost crucial jobless benefits, and lawmakers still can’t seem to agree on a relief measure. Israel’s troubled school reopenings could be a lesson for the U.S.
RIGHT NOW The secretary general of the United Nations, António Guterres, said that more than a billion children worldwide were affected by school closures last month.
New York Times, August 4, 2020
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/04/world/coronavirus-covid-19.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage#link-6b644638

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senator Chuck Schumer spoke to reporters at the U.S. Capitol on Monday. Credit...Anna Moneymaker for The New York Times

‘Long days, long nights’: Washington prepares for a prolonged fight over virus relief.

Negotiators on Tuesday are set to reconvene on Capitol Hill to continue hammering out differences over a coronavirus relief package, with top Trump administration officials scheduled to return for another meeting with congressional Democrats.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, will meet with Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California and Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the minority leader. Mr. Mnuchin and Mr. Meadows will also join Senate Republicans for a closed-door policy lunch.

The Senate is scheduled to take a monthlong recess at the end of the week, but it is unclear if lawmakers will leave Washington without a deal. Tens of millions of Americans have lost crucial unemployment benefits as well as a federal moratorium on evictions, and economists warn that permanent damage could be wrought on the economy without action.

“I’ve never been a gambler,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, when asked about the prospect of a deal before the end of the week. “But if I were a gambler, I’d say we need to have some long days, long nights. Work hard.”

White House officials and Democratic leaders reported some progress over the weekend, but there are still substantial differences. Democrats are proposing a $3 trillion rescue plan that would include restoring $600-per-week jobless aid payments that expired on Friday and extending them through January, while Republicans are pushing a $1 trillion package that would reduce those payments substantially.

President Trump on Monday raised the idea of using an executive order to address the moratorium on evictions, while also hurling insults at Democratic leaders who were meeting with his top advisers in search of a compromise. But he has been notably absent from the negotiations themselves.

Mr. Trump accused Democrats of being focused on getting “bailout money” for states controlled by Democrats, and unconcerned with extending unemployment benefits.

Democrats have proposed providing more than $900 billion to strapped states and cities whose budgets have been decimated, but it is Republicans who have proposed slashing the jobless aid. Democrats have refused to do so, cementing the stalemate.

Fueling an already complicated impasse, outside advisers are also trying to get the president to bypass Congress and unilaterally impose a temporary payroll tax cut, an idea that Mr. Trump has championed but that his negotiators dropped amid opposition from both parties.

Congressional staff and lobbyists who are engaged in discussions said on Monday that the talks between administration officials and Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Schumer had essentially frozen negotiations between top Democrats and Republicans on key committees who would have to hammer out the details of any deal.

That could leave the parties little time to flesh out any compromises over additional aid to businesses or individuals, yielding a plan that mostly consists of re-upping existing aid programs like the Paycheck Protection Program and direct payments to individuals.

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6) The Unemployed Stare Into the Abyss. Republicans Look Away.
The cruelty and ignorance of Trump and his allies are creating another gratuitous disaster.
By Paul Krugman, Opinion Columnist, Aug. 3, 2020
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/03/opinion/republicans-unemployed-coronavirus.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

A couple waiting with their children to get help filing unemployment insurance claims in Oklahoma. Credit...Joseph Rushmore for The New York Times


In case you haven’t noticed, the coronavirus is still very much with us. Around a thousand Americans are dying from Covid-19 each day, 10 times the rate in the European Union. Thanks to our failure to control the pandemic, we’re still suffering from Great Depression levels of unemployment; a brief recovery driven by premature attempts to resume business as usual appears to have petered out as states pause or reverse their opening.

Yet enhanced unemployment benefits, a crucial lifeline for tens of millions of Americans, have expired. And negotiations over how — or even whether — to restore aid appear to be stalled.

You sometimes see headlines describing this crisis as a result of “congressional dysfunction.” Such headlines reveal a severe case of bothsidesism — the almost pathological aversion of some in the media to placing blame where it belongs.

For House Democrats passed a bill specifically designed to deal with this mess two and a half months ago. The Trump administration and Senate Republicans had plenty of time to propose an alternative. Instead, they didn’t even focus on the issue until days before the benefits ended. And even now they’re refusing to offer anything that might significantly alleviate workers’ plight.

This is an astonishing failure of governance, right up there with the mishandling of the pandemic itself. But what explains it?

Well, I’m of two minds. Was it ignorant malevolence, or malevolent ignorance?

Let’s talk first about the ignorance.

The Covid recession that began in February may have been the simplest, most comprehensible business downturn in history. Much of the U.S. economy was put on hold to contain a pandemic. Job losses were concentrated in services that were either inessential or could be postponed, and were highly likely to spread the coronavirus: restaurants, air travel, dentists’ visits.

The main goal of economic policy was to make this temporary lockdown tolerable, sustaining the incomes of those unable to work.

Republicans, however, have shown no sign of understanding any of this. The policy proposals being floated by White House aides and advisers are almost surreal in their disconnect from reality. Cutting payroll taxes on workers who can’t work? Letting businesspeople deduct the full cost of three-martini lunches they can’t eat?

They don’t even seem to understand the mechanics of how unemployment checks are paid out. They proposed continuing benefits for a brief period while negotiations continue — but this literally can’t be done, because the state offices that disburse unemployment aid couldn’t handle the necessary reprogramming.

Above all, Republicans seem obsessed with the idea that unemployment benefits are making workers lazy and unwilling to accept jobs.

This would be a bizarre claim even if unemployment benefits really were reducing the incentive to seek work. After all, there are more than 30 million workers receiving benefits, but only five million job openings. No matter how harshly you treat the unemployed, they can’t take jobs that don’t exist.

It’s almost a secondary concern to note that there’s almost no evidence that unemployment benefits are, in fact, discouraging workers from taking jobs. Multiple studies find no significant incentive effect.

And unemployment benefits didn’t prevent the U.S. from adding seven million jobs, most of them for low-wage workers — that is, precisely the workers often receiving more in unemployment than from their normal jobs — during the abortive spring recovery.

By the way, a great majority of economists believe that unemployment benefits have helped sustain the economy as a whole, by supporting consumer spending.

So the attack on unemployment aid is rooted in deep ignorance. But there’s also a strong element of malice.

Republicans have a long history of suggesting that the jobless are moral failures — that they’d rather sit home watching TV than work. And the Trump years have been marked by a relentless assault on programs that help the less fortunate, from Obamacare to food stamps.

One indicator of G.O.P. disingenuousness is the sudden re-emergence of “deficit hawks” claiming that helping the unemployed will add too much to the national debt. I use the scare quotes because as far as I can tell not one of the politicians claiming that we can’t afford to help the unemployed raised any objections to Donald Trump’s $2 trillion tax cut for corporations and the wealthy.

Nor was disdain for the unlucky the only reason the G.O.P. didn’t want to help Americans in need. The recent Vanity Fair report about why we don’t have a national testing strategy fits with a lot of evidence that Republicans spent months believing that Covid-19 was a blue-state problem, not relevant to people they cared about. By the time they realized that the pandemic was exploding in the Sun Belt, it was too late to avoid disaster.

At this point, then, it’s hard to see how we avoid another gratuitous catastrophe. The fecklessness of the Trump administration and its allies means that millions of Americans will soon be in dire financial straits.

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7) Will Covid-19 Patients in Rural Areas Get the Care They Need?
In one study, people admitted to hospitals with fewer than 50 I.C.U. beds were three times more likely to die.
By Daniela J. Lamas, Critical care doctor, Aug. 4, 2020
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/04/opinion/covid-rural-hospitals.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage

A coronavirus message is posted in California’s rural Imperial County which has been hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic on July 23, in El Centro, California. Imperial County currently suffers from the highest death rate and near-highest infection rate from COVID-19 in California. Credit...Mario Tama/Getty Images



There she was. After more than three weeks on the ventilator, after battling weakness and delirium on the general medical floor and a stay at the long-term rehab hospital where she rebuilt the strength to walk again, my patient had made it home. The dark shadows beneath her eyes were fading. Her skin was tanned. The persistent shortness of breath had finally abated, and she had recently run four miles to commemorate four months since she was diagnosed with Covid-19.

Four months. I closed my eyes and found myself once again in those early days of the pandemic, clustered outside her room with a team of doctors and nurses. Nearly two weeks in, she still needed high levels of support from the ventilator and we were starting to talk about the impossible decisions we might face if her lungs never improved. But we waited, because this was a new virus and we did not know its course, and because we had the resources to do so. And now there she was, in clinic — months later, doing far better than I would have predicted.

I have been surprised by similar recoveries in the past weeks. People we thought could die, or at least end up significantly impaired, have made it home. But there is something troubling about this, too. It is clear to me that there was no one specific therapy that determined the outcomes of our sickest coronavirus patients in the intensive care unit.

On the contrary. While even the best possible treatment couldn’t save everyone, those who survived did so because of meticulous critical care, which requires a combination of resources and competency that is only available to a minority of hospitals in this country. And now, even as we race toward the hope of a magic bullet for this virus, we must openly acknowledge that disparity — and work to address it.

Since the beginning of this crisis, conversations about death from Covid-19 have revolved around patient characteristics — men are more likely to die than women, as are people who are older or obese, or those with co-morbidities. But we now know that the hospital matters, too.

In a large study that was recently published in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine, a team of researchers examined hospital mortality rates in more than 2,200 critically ill coronavirus patients in 65 hospitals throughout the country. Their findings? Patients admitted to hospitals with fewer than 50 I.C.U. beds — smaller hospitals — were more than three times more likely to die than patients admitted to larger hospitals.

Though they were not able to study factors like staffing and hospital strain, these likely contributed. In fact, a recent investigative piece in The Times examined mortality data for hospitals in New York City — and found that at the peak of the pandemic, patients at some community hospitals (with lower staffing and worse equipment) were three times more likely to die as patients in medical centers in the wealthiest areas.

Knowing firsthand what it requires to keep critically ill Covid-19 patients alive, this does not surprise me. Though the public has largely focused on new treatments — with excitement and controversy swirling around remdesivir and dexamethasone and convalescent plasma — none of these are any use without the people and systems to deliver critical care, a laborious and resource-intensive process.

In the I.C.U., we must interpret and react to each indicator. Our nurses are frequently at the bedside, attuned to the most minute change. We make constant small tweaks to the ventilator and to our medications to support blood pressure. Though it looks passive in a way — a comatose patient in a bed — and is not at all glamorous, critical care is an immensely active process.

We are all familiar with the images of Covid-19 patients lying on their chests, and we know that prone positioning saves lives. But the simple act of turning a critically ill patient is physically strenuous and, if done hastily, treacherous. Breathing tubes and intravenous lines can become dislodged. The head must be repositioned every two hours.

At my hospital, during the height of the pandemic, we formed a dedicated “prone team” of respiratory and physical therapists who were available 24 hours a day. This spared the bedside nurses and kept patients as safe as possible. Even so, breathing tubes became kinked, and on at least one occasion, we had to urgently replace a breathing tube — a risky procedure. This is why in some hospitals, prone positioning might not have been offered at all. Indeed, the JAMA study found rates of prone positioning to range from just under 5 percent at one hospital to nearly 80 percent at another. Patients would have suffered as a result.

Anyone who has cared for a coronavirus patient knows how quickly they can crash. Thick mucus blocks airways and endotracheal tubes. Oxygen levels plummet. Heart rhythms go haywire. As a doctor, I’ll admit that we are rarely the first to intervene in these moments of crisis. Instead, we rely on nurses and respiratory therapists. More times than I would like to count, I have watched with gratitude as their interventions — suctioning, repositioning a breathing tube, increasing the dose of medications to raise blood pressure — avert certain disaster. It is humbling to realize that had our nurses been spread too thin, these relatively small events would have turned catastrophic.

Perhaps most importantly, because we had the resources to do so, we were able to give our patients time for their lungs to recover. I think of one man, a father, so sick that he was dependent not just on the ventilator but also on a heart-lung bypass machine. These machines, and the staff who know how to manage them, are a truly limited resource. Large academic centers have five of them, maybe 10. Some community hospitals do not have any.

This man had been on the machine for weeks, encountering one complication after another. He bled, we stopped blood thinners, and then surgeons had to rush in overnight to replace a part of the machine when it clotted off. There seemed to be no way out. But then, even as we prepared to say enough, his lungs started to improve. I remember standing outside his room one overnight, amazed, as his stiff lungs began to work with the ventilator once again.

He has now left the hospital. On the night of his return home, his son sent me a note: “Finally family is back, and that is the best feeling of this world.”

You might say he was lucky. But so were we. He was able to return home not because of any 11th-hour save on our part, but because we were able to watch and wait. And we could only afford to do so because here in Boston, we were busy but never underwater. Of course, we made mistakes, miscalculations and errors in judgment as we learned about this new disease. But we were in a privileged position. It could have been far worse. And as the pandemic tears through rural areas of the country with even less access to resource-rich hospitals, I am worried that the inequities of this virus will only become more entrenched.

Just as we devote resources to finding a vaccine, we must also devote resources to helping hospitals deliver high-quality critical care. Maybe that will mean better allocating the resources we do have through a more robust, coordinated system of hospital-to-hospital patient transfers within each region. Maybe it means creating something akin to dedicated coronavirus centers of excellence throughout the country, with certain core competencies. Maybe it will mean expanding the reach of experienced critical care hospitals through telehealth. This will not be easy. But as this virus will be with us for the foreseeable future, it is our duty to try.

As the video visit with my patient ended that day, she reminded me that she had been transferred to us from a small hospital in the western part of our state. “If I hadn’t been transferred, I would have died,” she said. I paused, reflecting on that. What had we done for her, really? We had never enrolled her in a clinical trial. There was no mystery diagnosis to be solved, no high-risk procedure performed. We simply did our best to minimize damage to her lungs and keep her other organs functioning while we waited.

Which makes it even more painful to admit that she might be right.

Daniela J. Lamas is a critical care doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

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Posted by: Bonnie Weinstein <bonnieweinstein@yahoo.com>

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