7/01/2020

BAY AREA UNITED AGAINST WAR NEWSLETTER, JULY 1, 2020



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For Immediate Release                                                            



Press Contact: Herb Mintz
(415) 759-9679

Photos and Interviews: Steve Zeltzer
(415) 867-0628


LaborFest is committed to providing unique and relevant labor theme events while practicing proper social distancing to prevent the spread of the virus.  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no printed program booklet and all LaborFest 2020 program events will be available online only at https://laborfest.net/.  Events will be available through YouTube or Facebook using a web address provided in the program schedule.  Events are subject to change or cancellation due to COVID-19 related issues.  Check our website at https://laborfest.net/ prior to each event.

LaborFest is the premier labor cultural arts and film festival in the United States.  LaborFest recognizes the role of working people in the building of America and making it work even in this time of COVID-19.  The festival is self-funded with contributions from unions and other organizations that support and celebrate the contributions of working people.

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July 4th:   INDEPENDENCE FROM WAR!!!


demilitarize-mcgill.jpg     ,VFNCD7QJ7BDGBA6FDSRKGL3S2A.jpg
National CODEPINK is calling for local chapters to organize car caravans & other peace actions on July 4th:  “Independance from War."
East Bay CODEPINK & San Francisco CODEPINK are planning small group bannering actions.
We invite CODEPINK members in the Bay Area to organize their own bannering actions on July 4th.
Make your own banners, and choose the place & time…..(Or join us).
LET’S BREAK THE SILENCE on ENDLESS WARS…
Plaster the Bay with PEACE!
Some tips:
Choose a site with high visibility & banners with short messages & very LARGE LETTERS.
For banners: Old cotton sheets work best & water-based house paint or acrylic paint.  More message suggestions below, or make up your own.
Please be COVID-safe:  face masks and social distancing.
BRING:  your own folding chair (optional), sun protection (hat, clothing, sunscreen), your own food & water, and your banners.  Instruments and/or song sheets might help pass the time too and make it FUN!  
Bannering Actions:  
(Please contact us if you plan your own bannering event)
Other banners welcome, but please stay on the anti-war (home & abroad) theme.
Berkeley:  10:00 - 11:30 am:  University Ave. Footbridge, just south of I-80.
9:50am:  Meet in large parking lot near SW corner of University and I-80, accessible by frontage rd.
Banners:   DEFUND the POLICE,   DEFUND the PENTAGON,   DEMILITARIZE
Coordinated by Eleanor & Toby.  All welcome to join.   FMI:  ratherbenyckeling@comcast.net
San Francisco:  10:00 - 11:00 am:  Highland Avenue Bridge at the San Jose Ave exit/entrance of I-280.
Banners:  DEMILITARIZE,  MAKE AMERICA LOVE AGAIN,  PEACE   &  VOTE.  
Thanks Barbara Briggs for generously offering to make 2 banners while being totally “sheltered in place!”
All welcome to join. 
Coordinated by Martha;   FMI:  mhubert7@earthlink.net
If you organize your own bannering action, please let us know, and send details, so we can add to list and share later.
For any questions or more info on banner-making contact us:   ratherbenyckeling@comcast.net   or  eastbaycodepink@gmail.com
Thanks!  Toby & Eleanor. 
Other Message Suggestions:
INDEPENDENCE FROM WAR: Home & Abroad
STOP THE KILLING:  Oakland to Afghanistan
END RACIST WARS:   Home & Abroad
MONEY FOR HEALTHCARE not WARFARE
FREEDOM = INDEPENDANCE from WAR
c460d9285399a2f31d8a55cc87d9b2d4 2.jpg


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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?

๐Ÿ‘‰๐ŸพWithin 10 days of sustained protests:
Minneapolis bans use of choke holds.

๐Ÿ‘‰๐ŸพCharges are upgraded against Officer Chauvin, and his accomplices are arrested and charged.

๐Ÿ‘‰๐ŸพDallas adopts a "duty to intervene" rule that requires officers to stop other cops who are engaging in inappropriate use of force.

๐Ÿ‘‰๐ŸพNew Jersey’s attorney general said the state will update its use-of-force guidelines for the first time in two decades.

๐Ÿ‘‰๐ŸพIn Maryland, a bipartisan work group of state lawmakers announced a police reform work group.

๐Ÿ‘‰๐ŸพLos Angeles City Council introduces motion to reduce LAPD’s $1.8 billion operating budget.

๐Ÿ‘‰๐ŸพMBTA in Boston agrees to stop using public buses to transport police officers to protests.

๐Ÿ‘‰๐ŸพPolice brutality captured on cameras leads to near-immediate suspensions and firings of officers in several cities (i.e., Buffalo, Ft. Lauderdale).

๐Ÿ‘‰๐ŸพMonuments celebrating confederates are removed in cities in Virginia, Alabama, and other states.

๐Ÿ‘‰๐ŸพStreet 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:

๐Ÿ’“The really difficult public and private conversations that are happening about race and privilege.

๐Ÿ’“The realizations some white people are coming to about racism and the role of policing in this country.

๐Ÿ’“The self-reflection.

๐Ÿ’“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:

๐ŸŒŽ Protests against racial inequality sparked by the police killing of George Floyd are taking place all over the world.

๐ŸŒŽ Rallies and memorials have been held in cities across Europe, as well as in Mexico, Canada, Brazil, Australia, and New Zealand.

๐ŸŒŽ 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.

๐ŸŒŽ 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.

๐ŸŒŽ 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 Traorรฉ, a 24-year-old black man who was subdued by police officers and gasped the sentence before he died outside Paris in 2016.

๐ŸŒŽ Cities across Europe have come together after the death of George Floyd:

✊๐Ÿฝ 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."

✊๐Ÿฝ In Germany, people gathered in multiple locations throughout Berlin to demand justice for Floyd and fight against police brutality.

✊๐Ÿพ 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.

✊๐Ÿฟ In Ireland, protesters held a peaceful demonstration outside of Belfast City Hall, and others gathered outside of the US embassy in Dublin.

✊๐ŸฟIn Italy, protesters gathered and marched with signs that said "Stop killing black people," "Say his name," and "We will not be silent."

✊๐Ÿพ In Spain, people gathered to march and hold up signs throughout Barcelona and Madrid.

✊๐Ÿพ In Athens, Greece, protesters took to the streets to collectively hold up a sign that read "I can't breathe."

✊๐Ÿพ In Brussels, protesters were seen sitting in a peaceful demonstration in front of an opera house in the center of the city.

✊๐ŸพIn Denmark, protesters were heard chanting "No justice, no peace!" throughout the streets of Copenhagen, while others gathered outside the US embassy.

✊๐Ÿพ 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.

✊๐Ÿพ And in New Zealand, roughly 2,000 people marched to the US embassy in Auckland, chanting and carrying signs demanding justice.

๐Ÿ’ 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.

๐Ÿ’ In Poland, candles and flowers were laid out next to photos of Floyd outside the US consulate.

๐Ÿ’ 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.

๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–คBLACK LIVES MATTER๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค๐Ÿ–ค

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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Tens-of-thousands protest in San Francisco June 3, 2020





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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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Liz McAlister, the eldest of the King Bay Plowshares 7, was sentenced today via video to time served, three years supervised release and for a portion of the restitution for the seven of just over $30,000. She was the first of the defendants to be sentenced. The remaining six are scheduled to appear in the Brunswick court, June 29 and 30. Thirty-seven years ago Liz first stood before a Syracuse federal judge to hear the court render a sentence for her Griffiss Plowshares direct action protesting nuclear weapons. Today, with her attorney Bill Quigley in New Orleans and her family beside her in Connecticut, Liz appeared via video before Judge Lisa Godbey Wood who sat in Georgia's Southern District Federal Court in Brunswick, to hear today's sentence, maybe the last in the long career of indefatigable hope and courage and unrelenting opposition to nuclear weapons.

Last October, Liz, and the six others were found guilty of trespass, conspiracy and destruction of federal property, three felonies, and a misdemeanor in all, at the Kings Bay Naval Base in St. Mary’s, Georgia, where they had the audacity, in the middle of the night, to symbolically disarm a shrine celebrating US nuclear weapons and to protest the preparations for omnicide—the death of everything. Kings Bay is home to 6 Trident submarines that deploy one-quarter of the US nuclear arsenal.

The world has changed since October 2019 when activists gathered for the trial of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 in Brunswick, Georgia. We heard testimony and watched a video describing their incursion into the naval base. We heard the defendants explain why they chose April 4—the anniversary of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination—to carry out their act of faithful obedience. They described hanging banners, the first, a quote from the Rev. Dr. King that read, “The ultimate logic of racism is genocide,” and another that said "The ultimate logic of Trident is Omnicide." They also painted messages of peace and prayerfully poured baby bottles of blood at the naval base.

In the intervening months, while federal marshals prepared presentencing reports for the Kings Bay 7, the COVID-19 pandemic rose up to take more than 400,000 lives globally—reminding us all, if we have ears to hear, of the peril of complacency in the face of low-probability/high-risk events. It is no exaggeration, and not meant to diminish the suffering of those who have been ravaged by or lost loved ones to the novel corona virus, to say that a nuclear war would make the current struggles look like a paper cut by comparison.

In quiet, quintessential southern, Brunswick, Georgia, the spotlight that shone briefly on nuclear weapons during the trial in October shifted abruptly in May when the pandemic of racism re-entered the public’s line of sight and the world learned that Ahmaud Arbery, a young African-American man was hunted down by three armed white men. Arbery, out for a morning jog in February, the men in pickup trucks, shot and killed him. Going into May, none of the men had been indicted or faced any charges. They had, literally, gotten away with murder. Now the three men sit in the Glynn County jail where Fr. Steve Kelly has been for more than two years.

Because of COVID, Instead of gathering in the Brunswick court with activists and supporters, complete with a festival of hope, we gathered in spirit to listen to the court proceedings on a conference call line. The night before, friends, family, and supporters had gathered for a virtual blessing and liturgy via a Zoom/ Facebook event that will be available on our website later this week.

Martin Gugino, the elderly man who was knocked down to the sidewalk by Buffalo police and lay bleeding from his head is a long-time peace activist. He recently made a series of video statements in support of the Kings Bay Plowshares 7 activists. He knows them from drone protests at The Hancock AFB in Syracuse, NY and Witness Against Torture actions in Washington, DC. Martin primarily works through the Western New York Peace Center. He texted today to let us know he is alive and in recovery.


Frida Berrigan's Statement


Frida Berrigan, Liz’s daughter, gave a spirited statement of support for her mother attesting to her lifelong commitment to peace. “…as a 46 year-old white citizen in a nation that is going to spend $720 plus billion on the military this year, even in the face of an economy smashing pandemic that has killed 100,000 people and laid bare the stark inequity and fundamental brokenness of every fiber of the social safety net, I am grateful that people like my mother are willing to stand up and say: “Trident is a crime.”

As a 46 year-old white citizen in a country where white supremacy and militarized policing are so emboldened that Derek Chavin can crush George Floyd’s life out of him in front of a crowd, in front of cameras, where the McMichaels father and son can gun down Ahmaud Arbery in broad daylight as he jogged through the streets of a quiet Georgia town, I draw hope and inspiration from white people who continue to invoke Dr. King’s framework of the giant triplets of racism, militarism and materialism… these weights that cripple our collective humanity. I draw hope and inspiration from my mom and her friends who declare that “Black Lives Matter” who wed their anti-nuclear analysis with an anti-racist ethos, and declare that the ultimate logic of trident is omnicide.

So, I am here as a daughter who doesn’t want her 80 year-old mother sent back to jail and a human being who wonders how anything ever changes if people like my mom aren't willing to take that risk.

I’m hoping you agree with the government that Liz McAlister has served enough time in jail already and you’ll help our family close this long and challenging episode of our lives today by sentencing her to time served. I also hope that you will recognize that as a person who owns nothing but the clothes on her back and the water colors she uses to paint with her grandchildren, you will waive all fines and restitution. "

(Frida's full statement is on the website: Sentencing Statement.)

Liz's Statement

Finally Liz spoke about what motivated her to join this action and take such risks. She quoted the biblical exhortation to “Beat swords into plowshares” from Isaiah and said, “All my life I've tried to follow the prophet, Isaiah, to stop learning war... All my life I have spoken and written against nuclear weapons and I believe these are contrary to life, destructive of life on every single level.”

The sentencing hearing began with technical glitches and was adjourned for more than a half hour at the beginning while these were worked out. There were 270 people listening to the audio feed when adjourned and due to some confusion about getting back on only 230 were on for the actual hearing which went on for another hour. Judge Wood said that she had read several hundred letters which had come to her from plowshares supporters and considered each of them. However, the judge then ruled against all the defense arguments for mitigation.

The defendants are considering doing another webinar before the end of June. Stay tuned.
                                                                         

EMAIL: Media: kbp7media@gmail.com
General: kingsbayplowshares@gmail.com
WEBSITE: www.kingsbayplowshares7.org
FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/Kingsbayplowshares
TWITTER: https://www.twitter.com/kingsbayplow7
INSTAGRAM: https://instagram.com/kingsbayplowshares7

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This will make you smile!


Atlanta called in the NG. Know what the NG did?


https://imgur.com/gallery/3gaTKG3


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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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CALL TO ACTION: 



Respected Elder Jalil Muntaqim 

Hospitalized with COVID-19





Widely respected elder Jalil Muntaqim (Anthony Bottom), who in his teens joined the Black Panther Party, and who was convicted at 19 and has been incarcerated for 49 years in NYS prisons on a 25-year minimum sentence, became ill last week, and has tested positive for COVID-19. His health deteriorated over the weekend and he has been hospitalized since Monday.


For months, public health experts, faith leaders, Congress members, and hundreds of others have warned NYS officials that the prisons are potential death traps in the COVID-19 pandemic. Recognizing this, a New York State judge on April 27th ordered Jalil's temporary release from Sullivan Correctional Facility in Fallsburg, NY, based on his extreme vulnerability to the virus. Jalil is 68 years old and suffers from serious chronic health conditions that can make COVID-19 deadly.


However, NYS Attorney General Letitia James, acting on behalf of NYS DOCCS Commissioner Anthony Annucci, appealed the ruling, blocking Jalil's release and forcing him to remain in prison. Just as we feared, Jalil, who was ordered released a month ago, eventually contracted COVID-19.


Tomorrow, May 28th, a NYS Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments from Jalil's attorney and the DOCCS attorney. We ask you to call and tweet the AG and DOCCS commissioner today and tomorrow urging them to withdraw the appeal so that Jalil can be released from the hospital to the community, where he has medical and other support awaiting him, rather than be returned to the prison where his recovery will be impeded, and where he will again be vulnerable to contracting another COVID-19 infection.


Here's what you can do:


TWEET!


@TishJames @NewYorkStateAG Withdraw your appeal of Judge Shick's 4/27 order releasing Anthony Bottom. If you had not appealed/blocked his release, Mr. Bottom wouldn't have contracted COVID & wouldn't be seriously ill now. Withdraw the appeal so he can go home, recover & stay safe


@NYSDOCCS Cmr. Annucci should withdraw his appeal of the release of Anthony Bottom. On 4/27, Judge Stephan Schick ordered Mr. Bottom's release to protect him from COVID-19, but DOCCS appealed, blocking release. Now he is ill. Withdraw appeal so he can go home, recover & stay safe


CALL  the Attorney General and Commissioner


Attorney General  Letitia James - (718) 560-2040



Sample Script For AG: 


My name is [X]. I am calling to urge the AG to withdraw her appeal of the release of Anthony Bottom, DIN# 77A4283, which was ordered by Sullivan County Supreme Court Judge Stephan G. Schick on April 27. Had the AG not originally appealed that decision, Mr. Bottom would not have contracted COVID-19, as he recently did, and would not be seriously ill and in the hospital now. The AG's appeal was responsible for his current life-threatening illness. She must now withdraw her appeal so that Mr. Bottom can return to his community after he recovers from COVID-19 and avoid being re-infected. The communities that elected her, and whom she claims to represent, demand this of her.




Commissioner Annucci - (518) 457-8126


Sample Script For Commissioner: 



My name is [X]. I am calling to urge Commissioner  Annucci to withdraw his opposition to the release of Anthony Bottom, DIN#77A4283. On April 27, Sullivan County Supreme Court Judge Stephan G. Schick ordered Mr. Bottom's release to protect him from COVID-19, but DOCCS appealed and he was not released. Predictably, Mr. Bottom contracted the virus and now he is hospitalized with COVID-19. If DOCCS had not appealed this decision, Mr. Bottom would not have contracted COVID-19, as he recently did, and would not be in the hospital now. DOCCS should withdraw the appeal so that Mr. Bottom can return to his community after he recovers from COVID-19 and avoid being re-infected. Alternatively, the Commissioner should expedite and ensure approval of Mr. Bottom's supplemented request for medical parole.  


Read more about the case (with additional articles coming soon):




Questions and comments may be sent to info@freedomarchives.org

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We Need Your Support: Unite to Send Deputy Chairman Kwame Shakur to Minneapolis!

In light of recent protests following the May 24, 2020, state-sanctioned lynching of George Floyd, a black man, and resident of Minneapolis, MN we recognize the protests happening there as an organic demonstration of resistance to imperialist oppression by the people and understand the importance of having the New Afrikan Black Panther Party on the ground in order to give proper leadership and direction to this important struggle. Because of this, we believe that it is necessary to get our Deputy Chairman, Kwame Shakur from Indiana, where he resides, to Minneapolis, MN.  We are calling on all of our friends and supporters to materially assist us in accomplishing this task!  Kwame will need resources that will enable him to travel to Minneapolis, MN, remain for as long as need be, and return to his home in IN.  You can donate to this cause through PayPal at PayPal.me/drayonmiller or through CashApp at $PantherLove2005.

Kwame has been actively organizing and leading mass demonstrations in Indianapolis IN in response to prisoner abuse and police killings there. His involvement and development of wide community support can be seen in the many live recordings made on the ground, which can be seen on his Facebook page (see link below) and podcasts on YouTube. We want to take this revolutionary guidance to Minneapolis and develop new forces to build and advance the work of the mass struggle there. We want boots on the ground! All power to the people!
DONATE
Facebook
Website
Copyright © *2020* *Kevin Rashid Johnson*, All rights reserved.


Our mailing address is:

Kevin Rashid Johnson
D.O.C. #264847, G-20-2C
Pendleton Correctional Facility 4490 W. Reformatory Rd

PendletonIN  46064




Want to change how you receive these emails?


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Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin 



conviction integrity unit—confession and all





Petition update - Please sign at the link above!
May 23, 2020 —  

We have submitted our application to the @FultonCountyDA #ConvictionIntegrityUnit demanding a retrial for Imam Jamil Al-Amin FKA H. Rap Brown. 

We must now show the establishment that we care more about justice than they do about corruption and injustice. 

The proof of misdeeds is clear, the proof of innocence is clear, a retrial or release are the only acceptable options. 

We make the news so let our voices once again be heard loudly and in unison…we demand a retrial…we demand justice!   #FreeImamJamil

Questions and comments may be sent to info@freedomarchives.org

To unsubscribe contact: http://freedomarchives.org/mailman/options/ppnews_freedomarchives.org



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#FreeOurYouth Chicago
Chicago community members have been active in #FreeOurYouth actions to call for the release of incarcerated young people during the pandemic. Photo: Sarah-Ji @loveandstrugglephotos 

Dear Friend,

More than 50 years ago, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Poor People’s Campaign taught us what COVID-19 remind us of today. Living wages, health care for all, jobs, and labor rights are issues of right vs. wrong and life vs. death.

On June 20, please join AFSC and partners across the U.S. for a digital gathering of the new Poor People’s Campaign to demand our government prioritize the needs of the poor and working class—and ensure all people have the resources they need to thrive.

Here are this week’s resources to help you stay informed and support your activism.  

Video: How we're responding to COVID-19 in the U.S. and around the world: AFSC’s Joyce Ajlouny, Kerri Kennedy, and Sayrah Namaste share how AFSC is responding to the needs of communities around the world in this pandemic. And join us on Facebook every Thursday at 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT for our weekly updates from AFSC staff! (Facebook)

AFSC and partners file class-action lawsuit demanding the release of all immigrants from for-profit detention center: One employee has already died from the virus, and 18 people in detention and another 17 staff members have tested positive. (Gothamist)

As we honor health care professionals, let's remember Razan al-Najjar and all health care workers in Palestine: AFSC’s Mike Merryman-Lotze explains the challenges facing health professionals in Palestine and invites all to join AFSC’s social media day of action on June 1.

If the state fails to act, prisons will become death camps: New Jersey must immediately release more people from prison and provide adequate medical and social services to those incarcerated, co-writes AFSC’s Bonnie Kerness in this op-ed with attorneys Jean Ross and Daniel McCarey. (Star-Ledger)

4 things you need to know about the Supreme Court case on DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals): A decision on the fate of hundreds of thousands of young people is expected any day now—here’s what could happen and how we can advocate for permanent protection for DACA recipients, writes AFSC’s Peniel Ibe.

The call to #FreeOurYouth during COVID-19: In Chicago, community members are demanding the release of incarcerated youth—and real investments in their health and future, writes AFSC’s Mary Zerkel.

Be well and take care. 

DONATE NOW

AFSC.org  |  unsubscribe  |  Donate 
Follow us online:
Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Resolution for Funding for the Undocumented




Whereas, Governor Newsom recently announced the creation of a $125 million emergency relief fund for undocumented workers, none of whom are eligible for the federal stimulus, the centerpiece being a one-time payment of $500 to 150,000 individuals;

Whereas, the undocumented pay $3 billion in state and local taxes every year;[1]

Whereas, California's cost-of-living is extraordinarily high;[2]

Resolved:  Adult School Teachers United considers the one-time $500 grant to undocumented workers at best, token.  It is barely 25 percent of the weekly wage or six percent of the monthly wage the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) considers necessary to lift a family of four in the Bay Area above the poverty line. This is approximately $47.50-an-hour total per household before taxes extrapolating from figures provided by HUD.

As the fifth largest economy in the world, and with Silicon Valley, agribusiness, defense contractors and Hollywood sitting on huge capital reserves, California must provide a living wage to all. Instead it has failed to even match the $600 a week Unemployment Insurance (UI) boost provided by the federal government which itself is grossly inadequate.

We will attempt to circulate our position widely in the labor movement and in the immigrants' rights community, and we call for united labor actions to fight for the necessary level of financial support.”

Contact: 

Kristen Pursley, President,

Adult School Teachers United (ASTU)

(510)-741-8359




[1] https://www.kqed.org/news/11809657/new-covid-19-relief-benefits-leaves-out-some-undocumented-immigrants
[2] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-44725026
https://www.cnbc.com/2019/07/10/americas-10-most-expensive-states-to-live-in-2019.html

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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. ๐Ÿ˜“

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) The Invisible Essential Workers
America’s neglect of older people extends to the people who care for them at home.
“…employers, despite claiming to do the best they could, were in fact mobilizing lobbyists to shield themselves from litigation: The nursing-home industry has tried to limit its liability in more than 20 states and is pushing for nationwide relief in Congress. … Long-term care employees, on the other hand, face criminalization simply for doing their jobs. In May, a home health aide was arrested in Camden, N.J., and charged with multiple counts of “endangering the welfare of another.” The state alleges that, in mid-April, the aide went to get tested for the coronavirus and ignored instructions to self-isolate; the next day, she showed up for work as usual. Her patient later fell ill and died, and four other members of the household got sick. The aide’s test turned out to be positive, although it is not clear whether she had transmitted the virus to her patient or vice versa.”
By E. Tammy Kim, June 30, 2020
Contributing Opinion Writer
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/30/opinion/coronavirus-nursing-homes.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
Yolanda, a home health aide in Queens, watched a beloved client die of the virus. Credit...Katie Orlinsky for The New York Times

Even as states reopen, Covid-19 continues to lay waste to the elderly and those who care for them. This country has a long tradition of banishing ailing seniors, and this neglect extends to the workers who help them eat and dress and nourish their minds and souls.

The home health aides and certified nursing assistants who work in long-term care facilities and private homes are usually paid no more than the minimum wage and given few, if any, benefits. Their salaries are drawn from public Medicaid funds, through a labyrinthine arrangement of state-by-state block grants, health insurers and private contractors. Medicare, despite its association with seniors, does not cover long-term care.

These frontline workers, mostly black and immigrant women, have become victims and vectors of the pandemic. More than 54,000 Americans living or working in long-term care have died of the coronavirus, representing 40 percent of all Covid-19 fatalities, and a disproportionate number of those deaths have occurred in facilities serving nonwhite patients.

These figures should scandalize, but they may be an undercount. While concentrations of deaths in nursing homes have made the news across the country, from Hawaii to Illinois to Louisiana, there is no parallel accounting in private residences, where more than 2.3 million aides help seniors and people with disabilities.

New York now requires weekly testing for residents and “personnel” in nursing homes and assisted-living facilities. Yet the rule does not apply to visiting agency aides or those in apartments and houses. Like so much domestic work, this intimate caregiving is rendered invisible.

The home health aides and nursing assistants I have interviewed since May, mostly in New York, relay terrifying stories. When I reached Paula, a home health aide working 12-hour shifts for a patient in Manhattan, she had just taken the subway back to her apartment in the Bronx. “The transportation is pretty crowded, it’s worrisome,” she said.

Her client had tested positive for the coronavirus, yet the agency that employs her, at the $15 minimum wage, offered no additional compensation or guidance, let alone taxi service, she said. It gave her one gown and a few masks and gloves, with vague instructions on reuse.

“I go home, take off all my clothes, and disinfect,” she said. “We risk our health, we risk our families and there’s no protection.” (Paula and the other women interviewed for this story asked that their last names be withheld, to protect them from retaliation from their employers.)

Yolanda, an aide in Queens, told me that she watched a beloved client die of Covid-19, then fell sick herself. With only a few hours of paid leave, she lost six weeks of income. She was then assigned to 24-hour shifts for a new patient but was paid for only 13 hours a day. The law in New York State requires her employer to compensate her for only half her time, even if her patient needs consistent care, on the absurd assumption that she’s able to sleep and eat for the remaining hours.

Sonya, an aide on Long Island, told me that since the beginning of the pandemic her agency has had her provide extra care to a patient in an assisted-living facility. Because of the ban on visitors, she was the man’s only conduit to his family. But because she isn’t employed directly by the facility, she found herself excluded from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s order requiring workers to be tested every week. As an agency aide, she went unnoticed by regulators.

Other aides I interviewed were working in multiple patients’ homes. Direct caregivers are so poorly paid that they often have to accept whatever shifts are offered, shuttling between private residences, assisted-living units and nursing homes. “They’re putting themselves at risk, going from job to job to job and putting the older adults at risk as well,” Amy York, executive director of the Eldercare Workforce Alliance, told me.

Even before the coronavirus reached the United States, the risks to older people were clear. As in South Korea, the first clusters here, too, were linked to long-term care. I happened to be reporting in Washington State in early March when the virus was detected in a facility in Kirkland. Officials there, in interviews, could not address my questions about what should happen to the caregiving staff.

To contain the spread of the virus, wouldn’t aides need hazard pay and extra protective equipment, private transportation and temporary lodging? No one seemed to have an answer, and aides proceeded to work in fear.

Their employers, despite claiming to do the best they could, were in fact mobilizing lobbyists to shield themselves from litigation: The nursing-home industry has tried to limit its liability in more than 20 states and is pushing for nationwide relief in Congress.

Long-term care employees, on the other hand, face criminalization simply for doing their jobs. In May, a home health aide was arrested in Camden, N.J., and charged with multiple counts of “endangering the welfare of another.” The state alleges that, in mid-April, the aide went to get tested for the coronavirus and ignored instructions to self-isolate; the next day, she showed up for work as usual. Her patient later fell ill and died, and four other members of the household got sick. The aide’s test turned out to be positive, although it is not clear whether she had transmitted the virus to her patient or vice versa.

At a court hearing, the aide told the judge that she had not known that she was positive with the virus when she went to work. Teri Lodge, her lawyer, told me that her client is distraught over her patient’s death. Neither the New Jersey Office of the Attorney General nor the Camden County prosecutor would speak with me about the case, though they have boasted of the arrest as a Covid-19-era victory. In fact, the aide’s prosecution shows a system in crisis: a retreat to criminalization instead of social repair.

Low-wage caregivers are taking a stand. Yolanda, the aide I spoke with in Queens, joined the worker-led “Ain’t I a Woman” campaign to demand that the Cuomo administration provide protective equipment, regular testing, safe transportation and compensation for all hours worked on 24-hour shifts. In states where home care unions are strong, workers have engaged in coronavirus-specific bargaining to improve pay and conditions. Service Employees International Union Local 775, in Washington State, won temporary pay raises of an additional $3 per hour, expanded health insurance and an equipment stipend. Unions in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Oregon and Illinois have negotiated similar provisions.

Worker organizing will continue to improve the home care industry, but radical change is impossible in the absence of an adequate Medicaid budget. One-fifth of America’s population will reach retirement age over the next decade, far exceeding our long-term-care infrastructure.

Covid-19 has shown that America must reorder its notion of medicine, by recognizing that those who tend to the elderly and people with disabilities are as indispensable as nurses and doctors. The patchwork that we call a system is not merely insufficient; it is proving fatal to workers and patients alike.

E. Tammy Kim is a contributing opinion writer. This story was supported by the Economic Hardship Reporting Project.

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2) Most People With Coronavirus Won’t Spread It. Why Do a Few Infect Many?
Growing evidence shows most infected people aren’t spreading the virus. But whether you become a superspreader probably depends more on circumstance than biology.
By Carl Zimmer, June 30, 2020
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/30/science/how-coronavirus-spreads.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage
A makeshift emergency room in Brescia, Italy, in March. It was set up to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. Credit...Alessandro Grassani for The New York Times

At a May 30 birthday party in Texas, one man reportedly infected 18 friends and family with the coronavirus.

Reading reports like these, you might think of the virus as a wildfire, instantly setting off epidemics wherever it goes. But other reports tell another story altogether.

In Italy, for example, scientists looked at stored samples of wastewater for the earliest trace of the virus. Last week they reported that the virus was in Turin and Milan as early as Dec. 18. But two months would pass before northern Italy’s hospitals began filling with victims of Covid-19. So those December viruses seem to have petered out.

As strange as it may seem, these reports don’t contradict each other. Most infected people don’t pass on the coronavirus to someone else. But a small number pass it on to many others in so-called superspreading events.

“You can think about throwing a match at kindling,” said Ben Althouse, principal research scientist at the Institute for Disease Modeling in Bellevue, Wash. “You throw one match, it may not light the kindling. You throw another match, it may not light the kindling. But then one match hits in the right spot, and all of a sudden the fire goes up.”

Understanding why some matches start fires while many do not will be crucial to curbing the pandemic, scientists say. “Otherwise, you’re in the position where you’re always one step behind the virus,” said Adam Kucharski, an epidemiologist at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

When the virus first emerged in China, epidemiologists scrambled to understand how it spread from person to person. One of their first tasks was to estimate the average number of people each sick person infected, or what epidemiologists call the reproductive number.

The new coronavirus turned out to have a reproductive number somewhere between two and three. It’s impossible to pin down an exact figure, since people’s behavior can make it easier or harder for the virus to spread. By going into lockdown, for instance, Massachusetts drove its reproductive number down from 2.2 at the beginning of March to 1 by the end of the month; it’s now at .74.

This averaged figure can also be misleading because it masks the variability of spread from one person to the next. If nine out of 10 people don’t pass on a virus at all, while the 10th passes it to 20 people, the average would still be two.

In some diseases, such as influenza and smallpox, a large fraction of infected people pass on the pathogen to a few more. These diseases tend to grow steadily and slowly. “Flu can really plod along,” said Kristin Nelson, an assistant professor at Emory University.

But other diseases, like measles and SARS, are prone to sudden flares, with only a few infected people spreading the disease.

Epidemiologists capture the difference between the flare-ups and the plodding with something known as the dispersion parameter. It is a measure of how much variation there is from person to person in transmitting a pathogen.

But James Lloyd-Smith, a U.C.L.A. disease ecologist who developed the dispersion parameter 15 years ago, cautioned that just because scientists can measure it doesn’t mean they understand why some diseases have more superspreading than others. “We just understand the bits of it,” he said.

When Covid-19 broke out, Dr. Kucharski and his colleagues tried to calculate that number by comparing cases in different countries.

If Covid-19 was like the flu, you’d expect the outbreaks in different places to be mostly the same size. But Dr. Kucharski and his colleagues found a wide variation. The best way to explain this pattern, they found, was that 10 percent of infected people were responsible for 80 percent of new infections. Which meant that most people passed on the virus to few, if any, others.

Dr. Kucharski and his colleagues published their study in April as a preprint, a report that has not been reviewed by other scientists and published in a scientific journal. Other epidemiologists have calculated the dispersion parameter with other methods, ending up with similar estimates.

In Georgia, for example, Dr. Nelson and her colleagues analyzed over 9,500 Covid-19 cases from March to May. They created a model for the spread of the virus through five counties and estimated how many people each person infected.

In a preprint published last week, the researchers found many superspreading events. Just 2 percent of people were responsible for 20 percent of transmissions.

Now researchers are trying to figure out why so few people spread the virus to so many. They’re trying to answer three questions: Who are the superspreaders? When does superspreading take place? And where?

As for the first question, doctors have observed that viruses can multiply to bigger numbers inside some people than others. It’s possible that some people become virus chimneys, blasting out clouds of pathogens with each breath.

Some people also have more opportunity to get sick, and to then make other people sick. A bus driver or a nursing home worker may sit at a hub in the social network, while most people are less likely to come into contact with others — especially in a lockdown.

Dr. Nelson suspects the biological differences between people are less significant. “I think the circumstances are a lot more important,” she said. Dr. Lloyd-Smith agreed. “I think it’s more centered on the events.”

A lot of transmission seems to happen in a narrow window of time starting a couple days after infection, even before symptoms emerge. If people aren’t around a lot of people during that window, they can’t pass it along.

And certain places seem to lend themselves to superspreading. A busy bar, for example, is full of people talking loudly. Any one of them could spew out viruses without ever coughing. And without good ventilation, the viruses can linger in the air for hours.

A study from Japan this month found clusters of coronavirus cases in health care facilities, nursing homes, day care centers, restaurants, bars, workplaces, and musical events such as live concerts and karaoke parties.

This pattern of superspreading could explain the puzzling lag in Italy between the arrival of the virus and the rise of the epidemic. And geneticists have found a similar lag in other countries: The first viruses to crop up in a given region don’t give rise to the epidemics that come weeks later.

Many countries and states have fought outbreaks with lockdowns, which have managed to draw down Covid-19’s reproductive number. But as governments move toward reopening, they shouldn’t get complacent and forget the virus’s potential for superspreading.

“You can really go from thinking you’ve got things under control to having an out-of-control outbreak in a matter of a week,” Dr. Lloyd-Smith said.

Singapore’s health authorities earned praise early on for holding down the epidemic by carefully tracing cases of Covid-19. But they didn’t appreciate that huge dormitories where migrant workers lived were prime spots for superspreading events. Now they are wrestling with a resurgence of the virus.

On the other hand, knowing that Covid-19 is a superspreading pandemic could be a good thing. “It bodes well for control,” Dr. Nelson said.

Since most transmission happens only in a small number of similar situations, it may be possible to come up with smart strategies to stop them from happening. It may be possible to avoid crippling, across-the-board lockdowns by targeting the superspreading events.

“By curbing the activities in quite a small proportion of our life, we could actually reduce most of the risk,” said Dr. Kucharski.

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3) E.U. Formalizes Reopening, Barring Travelers From U.S.
The bloc will allow visitors from 15 countries, but the United States, Brazil and Russia were among the notable absences from the safe list.
By Matina Stevis-Gridneff, June 30, 2020
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/30/world/europe/eu-reopening-blocks-us-travelers.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage
Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport last month. The move by the European Union aims to balance health concerns with the need to bolster trade, not least the tourism industry. Credit...Charles Platiau/Reuters

BRUSSELS — The European Union will open its borders to visitors from 15 countries as of Wednesday, but not to travelers from the United States, Brazil or Russia, putting into effect a complex policy that has sought to balance health concerns with politics, diplomacy and the desperate need for tourism revenue.

The list of nations that European Union countries have approved includes Australia, Canada and New Zealand, while travelers from China will be permitted if China reciprocates.

The plan was drawn up based on health criteria, and European Union officials went to great lengths to appear apolitical in their choices, but the decision to leave the United States off the list — lumping travelers from there in with those from Brazil and Russia — was a high-profile rebuke of the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus crisis.

Travelers’ country of residence, not their nationality, will be the determining factor for their ability to travel to countries in the European Union, officials said, and while the policy will not be legally binding, all 27 member nations will be under pressure to comply. If not, they risk having their European peers close borders within the bloc, which would set back efforts to restart the free travel-and-trade zone that is fundamental to the club’s economic survival.

Still, some European countries, especially those in the south that see millions of visitors from all over the world throng to beaches and cultural sites during the summer, have been eager to permit more travelers in a bid to salvage their ravaged, and vital, tourism industries.

The United States was the first country to bar visitors from the European Union in March as the pandemic devastated Italy and other European nations.

The bloc implemented its own travel ban in mid-March and has been gradually extending it as the pandemic spreads to other parts of the world. It had set July 1 as the date to begin allowing non-European Union travelers to return, even as Portugal and Sweden, both members, and Britain, which is treated as a member until the end of the year, still grapple with serious outbreaks. Others, such as Germany, are seeing new localized outbreaks drive up their national caseloads.

Britain was exempt from consideration for the list because of its current E.U. status, and countries like Spain and France are considering allowing direct flights from Britain to bring in crucial tourism revenue.

The list of safe countries will be reviewed every two weeks to reflect the changing realities of the coronavirus outbreaks in individual nations, officials said, and countries could be added or removed from the list. Experts say the approach is a sensible way navigate the continent’s reopening as the spread of the virus shifts and ebbs. But it is also bound to create logistical problems for airlines trying to plan routes, and could reap uncertainty for would-be travelers.

The full list of the first 15 countries that the European Union will open up to includes Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia, Uruguay and China, provided that China also opens up to travelers from the bloc. It also includes four European microstates, Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and the Vatican.

Exceptions are also being made for travelers from countries outside the safe list, including health care workers, diplomats, humanitarian workers, transit passengers, asylum seekers and students, as well as “passengers traveling for imperative family reasons” and foreign workers whose employment in Europe is deemed essential.

Although travel between the United States and Europe has been severely limited by the earlier lockdown restrictions, exceptions have been made. A regular flight between Newark and Amsterdam, for example, has shuttled essential travelers such as diplomats and health care professionals and repatriated Europeans from the United States.

The prolonged severance of travel ties between the bloc and the United States has disrupted a critical economic, cultural and diplomatic relationship. Business travelers on both sides of the Atlantic are desperate to resume their visits, couples and families have been split up for months, and the differences between the European and American approaches to combating the pandemic have brought to the fore divergent views on science and policy.

While most European nations went into strict lockdowns early in their outbreaks and have promoting the wearing of masks and other measures to try and control the resurgence of the illness, the United States has seen a patchwork response and the number of new cases has continued to balloon.

The different policy approaches and their subsequent results became obvious to officials tasked with drafting the safe list. The benchmark scientific metric used was new cases over the past two weeks per 100,000 people. The average among the 27 European Union countries was 16 in mid-June; in the United States, it was 107.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo last week said that the United States and the European Union were working together to reopen travel between the two areas.

“We’re working with our European counterparts to get that right,” he told a German Marshall Fund conference last week. “There’s enormous destruction of wealth.”

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4) I’m a Black American. I Need a Gun to Feel Safe in This Country.
Some Black Americans never considered buying a gun. Until now.
By Chloe Brown, Tarikh Brown, Nylah Burton, Anubis Heru, Lawrence Taylor and Kat Traylor, July 1, 2020
Screen shot from video. 

What does it take for Black Americans to feel safe right now?

For some, it’s owning a gun. Even if that’s not something they may have ever wanted to do. In the video above, a chorus of Black voices from across the country — a schoolteacher in Oakland, Calif., a political strategist in Aurora, Colo., and others — have an urgent message: “Go buy a gun. Arm yourself. And just make sure you get some training.”

This is by no means the first time many Black Americans have felt the need to arm themselves for self-preservation. But with a white couple pulling guns on Black Lives Matter protesters in St. Louis, right-wing extremists increasing attacks and co-opting rallies to advance their own messaging and half of Black Americans already feeling that they can’t trust the police to treat them equally, some Black Americans are saying they now have no choice but to exercise their Second Amendment right.

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5) The World Builds a Wall to Keep America Out
America has no monopoly on success.
By Farhad Manjoo, July 1, 2020
Opinion Columnist
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/01/opinion/us-travel-ban-europe.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
President Trump in Arizona last week joined in a commemoration of the 200th mile of new and replacement border wall. Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times


You might call it poetic, if it weren’t so painful. Donald Trump won the White House largely on a campaign of shutting America’s borders to pretty much everyone other than people of European descent. “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” he once asked, about Haitians, Salvadorans and Africans. “We should have more people from places like Norway.”

So what should one conclude about America’s own proximity to Trump’s global latrine now that “places like Norway” have decided to keep their borders indefinitely closed to us?

Among the list of nations to which Norway and the rest of Europe will soon reopen for travel are three from the continent that Trump flushed down the toilet: Algeria, Morocco and Rwanda. Canada is also on the list. So is China, assuming it reciprocates.

But Trump’s America is not, because we are nowhere close to meeting Europe’s criteria for reducing the spread of the coronavirus. How successfully a society can fight a pandemic is as objective a measure of national capacity, not to mention “greatness,” as one is likely to find — and on this, like so much else these days, America ranks near the bottom.

I have lived in the United States for more than 30 years, and I can’t think of any national failure as naked and complete as this one. When I look at the graphs showing American infections soaring while the virus abates in nearly every other affluent country, I feel the sting of defeat, misery and embarrassment.

As an immigrant from South Africa, I find it hard to resist seeing Europe’s travel dis as the ultimate comeuppance of Trump’s xenophobia. Like a lot of Americans, I sometimes find myself assuming American exceptionalism — the idea that America’s founding ideals make us morally superior to “ordinary” nations and confer on us special credibility and insight when dealing with global crises.

But America’s pandemic failure demolishes the notion that our country is better off without people and ideas from beyond our borders. The last few months should stick a fork in the absurd proposition that the United States enjoys some kind of monopoly on brilliance. Clearly, we do not. Rather than close ourselves off from the planet, we should be inviting others to join the urgent project of rebuilding America.

I bang this drum often. As I’ve argued before, I am in favor of throwing America’s borders wide open to much of the world. My primary reasons are moral — I don’t think a country founded on the idea that everyone is equal should seal itself off to the ambitious billions who live beyond our shores.

There are also powerful economic and strategic arguments for openness; American exceptionalism is impossible without immigration. The only way that a country with less than 5 percent of the world’s population can maintain the long-term economic and cultural superiority to which many Americans feel entitled is to collectively produce much more than 5 percent of the world’s best ideas.

The only way to do that is to invite in the other 95 percent. I spent much of my career covering Silicon Valley. Some of the most innovative companies in the world — from Google to Intel to Instagram to Stripe — were founded by immigrants, and many in the industry say the whole place would not work without immigration.

I am not one of those lefties who believe that Trump bears all of the blame for our flawed response to the virus. The breakdown here was so total that it lays bare larger and more persistent ailments: our creaking health care system, the ruthlessness of our economy, our Swiss-cheese safety net, and political polarization that poisons effective action but excels at whipping up nonsensical culture wars.

The totality of our failure is precisely why we should look to the outside for success — yet Trump has used the virus as an excuse to accelerate his restrictions on immigration.

Last week, Trump suspended the issuance of work visas for hundreds of thousands of foreigners, from tech workers to seasonal workers in the hospitality industry to au pairs and students.

Another group the restriction affects is doctors. About 127,000 doctors, nearly a quarter of the physicians in the United States, are immigrants. Many of them are now caring for coronavirus patients in communities without enough health care professionals. All the while, immigrant doctors have had to worry not only that they might die of the virus while taking care of Americans, but also that if they do, their families could be deported.

This is madness. More than that: If we keep shutting foreigners out, what justifies our arrogant assumption that the world’s best and brightest will keep wanting to come here?

Consider, for instance, Rwanda, one of the countries that did make Europe’s list. In 1994, it suffered a genocide in which the United States and the United Nations infamously refused to intervene. Almost a million people were killed. In the 26 years since, Rwanda has rebuilt itself, and now it boasts one of the most capable medical systems in Africa. Rwanda’s 13 million people have nearly universal health care coverage; the country uses drones to carry blood and other supplies to far-flung hospitals.

And when the coronavirus came, Rwanda set up contact tracing to quickly halt the spread of the virus, making it one of several African countries to squash it. To date, only two Rwandans are known to have died of Covid-19.

I truly hope that Rwandans and others witnessing America’s dysfunction are not tempted to celebrate our fall. The United States’ coronavirus failure is a loss for the world, which has long depended on American leadership to combat global crises.


The lesson here is obvious: We are all in this together. It’s time to stop pretending that America, and Americans, have all the answers. We need all the help we can get.


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6) Why Do the Rich Have So Much Power?
Americans may be equal, but some are more equal than others.
“Tax rates on corporations and high incomes have gone down, unions have been crushed, the minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, is lower than it was in the 1960s. How is that possible? … So the Obama administration offered congressional Republicans a deal: cuts in Social Security and Medicare in return for slightly higher taxes on the wealthy. The deal foundered only because the party refused to accept even a small tax increase.”
By Paul Krugman, July 1, 2020"
Opinion Columnist
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/01/opinion/inequality-america-paul-krugman.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
Woody Harrington


America is, in principle, a democracy, in which every vote counts the same. It’s also a nation in which income inequality has soared, a development that hurts many more people than it helps. So if you didn’t know better, you might have expected to see a political backlash: demands for higher taxes on the rich, more spending on the working class and higher wages.

In reality, however, policy has mostly gone the other way. Tax rates on corporations and high incomes have gone down, unions have been crushed, the minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, is lower than it was in the 1960s. How is that possible?

The answer is that huge disparities in income and wealth translate into comparable disparities in political influence. To see how this works, let’s look at a fairly recent example: the budgetary Grand Bargain that almost happened in 2011.

At the time, Washington was firmly in the grip of deficit fever. Even though the federal government was able to borrow at historically low interest rates, everyone who mattered seemed to be saying that the budget deficit was the most important issue facing America and that it was essential to rein in spending on Social Security and Medicare.

So the Obama administration offered congressional Republicans a deal: cuts in Social Security and Medicare in return for slightly higher taxes on the wealthy. The deal foundered only because the party refused to accept even a small tax increase.

The question is, who wanted such a deal? Not the American public.

Voters in general weren’t all that worried about budget deficits. While most Americans believed that the deficit should be reduced — they always do — a CBS poll in early 2011 found only 6 percent of the public named the deficit as the most important issue, compared with 51 percent citing the economy and jobs.

Both the Obama administration and Republicans were staking out positions that flew in the face of public desires. A large majority has consistently wanted to see Social Security benefits expanded, not cut. A comparably large majority has consistently said that upper-income Americans pay too little, not too much, in taxes.

So whose interests were actually reflected in the 2011 budget fight? The wealthy.

A groundbreaking study of rich Americans’ policy preferences in 2011 found that the wealthy, unlike voters in general, did prioritize deficit reduction over everything else. They also, in stark contrast with the general public, favored cuts in Social Security and health spending.

And while a few high-profile billionaires like Warren Buffett have called for higher taxes on people like themselves, the reality is that most billionaires are obsessed with cutting taxes, like the estate tax, that only the rich pay.

In other words, in 2011 a Democratic administration went all-in on behalf of a policy concern that only the rich gave priority and failed to reach a deal only because Republicans didn’t want the rich to bear any burden at all.

Why do the wealthy have so much influence over politics?

Campaign contributions, historically dominated by the wealthy, are part of the story. A 2015 Times report found that at that point fewer than 400 families accounted for almost half the money raised in the 2016 presidential campaign. This matters both directly — politicians who propose big tax increases on the rich can’t expect to see much of their money — and indirectly: Wealthy donors have access to politicians in a way ordinary Americans don’t and play a disproportionate role in shaping policymakers’ worldview.

However, the influence of money on politics goes far beyond campaign contributions. Outright bribery probably isn’t much of a factor  , but there are nonetheless major personal financial rewards for political figures who support the interests of the wealthy. Pro-plutocrat politicians who stumble, like Eric Cantor, the former House whip — who famously celebrated Labor Day by honoring business owners — quickly find lucrative positions in the private sector, jobs in right-wing media or well-paid sinecures at conservative think tanks. Do you think there’s a comparable safety net in place for the likes of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Ilhan Omar?

And even the issues that the news media discuss often reflect a rich person’s agenda. Advertising dollars explain some of this bias, but a lot of it probably reflects subtler factors, like the (often false) belief that people who’ve made a lot of money have special insight into how the nation as a whole can achieve prosperity.

Perhaps the most striking aspect of the fixation on cutting benefits in the early 2010s was the extent to which it was treated not as a controversial position but as the undeniably right thing to do. As Ezra Klein pointed out in The Washington Post at the time: “For reasons I’ve never quite understood, the rules of reportorial neutrality don’t apply when it comes to the deficit. On this one issue, reporters are permitted to openly cheer a particular set of highly controversial policy solutions.”

In a variety of ways, then, America’s wealthy exert huge political influence. Our ideals say that all men are created equal, but in practice a small minority is far more equal than the rest of us.

You don’t want to be too cynical about this. No, America isn’t simply an oligarchy in which the rich always get what they want. In the end, President Barack Obama presided over both the Affordable Care Act, the biggest expansion in government benefits since the 1960s, and a substantial increase in federal taxes on the top 1 percent, to 34 percent from 28 percent.

And no, the parties aren’t equally in the wealthiest Americans’ pocket. Democrats have become increasingly progressive, while the rich dominate the Republican agenda. Donald Trump may have run as a populist, but once in office he reversed much of that Obama tax hike, while trying (but failing, so far) to take away health insurance from as many as 23 million Americans.


But while you shouldn’t be too much of a cynic, it remains true that America is less of a democracy and more of an oligarchy than we like to think. And to tackle inequality, we’ll have to confront unequal political power as well as unequal income and wealth.

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7) Police Are Clearing Seattle’s Protest ‘Autonomous Zone’
The so-called Capitol Hill Organized Protest area was taken over by protesters after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. It was the site of at least four shootings last month.
By Rachel Abrams and Sarah Mervosh, July 1, 2020
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/01/us/seattle-protest-zone-CHOP-CHAZ-unrest.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

Officers on Wednesday moved to clear an area near downtown Seattle that has been occupied by protesters. Credit...Aron Ranen/Associated Press



SEATTLE — Police officers moved into an area near downtown Seattle early Wednesday where demonstrators had surrounded a police station and established a “no cop” zone amid national protests over police brutality.

City officials cited a series of violent episodes in their decision to vacate the region, including the deaths of two teenagers amid at least four shootings in a matter of 10 days last month.

“Black Lives Matter, and I too want to help propel this movement toward meaningful change in our community,” Chief Carmen Best of the Seattle Police Department said in statement. “But enough is enough.”

The order to vacate the area came amid growing tensions over how to handle an area that was cordoned off as a symbolic statement by protesters after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The continuing problems had drawn the attention of President Trump, who blasted Democratic officials in Seattle and Washington State for failing to clear the area earlier.

“If they don’t do the job, I’ll do the job,” the president said last month.

A crowd of police officers pushed through the area in the early dawn hours on Wednesday morning, some wearing helmets and carrying batons. Officials said the equipment was “not meant to be a pre-emptive show of force” but was necessary because people gathered in the area were known to be armed.

Officers lined up on the edge of the area as a helicopter whirred overhead. Protesters milled around the intersection, some shouting at the police. A couple of officers engaged in dialogue directly with protesters. One man said he had been hit with pepper spray as officers pushed protesters back to 12th and Pike Street.

A total of 13 people were arrested, the police said.

The city had previously made the unusual decision to abandon a police station in the Capitol Hill neighborhood, board up its windows and let protesters have free rein outside in the wake of demonstrations nationwide over Mr. Floyd’s death in police custody.

Protesters laid claim to several city blocks and put up a banner on the front entrance of the emptied police station reading, “This space is now property of the Seattle people.”

City officials had insisted that the police would not allow any area of the city to fall into lawlessness.

“There is no cop-free zone in the city of Seattle,” Chief Best said earlier this month. “I think that the picture has been painted in many areas that shows the city is under siege. That is not the case.”

Rachel Abrams reported from Seattle, and Sarah Mervosh from Canton, Ohio.


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8) What if We Could Have Meat Without Murder?
We can, if we can agree that it doesn’t need to come from the body of an animal.
By Andy Lamey, July 2, 2020
Mr. Lamey is the author of “Duty and the Beast: Should We Eat Meat in the Name of Animal Rights?”
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/02/opinion/lab-grown-meat.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
A lab-grown meat burger made from Cultured Beef. Credit...David Parry/Press Association, via Associated Press

A chef preparing to cook the world’s first lab-grown beef burger during a launch event in west London, August 5, 2013.  Credit...Toby Melville/Reuters

What is meat?

That question is unlikely to be asked along with the usual ones — Medium or well-done? Cheese or no cheese? — over grills being fired up all over the United States this summer. (Unless, of course, you invite a philosopher to your barbecue.) But it is a timely one and how we answer it — how we ultimately define the word “meat” — could have a significant impact on the future of our food supply, our health and the health of the planet.

It’s no secret by now that the case against meat keeps getting stronger. The social, environmental and ethical costs of industrial agriculture — exacerbated by a pandemic being traced back to a live animal market, and a vulnerable meat processing industry — have become too obvious and damaging to ignore. Yet Americans on average consume more that 200 pounds of animal flesh each year. And, like it or not, it is still part of how the United States sees itself — cultural icons, from cowboys and ranchers to the Golden Arches, express the country’s long, tragic love affair with meat.

But just as the meaning of American identity has changed over time, so too has the food people eat to celebrate it. Fifty years ago, few barbecues included burgers made of tofu or lentils for the stray vegetarians found in so many families today.

For centuries, the definition of meat was obvious: the edible flesh of an animal. That changed in 2013, when the Dutch scientist Mark Post unveiled the first in vitro hamburger. By bathing animal stem cells with growth serum, Dr. Post and his colleagues were able to grow a hamburger in their lab. Their burger had essentially the same composition as a normal hamburger but a different origin. Although Dr. Post estimated that the first in vitro burger cost about $325,000 to create, the price has come down significantly and his team is one of several groups seeking to commercialize in vitro meat and bring it to market. (Dr. Post’s first burger was grown using fetal bovine serum, a slaughterhouse byproduct; his team and others have sought out animal-free replacements.)

This prospect has triggered opposition from the agriculture industry, which in the past three years has petitioned lawmakers in some 25 states to introduce bills to prevent alternative meat products being labeled meat.

The timing of these bills is not coincidental. Lawmakers know that plant-based meat substitutes have become big business: In 2019, plant-based meat sales totaled $939 million, an 18 percent increase over the year before, while sales for all plant-based foods reached $5 billion. The real reason for the meat industry’s interest in grocery labels is that it is threatened by this surge in popularity.

Missouri was the first jurisdiction where such a bill became law and it has already been subject to a first-amendment challenge, a fate that most likely awaits its counterparts in other states.

The debates now going on in many different state legislatures and courthouses all revolve around this question: What is meat? The best answer, in my view, is one that takes the arrival of in vitro flesh as occasion to reconceive and broaden our idea of meat.

A helpful distinction is drawn by Jeff Sebo, the director of the animal studies program at New York University, between a food item’s origin, substance and function. The traditional view of meat holds that its must originate in the body of an animal. The substance of meat is what it is physically made of: muscle tissue composed of protein, water, amino acids and the rest. Meat’s function is on one level something that we experience — the familiar combination of taste and texture in the mouth. Nutritionally, meat’s function varies — it can affect our health for better or worse, depending on how we prepare it or how much we consume.

A new framework that would allow us to classify lab grown meat as just “meat” would involve rethinking those principles. In vitro meat generally satisfies the last two requirements — substance and function — but not the first, origin. (I don’t include plant-based products here because they do not meet any of the three conditions.)

It may seem like cheating to consciously redefine meat in order to accommodate the lab-grown version. In fact, history is full of this type of conceptual revision. Someone asking 100 years ago what a car is could be forgiven for offering a definition that mentioned an internal combustion engine or a human driver. In the age of self-driving and electric cars we recognize that these are no longer defining features of cars. Similarly, the commonly accepted definition of marriage was that of a union between a man and a woman. When same-sex marriage was legalized in the United States that version was reclassified as but one option among others, all equally legitimate.

Revised understandings of cars and marriage involve the same kind of shift. In the jargon of philosophers, we realized that we had long been mistaking one particular conception of cars or marriage for the very concept. Revising our understanding of meat to make room for in vitro meat involves a similar move. We should strip down our understanding of meat so that an element previously deemed essential — in this case, being sourced in an animal carcass — is no longer strictly necessary. On this updated, more minimalist understanding, all that is necessary for something to qualify as meat is that it has a meaty substance and function. Just as Model Ts and Teslas both qualify as cars, animal-sourced and lab-grown versions would then both qualify as real meat.

Two considerations support trimming the conceptual fat from our understanding of meat in this way. The first is intuitive. Imagine you are served two pieces of steak, one from a slaughterhouse the other from a lab, which have an identical taste and nutritional effect. Food is by definition what we eat, and if our experience of eating the two morsels is the same surely they warrant a common concept.

The second is linguistic. We use the word “milk” to classify fluids from cows, coconuts and nursing mothers, among other sources. If milk can have more than one origin, why not meat?

Ludwig Wittgenstein argued in “Philosophical Investigations” that the meaning of a word is its use in the language. Given that the term “in vitro meat” and its synonyms (“lab-grown meat,” “cultured meat”) are already widely used, it is tempting to go the full Wittgenstein and cite common usage as grounds to declare the case for in vitro meat closed. But, to be fair, a conceptual debate should not come down to a popularity contest: same-sex marriage was once unpopular, yet that hardly settled the dispute over the nature of marriage. A more cautious handling of the linguistic evidence takes it to place the burden of proof on those who would define “meat” to exclude the in vitro version. Our default presumption should be that it is meat, barring good arguments otherwise.

Such definitions are disingenuous, motived by financial considerations rather than a good-faith inquiry into the meaning of terms.

Our ancestors regarded animals in a host of different ways — as currency, transportation, even objects of religious veneration — that may now seem strange to us. In vitro meat holds out the possibility that our descendants may someday feel the same way about eating them.

Andy Lamey teaches philosophy at the University of California, San Diego and is the author of “Duty and the Beast: Should we Eat Meat in the Name of Animal Rights?”

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9) The Neoliberal Looting of America
The private equity industry, which has led to more than 1.3 million job losses in the last decade, reveals the truth about free markets.
"Private equity firms use money provided by institutional investors like pension funds and university endowments to take over and restructure companies or industries. Private equity touches practically every sector, from housing to health care to retail. In pursuit of maximum returns, such firms have squeezed businesses for every last drop of profit, cutting jobs, pensions and salaries where possible. The debt-laden buyouts privatize gains when they work, and socialize losses when they don’t... In the last decade, private equity management has led to approximately 1.3 million job losses due to retail bankruptcies and liquidation. Beyond the companies directly controlled by private equity, the threat of being the next takeover target has most likely led other companies to pre-emptively cut wages and jobs to avoid being the weakest prey. Amid the outbreak of street protests in June, a satirical headline in The Onion put it best: “Protesters Criticized For Looting Businesses Without Forming Private Equity Firm First.” Yet the private equity takeover is not technically looting because it has been made perfectly legal, and even encouraged, by policymakers."
"By Mehrsa Baradaran, July 2, 2020
Ms. Baradaran is the author of “The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/02/opinion/private-equity-inequality.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
George Etheredge for The New York Times

“It’s hard to separate what’s good for the United States and what’s good for Bank of America,” said its former chief executive, Ken Lewis, in 2009. That was hardly true at the time, but the current crisis has revealed that the health of the finance industry and stock market are completely disconnected from the actual financial health of the American people. As inequality, unemployment and evictions climb, the Dow Jones surges right alongside them — one line compounding suffering, the other compounding returns for investors.

One reason is that an ideological coup quietly transformed our society over the last 50 years, raising the fortunes of the financial economy — and its agents like private equity firms — at the expense of the real economy experienced by most Americans.

The roots of this intellectual takeover can be traced to a backlash against socialism in Cold War Europe. Austrian School economist Friedrich A. Hayek was perhaps the most influential leader of that movement, decrying governments who chased “the mirage of social justice.” Only free markets can allocate resources fairly and reward individuals based on what they deserve, reasoned Hayek. The ideology — known as neoliberalism — was especially potent because it disguised itself as a neutral statement of economics rather than just another theory. Only unfettered markets, the theory argued, could ensure justice and freedom because only the profit motive could dispassionately pick winners and losers based on their contribution to the economy.

Neoliberalism leapt from economics departments into American politics in the 1960s, where it fused with conservative anti-communist ideas and then quickly spread throughout universities, law schools, legislatures and courts. By the 1980s, neoliberalism was triumphant in policy, leading to tax cuts, deregulation and privatization of public functions including schools, pensions and infrastructure. The governing logic held that corporations could do just about everything better than the government could. The result, as President Ronald Reagan said, was to unleash “the magic of the marketplace.”

The magic of the market did in fact turn everything into gold — for wealthy investors. Neoliberalism led to deregulation in every sector, a winner-take-all, debt-fueled market and a growing cultural acceptance of purely profit-driven corporate managers. These conditions were a perfect breeding ground for the private equity industry, then known as “leveraged buyout” firms. Such firms took advantage of the new market for high-yield debt (better known as junk bonds) to buy and break up American conglomerates, capturing unprecedented wealth in fewer hands. The private equity industry embodies the neoliberal movement’s values, while exposing its inherent logic.

Private equity firms use money provided by institutional investors like pension funds and university endowments to take over and restructure companies or industries. Private equity touches practically every sector, from housing to health care to retail. In pursuit of maximum returns, such firms have squeezed businesses for every last drop of profit, cutting jobs, pensions and salaries where possible. The debt-laden buyouts privatize gains when they work, and socialize losses when they don’t, driving previously healthy firms to bankruptcy and leaving many others permanently hobbled. The list of private equity’s victims has grown even longer in the past year, adding J.Crew, Toys ‘R’ Us, Hertz and more.

In the last decade, private equity management has led to approximately 1.3 million job losses due to retail bankruptcies and liquidation. Beyond the companies directly controlled by private equity, the threat of being the next takeover target has most likely led other companies to pre-emptively cut wages and jobs to avoid being the weakest prey. Amid the outbreak of street protests in June, a satirical headline in The Onion put it best: “Protesters Criticized For Looting Businesses Without Forming Private Equity Firm First.” Yet the private equity takeover is not technically looting because it has been made perfectly legal, and even encouraged, by policymakers.

According to industry experts, 2019 was one of the most successful years for private equity to date, with $919 billion in funds raised. The private equity executives themselves can also garner tremendous riches. Their standard fee structure involves collecting around 2 percent of the investor money they manage annually, and then 20 percent of any profits above an agreed-upon level. This lucrative arrangement also lets them tap into the very favorable “carried interest” tax loophole, allowing them to pay much lower capital gains tax rates on their earnings, rather than normal income taxes like most people.

An examination of the recent history of private equity disproves the neoliberal myth that profit incentives produce the best outcomes for society. The passage of time has debunked another such myth: that deregulating industries would generate more vibrant competition and benefit consumers. Unregulated market competition actually led to market consolidation instead. Would-be monopolies squeezed competitors, accrued political power, lobbied for even more deregulation and ultimately drove out any rivals, leading inexorably to entrenched political power. Instead of a thriving market of small-firm competition, free market ideology led to a few big winners dominating the rest.

Take the banking sector. For most of American history, banks were considered a public privilege with duties to promote the “best interest of the community.” If a bank wanted to merge or grow or offer new services, the regulators often denied the request either because a community could lose a bank branch or because the new product was too risky. During the neoliberal revolution of the 1980s and ’90s, Congress and bank regulators loosened the rules, allowing a handful of megabanks to swallow up thousands of small banks.

Today, five banks control nearly half of all bank assets. Fees paid by low-income Americans have increased, services have been curtailed and many low-income communities have lost their only bank. When federally subsidized banks left low-income communities, vulture-like fringe lenders — payday, title, tax-refund lenders — filled the void. As it turns out, private equity firms are invested in some of the largest payday lenders in the country.

Faith in market magic was so entrenched that even the 2008 financial crisis did not fully expose the myth: We witnessed the federal government pick up all the risks that markets could not manage and Congress and the Federal Reserve save the banking sector ostensibly on behalf of the people. Neoliberal deregulation was premised on the theory that the invisible hand of the market would discipline risky banks without the need for government oversight. Even a former Fed chairman, Alan Greenspan, the most committed free market fundamentalist of the era, admitted in the understatement of the century, that “I made a mistake.”

We can start fixing the big flaws propagated over the last half century by taxing the largest fortunes, breaking up large banks and imposing market rules that prohibit the predatory behaviors of private equity firms.

Public markets can take over the places that private markets have failed to adequately serve. Federal or state agencies can provide essential services like banking, health care, internet access, transportation and housing at cost through a public option. Historically, road maintenance, mail delivery, police and other services are not left to the market, but provided directly by the government. Private markets can still compete, but basic services are guaranteed to everyone.

And we can move beyond the myths of neoliberalism that have led us here. We can have competitive and prosperous markets, but our focus should be on ensuring human dignity, thriving families and healthy communities. When those are in conflict, we should choose flourishing communities over profits.

Mehrsa Baradaran (@MehrsaBaradaran) is a professor of law at the University of California, Irvine, and author of “The Color of Money: Black Banks and the Racial Wealth Gap.”

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10) Thousands Join N.Y.C. Bike Protests: ‘It’s Like Riding in the Cavalry’
Black Lives Matter bicycle rides have grown in size and popularity and have evolved into distinctive displays.
By Troy Closson and Sean Piccoli, July 2, 2020
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/02/nyregion/Floyd-bike-protests-new-york.html?action=click&module=News&pgtype=Homepage
Sometimes drawing thousands of riders, bike protests in support of Black Lives Matter have become commonplace in New York City. Credit...Amir Hamja for The New York Times

Bike protesters gather at McCarren Park in Brooklyn to prepare for a ride into Manhattan. Credit...Demetrius Freeman for The New York Times

For nearly 15 minutes, an uninterrupted stream of bicyclists passed through Myrtle Avenue in Brooklyn on Saturday, moving in a line that stretched several blocks in both directions.

Jingling bike bells, the riders chanted, “Whose streets? Our streets” and “Say his name: George Floyd.” Many had hand-drawn signs — including “We Demand Change” and “Defund the Police” — taped to their backpacks, side racks and handlebars. Others wore T-shirts that read “Black Lives Matter.”

The protest was arranged by a group that calls itself Street Riders NYC. Setting out from Barclays Center and following a route past brownstones, bars and office towers, more than 1,000 two-wheeled demonstrators traversed boroughs and bridges before ending in Central Park hours later.

“You guys all risked it with us,” Orlando Hamilton, 28, co-founder of Street Riders NYC, said through a loudspeaker as a police helicopter buzzed overhead. “So thank you, first of all, for coming out.”

Bicyclists have taken part in marches in New York City since the first demonstrations following Mr. Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis at the hands of the police. But more recently, bicycle protests have surged in popularity, transforming into their own distinctive displays.

“I was just hoping to get maybe a couple hundred people together,” said Ted Gusek, a photographer in Brooklyn who helped organize some of the first wave of recent bike involvement in protests. “But it’s all turned into something so much bigger.”

Even for New Yorkers who have grown accustomed to the ongoing demonstrations calling for policing reforms, the bike protests have been hard to ignore with their thunderous chants and the eye-catching signs attached to riders’ handlebars. They have ranged from small groups like the 50-some riders who traveled from Williamsburg, Brooklyn, to City Hall last Thursday night, to the estimated 10,000 who rode through Times Square and Harlem on June 20.

Organizers believe the city’s surge in bike ridership, as coronavirus fears kept New Yorkers away from public transit, combined with the fervent energy around demonstrations, created the perfect conditions for bicycle protests to take off.

Most riders are young, but some are veterans of the city’s previous waves of bike protests. Critical Mass, a social movement around bicycling and environmentalism originating on the West Coast, came to the city in the late 1990s, with large groups of riders taking over roadways in a city that was not as accommodating to bicycles as it is today.

Over the next decade, bicyclists repeatedly clashed with the city over permit struggles, arrests of protesters and physical conflicts, as police held a largely antagonistic relationship with bikers.

Those tensions peaked when more than 5,000 cyclists descended on Union Square Park days before the 2004 Republican National Convention and police arrested hundreds of people in the largest crackdown on local Critical Mass protests at that point.

Evan Friss, a professor at James Madison University in Virginia who has studied the history of bikes in New York City, said that the rides this month have been the largest bike showings since 2004. As symbols of emancipation and individual freedom, he said, bikes have not surprisingly played a visible role in protests following the killing of Mr. Floyd.

“Parading on a bicycle and taking over these streets offers this very empowering feeling and a subversion of this typical power structure,” Mr. Friss said.

Or as Paige Acevedo, a 29-year-old organizer at last Thursday’s protest put it, “It’s like riding in the cavalry.”

Carlos Polanco, a student at Dartmouth College who has organized local marches in support of Black Lives Matter, said the police confronted and arrested bikers at early George Floyd demonstrations, though he has seen fewer clashes with riders since the Police Department came under fire for aggressive encounters with protesters.

After watching police use their own bikes in crowd control, Mr. Polanco said march organizers directed people arriving at protests on two wheels to proceed and serve as barricades between walkers and the police.

And as bicyclists began forming their own protests, they adopted strategies to keep riders safe, mainly from the drivers they were jamming up in traffic along the route.

During the ride last Thursday, bicyclists designated as “blockers” stopped at side streets to hold oncoming traffic out of the intersection, allowing the rest of the cordon to keep pedaling without interruption. At the back, a group of seven riders, referred to as “the caboose,” created a barrier to vehicles coming up from behind, and genially prodded straggling riders to keep them inside the pack.

Many drivers have supported riders with honks and cheers. But the caboose group was briefly held up by a run-in with a motorist at the base of the Williamsburg Bridge, where the bicyclists took the roadway instead of the dedicated bike path.

A large black SUV moving close behind the pack clipped the bike of one member of the caboose, Francisco Custodio, 45, of Queens, causing Mr. Custodio to fall to the pavement. His riding mate, Liam Murphy, 24, heard the sound and swung back to assist — and found himself face to face with the driver, who had climbed out of the SUV, and was waving and screaming obscenities loudly enough to be heard by cyclists 50 yards farther up.

“What are you gonna do?” the man challenged Mr. Murphy. After a brief exchange of words, the driver took off. Mr. Custodio was already back on his bicycle, pushing the group forward.

Some of the rides have brought bicyclists through the East New York and Brownsville neighborhoods of Brooklyn and into Ridgewood in Queens — communities with large Black and Latino populations that organizers say haven’t seen the same level of demonstrations over the past month as Manhattan and the neighborhoods closer to Downtown Brooklyn have.

“We went deep, deep into the hood, places where these folks have never seen a march come through, and suddenly they’re seeing 6,000 bikes,” Peter Kerre, a co-founder of Street Riders NYC, said of one of his group’s rides. “The reaction was just priceless, folks crying out with gratitude, coming out to say ‘Thank you.’”

Mr. Kerre said his group hopes the bicyclists also benefit from the protest routes, changing perceptions they might have held of certain areas as being “unsafe” and growing more aware of the infrastructure imbalances across the city.

For now, organizers don’t think the bike protests will die down soon, and riders show no signs of slowing their participation.

Jesse Alava, 31, who went on the Times Square protest and plans to attend others, admitted that after 25 miles on a regular bike ride, he’d usually be exhausted.

“But I didn’t feel my legs or any pain because all of that was overcome by the amount of adrenaline from the group,” Mr. Alava said of the protest. “It was emotional and it was incredible.”

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11) ‘Permit Karen’ calls cops on Black law professor and family for building patio on their own property
By Walter Einenkel, July 1, 2020
https://www.dailykos.com/stories/2020/7/1/1957568/--Permit-Karen-calls-cops-on-Black-law-professor-and-family-for-building-patio-on-their-own-property?detail=emaildkre

On June 30, Montclair, New Jersey, resident Fareed Nassor Hayat, a law professor at the City University of New York School of Law, took to his Facebook page to post a video of a woman in his neighborhood reportedly harassing him and his family. Hayat wrote that a woman named Susan had called the police and filed a “false report of assault against me when told to leave our property.” According to Hayat, Susan had come over three times in the span of one hour to complain and accuse Hayat of illegally installing a stone patio in his backyard. Hayat’s backyard apparently runs up against Susan’s fence.

When asked if a permit was required by law, she said she didn’t know, but insisted we answer her questions and submit to her demands, or she would call the police to force us to stop improving our home. (A permit is not required in Montclair for a stone patio this size. This fact was known to us through our own independent research, our contractor and later verified when building and safety arrived at our home to investigate her complaint.)

Hayat and his wife then demanded that Susan leave their property. It was at this point that Susan called the police and alleged Hayat had put his hands on her. The video begins as Susan calls the police. Neighbors can be seen coming out of their homes, all of whom disagree with Susan’s account of the facts. In the video you can also hear Hayat and his wife complaining that this neighbor has been “harassing” their family for two years.

The historic danger for Black folks (and especially Black men) having law enforcement called on them by white women is high. The true number of atrocities that have befallen Black men as a result of this kind of racism, abuse of power, and bigotry is impossible to quantify. Once would be an entirely unacceptable number for a civilized society.

Montclair Local reports that “Susan” did not end up filing a formal complaint, and pointed out that the incident echoed a similar news story from late May, when New Yorker Amy Cooper called the police on bird watcher Christian Cooper—who is Black—and threatened to claim he was assaulting her. 

“Susan,” who apparently works for the EPA in Edison, New Jersey, was very quickly outed as federal worker Susan Schulz and within hours, local youth held a protest on her block, marching up and down while chanting slogans like, “Hey hey, ho ho, your racist self has got to go.” Schulz called police on the group and then told officers that protesters threw objects at her house.


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12) San Quentin Prisoners go on Hunger Strike Amid Massive COVID-19 Outbreak
About 20 people in the prison’s Badger section have been on hunger strike for the past few days, three people incarcerated there say.
By Kira Lerner, July 1, 2020
https://theappeal.org/san-quentin-hunger-strike-coronavirus-outbreak-california-prison/

Photo: Shutterstock


As the novel coronavirus spreads rapidly through California’s San Quentin State Prison, around 20 prisoners have launched a hunger strike to protest inhumane conditions inside, three men incarcerated in the facility said.

The hunger strike began on Monday, according to the men, who are incarcerated in the prison’s Badger unit. As of Wednesday, 1,135 prisoners—almost a third of San Quentin’s incarcerated population—have active COVID-19 infections. At least one prisoner has died. 

Two sources, who did not want to be named for fear of retaliation, said that despite the outbreak, people in Badger section are still locked up in small cells with other people, making it impossible to social distance.

Juan Moreno Haines, an incarcerated journalist and regular contributor to The Appeal who has reported on the conditions prisoners are facing from inside San Quentin, also confirmed the information from the other two sources. Additionally, Haines said that he has tested positive for COVID-19.

“[T]he cells are filthy and we are not being given cleaner to maintain them,” one source told The Appeal. “Some of us are being housed together when the whole thing is to keep us six feet away from each other.”  

The prison is also serving the men cold, “inadequate” food, one of the men said. The unit doesn’t have electrical power in the cells, so they are unable to use TVs, radios, or fans, he said.

“Guys are having mental issues and they are not being addressed,” the source said. “The staff are literally waiting for us to fall out.”

All three men pleaded for information about the prison’s conditions to be widely reported. 

“It’s bad, it’s bad, please get the word out,” one of them said.

James King, a state campaigner for the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights who was incarcerated in San Quentin until December, said the prisoners are doing everything they can to raise awareness about the conditions in the prison.

“It feels unbearable and they want help,” he said. “They’re putting their bodies out there to show that if the disease itself and the way it’s spreading so quickly, if that doesn’t show this is a human rights issue, then maybe them sacrificing their bodies will.”

While the hunger strikers are only in Badger section so far, the virus has spread throughout the prison. A man incarcerated in San Quentin’s West Block housing unit, who also did not want to be named out of concern for his safety, told The Appeal that prison staff are doing little to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

“Over half of the building is sick,” he said. “They have nowhere to move sick people, so literally if your cellmate gets COVID, if he turns out to be positive, you’re just stuck in a cell with him. … It’s terrifying. They’re making very little effort to separate us from people who are positive.”

While he has tested negative, he said, many of his neighbors have tested positive. He said that when he used the shower on Tuesday, the people around him were discussing their symptoms. 

“I hear the two dudes on my left talking about how sick they are,” he said. “They’re talking to each other like, ‘Yeah, man. I’ve been having the chills, man. My body is super sore.’”

He said he tried to face the other direction, but the three men to his other side also said they were sick.

“I’m holding my breath in the shower,” he said. “The buildings are notoriously poorly ventilated. I’m literally standing in a crowd of sick men in like a sauna, and this disease is communicated through droplets. And I’m terrified.”

He said that some prisoners are still being forced to report for work in the kitchen. “They’re literally saying, if you don’t go to work, you will receive a 115, which is disciplinary, which means more time on your sentence.”

A spokesperson for the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation said it is taking measures to mitigate the outbreak, including expedited release for some prisoners with 180 days or less left of their sentence, as well as some prisoners at high risk for complications from COVID-19. “We understand and share the concern of COVID-19 cases in the state’s prisons and are implementing multiple strategies to control the spread of the virus to protect all those who live and work in our state prisons.”

But the man in West Block said that he’s not seeing any meaningful steps being taken to prevent transmission. “The measures being taken to isolate COVID? There are no measures. Nothing adequate. Not at all.”

No prisoners at San Quentin had tested positive for COVID-19 until late May, when 121 people were transferred to the prison from the California Institution for Men, the site of the deadliest outbreak in the California prison system. In a June hearing, a federal judge called the transfer a “significant failure of policy and planning.”  

Calls are growing to release people incarcerated at San Quentin. In a June 13 report from UCSF’s Amend Center and UC Berkeley’s School of Public Health, epidemiologists and health policy experts warned of dire consequences if more people aren’t released. 

“The combination of San Quentin’s antiquated facilities and severe overcrowding places the prison at high risk of significant COVID-19-related morbidity and mortality unless the population is quickly reduced by 50 percent or more,” the authors wrote.

“Failure to meet these urgent needs will have dire implications for the health of incarcerated people at San Quentin, correctional staff and the healthcare capacity of Bay Area hospitals.”

The virus was bound to spread rapidly in the overcrowded prison, Haines said.

“There’s just too many people in prison, period,” he said, pointing to North Block as an example, which is designed to hold 414 people, but currently houses more than 700.

“And there’s people that have been in prison for 10, 15, 20, 30 years, in their sixties and seventies, that have aged out of crime long ago,” he said, “yet they’re still playing these political games with these guys and not releasing them.”

This story has been updated with additional accounts from people inside San Quentin.

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

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