Bay Area United Against War Newsletter, August 1, 2020



Timeless words of wisdom from Friedrich Engels:

This legacy belongs to all of us:

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





Join Us On-line for a Unique 75th Anniversary 

Hiroshima Day Rally 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





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


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

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

Imagine being sent to jail, being separated from your family, for missing homework assignments during a pandemic?!
This is an awful situation that we cannot let stand. The start of Grace’s probation coincided with the closing of schools through the remainder of the school year and the start of remote learning. Prior to the order for schools to close, Grace was doing well and had near perfect attendance. Grace shared with her caseworker that she felt unmotivated and overwhelmed when online learning began April 15, about a month after schools closed. Grace’s mom was also concerned that her daughter would struggle without the in-person support from teachers outlined in her Individualized Education Plan. She was right in her concerns, and as remote learning began, Grace did not continue to receive those critical supports.[2]
The reality is schools across the country weren’t prepared for abrupt closures and a pivot to remote learning. And across the country schools, teachers, parents and students have struggled to create continuous learning for students during this pandemic. Grace’s school was no different.
Still Judge Mary Ellen Brennan found Grace “guilty of failure to submit to any schoolwork and getting up for school” and outrageously called Grace a “threat to (the) community” for not doing her homework.
“It just doesn’t make any sense, how is this a better situation for her?” - Charisse, Grace’s mother.
This didn't have to happen. In fact, Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had issued an executive order in March that temporarily suspended the confinement of juveniles who violate probation unless directed by a court order and encouraged eliminating any form of detention or residential placement unless a young person posed a “substantial and immediate safety risk to others.”
Grace is NOT a “substantial and immediate safety risk to others,” and not doing your homework is NOT a crime. Judge Brennan’s ruling to incarcerate a child, sending her away from her family during a pandemic is cruel, harsh, and highlights an alarming trend of Black girls being criminalized at alarming rates in comparison to their white peers.[3]
Join us in demanding that Governor Gretchen Whitmer:
Release “Grace” from Children’s Village youth detention facility into her mother’s custody;
Request the immediate resignation of of Judge Mary Ellen Brennan from the Oakland County Family Court;
Drop all charges against “Grace” immediately;
End the racialized practice of arresting and prosecuting children, and ensure Michigan kids get the support they need including alternatives to incarceration and detention and trauma informed support and services.
Prison is no place for a kid. The United States still incarcerates more young people than any other country. [4] Our kids deserve a future free of criminalization, a future that supports their development and capacity to contribute meaningfully to society. Putting kids in prisons does the opposite of this. In fact they do little to improve community safety when compared to community based efforts that provide alternatives to incarceration by supporting young people, providing the services they need, and providing access to opportunities to address harm in meaningful ways.
Together we can END this toxic culture of criminalizing children, and of putting kids in prison, and we can start with Grace. Sign on to demand Governor Gretchen Whitmer #FreeGrace NOW! Click the link below to sign now:
- Beatriz, Monifa, Diarra and the whole MomsRising / MamásConPoder team

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



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

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

Contact Us

Alliance for Global Justice
225 E 26th St Ste 1

Tucson, Arizona 85713-2925
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 Reality Winner Tests Positive for COVID, Still Imprisoned

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

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

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

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

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




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

Every Friday
1:00pm – 2:00pm

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

Wear masks; practice social distancing


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


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

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


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


—Unknown source



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



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


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


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



"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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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





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!

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





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 



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

So what has protesting accomplished?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

💓The self-reflection.

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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.


How beautiful is that?








*I do not know the original author*

Copy & paste widely!






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.
(Bay Area United Against War Newsletter)



George Floyd's Last Words
"It's my face man
I didn't do nothing serious man
please I can't breathe
please man
please somebody
please man
I can't breathe
I can't breathe
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
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
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 I can't breathe"

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






Trump Comic Satire—A Proposal
          By Shakaboona

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









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



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
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
Looting Ashanti, Fulani, Huasa, Wolof,
Yoruba, Ibo, Kongo, Mongo, Hutu, Zulu…
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
Steal trillions
Not FOX-boxes, silly sneakers, cheap clothes…
© 2020. Raymond Nat Turner, The Town Crier. All Rights Reserved.       











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:




Courage to Resist
www.couragetoresist.org ~ 510.488.3559 ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist

484 Lake Park Ave # 41
OaklandCA 94610-2730
United States
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From Business Insider 2018



"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)







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)



















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



Kiah Morris

May 7 at 6:44 AM

So, in MY lifetime....

Black people are so tired. 😓

We can’t go jogging (#AhmaudArbery).

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

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

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

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

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

We can’t sell CD's (#AltonSterling).

We can’t sleep (#AiyanaJones)

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

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

We can’t go to church (#Charleston9).

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We can’t run (#WalterScott).

We can’t breathe (#EricGarner).

We can’t live (#FreddieGray).

We’re tired.

Tired of making hashtags.

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

Tired of dying.




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.)








1) Trump Has Been Comparing Himself to Nixon. That’s Hooey.
The former president could only dream of wielding the police powers Mr. Trump has seized for himself.
By John W. Dean, Mr. Dean was White House counsel under Richard Nixon, July 31, 2020
Federal troops clearing protesters outside the White House on June 1. Credit...Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

President Trump has been comparing himself to Richard Nixon, tweeting “LAW & ORDER,” and claiming he learned a lot from Nixon. Others have been comparing Mr. Trump’s handling of civil disorder to Nixon’s. No one will ever tag me a Nixon apologist, but in Nixon’s defense these claims are hooey.

I worked for our last authoritarian president, Richard Nixon — a man who experienced violent protests and demonstrations throughout his political career. In 1968, he ran as the “law and order” candidate, for it was a time of tumult: assassinations of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Senator Robert Kennedy. Riots ripped Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Memphis, Washington and other major cities. Civil rights and antiwar protests closed down campuses large and small. There were nightly news reports of endless death from the killing fields of Vietnam, including the Tet offensive and the My Lai massacre.

Nixon was running on credentials established long before the 1968 presidential contest. As vice president, Nixon and his wife traveled though South America, where they frequently were confronted by protesters. Nixon used those protest situations to brandish his I-am-fearless image by walking among the protesters to make clear that he was not intimidated, nor would they influence American policy.

On becoming president in 1969, Nixon inherited a global anti-Vietnam War protest movement that had contributed to the decision of his predecessor, Lyndon Johnson, not to seek re-election.

From his first day in office, Nixon faced huge demonstrations, which he instructed his White House counsel to monitor closely. When I was appointed to that post 18 months into his presidency, I discovered that all of the key intelligence agencies reported domestic and related foreign intelligence about disruptive protests, demonstrations and civil unrest occurring throughout the country to the counsel’s office, where we digested and shared it with the president and senior staff.

For some thousand days I had an exceptional overview of what was being done by Nixon and his aides to deal with often violent unrest, particularly that provoked by those strongly opposed to the war in Vietnam. Nixon’s behavior was vastly different from Mr. Trump’s.

Never once did I hear anyone in the Nixon White House or Justice Department suggest using United States military forces, or any federal officers outside the military, to quell civil unrest or disorder. Nor have I found any evidence of such activity after the fact, when digging through the historical record.

It is well known that on unique occasions presidents had used federal forces for limited purposes before Nixon, as in 1877 when President Rutherford B. Hayes used federal troops to end the railroad strike; and in 1894 when President Grover Cleveland dispatched troops to end the Pullman railroad strike.

Presidents have also sent federal forces to uphold court orders, as in 1957 when President Eisenhower sent troops to Little Rock, Ark., and in 1962 when President Kennedy sent federal forces to Oxford, Miss., in both cases to enforce court orders to desegregate schools.

Mr. Trump, assisted by Attorney General Bill Barr, has assembled a mongrel federal law enforcement operation from the F.B.I., the Department of Homeland Security, the Drug Enforcement Administration, U.S. Marshals, and other federal agencies to proceed to cities throughout the country: Portland, Ore.; Chicago; Memphis; Oakland, Calif.

Neither governors nor mayors have requested these attack weapon-wielding federal soldiers, a few hundred men with minimal identification dressed up in battlefield camouflage. This unprecedented action is way beyond Nixon’s authoritarianism. And it raises serious questions.

Most conspicuously, for Donald Trump it creates optics he believes he can exploit in his re-election campaign. Indeed, Nixon successfully used images of disorder in 1968, and falsely charged demonstrators in 1972 as working for his opponent when he was running for re-election. But Mr. Trump is provoking disorder by using federal forces, which is quite different.

The reason Attorney General Barr is backing this action is that he believes the president should, in fact, be able to do most anything he wishes, whenever he wants. Mr. Barr is using 200 federal officers here and there today, so tomorrow he can dispatch 2,000 or 20,000. He is making the unprecedented precedented.

Richard Nixon closeted his authoritarianism behind closed doors, and only because he taped himself do we have a good understanding of it. Donald Trump, however, has paraded his authoritarianism in the Rose Garden and at rallies. He wants to be seen as a demagogue.

Nixon did not have an authoritarian Republican Party to support his imperial presidency and was forced to prematurely resign. Mr. Trump has a G.O.P. that seeks to expand his authoritarian presidency. Militarizing federal forces to perform state and local police functions is merely another norm-shattering example.

Mr. Trump’s latest threat is that he will not leave the presidency if he loses. He is making Nixon’s authoritarian behavior look tame.



2) Scared That Covid-19 Immunity Won’t Last? Don’t Be
Dropping antibody counts aren’t a sign that our immune system is failing against the coronavirus, nor an omen that we can’t develop a viable vaccine.
By Akiko Iwasaki and Ruslan Medzhitov, both professors of immunobiology at Yale, July 31, 2020

Antibodies attacking a virus. Our body’s immune system naturally kicks in to fend off infection, but vaccines can do that better. Credit...Christoph Burgstedt/Science Photo Library, via Getty Images

Within the last couple of months, several scientific studies have come out — some peer-reviewed, others not — indicating that the antibody response of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 dropped significantly within two months. The news has sparked fears that the very immunity of patients with Covid-19 may be waning fast — dampening hopes for the development of an effective and durable vaccine.

But these concerns are confused and mistaken.

Both our bodies’ natural immunity and immunity acquired through vaccination serve the same function, which is to inhibit a virus and prevent it from causing a disease. But they don’t always work quite the same way.

And so a finding that naturally occurring antibodies in some Covid-19 patients are fading doesn’t actually mean very much for the likely efficacy of vaccines under development. Science, in this case, can be more effective than nature.

The human immune system has evolved to serve two functions: expediency and precision. Hence, we have two types of immunity: innate immunity, which jumps into action within hours, sometimes just minutes, of an infection; and adaptive immunity, which develops over days and weeks.

Almost all the cells in the human body can detect a viral infection, and when they do, they call on our white blood cells to deploy a defensive response against the infectious agent.

When our innate immune response is successful at containing that pathogen, the infection is resolved quickly and, generally, without many symptoms. In the case of more sustained infections, though, it’s our adaptive immune system that kicks in to offer us protection.

The adaptive immune system consists of two types of white blood cells, called T and B cells, that detect molecular details specific to the virus and, based on that, mount a targeted response to it.

A virus causes disease by entering cells in the human body and hijacking their genetic machinery so as to reproduce itself again and again: It turns its hosts into viral factories.

T cells detect and kill those infected cells. B cells make antibodies, a kind of protein that binds to the viral particles and blocks them from entering our cells; this prevents the replication of the virus and stops the infection in its tracks.

The body then stores the T and B cells that helped eliminate the infection, in case it might need them in the future to fight off the same virus again. These so-called memory cells are the main agents of long-term immunity.

The antibodies produced in response to a common seasonal coronavirus infection last for about a year. But the antibodies generated by a measles infection last, and provide protection, for a lifetime.

Yet it is also the case that with other viruses the amount of antibodies in the blood peaks during an infection and drops after the infection has cleared, often within a few months: This is the fact that has some people worried about Covid-19, but it doesn’t mean what it might seem.

That antibodies decrease once an infection recedes isn’t a sign that they are failing: It’s a normal step in the usual course of an immune response.

Nor does a waning antibody count mean waning immunity: The memory B cells that first produced those antibodies are still around, and standing ready to churn out new batches of antibodies on demand.

And that is why we should be hopeful about the prospects of a vaccine for Covid-19.

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection, generating memory T and B cells that can then provide long-lasting protection in the people who are vaccinated. Yet the immunity created by vaccines differs from the immunity created by a natural infection in several important ways.

Virtually all viruses that infect humans contain in their genomes blueprints for producing proteins that help them evade detection by the innate immune system. For example, SARS-CoV-2 appears to have a gene dedicated to silencing the innate immune system.

Among the viruses that have become endemic in humans, some have also figured out ways to dodge the adaptive immune system: H.I.V.-1 mutates rapidly; herpes viruses deploy proteins that can trap and incapacitate antibodies.

Thankfully, SARS-CoV-2 does not seem to have evolved any such tricks yet — suggesting that we still have an opportunity to stem its spread and the pandemic by pursuing a relatively straightforward vaccine approach.

Vaccines come in different flavors — they can be based on killed or live attenuated viral material, nucleic acids or recombinant proteins. But all vaccines consist of two main components: an antigen and an adjuvant.

The antigen is the part of the virus we want the adaptive immune response to react to and target. The adjuvant is an agent that mimics the infection and helps jump-start the immune response.

One beauty of vaccines — and one of their great advantages over our body’s natural reaction to infections — is that their antigens can be designed to focus the immune response on a virus’s Achilles heel (whatever that may be).

Another advantage is that vaccines allow for different kinds and different doses of adjuvants — and so, for calibration and fine-tuning that can help boost and lengthen immune responses.

The immune response generated against a virus during natural infection is, to some degree, at the mercy of the virus itself. Not so with vaccines.

Since many viruses evade the innate immune system, natural infections sometimes do not result in robust or long-lasting immunity. The human papillomavirus is one of them, which is why it can cause chronic infections. The papillomavirus vaccine triggers a far better antibody response to its viral antigen than does a natural HPV infection: It is almost 100 percent effective in preventing HPV infection and disease.

Not only does vaccination protect against infection and disease; it also blocks viral transmission — and, if sufficiently widespread, can help confer so-called herd immunity to a population.

What proportion of individuals in a given population needs to be immune to a new virus so that the whole group is, in effect, protected depends on the virus’s basic reproduction number — broadly speaking: the average number of people that a single infected person will, in turn, infect.

For measles, which is highly contagious, more than 90 percent of a population must be immunized in order for unvaccinated individuals to also be protected. For Covid-19, the estimated figure — which is unsettled, understandably — ranges between 43 percent and 66 percent.

Given the severe consequences of Covid-19 for many older patients, as well as the disease’s unpredictable course and consequences for the young, the only safe way to achieve herd immunity is through vaccination. That, combined with the fact that SARS-CoV-2 appears not to have yet developed a mechanism to evade detection by our adaptive immune system, is ample reason to double down on efforts to find a vaccine fast.

So do not be alarmed by reports about Covid-19 patients’ dropping antibody counts; those are irrelevant to the prospects of finding a viable vaccine.

Remember instead that more than 165 vaccine candidates already are in the pipeline, some showing promising early trial results.

And start thinking about how best to ensure that when that vaccine comes, it will be distributed efficiently and equitably.

Akiko Iwasaki is the Waldemar Von Zedtwitz Professor in the Department of Immunobiology and a Professor in the Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology at Yale. Ruslan Medzhitov is a Sterling Professor in the Department of Immunobiology at Yale School of Medicine. Both are investigators at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.



3) The Nightmare on Pennsylvania Avenue
Trump is the kind of boss who can’t do the job — and won’t go away.
By Paul Krugman, Opinion Columnist, July 30, 2020

President Trump’s response to the coronavirus has been a disaster both epidemiological and economic. Credit...Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Every worker’s nightmare is the horrible boss — everyone knows at least one — who is utterly incompetent yet refuses to step aside. Such bosses have the reverse Midas touch — everything they handle turns to crud — but they’ll pull out every stop, violate every norm, to stay in that corner office. And they damage, sometimes destroy, the institutions they’re supposed to lead.

Donald Trump is, of course, one of those bosses. Unfortunately, he’s not just a bad business executive. He is, God help us, the president. And the institution he may destroy is the United States of America.

Has any previous president failed his big test as thoroughly as Trump has these past few months? He rejected the advice of health experts and pushed for a rapid economic reopening, hoping for a boom leading into the election. He ridiculed and belittled measures that would have helped slow the spread of the coronavirus, including wearing face masks and practicing social distancing, turning what should have been common sense into a front in the culture war.

The result has been disaster both epidemiological and economic.

Over the past week the U.S. death toll from Covid-19 averaged more than 1,000 people a day, compared with just four — four! — per day in Germany. Vice President Mike Pence’s mid-June declaration that “There isn’t a coronavirus ‘second wave’” felt like whistling in the dark even at the time; now it feels like a sick joke.

And all those extra deaths don’t seem to have bought us anything in terms of economic performance. America’s economic contraction in the first half of 2020 was almost identical to the contraction in Germany, despite our far higher death toll. And while life in Germany has in many ways returned to normal, a variety of indicators suggest that after two months of rapid job growth, the U.S. recovery is stalling in the face of a resurgent pandemic.

Wait, it gets worse. Trump, his officials and their allies in the Senate have been totally committed to the idea that the U.S. economy will experience a stunningly rapid recovery despite the wave of new infections and deaths. They bought into that view so completely that they seem incapable of taking on board the overwhelming evidence that it isn’t happening.

Just a few days ago Larry Kudlow, Trump’s top economist, insisted that a so-called V-shaped recovery was still on track and that “unemployment claims and continuing claims are falling rapidly.” In fact, both are rising.

But because the Trump team insisted that a roaring recovery was coming, and refused to notice that it wasn’t happening, we’ve now stumbled into a completely gratuitous economic crisis.

Thanks to Republican inaction, millions of unemployed workers have seen their last checks from the Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program, which was meant to sustain them through a coronavirus-ravaged economy; the virus is still raging, but their life support has been cut off.

So Trump has completely botched his job, bringing unnecessary pain to millions of Americans and unnecessary death to thousands. He may not care, but voters do. So he should be trying to turn things around, if only as a matter of political and personal self-interest.

But here’s the thing: Even if Trump were the kind of guy who could learn from his mistakes, it’s too late. If we had found ourselves in our current situation a year ago, there might still have been time for Trump to get the virus under control and turn the economy around. But the election is just around the corner.

Suppose that the numbers on deaths and jobs were to get somewhat better over the next three months. How much would that improve voters’ views of the denier in chief? How much credence would the public give, even to genuinely good news, after the false dawn this past spring? At this point Trump is simply a failed president, and everyone except his die-hard supporters knows it.

But as I said at the beginning, Trump is one of those nightmare bosses who can’t do the job but won’t step aside.

So of course he’s now talking about delaying the election. This was predictable; indeed, Joe Biden predicted it months ago, amid much mockery from pundits (none of whom, I predict, will apologize).

Now, Trump can’t do that. There will be an election on Nov. 3. But what Trump can do, if he loses, is claim that the election was stolen, that there were millions of fraudulent votes, that the results aren’t legitimate. Hey, he did that after losing the popular vote in 2016, even though he won the Electoral College.

Such antics almost surely wouldn’t let him stay in the White House, although the process of getting him out may be … interesting. But they could produce a lot of chaos and quite possibly some violence across the nation. And anyone who doesn’t think disgruntled Trump supporters would try to sabotage a Biden administration — including its efforts to deal with the pandemic — hasn’t been paying attention.

This is what happens when you put a horrible boss in charge of running the country. And nobody can say when, if ever, the damage will be repaired.



4) Native Americans Feel Devastated by the Virus Yet Overlooked in the Data
Statistical gaps can make it difficult to properly allocate public resources to Native Americans. When that’s the case, one leader said, “tribal nations have an effective death sentence.”
By Kate Conger, Robert Gebeloff and Richard A. Oppel Jr., July 30, 2020, Updated July 31, 2020
Tashina Nunez, a nurse and a Yakama Nation descendant, said it appeared that many of the coronavirus patients at her hospital in Washington State were Native Americans. Credit...Mason Trinca for The New York Times

HARRAH, Wash. — As the coronavirus outbreak in Washington State’s Yakima County worsened last month, Tashina Nunez recognized more and more of the patients who arrived in her hospital. They had coughs, fevers and, in some severe cases, respiratory failure. And many of them were her acquaintances and neighbors, members of the tribes that make up the Yakama Nation.

Ms. Nunez, a nurse at a hospital in Yakima County and a Yakama Nation descendant, noticed that Native Americans, who make up about 7 percent of the county’s population, seemed to account for many of the hospital’s virus patients. Because the hospital does not routinely record race and ethnicity data, she said, it was hard for Ms. Nunez to know for certain.

“Not being counted is not new to us,” she said. Without firm figures, she and other health care providers for Native communities said they struggled to know where or how to intervene to stop the spread. “You don’t know how bad it is until it’s too late,” Ms. Nunez said.

By mid-July, more than 650 members of the Yakama Nation, in central Washington State, had contracted the virus — about 6 percent of the total membership. Twenty-eight people have died, Delano Saluskin, chairman of the Yakama Nation, said in a video update.

“We all grieve those losses,” he said. “This has been devastating for many families on the reservation and it means that, every week, a family member is impacted.”

The situation among the Yakama Nation is not unique. Even with significant gaps in the data that is available, there are strong indications that Native Americans have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus.

The rate of known cases in the eight counties with the largest populations of Native Americans is nearly double the national average, a New York Times analysis has found. The analysis cannot determine which individuals are testing positive for the virus, but these counties are home to one in six U.S. residents who describe themselves in census surveys as non-Hispanic and American Indian or Alaska Native.

And there are many smaller counties with significant populations of Native Americans that have elevated case rates, including Yakima County. The Times identified at least 15 counties that have elevated case rates and are home to sizable numbers of Native American residents. Those counties ranged from large metropolitan areas in Arizona to rural communities in Nebraska and Mississippi.

“I feel as though tribal nations have an effective death sentence when the scale of this pandemic, if it continues to grow, exceeds the public resources available,” said Fawn Sharp, the president of the Quinault Indian Nation and of the National Congress of American Indians.

The situation has been stark in the Navajo Nation, where high infection rates have created a crisis in the largest reservation in the United States. But health officials say the same worrying trends are repeating in Native communities across the country, and congressional leaders have prompted the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights to examine the health disparities compounded by the pandemic.

In New Mexico, Native American and Alaska Native people have accounted for nearly 40 percent of virus cases even though they make up 9 percent of the population.

Native Americans in the Phoenix area have been infected at four times the rate of their white neighbors. The Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation extended a shelter-in-place order on July 18 because infections were continuing to multiply. The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community also reported mounting infections this month.

Outbreaks have been reported among the Lumbee Tribe in North Carolina, Choctaw communities in Oklahoma and Mississippi, and at two reservations in Thurston County, Neb.

Hospitalization rates published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also suggest that Native Americans are overrepresented among those who become seriously ill from the virus. The data about Covid-19 is collected from a sample of counties and provides an incomplete picture, but the conclusion is unsurprising to epidemiologists who study the health of Native Americans.

“The disparities we see there with Covid are aligned with those that we see for hospitalizations and deaths due to influenza and other respiratory viruses,” said Allison Barlow, director of the Center for American Indian Health at Johns Hopkins University.

Native Americans — particularly those living on reservations — are more prone to contract the virus because of crowded housing conditions that make social distancing difficult, she said. And years of underfunded health systems, food and water insecurity and other factors contribute to underlying health conditions that can make the illness more severe once contracted.

Yet understanding the extent of how Native American people have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19 is extremely difficult.

Calculating how many people who identify as Native American have had the virus and how many have died of it is nearly impossible because federal data tracking individual coronavirus cases often omits information about the race and ethnicity of people; such information is missing from about half the cases reported to the C.D.C., which serves as a clearinghouse for cases reported by state and local authorities.

Even when such information is collected, it is uncertain how accurate it is. Miscounting can begin at testing sites and health clinics, public health officials said, where health care workers sometimes do not record a patient’s race and ethnicity data, or simply guess without asking a patient.

Hospitalization rates published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also suggest that Native Americans are overrepresented among those who become seriously ill from the virus. The data about Covid-19 is collected from a sample of counties and provides an incomplete picture, but the conclusion is unsurprising to epidemiologists who study the health of Native Americans.

“The disparities we see there with Covid are aligned with those that we see for hospitalizations and deaths due to influenza and other respiratory viruses,” said Allison Barlow, director of the Center for American Indian Health at Johns Hopkins University.

Native Americans — particularly those living on reservations — are more prone to contract the virus because of crowded housing conditions that make social distancing difficult, she said. And years of underfunded health systems, food and water insecurity and other factors contribute to underlying health conditions that can make the illness more severe once contracted.

Yet understanding the extent of how Native American people have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19 is extremely difficult.

Calculating how many people who identify as Native American have had the virus and how many have died of it is nearly impossible because federal data tracking individual coronavirus cases often omits information about the race and ethnicity of people; such information is missing from about half the cases reported to the C.D.C., which serves as a clearinghouse for cases reported by state and local authorities.

Even when such information is collected, it is uncertain how accurate it is. Miscounting can begin at testing sites and health clinics, public health officials said, where health care workers sometimes do not record a patient’s race and ethnicity data, or simply guess without asking a patient.

“It was physical torture,” he said, adding that one of his most debilitating symptoms was a constant eye irritation that he described like “a bad sunburn, but inside your eyes.” Still, he felt fortunate that he and his wife recovered after about three weeks, because he had seen a few older couples on the reservation die.

The Peacekeeper Society operates a weekly food giveaway and delivers food and cleaning supplies to households where people have fallen ill. Mr. Jim said he suspected he caught the virus while out on such a delivery.

As soon as he recovered, Mr. Jim said, he returned to his work distributing food. On a hot July afternoon, he helped distribute boxes filled with potatoes, zucchini, cabbage and onions to a line of hundreds of cars. Families could choose between chicken and salmon waiting in two kiddie pools stocked with ice.

Adding to the toll of the virus among Native Americans has been swift and grim economic fallout. “People lost jobs really quick,” he said. “We went from serving a dozen people a week to hundreds.”

Tribal epidemiology centers have fought for months to obtain case information from the C.D.C., and are only now receiving snippets of what they requested, several of the dozen centers in the United States said. Without an accurate portrait of the rates of illness within their populations, tribal nations have struggled to receive federal funds aimed at economic recovery and protective gear.

“I think this historic, deep neglect is just coming into sharper focus because of Covid,” said Liz Malerba, policy and legislative affairs director for the United South and Eastern Tribes, a tribal epidemiology center. “It’s always been there, but now you are seeing more clearly what the depths are.”

A spokeswoman from the C.D.C. said the agency was working to fill gaps in its data to better understand the impact of the virus.

“There is still more work to be done to ensure complete race and ethnicity data in the case report forms,” said the spokeswoman, Jasmine Reed. Since April, the agency has increased its collection of race and ethnicity data from patients tested for the coronavirus, she said.

Ms. Malerba said many tribes did not receive federal emergency funds equal to their needs because the Treasury Department allocated the money using census data that undercounted tribal memberships.

“If you eliminate us in the data, you have effectively eliminated us for the allocation of resources,” said Abigail Echo-Hawk, the director of the Urban Indian Health Institute.

In California, tribal epidemiologists have tried to uncover cases themselves. The California Department of Public Health publishes a daily count of coronavirus cases, and California Tribal Epidemiology Center pulls data from that tally in order to track the virus among the 87,000 Native people who access tribal health programs in the state.

“We can only see the number but we don’t know more information about them, where they reside, their specific symptoms,” said Aurimar Ayala, the center’s epidemiology manager. “It means we cannot further investigate those cases.”

She added that the epidemiology center had created a workaround by contacting local clinics and tracking down the cases, but said that it was a cumbersome solution.

Although health officials are still struggling to fully understand the impact of the coronavirus on Native American people, the severity of the crisis in Yakama Nation is clear to residents, some said.

“It’s devastating to our community,” Ms. Nunez said. “We have these elders that have lived through residential schools and the outlawing of their own religion — they’ve been keeping this culture alive and now Covid hits and it’s taking them from us.”

Kate Conger reported from Harrah, and Robert Gebeloff and Richard A. Oppel Jr. from New York. Sarah Cahalan contributed reporting from Chicago.



5) The Tragedy of Vaccine Nationalism
Only Cooperation Can End the Pandemic
By Thomas J. Bollyky and Chad P. Bown, July 27, 2020
A coronavirus researcher in Singapore, March 2020
Joseph Campbell / Reuters

Trump administration officials have compared the global allocation of vaccines against the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 to oxygen masks dropping inside a depressurizing airplane. “You put on your own first, and then we want to help others as quickly as possible,” Peter Marks, a senior official at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration who oversaw the initial phases of vaccine development for the U.S. government, said during a panel discussion in June. The major difference, of course, is that airplane oxygen masks do not drop only in first class—which is the equivalent of what will happen when vaccines eventually become available if governments delay providing access to them to people in other countries.

By early July, there were 160 candidate vaccines against the new coronavirus in development, with 21 in clinical trials. Although it will be months, at least, before one or more of those candidates has been proved to be safe and effective and is ready to be delivered, countries that manufacture vaccines (and wealthy ones that do not) are already competing to lock in early access. And to judge from the way governments have acted during the current pandemic and past outbreaks, it seems highly likely that such behavior will persist. Absent an international, enforceable commitment to distribute vaccines globally in an equitable and rational way, leaders will instead prioritize taking care of their own populations over slowing the spread of COVID-19 elsewhere or helping protect essential health-care workers and highly vulnerable populations in other countries.

That sort of “vaccine nationalism,” or a “my country first” approach to allocation, will have profound and far-reaching consequences. Without global coordination, countries may bid against one another, driving up the price of vaccines and related materials. Supplies of proven vaccines will be limited initially even in some rich countries, but the greatest suffering will be in low- and middle-income countries. Such places will be forced to watch as their wealthier counterparts deplete supplies and will have to wait months (or longer) for their replenishment. In the interim, health-care workers and billions of elderly and other high-risk inhabitants in poorer countries will go unprotected, which will extend the pandemic, increase its death toll, and imperil already fragile health-care systems and economies. In their quest to obtain vaccines, countries without access to the initial stock will search for any form of leverage they can find, including blocking exports of critical vaccine components, which will lead to the breakdown of supply chains for raw ingredients, syringes, and vials. Desperate governments may also strike short-term deals for vaccines with adverse consequences for their long-term economic, diplomatic, and strategic interests. The result will be not only needless economic and humanitarian hardship but also intense resentment against vaccine-hoarding countries, which will imperil the kind of international cooperation that will be necessary to tackle future outbreaks—not to mention other pressing challenges, such as climate change and nuclear proliferation.

It is not too late for global cooperation to prevail over global dysfunction, but it will require states and their political leaders to change course. What the world needs is an enforceable COVID-19 vaccine trade and investment agreement that would alleviate the fears of leaders in vaccine-producing countries, who worry that sharing their output would make it harder to look after their own populations. Such an agreement could be forged and fostered by existing institutions and systems. And it would not require any novel enforcement mechanisms: the dynamics of vaccine manufacturing and global trade generally create layers of interdependence, which would encourage participants to live up to their commitments. What it would require, however, is leadership on the part of a majority of vaccine-manufacturing countries—including, ideally, the United States.


The goal of a vaccine is to raise an immune response so that when a vaccinated person is exposed to the virus, the immune system takes control of the pathogen and the person does not get infected or sick. The vaccine candidates against COVID-19 must be proved to be safe and effective first in animal studies, then in small trials in healthy volunteers, and finally in large trials in representative groups of people, including the elderly, the sick, and the young.

Most of the candidates currently in the pipeline will fail. If one or more vaccines are proved to be safe and effective at preventing infection and a large enough share of a population gets vaccinated, the number of susceptible individuals will fall to the point where the coronavirus will not be able to spread. That population-wide protection, or “herd immunity,” would benefit everyone, whether vaccinated or not.

It is not clear yet whether achieving herd immunity will be possible with this coronavirus. A COVID-19 vaccine may prove to be more like the vaccines that protect against influenza: a critical public health tool that reduces the risk of contracting the disease, experiencing its most severe symptoms, and dying from it, but that does not completely prevent the spread of the virus. Nevertheless, given the potential of vaccines to end or contain the most deadly pandemic in a century, world leaders as varied as French President Emmanuel Macron, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and UN Secretary-General António Guterres have referred to them as global public goods—a resource to be made available to all, with the use of a vaccine in one country not interfering with its use in another.

At least initially, however, that will not be the reality. During the period when global supplies of COVID-19 vaccines remain limited, providing them to some people will necessarily delay access for others. That bottleneck will prevent any vaccine from becoming a truly global public good.

It is not too late for global cooperation to prevail over global dysfunction.
Vaccine manufacturing is an expensive, complex process, in which even subtle changes may alter the purity, safety, or efficacy of the final product. That is why regulators license not just the finished vaccine but each stage of production and each facility where it occurs. Making a vaccine involves purifying raw ingredients; formulating and adding stabilizers, preservatives, and adjuvants (substances that increase the immune response); and packaging doses into vials or syringes. A few dozen companies all over the world can carry out that last step, known as “fill and finish.” And far fewer can handle the quality-controlled manufacture of active ingredients—especially for more novel, sophisticated vaccines, whose production has been dominated historically by just four large multinational firms based in the United States, the United Kingdom, and the European Union. Roughly a dozen other companies now have some ability to manufacture such vaccines at scale, including a few large outfits, such as the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest producer of vaccines. But most are small manufacturers that would be unable to produce billions of doses.

Further complicating the picture is that some of today’s leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates are based on emerging technologies that have never before been licensed. Scaling up production and ensuring timely approvals for these novel vaccines will be challenging, even for rich countries with experienced regulators. All of this suggests that the manufacture of COVID-19 vaccines will be limited to a handful of countries.

And even after vaccines are ready, a number of factors might delay their availability to nonmanufacturing states. Authorities in producing countries might insist on vaccinating large numbers of people in their own populations before sharing a vaccine with other countries. There might also turn out to be technical limits on the volume of doses and related vaccine materials that companies can produce each day. And poor countries might not have adequate systems to deliver and administer whatever vaccines they do manage to get.

During that inevitable period of delay, there will be many losers, especially poorer countries. But some rich countries will suffer, too, including those that sought to develop and manufacture their own vaccines but bet exclusively on the wrong candidates. By rejecting cooperation with others, those countries will have gambled their national health on hyped views of their own exceptionalism.

And even “winning” countries will needlessly suffer in the absence of an enforceable scheme to share proven vaccines. If health systems collapse under the strain of the pandemic and foreign consumers are ill or dying, there will be less global demand for export-dependent industries in rich countries, such as aircraft or automobiles. If foreign workers are under lockdown and cannot do their jobs, cross-border supply chains will be disrupted, and even countries with vaccine supplies will be deprived of the imported parts and services they need to keep their economies moving.


Forecasts project that the coronavirus pandemic could kill 40 million people and reduce global economic output by $12.5 trillion by the end of 2021. Ending this pandemic as soon as possible is in everyone’s interest. Yet in most capitals, appeals for a global approach have gone unheeded.

In fact, the early months of the pandemic involved a decided shift in the wrong direction. In the face of global shortages, first China; then France, Germany, and the European Union; and finally the United States hoarded supplies of respirators, surgical masks, and gloves for their own hospital workers’ use. Overall, more than 70 countries plus the European Union imposed export controls on local supplies of personal protective equipment, ventilators, or medicines during the first four months of the pandemic. That group includes most of the countries where potential COVID-19 vaccines are being manufactured.

Such hoarding is not new. A vaccine was developed in just seven months for the 2009 pandemic of the influenza A virus H1N1, also known as swine flu, which killed as many as 284,000 people globally. But wealthy countries bought up virtually all the supplies of the vaccine. After the World Health Organization appealed for donations, Australia, Canada, the United States, and six other countries agreed to share ten percent of their vaccines with poorer countries, but only after determining that their remaining supplies would be sufficient to meet domestic needs.

Vaccine allocation resembles the classic game theory problem known as “the prisoner’s dilemma.”
Nongovernmental and nonprofit organizations have adopted two limited strategies to reduce the risk of such vaccine nationalism in the case of COVID-19. First, CEPI (the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations) the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the nongovernmental vaccine partnership known as Gavi, and other donors have developed plans to shorten the queue for vaccines by investing early in the manufacturing and distribution capacity for promising candidates, even before their safety and efficacy have been established. The hope is that doing so will reduce delays in ramping up supplies in poor countries. This approach is sensible but competes with better-resourcednational initiatives to pool scientific expertise and augment manufacturing capacity. What is more, shortening the queue in this manner may exclude middle-income countries such as Pakistan, South Africa, and most Latin American states, which do not meet the criteria for receiving donor assistance. It would also fail to address the fact that the governments of manufacturing countries might seize more vaccine stocks than they need, regardless of the suffering elsewhere.

An alternative approach is to try to eliminate the queue altogether. More than a dozen countries and philanthropies in initial pledges  of $8 billion to the Access to COVID-19 Tools (act) Accelerator, an initiative dedicated to the rapid development and equitable deployment of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics for COVID-19. The ACT Accelerator, however, has so far failed to attract major vaccine-manufacturing states, including the United States and India. In the United States, the Trump administration has instead devoted nearly $10 billion to Operation Warp Speed, a program designed to deliver hundreds of millions of COVID-19 vaccines by January 2021—but only to Americans. Meanwhile, Adar Poonawalla, the chief executive of the Serum Institute of India, has stated that “at least initially,” any vaccine the company produces will go to India’s 1.3 billion people. Other vaccine developers have made similar statements, pledging that host governments or advanced purchasers will get the early doses if supplies are limited.

Given the lack of confidence that any cooperative effort would be able to overcome such obstacles, more and more countries have tried to secure their own supplies. France, Germany, Italy, and the Netherlands formed the Inclusive Vaccine Alliance to jointly negotiate with vaccine developers and producers. That alliance is now part of a larger European Commission effort to negotiate with manufacturers on behalf of EU member states to arrange for advance contracts and to reserve doses of promising candidates. In May, Xi told attendees at the World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, that if Beijing succeeds in developing a vaccine, it will share the results with the world, but he did not say when. In June, Anthony Fauci, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, expressed skepticism about that claim and told The Wall Street Journal that he expects that the Chinese government will use its vaccines “predominantly for the very large populace of China.” This summer, the United States bought up virtually all the supplies of remdesivir, one of the first drugs proven to work against COVID-19, leaving none for the United Kingdom, the EU,  or most of the rest of the world for three months.


Global cooperation on vaccine allocation would be the most efficient way to disrupt the spread of the virus. It would also spur economies, avoid supply chain disruptions, and prevent unnecessary geopolitical conflict. Yet if all other vaccine-manufacturing countries are being nationalists, no one will have an incentive to buck the trend. In this respect, vaccine allocation resembles the classic game theory problem known as “the prisoner’s dilemma”—and countries are very much acting like the proverbial prisoner.

“If we have learned anything from the coronavirus and swine flu H1N1 epidemic of 2009,” said Peter Navarro, the globalization skeptic whom President Donald Trump appointed in March to lead the U.S. supply chain response to COVID-19, “it is that we cannot necessarily depend on other countries, even close allies, to supply us with needed items, from face masks to vaccines.” Navarro has done his best to make sure everyone else learns this lesson, as well: shortly after he made that statement, the White House slapped export restrictions on U.S.-manufactured surgical masks, respirators, and gloves, including to many poor countries.

By failing to develop a plan to coordinate the mass manufacture and distribution of vaccines, many governments—including the U.S. government—are writing off the potential for global cooperation. Such cooperation remains possible, but it would require a large number of countries to make an enforceable commitment to sharing in order to overcome leaders’ fears of domestic opposition.

The time horizon for most political leaders is short, especially for those facing an imminent election. Many remain unconvinced that voters would understand that the long-term health and economic consequences of the coronavirus spreading unabated abroad are greater than the immediate threat posed by their or their loved ones’ having to wait to be vaccinated at home. And to politicians, the potential for opposition at home may seem like a bigger risk than outrage abroad over their hoarding supplies, especially if it is for a limited time and other countries are seen as likely to do the same.

French President Emmanuel Macron tours a vaccine laboratory in June, 2020
Laurent Cipriani / Reuters
Fortunately, there are ways to weaken this disincentive to cooperate. First, politicians might be more willing to forgo immunizing their entire populations in order to share vaccines with other countries if there were reliable research indicating the number and allocation of doses needed to achieve critical public health objectives at home—such as protecting health-care workers, military personnel, and nursing home staffs; reducing the spread to the elderly and other vulnerable populations; and breaking transmission chains. Having that information would allow elected leaders to pledge to share vaccine supplies with other countries only if they have enough at home to reach those goals. This type of research has long been part of national planning for immunization campaigns. It has revealed, for example, that because influenza vaccines induce a relatively weak immune response in the elderly, older people are much better protected if the vaccination of children, who are the chief spreaders, is prioritized. Such research does not yet exist for COVID-19 but should be part of the expedited clinical trials that companies are currently conducting for vaccine candidates.

A framework agreement on vaccine sharing would also be more likely to succeed if it were undertaken through an established international forum and linked to preventing the export bans and seizures that have disrupted COVID-19-related medical supply chains. Baby steps toward such an agreement have already been taken by a working group of G-20 trade ministers, but that effort needs to be expanded to include public health officials. The result should be a covid-19 vaccine trade and investment agreement, which should include an investment fund to purchase vaccines in advance and allocate them, once they have been proved to be safe and effective, on the basis of public health need rather than the size of any individual country’s purse. Governments would pay into the investment fund on a subscription basis, with escalating, nonrefundable payments tied to the number of vaccine doses they secured and other milestones of progress. Participation of the poorest countries should be heavily subsidized or free. Such an agreement could leverage the international organizations that already exist for the purchase and distribution of vaccines and medications for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. The agreement should include an enforceable commitment on the part of participating countries to not place export restrictions on supplies of vaccines and related materials destined for other participating countries.

The agreement could stipulate that if a minimum number of vaccine--producing countries did not participate, it would not enter into force, reducing the risk to early signatories. Some manufacturers would be hesitant to submit to a global allocation plan unless the participating governments committed to indemnification, allowed the use of product liability insurance, or agreed to a capped injury-compensation program to mitigate the manufacturers’ risk. Linking the agreement to existing networks of regulators, such as the International Coalition of Medicines Regulatory Authorities, might help ease such concerns and would also help create a more transparent pathway to the licensing of vaccines, instill global confidence, reduce development costs, and expedite access in less remunerative markets.


Even if policymakers can be convinced about the benefits of sharing, cooperation will remain a nonstarter if there is nothing to prevent countries from reneging on an agreement and seizing local supplies of a vaccine once it has been proved to be safe and effective. Cooperation will ensue only when countries are convinced that it can be enforced.

The key thing to understand is that allocating COVID-19 vaccines will not be a one-off experience: multiple safe and effective vaccines may eventually emerge, each with different strengths and benefits. If one country were to deny others access to an early vaccine, those other countries could be expected to reciprocate by withholding potentially more effective vaccines they might develop later. And game theory makes clear that, even for the most selfish players, incentives for cooperation improve when the game is repeated and players can credibly threaten quick and effective punishment for cheating.

Which vaccine turns out to be most effective may vary by the target patient population and setting. Some may be more suitable for children or for places with limited refrigeration. Yet because the various vaccine candidates still in development require different ingredients and different types of manufacturing facilities, no one country, not even the United States, will be able to build all the facilities that may later prove useful.

Today’s vaccine supply chains are unavoidably global.
Today’s vaccine supply chains are also unavoidably global. The country lucky enough to manufacture the first proven vaccine is unlikely to have all the inputs necessary to scale up and sustain production. For example, a number of vaccine candidates use the same adjuvant, a substance produced from a natural compound extracted from the Chilean soapbark tree. This compound comes mostly from Chile and is processed in Sweden. Although Chile and Sweden do not manufacture vaccines, they would be able to rely on their control of the limited supply of this input to ensure access to the eventual output. Vaccine supply chains abound with such situations. Because the science has not settled on which vaccine will work best, it is impossible to fully anticipate and thus prepare for all the needed inputs.

The Trump administration, as well as some in Congress, has blamed the United States’ failure to produce vast supplies of everything it needs to respond to COVID-19 on “dependency.” But when it comes to creating an enforceable international vaccine agreement, complex cross-border supply chains are a feature, not a bug. Even countries without vaccine-manufacturing capacity can credibly threaten to hold up input supplies to the United States or other vaccine-manufacturing countries if they engage in vaccine nationalism.

The Trump administration was reminded of this dynamic in April, when the president invoked the Defense Production Act and threatened to ban exports to Canada and Mexico of respirators made by 3M. Had Trump followed through, Canada could have retaliated by halting exports of hospital-grade pulp that U.S. companies needed to produce surgical masks and gowns. Or Canada could have stopped Canadian nurses and hospital workers from crossing the border into Michigan, where they were desperately needed to treat American patients. Mexico, for its part, could have cut off the supply of motors and other components that U.S. companies needed to make ventilators. The White House seemed unaware of these potential vulnerabilities. Once it got up to speed, the administration backed off.

Of course, the Trump administration should have already learned that trading partners—even historical allies—are willing and able to swiftly and effectively retaliate against one another if someone breaks an agreement. In early 2018, this was apparently an unknown—at least to Navarro. Explaining why Trump was planning to put tariffs on steel and aluminum, Navarro reassured Americans: “I don’t believe there is any country in the world that is going to retaliate,” he declared. After Trump imposed the duties, Canada, Mexico, and the European Union, along with China, Russia, and Turkey, all immediately retaliated. The EU went through a similar learning experience in March. The European Commission originally imposed a broad set of export restrictions on personal protective equipment. It was forced to quickly scale them back after realizing that cutting off non-EU members, such as Norway and Switzerland, could imperil the flow of parts that companies based in the EU needed to supply the eu’s own member states with medical supplies.

American and European policymakers now understand—or at least should understand—that what they don’t know about cross-border flows can hurt them. Paradoxically, this lack of information may help convince skeptical policymakers to maintain the interdependence needed to fight the pandemic. Not knowing what they don’t know reduces the risk that governments will renege on a deal tomorrow that is in their own best interest to sign on to today.


When the oxygen masks drop in a depressurizing plane, they drop at the same time in every part of the plane because time is of the essence and because that is the best way to ensure the safety of all onboard. The same is true of the global, equitable allocation of safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19.

Vaccine nationalism is not just morally and ethically reprehensible: it is contrary to every country’s economic, strategic, and health interests. If rich, powerful countries choose that path, there will be no winners—ultimately, every country will be a loser. The world is not doomed to learn this the hard way, however. All the necessary tools exist to forge an agreement that would encourage cooperation and limit the appeal of shortsighted “my country first” approaches.

But time is running out: the closer the world gets to the day when the first proven vaccines emerge, the less time there is to set up an equitable, enforceable system for allocating them. As a first step, a coalition of political leaders from countries representing at least 50 percent of global vaccine-manufacturing capacity must get together and instruct their public health officials and trade ministers to get out of their silos and work together. Combining forces, they should hammer out a short-term agreement that articulates the conditions for sharing, including with the legions of poorer, nonmanufacturing countries, and makes clear what would happen to participants who subsequently reneged and undertook vaccine nationalism. Such a step would get the ball rolling and convince even more of the manufacturing countries to sign on. The fear of missing out on vaccine access, in the event their countries’ own vaccine candidates fail, may be what it takes to pressure even today’s most reluctant leaders to cooperate.



6) Federal Agents Don’t Need Army Fatigues
If you’re an officer of the law, dress like one. Leave the soldiering to soldiers.
By The Editorial Board, July 31, 2020

Masked men, clad indistinguishably from soldiers, yanking civilians off the street in the dead of night and throwing them into unmarked cars is the modus operandi of totalitarian regimes — or the stuff of dystopian fiction.

But that’s now the reality in America. In recent weeks, the Department of Homeland Security has sent hundreds of federal agents into Portland, Ore., to quell protests over racism and police violence.

The Justice Department and the Oregon governor appear to have negotiated a withdrawal of those agents. But Bill Barr, the attorney general, told Congress this week that federal agents would be headed to other cities, including Cleveland, Milwaukee and Detroit. On Monday, the mayors of Chicago, Seattle, Portland, Albuquerque, Washington and Kansas City, Mo., sent a letter to Congress asking for legislation to stop the Trump administration from deploying federal agents to cities without their consent. Federal agents should assist local jurisdictions, if they ask. But, at least in the case of Portland, the conduct of federal officers clearly made a bad situation worse.

Many of those federal agents aren’t easily recognizable as law enforcement officials, nor do they act like them. Even the military is concerned about the public confusion sewn into society when heavily armed federal agents dress like soldiers. All the more reason that the federal agents on the streets of American cities be required to wear uniforms that clearly identify themselves and their civilian agency.

Complicating matters even more for the average American are the other masked and armed men who have also appeared at public demonstrations in the United States over the past few months — lockdown protesters, anti-government activists, white supremacists, self-declared “militias.” To the unschooled eye, they look remarkably similar, both in the flesh and in the millions of images flitting around the globe at the speed of social media.

Camouflage uniforms are intended to conceal a person’s presence and intentions from an enemy, or hunters from their quarry. But in our masked and militarized moment, the righteous should make every effort to publicly stand out from the wicked. The only reason to wear camouflage in an urban setting — be it federal agents or self-declared militia members — is intimidation.

If officers were easily identifiable, it would be harder for them to get away with thrashing unarmed Americans with nightsticks, shattering their bones as the camera phones roll.

A new bill, introduced by Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Eleanor Holmes Norton of Washington, D.C., would require on-duty federal and local law enforcement officers to identify themselves at all times, by name, agency and badge number. That’s a good start, but is also insufficient.

Discarding the woodland camouflage, military-style weaponry and violent tactics while on urban policing duty in Ohio, Illinois and Wisconsin would send an even clearer signal that federal agents intend to protect the peace, not wage a war.

My NYT Comment:
“It's certainly not only about what they wear, but what they are actually doing, i.e., waging war against peaceful Black Lives Matter protesters. Racism in all of its forms is violence against living human beings and must be stopped. And, in my book, violence is, by its very nature, an attack against a living being, not graffiti on a building or a trash fire. And peaceful protesters being violently attacked have every right to defend themselves. Changing uniforms won't change the role the military police have been sent in to play—intimidation and the violent disruption of peaceful protests—plain and simple. The peaceful protests will not stop until the violence of racism stops! Changing the outfits of those carrying out repressive violence will do nothing to change why they have been sent in in the first place.” 

—Bonnie Weinstein



7) Mail Delays Fuel Concern Trump Is Undercutting Postal System Ahead of Voting
The president’s long campaign against the Postal Service is intersecting with his assault on mail-in voting amid concerns that he has politicized oversight of the agency.
By Michael D. Shear, Hailey Fuchs and Kenneth P. Vogel, July 31, 2020

The Postal Service, which runs more than 31,000 post offices in the United States, has struggled financially for years, in part because of its legal obligation to deliver mail everywhere. Credit...Paul Ratje/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

WASHINGTON — Welcome to the next election battleground: the post office.

President Trump’s yearslong assault on the Postal Service and his increasingly dire warnings about the dangers of voting by mail are colliding as the presidential campaign enters its final months. The result has been to generate new concerns about how he could influence an election conducted during a pandemic in which greater-than-ever numbers of voters will submit their ballots by mail.

In tweet after all-caps tweet, Mr. Trump has warned that allowing people to vote by mail will result in a “CORRUPT ELECTION” that will “LEAD TO THE END OF OUR GREAT REPUBLICAN PARTY” and become the “SCANDAL OF OUR TIMES.” He has predicted that children will steal ballots out of mailboxes. On Thursday, he dangled the idea of delaying the election instead.

Members of Congress and state officials in both parties rejected the president’s suggestion and his claim that mail-in ballots would result in widespread fraud. But they are warning that a huge wave of ballots could overwhelm mail carriers unless the Postal Service, in financial difficulty for years, receives emergency funding that Republicans are blocking during negotiations over another pandemic relief bill.

At the same time, the mail system is being undercut in ways set in motion by Mr. Trump. Fueled by animus for Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, and surrounded by advisers who have long called for privatizing the post office, Mr. Trump and his appointees have begun taking cost-cutting steps that appear to have led to slower and less reliable delivery.

In recent weeks, at the direction of a Trump campaign megadonor who was recently named the postmaster general, the service has stopped paying mail carriers and clerks the overtime necessary to ensure that deliveries can be completed each day. That and other changes have led to reports of letters and packages being delayed by as many as several days.

Voting rights groups say it is a recipe for disaster.

“We have an underfunded state and local election system and a deliberate slowdown in the Postal Service,” said Wendy Fields, the executive director of the Democracy Initiative, a coalition of voting and civil rights groups. She said the president was “deliberately orchestrating suppression and using the post office as a tool to do it.”

Kim Wyman, the Republican secretary of state in Washington, one of five states where mail-in balloting is universal, said Wednesday on NPR’s “1A” program that “election officials are very concerned, if the post office is reducing service, that we will be able to get ballots to people in time.”

During his eulogy on Thursday for Representative John Lewis, former President Barack Obama lamented what he said was a continuing effort to attack voting rights “with surgical precision, even undermining the Postal Service in the run-up to an election that is going to be dependent on mailed-in ballots so people don’t get sick.”

Louis DeJoy, the postmaster general, defended the changes, saying in a statement that the ban on overtime was intended to “improve operational efficiency” and to “ensure that we meet our service standards.”

Mr. DeJoy declined to be interviewed. David Partenheimer, a spokesman for the Postal Service, said that the nation’s post offices had “ample capacity to adjust our nationwide processing and delivery network to meet projected election and political mail volume, including any additional volume that may result as a response to the Covid-19 pandemic.”

A plunge in the amount of mail because of a recession — which the United States entered into in February — has cost the Postal Service billions of dollars in revenue, with some analysts predicting that the agency will run out of money by spring. Democrats have proposed an infusion of $25 billion. On Friday, Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Republicans, who are opposed to the funding, of wanting to “diminish the capacity of the Postal System to work in a timely fashion.”

Arthur B. Sackler, who runs the Coalition for a 21st Century Postal Service, a group representing the biggest bulk mailers, said the changes were concerning even though his organization did not take a position on voting by mail.

“Like any other mail, this could complicate what is already going to be a complicated process,” Mr. Sackler said. “A huge number of jurisdictions are totally inexperienced in vote by mail. They have never had the avalanche of interest that they have this year.”

Many states have already loosened restrictions on who can vote by mail: In Kentucky, mail-in ballots accounted for 85 percent of the vote in June’s primary. In Vermont, requests for mail-in ballots are up 1,000 percent over 2018.

Michigan voters had requested nearly 1.8 million mail-in ballots by the end of July, compared with about 500,000 by the similar time four years ago, after the secretary of state mailed absentee ballot applications to all 7.7 million registered voters.

In the suburban Virginia district of Representative Gerald E. Connolly, a Democrat who leads the House subcommittee that oversees the Postal Service, 1,300 people voted by mail in a 2019 primary — last month, more than 34,000 did.

“We are worried about new management at the Postal Service that is carrying out Trump’s avowed opposition to voting by mail,” Mr. Connolly said. “I don’t think that’s speculation. I think we are witnessing that in front of our own eyes.”

Erratic service could delay the delivery of blank ballots to people who request them. And in 34 states, completed ballots that are not received by Election Day — this year it is Nov. 3 — are invalidated, raising the prospect that some voters could be disenfranchised if the mail system buckles.

In other states, ballots can be tallied as long as they are postmarked by Election Day, but voting rights groups say ballots are often erroneously delivered without a postmark, which prevents them from being counted.

The ability of the Postal Service “to timely deliver and return absentee ballots and their work to postmark those ballots will literally determine whether or not voters are disenfranchised during the pandemic,” said Kristen Clarke, the president of the National Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

In New York, where officials urged people not to cast ballots in person during June’s primary, counting of mail-in ballots is still underway weeks later, leaving some crucial races undecided. In some cases, ballots received without postmarks are being discarded.

Making the problem worse, New York law requires that election officials wait to begin counting mail-in ballots until the polls close on Election Day. Other states allow counting to begin earlier, though most insist that no results be revealed until after voting ends. In Arizona, officials can begin tallying votes 14 days early. In Florida, officials can begin verifying signatures on ballots 22 days before the election.

Mr. Trump and his allies have seized upon the New York debacle as evidence that he is right to oppose mail-in ballots. Kayleigh McEnany, the White House press secretary, called it an “absolute catastrophe,” and the president referred to New York in a tweet that said, “Rigged Election, and EVERYONE knows it!”

But Mr. Trump — who himself has repeatedly voted by mail in recent elections — has set in motion changes at the Postal Service that could make the problem worse.

A series of Postal Service documents titled “PMGs expectations,” a reference to the postmaster general, describe how Mr. Trump’s new leadership team is trying to cut costs.

“Overtime will be eliminated,” says the document, which was first reported by The Washington Post. “Again, we are paying too much overtime, and it is not cost effective and will soon be taken off the table. More to come on this.”

The document continues: “The U.S.P.S. will no longer use excessive cost to get the basic job done. If the plants run late, they will keep the mail for the next day.”

Another document, dated July 10, says, “One aspect of these changes that may be difficult for employees is that — temporarily — we may see mail left behind or on the workroom floor or docks.”

With the agency under financial pressure, some offices have also begun to cut back on hours. The result, according to postal workers, members of Congress and major post office customers, is a noticeable slowdown in delivery.

“The policies that the new postmaster general is putting into place — they couldn’t lead to anything but degradation of service,” said Mark Dimondstein, the president of the American Postal Workers Union. “Anything that slows down the mail could have a negative impact on everything we do, including vote by mail.”

The Postal Service, which runs more than 31,000 post offices in the United States, has struggled financially for years, in part because of its legal obligation to deliver mail everywhere, even remote locations that would be unprofitable for a private company.

A 2018 report by the Treasury Department recommended an overhaul of the Postal Service, which the report said accumulated losses of $69 billion from 2007 to 2018.

But the administration’s critics say the changes being put in place by Mr. DeJoy are part of a political agenda to move toward privatization of the Postal Service.

In mid-July, Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, and Mr. Connolly wrote a letter to Mr. DeJoy raising questions about the ban on overtime and the other changes.

“While these changes in a normal year would be drastic,” the lawmakers wrote, “in a presidential election year when many states are relying heavily on absentee mail-in ballots, increases in mail delivery timing would impair the ability of ballots to be received and counted in a timely manner — an unacceptable outcome for a free and fair election.”

Mr. Trump has been assailing the Postal Service since early in his presidency, tweeting in 2017 that the agency was becoming “dumber and poorer” because it charged big companies too little for delivering their packages.

The president has repeatedly blamed Mr. Bezos, who is also the owner of The Washington Post, for the financial plight of the Postal Service, insisting that the post office charges Amazon too little, an assertion that many experts have rejected as false.

In the past three years, the president has replaced all six members of the Postal Service Board of Governors.

In May, the board, which includes two Democrats, selected Mr. DeJoy, a longtime Republican fund-raiser who has contributed more than $1.5 million to Mr. Trump’s 2016 and 2020 campaigns, to be postmaster general. According to financial disclosures, Mr. DeJoy and his wife, Aldona Wos, who has been nominated to be the ambassador to Canada, have $115,002 to $300,000 invested in the Postal Service’s major competitor, UPS.

Two board members have since departed. David C. Williams, the vice chairman, left in April over concerns that the Postal Service was becoming increasingly politicized by the Trump administration, according to two people familiar with his thinking. Ronald Stroman, who oversaw mail-in voting and relations with election officials, resigned in May.

One of the remaining members, Robert M. Duncan, is a former Republican National Committee chairman who has been a campaign donor to Mr. Trump.

In accusing the administration of politicizing the Postal Service, the president’s critics point to a recent decision to send a mailer detailing guidelines to protect against the coronavirus. The mailer, which featured Mr. Trump’s name in a campaignlike style, was sent in March to 130 million American households at a reported cost of $28 million.

According to Postal Service emails obtained by The New York Times under the Freedom of Information Act, Mr. Trump was personally involved.

“I know that POTUS personally approved this postcard and is aware of the USPS effort in service to the nation — pushing information out to every household, urban and rural,” John M. Barger, a governor of the postal system, wrote in an email to the postmaster general at the time.

In another email, Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, told a member of the board that Dr. Stephen C. Redd, a deputy director at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “will make this happen.” The mailer received a go-ahead from the White House before it was sent out, the emails show.

S. David Fineman, who served on the board under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, said that during his time, the board rarely if ever had contact with the White House.

“I’ve never seen anything quite like this,” he said. “No one would have thought that we would have sought the input of the administration.”



8) Court Frees Michigan Teen Who Was Held for Skipping Online Schoolwork
The release came more than a week after a judge ruled that the girl, who violated the terms of her probation by skipping coursework, should remain at the juvenile facility.
By Aimee Ortiz, July 31, 2020

People protested in support of the high school student outside Oakland County Circuit Court in Pontiac, Mich., earlier this month. Credit...Emily Elconin/Reuters

The Michigan Court of Appeals on Friday freed a 15-year-old suburban Detroit girl whose detention at a juvenile facility drew widespread criticism after a county judge ordered that she be held for failing to complete her online schoolwork.

After the court granted an emergency order, the girl, who is being called Grace to protect her identity, was released immediately into the custody of her mother. She had been held since May.

Jonathan Biernat and Saima Khalil, lawyers for Grace, said in an interview on Friday afternoon that the pair were on their way home.

“We weren’t expecting anything today,” Mr. Biernat said. “We asked that they review it by Monday, but we’re so thankful that Grace is going home.”

The case, which was reported by ProPublica, immediately drew condemnation.

The release came more than a week after an Oakland County Circuit Court judge ruled that the teenager, who violated the terms of her probation by skipping coursework when her school switched to remote learning because of the coronavirus pandemic, should remain at the juvenile facility. The judge said the decision was intended for the girl’s own good.

“I think you are exactly where you are supposed to be,” Judge Mary Ellen Brennan said to the girl, who is Black. “You are blooming there, but there is more work to be done.”

The judge said that the police had been called three times over confrontations between the girl and her mother, adding that “she was detained because she was a threat to her mother.”

But the teenager was not placed in detention or incarcerated after any of those previous encounters, a lawyer for Grace told The Times last week. One of the girl’s lawyers said she had attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and received special education services, which made it difficult for her to shift to online education.

The girl had been on probation after she pulled her mother’s hair and bit her finger in November, the judge said. The police referred the case to the Oakland County court, and an assault charge was filed against the girl. A few weeks later, she was charged with larceny after she was caught on surveillance video stealing a cellphone from a fellow student at Birmingham Groves High School in Beverly Hills, northwest of Detroit, according to ProPublica.

The Oakland County prosecutor, Jessica Cooper, said the girl had a long history of behavioral issues, including domestic violence toward her mother. She said the girl’s mother was the one who notified the caseworker that her daughter was not in compliance with the conditions of her probation. On May 14, according to ProPublica, Judge Brennan ordered that Grace be detained after she found her to be in violation of her probation.

On Friday, Ms. Khalil, one of the teenager’s lawyers, praised the teenager’s mother as a “hands-on mom,” and a single parent who “always seeks out the best for her and that is commendable.”

Lamenting the trauma that Grace and her mother have “endured because of Judge Brennan’s decision to throw her into detention,” she emphasized that the two “were not separated before.”

“This should have never happened,” Ms. Khalil said, but noted the national spotlight on the case was “forcing a conversation to happen about juvenile justice issues. It’s a conversation we need to have about mental health issues.”

Jenny Gross contributed reporting



9) Law to Reduce Crack Cocaine Sentences Leaves Some Imprisoned
Critics say the First Step Act is being applied too arbitrarily by judges who are taking a hard line when it comes to revisiting nonviolent drug sentences.
By Hailey Fuchs, Aug. 1, 2020

Lazelle Maxwell, who is serving 30 years for a nonviolent drug charge, has been denied a reduction of his sentence through the First Step Act. Credit...Maxwell Family

WASHINGTON — Lazelle Maxwell, 48, is nearly 12 years into a 30-year sentence for a nonviolent crack cocaine charge, a penalty exacerbated by previous run-ins with law enforcement that led to his designation as a career offender.

Three years into remission after a diagnosis of prostate cancer, Mr. Maxwell has no major disciplinary infractions on his prison record. He spends most of his days behind bars caring for an elderly, partly paralyzed inmate at a low-security federal penitentiary in Butner, N.C.

More than a year and a half ago, he learned that he might be eligible for a reduction in his sentence under the First Step Act, a bipartisan bill President Trump signed in December 2018 that has been lauded as the most consequential criminal justice legislation in a generation. Mr. Maxwell sent a hopeful one-page note to the judge who sentenced him, asking for a lawyer so he could apply.

The judge rejected his request. Mr. Maxwell never had a chance to plead his case.

“It really just knocked all the breath out of me, for real,” Mr. Maxwell said from an office in the Butner prison.

He later learned that the judge, Danny C. Reeves of the Eastern District of Kentucky, rarely if ever grants motions for resentencing in First Step Act cases.

By and large, the First Step Act has met its goal of reducing federal sentences for nonviolent drug offenders, addressing a longstanding disparity in which crack cocaine convictions in particular led to far harsher penalties than other drug offenses and disproportionately increased imprisonment of Black men.

Thousands of inmates across the country, predominantly people of color, have been released or resentenced under a provision of the new law that allowed changes to the sentencing provisions to be applied retroactively. As of January, 2,387 inmates had their sentences reduced under the provision that allows some crack cocaine offenders to be resentenced, out of 2,660 that the United States Sentencing Commission estimated in May 2018 were eligible.

But the law gives judges discretion in reducing sentences, leaving some inmates like Mr. Maxwell without much recourse when their applications are rejected. In those cases, activists and defense lawyers worry that the First Step Act gives too much authority to judges to determine who does and does not deserve early release.

“It’s like the luck of the draw,” said Sarah Ryan, a professor at Wesleyan University who has analyzed hundreds of First Step Act resentencing cases. “You’ve got people sitting in prison during a pandemic, and it’s not supposed to come down to who your judge is. It’s supposed to come down to the law.”

The simple enactment of the bill was no guarantee for inmates. This provision of the bill did not mandate that the judges must resentence eligible offenders; Congress specified that “nothing in this section shall be construed to require a court to reduce any sentence.”

The U.S. Sentencing Commission does not track rejected applications for First Step Act resentencing, so it is impossible to know how many eligible inmates have had their petitions denied. In many cases, inmates who ask to be resentenced are blatantly ineligible, often because they were not charged for a crack cocaine offense. In others, eligible inmates do not have lawyers to represent them when their requests are denied.

Patrick Estell Jones, the first federal inmate to die of the coronavirus, was sentenced to 27 years in prison for a nonviolent drug charge because he lived within 1,000 feet of a junior college. Mr. Jones died this spring, a month after a judge denied his First Step application, citing his criminal history.

The appeals courts have freed some inmates whose federal trial judges declined to resentence them. In the Western District of North Carolina, Brooks Tyrone Chambers applied in May 2019 to reduce his almost 22-year sentence for a crack cocaine offense after he was wrongly labeled a career offender.

The district court, where four of the five judges are former prosecutors, maintained that he still qualified as a career offender and denied his application. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued a split ruling overturning that decision. The government, which contests the vast majority of First Step applications, decided not to appeal, and Mr. Chambers walked free in late July.

In another case, the First Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a decision from a judge in New Hampshire, who found that an inmate was ineligible for the First Step Act because he had been caught with too little crack cocaine.

The section of the act that governs resentencing for crack cocaine convictions is just four sentences long. It made retroactive the 2010 Fair Sentencing Act, which reduced sentencing disparities between crack and powder cocaine. Courts have been relatively slow to determine some of the ambiguities of the act, including whether to consider behavior behind bars or other concurrent charges as factors in the decision.

Many public defenders — who handle most of these applications — in the toughest districts declined to speak on the record for fear of upsetting the judges who oversee their cases.

Parks Small, a federal public defender in Columbia, S.C., said an imperfect First Step Act was still better than nothing, calling the bill a “godsend” for many inmates. He added that judges varied as to the importance they placed on the original offense or the inmate’s behavior behind bars.

“You give it to different judges, they’re going to come up with different opinions,” Mr. Small said. “It’s frustrating.”

That discretion — critics would say arbitrariness — came into play in Mr. Maxwell’s case.

Complicating matters, the Eastern District of Kentucky is one of two districts in the country without a public defender’s office, and First Step Act applicants are not guaranteed a lawyer under the law. Mr. Maxwell got a break when Shon Hopwood, a lawyer who had spent years in federal prison for armed robbery, decided to take up his case.

After Judge Reeves rejected his initial request last year, Mr. Maxwell received some good news in January when the Sixth Circuit found that the judge could not construe Mr. Maxwell’s letter as a motion for resentencing. He would be allowed a chance to demonstrate why he deserved to be released early.

Still, despite his pleas that he be reassigned to a new judge by the circuit, Judge Reeves would be the one to reconsider his request.

In June, he again rejected Mr. Maxwell’s request.

“While Maxwell is eligible for a sentence reduction, he is not entitled to it,” Judge Reeves wrote. He ruled that because Mr. Maxwell was sentenced above his mandatory minimum, the court did not believe he deserved fewer years behind bars. He cited Mr. Maxwell’s criminal record during his 20s, which included several bank robberies and a charge for fleeing from police.

“The defendant’s long pattern of criminal conduct exhibits a danger to the public and a lack of respect for the law,” the judge wrote.

Judge Reeves is one of two members of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, the agency instructed to study and develop sentencing policies for federal courts.

When Mr. Maxwell was sentenced, the charge for fleeing from police was considered violent; this would not be true today. If he were sentenced in 2020, he most likely would not be considered a career offender, which would lower the recommended guidelines for his sentence.

Among dozens of First Step Act cases reviewed by The New York Times, Judge Reeves also denied resentencing to crack cocaine offenders, compassionate release to vulnerable inmates, or requests for early release for “good time” served.

He ruled that defendants who were sentenced after Mr. Trump signed the First Step Act into law were not eligible for some of its benefits so long as their guilty pleas were entered before the date of enactment. In at least two cases, inmates referred to him by the U.S. Sentencing Commission as “potentially eligible” for a sentence reduction were denied.

“What he’s really doing is thumbing his nose at Congress, who said these punishments were too harsh,” said Mr. Hopwood, Mr. Maxwell’s lawyer who helped develop the First Step Act. “It’s not just enough to give the power back to judges to resentence because you have judges like Judge Reeves who just won’t do it.”

Mr. Maxwell maintains that he has changed. He has taken many courses to better himself behind bars and is one shy of his associate degree — the bout of prostate cancer has put his graduation on hold while he is stationed at a medical prison.

His only chance to leave prison before his 60s appears to be a grant of clemency from the president, but his application has remained pending since 2016. Mr. Trump has only granted 36 applications for clemency, most recently his longtime friend and campaign adviser Roger J. Stone Jr.

Mr. Maxwell says his years behind bars have given him a sense of clarity. When he gets out, he wants to start a heating and cooling business.

“I never gave myself really a chance to move forward in life,” he said.



10) Should N.Y. Be Jailing Parolees for Minor Lapses During a Pandemic?
On probation since 2018, Earl Russell was sent to Rikers for sleeping in his own bed instead of in the shelter where he was mandated to stay.
"That routinization comes with all the predictable disparities. In New York City, Black people re-enter the jail system on these technicalities at a rate more than 12 times that of whites."
By Ginia Bellafante, July 31, 2020
Dave Sanders for The New York Times

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



11) Why Protest Tactics Spread Like Memes
When items like umbrellas and leaf blowers are subverted into objects of resistance, they become very shareable.
By Tracy Ma With Natalie Shutler. Written by Jonah Engel Bromwich. Video by Shane O’Neill, July 31, 2020
Hong Kong, August 2019. Credit...Getty Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



















































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