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Resources for Resisting Federal Repression
Since June of 2020, activists have been subjected to an increasingly aggressive crackdown on protests by federal law enforcement. The federal response to the movement for Black Lives has included federal criminal charges for activists, door knocks by federal law enforcement agents, and increased use of federal troops to violently police protests.
The NLG National Office is releasing this resource page for activists who are resisting federal repression. It includes a link to our emergency hotline numbers, as well as our library of Know-Your-Rights materials, our recent federal repression webinar, and a list of some of our recommended resources for activists. We will continue to update this page.
If you are contacted by federal law enforcement you should exercise all of your rights. It is always advisable to speak to an attorney before responding to federal authorities.
State and Local Hotlines
If you have been contacted by the FBI or other federal law enforcement, in one of the following areas, you may be able to get help or information from one of these local NLG hotlines for:
- Portland, Oregon: (833) 680-1312
- San Francisco, California: (415) 285-1041 or email@example.com
- Seattle, Washington: (206) 658-7963
If you are located in an area with no hotline, you can call the following number:
Know Your Rights Materials
The NLG maintains a library of basic Know-Your-Rights guides.
- Know Your Rights During Covid-19
- You Have The Right To Remain Silent: A Know Your Rights Guide for Encounters with Law Enforcement
- Operation Backfire: For Environmental and Animal Rights Activists
WEBINAR: Federal Repression of Activists & Their Lawyers: Legal & Ethical Strategies to Defend Our Movements: presented by NLG-NYC and NLG National Office
We also recommend the following resources:
- Grand Juries: Slideshow
Movement for Black Lives Legal Resources
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: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.
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)
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Subject: Shut Down Fort Hood! Justice for Vanessa Guillén. Sign the petition!
SHUT DOWN FORT HOOD NOW!JUSTICE FOR
PFC. VANESSA GUILLÉN!
Sign the Petition
In late April, Pfc. Vanessa Guillén went missing from her base in Ft. Hood, Texas. It took her family and friends working night and day to appeal to the commanding officers to get any attention whatsoever about her whereabouts. Vanessa had told her family she had been sexually harassed by her supervisor.For more than three months, Vanessa’s higher-ups paid little attention to her family’s urgent pleas to investigate her disappearance. She was treated as being disposable.In late June, her body was found 25 miles from the base. Vanessa had been tragically murdered by her abuser who later killed himself upon capture.The unspeakable crimes against Vanessa Guillén have opened a floodgate of testimonies about sexual assault in the military. Many women and LGBTQ2S+ people are telling their heartbreaking stories with the hashtag #iamvanessaGuillén.Vanessa’s death is a result of sexual harassment in the military, which is deplorable. Fort Hood is the worst. According to the Pentagon’s own reports, it has the most sexual assaults of any Army post in the country. That is why it must be shut down now!In addition, Fort Hood, the single biggest military post in the U.S. armed forces, is named after a Confederate general. Its name glorifies racism and slavery.When Vanessa Guillén enlisted in the Army, she thought she’d be doing good and it would be helpful to her. Instead, it destroyed her. But how could it not when the military exists not to help people, but to defend Wall Street? It invaded and still occupies Iraq and Afghanistan, killing millions, just for oil profits.The case for Justice for Vanessa is very much linked to the movement for Black Lives. Young people of color must have other options than police violence or going to war for their future.WE DEMAND:•Investigate Fort Hood Commanding General Robert White and others for conspiracy to cover up Pfc. Vanessa Guillén’s murder. Why did it take a mass movement to find what happened?
•Shut down Ft. Hood! There is no other way to end the deplorable conditions soldiers face.
•Job training, education, COVID-19 relief, not war! If we shut down the Pentagon, the annual U.S. defense budget of $1 trillion could be used for people’s needs, not war.
•End misogyny and homophobia in the military. Justice for Vanessa and all survivors.
147 W 24th St.
New York City, NY 10011
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
Marvin Gaye - What's Going On (Official Video 2019)
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:
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!
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.
Nancy, Carley, Jodie, Paki, Cody, Kelsey, and Yousef
To update your email subscription, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
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 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...
THERE HAS BEEN A SHIFT, AN AWAKENING...MANY OF YOU ARE BEING EXPOSED FOR WHO YOU REALLY ARE. #readthatagain
Don't wake up tomorrow on the wrong side of this issue. Its not to late to SAY,
"Maybe I need to look at this from a different perspective."
"Maybe I don't know what its like to be black in America..."
"Maybe, just maybe, I have been taught wrong."
There is still so much work to be done. It's been a really dark, raw week. This could still end badly. But all we can do is keep doing the work.
WE ARE NOT TRYING TO START A RACE WAR; WE ARE PROTESTING TO END IT,
How beautiful is that?
ALL LIVES CANNOT MATTER UNTIL YOU INCLUDE BLACK LIVES.
YOU CANNOT SAY 'ALL LIVES MATTER' WHEN YOU DO NOTHING TO STOP SYSTEMIC RACISM & POLICE BRUTALITY.
YOU CANNOT SAY 'ALL LIVES MATTER' WHEN BLACK PEOPLE ARE DYING AND ALL YOU COMPLAIN ABOUT IS THE LOOTING.
YOU CANNOT SAY 'ALL LIVES MATTER' WHEN YOU ALLOW CHILDREN TO BE CAGED, VETERANS TO GO HOMELESS, AND POOR FAMILIES TO GO HUNGRY & LOSE THEIR HEALTH INSURANCE.
DO ALL LIVES MATTER? YES. BUT RIGHT NOW, ONLY BLACK LIVES ARE BEING TARGETED, JAILED, AND KILLED EN MASSE- SO THAT'S WHO WE'RE FOCUSING ON.
🖤🖤🖤BLACK LIVES MATTER🖤🖤🖤
IF YOU CAN'T SEE THIS, YOU ARE THE PROBLEM.
*I do not know the original author*
Copy & paste widely!
BLACK LIVES MATTER
Ultimately, the majority of human suffering is caused by a system that places the value of material wealth over the value of
human life. To end the suffering, we must end the profit motive—the very foundation of capitalism itself.—BAUAW
(Bay Area United Against War Newsletter)
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)
I didn't do nothing serious man
please I can't breathe
I can't breathe
I can't breathe
man can't breathe, my face
just get up
I can't breathe
I can't breathe sh*t
I can't move
my stomach hurt
my neck 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 I can't breathe"
Then his eyes shut and the pleas stop. George Floyd was pronounced dead shortly after.
By ShakaboonaTrump Comic Satire—A Proposal
Write to Shakaboona:Smart Communications/PA DOCKerry Shakaboona Marshall #BE7826SCI RockviewP.O. Box 33028St. Petersburg, FL 33733
Enough is Enough: Global Nuclear Weapons
Veterans Join Call for a Global Ceasefire
www.couragetoresist.org ~ 510.488.3559 ~ facebook.com/couragetoresist
Oakland, CA 94610-2730
"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)
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.
500 E. 4th St.
Chester, PA 19013
Telephone: (610) 490-5412
Email: email@example.com (Prison Superintendent). firstname.lastname@example.org (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: email@example.comDemand that the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections immediately:
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.
The Labor Action Committee to Free Mumia Abu-Jamal
The trooper, who is white, was fired and charged with murder a week after the killing, which happened after the driver had been pulled over for having a broken taillight, the authorities said.
By Allyson Waller, Aug. 15, 2020https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/15/us/georgia-state-trooper-charged-murder.html?action=click&module=Latest&pgtype=Homepage
A Georgia state trooper was fired and charged with murder on Friday, one week after a 60-year-old Black man was fatally shot during a traffic stop over a broken taillight on his car, the authorities said.
The trooper, Jacob G. Thompson, 27, who is white, was charged on Friday by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation with felony murder and aggravated assault in connection with an Aug. 7 traffic stop that resulted in the death of Julian Edward Roosevelt Lewis of Sylvania, Ga.
“Mr. Lewis was no threat as a 60-year-old man just trying to make it home from a convenience store run” to get a grape soda for his wife, said Francys Johnson, a lawyer representing Mr. Lewis’s family.
A Georgia State Patrol report details how events unfolded:
Around 9 p.m. on Aug. 7, Mr. Thompson spotted Mr. Lewis near Sylvania, Ga., which is about 60 miles northwest of Savannah, driving with a broken taillight, followed him and attempted to pull him over.
Mr. Lewis continued driving, and Mr. Thompson eventually used his patrol vehicle to force Mr. Lewis’s car to turn sideways, causing him to stop in a ditch. Mr. Thompson drew his gun as he got out and saw Mr. Lewis with both of his hands on the steering wheel, the report said.
It then appeared, the trooper said, that Mr. Lewis was trying to maneuver his vehicle toward him, prompting him to open fire, the report said. Mr. Lewis was pronounced dead at the scene, the bureau said in a statement.
Mr. Lewis’s family did not learn of his whereabouts or his death until around 1 a.m. the next day, Mr. Johnson said.
The Georgia Department of Public Safety said in a statement that Mr. Thompson had been fired for his “negligence or inefficiency in performing assigned duties; or commission of a felony.”
Keith Barber, who was described by The Associated Press as Mr. Thompson’s lawyer, could not immediately be reached on Saturday. He told The A.P. that Mr. Thompson “has an excellent character.”
“I think he’s a fine trooper,” Mr. Barber said. “I think at the end of the day he will be exonerated in this case.”
The decision to arrest and fire Mr. Thompson a week after Mr. Lewis’s death was a surprise, Mr. Johnson said on Saturday.
“Oftentimes justice is so delayed in these kinds of cases,” he said. “I can’t think of another case that has moved so swiftly.”
He said he believed it was a direct result of protests and increased scrutiny in the aftermath of the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of the police.
In May, two white men were charged with murder months after the killing of Ahmaud Arbery, a Black man who was shot while jogging through a neighborhood in Brunswick, Ga.
And on Friday, the authorities said three police officers in Mississippi had been indicted on charges of second-degree murder in the death of a Black man, George Robinson, 62, of Jackson, Miss. The indictment accused the officers of pulling him from his car, slamming him headfirst into the pavement, and striking and kicking him in the head and chest.
The Rev. James Woodall, the president of Georgia’s N.A.A.C.P., said immediate action needed to be taken to address violence and racial terrorism against Black people, regardless of whether it was committed by the police or by private citizens, he said.
“People are literally losing their lives on a daily basis due to this senselessness, and we must do something about it,” he said.
Mr. Lewis was celebrated by friends and family at a vigil in Sylvania on Friday, and funeral services were held on Saturday morning. He was semiretired and worked as a carpenter, Mr. Johnson said.
Mr. Lewis was “too good to die as he did,” his wife, Betty Lewis, said in a statement.
“I want justice for Julian,” she said. “This is one step towards justice.”
Christina Morales contributed reporting.
By Luma Nichol
—Freedom Socialist newspaper, Vol. 41, No. 4, August-Sept 2020
Mrs. America, a critically acclaimed miniseries streaming on Hulu, is a brilliant historical flashback with women center stage. It dramatizes the decade-long effort to pass the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) in the 1970s, in a period piece saturated with the debates, music, and tobacco smoke of the era.
The riveting, nine-episode drama presents a lesson for our times: the perils of ignoring the far right. Creator Dahvi Waller (a Mad Men producer) tells the story of the two combating camps.
The anti-ERA forces are upper-middle-class homemakers led by Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett) of Illinois. They live in a world where sexist jokes are the norm and men are the providers who must sign credit card applications. They oversee Black maids who toil long hours. They always wear dresses.
The series is a reminder of why feminism was so necessary. Sadly contradicting the efforts of the traditionalists are battered wife Pamela (Kayli Carter), forced to bear child after child, and despairing spinster Eleanor (Jeanne Tripplehorn), cruelly discarded as a nobody.
In contrast, the pro-ERA camp, centered in New York City, is diverse and vibrant, awash in controversies over racism, lesbianism, abortion rights. It is populated with queers, Latinas, and Black feminists including Flo Kennedy (Niecy Nash), Margaret Sloan-Hunter (Bria Henderson) and Shirley Chisholm (Uzo Aduba), the first African American and first woman to run for President — in 1972.
But the stars are liberal white feminists: Gloria Steinem (Rose Byrne) of Ms. Magazine; Betty Friedan (Tracey Ullman), author of The Feminine Mystique; and U.S. Representative “Battling Bella” Abzug (Margo Martindale).
Breakthrough and backlash.
The ERA is the radical concept that equality of the sexes should be added to the U.S. Constitution — which omits women. It was first proposed in 1923 by suffragist Alice Paul and socialist feminist Crystal Eastman. But it wasn’t until 1972 that the proposal passed both houses of Congress and went to the states for ratification, needing 38 to adopt it by 1979.
The ERA surged forward, winning 35 states by 1977, then hit the brick wall of Phyllis Schlafly and the Eagle Forum, her “Stop ERA” troops.
Schlafly was an arch-conservative, anti-Communist who thought Republican President Nixon too liberal. She ticked all the boxes: anti-abortion, anti-gay, anti-“libber” and anti-racial equality, although her racist beliefs are muted in Mrs. America. Blanchett portrays her as intelligent, ambitious and ruthless. Limited by sexism, she turns her powerful organizing skills to an acceptable woman’s domain — countering the ERA.
Schlafly joined Southern segregationists and anti-abortionists to form a national pressure campaign that appealed to misogynist Christian fundamentalists, Mormons and Orthodox Jews. Before Trump ever dreamed of it, she used inflammatory fear-mongering that was loose on facts. She warned of “daughters in foxholes, unisex bathrooms, and the loss of alimony” should the amendment pass. The series underscores how the ascendancy of the religious right in the Republican Party began on the backs of women’s rights.
How could the ERA lose?
ERA backers made a classic liberal mistake. In 1973 (Episode 4) when Schlafly is just getting started, Steinem recommends ignoring her, saying, “We don’t want a cat fight.” With nothing to stop her, Schlafly creates an ultra-conservative wave that not only kills the ERA, but moves the Republican Party far to the right, and stalls Second Wave feminism.
There were other factors contributing to the ERA’s defeat, not covered in Mrs. America. Labor and much of the Left opposed the ERA, calling it divisive and fearing it would eliminate laws to protect women from workplace abuse. The liberal ERA leadership by-and-large failed to address these objections, ignored the concerns of working women and women of color, and denied the ERA would advance queer rights.
The show omits the voices of socialist feminists like Radical Women who mobilized for the ERA and expanding protective legislation to men and stood strong for LGBTQ+ liberation.
Interestingly, the series also doesn’t name the National Organization for Women (NOW), the main organizational force for the ERA. This gives the impression that the moderate figureheads in Mrs. America were the women’s movement, not just its most well-known faces.
NOW was and is deeply tied to the Democratic Party whose approach to women’s rights is solidly pro-Establishment. The show reveals how Democratic Party feminists watered down their demands to secure the presidential nomination for George McGovern, the liberal, anti-war hope of 1972. Party hack Abzug bullies everyone to get behind the “electable” candidate and presses Chisholm to abandon her bold run. She and Steinem agree to a pathetically weak statement on abortion that McGovern ensures isn’t adopted.
Ultimately, the ERA lost because liberal leadership failed to build a multi-issue movement to counter Schlafly’s far-right pressure campaign. The single-issue approach of prioritizing middle-class concerns at the expense of women of color, lesbians and working-class women, and their reliance on the Democrats, was — and is — a losing strategy.
For all its omissions, Mrs. America is like no other TV drama: respectful of feminism, it is a gripping account of a battle whose outcome affects us still. It is an appeal to a new generation of feminists to learn from the mistakes of the ’70s and to finish the fight for the rights of all women.
Want to learn more about Radical Women? Contact the national offices:
• United States: 206-722-6057
• Australia: 03-9388-0062
• Website: radicalwomen.org
Emerging data show that some of the coronavirus’s most potent damage is inflicted on the heart.
By Haider Warraich, Aug. 17, 2020https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/17/opinion/covid-19-heart-disease.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, was initially thought to primarily impact the lungs — SARS stands for “severe acute respiratory syndrome.” Now we know there is barely a part of the body this infection spares. And emerging data show that some of the virus’s most potent damage is inflicted on the heart.
Eduardo Rodriguez was poised to start as the No. 1 pitcher for the Boston Red Sox this season. But in July the 27-year-old tested positive for Covid-19. Feeling “100 years old,” he told reporters: “I’ve never been that sick in my life, and I don’t want to get that sick again.” His symptoms abated, but a few weeks later he felt so tired after throwing about 20 pitches during practice that his team told him to stop and rest.
Further investigation revealed that he had a condition many are still struggling to understand: Covid-19-associated myocarditis. Mr. Rodriguez won’t be playing baseball this season.
Myocarditis means inflammation of the heart muscle. Some patients are never bothered by it, but for others it can have serious implications. And Mr. Rodriguez isn’t the only athlete to suffer from it: Multiple college football players have possibly developed myocarditis from Covid-19, putting the entire college football landscape in jeopardy.
I recently treated one Covid-19 patient in his early 50s. He had been in perfect shape with no history of serious illness. When the fevers and body aches started, he locked himself in his room. But instead of getting better, his condition deteriorated and he eventually accumulated gallons of fluid in his legs. When he came to the hospital unable to catch a breath, it wasn’t his lungs that had pushed him to the brink — it was his heart. Now we are evaluating him to see if he needs a heart transplant.
An intriguing new study from Germany offers a glimpse into how SARS-CoV-2 affects the heart. Researchers studied 100 individuals, with a median age of just 49, who had recovered from Covid-19. Most were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms.
An average of two months after they received the diagnosis, the researchers performed M.R.I. scans of their hearts and made some alarming discoveries: Nearly 80 percent had persistent abnormalities and 60 percent had evidence of myocarditis. The degree of myocarditis was not explained by the severity of the initial illness.
Though the study has some flaws, and the generalizability and significance of its findings not fully known, it makes clear that in young patients who had seemingly overcome SARS-CoV-2 it’s fairly common for the heart to be affected. We may be seeing only the beginning of the damage.
Researchers are still figuring out how SARS-CoV-2 causes myocarditis — whether it’s through the virus directly injuring the heart or whether it’s from the virulent immune reaction that it stimulates. It’s possible that part of the success of immunosuppressant medications such as the steroid dexamethasone in treating sick Covid-19 patients comes from their preventing inflammatory damage to the heart. Such steroids are commonly used to treat cases of myocarditis. Despite treatment, more severe forms of Covid-19-associated myocarditis can lead to permanent damage of the heart — which, in turn, can lead to heart failure.
But myocarditis is not the only way Covid-19 can cause more people to die of heart disease. When I analyzed data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, I found that since February nearly 25,000 more Americans have died of heart disease compared with the same period in previous years. Some of these deaths could be put down to Covid-19, but the majority are likely to be because patients deferred care for their hearts. That could lead to a wave of untreated heart disease in the wake of the pandemic.
Many patients are understandably apprehensive about coming back to the clinic or hospital. The American Heart Association has started a campaign called “Don’t Die of Doubt” to address the alarming reduction in people calling 911 or seeking medical care after a heart attack or stroke.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, it’s been clear that people with heart disease or related conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure are at increased risk for severe Covid-19 illness. The C.D.C. recommends that the more than 30 million Americans living with heart disease practice extra precautions to avoid infection. Hospitals and clinics should work overtime both to ensure they are safe for patients and to bolster telemedicine services so that patients can be cared for without having to leave their homes.
Doctors and researchers should no longer think of Covid-19 as a disease of the lungs but as one that can affect any part of the body, especially the heart. The only way to prevent more people dying of heart disease, both from damage caused by the virus as well as from deferred care of heart disease, is to control the pandemic.
Haider Warraich (@haiderwarraich), the author of “State of the Heart: Exploring the History, Science, and Future of Cardiac Disease,” is a cardiologist and researcher at the Veterans Affairs Boston Healthcare System, Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School.
Under emergency coronavirus orders, the Trump administration is using hotels across the country to hold migrant children and families before expelling them.
By Caitlin Dickerson, Aug. 17, 2020https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/16/us/migrant-children-hotels-coronavirus.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage§ion=US%20News
A person waved to protesters demonstrating against the practice of detaining migrants in hotels at a Hampton Inn in McAllen, Tex., in July. Credit...Joel Martinez/The Monitor, via Associated Press
The Trump administration has been using major hotel chains to detain children and families taken into custody at the border, creating a largely unregulated shadow system of detention and swift expulsions without the safeguards that are intended to protect the most vulnerable migrants.
Government data obtained by The New York Times, along with court documents, show that hotel detentions overseen by a private security company have ballooned in recent months under an aggressive border closure policy related to the coronavirus pandemic.
More than 100,000 migrants, including children and families, have been summarily expelled from the country under the measure. But rather than deterring additional migration, the policy appears to have caused border crossings to surge, in part because it eliminates some of the legal consequences for repeat attempts at illegal crossings.
The increase in hotel detentions is likely to intensify scrutiny of the policy, which legal advocacy groups have already challenged in court, saying it places children in an opaque system with few protections and violates U.S. asylum laws by returning them to life-threatening situations in their home countries.
Children as young as a year old — often arriving at the border with no parents — are being put in hotels under the supervision of transportation workers who are not licensed to provide child care. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials say the children are being adequately cared for during the hotel stays and emphasize that their swift expulsion is necessary to protect the country from the spread of the coronavirus.
Federal authorities have resorted to using hotels during previous spikes in immigration and as staging areas for short periods of time ahead of traditional deportations; the conditions are in many ways better than the cold, concrete Border Patrol holdings cells where many migrants have been left to languish in the past.
But because the hotels exist outside the formal detention system, they are not subject to policies designed to prevent abuse in federal custody or those requiring that detainees be provided access to phones, healthy food, and medical and mental health care.
Parents and lawyers have no way of finding the children or monitoring their well-being while they are in custody.
The existence of the hotel detentions came to light last month, but documents reviewed by The New York Times reveal the extent to which major chains are participating. The federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency has detained at least 860 migrants at a Quality Suites in San Diego; Hampton Inns in Phoenix and in McAllen and El Paso, Texas; a Comfort Suites Hotel in Miami; a Best Western in Los Angeles; and an Econo Lodge in Seattle.
Though the data does not specify ages, the official who provided it, as well as several former immigration officials who recently left the Trump administration, said it was likely that most or all were either children traveling alone or with their parents, because single adult migrants tend to be housed in Border Patrol holding stations.
The administration’s pandemic-related border closure policy calls for migrants to be expelled from the country, rather than put into traditional, formal deportation proceedings. Parents often send their children to the American border alone because they are more likely to win asylum if they are not traveling with adults.
Under the new policy, most children are instead being put on planes and returned to their home countries, primarily in Central America, though some have been handed over to child welfare authorities in Mexico, leading parents into desperate efforts to track their children down.
Searching for the children has been made nearly impossible because they are not being assigned identification numbers that would normally allow families to track their locations in the highly regulated federal detention system.
Only rarely used in the past, the practice of expulsions has surged under the Trump administration’s coronavirus-related border ban. Unlike deportations, expulsions are meant to take place very soon after a migrant is encountered by immigration agents. But delays in securing flights necessary to return the increasing number of migrants now arriving at the border have led the administration to turn to MVM Inc., a private corporation known mostly as a transportation and security company, to detain migrant children and families.
Started in the late 1970s by three former Secret Service agents, MVM has grown substantially.
The company now has contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars with nearly all of the federal agencies involved in immigration enforcement. It has secured at least $1.9 billion in federal contracts since 2008.
“The reputation was, ‘You ask it, they do it,’” said Claire Trickler-McNulty, a former deputy assistant director of the office of detention planning and policy at ICE. “No task was too big for MVM.”
Before the pandemic hit, MVM was the primary company used to transport migrant families encountered at the border to family detention centers. Its security workers oversee the tent courts that were erected to process cases of asylum seekers who have been made to wait out their cases in Mexico. In 2018, when a federal judge ordered the reunification of families that had been separated by immigration authorities along the border, MVM transported parents to staging facilities near the shelters where their children were being detained.
Despite its substantial transportation portfolio, MVM does not have much experience detaining migrant children. In a previous foray in 2018, the company was criticized for detaining children overnight in a vacant office park in Phoenix.
Two laws weigh heavily on the treatment of detained migrant children. The Prison Rape Elimination Act requires procedures to allow them to independently report physical or sexual abuse by government workers or contractors. To comply with the law, migrant detention centers post phone numbers to abuse hotlines and provide detainees with free access to phones. (Public data show that 105 such reports were made against government immigration contractors in 2018, the most recent year of available data.)
The Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act provides safeguards to ensure that detained children who could be abused or tortured in their home countries are not sent back into harm’s way.
Neither of these protections appear to apply to the informal hotel stays overseen by MVM.
“A transportation vendor should not be in charge of changing the diaper of a 1-year old, giving bottles to babies or dealing with the traumatic effects they might be dealing with,” said Andrew Lorenzen-Strait, another former deputy assistant director for custody management at Immigration and Customs Enforcement, who worked with MVM during his time at the agency.
“I’m worried kids may be exposed to abuse, neglect, including sexual abuse, and we will have no idea,” he said.
A spokesman for MVM said the company’s contract with ICE bars representatives from responding to media requests.
ICE officials provided a statement explaining that MVM workers are trained in the requirements of the Prison Rape Elimination Act. But the company is not contractually required to follow its rules.
The statement said company employees are instructed “extensively” on how to handle situations where detained migrants would be left particularly vulnerable in their presence, such as when the migrants are bathing or breastfeeding. It says red flags indicating potential torture or abuse could be reported to the guards, who would then share the information with ICE. But there appear to be no mechanisms for detainees to report abuse by guards, except to other guards.
An ICE spokesman said no more than two children could be housed in a hotel room at any given time, but at least one migrant teenager said he was detained overnight in a hotel room in Miami with two other young migrants and three guards.
Expulsions have come to replace formal deportation proceedings as the primary way of processing migrants who try to enter the United States during the pandemic. About 109,621 people have been expelled from the southwest border since the restrictive policy went into effect.
Announced as a policy to prevent the coronavirus from spreading further in the United States, the border directive adopted in March, which relies on the authority available to the surgeon general during public health emergencies, was intended to block the flow of most nonessential travel across the northern and southern borders. Seeking asylum from violence or persecution is not considered essential under the policy.
But even with the restrictions in place, millions of people continue to cross the border each month, calling into question whether the expulsion policy can truly mitigate the spread of the virus.
And the Trump administration has been testing migrant children to confirm that they have not contracted the coronavirus before expelling them, as was first reported by ProPublica. If the children have been confirmed to be virus-free, they are then being expelled. Some children who test positive have remained in the hotels to quarantine, while other have been placed in government shelters for migrant children, as was the practice before the pandemic.
Unlike children, many adults have been deported and expelled despite having tested positive for the coronavirus.
While the practice of detaining migrant children and families in hotels has been previously reported, the fact that so many well-known hotels are part of the program only became apparent with the release of the list. Some of the hotels listed appeared to be unaware of the program.
After facing scrutiny for detaining dozens of migrant children and parents in its hotels in McAllen, Phoenix and El Paso, Hilton, whose participation was previously reported by The Associated Press, said that the decision to do so had been made by franchisees. The corporation released a statement saying that it was against company policy for its hotels to be used for detention and that all franchise locations had been notified they should reject future requests for reservations for that purpose.
A legal challenge on behalf of the children detained at the hotel in McAllen was settled earlier this month when the government agreed to release them. One unaccompanied child and the few families that remained were transported to a family detention center in Karnes City, Texas.
A spokeswoman for the Choice Hotel chain, which has been used to detain migrants in Miami, Seattle and San Diego, said in response to the data obtained by The Times, “It has been our position that hotels should not be used as detention facilities, and we are not aware that any hotels in our franchise system are being used in this capacity. We ask that our franchised hotels, which are independently owned and operated, only be used for their intended purpose.”
Mike Karicher, a spokesman for the Hampton Inn in Phoenix, one hotel franchise that has been used by MVM, said management was not aware of the activity, and does not support or wish to be associated with it. “The hotel has confirmed that they will not accept similar business moving forward,” he said.
The American Hotel and Lodging Association, an industry trade group, said it opposed the use of hotels as detention centers and has sent out guidance to its members on “red flags” that could indicate rooms being used for this purpose.
The expulsion policy is part of a sweeping crackdown by the administration on both legal and illegal immigration that appears to have intensified in recent months. Confidential documents submitted by a court-appointed monitor in a long-running federal case warned that the use of hotels for detaining children had become prevalent.
“Begun as a relatively small, stopgap measure to assist in the transfer of children to ICE flights, the temporary housing program has been transformed by the Title 42 expulsion policies into an integral component of the immigration detention system for U.A.C.s in U.S. custody,” the monitor wrote, using the acronym for unaccompanied alien children.
There have been several legal attempts to challenge the expulsions, especially of children, including one case in which a judge recently appointed by President Trump sided against government lawyers. But the government avoided an injunction blocking the policy in each case by agreeing to release the individual children named as plaintiffs, rendering the challenges moot.
Immigrant advocates say that the government has also agreed to release individual children who have been discovered in the expulsion system.
But there are many others whose locations are unknown.
Lee Gelernt, who is leading the legal challenge against the policy for the A.C.L.U., said the primary problem is that children are not being offered a way to obtain asylum from unsafe conditions in their home countries, as is required by law. “As dangerous as it is for children to be secretly held in hotels,” he said, “the ultimate problem is that they are expelled without a hearing, regardless of where they are held.”
Kitty Bennett contributed research.
Five animals on two farms test positive, but many more are believed to be affected.
By Azi Paybarah, Aug. 17, 2020https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/17/us/coronavirus-strikes-mink-in-utah.html?action=click&module=Latest&pgtype=Homepage
Mink on two farms in Utah have become the first in the United States to test positive for the coronavirus, state and federal officials announced on Monday.
Five animals on the farms tested positive for the virus, but many more are believed to be infected because of a recent upswing in the number of mink deaths on the farms, Bradie Jill Jones, a spokeswoman for the Utah Department of Health and Agriculture, said. Typically, two or three mink die per day on a farm, she said.
“Producers began to worry early last week when those fatality rates shot through the sky,” Ms. Jones said. The owners of the two farms, which officials declined to identify, contacted a veterinarian who alerted agriculture officials.
Samples from the mink were tested at the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and the Washington Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, officials said. Later, those results were confirmed by tests performed at the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories.
Several workers at the two farms have also tested positive for the coronavirus, Ms. Jones said, but the department has not determined if those infections are linked to the farm. There is no evidence that animals play a significant role in spreading the virus to humans, according to the federal Department of Agriculture.
Ms. Jones said the farms “will be composting” the affected mink on site “so these animals would not be leaving the farms where these infections have broken out.”
Of the 2.7 million mink pelts produced in the United States last year, more than half a million came from Utah, according to federal data. The only state to produce more was Wisconsin, which produced a little more than a million mink pelts.
“Mink were known to be susceptible” to the virus following an outbreak on multiple farms in the Netherlands, the United States Department of Agriculture said in a statement on Monday announcing the infections in Utah. In June, thousands of mink were slaughtered in Spain and the Netherlands on the suspicion that they may be passing the disease to people.
Michael Whelan, executive director of the trade organization representing mink producers in the United States, said he was not concerned about a similar widespread outbreak among mink in the United States. “Our mink farms are spread out over a much larger area than in Europe,” he said in an interview. In the Netherlands, the affected mink farms were clustered together and in areas with high rates of infected humans, he said.
“We don’t expect an outbreak anything like what is happening in Europe,” he said. “The mink industry has taken biosecurity very seriously far many years.”
Kitty Block, chief executive officer and president of the Humane Society of the United States, said the outbreak in Utah was “a big deal.”
“If you want to address the next pandemic, you have to look at our relationship with animals,” she said. “The health and conditions we are putting these animals in is impacting our health. We can’t separate them.”
In April, several tigers and lions at a zoo in New York tested positive for the virus.
Just one in five families will have any sort of in-person help, a new survey finds, and parents are feeling stressed and stranded.
By Claire Cain Miller, Aug. 19, 2020https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/19/upshot/coronavirus-home-school-parents.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage
Parents across America are facing the pandemic school year feeling overwhelmed, anxious and abandoned. With few good options for support, the vast majority have resigned themselves to going it alone, a new survey for The New York Times has found.
Just one in seven parents said their children would be returning to school full time this fall, and for most children, remote school requires hands-on help from an adult at home. Yet four in five parents said they would have no in-person help educating and caring for them, whether from relatives, neighbors, nannies or tutors, according to the survey, administered by Morning Consult. And more than half of parents will be taking on this second, unpaid job at the same time they’re holding down paid work.
Raising children has always been a community endeavor, and suddenly the village that parents relied on is gone. It’s taking a toll on parents’ careers, families’ well-being and children’s education.
In families where both wage earners need to work outside the home, parents have obvious logistical challenges because they cannot be in two places at once. Three-fourths of these parents say they will be overseeing their children’s education, and nearly half will be handling primary child care, according to the survey, answered by a nationally representative group of 1,081 parents from Aug. 4 to 8.
Eighty percent of parents who are both working remotely during the pandemic will also be handling child care and education.
One-fifth of parents are considering hiring a private teacher or tutor to help with their children’s education while school is remote, according to the survey.
“All the choices stink,” said Kate Averett, a sociologist at the University at Albany who has been interviewing parents nationwide since the spring. “There is a lot of stress, a lot of anxiety. Parents tell me about not being able to sleep because they’re so anxious, or tell me they’ve been crying a lot. There’s been a lot of actual crying during interviews.”
Euqueva Varner and Kenneth Watts are security officers in Detroit who cannot work remotely, with sons in second and third grade. Their plan for the fall is precarious: They have back-to-back shifts, so they’ll trade off who’s home with the children, with no flexibility in their handoffs and little time to spend together as a couple or a family. Sometimes the children have to go to work with a parent, busying themselves with coloring and reading.
“They’re suffering,” Ms. Varner said of her children. “They really miss their friends, they miss going to school. My kids love school.”
“I try to work with them as much as I can to get them up to grade level,” she said. “It’s very difficult. I don’t have any help at all. It’s just me and the kids and my husband.”
“But we’ll get through it,” she said. “We’ll make a way.”
It’s mothers who are doing most of the planning, and spending the most time caring for and educating the children. In the new survey, 54 percent of women said they’d be mostly responsible for educating their children on weekdays. Twenty-nine percent of men said they would be — though just 2 percent of women said their partners would be. Some couples said they planned to split the job equally, though again, men and women disagreed: 36 percent of men, and 18 percent of women, said they were splitting the work.
“Here’s the reality: The moms are doing it,” said Betsy Twitchell, a mother of two in Oakland, Calif., who works in communications for a union. “It’s been frustrating that this term ‘pods’ has become so charged. Actually, when you say that, you’re not supporting women, because we’re the ones who are really bearing the brunt of this, and having to take on this third shift in order to get our children through this distance learning.”
Parents of all races — those living in urban, suburban and rural America; those who have babies, elementary schoolers and teenagers — say they’re highly stressed, with few options other than to take it all on themselves.
While schools are providing remote learning, in most cases this requires an adult to be actively involved. Three-fourths of parents of elementary-school-aged children and half of parents of high-school-aged children say they need adult help to do virtual learning. Some schools have begun sending out sample schedules of days with multiple live video meetings and timed assignments. It’s an effort to make remote school more robust than it was in the spring, but requires even more hands-on effort from parents.
“To assume they can just do everything independently — they can’t,” said Amy Nunn, a teacher in Portland, Ore., and the mother of two children, ages 9 and 11.
Her partner, Kelli Burke, is a house painter, so Ms. Nunn is home alone with the children during the day. She has decided to take a 12-week leave from her teaching job, the longest allowed by the federal government, to help their children, both of whom are dyslexic.
“I’m only one human being, and I just can’t give everything to supporting 20 other families and children while I’m trying to support my own children,” she said.
Parents have taken extreme measures. One in three said they had left a child at home without supervision from an adult or teenager, because of the lack of child-care options and the need to fulfill other obligations. Some parents said the risk calculation had changed, since bringing a child on an errand or to their workplace, or hiring a babysitter, now carried the risk of contracting the coronavirus. Single parents and those with outside-the-home jobs have even fewer options.
“I think that really just underscores the impossible choices that parents are having to make right now, especially essential workers,” said Anna Gassman-Pines, who studies child and family policy at Duke and has been interviewing hourly service workers with young children. “The set of folks you can rely on to come to your house in a pinch — family, friends, neighbors — is just really limited right now.”
Thirteen percent of parents have considered quitting their jobs. The same share has considered moving to be closer to family who could help, or moving to a different district or enrolling in private school because of reopening plans.
Alan and Ana Backman and their children, fourth-grade twins and a seventh grader, moved to Vienna, Va., from Omaha shortly before schools closed in March. Their children hadn’t made many friends in their new town yet, and remote learning was hard for them. One was unmotivated, another was frustrated with technology and the third wasn’t challenged.
The parents both work full time, she in law and he in telecom, and needed a new plan for the fall. They considered moving back to Omaha. Ultimately they decided to enroll the children in a nearby private school that was fully reopening.
“Is it perfect? No,” Mr. Backman said. “Would I be shocked if some kid or teacher got the virus? No. It’s going to happen. I’m not minimizing that. But I’m weighing that against the kids doing nothing or playing on their tablet for a year.”
A long list of fears
Across demographic divides, parents share the same fears. The vast majority of parents say they are worried not just about their children’s academic progress, but also about their mental health, social skills and participation in sports and extracurricular activities. They’re also concerned about the time they spend on screens and the consistency of their routines.
Such worries didn’t vary by parents’ income or employment status. Across the board, the concern was about what their children were missing: school.
“For many poor families and immigrant families, education really is the way out of poverty,” said Frank Worrell, a professor at the graduate school of education at the University of California, Berkeley. “Even parents who didn’t have college degrees are recognizing the importance of college in this economy, and wanting that for their kids.”
Parents’ income and resources do, however, play a role in shaping the plans they are making for the year. Meeting children’s basic needs, like access to healthy food and regular meals, was a bigger concern for low earners and unemployed parents. For essential workers, help with child care is even harder to find, because of fears of coronavirus exposure.
Janae Sturgeon and Demetrus Dugar, parents near Seattle, have been unable to find help, in part because he works in building security outside the home, so some people fear virus exposure risk from being around their family. At one point, she was so desperate that she asked her mother if she would sit inside her car in a parking lot, with the children in another car. Her mother, who has an underlying condition, declined.
Their youngest children, a 9-month-old and a 3-year-old, have returned to day care, and their 7-year-old will be attending school online, at home with Ms. Sturgeon, who is a teaching assistant and starting the school year remotely. But if she is asked to return to work on-site, or if their day care closes because of the virus, they have no backup plan.
They’re worried about being able to afford child care. They’re worried about what their daughter will do while Ms. Sturgeon is working, other than watch “Frozen” on repeat. And they’re worried about social and emotional regression.
“I’m coming up with any solution I can,” Ms. Sturgeon said.
Parents with college or graduate degrees and six-figure incomes have more options, starting with a greater ability to work from home. Twenty-two percent of parents said they had considered hiring a private teacher or tutor for their child or a small group of children, including 35 percent of those with postgraduate degrees and 18 percent of those without college degrees.
Ms. Twitchell, the mother in Oakland, and her husband, Charlie Dolman, both have white-collar jobs they can do from home. They’ve formed a pod with three friends of their third-grade son and turned their garage into a schoolhouse, with an extension cord running to it for the children’s laptops. Each child’s parents will take turns overseeing remote school and child care. On Ms. Twitchell’s day, her baby will attend.
“It’s that, or somebody quits their job, and one of us cannot quit our jobs,” she said. “This was literally a question of survival.”
“We do this work every day, and even we’re taken aback. This is just so, so severe," said an executive at the National Center for Transgender Equality.
By Carter Sherman, August 18, 2020https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/889b93/murders-of-trans-people-have-spiked-alarmingly-during-the-pandemic
Last week, New York police arrested and charged a man for the murder of a transgender woman identified by the names Dior H. Ova and Tiffany Harris, who was found fatally stabbed in late July. But she was one of several trans people murdered in the United States last month — and advocates say these deaths are part of an alarming uptick in lethal violence against trans people this year.
At least 28 trans people were murdered in the first seven months of 2020, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality. That’s more than in all of 2019, when the center recorded 26 such murders.
“We’re months away from the end of the year and already 28 people have been lost. It is of such great magnitude that for us, working at NCTE, it’s been shocking,” said Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, deputy executive director for policy and action at the National Center for Transgender Equality. “We do this work every day, and even we’re taken aback. This is just so, so severe.”
This spike is seemingly part of a rise in homicide rates this year, as cities across the country struggle to contain the coronavirus pandemic and the nation grapples with historic economic devastation. In July, the Wall Street Journal found that of the United States’ 50 largest cities, 36 saw a double-digit increase in their murder rates compared to the previous year.
Some police departments have also reported a rise in reports of domestic violence. Advocates have spent months warning that the measures needed to fight the pandemic, such as social distancing and isolation, could leave people trapped at home with their abusers and lead to escalating intimate partner violence. And many of the trans women killed this year, Heng-Lehtinen said, had some kind of relationship with their alleged killer.
“This is often not stranger violence, just, ‘Oh, I realized you were trans and I’m going to murder you,’” he said. “There are multiple, multiple women who were killed by boyfriends or men who they were seeing, who knew that she was transgender — but then they freaked out about their friends, or other people around them, finding out that she was transgender and so they murdered her. That happened to more than one transgender women. And these are people who claim to love them.”
The Human Rights Campaign, which also tracks violence against trans people, says at least 26 trans or gender non-conforming people have been violently killed in 2020, compared to 27 in 2019. But for Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for the Campaign’s transgender justice initiative, there’s still no question that number of deaths is still on the rise compared to last year, given that the number is already so high just eight months into 2020.
Cooper also highlighted the fact that many trans people know their alleged killers. The “ideology of toxic masculinity,” as she dubbed it, endangers these people’s lives.
“You mix toxic masculinity with this feeling that you can do anything to us and get away with it, because for many, many years folks have done that,” she said. “It kind of creates this sense of fear in them that they must erase every piece of evidence that they can that these relationships exist, and the only way to really do that is to erase the person with whom you’re in a relationship.”
Both the Center for Transgender Equality and the Human Rights Campaign have compiled information about each of the people who’ve been killed, often including details from their lives. Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells’ best friend was her mom, the Center said. Johanna Metzger loved music, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Tony McDade was a lightweight boxer and an “all-around athlete,” the Center reported.
Most of the trans people who were killed in 2020 were women, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality, which also found that Black and Latina trans women are at particular risk of violence. In a 2015 survey of nearly 28,000 trans adults living in the United States, 47% of Black respondents told the Center they’d been “denied equal treatment, verbally harassed, and/or physically attacked in the past year because of being transgender.” Thirty percent of Latino respondents said the same.
Nine percent of Black and Latinx respondents said they’d been physically attacked in the last year because they were trans.
That survey also found that, out of all respondents, 30% said they’d experienced homelessness; 12% said they’d been homeless in the past year because they were trans. Some of the people killed so far in 2020 were homeless, according to Heng-Lehtinen.
“One thing that a lot of people — not everyone — but a lot of people had in common was having been pushed to the margins, having been neglected, and not having enough people to protect them,” he said.
There are scores of discriminatory policies that contribute to this epidemic of violence, from lack of housing protections to inadequate hate crime legislation, Cooper and Heng-Lehtinen said. Activists’ ability to even track the deaths of trans people is frequently hampered by a lack of reporting or outright misreporting by the police and the media. When asked why the Center and the Human Rights Campaign have recorded different levels of violence against trans people this year, Heng-Lehtinen chalked it up to this lack of public information.
The Trump administration, in particular, has spent years trying to roll back protections for trans people. Just last month, a few weeks after a historic Supreme Court ruling in favor of the rights of trans employees, the Trump administration moved forward with a proposal to let single-sex homeless shelters bar trans people from staying in shelters that match their gender identity. (On Monday, that Supreme Court decision led a federal judge to halt a Trump administration policy that would have let healthcare providers discriminate against trans people.)
“When our government sets the tone that transgender people don’t matter, when our government sets the tone that transgender people are disposable, then we’re that much more exposed,” Heng-Lehtinen said. “Other people around us get the message that it’s OKto do harm [to] us, that they’ll get away with it, and in fact that the government will even cover them for it.”
“All of this multitude of things that hold people back have to change in order to stop the violence,” he added. “That takes political will from non-transgender people, too.”
To some, Cooper said, 26 or 28 deaths might not seem like a true epidemic. But when a community is so relatively small — trans people make up about .6% of the adult U.S. population, according to a 2016 analysis from the University of California Los Angeles — these kinds of deaths add up over the years, she said. And the violence doesn’t end once someone dies.
“The cumulative effect of that is really wiping out an entire generation of trans folks. And so many are dying before their 35th and 40th birthdays,” Cooper said. “The effect that that has on those of us who are still here, on our psyches, on the types of relationships that we have with other folks — that’s all part of an epidemic as well.”
By Isabel Togoh, August 19, 2020https://www.forbes.com/sites/isabeltogoh/2020/08/19/portland-police-declare-a-riot-as-county-building-damaged-on-83rd-night-of-
Portland Police declared a riot late on Tuesday on the 83rd night of anti-racism protests in the city, with the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office saying that some individuals had vandalized and set fire to the county building that houses local government operations.
“Portland Police has declared the gathering near the Multnomah Building a riot after individuals vandalized, repeatedly smashed first floor windows with rocks and threw burning material into an office,” the Multnomah County Sheriff tweeted.
Clips and images on social media shared by local reporters appear to show smashed windows and parts of the office building on fire, which officers later extinguished, according to the Oregonian.
It comes after a group of around 200 demonstrators gathered at the city’s Colonel Summers Park on Tuesday evening and marched in peaceful protest to the Multnomah building before the violence broke out, the Oregonian reported.
“The gathering outside the County Building at 501 SE Hawthorne has been declared a riot. Everyone must disperse to the north immediately,” Portland Police tweeted.
The force added: “Failure to comply with this order may subject you to citation or arrest, and may subject you to the use of tear gas, crowd control munitions and or impact weapons.”
Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury said in a statement early on Wednesday that the Office of Community Involvement had been targeted.
“This is the heart of our County, where people in our community come to get married, get their passports, and celebrate their cultural traditions and diversity. . . . The lobby, where the first same-sex marriage in Oregon took place and where millions of pieces of personal protective equipment are being distributed to help our community battle COVID-19, was damaged,” Kafoury said in a statement to the Oregonian.
“I acknowledge that there is grave injustice in our world and there is a violent and tragic history of oppression in our County. I am committed to transformational change.”
Tuesday night’s protest was the 83rd night of sustained demonstrations following the death of George Floyd on Memorial Day. While protests have been mostly peaceful, tensions in the Oregon city have been inflamed by Trump-ordered unidentified federal agents sent in last month in a bid to quell the disorder, but who were accused by local officials of breaching conditions, using excessive force and taking protesters away in unmarked cars. Agents eventually receded after a deal was struck between the Trump Administration and Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, with local law enforcement taking over. Some protesters have targeted local government and police buildings, while last night’s “direct action march” followed Monday’s night peaceful march of around 200 people.
By Marc Norton, August 20, 2020
The San Francisco Giants returned home on Friday, August 14, 2020 and found themselves being picketed by the workers who normally sell garlic fries and beer to the fans. This must have been bad karma, as both Friday and Saturday the Giants blew a big lead over the Oakland A’s in the ninth inning, then got blown away by the A’s on Sunday 15-3. In fact, ever since the Giants fired their concession workers on July 27, the team has lost 13 out of 19 games.
The Warriors quickly piled on, firing their concession workers as well, for a grand total of 2,154 pink slips. Actually, in the modern world, pink slips are delivered by email and are thus colorless. The Warriors, of course, were out of contention already. Any relationship between the Giants’ and Warriors’ bottom-dwelling standings and their cruelty towards their workers is only circumstantial.
There are stories circulating that the Giants are considering rescinding these boneheaded terminations, but none of us have seen anything official yet. There are also rumors that the Giants might start winning games.
UNITE HERE Local 2, which represents both Giants and Warriors food-service workers, has so far concentrated its return fire on the Giants, who at least provide a visible target. That is why, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, “Hundreds of demonstrators took to Willie Mays Plaza on Friday night calling for justice for Oracle Park’s out-of-work food-service employees.” You can find some video and photos of this action on my website.
Local 2 has upped the ante, demanding not only that the Giants toss the terminations, but that they pony up some money for their out-of-work workers. The Giants are certainly making money selling broadcast rights to their games, if not from selling garlic fries and beer. Nobody has suggested that they are about to go out of business. But their workers—many of whom have worked for the Giants for 20, 30, even 40 years—are struggling to pay their rent and put food on the table.
The Giants so far say that they won’t even talk to Local 2. Apparently, for the Giants, whose workers are overwhelmingly people of color, Black lives matter, unless they work for the Giants. Brown lives, Asian lives and even white lives don’t matter much either.
The Giants are trying to hide behind the fact that it was their subcontractor Bon Appetit that formally gave the workers the axe. But San Francisco Supervisor Matt Haney, who joined us at our protest, put it this way: “The reality is that these workers may work for a subcontractor, but when you look at their shirts it says GIANTS.”
I wonder if Charles Johnson has been watching Giants games, or if he is content to just count his money. Johnson, for those who don’t already know, is the primary owner of the Giants. He is worth around $4.5 billion dollars. Forbes Magazine describes the source of his wealth as “money management.” Now, that’s a job I would like. Johnson is of course a big-time supporter of Dark Ages Donald Trump.
Johnson got himself in a public relations scuffle a while back when it was revealed that he helped fund a racist ad in support of a Southern congressman. Johnson subsequently tried to distance himself from this ad, issuing one of those “gee I didn’t know what people were doing with my money” sorta apologies. Money management, indeed.
But then Johnson stepped into it again, getting caught donating money to racist Mississippi Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith who brags about wanting to be “in the front row” of a “public hanging,” and also appeared in a video saying “there’s a lot of liberal folks…who maybe we don’t want to vote. Maybe we want to make it just a little more difficult.” When all that hit the media, Johnson issued another one of his sorta apologies.
Larry Baer, the Giants CEO, had to run cover for Johnson in the Hyde-Smith imbroglio. Baer himself is no stranger to apologies, having been sent to the woodpile after he got caught on video assaulting his wife. He was suspended for three months from his job with the Giants, after apologizing, this time for his own actions.
It seems the Giants higher-ups are very practiced at issuing apologies. So, they ought to be able to apologize now for firing their concession workers, and reach into their back-pockets to put some substance behind that apology.
Local 2 has plans to be back at the Giants ballpark in force when the Giants next face the Dodgers, on August 25—unless the Giants somehow come to their senses before then. See you all there.
 Marc Norton’s website is MarcNortonOnline.
Optimism about Apple’s future profits won’t pay this month’s rent.
By Paul Krugman, Opinion Columnist, Aug. 20, 2020
Housing activists outside a home in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn. Credit...Scott Heins/Getty Images
On Tuesday, the S&P 500 stock index hit a record high. The next day, Apple became the first U.S. company in history to be valued at more than $2 trillion. Donald Trump is, of course, touting the stock market as proof that the economy has recovered from the coronavirus; too bad about those 173,000 dead Americans, but as he says, “It is what it is.”
But the economy probably doesn’t feel so great to the millions of workers who still haven’t gotten their jobs back and who have just seen their unemployment benefits slashed. The $600 a week supplemental benefit enacted in March has expired, and Trump’s purported replacement is basically a sick joke.
Even before the aid cutoff, the number of parents reporting that they were having trouble giving their children enough to eat was rising rapidly. That number will surely soar in the next few weeks. And we’re also about to see a huge wave of evictions, both because families are no longer getting the money they need to pay rent and because a temporary ban on evictions, like supplemental unemployment benefits, has just expired.
But how can there be such a disconnect between rising stocks and growing misery? Wall Street types, who do love their letter games, are talking about a “K-shaped recovery”: rising stock valuations and individual wealth at the top, falling incomes and deepening pain at the bottom. But that’s a description, not an explanation. What’s going on?
The first thing to note is that the real economy, as opposed to the financial markets, is still in terrible shape. The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s weekly economic index suggests that the economy, although off its low point a few months ago, is still more deeply depressed than it was at any point during the recession that followed the 2008 financial crisis.
And this time around, job losses are concentrated among lower-paid workers — that is, precisely those Americans without the financial resources to ride out bad times.
What about stocks? The truth is that stock prices have never been closely tied to the state of the economy. As an old economists’ joke has it, the market has predicted nine of the last five recessions.
Stocks do get hit by financial crises, like the disruptions that followed the fall of Lehman Brothers in September 2008 and the brief freeze in credit markets back in March. Otherwise, stock prices are pretty disconnected from things like jobs or even G.D.P.
And these days, the disconnect is even greater than usual.
For the recent rise in the market has been largely driven by a small number of technology giants. And the market values of these companies have very little to do with their current profits, let alone the state of the economy in general. Instead, they’re all about investor perceptions of the fairly distant future.
Take the example of Apple, with its $2 trillion valuation. Apple has a price-earnings ratio — the ratio of its market valuation to its profits — of about 33. One way to look at that number is that only around 3 percent of the value investors place on the company reflects the money they expect it to make over the course of the next year. As long as they expect Apple to be profitable years from now, they barely care what will happen to the U.S. economy over the next few quarters.
Furthermore, the profits people expect Apple to make years from now loom especially large because, after all, where else are they going to put their money? Yields on U.S. government bonds, for example, are well below the expected rate of inflation.
And Apple’s valuation is actually less extreme than the valuations of other tech giants, like Amazon or Netflix.
So big tech stocks — and the people who own them — are riding high because investors believe that they’ll do very well in the long run. The depressed economy hardly matters.
Unfortunately, ordinary Americans get very little of their income from capital gains, and can’t live on rosy projections about their future prospects. Telling your landlord not to worry about your current inability to pay rent, because you’ll surely have a great job five years from now, will get you nowhere — or, more accurately, will get you kicked out of your apartment and put on the street.
So here’s the current state of America: Unemployment is still extremely high, largely because Trump and his allies first refused to take the coronavirus seriously, then pushed for an early reopening in a nation that met none of the conditions for resuming business as usual — and even now refuse to get firmly behind basic protective strategies like widespread mask requirements.
Despite this epic failure, the unemployed were kept afloat for months by federal aid, which helped avert both humanitarian and economic catastrophe. But now the aid has been cut off, with Trump and allies as unserious about the looming economic disaster as they were about the looming epidemiological disaster.
So everything suggests that even if the pandemic subsides — which is by no means guaranteed — we’re about to see a huge surge in national misery.
Oh, and stocks are up. Why, exactly, should we care?
The American Academy of Pediatrics recently joined other prominent medical organizations in confronting its history of discrimination.
By Emma Goldberg, Aug. 20, 2020https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/20/health/pediatrics-medicine-racial-discrimination.html?surface=home-discovery-vi-prg&fellback=false&req_id=468489770&algo=identity&imp_id=975216690&action=click&module=Science%20%20Technology&pgtype=Homepage
The records had been sealed for decades, but last month, New York repealed a law keeping them secret after national protests against police brutality.
By Ashley Southall, Aug. 20, 2020https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/20/nyregion/nypd-ccrb-records-published.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage§ion=New%20York
Over 323,000 accusations of misconduct against current and former New York City police officers were published online on Thursday, a major milestone in a long and contentious political battle to open records of police discipline to public scrutiny.
The records include all civilian complaints filed since 1985 with the city’s independent police watchdog agency, the Civilian Complaint Review Board, and closed after an investigation.
Some 81,550 officers — from the rank-and-file to the current commissioner — were named in the complaints. Together they offer the public the broadest look to date at how officers are investigated and punished for a range of offenses, from using profanity and slurs to beating or choking people during arrests.
The complaints were published in an online database by the New York Civil Liberties Union, which obtained the records from the review board after state lawmakers repealed a law that had kept them secret.
The civil liberties union noted that less than 3 percent of the 323,911 complaints resulted in a penalty for officers, 12 of whom had been terminated. Christopher Dunn, the organization’s legal director, said in a statement that the records showed that the Police Department, whose commissioner makes the final decision on disciplinary matters, “is unwilling to police itself.”
“The release of this database is an important step towards greater transparency and accountability,” Mr. Dunn added, “and is just the beginning of unraveling the monopoly the N.Y.P.D. holds on public information and officer discipline.”
Al Baker, a police spokesman, said the department had refined the discipline system and implemented changes recommended by a panel of prosecutors and judges. “All of this advances the NYPD’s priority to make its internal disciplinary system as fair, effective, and transparent as it can,” he said.
Fred Davie, the chairman of the review board, said in a statement that the agency released the records in response to demands from the public for greater police accountability, which have been underscored by the nationwide protests following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis.
“All New Yorkers have a right to transparency” under the state law granting access to public records, said Mr. Davie, who promised that his agency “will hold paramount the people’s right to know how their communities are policed.”
But that might become even more difficult for the review board, which is preparing to possibly lay off staff because of budget cuts brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The Independent Budget Office recently said the review board, which has a $20 million budget and 200-person staff, was too small to oversee the police department, which has a $6 billion budget and 36,000 officers.
The records released Thursday include all allegations of excessive force, abuse of authority, discourtesy and offensive language investigated by the review board though mid-July, as well as the board’s findings and any discipline that the police commissioner imposed. They do not include complaints under investigation by the review board or those investigated by the Police Department itself.
The complaints were shrouded in secrecy until June, when, as protests against police brutality spread across the country, the State Legislature in New York repealed a 44-year-old law that had been used to prevent their release to the public.
After a legal challenge from labor unions representing police officers, firefighters and corrections officers whose records were shielded by the law, a federal appeals court on Thursday ruled that the data could be released while the case continued in a lower court.
The unions vowed to continue fighting against what Hank Sheinkopf, a spokesman for the union coalition, said was “the improper dumping of thousands of documents containing unproven, career-damaging, unsubstantiated allegations that put our members and their families at risk.”
The publication of the records, policing experts said, chips away at a legal wall of confidentiality built up by police unions, which for decades have used their political clout to block efforts to publicly release complaints about officers and the punishment they receive.
Samuel Walker, a professor at the University of Nebraska Omaha who is a leading expert on police accountability, said the data would allow academic researchers and policymakers to identify patterns and problems.
“That provides the fodder for policy changes, and that is terribly important,” he said.
The topic of how and whether to disclose police disciplinary records has been contentious for decades. States like Delaware have laws keeping the records secret, while others like Florida and Arizona permit the release of some or all records, according to the Police Executive Research Forum, a policy and research nonprofit.
“Departments have come to recognize that’s part of what transparency looks like,” Chuck Wexler, the executive director, said.
The records became a lightning-rod issue when Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration fought against disclosing those of Daniel Pantaleo, a police officer who put Eric Garner in a banned chokehold on Staten Island in 2014 that proved fatal.
Officer Pantaleo was fired last year, but the law the city relied on to shield his records did not change until this past June, after the death of Mr. Floyd.
The records released Thursday add to a patchwork of data about police misconduct in New York City created by media and legal organizations.
ProPublica published data on nearly 4,000 officers who had at least one allegation of misconduct substantiated after an investigation, and BuzzFeed in 2018 published leaked records of 1,800 cases. The Legal Aid Society also maintains a database of federal lawsuits against officers.
Most people who have unpleasant encounters with the police do not file formal complaints. For many who have filed formal complaints that the review board substantiated, the publication of the records offers an opportunity to finally learn what punishment, if any, those officers received.
And for those who are facing criminal charges based on officers’ testimony, or who have filed lawsuits against the city accusing police of misconduct and abuse, the records make it easier to learn more about an officer’s history.
Richard Emery, a former chairman of the review board, said the data provided a treasure trove for researchers and policymakers.
But the release of the records also puts pressure on the Police Department to change how unsubstantiated claims affect officers’ careers, he said. Even if not proven true, misconduct complaints can have a negative effect on officers’ opportunities for transfers, promotions and more desirable assignments.
“It’s a very, very complicated, messy problem that has a lot of strings to it,” Mr. Emery said. “The release of these statistics and information can be something that’s useful and it can support reform, but it also can be something that undermines reform and puts the police in the position where they cannot and will not do their job.”
The police unions have argued in court that no information about misconduct cases should be released in which the police commissioner has not ended up handing down punishment. But the repeal of the secrecy law, known as 50-a, “made clear that disciplinary records can now be made available to the public,” James E. Johnson, the city’s corporation counsel said in a statement Thursday.
The unions’ argument would have prevented the release of the vast majority of the review board’s data. Only in 8,699 of the more than 300,000 cases did officers receive any disciplinary action, according to the civil liberties union. The penalties can range from a letter in their personnel file to suspension or firing, according to the review board.
Reasons for this vary, but the majority of civilian complaints end because investigators did not have enough evidence to determine what actually happened or found evidence to disprove the allegations, or the person filing the complaint withdrew from the investigation.
The Police Department often withholds some evidence, including body camera footage. The review board has said cases in which there is video are more likely to be substantiated.
Kate Levine, a criminal law professor at Yeshiva University, said the data should not be used to “name and shame” officers, but to understand how policing is in need of fundamental change.
"Let’s get rid of the worst people first,” she said, “but also let’s take those dollars and reinvest them in the many different ways that we can better the lives of marginalized communities.”
There’ve been so many storms — literal, cultural and political — since the hurricane hit New Orleans. But for the sake of all cities, we can’t forget it.
By Talmon Joseph Smith, Aug. 21, 2020https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/21/opinion/sunday/coronavirus-hurricane-katrina-anniversary.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
Rudy Major, a resident of Gentilly, rescued over 125 people with his boat during Hurricane Katrina. Credit...L. Kasimu Harris for The New York Times
Wendell Pierce, star of "Treme."
Early in the evening on Aug. 25, 2005, Hurricane Katrina made landfall in Florida. A modest Category 1 storm, with top winds of only about 90 miles per hour, it passed just north of Miami, then lumbered across the Everglades toward the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
That night a birthday cake, white with pineapple filling, sat inside a glass cake stand on the dining room table at a house on the east corner of Dreux Street and St. Roch Avenue in New Orleans. It was my older brother’s birthday.
Within 72 hours, the storm grew into a colossal Category 5, its eye headed straight for the city. My family fled, leaving almost everything behind.
On Aug. 29, at 6:10 a.m., Hurricane Katrina slammed into the mouth of the Mississippi River as the fourth-most intense hurricane ever to make landfall in mainland America. Upriver in New Orleans, poorly made federal levees — which bracket the drainage canals coursing through the city — began to break like discolored Lego pieces when buffeted by storm surge. And a great deluge began.
On Aug. 31, President George W. Bush, who had been vacationing in Texas when the hurricane hit New Orleans, took a flyover tour of the destruction in Air Force One, while four-fifths of the city was underwater, and tens of thousands were stranded on rooftops, marooned on patches of dry streets or trapped in shelters.
On Sept. 2, as many still awaited rescue, and the death toll of more than 1,800 was still being tallied, The Baltimore Sun reported that the speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Dennis Hastert, “questioned the wisdom of spending billions to rebuild a city several feet below sea level.” It was a common sentiment at the time — also published in mainstream outlets like Slate and The Washington Post — that New Orleanians have never forgotten.
A month or so later, my family returned to our home on Dreux Street, with masks and gloves, to survey the damage, a mildewed mess: our furniture, works by local artists, the old piano, all ruined. A chair hung from the chandelier. Below it on the counter, looking soggy yet almost untouched, was the birthday cake, still tucked inside its glass dome.
At the time, many here feared that “we may not see this city ever again, or at least not in the form we recognize,” as Wendell Pierce, the New Orleans native who starred in the HBO series “Tremé” about post-Katrina turmoil in the city, reminded me years later.
Mr. Pierce recalled how in those early months and years, “Do You Know What It Means (to Miss New Orleans)” by Louis Armstrong hit differently — not as bittersweet, but a dirge.
To his relief and that of millions of others, much of the city recovered after the hurricane, in its own uneven way.
Yet now, the coronavirus has killed over 4,000 Louisianans, put New Orleans’s service-based economy into a coma, shown the rest of America what a Katrina-size failure feels like and revealed how the lessons from the storm’s aftermath, regarding crisis management and social inequality, remain unlearned.
It can be hard to clearly remember August 2005. There have been so many storms — literal, cultural and political — that have happened since. But we can’t forget the singularity of its disaster.
We can’t forget that the levees, properly built, easily “could have been sufficient” for the storm surge, as Stephen Nelson, a professor emeritus of earth and environmental science at Tulane University and author of the seminal paper “Myths of Katrina: Field Notes From a Geoscientist,” told me. But the Army Corps of Engineers failed to drive the steel pilings that hold levee panels together far enough into the earth, among other grave failures.
We can’t forget that, adjusted for inflation, the median Black household in the majority-Black city earned only about $30,000 in 2000, and that evacuating can cost thousands.
We can’t forget that despite commanding the greatest ground, air and naval forces in history, the U.S. government took roughly a week to put in place a thoroughly engaged rescue effort — leaving tens of thousands stuck without suitable shelter, food or water.
Precisely because the federal government was largely missing for days — while state and local officials were mired in petulant disarray — we can’t forget the heroic acts New Orleanians did for one another.
One of the first people I visited this month in New Orleans was Rudy Major, a man responsible for rescuing 125 or so people from floodwaters in my old neighborhood, Gentilly, according to his rough estimate. Mr. Major, a man full of jokes, is girded by a militarylike seriousness when ready to talk business.
He sat me down in his den and explained that he stayed as Hurricane Katrina approached because he was confident that his house, on a ridge, would not flood and because he was equally confident that the low-lying Ninth Ward, only a couple of miles away, would — and he wanted to help.
Soon after two nearby levees broke that Monday morning, Mr. Major hopped into his 30-foot boat with his son, Kyle, then 19. They made dozens of trips to fetch people in the surrounding area from their roofs and bring them back to his terrace, just safely above the waterline, “whether they looked white, Black, Creole, something else, whatever.”
They saw corpses float by. They hacked into an attic after hearing faint cries for help to discover a grieving woman with her two young daughters and their lifeless grandmother.
Such stories are just some of thousands of wrenching tales from the aftermath, created and compounded by government ineptitude. Mr. Major expressed a similar frustration with the government now, as the coronavirus strikes Louisiana with a particular severity.
“There are distinctions, but a lot of similarities,” he said. “You need a federal plan, a state plan, a local plan and they have to be connected.”
In 2005, the New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin; Gov. Kathleen Blanco of Louisiana; Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi; and the Bush White House stumbled over logistics and wrestled over funding as lives were in the balance. In 2020, the cast of battling characters is simply broader, as governors from California to Texas to New York clash with mayors, and the Trump administration undermines them all, while refusing to take the lead itself.
Depending on where and who you are, the result of this politicized crisis response is just as deadly. “I’ve lost 15 friends to Covid,” Mr. Major said.
Pre-Katrina, there was already a considerable shortage of affordable housing in New Orleans. The situation has only become worse, as many of the affordable units the city had were never rebuilt after the storm and the urban core became whiter and wealthier.
New Orleans now has roughly 33,000 fewer affordable housing units than it needs, according to HousingNOLA, a local research and advocacy group. There are opportunities in every corner of the city to fix this, explained Andreanecia Morris, the executive director of HousingNOLA, when we met in her office in Mid-City on South Carrollton Avenue.
Most New Orleanians are renters. Pre-Katrina, the market rate for a one-bedroom apartment was around $578 monthly. It has roughly doubled since then, meaning a full-time worker must now earn about $18 per hour to afford a one-bedroom apartment.
Real wages, however, have stalled, and many of the places that employ New Orleanians remain closed. Tens of thousands of workers in the city’s beloved music, drinks, food and tourism businesses — who were the most likely to lose their livelihoods both after the storm and now during the pandemic — make a minimum wage of $7.25.
In some other cities, Ms. Morris explained, unaffordable rent “is the result of a housing stock shortage, but in New Orleans we have a vacancy rate of about 20 percent!” There are about 37,700 vacant units in the city.
Residents like Terence Blanchard, the Grammy Award-winning trumpeter, who resides in a thriving midcentury neighborhood along Bayou St. John, live this dichotomy. “People talk about the recovery,” he told me as we stood on his dock overlooking the water and City Park. “But if you go to my mom’s house in Pontchartrain Park, there was no real recovery.”
The federal housing vouchers mostly known by the shorthand “Section 8” — which subsidize rent payments above 30 percent of participants’ income — fully cover “fair market rate rent,” which in New Orleans is calculated as $1,034 to $1,496 for a one-bedroom apartment. That means even in increasingly upscale, higher-ground areas of town there is little stopping developers and landlords with vacant properties from lowering rents by a few hundred dollars and still being able to generate revenue.
For Ms. Morris, the continued holdout by many landlords that want “a certain kind of family,” or Airbnb customers, has grown to “psychotic” levels of classism and racism. “At a certain point,” she said, “the math has to let you at least manage your prejudices.”
I met Malik Bartholomew, a young local historian and born-and-raised New Orleanian, at the last Black bookstore in town, the Community Book Center, based in the Seventh Ward on Bayou Road. A cultural hub that was on the verge of closing because of the coronavirus, it’s been rescued for now by what the owner — known to her clientele as Miss Vera — views as a surge in white guilt after the death of George Floyd.
“Books started flying off the shelves,” Miss Vera said, her ambivalence visible despite the mask on her face.
Shortly after, Mr. Bartholomew gave me a history tour of the Faubourg Tremé, the iconic old neighborhood where I briefly worked as a teenager in 2013. Already gentrifying then, it’s become even fancier since.
As an eighth-generation New Orleanian, I wanted to be a good native and scoff at it all. But I found myself almost viscerally charmed by the carefully redone homes and the cafes frequented by young white people alongside the scene of a retired Black gentleman enjoying his shaded porch.
Couldn’t there be, I asked, a world in which some of the well-off people who come to visit and decide to stay then respect the culture, integrate into it, increase the tax base and help uplift others?
Mr. Bartholomew explained — in between waving to residents he knew — that my integrationist daydream puts too much faith in “the Part 2,” in which wealth and power would be shared. “I’ve never seen that happen,” he said. “People just make money off our culture.”
As Mr. Bartholomew and other community organizers see it, “the wealthy interests are more powerful than ever.”
The mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell, said she largely agreed.
Ms. Cantrell, both the first woman and the first Black woman to lead the city, is from Broadmoor, one of the seven lower-lying neighborhoods that a panel appointed by the mayor’s office after Hurricane Katrina planned to transform into parks and wetlands.
She rose in local politics as a leading opponent of that failed plan and won the mayoralty on a platform of creating a New Orleans “for all New Orleanians.” But she confessed as we spoke in her sunlit yellow and blue City Hall office that, even before the coronavirus, every day felt like pushing a boulder uphill.
“All the time,” she told me, stretching out each syllable. “But if you don’t push, you’re not going to move. The systems that have been created, particularly in this city, are so that we’re doing all the pushing around here — and have been.”
Those systems are many and layered. There are regional business elites and the Federal Reserve — which has once again declined to be as generous to indebted municipalities as it’s been to the corporate markets it has saved. A hostile and controlling conservative state government blocks or vetoes many policies City Hall desires and starves the city of funds, even though much of the tax revenue generated in New Orleans goes to state coffers. As a result, Ms. Cantrell complained, she has no ability to make reforms like raising the minimum wage, and little room to redirect taxes or revenue.
So far, she has had more success with infrastructure projects, including a deal to divert some tax dollars from the tourism industry into initiatives that include a focus on sustainability. Instead of abandoning low-lying neighborhoods, the city is seeking to re-engineer their open spaces — like unused lots and wide avenues — into a network of water gardens, mini wetlands and drainage canals that feel more like babbling creeks. These “blue and green corridors” are meant to reduce flooding and reverse subsidence, the sinking of land, which has been increasing.
This reworked cityscape will be immensely beneficial to New Orleans’s viability if completed. But in the face of climate change — rising seas and disappearing wetlands to the south — Ms. Cantrell acknowledged it won’t be enough over the next 15 years.
There’s only so much, she said, that a mayor with a municipal budget can do — for wages, infrastructure, housing, education, economic mobility and more. And that’s true anywhere.
For all of New Orleans’s cultural uniqueness, for all of its ability to be a multicultural mecca in fleeting, festival moments, its struggles and needs are practically the same as every other urban area. Nearly everywhere, the city — this central, vital organ of modern society — is yet to be fairly figured out, with citizens living in just and environmentally stable harmony.
For such a city to be achieved, rich people of all colors will need to stop hoarding resources and live next to working people, schoolteachers may have to be paid like professors, living wages may need to be subsidized and epic adaptations will have to be made for climate change.
The scale of this need can be met only by the vast fiscal and monetary powers of the federal government. The alternative is for coastal areas around New Orleans, Miami, New York and Charleston, S.C., to become ever more unequal in the coming decades, sinking under the weight of their contradictions, then succumbing to nature and being overrun by the sea.
A day or so before I left town, I sat with Dr. Nelson, the Tulane geologist, in his backyard, and he told me he was skeptical of society’s ability to control coastal erosion in time. “For humans, if the return on investment isn’t immediate, you don’t do it,” he said. “But the Earth doesn’t work that way.”
For America to make an adequate pivot to environmentalism and egalitarianism may require a miracle unseen in lifetimes.
Still, as I took off from Louis Armstrong Airport, I noticed how within seconds we were soaring over the wetland created by the Mississippi River, much of it less than 1,000 years old, but now teeming with humans busying about, visible from a vehicle thousands of feet on high — a larger, more implausible-seeming miracle.
It reminded me of one of the last things Dr. Nelson told me, eyes smiling above his mask: “You can’t ignore what’s underneath you. Because you’re building everything on top of it.”
The virus doesn’t sicken kids as much as adults. But it can still destroy their futures. A child allowance would help.
"Depending on the yardstick used, child poverty in the United States is 65 percent to 90 percent greater than the average in its four main English-speaking peers (Australia, Britain, Canada and Ireland). Among them, America’s public spending on children, as a share of its economy, consistently ranks last."
By Jason DeParle, Aug. 22, 2020https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/22/sunday-review/coronavirus-poverty-child-allowance.html?action=click&module=Opinion&pgtype=Homepage
Three decades ago, a team of researchers at Duke University set off to follow a group of schoolchildren in a stretch of rural North Carolina that happened to include a small reservation. Soon after, the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians opened a casino and began sharing the profits, about $4,000 per adult each year, with every household in the tribe — essentially creating a local version of guaranteed income.
What followed should interest anyone concerned about America’s high levels of child poverty or worried how poor children will fare amid the worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression.
The Cherokee children did better than their unsubsidized counterparts — much better, the researchers found. They completed more schooling. They committed fewer crimes. They had fewer problems with anxiety, depression and substance abuse. The poorest children benefited most. Researchers are still following the kids, who are now in middle age.
The Great Smoky Mountains Study is part of a trove of evidence that has reshaped expert views of child poverty, and it is ripe with lessons today, when the number of needy children is soaring.
As conveyed last year in a landmark report by the National Academies of Science Engineering and Medicine, a growing scholarly consensus can be expressed in two parts. One is that even brief stays in poverty can cause children lifelong harm, especially when the children are young. The other is that money helps — subsidizing the incomes of poor families leads their children on average to better health, more schooling and higher earnings as adults.
That may sound obvious, but the idea that giving poor parents money (or as skeptics would say, “welfare”) improves their children’s chances has been vigorously contested and until recently difficult to prove.
While the coronavirus was initially said to spare the young, that no longer appears to be true medically, and economically it never was — certainly not for the 10 million children below the poverty line and even larger numbers just above it. With hunger rising, classrooms closing and parental stress surging, the pandemic is a threat to low-income children of epochal proportions, one that could leave an entire generation bearing its scars.
Most rich countries do more to protect kids. At least 17 offer child allowances, income supplements to families with children, generally paid to both the poor and middle class in recognition that society has an interest in seeing children thrive. A few years ago, Canada increased its maximum payment to about $4,800 per child per year (in American dollars), and quickly reduced child poverty by a third. Britain has been paying child allowances since the end of World War II.
Until recently, there seemed little chance the United States would do the same, given its high tolerance for child poverty and distrust of income guarantees. Child poverty ranks curiously low even on lists of progressive concerns. It hasn’t been an issue in the year’s outcries over racial injustice. Children don’t lobby, contribute, protest or vote. No vanguards unfurl banners to proclaim that “Young Lives Matter.” Child poverty drew little attention in the Democratic primaries. Joe Biden’s website pledges economic justice but hardly mentions poor kids.
Still, the movement to create a child allowance was quietly advancing in the wonkier precincts of the Democratic Party even before the pandemic, and it has gained ground amid a crisis that has deepened needs and expanded the country’s notions about what the government can spend.
Though few people have noticed, a majority of Democrats in both chambers of Congress have endorsed a child allowance, and a temporary version recently passed the House as part of the Heroes Act, a giant package of coronavirus relief. Analysts estimated that the allowance would cut child poverty by 42 percent, based on pre-pandemic data — among Black kids by more than half.
Mr. Biden hasn’t expressed a view. But if a blue wave prevails in November, it’s possible to imagine a Democratic Congress giving him the chance to start his presidency by lifting four million children out of poverty with a stroke of his pen.
America’s high level of child poverty is old, but the empirical case for reducing it is new. Advances in brain science have shown how much of a child’s life course is set in the first few years. Economists have found that even limited periods of poverty can have lasting effects — less schooling, lower adult earnings and worse adult health.
Historically, the United States could look past its unusual child poverty and boast of its unusual mobility. Poverty is more readily excused when seen as a stage, not a fate. But most researchers now think the American advantage in class fluidity has faded, if it ever truly existed. What remains exceptional is the poverty itself, not the odds of escaping it.
One lesson of recent years is that progress is possible: With low unemployment and the expansion of programs like the earned-income tax credit, child poverty before the pandemic had fallen to an American low, 13.7 percent. But that was still notably high by the standards of wealthy nations.
Depending on the yardstick used, child poverty in the United States is 65 percent to 90 percent greater than the average in its four main English-speaking peers (Australia, Britain, Canada and Ireland). Among them, America’s public spending on children, as a share of its economy, consistently ranks last.
Money helps children in part because of what it buys — food, housing, better schools, health care and summer camps. But it also important in a less obvious way: It reduces stress, which can reach toxic levels in poor households. The academies’ report warns that children chronically exposed to excessive stress can suffer “permanent changes in brain structure and function,” leading to problems from learning disabilities to heart disease and diabetes. Some scientists have found that toxic stress can even alter children’s chromosomes.
If poverty was that harsh before the pandemic, imagine what is doing to children now, amid mass unemployment, closed schools and fears of a deadly pandemic.
This crisis targets the needy. Unemployment rates have grown by 4.8 percentage points for college graduates, but 9.7 points for workers without a high school degree. Perhaps no one is suffering more than undocumented immigrants, who are ineligible for government aid and whose households include more than four million American children.
There is no age group for whom the pandemic does not pose a threat. Toxic stress has been shown to harm infants still in the womb. School closures will confine rich and poor kids to homes even more unequal than their classrooms, at the risk of widening the achievement gap. (Sean F. Reardon, a Stanford sociologist, has found poor eighth graders have the math and reading skills of rich kids in fourth grade.) It’s hard to measure child hunger amid a pandemic, but four different surveys show sharp increases, and food banks have seen astounding lines.
“The kids are not all right — every aspect of their lives is being affected,” said Bruce Lesley, president of First Focus on Children, a Washington advocacy group.
At special risk of long-term harm are young people joining the work force, for whom the earnings penalties are large and lasting. Till von Wachter, an economist at the University of California, Los Angeles, found that a five-point rise in unemployment rates (an increase smaller than today’s) costs disadvantaged workers about a quarter of their first few years’ pay, because they work less and receive lower wages. For workers without a high school degree, it takes more than a decade for their earnings to fully recover, with the total losses over that time equal to a full year’s pay.
The impact goes beyond earnings. Mr. von Wachter (with Hannes Schwandt of Northwestern) found that workers who started out in the deep recession of 1982 had lower marriage rates, more divorce and higher rates of mortality, in part because of heart and liver disease. He estimates that the timing of their labor market entry will shorten their average lives by six to nine months.
“These people lead more stressful lives — they work harder and switch jobs more often,” he said. “Being poor is a very stressful and unhealthy state.”
It’s clear that poor kids on average fare worse than others but, as researchers are quick to warn, correlation is not causation. The question is whether poverty itself harms kids or whether other issues that harm kids also cause poverty. Do poor children do worse in school because they lack money — or because their parents on average have less education, which leaves them less able to help?
If money is the problem, subsidies could be the solution. If not, the money may do little good. In some cases (if, say, a parent has a drug problem) it might even hurt.
In 2015, Congress put the question to the National Academies, a private group (chartered under Abraham Lincoln) that convenes ad hoc panels of scholars to give the government scientific advice. Its pronouncements are arrived at by consensus, and meant to offer cautious, authoritative views. Fifteen scholars pondered the question and concluded last year, “Poverty itself causes negative child outcomes.”
How do they know?
The evidence comes in part from natural experiments — events that randomly subsidize one group of poor families but not others — like the opening of the Cherokee casino. Randall K.Q. Akee, an economist at U.C.L.A., has published four studies of the tribal subsidies and found they improved everything from the children’s education to their propensity as adults to vote. “When you remedy child poverty, children become more productive members of society across multiple dimensions,” he said.
Another natural experiment compared low-birthweight babies who qualified for disability payments with those just above the eligibility threshold. The babies who received the Supplemental Security Income payments during their first nine months developed motor skills more rapidly than those who did not — a result especially notable since the heavier, slightly healthier babies should have had the edge. (The payments now average about $640 a month.)
Other important evidence comes from the rollout of the food stamp program, which was introduced a county at a time from 1962 to 1975. The local differences allowed three researchers (Hilary Hoynes, Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach and Douglas Almond) to compare kids who grew up with access to the program and those who did not.
The differences were large. Children in counties with a food stamp program finished high school at a rate 18 percentage points higher than those raised in places without one. Children in food stamps counties also earned more as adults, enjoyed better health, and were less likely to be poor or receive public aid.
“Some people fear that if you give people benefits you create a culture of poverty,” said Ms. Schanzenbach, an economist at Northwestern. “This shows the opposite is true — if you invest in poor kids, they’re less likely to need benefits as adults.”
Congress asked the academies what it would take to cut child poverty in half. The panel considered the expansion of 10 programs, including job training, housing aid, child care, food stamps and the earned-income tax credit.
None reduced child poverty nearly as much as creating a child allowance. An annual payment of $3,000 per child would lift at least 38 times as many children out of poverty than an increased ($10.25 an hour) minimum wage. Advocates would pay it monthly, to temper damaging income swings like those hitting families today.
“If I had to pick one policy, I would put my bet on a child allowance,” said Greg J. Duncan, an economist at the University of California, Irvine, who led the academies’ study group.
One argument against a child allowance is cost. At about $100 billion a year, such a program is expensive, but less than half as expensive as Donald Trump’s 2017 tax cuts, which mostly benefit the wealthy. In the context of Covid-19 spending measured in the trillions, the costs seem less forbidding.
The other objection is that offering parents a cash subsidy would discourage some from working, a standard anti-welfare concern. But the classic way welfare discourages work is by reducing benefits as earnings grow — in essence, taxing the effort to get ahead. A child allowance, by contrast, would give families the full amount until they were solidly middle class. Every dollar earned would be a dollar gained.
The academies estimated that a child allowance would reduce earnings by just under two-thirds of 1 percent. Public policy involves trade-offs. Maintaining 99.4 percent of the work effort while cutting child poverty more than 40 percent is a trade-off supporters should be able to sell.
Actually, the United States already has a child allowance of sorts — it just happens to be one that largely omits the families that need it the most. A provision of the tax code called the child tax credit offers up to $2,000 per child a year, but only for households with sufficient earnings.
A single mother with two children has to earn more than $30,000 to fully qualify. More than a third of children fail to get the full benefit, including half of Blacks and Latinos and nearly 70 percent of those raised by single mothers. Families with earnings up to $400,000 get the full sum.
In a season of reckonings over social injustice, a plan to shrink child poverty would seem well timed. Think of it as reparations for the accident of being born poor. The child allowance recently passed by the House combines universalist appeal (families with earnings up to $180,000 would be eligible) with outsize help for the disadvantaged. According to Sophie Collyer of Columbia, of the four million children it would lift from poverty, 70 percent would be Black or Latino.
But few people noticed the advance of a plan whose natural habitat is the seminar room, not the streets or the campaign rally. To grasp how the little the Democratic candidates said about child poverty, recall how much they said about “Medicare for all.” (Andrew Yang’s call for a guaranteed income of $12,000 a year per adult is a partial exception, though vastly more expensive and aimed at a different problem, technological change.) When the candidates were asked about child poverty in February, the Children’s Defense Fund called it the first presidential debate question on the issue in two decades.
Their responses were not of the sort that suggested great forethought. Bernie Sanders blamed “the 1 percent.” Pete Buttigieg called for “a different kind of politics.” Joe Biden said that he had been known as the poorest man in Congress. Amy Klobuchar alone mentioned the academies’ report, but glossed over its major recommendation — a child allowance — to tell a story about Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the importance of empathy.
The candidate who had made child poverty his focus was Senator Michael Bennet of Colorado — no one’s idea of a radical. (As the head of Denver’s public schools, he’d seen the many ways, from hunger to unstable housing, that poverty held children back.) But he hadn’t gotten enough support to make it onto the stage.
Perhaps the policy’s low profile has helped shield it from attack. Mr. Bennet is a co-author of two child allowance plans (of differing amounts) and Senator Kamala Harris, the vice-presidential nominee, has co-sponsored both. The House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, a paradigmatic liberal, is among the Capitol’s main enthusiast but there are pockets of conservative support, too.
Libertarians like policies that let parents spend money as they wish, rather than constricting their choices. Traditionalists like the idea that a child allowance benefits non-working mothers, unlike subsidies for child care. Sixteen conservative intellectuals, including J.D. Vance, Robert George and Yuval Levin, recently called for a one-year child allowance as part of coronavirus relief.
Mr. Biden’s view remains a mystery — repeated queries to his campaign this week went unanswered. But he pledges to take the country beyond recovery to reinvention. (“Build back better,” he likes to say.) One place to start is by reinventing a country without so many poor kids.
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