Samoa measles outbreak: WHO blames anti-vaccine scare as death toll hits 39

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UN agency says fall in vaccination rates has paved way for ‘huge outbreak’ in Pacific island nation

A measles epidemic in Samoa has killed 39 people, with the World Health Organization (WHO) blaming an anti-vaccine messaging campaign for leaving the Pacific island nation vulnerable to the spread of the virus.

The UN health agency warned that a steep decline in vaccination rates in Samoa had paved the way for a “huge outbreak”, with almost 3,000 in a country of just 200,000 people.

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Donald Trump signs Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act into law, brushing off China’s warnings | South China Morning Post

Trump signs legislation that could sanction the Hong Kong government for not upholding autonomy from Mainland China, which has blasted the act as ‘meddling’ and vowed ‘consequences’ if the US leader signed it

Source: Donald Trump signs Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act into law, brushing off China’s warnings | South China Morning Post

Despite The Ban, There’s A Plan To Build A Shelter For Separated Migrant Children In The San Fernando Valley

5d150a28ca5dee000ae1b7b2-eight.jpgAn detainee holds his children during a family visitation visit at the Adelanto Detention Facility, California’s largest lock-up for undocumented immigrants and asylum-seekers waiting for decisions from immigration courts. (John Moore/Getty)

California has banned new for-profit immigrant detention centers. And local officials have opposed the opening of new child migrant shelters. But this has not stopped private companies and the Trump administration from recently trying to open more of both.

In early October, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law Assembly Bill 32, which starting Jan. 1 bans new contracts for-profit state prisons as well as for privately-run immigrant detention centers in California, like the one operated by the The Geo Group in Adelanto.

A few days later, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement posted a public proposal request seeking bids for “Detention Services in California.” The site of at least one of these facilities would be no more than 100 miles from Los Angeles, according to the documents.

“It’s dripping with irony. ICE is clearly trying everything they can to circumvent California’s ban,” said Assemblymember Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, who wrote AB 32.

The bidding process ended Nov. 4. In an email, ICE spokesperson Lori Haley says the agency is considering bid applications from private contractors in accordance with “federal contract and acquisition regulations,” but could not disclose details like where or who the contractors are.

Haley says ICE’s legal experts are currently reviewing AB 32, but “the idea that a state law can bind the hands of a federal law enforcement agency managing a national network of detention facilities is wrong,” she wrote.

HOW THE FIGHT IS UNFOLDING

  • California has banned private prisons and for-profit detention centers starting Jan. 1, 2020 according to new law.
  • Shortly after Gov. Newsom signed a bill in October banning for-profit prisons and detention centers, Immigration and Customs Enforcement put out a request for proposals for several new ICE detention centers in California.
  • As of early November, ICE was still seeking bids from private companies for new detention centers in California; bidding has since closed.
  • Meanwhile, the city of Los Angeles has begun the process of changing city zoning codes to block detention centers.
  • The Trump administration says migrant shelters for unaccompanied minors separated from their parents at the border are not “detention centers.” They say the shelters are “state licensed residential centers” legally administered by the Department of Health and Human Services and their network of private contractors.
  • HHS says they have given a company called VisionQuest millions of dollars to open and run migrant youth shelters “in and near Los Angeles.” One of those shelters is proposed for Arleta in the San Fernando Valley.
  • City Councilwoman Nury Martinez, whose district includes much of the Valley, has introduced a Council motion to try and stop VisionQuest’s plans in Arleta.

The site of a proposed migrant youth shetler in the San Fernando Valley.

WHAT WE KNOW ABOUT THE VALLEY PROPOSAL

The proposed shelter in the San Fernando Valley would be for migrant children separated from families at the border and unaccompanied minors.

The Department of Health and Human Services oversees these child migrant shelters though the Office of Refugee Resettlement, which is part of the agency.

Patrick Fisher, a spokesperson for HHS, told LAist in an email that the agency awarded a contract to a private company called VisionQuest “to develop a two-shelter grant program and provide these services in and near Los Angeles.”

According to a recent report from Reveal, the two proposed locations are Hemet and Arleta; the latter is a middle-class, predominantly Latino neighborhood in the San Fernando Valley near Pacoima.

The Reveal report also underscored VisionQuest’s poor record running shelters in Philadelphia. There, VisionQuest staff members choked, threatened and slapped children, according to state records obtained by The Philadelphia Inquirer.

In an email to LAist, L.A. City Councilwoman Nury Martinez, whose district includes much of the San Fernando Valley, confirmed the Arleta site is a former assisted living facility. “You should not be able to profit off of the anguish of children,” she wrote. “That has no place in Arleta or anywhere in the City of Los Angeles.”

In July, the City Council adopted a motion to amend the city’s zoning codes to “prohibit the construction and operation of private detention centers.”

Fisher said the proposed shelter is not a detention center and that the agency tries to promptly place children with an adult sponsor, typically a family member. “Our top priority at ORR is to unify children with their parents, family members or other suitable sponsor as swiftly and safely as possible,” he wrote in an email. “While we are working to identify a sponsor, each child is provided a safe and healthy environment that ensures access to nutritious food, clean clothes, education and medical services.”

Martinez said they aren’t shelters or detention centers. “As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, I am vehemently opposed to placing immigrant children in what some call holding facilities or detention centers,” she wrote. “I call them prisons.”

In an effort to stop VisionQuest’s proposal, Martinez introduced a City Council resolution on Tuesday to reconsider “whether a detention facility is a permissible use” of the vacant building. “There is widespread community interest as to its future use given the needs in the surrounding area for economic development and desirable neighborhood enhancing uses,” the motion states.

VisionQuest has not returned our request for comment. In a statement to Reveal, however, the company’s president Mark Contento said, “We understand there is a great deal of emotion tied to the proper care of these children, and there is a lot of misinformation online.”

Martinez said as she sees it, private operators like VisionQuest are “working for a dishonest Federal government that actively engaged in, and then lied about, separating immigrant children from their parents.” That scenario, she said, creates “a recipe for human disaster.”

Assemblyman Bonta said the distinction between ICE detention centers and migrant youth shelters is primarily a semantic one.

“It’s a detention center,” he said. “Maybe it’s young people as opposed to adults. They might not want to call them guards but they have folks who are enforcing the rules and not allowing people to leave. Hopefully they’re being as humane as possible. I mean, that’s the big problem with these facilities. They’re owned literally by shareholders and they’re traded on Wall Street. They’re trying to get their highest quarterly earnings.”

Anti-vaxxers hate your children

Explicit language below

What is happening in Samoa is exactly what science and history tell us to expect when the measles virus is introduced into a population with low immunity. Sick, hospitalised, immune-damaged and sometimes dead children. And occasionally sick or dead adults. Most of you dedicated, hardcore, anti-vaccination pro-diseasers, likely wouldn’t have seen this first-hand because you’ve probably lived most of your lives in relative privilege. Most of you have been privileged to have clean water, widely available health care, big shiny hospitals, and most importantly – safe and bloody effective vaccines.

Anti-vaxxers hate our children.

The poisonous malignancy that is you, the hardcore anti-vaxxer, wishes harm upon our children and by default, upon us. Your tendrils extend into the latest measles-based tragedy playing out among Samoa and other Pasifika peoples.

The hardcore, not the unsure

To be clear, I’m not talking about those who don’t have access to vaccines nor am I referring to the vaccine-hesitant – those who aren’t sure about vaccines and vaccine schedules and worry about risks to their children. They have honest questions and concerns. And, for the most part, those concerns could be addressed with care, explanation and time. Communication and access to the right people could probably do wonders. I’m talking about you predators out there who actively prey upon these concerns.

You are a well-organised malevolence

You malicious profiteers prey upon uncertainties and drive a wedge into our doubts. You sow dissent, distrust, fear and anger. And this is your time, isn’t it? You have many avenues for your free lying and too little being done to shut them down. Even journalism is too often seeking “balance” but actually only achieving false equivalence; lending weight to crackpot theories without declaring them as such. By doing so, you have subverted the popular media, planting doubts and creating belief in the magical preventative properties of…water?

So you feel empowered. And important. And extra special. But you are in fact just confused, fearful, out of your depth, suffering from delusions of importance, playing a game, wrong, and by virtue of your impact, malevolent.

Your organisation of anti-vaccination evil wants you to see children crying – your own and others – in pain, or unconscious in a hospital. It wants us to watch our children get sick, succumb to otherwise easily preventable diseases like measles. Diseases science and medicine have worked hard for decades to bring to near extinction. Only to have you wade in and fuck it all up. You work to amplify the past lies of now influential anti-health advocates and profit-driven marketeers. And sometimes that means you want us to watch our child die. You must hate so much.

Too harsh? Bullshit.

Death is exactly the endgame you selfish, malice-filled scumbags are playing for when you persuade parents to look away from decades of science and instead look towards some unsubstantiated pile of lies, false hopes, tinfoil hat conspiracy theories, easier options; always utter and complete foolishness.

You try to change other’s health decisions for your personal gain

In some instances, others pull the strings of you acolytes of the anti-science faith. Your church often seeks to sell us something. It might be promoting an untested and potentially unsafe magic product or it could be exchanging tickets to your rants for cash from our wallet. It may be trying to pass around the plate in exchange for your latest DVD of falsehoods and false equivalence. It may even want us to watch your preaching in exchange for a paid subscription. There’s often money at the end of your selectively coloured rainbow. You aren’t driven by new knowledge, data, accuracy and care for our health.

Yours are the actions of unscrupulous people who want our children to be put at risk and to experience misery in their young lives. Is profit and your moment in the spotlight truly worth this pain? Can’t you use all this energy for good instead? Can’t you see that you have not done a single thing that is good for the lives of children? Nothing. You’ve achieved nothing good. You’ve wasted some of the short time we have on this planet on hurting the lives of innocent children.

Science isn’t perfect but it works damn hard to be. Quackery just doesn’t give a shit

Science isn’t perfect. There have been issues with vaccines. Issues that are out in the public domain to be read about. Issues that science and medicine have sought to fix as soon as they’ve appeared because science cares about our children. But better yet, issues science and medicine have worked their collective arses off to avoid in the first place.

You may have heard of clinical trials? Where’s your magic rock clinical trial? I know you plague-profiteers love to dump on big Pharma, but delivering drugs through a company means it benefits them to get it right and produce safe, effective products. Yes, they make a profit from a product, because they are companies. Of course, you also profit from your woo products. Why not get your magic spray put through a clinical trial? Then, when (it inevitably will not ever be) proven safe and effective, you can make the same profits from your product and have the last laugh. You won’t do that though, Because what you’re pedalling doesn’t work, and is more likely to put the health of our children at risk, and you know it. Anti-vaxxer, you’re not special, you’re a danger to the rest of us and you should be treated as such by the media and by governments the world over.

Science does lengthy meticulous work of the sort that you will never see put into ensuring the safety of the latest unicorn-tears-filled magic oil. Science does this because it wants a better world. You pro-cancer believers denounce science for working hard because you hate our children.

Like any medicine or anything at all in life really, there is a risk. But these are rare risks. Less risk than if our children were to get infected by that virus.

Risk exists everywhere – do you understand risk?

A seat-belt can hurt your chest while it saves your life during a car crash. Which is the more worrisome risk here? Is it short-term pain or is it death? (hint: its death) A sore arm or measles-induced encephalitis? A headache or immune amnesia. A brief fever or death?

Any of these example bad outcomes are rare – from a car or from a vaccine or from an infection – but if you drive and don’t wear a seat-belt – you risk death. So you wear a seat-belt.

You wait for the crossing sign or at least wait for a safe gap in the traffic before walking onto a busy city road, even if it makes you 2 minutes later. You reduce your risk of injury every day. Vaccines reduce the risk of disease. It’s just that we don’t give them to ourselves, we get someone else to do that, so we cede some control over our life. But not much. And we can reduce that loss of control by reading up on vaccination beforehand with great resources like this and this.

Real-life example playing out right now in Samoa

Samoa had fewer than half of its population immunised against measles before this epidemic. Precisely why, I don’t know but at such levels, one must look at failures of a range of things. Humans are hopeless at remembering stuff for their health and their default position is usually set to “easy”. We need reminders, plans, educational materials. We need help. This is why we have leaders. To take care of shit for us as a society.

Nonetheless, the absence of immune people in Samoa has let measles do what the world’s most easily transmitted, solely human virus does best. Measles has spread like a wildfire.

Look at the damn slope on that freakin’ curve! Measles will keep on spreading at ridiculous and dangerous levels in Samoa until vaccines are deployed or until enough of the population are immune from wild infection. Only then will the virus be unable to maintain its transmission.

History repeats. Again.

If vaccines aren’t accepted in Samoa, then we’ll see more sickness, misery and most definitely more death.

We’ve seen this play out before. There is history to provide evidence. There is science to explore and explain mechanisms. There is medicine to prevent disease. It’s all there, it’s all known, it’s not new.

Coming in at this stage and just making shit up because you want to feel special doesn’t change any objective truths. There are already known facts. There is reality. Vaccines work. They are safe. Measles can be a bad virus. It can kill. The vaccine is not always safe, measles does not always kill. However, the virus is faaaar more likely to get your child admitted to hospital for serious illness than vaccine is likely to do your child harm.

Your anti-vax conspiracies don’t survive in a reality where facts are supported and well-pitched communication is commonplace. We reject your unconscionably dark, fear-fuelled universe and stick to what we know and what we have shown works to make our children healthier and safer than those who came before.

At writing, 32 children and 1 adult have died due to measles virus or measles-induced complications. 13 of those deaths – so far – are in babies less than 1 year old.

LESS THAN 1 YEAR OLD.

Why? Basically, because this is exactly what measles does! Not to every person infected – don’t be deliberately thick, anti-vaxxer! And we don’t see it in well-vaccinated countries because vaccines.

You pro-plague trolls would have us return to the vaccination levels that would let this happen everywhere. You know these risks. You aren’t stupid and you’ll have read, but willfully chosen to ignore, the historical science and medicine that supports all of this. The experimental evidence and observations that you have none of.

But you don’t give a shit, do you anti-vaxxer? No. You don’t. Your words and actions – the evidence is there for all to see. It betrays you for what you are. You hate our children. You hate our society. You hate healthy and happy people. You crave only the pain of others. You want more sickness, more cost, more fear and more heartache.

Whatever it is you are, it’s antisocial and selfish

Maybe it isn’t hatred. Maybe you are just extremely antisocial, lacking in empathy, guilt or remorse and driven by selfishness, profit and fear. If so, I don’t empathise because what you do is too pernicious for that.

Perhaps it’s all some sort of game to pass the time for you. Maybe you’re only doing this for physical or emotional profit. The time I’ve spent engaging you has revealed you to be very angry people. Very quick to abuse, to belittle and to spew hate when approached without the same. This may be in reaction to what you see as our pro-vaccine arrogance and aura of being superior. I concede that. But your unwillingness to chat, learn, or accept reality means we never get a chance to show you that we also have fears as well as hopes and dreams.

You peddle memes, made-up graphs, unreferenced text, out-of-context quotes and non-existent data in order to hawk your brand of lies to a susceptible and vulnerable group. You speak in a way that you think makes you sound clever or like tye experts you despise; often reflecting the words used against you back upon them. Somehow this fills a need in your empty soul doesn’t it? It makes you feel special.

But really, if all those preventable deaths due to measles don’t rip your heart out and make you look in a mirror, you’ve failed as a human being.

If you’re sitting there and leveraging some small-minded screwed up excuse about “oh hygiene and the third world and they’re far away/brown/less than me” – go to hell right now.

If even the possibility that some of your anti-vaxxer bullshit had any role to play in any one of those baby’s deaths, then I hope it haunts you to your grave.

If you swayed a single parent to avoid a vaccine for a child who later died, you have been an accomplice to any misery that follows from their infection, as much as the virus that caused it. I hope that misery is visited upon you as well. You had a chance to inform that parent, to help them make the right decision, and instead, you used that chance to cause harm. I don’t think there is any place for you in society and you should really take your friendless, pitiful, uncaring, selfish existence away from the rest of us so we can be healthy and work towards a better world. Just piss off.

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For the First Time Ever, Majority of Gallup Poll Respondents Prefer Life in Prison Over Death Penalty in Murder Cases

Newly released results from a Gallup poll revealed that 60 percent of Americans agreed that life-in-prison-without-parole (LWOP) was a better punishment than the death penalty for people who commit murder.

The Oct. 14-31 survey of a random sample of 1,506 people marked the first time in 34 years of Gallup polling the question that a majority of respondents chose LWOP over capital punishment as their preferred method of punishment for homicide.

It’s worth noting that when answers to the capital-punishment-or-LWOP preference question were broken down by political party, Republicans still favored the death penalty over LWOP — 58 percent to 38 percent. Still, that gap has shrunk considerably over the last five years. In 2014, 68 percent of Republicans preferred capital punishment, while 29 percent chose life imprisonment.

Source: Gallup

Democrats and liberals, people of color, young adults between the ages of 18 and 29, women, and people with college degrees were most strongly in favor of punishing people who murder by imprisoning them for life, rather than executing them.

The new national inclination toward LWOP over execution doesn’t mean that a majority of survey responders think the death penalty should go away entirely, however.

In a related death penalty poll sampling over 1,500 people and conducted on Oct. 1-13, 56 percent of those surveyed agreed that they were “in favor” of the death penalty. This question didn’t offer the alternative of LWOP.

In surveys conducted between 1976 and 2016, at least 60 percent of Americans said they supported the death penalty, according to Gallup. The rate peaked at 80 percent in 1994, during the height of the tough-on-crime era of policing and criminal justice, and the year that Congress passed the controversial federal crime bill.

The same week the Gallup poll results arrived, a federal judge gave temporary reprieve to four federal prisoners scheduled for lethal injection in December and January, after the Trump Administration had announced that executions would resume — with haste — after a nearly two-decade pause.

These men argued that the federal government’s plan to kill them with one dose each of pentobarbital sodium — a protocol not authorized within the Federal Death Penalty Act — was unconstitutional. US District Judge Tanya Chutkan agreed.

The Federal Death Penalty Act requires the U.S. government to “carry out executions in the manner prescribed by the states” in which prisoners are convicted.

“The public interest is not served by executing individuals before they have had the opportunity to avail themselves of legitimate procedures to challenge the legality of their executions,” the judge wrote in her opinion. “Because the public is not served by short-circuiting legitimate judicial process, and is greatly served by attempting to ensure that the most serious punishment is imposed lawfully, this court finds that it is in the public interest to issue a preliminary injunction.”

In a separate October decision, this time by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, a fifth death row prisoner, Lezmond Mitchell, was spared from an execution scheduled for December. Mitchell was sentenced to death despite protests from family members of the victims, Alyce Slim and her 9-year-old granddaughter, a federal prosecutor, and Navajo Nation officials, who argued that “the taking of human life for vengeance” goes against Navajo beliefs.

At the beginning of November, a group of 65 former judges and other families of murder victims signed a letter to President Trump and AG Barr, calling on them to reverse their decision to resume executions. “We are chilled by the prospect that people will be killed in the name of our federal government despite serious questions about the fairness and reliability of the system that condemned them,” the letter read. Moreover, federally sanctioned killing would not improve public safety, only intensify “the trauma of losing a loved one.”

In May, in California, home to the nation’s largest death row, Governor Gavin Newsom initiated a moratorium on executing prisoners sentenced to death.

When Governor Newsom announced the moratorium on capital punishment, he called the death penalty system a “failure” that has “wasted billions of taxpayer dollars,” and is “absolute, irreversible and irreparable in the event of a human error.”

And human errors do occur. Since 1981, five people on California’s death row – all men of color – have been exonerated after spending between 5 and 25 years in prison. More than 165 wrongfully convicted people have been freed from death rows in states across the nation.

Despite the moratorium, some prosecutors, including LA County District Attorney Jackie Lacey have continued to seek the death penalty.

Since Lacey took office as Los Angeles County’s District Attorney in December 2012, 22 people have been sentenced to death in LA County, the ACLU says. None have been white. Thirteen of the people sentenced to death were Latinx, eight were black, and one person was Asian.

Between 2014 and 2018, LA, neighboring Riverside, and Maricopa, Arizona were the only three counties in the nation that sentenced more than 10 people to death. And 31 percent of California’s more than 700 prisoners on death row were sentenced to die in Los Angeles.

And LA’s cases have been plagued by alarmingly “inadequate defense counsel,” according to the ACLU.

On Thursday, a group of local religious leaders gathered on the steps of the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office to present DA Jackie Lacey with a letter urging her to stop pursuing death sentences.

“There is evidence,” the leaders wrote, “that the death penalty prolongs the suffering of many murder victims’ families, since capital cases involve years of legal uncertainty, hearings, and frequent media headlines that can reopen old wounds. Victims’ families spend years, and often decades, waiting for an execution that may never come.”

The LA County District Attorney’s Office’s “excessive use” of capital punishment “reflects a belief that we cannot accept – that certain offenders are beyond redemption,” the group continued. “No matter what someone did, they remain God’s creation and have intrinsic value. When holding offenders accountable, our justice system cannot lose sight of the dignity of every individual.”

More than 100 faith leaders from more than a dozen denominations signed the letter, including Father Gregory Boyle of Homeboy Industries, Rector Mike Kinman from All Saints Church in Pasadena, Bishop John Harvey Taylor of the Episcopal Diocese of LA, and Pastor William Smart from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference.

This latest push follows a similar effort made by a group of 75 law professors and scholars this summer.

In response to that first letter, Lacey said that she was and would “continue to follow the law as prescribed by the people of California – whether that is seeking the death penalty for the most heinous crimes or, if the death penalty is abolished, life in prison without the possibility of parole.”

Nicola Sturgeon: Boris Johnson is ‘dangerous and unfit for office’

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Manifesto aims to persuade voters SNP is leading anti-Tory force in Scottish politics

Nicola Sturgeon will say that Boris Johnson is “dangerous and unfit for office” as she launches the Scottish National party’s election manifesto.

The SNP leader and first minister will also reject the prime minister’s claims that voting Conservative will “get Brexit done” by 31 January next year. “Brexit is nowhere near being done,” she will say.

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RAM’s revival and the ongoing struggle against MMA’s far-right fight clubs

Yes – guys vulnerable to being ultra-toxic: In October 2018, the FBI arrested four members of the Rise Above Movement (RAM), a US white supremacist group that trains in mixed martial arts, on rioting charges related to their participation at the infamous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. The four men, including RAM co-founder Ben Daley and UCLA doctoral student Michael Miselis, pled guilty and were sentenced for their crimes.

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Far-right mixed martial arts groups appeared to be on the retreat in the US. But there are signs of a growing network of such organizations across the globe

In October 2018, the FBI arrested four members of the Rise Above Movement (RAM), a US white supremacist group that trains in mixed martial arts, on rioting charges related to their participation at the infamous Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. The four men, including RAM co-founder Ben Daley and UCLA doctoral student Michael Miselis, pled guilty and were sentenced for their crimes.

The prosecution was a contrast to another case the previous month against RAM members accused of rioting at a rally in Huntington Beach, California, in 2017. A district judge dismissed the charges against RAM co-founder Robert Rundo, Aaron Eason, and Robert Bowman, claiming that the federal statute used to prosecute the members infringed upon their First Amendment rights to free speech. Tyler Laube, who had pled guilty in a separate hearing, withdrew his guilty plea and had his case dismissed. The US government is in the process of appealing the case, though it appears that the damage has already been done.

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