Florida bars and restaurants close just a week after reopening — Repeating Islands

Gino Spocchia (Independent) reports on businesses in Florida that have needed to shut down again as the state’s second coronavirus wave hits. Three months after the Covid-19 pandemic forced bars and restaurants to close in Florida, some businesses have shut within one week of reopening as coronavirus cases spike in the state. At least six bars in northern and central […]

Florida bars and restaurants close just a week after reopening — Repeating Islands

 Trump again threatens to cut China ties after US official ruled it out | US news | The Guardian – Lighthizer undermined by Trump tweet non-policy – how long before Lighthizer resigns?

US “certainly does maintain a policy option, under various conditions, of a complete decoupling from China. Thank you!”. Trump Tweet

“Do I think that you can sit down and decouple the United States economy from the Chinese economy?” Lighthizer said. “No, I think that was a policy option years ago. I don’t think it’s a … reasonable policy option at this point.”

Lighthizer said he expected to see more supply chains moving to the United States because of tax and regulatory changes, but also noted that the US-China trade deal would result in significant positive changes and increased Chinese purchases of US goods and services.

In his post, Trump attempted to let his trade official off the hook: “It was not Ambassador Lighthizer’s fault (yesterday in Committee) in that perhaps I didn’t make myself clear.”

Source: Trump again threatens to cut China ties after US official ruled it out | US news | The Guardian

COVID-19 continues surge in Sunbelt as mask debate returns | CIDRAP

In Arizona, a number of cities have announced new face mask requirements, after getting the okay from Governor Doug Ducey to do so last night. Phoenix, Tucson, Mesa, and Flagstaff mayors quickly took to Twitter to confirm their cities now required face mask use in public spaces. Ducey also announced 300 Arizona National Guard members will be called on to perform contact tracing in the coming weeks in an effort to control the state’s outbreak.

In Texas, Bexar and Hidalgo counties and the city of Austin have all issued new mask regulations in the past 24 hours, according to the Texas Tribune. The new rules require employees and customers to wear masks when physical distancing isn’t possible inside businesses.Texas will likely hit 100,000 COVID-19 cases by the end of the week, with a state total 96,335 cases, including 2,062 fatalities.

“In fact, Florida has all the makings of the next large epicenter…the risk there is the worst it has ever been in our projections. Miami and Florida’s southeastern counties now join the Tampa/Fort Myers area and Orlando for a fairly widespread transmission event that we forecast will continue throughout the state.”According to CNN, Florida reported another 3,207 COVID-19 cases today, another new record. Those cases raise the state’s total to almost 86,000.

Source: COVID-19 continues surge in Sunbelt as mask debate returns | CIDRAP

White House says no plans to mediate between India and China

No profit in it, or just disinterested in peace? Or still smarting from lie that he talked with Modi last month and then Modi spokespeople said the conversation never took place?


There are no formal plans for US President Donald Trump to mediate between India and China following their border clash, the White House said amid an uproar in Washington over massive concessions he has allegedly made to Beijing on trade and human rights front in order to win a re-election in November 2020.

France: Children Face Abusive, Racist Police Stops

Boy in boxing gym with back towards camera

(Paris) – French police use overly broad stop-and-frisk powers to conduct discriminatory and abusive checks on Black and Arab boys and men, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. Curbing these powers is key to addressing biased policing, including racial or ethnic profiling, and repairing police-community relations.

The 44-page report, “‘They Talk to Us Like We’re Dogs’: Abusive Police Stops in France,” documents repetitive, baseless police stops targeting minorities including children as young as 10, older children, and adults. These stops often involve invasive, humiliating body pat-downs and searches of personal belongings. Most stops are never recorded, the police don’t provide written documentation or usually tell people why they were stopped, and measures to improve accountability have been ineffective. Several of the children and adults interviewed said police used racial slurs.

“There is ample evidence that identity checks in France, in particular because they have a discriminatory impact, drive a deep and sharp wedge between communities and the police, while doing virtually nothing to deter or detect crime,” said Bénédicte Jeannerod, France director at Human Rights Watch. “The authorities shouldn’t keep ignoring the calls for change.”

Human Rights Watch interviewed 90 French men and boys belonging to minority groups, including 48 children, between April 2019 and May 2020 in Paris, Grenoble, Strasbourg, and Lille. Many said they were stopped because of what they look like and where they live, not their behavior. Ethnic profiling – stopping people based on appearance, including race and ethnicity, rather than the person’s behavior or a reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing – is unlawful and harmful to individuals and society at large.

Human Rights Watch found that police often target minority youth, including young children, for the stops. Children as young as 12 described being forced to put their hands against a wall or car, spread their legs, and submit to invasive pat-downs, including buttocks and genitalia. These stops can take place in front of or near schools, and on school field trips.

Koffi, 12, said he and his entire class were subjected to a police identity check in front of their middle school in Bobigny, outside Paris, as they were leaving on a field trip to the Louvre. He said three police officers searched all of their bags. “They put their hands in my pockets. They spread my legs and touched my genitals,” Koffi said, adding that his teacher objected but the police said they could do whatever they wanted.

Des policiers effectuent un contrôle pendant le confinement dû au Covid-19 à Nice, France, le 8 avril 2020
© 2020 Eric Gaillard/Reuters

Sekou, a 14-year-old living in the 11th arrondissement of Paris, said he’d been stopped at least 6 times. “We never see white kids getting checked,” he said. “When I’m with my white friends, the police don’t even look at them…. They say ‘freedom, equality, fraternity,’ but there’s no equality when it comes to this kind of thing.”

Children, parents, and educators described the negative impact of these experiences. Research in the United States found that boys who experienced abusive police stops also had higher rates of post-traumatic stress.

Abusive and discriminatory identity checks are a longstanding problem in France and are at the heart of concerns around institutional racism and discrimination, Human Rights Watch said. Tens of thousands of people have demonstrated in France in the wake of the killing of a Black man, George Floyd, by a white policeman in Minneapolis on May 25. Many have drawn parallels to the 2016 death in police custody in a Paris suburb of 24-year-old Adama Traoré, which began with an identity check.

In response to these protests, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner announced on June 8 a “zero tolerance” approach and measures to hold individual officers accountable for racist behavior. On identity checks, Castaner simply reminded officers of their duty to display their tag numbers and called for reinforcing the use of body cams. In a speech to the nation on June 14, President Emmanuel Macron condemned all forms of racism but did not specifically address police abuse, saying only that law enforcement deserve “the support of public authorities and the gratitude of the nation.”

While the authorities have consistently rejected calls to collect and publish statistics about police stops, data released about stops to enforce lockdown measures amid the Covid-19 pandemic showed a bias involving minorities in poor neighborhoods. In late April, government statistics showed that police had conducted more than double the national average of stops in Seine-Saint-Denis, the poorest area of metropolitan France. Numerous videos have circulated showing police stops that appear abusive, violent, and discriminatory.

Human Rights Watch documented abusive and discriminatory police stops targeting minorities in a 2012 report. In 2014 and again in 2017, the Defender of Rights, the national human rights institution, criticized these abusive practices and called for reforms. In 2016, the Court of Cassation ruled that police stops of three young men constituted ethnic profiling and a “gross misconduct that engages the responsibility of the state.” In 2014, the authorities amended the police code of ethics to explicitly prohibit basing police identity checks on “any physical feature or distinctive mark … unless there is a specific alert” and to avoid “harming the dignity” of the person.

International and French law prohibit discrimination, unjustified interference with the right to privacy, degrading treatment, and violations of the right to physical integrity. International and national standards require respectful treatment by the police.

Despite increased awareness and modest advances, the law and practice of identity checks in France remain deeply problematic, Human Rights Watch said. The law gives the police overly broad discretion to carry out stops without any suspicion of wrongdoing, leaving too much room for arbitrary and biased decisions. The police appear to use these powers as a means to exert authority, particularly in disadvantaged neighborhoods. The lack of written documentation and systematic data collection about identity checks makes it very difficult to assess their effectiveness or lawfulness.

While the June 8 announcements represent a step forward, they are insufficient to end and redress abusive and discriminatory police stops, Human Rights Watch said. The French government should adopt legal and policy reforms to prevent ethnic profiling and abusive treatment during stops. All identity checks and pat-downs should be based on a reasonable, individualized suspicion. Anyone stopped should receive a written record, including the legal basis for the stop. The authorities should develop specific guidelines for stops involving children.

“Cleavages between communities and law enforcement make neighborhoods less safe and the police less effective, and discrimination is damaging to individuals and to entire societies,” Jeannerod said. “The French government should urgently reform police powers to stop, search, and frisk.”

Voices from the Report:

Paul, 17, from Argenteuil, said:

Yesterday a friend of mine [also 17, also Black] was downtown [Argenteuil] and got stopped. At first he was alone, he got stopped by the national police. Then me and my friends joined him, there were four of us. Another police team came and did an identity check on us. My friend asked, “Why are you stopping us?” and one of the officers said, “It’s profiling.” And they teased him, saying “Negro” and things like that. And then again, later, another team came and they check us again. Every time, the police frisked us, they asked us for our identity documents, and they searched our bags.

Dabir, 15, from Paris, said:

It was after school, it was a group of 10 of us, there were Blacks and Arabs, and 1 white [kid]. We were walking to the Franprix [a supermarket]. A police car came, the officers got out and came toward us. They touched everyone’s pockets except the white guy. They checked all of us except him. They checked to see if our phones were stolen. They asked us to turn them on and put the code. They asked our ages.

Abdul, 18, from Lille, said:

I had a hoodie, it was winter and it was cold. I was training for the karate France championships. When I was about to cross the road, a car blocked my way…. Four colossal men got out, I knew immediately they were police. It was a stop. When I asked why they wanted to stop me, they told me it was their job to ask the questions. They told me to open my bag so I did, but then one of them just took it and emptied it onto the ground. I was really angry, I asked him, “Why are you doing this?” I got down on all fours to pick up my things. When I stood up, an officer pushed me against the car, he spread my legs and touched me everywhere. He touched my testicles. I can still feel the tears in my eyes.

Amad, 15, from Strasbourg, said:

They put us against the wall, in front of the school’s football area. They frisked me and took my bag to search it. I told them my name, they checked it. They asked me a lot of questions: are you already known to the police, do you have anything on you, what are you doing here? It took time, recess had ended, so I had to get a late note. I didn’t say I had been stopped by the police, I said I’d gone to the bathroom. Otherwise, they would have told my parents and that wouldn’t have been good.

Annick Bousba, a mother in Grenoble whose son was stopped for the first time when he was 14, said:

He said they’d done it “in front of all my friends like I’m some kind of thug.” My son doesn’t think the police are there to protect him. What my son has experienced has made me question a lot the actions of the police and their training.

Hasnia Djerbi, a mother in Grenoble, said:

It’s hard for him [her son] to talk about it. Everything is fine until one day, and you don’t know why, you become suspect. It makes you feel like you’re not part of this society. I could see how affected he was. And I was revolted. I understand why young people hate the police. I find them racist now. I used to think differently.

For-Profit Colleges, Long Troubled, See Surge Amid Pandemic

Little difference between the for-profit and not-for-profit college that advertise on television – both groups out for student loans first and student success last. Local community colleges and state schools still the best bet.

The coronavirus shutdowns have made online learning more attractive. But students at some schools say they have been taken advantage of.

The Trump Administration Paid Millions for Test Tubes — and Got Unusable Mini Soda Bottles — ProPublica (Pathetic incompetence!)

The Fillakit deal shows the perils of the Trump administration’s frantic hiring of first-time federal contractors with little scrutiny during the pandemic. The federal government has awarded more than $2 billion to first-time contractors for work related to the coronavirus, a ProPublica analysis of purchasing data shows. Many of those companies, like Fillakit, had no experience with medical supplies.

The U.S. has lagged behind many European countries in its rate of testing people for the coronavirus, partly because of supply shortages or inadequacies. Epidemiologists say testing is vital to tracking the virus and slowing transmission. In at least one state, the shipment of unusable Fillakit tubes contributed to delays in rolling out widespread testing.

“They’re the most unusable tubes I’ve ever seen,” said a top public health scientist in that state, who asked to remain anonymous to protect his job. “They’re going to sit in a warehouse and no one can use them. We won’t be able to do our full plan.”

Source: The Trump Administration Paid Millions for Test Tubes — and Got Unusable Mini Soda Bottles — ProPublica

Dame Vera Lynn obituary



Singer known as the ‘Forces Sweetheart’ whose recordings of We’ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover shaped the national mood in wartime Britain

At the start of the second world war, Vera Lynn, who has died aged 103, was an up-and-coming dance band singer. By 1945, this working-class young woman had become a symbol of the British wartime spirit, with a status comparable to that of the patrician prime minister, Winston Churchill. After the war, her friend Harry Secombe liked to joke that “Churchill didn’t beat the Nazis. Vera sang them to death.”

Lynn’s iconic status as the “Forces’ Sweetheart” was due to the success of her radio series, Sincerely Yours, which linked the soldiers at the front with their loved ones at home. In 1944, she visited the troops in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, which kindled her lifelong commitment to the welfare of veterans, especially those of the Burma campaign. Above all, her celebrity was due to her hit songs. Such numbers as We’ll Meet Again and The White Cliffs of Dover caught and moulded a national mood, despite the harsh criticism her crooning style provoked from some politicians and BBC managers.

Continue reading…

Supreme Court Upholds DACA, Ruling Against Trump Administration : NPR

A narrowly divided Supreme Court extended Thursday a life-support line to some 650,000 so-called “Dreamers,” allowing them to remain safe from deportation for now, while the Trump administration jumps through the administrative hoops that the court said are required before ending the program.

Source: Supreme Court Upholds DACA, Ruling Against Trump Administration : NPR