Labor Unions and American Poverty – Tom VanHeuvelen, David Brady, 2021

Household union membership and state union density significantly negatively interact, augmenting the poverty-reducing effects of each. Higher state union density spills over to reduce poverty among non-union households, and there is no evidence that higher state union density worsens poverty for non-union households or undermines employment. Source: Labor Unions and American Poverty – Tom VanHeuvelen, David Brady, 2021

Nigeria Twitter ban: As Nigeria threatens to arrest people who tweet, people defy the ban – The Washington Post

Nigeria’s telecom companies had officially blocked Twitter, and the attorney general vowed to prosecute those who found a way to use it, but Editi Effiong kept posting.

“Silence is the enemy,” he tweeted Sunday to his 139,000 followers.

The marketing executive in the country’s commercial capital, Lagos, understood the risk. This was no anonymous protest, he said — the government had his home address.

Effiong, 37, had worked on President Muhammadu Buhari’s digital campaign strategy during Nigeria’s 2015 election. Now he was urging everyone to defy the administration’s social media decree, announced Friday.

“The very act of tweeting has become a crime in the eyes of the government, but it is actually what we should all be doing,” Effiong said. “We should all be tweeting.”

In the days since Nigeria suspended Twitter, asserting that the platform threatened stability, people across Africa’s most populous country have logged on in defiance, blasting what they call an attack on free speech. Demand for firewall-circumventing apps jumped by more than 1,400 percent over the weekend, according to TopTenVPN, a tracker in London.

Source: Nigeria Twitter ban: As Nigeria threatens to arrest people who tweet, people defy the ban – The Washington Post

US COVID-19 vaccination rates drop to under 1 million a day | CIDRAP

With only 3 weeks left to President Joe Biden’s July 4th goal of seeing 70% of all American adults with at least 1 dose of COVID-19 vaccine, national vaccination rates are dropping across the country to fewer than 1 million shots administered per day.

That’s a decline of more than 70% from the national peak of 3.4 million shots per day administered in April, according to a Washington Post analysis.

The slowdown is nationwide, but states in the South and Midwest report plummeting numbers. In Alabama, only 4 people per 10,000 residents got vaccinated last week.

According to the analysis, 13 states have met Biden’s goal, and another 15 states, and Washington D.C., have vaccinated well over 60% of their adult populations and are forecasted to meet the Fourth of July goal.

But in 15 states, about half of adults or fewer have received at least one dose, according to a New York Times analysis.

Source: US COVID-19 vaccination rates drop to under 1 million a day | CIDRAP

Truck Attack That Killed a Muslim Family in Canada Was Planned – The New York Times

The driver of a pickup truck in London, Ontario, who ran down five pedestrians, killing four of them, chose his victims because they were Muslim, the police said on Monday.

“There is evidence that this was a planned, premeditated act and that the family was targeted because of their Muslim faith,” said Detective Superintendent Paul Waight of the London Police at a news conference.

Mayor Ed Holder of London, which is midway between Detroit and Toronto, called it “an act of mass murder perpetrated against Muslims, against Londoners and rooted in unspeakable hatred.”

The killings happened on one of the first summerlike weekends of the year in London. The police told reporters that a man in a black pickup truck drove up on a curb and mowed down a family standing on the sidewalk as they waited to cross a busy suburban road…

Nigeria’s Twitter Ban Follows Pattern of Repression | Human Rights Watch

The Nigerian government’s decision to ban Twitter and prosecute those who continue using the platform is a blatant and unjustified restriction on civic space and people’s right to information through social media.

The government said its decision, announced on Twitter on June 4, was due to the “persistent use of the platform for activities that are capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence.” The ban came a few days after Twitter deleted tweets by President Muhammadu Buhari for violating the platform’s policies. The deleted tweets referenced the 1967-1970 Nigerian Civil War and discussed treating “those misbehaving today in the language they will understand.”

Facebook removed the same posts from its platform, also citing policy violations.

On June 5, the Association of Licensed Telecommunications Operators of Nigeria announced that its members had received and complied with instructions from the authorities to block access to Twitter. The state also directed all television and radio stations to stop using Twitter which they described as unpatriotic.

People have begun using Virtual Private Networks to circumvent the ban but authorities reportedly intend to prosecute those who do so.

Millions of people across Nigeria, especially youth, rely on social media to engage in discourse and to share and access information. Twitter was especially crucial for organizing during the October 2020 EndSARS protests against police brutality and other campaigns calling for government accountability. The authorities have proposed legislation criminalizing criticism of the government on social media, but citizens pushed back.

Source: Nigeria’s Twitter Ban Follows Pattern of Repression | Human Rights Watch

The Ocean’s Silent Killer: Breaking Down Overfishing | Inter Press Service

You don’t have to look too hard to find some news network or media outlet talking about water pollution, plastic waste, CO2 emissions, and climate change.

Yes, of course, our plastic bottles are blowing into the ocean and it’s all our fault. We need to start using paper straws and paper cups because we’re to blame for our polluted and uninhabitable waters.

The reason you see and hear about these factors all the time is because it puts it on your back. Media tells you, it’s your fault, you need to do better, you need to make a change.

While I sit here casting my ultralight spinning reel, they’re pumping billions of dollars down the throats of commercial fishermen all over the world.

The biggest threat to our oceans is the very people put in place to protect them. It’s believed that globally, more than $30 billion goes to the commercial fishing industry per year.

This money is intended to offset the costs of operating their megaships and paying their deckhands in an industry that has been hit hard by climate change and regulation.

But, what does that money actually do? It supports overfishing by giving the large ships the ability to outfish the little guy. The offshore communities that rely on fish for commerce and food can’t keep up with the mega ships that have advanced technology, massive trawling nets, and a team of 25 people aboard.

Source: The Ocean’s Silent Killer: Breaking Down Overfishing | Inter Press Service

Children are ‘vulnerable host’ for Covid as cases recede, US expert warns | Coronavirus | The Guardian

Dr Richina Bicette, associate medical director at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, told CNN children were now accounting for nearly 25% of US cases.

“As adults get vaccinated and become more protected and immune,” she said, “the virus is still in the community looking for a vulnerable host, and pediatric patients fit that description.”

Children aged 12 and above are eligible to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, one of three in US use. Federal authorities will this week debate extending vaccines to children aged 11 and under.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data shows that 52% of the US population over the age of 12 has had at least one vaccine dose and 42% is fully protected.

The Biden administration wants 70% of US adults to have received at least one shot by 4 July. A range of incentives are being offered.

Deaths in the US have slowed drastically, the toll a little under 590,000. But with virus variants causing problems as other countries reopen, experts have voiced concern over slowing rates of vaccination, particularly in Republican states.

On Sunday the Republican governor of Mississippi, Tate Reeves, appeared on CNN’s State of the Union.

Mississippi is 50th and last among states in vaccinations, with 30% of residents fully protected and 40.5% aged 12 and older having received at least one dose, according to the CDC. The states with the highest vaccination rates are Vermont (80.6% – with a Republican governor, Phil Scott), Hawaii (78.6%) and Massachusetts (76.8%).

“I believe the vaccine works,” Reeves said. “I believe it’s safe. I believe it’s effective. I took my first dose in January, as did my wife, on TV live, and I have encouraged Mississippians to do the same.

“But I also want to point out that President Biden’s goals for 4 July or otherwise are arbitrary to say the least.”

Reeves said his focus was on providing “quality care” for people with Covid-19 – and trumpeted a steep decline in hospitalisations.

“At our peak, we had 1,444 individuals in the hospital,” he said. “Today, we have 131. We’re down 90%. At our peak, we had 2,400 cases per day over a seven-day period. Over the last seven days, we have had barely 800 cases in total.

“And so, for that entire year period, the goalpost was, let’s reduce the number of cases. And we have been successful at doing that. The question is, why?

“We have had a million Mississippians that have gotten the vaccine, but we have also had 320,000 Mississippians that have tested positive for the virus. Many people believe that somewhere between four and five times more people have gotten the virus that have not tested [positive].

Get the vax, win a shotgun: US states get creative to encourage vaccination
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“And so we have got probably a million or so Mississippians that have natural immunity. And because of that, there is very, very, very little virus in our state. But we’re still working to get the vaccine distributed, and hope we will continue to do so.”

Asked if he was worried unvaccinated Mississippians could be “sitting ducks” to any surge involving a virus variant, Reeves avoided the question, complaining instead about political clashes with Biden officials.

Host Jake Tapper changed tack, saying: “You seem to be arguing everybody should get vaccinated, and yet it’s not that big a deal that not everybody’s getting vaccinated. And those seem to be in conflict.”

He then asked if Reeves would agree that Mississippians should go get vaccinated.

“I would absolutely agree,” Reeves said. “I think that all Mississippians and all Americans should go get vaccinated, because I think it’s safe, I think it’s effective and I think it’s one way to continue to drive down the numbers.” …

Source: Children are ‘vulnerable host’ for Covid as cases recede, US expert warns | Coronavirus | The Guardian

Modi announces federal takeover of India′s vaccination program | News | DW | 07.06.2021

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, speaking in a televised national address on Monday, declared that the federal government would once again be taking control of the country’s coronavirus vaccination program and offering free vaccinations to all adults in the country.

“All those above 18 will get free vaccinations,” Modi said, announcing that the program will start on June 21, “Whether it is the poor, the lower-middle class, the middle class, or the upper-middle class — under the federal government program, everyone will get free vaccines.”

“We will increase the speed of procuring vaccines and also increase the pace of the vaccination program,” the prime minister said. Under the new policy, 75% of all vaccines made in India are to be purchased by the national government with private hospitals able to purchase the remaining 25%.

Source: Modi announces federal takeover of India′s vaccination program | News | DW | 07.06.2021

Italy: Police dismantle antisemitic neo-Nazi group planning NATO facility attack | News | DW | 07.06.2021

Italian police announced on Monday they had broken up an online neo-Nazi group dedicated to antisemitic and racist propaganda that encouraged young people to carry out extreme acts of violence against Jews and foreigners.

Italian postal police and Carabinieri paramilitary police said individuals aged between 26 and 62 were allegedly involved in the group.

What caused the crackdown?

Twelve people were present on Facebook and Russian social network VK under the name, “Ordine Ario Romano,” which is believed to be a reference to the racist writings of fascist author Julius Evola, a Carabinieri police statement said.

The group’s social media postings were “inspired by Nazi, antisemitic and Holocaust-denial ideologies, as well as by anti-Jewish conspiracy theories,” the statement added…

…Under investigation since 2019, the 12 suspects belonged to “an antisemitic and racist group particularly active on social media,” Lamorgese added.

The crackdown included blacking out the networks website, which claims to have over 17,000 members, including many users abroad.

Police said the 12-person hate group, along with help from members of a Portugese far-right political movement, was in the early stages of planning an attack on an unnamed NATO facility using homemade explosives…

Source: Italy: Police dismantle antisemitic neo-Nazi group planning NATO facility attack | News | DW | 07.06.2021