Genius azelyrics.net.ru Lyrics

Genius azelyrics.net.ru .Lyrics

Avril Lavigne – Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door Lyrics

Yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah

Momma take this badge off of me
I can’t use it anymore
It’s getting dark, too dark to see
Feel I’m knockin’ on Heaven’s door

Knock knock knockin’ on Heaven’s door
Knock knock knockin’ on Heaven’s door
Knock knock knockin’ on Heaven’s door
Knock knock knockin’ on Heaven’s door

Momma put my guns in the ground
I can’t shoot them anymore

That long black cloud is coming down
I feel like I’m knockin’ on Heaven’s door

Knock knock knockin’ on Heaven’s door
Knock knock knockin’ on Heaven’s door
Knock knock knockin’ on Heaven’s door, yeah yeah
Knock knock knockin’ on Heaven’s door

Yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah
Yeah, yeah, yeah, oh
Yeah, yeah, yeah

Big Gigantic – Higher Lyrics

Get down get down…

The higher we go up
The more we get down
The higher we go up
The more we get down

The higher we go up
The higher we go
The higher we go up

The higher we go up

The higher we go

The more we get down

The Higher We go

The more we get down

Get down get down get down get down
Get down get down get down get down

The higher we go up

The more we get down
The higher we go up
The more we get down
The higher we go up
The more we get down
The higher we go up
The more we get down

The higher we go up
The higher we go
The higher we go up
The higher we go
The higher we go up

The higher we go up

The higher we go

The more we get down

The higher we go

The more we get down

Chiiild – Hands Off Me Lyrics

[Chorus]
Don’t take your hands off of me
Don’t take these words too lightly
We can take things slow slowly
But no matter what
Don’t take your hands off of me

[Verse]
Girl, I’m all about my business, yeah
You’ve been on your own mission, yeah
Let your body talk, I’m listening
Don’t take your hands off of me
I swear that I can go the distance, yeah
Ask the Lord to be our witness, yeah
We don’t need to ask forgiveness

When you don’t care who’s watching
And I don’t care who’s listening

[Chorus]
Don’t take your hands off of me
Don’t take these words too lightly
We can take things slow, slowly
But no matter what
Don’t take your hands off of me

[Outro]
Don’t take your hands off of me
Don’t take these words too lightly
We can take things slow, slowly
Don’t take your hands off of me

Canadian universal basic income experiment has been life-changing for those unemployed amid coronavirus 

Canadian universal basic income experiment has been life-changing for those unemployed amid coronavirus 

One economist calls it a “modern policy for a modern labor market.”

By
Anita Elash

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Nick Abrantes walks after purchased three pairs of shoes during a phased reopening from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions in Toronto, May 19, 2020.

Credit:

Carlos Osorio/Reuters 

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Beverly Harlow is clearly in her element as she wanders among the poultry taking over her backyard near Lindsay, Ontario, northeast of Toronto.

A flock of ducklings and 16 chickens peck at her feet. She expects that all these birds will produce a rainbow assortment of eggs — enough to feed the family and send the surplus to a local food bank.

Related: Toronto’s first black police chief resigns

“They’ll be blue, green; I have one breed that does pink, brown and olive color eggs as well,” she said. “So, I’m really excited about that.”

Harlow and her family have lived on this half-acre of land for four years. But she says that until this spring, they could never afford to raise chickens. Between combined salaries of Harlow and her husband, they barely covered the bills. They themselves relied on the food bank.

But Harlow lost her job as a telemarketer and sales representative after the novel coronavirus hit. That qualified her for a $2,000 a month emergency jobless benefit from the Canadian government. Now, Harlow says the family is doing well. They’ve planted a vegetable garden, painted the kitchen and even made room for a homeless teenager.

“It’s really empowered us. It’s done more than just pay the bills. It’s given us options, and it’s given us a little bit of freedom that we’ve never really felt before,” she said.

Beverly Harlow, Canadian on jobless benefit program

“It’s really empowered us. It’s done more than just pay the bills. It’s given us options, and it’s given us a little bit of freedom that we’ve never really felt before,” she said.

Related: Canadians contend with etiquette questions as they double their social bubbles

The Canadian emergency jobless benefit is a temporary program. Anyone who lost their job or couldn’t work because they got sick can apply for it by answering a few simple questions online.

It’s also turned into what may be the world’s largest experiment with a universal basic income. More than 8 million Canadians have applied. And as governments scramble to come up with ways to financially support people out of work because of the pandemic, many economists and politicians say the Canadian program is proof the time has finally come for a no-strings-attached, guaranteed income.

Wayne Lewchuk, an economic historian at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, said a universal basic income is “modern policy for a modern labor market.”

Lewchuk was one of the experts hired to monitor a recent universal basic income experiment in Ontario, Canada’s largest province. In that case, the government enrolled 4,000 low-income earners in a pilot project. They were offered a no-strings-attached, fixed annual income of about $17,000 for individuals and $24,000 for a couple. They were encouraged to keep working and could earn a total of $34,000 before their government income was cut off.

Related: Indigenous groups in Canada fight to stay closed as restrictions ease

Less than halfway through the experiment, a provincial election brought in a new government, and the experiment was canceled. There were no definitive results. But earlier this year, Lewchuk and a team of researchers surveyed 200 participants.

“Bottom line is it was a great success for people who were on the pilot.”

Wayne Lewchuk, an economic historian, McMaster University

“Bottom line is it was a great success for people who were on the pilot,” Lewchuck said.

He says a majority smoked less, drank less, ate better, stayed healthier and kept their jobs. A third even got new, better-paying work.

“It gave them a floor below which they couldn’t fall, and it gave them more confidence and security, and it meant that they could either go out and look for a better job, take a chance on a better job, or they could advance their training and get more education.”

Related: ‘Gogh By Car’ to this Toronto art exhibit

Lewchuck argues that with so much economic damage caused by the coronavirus pandemic, this kind of safety net will become more important than ever.

Harlow says she used to think the idea of a universal basic income was a joke, but her own experience has changed her mind completely.

“Worrying about if you’re going to eat or pay hydro really breaks you down, and it puts you in this cage mentally that you can’t think past, whereas now, the cage is gone and I can think bigger,” she said. 

Harlow still hasn’t found a new job and says she’d like to go back to school. “We’re growing, and we’re cultivating a future. And that money has just empowered — like the word empower is just all I can say about it.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced that Canada’s emergency response benefit will be extended for another two months. He said the pandemic is an unprecedented challenge for the country and a lot of people need this support while they look for work. 

North Korea destroys liaison office on border with South in ‘terrific explosion’

North Korea destroys liaison office on border with South in 'terrific explosion'

South Korean soldiers walk down from their guard post near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, South Korea, June 16, 2020.

Credit:

Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters

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North Korea blew up an office set up to foster better ties with South Korea on Tuesday in a “terrific explosion” after it threatened to take action if North Korean defectors went ahead with a campaign to send propaganda leaflets into the North.

North Korea’s KCNA state news agency said the liaison office in the border town of Kaesong, which had been closed since January due to the coronavirus, was “completely ruined.”

A grainy surveillance video released by South Korea’s Ministry of Defense showed a large explosion that appeared to bring down the four-storey structure. The blast also appeared to cause a partial collapse of a neighboring 15-storey high-rise that had served as a residential facility for South Korean officials who staffed the liaison office.

A smoke rises from Kaesong Industrial Complex in this picture taken from the south in Paju, South Korea, June 16, 2020.

Credit:

Yonhap via Reuters

The office, when it was operating, effectively served as an embassy for the old rivals and its destruction represents a major setback to efforts by South Korean President Moon Jae-in to coax the North into cooperation.

South Korea’s national security council convened an emergency meeting on Tuesday and said South Korea would sternly respond if North Korea continued to raise tensions.

The destruction of the office “broke the expectations of all people who hope for the development of inter-Korean relations and lasting peace on the peninsula,” deputy national security advisor Kim You-geun told a briefing.

“We’re making clear that the North is entirely responsible for all the consequences this might cause,” he said.

Reclusive North Korea, whose nuclear and missile programmes are the subject of stalled talks with the United States, and the democratic South are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a treaty.

Tension has been rising over recent days with the North threatening to cut ties with the South and retaliate over the propaganda leaflets, which carry messages critical of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, including on human rights.

The demolition was “unprecedented in inter-Korean relations” and a “nonsensical act that should have not happened,” South Korean vice unification minister Suh Ho, who co-headed the liaison office, told reporters.

KCNA said the office was blown up to force “human scum and those, who have sheltered the scum, to pay dearly for their crimes.”

North Korea refers to defectors as “human scum.”

‘Tragic scene’

A South Korean military source told Reuters that there had been signs North Korea was going ahead with the demolition earlier in the day, and South Korean military officials watched live surveillance imagery as the building was blown up.

The first diplomatic mission of its kind, the liaison office was established in 2018 as part of a series of projects aimed at reducing tensions between the two Koreas.

The building had originally been used as offices for managing operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a joint venture between the two Koreas that was suspended in 2016 amid disagreement over the North’s nuclear and missile programs.

South Korea spent at least 9.78 billion won ($8.6 million) in 2018 to renovate the building, which stood as a gleaming blue glass structure in the otherwise drab industrial city.

When it was operating, South Koreans worked on the second floor and North Koreans on the fourth floor. The third floor held conference rooms for meetings between the two sides.

When the office was closed in January, South Korea said it had 58 personnel stationed there.

On Saturday, North Korean state media reported that Kim Yo Jong, the sister of the North Korean leader, who serves as a senior official of the ruling Workers’ Party, had ordered the department in charge of inter-Korean affairs to “decisively carry out the next action.”

“Before long, a tragic scene of the useless north-south joint liaison office completely collapsed would be seen,” she was reported as saying.

Representatives for the White House and the State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Russia said on Tuesday it was concerned about the situation on the Korean peninsula and called for restraint from all sides, but so far had no plans for high-level diplomatic contacts.

Earlier on Tuesday, North Korean state media quoted the military as saying it had been studying an “action plan” to re-enter zones that had been demilitarized under the 2018 inter-Korean pact and “turn the front line into a fortress.”

South Korea’s defense ministry called for North Korea to abide by the 2018 agreement, under which both sides’ militaries vowed to cease “all hostile acts” and dismantled a number of structures along the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone between the two countries.

Several defector-led groups have regularly sent back flyers, together with food, $1 bills, mini radios and USB sticks containing South Korean dramas and news into North Korea, usually by balloon over the border or in bottles by river.  

By Hyonhee Shin and Josh Smith/Reuters

When reform hasn’t worked: Part I

When reform hasn't worked: Part I

By
Sam Ratner

West Chicago police department in West Chicago Community High School homecoming parade, Oct. 7, 2011.

Credit:

Inventorchris/Flickr

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North Korea destroyed the liaison office with the South; Beijing imposed coronavirus restrictions; France backs away from chokehold ban

North Korea destroyed the liaison office with the South; Beijing imposed coronavirus restrictions; France backs away from chokehold ban

By
The World staff

A smoke rises from Kaesong Industrial Complex in this picture taken from the south in Paju, South Korea, June 16, 2020.

Credit:

Yonhap via Reuters

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Top of The World — our morning news round up written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

In a dramatic escalation of tensions, North Korea blew up the liaison office used to improve relations with South Korea on Tuesday. Surveillance video released by South Korea’s Ministry of Defence showed the building, located in the border town of Kaesong, in a large explosion that appeared to bring down the four-story structure. The office, which effectively served as a de facto embassy for the two countries, has been closed since January due to the novel coronavirus.

The destruction of the office adds to tensions that have been rising over recent weeks, as North Korea has threatened to cut ties with the South for what it says is retaliation over propaganda leaflets critical of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that have been sent over the border by human rights activists. The liaison office between the North and the South was established in 2018 as part of a series of projects aimed at reducing tensions.

What The World is following

In a move to stop a flare-up of new coronavirus cases, Beijing has imposed restrictions on public transport and banned high-risk people, such as those in close contact with others who have tested positive for COVID-19, from leaving the city. The new outbreak in China’s capital, where more than 100 cases have been reported since Thursday, has been traced to a large wholesale food center in the southwest of the city. 

Three Indian soldiers were killed today in a confrontation with Chinese troops in the disputed border region of Kashmir. They are the first casualties in decades to result from a clash between India and China in the disputed border region. The two nuclear powers have been locked in a standoff for weeks over boundary disputes.

France is now backing away from an ban on police use of chokeholds announced last week. France reversed course on the ban after officers voiced concerns that the move would threaten their lives. France had announced the ban after weeks of protests following the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer, which for many recalled the similar death of Adama Traoré in police custody in France in 2016.

From The WorldWhy many in public health support anti-racism protests — with some precautions amid coronavirus

Visitors look at a memorial at the site of the arrest of George Floyd, who died while in police custody, in Minneapolis, June 14, 2020.

Credit:

Eric Miller/Reuters 

Many health care workers say the coronavirus pandemic and systemic racism are intertwined. So when protests erupted across the globe in response to George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis, many health professionals understood the public outcry, despite the risks of being in large crowds.

When ‘oh, fudge’ won’t do: Researchers find benefits to swearing

Researchers at the Swear Lab at Keele University in the UK have studied the benefits of swearing. 

Credit:

iStockphoto

When you stub your toe, there’s nothing like letting out a string of expletives. But it turns out, there’s more to this release than you might think. Researchers have found that swearing can actually increase a person’s pain tolerance — and no, you can’t substitute in a PG equivalent like “Oh fudge!” Only the real thing will do.

Morning meme

What should replace recently toppled statues in the US, Britain and elsewhere? One suggestion that gained some viral traction on social media recently — air dancers.

Retweet if we should temporarily replace all racist monuments with air dancers while we build new non-racist monuments! pic.twitter.com/ln6xkLeO93

— Jack (@GayLaVie) June 10, 2020In case you missed itListen: Public health consequences of protests during a pandemic

People wearing masks and holding signs kneel during a Black Lives Matter protest in Trafalgar Square in London, Britain, June 5, 2020.

Credit:

Toby Melville/Reuters

Thousands have taken to the streets around the world to protest police brutality and systemic racism. But many public health experts are not as distressed about these large demonstrations as one might think. And, as the US targets the International Criminal Court with sanctions, the court makes a breakthrough in Sudan. Also, a team of psychology researchers in the UK has found that swearing can increase a person’s pain tolerance.

Don’t forget to subscribe to The World’s Latest Edition podcast using your favorite podcast player: RadioPublicApple PodcastsStitcherSoundcloudRSS.

Russia, Philippines hand down controversial convictions; Beijing lockdowns return; New Zealand sports fans return to stadiums

Russia, Philippines hand down controversial convictions; Beijing lockdowns return; New Zealand sports fans return to stadiums

By
The World staff

Former US Marine Paul Whelan holds a sign as he stands inside a defendants’ cage during his verdict hearing in Moscow, Russia, June 15, 2020.

Credit:

Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

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Top of The World — our morning news round up written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

Ex-US marine Paul Whelan has been found guilty by the Moscow City Court of spying charges, in what he called a “sham trial.” Whelan, 50, was sentenced to 16 years of hard labor by the Russian court Monday. In 2018, he was arrested in a Moscow hotel room with a flash drive that authorities say held state secrets. Whelan says he was set up with a USB stick, which he believed to contain family photos.

The case has strained US-Russia relations, though the White House has not been vocal about Whelan’s situation. US Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan condemned the verdict, calling the trial an “egregious violation of human rights,” and criticized the embassy’s lack of access to Whelan. Whelan’s lawyers may lodge an appeal, and his family has called on the US to take steps to bring him home.

In the Philippines, journalist Maria Ressa, founder of the investigative Rappler Media, and her former colleague, Reynaldo Santos, have become the first journalists to be convicted of cyber libel under a highly scrutinized law that opponents warned would be used to silence critics of controversial President Rodrigo Duterte’s government. The Committee to Protect Journalists called Monday’s conviction an “outrageous crime against press freedom.” Ressa and Santos will appeal, but could face up to six years in prison. 

The World spoke with Maria Ressa last April: “Democracies can turn overnight. You can lose rights very quickly and I’m shocked at what’s happened to the Philippines. So — hold the line. I always say, ‘Hold the line.’ I think we need to demand accountability. We need to stop impunity. Those are the two main things.” 

What The World is following

Less than a month after the killing of George Floyd by a white police officer in Minneapolis galvanized a movement against systemic racism and police brutality around the world, Rayshard Brooks, also a black man, was killed by a white police officer in Atlanta, Georgia, on Friday, reigniting protests in the city

Some areas of Beijing are reentering lockdowns after China’s capital city reported 36 new cases of the novel coronavirus in a single day, likely linked to an outbreak at the Xinfadi wholesale market. In US states with support for Donald Trump, Republican skepticism about the threat of the pandemic could be shifting as the number of cases of COVID-19 increases by the hundreds or more per day. Research suggests that racial attitudes could have reinforced an “empathy gap” for virus victims, which have disproportionately been people of color

In New Zealand, 20,000 fans became some of the first in the world to regather in person for a sporting event — a rugby match on Saturday. The country has been declared essentially virus-free after strict lockdown measures beginning in March effectively quashed the virus there. 

Racism against African Americans in China escalates amid coronavirus

Women wearing protective face masks are seen in a bus, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Shanghai, June 9, 2020. 

Credit:

Aly Song/Reuters 

Four years ago, JC, a teacher and poet from Mississippi, moved to China with her husband and two children on a grand adventure. Now, she teaches literature to high schoolers in Guangzhou. 

But she says life has changed amid the coronavirus pandemic. In mid-April, reports of “imported cases” of COVID-19 from abroad triggered a wave of anti-foreigner sentiment across China, especially toward black people.

‘Travel bubbles’: Who’s in and who’s out of the plan to save global tourism

Passengers wait for a regional train at the main train station in Berlin during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Berlin, Germany, June 10, 2020.

Credit:

Gabriela Baczynska/Reuters

The coronavirus pandemic has brought leisure travel to a standstill. International tourism could decline by up to 80% this year, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization. Now, just as the Northern Hemisphere enters the summer season, governments around the world are trying to revitalize their tourism economies.

And: Sweden’s handling of coronavirus drives some people to relocate

Morning meme

Watching Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s moptop emerge is one way to keep track of the calendar, says The New York Times (and this GIF 👇). 

I made a thing! @JustinTrudeau‘s hair from every daily update since March 16, 2020. #Longhairdontcare pic.twitter.com/IvNeKbKhYC

— Steven Tiao (@stiao) June 12, 2020In case you missed itListen: Latin America’s reckoning with racism and police violence

A demonstrator wearing a face mask as a preventive measure against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), holds a sign that reads “I can’t breathe, black lives matter” during a protest against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd and the arrival of U.S. troops in Colombian territory, in Bogota, Colombia June 3, 2020.

Credit:

Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters

The World continues its coverage of campaigns for police reform across the globe. Host Marco Werman speaks with Siana Bangura, an organizer in London, and Miski Noor, an activist with Black Visions Collective in Minneapolis. Also, The World’s Jorge Valencia has a story about police killings in Latin America.  Tensions continue to escalate between the US and China. The US Navy is dispatching two aircraft carriers plus support ships to the western Pacific, a powerful signal to Beijing. Host Marco Werman speaks with military analyst Sim Tack about the escalations. With international tourism falling off a cliff, governments are trying to mitigate things by allowing their citizens to visit neighboring countries. But with “travel bubbles” forming around the world, the US hasn’t been invited to buddy up with anybody. The World’s Bianca Hillier has more. And, US President Donald Trump authorized economic sanctions against the International Criminal Court this week, unhappy about efforts to investigate US personnel. The World’s Rupa Shenoy reports.

Don’t forget to subscribe to The World’s Latest Edition podcast using your favorite podcast player: RadioPublicApple PodcastsStitcherSoundcloudRSS.

Black Lives Matter protests renew parallel debates in Brazil, Colombia

Black Lives Matter protests renew parallel debates in Brazil, Colombia

Across the Americas, police violence disproportionately targets young black men. The protests sparked by George Floyd's death in Minneapolis have shined a new light on police brutality in South America.

By
Jorge Valencia

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A demonstrator wearing a face mask as a preventive measure against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), holds a sign that reads “George Floyd, justice” during a protest against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd and the arrival of US troops in Colombian territory, in Bogotá, Colombia, on June 3, 2020.

Credit:

Luisa Gonzalez/Reuters

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One week before George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis, a young black man was fatally assaulted by police outside his home in a small town in southwestern Colombia.

Anderson Arboleda, 19, was chased by two police officers for breaking the pandemic curfew in the town of Puerto Tejada on May 20, his mother Claudia Ximena Arboleda said. When the officers caught up to him, they beat him over the head with batons and doused him in pepper spray. He died the next morning in a local hospital. 

Arboleda, like many teenagers, loved eating, listening to music and hanging out with friends. And, according to human rights advocates, he died the way too many young black Colombians do: at the hands of the police. But it wasn’t until after a video of Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis went viral that Arboleda’s death became mainstream news in Colombia. 

“It was strange for us seeing how these two stories went viral. The news media were doing special reports about George Floyd before they said anything about Anderson and the type of things that go on in our own country all the time.”

Alí Bantú Ashanti, attorney and director, Justicia Racial

“It was strange for us seeing how these two stories went viral,” said Alí Bantú Ashanti, an attorney in Bogotá who directs Justicia Racial, a human rights group. “The news media were doing special reports about George Floyd before they said anything about Anderson and the type of things that go on in our own country all the time.” 

While the history of police violence is different in every country, one common denominator across the Americas is officers’ disproportionate targeting of young black men. Floyd’s killing — and the protests it ignited worldwide — have given new life to debates over racial profiling in Colombia and Brazil.

Related: In France, the killing of George Floyd evokes the memory of Adama Traoré

In Colombia, young Afro Colombians face harassment from the police every day, Bantú Ashanti said. But their marginalization is wide-reaching. Afro Colombians have less access to health care and higher education and are more likely to live in poverty than the rest of the population. 

“Colombia is particular in the way that racism has always been denied,” Bantú Ashanti said. “When we point this out, mainstream society says that we’re being resentful and that we’re calling out an issue that doesn’t exist.”

This is likely a legacy of the deep historical roots of colonialism and enslavement across the continent. While the United States institutionalized discrimination through Jim Crow laws that lasted until the 1960s, former Spanish and Portuguese colonies never formally legalized it. 

“That kind of overt legal separation segregation did not occur in the modern Latin American republics. What you have instead in their case are ideas that tended to downplay discrimination and segregation.”

Jerome Branche, a Latin American literature professor, University of Pittsburgh

“That kind of overt legal separation segregation did not occur in the modern Latin American republics,” said Jerome Branche, a Latin American literature professor at the University of Pittsburgh who focuses on racialized modernity. “What you have instead in their case are ideas that tended to downplay discrimination and segregation.”

For example, in mainstream Brazil, it has long been believed that people of all races have equal access to opportunities. It’s a notion known as “racial democracy,” which for Paula Barreto, a sociologist at Federal University of Bahia in northern Brazil, has always has been and continues to be a myth.

Related: How one protester’s death by Colombian riot police polarized the movement

“Yes, we have color lines, we have racial segregation and we have racial inequalities,” Barreto said. “We have more black people concentrated in poor neighborhoods where the police are used to killing people.”

This is despite the work of Brazil’s modern black rights movement. In recent years, the Black Coalition for Rights has successfully campaigned against reversing affirmative action policies and against bills seeking to give the police more protections, as Americas Quarterly has reported.

But still, the recent protests in the US have helped bring attention to Brazil’s issue of racialized policing, Barreto said. Numerous statistics show about 3 of every 4 people killed by the police are black men. Barreto hopes the newly revived debate will inspire the country to do more for the civil rights of Afro Brazilians, she said.

“The American opinion and the international opinion about Brazil, in general, is important for Brazilians,” Barreto said. “Brazilians don’t want to see themselves as racists, and they don’t want to see their country associated with homicides of the black population.”

When ‘oh, fudge’ won’t do: Researchers find benefits to swearing

When ‘oh, fudge’ won’t do: Researchers find benefits to swearing

By
Amanda McGowan

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Researchers at the Swear Lab at Keele University in the UK have studied the benefits of swearing. 

Credit:

iStockphoto

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When you stub your toe, there’s nothing like letting out a string of expletives. 

But it turns out, there’s more to this release than you might think.

Researchers have found that swearing can actually increase a person’s pain tolerance — and no, you can’t substitute in a PG equivalent like “Oh fudge!” Only the real thing will do.

Related: Damn coronavirus! How the Dutch use diseases as curse words.

Participants in a study at the Swear Lab at Keele University in the United Kingdom were asked to submerge their hands into ice-cold water while repeating one of four words — the f-bomb, a control word, and two made-up swear words, “fouch” and “twizzpipe.” 

“We found … people who swore were able to withstand the painful stimulus, the ice-cold water, for 33% longer than any of the other words,” said Olly Robertson, the lead researcher on the study who also researches psychology at Oxford University.

Related: Russian curses are inventive, widely-used — and banned

Robertson says there are two theories about why this might be the case.

The first is that the parasympathetic nervous system — or the body’s “rest and relaxation” response — may kick in.

“What happens there is once you’ve dealt with a stressor … the parasympathetic nervous system comes in and puts the chill factor on everything, so your heart rate comes down. It allows your body to rest and recover and gain all the resources back,” Robertson explained.

The other theory says that swearing may trigger the body’s sympathetic nervous system, or the “fight or flight” response, which may provide the adrenaline needed to power through a painful experience.

Robertson said it’s still unclear whether these responses work completely separately from each other, or work in tandem. 

But one thing is clear — the psychology of swearing yields many surprises.

“People take swearing for granted,” Robertson said. 

“A lot of us do it most days, but we don’t really think about how it might affect our bodies, how it might affect our social relationships, or what it means for the real world. That’s what we’re interested in — making this somehow mundane-seeming everyday behavior and looking at how important it is in real life,” she continued.

Listen to the full interview above. 

Why many in public health support anti-racism protests — with some precautions amid coronavirus

Why many in public health support anti-racism protests — with some precautions amid coronavirus

Many health care workers say the pandemic and systemic racism are intertwined. But they stress the need for people to take precautions as COVID-19 continues to spread.

By
Elana Gordon

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Visitors look at a memorial at the site of the arrest of George Floyd, who died while in police custody, in Minneapolis, June 14, 2020.

Credit:

Eric Miller/Reuters 

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Charles Agyemang, who specializes in ethnic and migrant health inequalities at the University of Amsterdam, has long studied how social factors impact health. Lately, he’s focused on the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on racial and ethnic minorities in places like the UK, the US and the Netherlands.

So, when he saw the protests mounting across the globe in response to George Floyd’s death, including in his city — Amsterdam — he understood the public outcry.

He’d seen the disturbing images of what happened to Floyd, a black man who died on May 25 after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.

“I think that people do have a right to protest because I think that, personally, as a minority, seeing what is happening, not only as a minority, I mean, ordinary human beings seeing what is happening, is just not right.”

Charles Agyemang, University of Amsterdam

“I think that people do have a right to protest because I think that, personally, as a minority, seeing what is happening, not only as a minority, I mean, ordinary human beings seeing what is happening, is just not right,” Agyemang said.

That’s a position echoed by many health care professionals as thousands have taken to the streets in recent weeks, from Philadelphia to Bristol, to demonstrate against police brutality and systemic racism. It may seem counterintuitive — large gatherings can be a recipe for new waves of the coronavirus — but many working in the medical field say racism and the pandemic are intertwined. 

Related: Sweden’s handling of coronavirus drives some people to relocate    

They also stress the need to take precautions to minimize the risks of attending big rallies.

“So, it’s a delicate balance I would say, that needs to be struck,” Agyemang said, emphasizing that it’s important for people who protest to try and social distance. “I think that something needs to be done. We know that, actually, discrimination also has a huge impact on health.” 

Dr. Oxiris Barbot, New York City’s health commissioner, says she wants to see equity and supports people’s right to protest.

“It has been really heartening to see the degree to which other countries have been protesting against racism,” she said. “My hope is that that will bring all of us, as a world, that much closer.”

At the same time, Barbot said she hopes that as people demonstrate, that they are doing it safely and reducing risks as much as possible. Her department shared tips early on and issued guidance.

That includes wearing a mask, using alcohol-based hand sanitizer, maintaining as much social distance as possible, staying around people you know who don’t have symptoms, and finding creative ways to make noise — such as with noisemakers instead of shouting, which can generate viral particles, she said.

Related: ‘Travel bubbles’: Who’s in and who’s out of the plan to save global tourism

Barbot and others also worry about the law enforcement side of protests: tear gas and pepper spray can create more dangerous situations and increase the risks of the spread of the new coronavirus, as can being arrested and confined in close quarters.

Law enforcement officers don’t always wear masks.

She says people can also take action right after a protest or large gathering to help reduce the potential harms.

“We want people to make sure they wash their hands, make sure that they remove their face coverings in a safe way — which is you remove your face covering, you put it aside, then you wash your hands — because, you know, if individuals are going back to households where they have, let’s say, someone who is over 65, someone who may have an underlying condition, we don’t want them to take a risk in exposing their loved one to COVID-19,” Barbot said.

She recommends that anyone who went to a demonstration gets tested three to five days later.

“If there are any concerns about whether or not they may be developing symptoms, the best thing that they can do is to separate themselves until they get their test results or until at least 10 days have elapsed.” 

Dr. Oxiris Barbot, New York City health commissioner

“If there are any concerns about whether or not they may be developing symptoms, the best thing that they can do is to separate themselves until they get their test results or until at least 10 days have elapsed,” she said.

Related: Racism against African Americans in China escalates amid coronavirus

Based on real-time hospital data so far, Barbot said the city has not observed an uptick in cases from when the protests erupted at the end of May. That might take a few more weeks to play out.

Last week, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, described protesting during the pandemic as risky and encouraged people to wear masks, but prefaced that by saying “almost everyone understands the need to be able to express your constitutional right, to be able to demonstrate in a peaceful way against something that is really a very important social issue.”

Jamie Slaughter-Acey, a social epidemiologist at the University of Minnesota, is also concerned about new outbreaks of the coronavirus, but that didn’t stop her from visiting the spot where Floyd died, with her 6-year-old daughter.

“It had tables in front of it, and it was like hand sanitizer stations. There are messages about trying to be as safe as possible,” Slaughter-Acey said, adding that it was emotional for her. “All along that you see people in the community celebrating the life of George Floyd and paying their respects to George Floyd.”

It might at first seem counterintuitive that public health leaders around the globe would not only support people demonstrating during the pandemic, but might even take part, despite knowing the health risks. 

Related: What South Africa can teach the US about racial justice and reconciliation

Uchechi Mitchell, a professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago, said racial inequities are closely connected to the pandemic and how it’s playing out across the globe.

“I don’t want it to come off as though the public health profession doesn’t care as much about the coronavirus pandemic.”

Uchechi Mitchell ​​​​​​, University of Illinois in Chicago

“I don’t want it to come off as though the public health profession doesn’t care as much about the coronavirus pandemic,” she said.

Mitchell is one of more than 1,200 public health professionals who signed a petition supporting protests against racism. The petition also included suggestions for how to minimize the spread of COVID-19.

Even the World Health Organization has come out in support of a global movement against racism. For many public health experts, like Mitchell, these dual efforts are one and the same.

“Nobody’s ignoring the fact that we have this virus that’s plaguing our communities. But this is a pandemic, it starts and kind of has an end,” Mitchell said. “Whereas racism has been here for generations upon generations upon generations, and we’re still fighting for this end.”

Love is blind: How Germany’s long romance with cars led to the nation’s biggest clean energy failure

Love is blind: How Germany’s long romance with cars led to the nation’s biggest clean energy failure

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Dan Gearino

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Cars jam on the motorway A8 between Salzburg and Munich near Irschenberg, southern Germany, July 20, 2019.

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A longer version of this story was originally published by InsideClimate News.

The night before the leaders of the European Union met in Brussels in 2013, German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a phone call.

After more than a year of talks, the EU nations had agreed on a plan to slash greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks.

But Merkel, the leader of the largest and most economically powerful of those countries, had a last-minute change of heart.

In a call to Ireland’s prime minister, Enda Kenny, the European Union president, Merkel persuaded him to delay a vote on the transportation issue. Using threats to close auto plants in other European nations and promises to cooperate on other issues, Germany then lobbied its way to a plan with more favorable terms for its auto industry.

“It was, for everybody, shocking,” said Rebecca Harms, a former member of the European Parliament from the Alliance 90/The Greens party, who was representing Germany in Brussels.

Germany’s transition to clean energy has had successes that can serve as models for other countries of how to combat climate change. But one of the most important lessons comes from a failure: The nation’s decades-long unwillingness to cut emissions from cars and trucks.

Related: What Germany’s energy revolution can teach the US

From 1990 to 2019, Germany made substantial progress in reducing emissions from electricity production. But Germans’ love affair with cars and the auto industry’s political clout meant that during the same period, the country made almost no headway in cutting the transportation sector’s emissions, which represent about one-fifth of total emissions.

The German government repeatedly deferred to the auto industry, wary of doing anything that might affect manufacturing jobs in the country’s No. 1 export and raise prices for consumers. Whether in national legislation or with the European Union, the government long acted as an advocate rather than a regulator of these corporate giants.

The result was dissonance: Germany nourished wind and solar power and democratized its electricity system through local cooperatives. At the same time, it was burning gasoline and diesel with abandon. The failure to cut vehicle emissions was severe enough to derail progress on meeting climate goals for the whole economy.

Last summer, I went to Germany to see where the energy transition stood now. I did not expect that I would spend so much time talking about cars.

I learned that the struggle to cut auto emissions is Germany’s great unsolved problem, and the process of addressing it is just beginning, a shift that is at once cultural, political and economic.

The United States faces its own long-term challenges in cutting transportation emissions, and can learn from the German example.

“The bigger lessons are really in the failure stories,” said Jonas Meckling, a University of California, Berkeley, professor of energy and environmental policy, who previously worked as a senior advisor for the German environment ministry.

One lesson, he said, is that an energy transition is not monolithic. It is made up of a series of challenges, and governments need strategies for each major sector of the economy. But even more important, he said, the leaders need to build and then maintain public support for making changes in each sector. And that gets complicated in a country where the love of cars runs deep, and speed is almost a religion.

In an energy transition, a (large) oversight

Germany began its Energiewende, or energy transition, in earnest in 2000, led by Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and a center-left coalition of Social Democrats and Alliance 90/The Greens.

The new leaders made rapid changes, but they were focused on the country’s largest emissions source, the electricity sector. The moves led to a boom in renewable energy and an ability for local communities to control projects and benefit from them. The transportation sector, however, was almost ignored.

In 2005, voters gave the center-right Chistian Democrats a plurality in the parliament, led by the new chancellor, Angela Merkel, who would turn out to be a staunch defender of the auto industry’s interests.

German chancellor Angela Merkel stands next to a VW car during the opening of the Frankfurt Motor Show in Frankfurt, Germany, Sept. 14, 2017.

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Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Over the next few years, a pattern emerged, in which Germany did little at the national level to deal with transportation emissions and also worked to weaken rules being considered by the European Union.

In 2007, the European Union enacted its first mandatory emissions rules for vehicles, a plan that would have been more stringent if Merkel’s government had not successfully pushed to set the standards at a level amenable to Germany’s auto industry.

Those standards took effect in 2009, in the middle of a global economic downturn. Environmental advocates were pleased to see early evidence that mandatory rules seemed to be working in a way that voluntary rules had not.

And they were eager to get back to the table to update the rules and make them more stringent, a process that came to a head in 2013.

Dorothee Saar is head of the transportation and air quality for a prominent German environmental group.

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Courtesy of Deutsche Umwelthilfe

Dorothee Saar, head of transportation policy for Deutsche Umwelthilfe, a leading German environmental group, participated in more than a year of negotiations in which environmental advocates and auto industry representatives worked on the details with policymakers from member states, including Germany.

The deal they reached was a fair compromise, she said, with rules that were not as tough as environmental groups would have liked, but clearly a step in the right direction.

Then, out of nowhere, Merkel intervened. She phoned various heads of state to ask them to join her in pushing to reopen the negotiations.

Saar learned of the sudden change of plans from a newspaper.

“What a mess,” she said, remembering her reaction.

Merkel’s actions had short-circuited the regular process of EU law making. Reopening the negotiations, however, only led to minor changes to the agreement. Six months later, the sides agreed on a plan to impose tougher emissions rules by 2021 instead of 2020, with new provisions that would give automakers credit for electric vehicles that would count toward offsetting emissions for other models.

Harms, the former European Parliament member, now thinks Merkel’s actions affected the credibility of the process in a way that ended up doing much more damage than the changes to the policy.

In response to questions from InsideClimate News about Merkel’s role in the 2013 negotiations and the criticism that she has been too close to the auto industry, a spokesman for the Merkel government said the chancellor “maintains working relationships to all major sectors of the German economy.” He added that the EU rules for carbon emissions from vehicles, including those passed since 2013, set a “global benchmark.”

That Germany was a leader in supporting renewable energy but also an adversary of dealing with transportation emissions might seem contradictory. Yet, inside the country, it made sense.

“Our economy still is dominated by the mobility sector, mainly by the German automotive industry and the suppliers,” said Christian Hochfeld, director of Agora Verkehrswende, a Berlin think tank that focuses on clean transportation policy.

Transportation emissions, he said, are “the elephant in the room” when it comes to Germany seriously addressing climate change.

Auto manufacturers, including parts suppliers, employ more than 800,000 Germans, making the industry an economic powerhouse. Those numbers alone would be enough to wield political influence. But the industry also has plants in nearly every German state, giving it local and national power.

In 2015, though, this bedrock industry was about to squander its goodwill.

Deconstructing ‘Dieselgate’

The German government’s efforts to protect the auto industry included staying out of the way of the growth strategy of its largest automaker, Volkswagen.

In 2015, Volkswagen was eight years into a corporate plan to increase its annual sales from the 6.2 million vehicles it sold in 2007 to 10 million vehicles, a number likely to make the company the world’s leading automaker.

Volkswagen aimed to grow in the United States by competing in the SUV segment, and by marketing its diesel vehicles as good for the environment. The catchphrase for the company was “clean diesel.”

While it was true that Volkswagen’s diesel engines were fuel efficient, with low carbon dioxide emissions, diesel vehicles emitted high levels of nitrogen oxide, a major contributor to air pollution.

To sell diesels in the United States and meet air quality regulations, Volkswagen needed to install equipment to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions. But this equipment also harmed the vehicles’ performance, making the cars feel sluggish when they were driven.

So the company cheated. Its engineers developed software that could detect when a car was driving onto a lab platform for emissions testing and would then engage pollution controls. On the open road, however, the vehicles spewed nitrogen oxide at levels up to 40 times legal limits.

The scheme might have gone undetected if not for a small group of researchers from West Virginia University that did tests of various brands and vehicles to see how emissions in the lab compared to emissions on the road. After several tests, it was clear something was amiss with the Volkswagen cars.

Volkswagen initially deflected, then blustered, accusing the testers of making mistakes. But the company had been caught, and the evidence continued to accumulate, exposing wrongdoing by other automakers, as well.

Merkel urged Volkswagen and other companies to fully disclose what they had done.

“I am just as disgusted with this deception as you are, with this cheating of customers,” Merkel said in a 2017 interview.

Longtime observers of German politics and business could see signs that the government and the auto industry were no longer in lockstep, setting the stage for another round of European Union talks about increasing vehicle emissions standards in 2018.

The negotiations did not play out as they had before. Other countries pushed harder for aggressive action, and were less deferential to Germany. The result was a compromise, but one that went further than ever before.

Under the new rules, adopted in December 2018, countries are required to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from new cars by 15 percent by 2025 and 37.5 percent by 2030, compared to a 2021 baseline.

A change of heart

Volkswagen soon demonstrated that it was ahead of its government in recognizing that the future of the auto industry lay in electric vehicles (EV).

Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess rolled out a new strategy in March 2019, announcing an increase in the number of planned EV models and a new goal of selling 22 million EVs in the next 10 years, up from the previous goal of 15 million in the same period.

“Volkswagen will change fundamentally,” Diess said at a news conference at the company’s headquarters. “Some of you may still be rubbing your eyes in amazement, but there’s no question this supertanker is picking up speed.”

Volkswagen CEO Herbert Diess speaks at a news conference in March 2019, announcing a major increase in electric vehicle production.

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Volkswagen

Germany’s other leading automakers, Daimler and BMW, also were increasing their emphasis on EVs. With the automakers moving in this direction, the German government was running out of reasons not to pursue national legislation to reduce vehicle emissions.

In December, Merkel’s governing coalition passed legislation designed to accelerate the country’s progress in cutting greenhouse gas emissions. Among its many provisions, the law included Germany’s first-ever carbon tax for transportation, which will increase the cost of motor fuels such as gasoline and diesel when it takes effect next year.

Breaking the chains

As bad as the Volkswagen scandal was, it may ultimately have saved the company and, by helping to enact more aggressive vehicle emissions rules, provided much-needed momentum for the German energy transition.

Christian Hochfeld is director of Agora Verkehrswende, a Berlin think tank that focuses on environmental issues related to transportation.

Credit:

Courtesy of Agora Verkehrswende

“Without ‘Dieselgate,’ the old management would still be in today,” said Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, an auto analyst and former director of the automotive research center at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany, “and they would still be just saying ‘We have the best diesels.’”

Hochfeld, director of Agora Verkehrswende, the Berlin think tank, added, “The diesel scandal broke a lot of chains between the policymakers and the car industry and it also broke a lot of chains between German people and the car industry, because they lost their trust and they lost their pride in this industry.”

Even Volkswagen can see that the scandal has led to positive changes.

“The diesel crisis, the scandal, was a loud and clear call for action,” said Ralf Pfitzner, Volkswagen’s head of sustainability, in a phone interview. “It’s now helped us to be at the forefront of electrification.”

Environmental advocates are cautiously hopeful that this change is enduring, part of a broader shift that could turn around what has been the greatest failure of the country’s energy transition.

Russia jails ex-US marine Paul Whelan for 16 years on spying charges

Russia jails ex-US marine Paul Whelan for 16 years on spying charges

Paul Whelan stands inside a defendants’ cage during a court hearing on extending his pre-trial detention, in Moscow, Russia, October 24, 2019. 

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A Russian court convicted Paul Whelan, former US marine who served two tours in Iraq, of spying for the United States on Monday and sentenced him to 16 years in jail.

Whelan, who holds US, British, Canadian and Irish passports, was detained by agents from Russia’s Federal Security Service in a Moscow hotel room on Dec. 28, 2018 as he prepared to attend a wedding.

Russia says Whelan, 50, was caught with a computer flash drive containing classified information. Whelan, who pleaded not guilty, said he was set up in a sting operation and had thought the drive, given to him by a Russian acquaintance, contained holiday photos.

“This is all political theater,” said Whelan, who watched proceedings from a glass box inside the Moscow city courtroom.

He told the judge he had not understood the verdict as proceedings were conducted in Russian without translation.

Related: Paul Whelan’s twin brother calls Russia espionage accusations ‘balderdash’

Whelan had held up a piece of paper on which he denounced the proceedings as a “sham trial” and asked for US President Donald Trump and the leaders of Britain, Canada and Ireland to take “decisive action.”

Whelan’s lawyer, Vladimir Zherebenkov, said an appeal would be made against the verdict. Questioning the court’s independence, Whelan’s family said in a statement “Russian judges are political not legal entities.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Washington was furious and wanted Moscow to immediately free Whelan.

“The United States is outraged by the decision of a Russian court today to convict US citizen Paul Whelan after a secret trial, with secret evidence, and without appropriate allowances for defense witnesses,” said Pompeo.

“The treatment of Paul Whelan at the hands of Russian authorities has been appalling. Russia failed to provide Mr. Whelan with a fair hearing before an independent and impartial tribunal; and during his detention has put his life at risk by ignoring his long-standing medical condition; and unconscionably kept him isolated from family and friends.”

John Sullivan, US Ambassador to Russia, told reporters that no evidence had been produced to prove Whelan’s guilt during what he called a mockery of justice. The ruling would not have “a good impact” on ties between Moscow and Washington — already strained by a range of issues — but that dialogue would continue, he said.

Prisoner swap?

Zherebenkov said Whelan was told when he was detained that he would be part of a prisoner swap with the United States and that he believed this was what Moscow now wanted to do.

The Russian Foreign Ministry told the Russian news agency RIA it had proposed detailed prisoner swaps to Washington many times but gave no further details.

Moscow has called for the release of two Russians jailed in the United States — arms dealer Viktor Bout, who agreed to sell weapons to US undercover agents posing as Colombian guerrillas planning to attack American soldiers, and Konstantin Yaroshenko, who was convicted of conspiracy to smuggle cocaine.

Zherebenkov said he believed Moscow wanted to do a deal involving Bout and Yaroshenko. Whelan did not oppose the idea of formally asking Russia to pardon him, Zherebenkov said, but wanted to appeal against the verdict first.

Bout’s wife, Alla, told the RIA news agency on Monday she was ready to pen an appeal to US authorities asking them to swap her husband for Whelan.

A New York court in 2012 sentenced Bout, subject of a book called “Merchant of Death” and inspiration for the film “Lord of War” starring Nicolas Cage, to 25 years in jail.

Whelan will serve his sentence in a maximum security prison, the court said. State prosecutors had sought an 18-year term.

By Andrew Osborn and Susan Heavey/Reuters

Grupos latinos luchan contra medidas restrictivas para los votantes mientras se acercan las elecciones en Estados Unidos

Grupos latinos luchan contra medidas restrictivas para los votantes mientras se acercan las elecciones en Estados Unidos

Se están llevando a cabo numerosos esfuerzos para restringir a los votantes latinos y negros en todo el país, debido especialmente a que en este momento los estadounidenses blancos representan una parte decreciente del electorado. Y con la pandemia de COVID-19 que marca este proceso electoral, los grupos de activistas temen que la situación puede empeorar.

By
Daisy Contreras

Un votante emite su voto en el Departamento de Bomberos Voluntarios de Flushing en Flushing, Ohio, el supermartes 6 de marzo de 2012.

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Este artículo, publicado originalmente en Inglés, es parte de nuestra serie “Every 30 Seconds” , producida con el apoyo de la Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

En el otoño de 2018, Alejandro Rangel-López, entonces estudiante de último año en la Dodge City High School, en Kansas, se unió con otros amigos para hacer una campaña de registro de votantes en las reuniones de padres y profesores, de modo que pudieran votar en las elecciones de mitad de período.

En ese contexto, alguien le solicitó verificar en línea el estado de su registro de votante. Rangel-López revisó el local de votación y notó que había un problema. “Lo que apareció no fue el centro cívico, que es donde la gente normalmente votaba aquí en la ciudad, sino que el centro de exposiciones, que se encuentra fuera de los límites de la ciudad”, cuenta el joven. 

Sin embargo, no era un error. El propio Secretario del Condado de Ford había modificado el único local de votación de Dodge City, que atiende a 13.000 votantes. Las autoridades locales indicaron que la medida se debió a una obra en construcción, pero a solo cuatro semanas de las elecciones de mitad de período, muchos se mostraron escépticos con respecto a la explicación ofrecida. 

Rangel-López manifestó su preocupación por el impacto de este cambio de local de votación sobre el voto latino de su ciudad. Cabe señalar que el 60% de la población de Dodge City es latina y muchos de los latinos trabajan en las plantas empacadoras de carne. 

“Esto disminuiría aún más la participación de los latinos, al localizarlos en un lugar que sería muy inconveniente y a trasmano, incluso si quisieran ir a votar”.

Alejandro Rangel-López residente, Dodge City, Kansas

“Esto disminuiría aún más la participación de los latinos, al localizarlos en un lugar que sería muy inconveniente y a trasmano, si quisieran ir a votar”, precisó.

Así, la Unión Estadounidense de Libertades Civiles (ACLU, por sus siglas en inglés) de Kansas y la Liga de Ciudadanos Latinoamericanos Unidos (LULAC, por sus siglas en inglés) de Kansas demandaron al Secretario del Condado de Ford por cambiar el local de votación con tan poca anticipación y argumentaron que se estarían violando los derechos constitucionales y civiles de los votantes de Dodge City. Rangel-López se hizo parte de la demanda y se convirtió en el representante de los votantes latinos en Dodge City, que tenían miedo de perder sus trabajos si se manifestaban. Inicialmente, un juez federal desestimó el caso. 

Lo que sucedió en Dodge City es solo un ejemplo de las restricciones que se imponen a los votantes latinos y negros en todo el país, debido especialmente a que en este momento los estadounidenses blancos representan una parte decreciente del electorado. Y con la pandemia de COVID-19 que marca este proceso electoral, los grupos de activistas temen que la situación puede empeorar.

Se espera que aproximadamente 32 millones de latinos puedan votar en las elecciones generales de noviembre, lo que los convierte en el grupo minoritario de votantes más grande del país, de acuerdo con el Centro de Investigación Pew. Por primera vez, habrá más latinos que negros con derecho a voto. Los grupos pro derechos civiles y compromiso cívico están trabajando para garantizar que los latinos tengan, efectivamente, acceso a las elecciones. 

Los gobiernos estatales pueden evitar que las personas voten de muchas maneras diferentes, denunció Arturo Vargas, presidente del Fondo Educativo NALEO, un grupo que tiene el objetivo de fomentar el compromiso cívico de los latinos. Dos ejemplos de ello son el requisito de que los votantes tengan ciertas identificaciones con foto y el establecimiento de filtros en las listas de votantes.

“Y luego hay otros errores no intencionales que terminan por desmotivar a los votantes, como la reducción del período de votación anticipada”, añadió Vargas.

Estas tácticas se han intensificado desde 2013. Ese año, en un caso histórico de la Corte Suprema, Shelby County versus Holder, el tribunal eliminó las protecciones clave para los votantes contenidas en la Ley federal de derecho de voto de 1965: el tribunal ratificó la decisión de un tribunal inferior que indicaba que algunas de las protecciones estaban desactualizadas y determinó que los gobiernos locales y estatales ya no necesitan aprobación federal para aprobar leyes sobre votación o elecciones. Los opositores, por su parte, argumentaron que eliminar las protecciones crearía barreras para los votantes que pertenecen a grupos minoritarios en estados con antecedentes de discriminación.

De hecho, la ley original se estableció para garantizar que no se negara el derecho del voto a los votantes negros. Ahora, sin supervisión federal, los gobiernos locales pueden adoptar prácticas restrictivas de votación, advierte Vargas. Por eso, agrega, se espera que se presenten más demandas con el objetivo de anular estas prácticas antes de las elecciones de noviembre.

“En algunos estados hemos tenido éxito al intentar retirar algunas de estas políticas y prácticas restrictivas para los votantes”.

Arturo Vargas, presidente del Fondo Educativo NALEO

“En algunos estados hemos tenido éxito al intentar retirar algunas de estas políticas y prácticas restrictivas para los votantes”, indicó el presidente de NALEO. 

Los grupos como ACLU y LULAC lideran la lucha para garantizar que los votantes minoritarios tengan un acceso justo al proceso eleccionario. LULAC, la organización hispana más antigua en Estados Unidos, fue codemandante en el caso Dodge City en 2018 y el mes pasado presentó otra demanda, ahora contra funcionarios de Texas, en la que argumentó que las políticas del estado sobre el voto por correo violan la Constitución.

En Texas, las personas deben estar discapacitadas, servir en el ejército o tener más de 65 años para votar por correo. El argumento a favor de estos requisitos es que la votación por correo solo debe estar disponible para los votantes que físicamente no pueden llegar a las urnas, explicó Domingo García, presidente nacional de LULAC. Sin embargo, él considera que esas condiciones desincentivan a algunos votantes, incluidos aquellos que pertenecen a grupos minoritarios y los más jóvenes. Actualmente, con el coronavirus, los grupos como LULAC argumentan que hay aún más razones para permitir la votación por correo.

“No sé si la abuelita o la tía, el abuelo y el tío van a arriesgar sus vidas para esperar una hora, dos horas, tres horas para votar”, se pregunta García.

Vargas, por su parte, reconoce que los votantes latinos históricamente prefieren votar presencialmente, pero tampoco ve otra opción que ampliar el acceso a la votación por correo a medida que se acercan las elecciones generales. 

En este sentido, especifica que “si los arreglos de la votación por correo no son acompañados por campañas de educación pública muy sólidas para educar adecuadamente a los votantes latinos sobre cómo votar por correo, esto puede levantar más barreras para que las personas puedan votar, ya que es mucho menos probable que los latinos hayan tenido experiencias de voto por correo en comparación con los no latinos”.

Como antecedente, a fines de mayo, un juez de distrito de EE. UU. permitió el voto por correo a las personas que quieren evitar el riesgo de contagiarse con el coronavirus. Sin embargo, una instancia de apelación suspendió la medida días después. 

Debido a esto, García indica que le gusta centrarse en pequeñas victorias y que el siguiente estado en el que LULAC centrará sus acciones es Arizona. Finaliza su reflexión contando que es un eterno optimista, pues “sigo pensando que mañana las cosas serán mejores para José y María en Main Street, y para Billy Bob y Mary Sue en Main Street”.

“Sigo pensando que mañana las cosas serán mejores para José y María en Main Street, y para Billy Bob y Mary Sue en Main Street”.

Domingo García, presidente nacional, LULAC

Otra victoria se remonta al caso Dodge City. Tomó dos años, pero la ciudad ahora tiene tres locales de votación. Rangel-López, el demandante, que ahora tiene 19 años, se alegra por este resultado, pero dice que las restricciones que se imponen a los votantes en otros lugares son reales. Por eso, manifiesta estar “muy preocupado por lo que va a pasar, y debería prestarse mucha más atención a este problema de lo que se le presta actualmente”.

Este año, Rangel-López votará por primera vez en una elección presidencial. Él ha estado reflexionando sobre sus logros como estudiante de secundaria hace dos años con el caso legal sobre los locales de votación y señala que ha llegado a la conclusión de que “nunca eres demasiado joven para ser políticamente activo o para participar del cambio en tu comunidad, en tu estado o en el país”.

Esta es la lección que aprendió Rangel-López. Ahora, él quiere asegurarse de que otros jóvenes también la aprendan.

Traducción al español por Melissa Harkin y Mónica Ramírez.

Trump escalates attacks on International Criminal Court over Afghanistan investigation

Trump escalates attacks on International Criminal Court over Afghanistan investigation

By
Rupa Shenoy

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaks about a Trump administration executive order on the International Criminal Court as Defense Secretary Mark Esper listens during a joint news conference at the State Department in Washington, June 11, 2020.

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When war crimes happen, and victims can’t get justice in their own country, there’s one place they can go: the International Criminal Court in The Hague. But now, that same court is being challenged by the Trump administration.

On Thursday, President Donald Trump issued an executive order placing visa restrictions and economic sanctions on members of the ICC and their families.

Related: What South Africa can teach the US about racial justice and reconciliation

He said he took that action because of the ICC’s investigation into alleged atrocities by US military members in Afghanistan. In March, judges at the ICC gave prosecutors the go-ahead to look into possible torture and other war crimes.

“As US investigations by the military, by the Congress make clear, United States citizens did commit serious violations of international law.”

Katherine Gallagher represents two individuals who remain detained at Guantanamo Bay without charge

“As US investigations by the military, by the Congress make clear, United States citizens did commit serious violations of international law,” said Katherine Gallagher, who represents two individuals who remain detained at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp without charge. “But we’ve seen for the past two decades no investigations and no prosecutions of senior US officials.”

Therefore, Gallagher said it’s appropriate for the ICC to be investigating US military members. But the Trump administration has long opposed the investigation, and US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the president has now taken steps that will hopefully stop it. The administration is also concerned about the possibility of the ICC investigating Israel’s actions in Palestinian territories.

“We cannot and we will not stand by as our people are threatened by a kangaroo court,” Pompeo said, “and indeed, I have a message to many close allies around the world: Your people could be next.”

Related: Trump proposes harsh asylum rules disqualifying many applicants

Pompeo said the president is holding the ICC accountable for exceeding its mandate, engaging in a politically motivated investigation, and challenging US sovereignty. Attorney General Bill Barr took it a step further, announcing an investigation by the Department of Justice into the ICC.

“The US government has reason to doubt the honesty of the ICC,” Barr said, adding that the DOJ has “substantial credible information” of a long history of corruption and malfeasance at the ICC.

“Worse yet, we are concerned that foreign powers like Russia are also manipulating the ICC in pursuit of their own agenda.”

But that concern was rejected by Stephen Rapp, who was US ambassador-at-large for war crimes during the Obama administration.

“I mean, this is just absolutely preposterous,” Rapp said. “These are allegations with no proof whatsoever.”

Rapp said that the Obama administration held off an ICC investigation into Afghanistan war crimes by showing the court that they were looking into it themselves. But now, by openly opposing the ICC, he said the Trump administration is undermining the global community’s ability to bring war criminals to justice.

“We’re wounding ourselves, frankly, and making ourselves less of a leader when it comes to upholding human rights in the world.” 

Stephen Rapp, US ambassador-at-large for war crimes during the Obama administration

“We’re wounding ourselves, frankly, and making ourselves less of a leader when it comes to upholding human rights in the world,” he said.

Related: Shocked Afghans ask why perpetrators targeted a maternity hospital and a funeral 

Trump administration officials point out the United States isn’t a member of the ICC, but the country has worked regularly with the international court to bring war criminals to justice. And the court has the mandate to prosecute crimes committed in any of the 123 countries that are a part of the ICC, including Afghanistan.

“It boils down to the fundamental of — you can’t escape accountability when you go elsewhere and commit crimes,” said Akila Radhakrishnan, president of the Global Justice Center. “We need to cut through the veneer of what’s really driving what this is, which is a fundamental position of the US government that it should not be held accountable, and its closest ally, Israel, shouldn’t be held accountable.”

The new US sanctions on ICC personnel probably won’t stop the court’s investigation of war crimes in Afghanistan, said Nancy Combs, a human rights lawyer at the College of William and Mary Law School.

“Once the United States comes out with guns blaring this way and tries to intimidate the court in the way that it has, one might expect a counterproductive response; the ICC prides itself on its independence. And so now, if it were to not bring prosecutions against the United States, it might look as though it’s been intimidated,” she said.

Related: Iranian border guards allegedly drowned 45 Afghan migrants. Their families want answers.

The International Criminal Court has released a statement that says it stands by its staff and its commitment to justice. O-Gon Kwon, president of the ICC’s oversight and legislative body, the Assembly of States Parties, said he’s convening a meeting next week for the group to consider how to renew its “unwavering commitment to the Court.” 

The other pandemic worsening coronavirus? Obesity.

The other pandemic worsening coronavirus? Obesity.

By
Marc Sollinger

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Cardiologist Dariush Mozaffarian believes the government should be telling people to eat healthier to combat obesity. 

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There are a lot of possible explanations for why Japan has weathered the COVID-19 pandemic better than the United States. It’s possible that the Japanese are more used to wearing masks, that the government used contact tracing to more effectively to contain outbreaks, and that handshakes aren’t a widespread cultural practice. But according to Dariush Mozaffarian, a cardiologist and the dean of the Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, one of the major reasons Japan is dealing with the coronavirus more successfully than the United States is because of another problem: obesity.

America has one of the highest rates of obesity in the developed world, and Japan has one of the lowest. And it’s obesity that’s making America’s response to COVID-19 much more difficult. 

Related: Food waste increases during the pandemic — compounding an existing problem

How difficult? According to a recent study of COVID-19 hospitalizations in New York City, it’s a major concern. Mozaffarian explains that, “if someone has moderate obesity … they’re about four-fold more likely to be hospitalized, if they have severe obesity … they have a six-fold higher risk of being hospitalized.” Obesity was more important in determining hospitalization than high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and kidney disease. In fact, after age, it was the biggest factor driving hospitalizations.

And that means America is uniquely vulnerable.

“Three in four American adults are overweight or obese. So very few of us are actually healthy, and COVID-19 is basically like pouring gasoline on a smoldering fire.”

Dariush Mozaffarian, cardiologist and dean at Tufts University

“About half of all American adults have diabetes or pre-diabetes,” Mozaffarian said. “Three in four American adults are overweight or obese. So very few of us are actually healthy, and COVID-19 is basically like pouring gasoline on a smoldering fire.” In his opinion, we are facing the intersection of two tragedies, one fast- moving, COVID-19, and one that’s been building for decades, obesity. 

Related: Pandemic exposes ‘major vulnerabilities’ in the American food system, says author Michael Pollan

What can we do now? According to Mozaffarian, a surprising amount. 

“People think that if you’re obese, it takes years and years to deal with that and get healthy,” he said. “But many well-controlled trials have shown that if you’re overweight or obese and have poor metabolic health, and you just change what you eat … within four to six weeks, [there are] dramatic improvements in many metabolic parameters.”

Increased physical activity can help too, he says.

Mozaffarian is quick to point out that some Americans don’t have access to affordable, healthy food, which makes following his advice difficult. However, for those who are able to improve their diets, Mozaffarian believes that, at the very least, the government should be telling people to eat healthier — much as hand-washing and mask-wearing is encouraged.

And Mozaffarian says Americans could do a lot more than that. Before COVID-19, obesity was already a huge crisis, killing more people worldwide than car crashes, and costing America hundreds of billions of dollars. That’s why Mozaffarian thinks it’s time for a moonshot on diet — a concerted effort to address obesity in the United States. 

Related: Migrant farmworkers in US deemed essential — but lack basic protections

The three ways Mozaffarian would change the status quo are, on their face, pretty simple. First, he wants the government to create a nationwide response: an office of food and nutrition whose director can report directly to the president. Second, he says we need to make sure that the vast amount of money that is spent on health care also impacts how we eat. According to the CDC, on average, over $10,000 is spent on health care for every person in America. Considering how much our diet affects our health, Mozaffarian believes it makes sense to spend some of that money ensuring everyone has healthy food. And finally, he thinks there needs to be more research on diet and nutrition. Knowing more about the issue will help us address the crisis. 

Addressing the obesity crisis — a slow-moving pandemic — will improve our ability to deal with COVID-19, as well as future pandemics.

Follow Marc Sollinger at @HarmonyInHead

Sweden’s handling of coronavirus drives some people to relocate    

Sweden’s handling of coronavirus drives some people to relocate    

Foreign residents in Sweden are reconsidering life in the Nordic country as a result of its light-handed approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

By
Orla Barry

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Allyson Plumberg and her family plan to return from Sweden to the United States. Plumberg says Sweden’s response to the coronavirus has changed the way she views life in the country. 

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Eva Panarese, from Italy’s Tuscany, used to dream about moving to Sweden. Her mother, who is Swedish, would recount stories about her home country when she was little.

Panarese thought it sounded like the perfect place to settle and raise a family. Two years ago, she made it happen, moving with her husband, Ilario Ripoli, and their two children, to Lund, a university city in the south of the country. Their home is pretty idyllic, she says.

Related: ‘Travel bubbles’: Who’s in and who’s out of the plan to save global tourism

“It’s a beautiful natural area. We have the beach five minutes away. A lake just across the road. So, it’s really a paradise.”

Eva Panarese from Italy, who lives in Sweden with her family

“It’s a beautiful natural area. We have the beach five minutes away. A lake just across the road. So, it’s really a paradise.”

But in late February, things changed. By then, countries across Europe were grappling with the novel coronavirus, closing their borders and heading into lockdown. But in Sweden, little changed. That lax response to the pandemic has led some foreigners, including Panarese, to rethink life in Sweden — some have even chosen to relocate.  

Panarese came back from a medical conference in Italy in February, and shortly afterward, her husband, who suffers from respiratory disease, and their son both became ill. At this stage, Italy, which would end up having one of the highest death rates in the world from the coronavirus, was only starting to wake up to the impact of the disease.

Related: In Spain after lockdown, soccer resumes for men — but not for women

Panarese worried she might have contracted the virus during her trip and passed it on to her family. As her son’s condition improved, Ripoli got worse, and he was taken to hospital. It was here that Panarese became truly alarmed. No one in the hospital was wearing a mask, she says, and nobody offered them a test for COVID-19.

“They didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know how to help us. They did not want to do the test — not on me because I was asymptomatic, which I can understand — but not even on my husband.”

The Swedish government appealed to its citizens to maintain social distancing and to stay home if they were sick. Gatherings of over 50 people were banned, and companies arranged for staff to begin working from home. But unlike the rest of Europe, Swedish shops, restaurants, gyms and schools remained open.

For Panarese, it created a dilemma. Under Swedish law, children are obliged to go to school, and keeping them home can lead to intervention by child protection services. But Panarese’s own children were terrified they would contract the virus at school and infect their father.

“They were feeling a little bit like, ‘Oh my gosh, if I go to school and then I come back, I can kill my father.’”

Eva Panarese from Italy, who lives in Sweden with her family

“They were feeling a little bit like, ‘Oh my gosh, if I go to school and then I come back, I can kill my father.’”

Panarese defied the law and kept her children, who are 12 and 15, at home. But the experience has changed how she views the country. And she’s not alone.

Related: Table for One in Sweden is an ode to solo dining

Keith Begg from Limerick, Ireland, moved to Stockholm for love seven years ago. As the virus spread, Begg heard from family members back home about the strict lockdown Ireland was undertaking. Irish friends told him they felt a moral obligation to shut down the country in order to protect their elderly and more vulnerable people.

Keith Begg and his husband Cristian Pettersson are pictured in Dalarna County, north of Stockholm. 

 

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Courtesy of Keith Begg 

Begg says the sense of national unity he was hearing about in his native country seemed absent in his adopted city, where the attitude was practically “hedonistic.”

“There were packed bars, packed restaurants and cafes. The attitude here was just simply, ‘Sure, we might as well go out because we’re going to get the virus anyway.’”

Keith Begg from Limerick, Ireland, who lives in Sweden with his husband

“There were packed bars, packed restaurants and cafes. The attitude here was just simply, ‘Sure, we might as well go out because we’re going to get the virus anyway.’”

Begg’s concern was initially very much in the minority. Support for the Swedish government’s approach in March was high. Frustrated, Begg set up a focus group of medical experts, teachers, parents and human rights activists to counteract the government’s stance. But his actions have come at a cost: Friends on Facebook sent him hate messages, while former colleagues blocked him. Begg says he has lost nearly all of his Swedish friends, some he has known for over 20 years.

Related: Swedish town uses chicken manure to disperse crowds — and stop spread of coronavirus

“They think I’m crazy. So many of us expats have been seen as hysterical. We’ve had every expletive thrown at us.”

Begg believes the Swedish government’s strategy is driven primarily by economics, and the result, he says, is a society which is both “morally and ethically bankrupt.”

He has been socially isolating with his husband, Cristian Pettersson, who’s Swedish, since March.

Allyson Plumberg, who’s originally from Minneapolis, and her family have also been sheltering in place in Lund. They moved there two years ago when her husband, a physicist, was offered a job at the local university. At first, Plumberg says she loved the simplicity of life in Sweden with its strong emphasis on family-friendly policies. But she says the pandemic has shown her a different side of Swedish society.

Like Panarese, some of Plumberg’s friends have come into conflict with the education authorities for wanting to keep their children out of school for fear they will infect an at-risk relative.

“It’s really ironic that Sweden, which has this philosophy of equality for all, is being so deeply undermined for families right now during the pandemic.”

Allyson Plumberg, originally from Minneapolis, whose family plans to leave Sweden

“It’s really ironic that Sweden, which has this philosophy of equality for all, is being so deeply undermined for families right now during the pandemic.”

When Plumberg and her two small children go to the local grocery store, they are often met with stares, she says. They are the only customers wearing face masks. Plumberg makes them herself as she cannot find any on sale locally.

While support for the government’s approach had been markedly high, new opinion polls show attitudes are changing as the death rate has climbed. Sweden currently has one of the highest death rates per capita in the world, and recent polls show public support at less than 50%.

Chief epidemiologist Anders Tegnell, who is credited with driving Sweden’s strategy, said in an interview with SR, the Swedish state broadcaster, that too many people had died. But he did not apologize for the government’s tactics. Nearly half of those deaths have occurred in Swedish care homes.

Anna Douglas, who is from Scotland and supports the Swedish approach, believes that long-standing problems in nursing homes contributed to those deaths. She says the way the homes are run, and in particular, how they employ staff are key issues, with many workers on zero-hours contracts — meaning they have no guarantee of work. 

“You have a high exchange of people. You have people who are unwilling to be off sick if they are not feeling a hundred percent, and therefore, they come to work and potentially can spread this disease.”

Douglas says her family back in Scotland was worried when they saw Sweden defying the lockdown trend. She worried, too, but she believes the government is taking a more sustainable approach and looking at how to live with a pandemic in the longer term. The Swedish strategy empowers people to take responsibility for themselves and others, she says.

“I think mostly it’s treating people as adults. Giving people the responsibility to take judgments and decisions themselves. This isn’t something that the government can fix for us; it’s something that we all have to do together.“

Anna Douglas, from Scotland, living in Sweden

“I think mostly it’s treating people as adults. Giving people the responsibility to take judgments and decisions themselves. This isn’t something that the government can fix for us; it’s something that we all have to do together.“

Laura Servant, who is originally from Paris, agrees. She moved to Stockholm less than a year ago with her husband and two young children. She was relieved to be in Sweden and not France when the virus spread through Europe. Paris imposed one of the toughest lockdowns worldwide, and Servant says the stress of being stuck indoors for so long has had a severe impact on people’s mental health that is not being sufficiently acknowledged. She says she appreciates the freedom she has.

Laura Servant took a selfie at the playground. 

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Courtesy of Laura Servant

“I am feeling very blessed and very lucky to have this freedom. If I want to go to the park, I can go to the park without fearing policemen arresting me and asking me why I’m here.”

But Servant does not want to see visitors from other parts of Europe coming to experience those freedoms. She says people in Sweden are being generally cautious, adding that she’s still unable to visit her family back home.

“No, I don’t think it’s fair for them to think they can come here and do tourism, because I won’t be able to visit my family in a long time.”

Plumberg will be seeing her family sooner than expected. She is planning on moving back to the US this summer. Plumberg says although her husband’s contract in Sweden is coming to an end, that’s not the only reason they’re leaving: The Swedish attitude to the pandemic changed how they viewed the Nordic country and their future life there.

Begg has also begun applying for jobs back in Ireland. He says despite having Swedish citizenship, he can no longer imagine living in Stockholm long term. 

For Panarese, it’s an emotional and financial struggle. Her family bought a house for the first time in their lives, she says, and leaving now will lead to a considerable economic headache. But Panarese admits she is looking across the border to neighboring Denmark and seriously contemplating moving there. Sweden was the country she thought she would grow old and die in, she says, but now that no longer seems possible.

‘Travel bubbles’: Who’s in and who’s out of the plan to save global tourism

'Travel bubbles': Who’s in and who’s out of the plan to save global tourism

"Travel bubbles" are popping up around the world in an attempt to revitalize tourism economies.

By
Bianca Hillier

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Passengers wait for a regional train at the main train station in Berlin during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Berlin, Germany, June 10, 2020.

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The coronavirus pandemic has brought leisure travel to a standstill. International tourism could decline by up to 80% this year, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organization. Now, just as the Northern Hemisphere enters the summer season, governments around the world are trying to revitalize their tourism economies.

“The idea to start reallowing travel is not to open up all borders to everybody, but that countries form free travel zones,” said Per Block, an Oxford University researcher in social mobility. 

“Free travel zones” — also known as “corona corridors” and “travel bubbles” — are agreements with neighboring regions that allow for travel across borders for non-essential trips without quarantining upon arrival.

Related: Baltic ‘bubble’ looks to reopen regional travel

Countries don’t need to have zero cases of COVID-19 to form a travel bubble, but all countries involved should be at a similar stage of reopening, Block said.

“Travel is slowly being allowed again, even though their caseload is nowhere near zero.”

Per Block, researcher, Oxford University

“That’s what’s happening in many European countries,” Block said. “Travel is slowly being allowed again, even though their caseload is nowhere near zero.”

A report last month from the European Commission recommends this strategy for European Union member-states. Spain, Italy, Greece and Portugal are among the countries that have agreed to opening their borders to travelers from the EU. Norway and Denmark, meanwhile, have opened their borders just to each other, leaving other Scandinavian countries out of immediate plans.

Beyond Europe, travel bubbles are also popping up. People in Singapore and select Chinese provinces can now travel for business without having to quarantine for 14 days. Travelers will be subject to COVID-19 tests before and after flying, and will be required to use an app that tracks their movements during the trip.

Tourists pose for photos at a Three Sisters rock formation lookout in Blue Mountains National Park in the wake of regional travel re-opening as the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions are eased in New South Wales, in Katoomba, Australia, June 5, 2020.

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Loren Elliott/Reuters

Australia and New Zealand were among the first to discuss the idea of a travel bubble. Both countries have been praised for their handling of the pandemic, and New Zealand even announced zero active cases of the disease this week.

Related: New Zealand is free of COVID-19

But New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Kiwis aren’t ready to welcome in Aussies just yet.

“We need to be assured that when we open up to Australia, we can do that with confidence.”

Jacinda Ardern, New Zealand prime minister 

“We need to be assured that when we open up to Australia, we can do that with confidence. There are still cases in Australia. So we do need to be careful,” Ardern said at a press conference on Monday. “They’re not quite in the position New Zealand is in.”

The European Commission shares that caution. A report this week announced that travelers coming from outside the EU will not be allowed into EU member states for non-essential travel through June 30. Spokesperson Sonya Gospodinova says a plan to loosen the travel restrictions is being developed.

“We are looking ahead to resuming the travel from outside the EU very shortly,” Gospodinova said. “Possibly in July.”

Related: After lockdown, Milan plans to open streets to cyclists, pedestrians

Like the kind made of soap and water, travel bubbles are fragile. The United States has one of the worst infection rates in the world, and the lack of widespread testing and contact tracing might doom its chances of being invited into any travel bubble at this point — even with its closest neighbors.

“I think it’s simply inarguable that we in Canada stand to gain very little by opening the border to the United States.”

Amir Attaran, professor, University of Ottawa

“I think it’s simply inarguable that we in Canada stand to gain very little by opening the border to the United States,” said Amir Attaran, a professor of law and epidemiology at the University of Ottawa. “I don’t particularly think Canada is a success to which the United States should compare itself. We have failed too. We just have not failed as badly as you have.”

Related: Niagara Falls off-limits to Americans as US-Canada border is closed

Those in favor of reopening the border point to Canada’s reliance on the US for tourism. According to the Tourism Industry Association of Canada, nearly 70% of people visiting the country come from the US. But Attaran says the marketplace can’t operate without a healthy population.

“Americans need to get quite realistic about this,” he said. “Unless you get this disease under control quickly, it’s not just the end of your economy — it’s the end of your country, really.”

Racism against African Americans in China escalates amid coronavirus

Racism against African Americans in China escalates amid coronavirus

In mid-April, reports of “imported cases” of COVID-19 from abroad stoked fears and prejudices in the country.

By
Rebecca Kanthor

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Women wearing protective face masks are seen in a bus, following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Shanghai, June 9, 2020. 

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Four years ago, JC, a teacher and poet from Mississippi, moved to China with her husband and two children on a grand adventure. Now, she teaches literature to high schoolers in Guangzhou.    

“It was going to be an opportunity for us to, I mean, essentially experience the American dream that’s easier to find in other places than it is in America,” JC said.

Related: A massive Asian drug bust has stirred a fentanyl mystery

But she says life has changed amid the coronavirus pandemic. In mid-April, reports of “imported cases” of COVID-19 from abroad triggered a wave of anti-foreigner sentiment across China, especially toward black people. 

‘We’ve paid our rent, we have legal status in the country and yet we’re being evicted and given an hour to leave’ – the words of members of the #African community in #Guangzhou pic.twitter.com/rqIKmSC70z

— Black Livity China (@BlackLivityCN) April 9, 2020

JC, an African American, was among those targeted in Guangzhou as fears of the coronavirus being brought in by foreigners escalated.

“It was scary here for a while. People made it very clear that they were fearful of us and didn’t want us around. People were being harassed and people were being turned away at restaurants, or people would go to restaurants and everyone would get up and leave. You know, just very dehumanizing things.”

JC, African American woman in China

“It was scary here for a while,” said JC, who asked that her full name not be used for privacy reasons. “People made it very clear that they were fearful of us and didn’t want us around. People were being harassed and people were being turned away at restaurants, or people would go to restaurants and everyone would get up and leave. You know, just very dehumanizing things,” she said.

JC and her family stayed indoors to keep safe.

Related: America’s BLM protests find solidarity in South Korea

Another African American woman living in Guangzhou says she’s had similar experiences in the wake of the virus.

Six years ago, BR, from Philadelphia, who also asked not to disclose her full name, moved to the city for a short-term teaching job and wound up staying. She built up her own educational consulting business and brought over her 9-year-old nephew whom she takes care of.

After a year, she stayed on.

“I was just thinking that there was nothing in America for me.”

BR, African American woman in China

“I was just thinking that there was nothing in America for me,” she said.

China offered them something else.

But China has its own brand of racism — one that’s mixed with waves of anti-foreigner nationalism. JC and BR say that they sometimes get stared at on the streets, or people move away from them on the subway. There is hiring discrimination that favors white foreigners over Asian or black people.

As the coronavirus outbreak became a global pandemic, fear of the virus being brought back into China from abroad made things much worse for foreigners, especially black foreigners. There were reports that a Nigerian patient in Guangzhou had attacked someone and that created a panic.

Related: Millennials in China reexamine their spending habits as economy recovers

Black people were targeted, no matter their nationality. They were refused taxi rides, banned from supermarkets, forced to quarantine in their homes, hospital isolation rooms, or even sleep on the streets after being kicked out of their apartments.

Around this time, BR saw a viral video shot at a McDonald’s where she’d sometimes eat. An employee was holding up a sign that said, in English, “black people are not allowed.” BR sent the video to a Chinese client with whom she was friendly.

The woman’s reply saddened BR.

“What she said was, ‘Why are you always upset about these things?’ At that point, I just felt like I didn’t have an ally.”

One day, BR and other foreign teachers were blocked from leaving the campus where they were working and living.

“The guard just held his hand up, like, ‘Stop. No, you can’t pass.’ Even with all of my [documents], the university said I needed to leave — I just couldn’t do it.”

After a Chinese colleague intervened, all of the others stopped were able to leave except BR, the only black person among them. She was stuck on campus for weeks until the guards finally let her out. The reactions she got at that point surprised her.

Related: Concerns of structural racism ‘deeply existential,’ UN special rapporteur says

“I went out and people were nice to me, and I was like wow, this is amazing. So, now, when I go out, like, if I go out to walk the dog, the workers and everyone [are] smiling and coming over to talk to me. Where before, they were running away from me.”

The change started happening in response to outrage from African governments concerning “ongoing forceful testing and quarantine and maltreatment of African Nationals in China in general and in Guangdong Province in particular.”

News reports were broadcast around the world, and African governments confronted the Chinese government about the situation. China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs denied any racial discrimination, but the Guangzhou Office of Foreign Affairs issued a statement saying that businesses should treat all people equally, and they set up a hotline for foreigners. For example, if someone called the hotline to complain that they’d been turned away at a store, authorities would show up to resolve the problem.

According to JC, that statement and follow-through on the policy changed things.

“That only needed to happen for about a week before people started to chill. You know, you start serving some consequences for this, and this stuff stops.”

JC, African American woman in China

“That only needed to happen for about a week before people started to chill. You know, you start serving some consequences for this, and this stuff stops.”

Of course, discrimination hasn’t really stopped in Guangzhou, a city of 13 million people. But what BR found most disturbing was that people could change so abruptly in how they treated her, shunning her one day and welcoming her the next.

“I feel like I’m in the twilight zone. I don’t know who I’m going to face or what mood they’re going to be in that day based on what’s going on,” she said.

More recently, anti-racism protests have rocked the globe in response to the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Chinese state media is giving extensive coverage to violent protests roiling cities across the United States, while the unrest has also featured widely in Chinese social media.

BR and JC are watching closely. So are the Chinese people around them. After what BR went through, she doesn’t feel comfortable talking about what’s going on in the US.

JC and her students, on the other hand, are talking openly about the protests.

“I’ve definitely been grieving, on the verge of tears. Not able to sleep. It’s been hard. But my goodness, I have drawn so much energy from my students. The outpouring of love that I got from those students was tremendous,” she said.

She feels some guilt that she’s not in the US where she’d be protesting. But she’s found a sense of purpose in China.

“I have to remind myself there is pain all over the world. There’s misunderstanding all over the world. There’s racism all over the world; wherever you are, you can do work toward that because it’s everywhere.”

JC, African American woman in China

“I have to remind myself there is pain all over the world. There’s misunderstanding all over the world. There’s racism all over the world; wherever you are, you can do work toward that because it’s everywhere,” she said.

All in all, “I do feel safer outside of the US than I do at home. I feel safer in China — because no matter what anybody thinks, back at the end of the day, they can’t shoot me for it. And I can’t say that for living in the US,” JC said.

For BR, the past few months have changed everything. Now, she’s trying to figure out where she and her nephew can go next.

“We feel like we don’t have a home. Here is not that comfortable right now or maybe it hasn’t been for a while. And then also we can’t really call America home anymore, either. So, it’s just like, where do you go?”

Reuters contributed to this report. 

Twitter purges state-backed disinformation accounts; US sanctions ICC staff, Syria

Twitter purges state-backed disinformation accounts; US sanctions ICC staff, Syria

By
The World staff

A 3D printed Twitter logo is seen in front of a displayed cyber code in this illustration taken March 22, 2016.

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Dado Ruvic/Illustration/Reuters

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Top of The World — our morning news round up written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

Twitter has purged and archived more than 32,000 accounts linked to state-backed disinformation operations coming out of China, Russia and Turkey. All of the accounts have been removed for violations of Twitter’s platform manipulation policies, which prevent users from utilizing the platform “to artificially amplify or suppress information or engage in behavior that manipulates or disrupts people’s experience.”

Nearly 24,000 of the accounts Twitter purged were removed for pushing “deceptive narratives” about Hong Kong and “spreading geopolitical narratives favorable to the Communist Party of China.” The social media platform also removed more than 1,100 accounts linked to Russian state-backed political propaganda promoting President Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, and more than 7,300 accounts targeting users in Turkey with narratives favoring President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his party.

Earlier this week, the European Commission blamed Russia and China for engaging in “targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns,” with the goal of undermining democracies and projecting distorted views of China’s response to the pandemic. The commission called on social media companies to report monthly on how they are addressing COVID-19 misinformation. 

What The World is following

In an attempt to strong-arm the International Criminal Court and undermine an investigation into possible US war crimes, the Trump administration has authorized sanctions and new visa restrictions on ICC personnel. The tribunal has called the move “an unacceptable attempt to interfere with the rule of law and the Court’s judicial proceedings.” 

And in Syria, where the currency has fallen 70% since April, new US anti-war crimes sanctions could squeeze what remains of the country’s economy, devastating Syrians facing a horrific war and critical food shortages. In neighboring Lebanon, there are increased calls for the government to resign as the currency there depreciated by more than 25% in two days, and protesters took to the streets in some of the most widespread demonstrations in months.

Meanwhile, after countries and states pushed reopening, some are seeing concerning spikes in COVID-19 infections. More than 7.5 million people are confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 — and more than 2 million of those cases are in the US. 

 

Also: What South Africa can teach the US about racial justice and reconciliation

From The World

A massive Asian drug bust has stirred a fentanyl mystery

Barrels of chemicals seized from a drug lab in northern Myanmar.

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Myanmar’s Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control

A recent bust on the Myanmar-China border was too massive to fit inside any room. The police had to spread out their haul in a pasture. The seizure netted 18 tons of meth, mostly in the form of tiny pink pills, nearly 200 million of them stuffed into bulging sacks. But the story behind the raid is quite messy — one involving double-crossing traffickers, Chinese mafia and even the White House.

This Zimbabwe rom-com could be your next Netflix binge

Tendai Ryan Nguni and Tendaiishe Chitima star as Prince and Anesu in the Zimbabwean film, “Cook Off.”

Credit:

Courtesy of Bongani Kumbula/”Cook Off” 

Sometimes, you just need to kick back in front of the TV and watch a rom-com. Here’s a suggestion: “Cook Off.” It’s the story of a single mom who enters a TV cooking competition that might just change her life. And last week, it became the first film from Zimbabwe to get picked up by Netflix.

“It’s a huge milestone for Zimbabwe,” the film’s producer Joe Njagu told The World. “It’s the first time ever a film from this side has been seen on such a platform. For us, we see this as a chance to introduce Zimbabwean films to the world.”

Morning meme

Who knew bath time could be so much fun? 🐼🛀

Bath time for pandas pic.twitter.com/yj0YVJolyo

— Back To Nature (@backt0nature) June 11, 2020In case you missed itListen: The coronavirus crisis is pushing millions into extreme poverty

The coronavirus pandemic could set the planet back on decades worth of progress in securing access to food for millions of people living in poverty. And, protests against police brutality and racism in the US and elsewhere are resonating in South Africa, which has its own complicated history of police violence. Also, Russian emergency teams are still working to contain an oil spill in the Arctic before it reaches the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Don’t forget to subscribe to The World’s Latest Edition podcast using your favorite podcast player: RadioPublicApple PodcastsStitcherSoundcloudRSS.

What South Africa can teach the US about racial justice and reconciliation

What South Africa can teach the US about racial justice and reconciliation

"If you want to change, it has to start with an acknowledgment," says Stan Henkeman, executive director of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in Cape Town.

By
The World staff

Producer
Ariel Oseran

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A member of South Africa’s opposition party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), leads chants during a protest against the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police and Collins Khoza, who died after a confrontation with South African security forces enforcing the nationwide coronavirus disease lockdown, outside the US Embassy in Pretoria, South Africa, June 8, 2020. 

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Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters

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Protests against police brutality and racism are erupting all over the globe. That includes in some African nations, where thousands have been calling for justice for George Floyd.

In South Africa, it’s a reminder of its own complicated history of police violence. Twenty years ago, the end of apartheid was marked by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It was set up by the South African government after decades of institutionalized racism under apartheid. The commission gave thousands of people a chance to testify to the racism they experienced or perpetrated. 

At the funeral Tuesday for George Floyd, the black man who was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Democratic Rep. Al Green of Texas called for reconciliation for black people in the US. 

South Africa’s commission was headed by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

“We are a wounded people, because of the conflict of the past,” Tutu said at the commission’s first meeting. “No matter which side we stood, we all stand in need of healing. We on the commission are no super-human exceptions.”

Stan Henkeman is the executive director of the Institute for Justice and Reconciliation in Cape Town, South Africa. He spoke to The World’s host Marco Werman about what the US might learn from South Africa as it reckons with centuries’ worth of racial discrimination and inequality.

Related: South Africa’s imperfect progress, 20 years after the Truth & Reconciliation Commission

Marco Werman: Coming out of apartheid in the early 1990s, there were so many raw emotions after years of oppression. There was the specter of South Africa falling apart, even a race war. How did South Africa even get people to agree that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was the right way to go? How do you get people — black, white, different social classes — to buy into this?

Stan Henkeman: I think the first thing to say is that there was the [Nelson] Mandela factor. And Mandela proved to be the one person that every South African, irrespective of their background, was able to identify with. The second thing is to understand that the majority of South Africans are not white. And so you can imagine the idea of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was very appealing to them because there was so much suffering. And people just saw this as an opportunity to expose what had been happening, but also to close a chapter, a painful chapter of honesty. 

Having said that, the buy-in from the white community was not as enthusiastic. In fact, there were a number of white people who saw this as a witch hunt. 

So how did you approach that imbalance? And did you eventually get more buy-in from the white population of South Africa?

You know, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission is an outflow of an act of parliament to promote national reconciliation. White people, generally, even though their political parties agreed to it, were still skeptical. But as the commission progressed, the fact that it was transparent, it was on TV screens on a daily basis — I think that kind of helped make people understand that this is a genuine attempt to try and understand what happened.

Related: Concerns of structural racism are ‘deeply existential,’ UN special rapporteur says

And what were the stated objectives of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission once it started? 

The process was quite organized. There were three aspects to the commission. The one committee was the committee that investigated gross human rights violations. And the emphasis was on gross human rights violations because you can imagine every disadvantage South African had their human rights violated. Then there was a second committee that looked at the issue of amnesty, and that was always going to be a thorny one. And then the third committee had to look at reparations.

My sense is that the whole process was very highly charged and was very emotional for a lot of people, almost like a confessional of sins and victimization. Was there a prosecutorial aspect to any of this?

The only committee that kind of acted like a court was the amnesty committee. And what was really interesting was the fact that people who applied for amnesty did not have to do a public apology. I imagine that angered a number of people, but the idea was a way to get people to come and tell their side of the story. More than 7,000 people applied for amnesty, but only 1,700 received amnesty. Now, this is where a question comes in about prosecutions. And this is one area where I think that many South Africans would say we have failed because the prosecuting agencies did not follow through on the thousands of people who did not qualify for amnesty.

Related: 20 years on, South Africa’s remarkable constitution remains unfulfilled

The world looks at South Africa today, and apartheid, they see, is over. But now there is a profound class difference in South Africa that isn’t all about race. When you look at that reality, do you think it’s a failure of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

It is a bit unfair to blame the TRC for the problems of our country. I think the first thing we need to say about the TRC is that it was not going to be the silver bullet that’s going to solve the problem and that’s going to reconcile the country. It was the beginning of a process. And if you listen to people like Archbishop Desmond Tutu and others, that’s exactly how they understood it. Sadly, the rest of the country didn’t necessarily understand it in the same way.

If we look at the young people today, especially black, young people who are still experiencing the struggles of poverty, unemployment, and exclusion that their parents went through, they are extremely critical of the TRC. In fact, they call the TRC a whitewash of white atrocities.

I’m curious to know, Mr. Henkeman, as you look at what’s going on here in the US, what would you say America has to reckon here and what can Americans learn from South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission?

You know, if you want to change, it has to start with an acknowledgment. And I think that that’s probably where America has to start. Acknowledge the pain, how that pain gets transmitted generationally. And what happened to somebody in the 60s or even earlier affects young people today. And once that acknowledgment happens, then there should be a conversation. I’m not sure whether the US is ready for that conversation, because in South Africa, we have a black majority government. So there is a level of openness.

Now, whether they listen to us is another story, but at least there’s a willingness to have the conversation. I’m not sure how successful that will be in the States, because you can bring all the changes that you want, but if there’s no shift in attitude, in [the] worldview that we hold about other people, in people’s place in society — if that doesn’t shift, you know, you can make all these cosmetic changes, you will just have a perpetuation of the status quo.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Meet the young Latino voters of ‘Every 30 Seconds’

Meet the young Latino voters of 'Every 30 Seconds'

Approximately every 30 seconds, a Latino in the US turns 18. Young Latinos could swing the outcome of the 2020 US presidential election — if they come out to vote.

By
The World staff

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Clockwise, starting from the top left: Jacob Cuenca, Michelle Aguilar Ramirez, Brayan Guevara, Leticia Arcila, Adela Diaz, Izcan Ordaz, Yaneilys Ayuso and Marlene Herrera will vote for US president for the first time in the 2020 elections.

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Graphic by Maria Elena Romero/The World

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A record 32 million people who identify as Latino will be eligible to vote in the 2020 presidential election in November, according to the Pew Research Center. That’s just over 13% of the US electorate — surpassing eligible black voters for the first time and making Latinos the nation’s largest voter group after whites.

Latinos’ massive growth as a voting bloc is largely driven by youth coming of age. Approximately every 30 seconds, a Latino in the US turns 18 and becomes eligible to vote. Young Latinos could swing the outcome of the election — if they come out to vote. 

Every 30 Seconds” is a collaborative public media project led by The World that follows eight young Latino voters in different corners of the United States, reporting on the issues, concerns and challenges driving Latino decisionmaking and turnout for this election. 

These are their stories.

Yaneilys Ayuso, 18

For “Pink” Ayuso, one of the 3.1 million eligible Latino voters in Florida, the pandemic has underscored how difficult it is for immigrants in Miami — and across the country — to access health care.

Credit:

Jayme Gershen/The World

Yaneilys Ayuso, who just finished high school, grew up in the Miami neighborhood of Wynwood. 

Ayuso, who is of Cuban and Puerto Rican descent, identifies as non-binary. They have bright red hair that they call “Ariel mermaid hair” and wear huge hoop earrings and bulky pink glasses. Because of that, they go by the nickname Pink.

Until the coronavirus pandemic forced Ayuso to shelter in place, they spent much of the last year trying to encourage Florida youth to get involved in politics — canvassing and organizing get-out-the-vote parties.

Issues of interest: LGBTQ rights, Cuban and Puerto Rican issues and immigration

Read more: Pandemic makes social justice issues more personal for this young Florida voter

Izcan Ordaz, 18

Izcan Ordaz, who describes himself as more of a centrist in politics, says Texas conservatism has influenced him. He says his parents are more liberal than he is. Nearly 40% of Texas’ population is Latino, and about one in three eligible voters is Latino.

Credit:

Ben Torres/The World

Izcan Ordaz, who just finished his senior year of high school, lives with his parents in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Ordaz, a second-generation Mexican American, leans more conservative on some issues compared to his parents, who supported Bernie Sanders and are concerned about President Donald Trump’s rhetoric on immigration.

Until the coronavirus hit, Ordaz says he was primarily concerned with the cost of college and student loans. Now, he’s far more worried about the US economy and job insecurity — especially as the November election nears.

Ordaz says for now, he plans to vote for former Vice President Joe Biden. 

Issues of interest: Access to higher education, the economy, the conservative vote

Read more: This Latino teen voter worries about prom, graduation — and the economy

Adela Diaz, 18

Adela Diaz, part of Arizonas rapidly growing Latino population, says the coronavirus pandemic has brought a new urgency to her major, public health. Nearly a quarter of all eligible voters in Arizona are Latino, according to the Pew Research Center.

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Ash Ponders/The World

Adela Diaz, a college freshman studying public health at the University of Arizona in Tucson, is a second-generation Mexican American. She initially wanted to vote for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who dropped out of the race for the Democratic Party nominee. 

As the presidential campaign unfolds, Diaz is keeping an eye on one main issue: health care. She’s interested in the lack of health care access in minority communities — which is now magnified by the coronavirus pandemic.

Issues of interest: Health care disparities among Latinos, education, college access and affordability

Read more: The top issue for one Arizona first-time voter? Health care.

Brayan Guevara, 19

As an Afro Latino with roots in Honduras, Brayan Guevara straddles two groups whose votes candidates are fighting to capture: Latinos and blacks. Guevara wants to make sure his voice is heard at the ballot box. 

Credit:

Lynn Hey/The World

Brayan Guevara, a sophomore at Guilford Technical Community College in Greensboro, North Carolina, is a first-generation Honduran American who wants to become a teacher.

Guevara, who grew up in the Bronx neighborhood of New York, says his Afro Latino identity means everything to him. He feels candidates are vying for the black and Latino votes separately. He’s still trying to figure out how being Afro Latino, an identity he did not recognize until later in his life, shapes his political views.

Guevara is a registered Independent and undecided voter.

Issues of interest: Access to education, identity 

Read more: This first-time Afro Latino voter is undecided. His top issue? Education.

Leticia Arcila, 20

Leticia Arcila, a 20-year-old voter in Atlanta, Georgia, said health care is her top priority in a presidential candidate.

Credit:

Courtesy of Leticia Arcila

Leticia Arcila, a first-generation Mexican American, worked as a home health care worker before the pandemic hit.

Currently, Arcila, who comes from a family of mixed immigration status, doesn’t have health insurance. She lost her job due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Arcila’s parents are undocumented, and their application for US residency is pending. The decision will impact what happens to Leticia’s young sister, who has epilepsy. Their parents’ deportation could mean Arcila would have to take custody of her younger siblings. 

Issues of interest: Access to health care, immigration

Read more: For this young Latina voter, pandemic highlights the need for ‘Medicare for All’

Marlene Herrera, 17

Marlene Herrera is an undecided voter in California, a state where Latinos overwhelmingly support Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who recently dropped out of the presidential race.

Credit:

Adriana Heldiz/The World

Marlene Herrera, who just finished high school and lives in California, is on track to be the first person in her family to attend college this fall. She plans to study psychology at San Francisco State University. The third-generation Mexican American has a big question in her mind: How will she pay for it? 

Herrera is interested in how the US health care system will address the fallout of the coronavirus pandemic. Her top concern is how her uninsured family members will get access to health care. 

Those concerns are shaping how Herrera views the 2020 presidential election campaign. She initially considered voting for Democratic candidate Andrew Yang. Then she leaned toward Bernie Sanders, but after he dropped out of the race, she remains undecided.

Issues of interest: College access and affordability, health care access, US economy

Related: Coronavirus upended her family. But this Latina teen is determined to make her vote count.

Michelle Aguilar Ramirez, 17

Like many young Latinos in Seattle, Michelle Aguilar Ramirez leans Democrat. But she says she feels disenchanted by the presumed Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden.

Credit:

Jovelle Tamayo/The World

Michelle Aguilar Ramirez, who just completed her junior year of high school, is a first-generation Guatemalan American who lives in Kent, Washington. 

Aguilar worries how the pandemic will affect her family — particularly her mother, who is undocumented.

The coronavirus pandemic has only underscored the positive changes she wants to see for her family. Michelle, like most kids her age, is learning from home as schools remain closed. But she struggles to connect with her professors or classmates and keep track of her work deadlines. Every day feels eerily the same since she’s been isolating. 

Like many young Latinos in Seattle, Aguilar Ramirez leans toward the Democratic Party. But she feels disenchanted by the presumed Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden. 

Issues of interest: Climate change, immigration, mental health

Read more: Pandemic stress overshadows US election for this young Latina voter

Jacob Cuenca, 18

Jacob Cuenca, 18, is a registered Republican in Florida with misgivings about voting for US President Donald Trump in November. In a swing state as important as Florida, decisions made by young Latino voters like Cuenca could determine the entire election outcome.

Credit:

Jayme Gershen/The World

Jacob Cuenca, who just finished high school, is a registered Republican who lives outside of Miami, Florida. He planned to cast his first vote this November for President Donald Trump.

But three months into the coronavirus pandemic, the government’s response has not lived up to his expectations. Now, Cuenca finds himself torn between who he sees as two candidates he calls “incompetent”: Biden and Trump.

Cuenca’s mother is a Mexican American Democrat. His father, who is Cuban American, voted for Trump and leans more conservative. Cuenca says he came to espouse more conservative political beliefs through his own research and experiences. 

Issues of interest: Conservative vote, US response to the coronavirus pandemic

Read more: Trump’s pandemic response has this conservative Latino teen voter considering Biden
​​​​​​​

Trump proposes harsh asylum rules disqualifying many applicants

Trump proposes harsh asylum rules disqualifying many applicants

By
The World staff

Producer
Amanda McGowan

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US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents look at migrants who crossed illegally into El Paso, Texas, to turn themselves in to ask for asylum, as seen from Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, Sept. 18, 2019.

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Jose Luis Gonzalez/Reuters 

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On Thursday, the Trump administration issued a proposal that would dramatically reshape the asylum system in the United States.

The proposal includes a number of changes that would make it more difficult for applicants to gain asylum in the US — including changing which applicants would get asylum hearings in the first place. 

Applications based on people fleeing gangs, terrorists, “rogue” government officials or “non-state organizations” would no longer be recognized, meaning that those fleeing persecution from organizations like ISIS would not qualify for protection.

Last July, the Trump administration established another set of rules — requiring migrants fleeing their homelands to apply for asylum in one of the first countries they pass through. 

Related: Pandemic disrupts remittances, leaving immigrants’ families without lifelines 

Currently, asylum claims have essentially been halted by border closures after Donald Trump declared a public health emergency because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Luis Cortes-Romero is an immigration lawyer in Seattle. He spoke with The World’s host Marco Werman about the potential impact of the proposal. 

Marco Werman: How sweeping of a change is this, Luis, to our existing asylum system? And what was your reaction to the proposal?

Luis Cortes-Romero: This is a humongous structural change to the already very limited rights that asylum-seekers have. It does a lot to turn away recent arrival asylum applicants but also does a lot to erode the rights for people who are already in the United States who may want to seek asylum in the future.

Related: Greece’s new asylum law ‘poses continuous traps’ for refugees 

So, what are the details? How exactly would these proposed changes make it more difficult for migrants to claim asylum in the US?

It provides a lot of barriers and hurdles to even apply, and it makes it significantly easier and streamlined in order to deny their application. Let me give you some examples to be concrete: One of the things the proposal does is makes it so that anybody who has spent more than 14 days in any other country before coming to the United States … would be banned then from applying for asylum here. So, that applies to a lot of the Central American migrants or people who come from South America, [for] whom oftentimes, it takes them a month to get here.

Related: Migrants struck in Panama rainforest amid coronavirus

Right — I was going to say, if you’re on foot, 14 days — that’s pretty much that, right?

Yes, that’s that. It becomes a nonstarter for a lot of the migrants. Moreso for the recent arrivals, there’s an initial process called a credible fear process, where an officer will just determine kind of at first glance whether you have a credible fear of being persecuted in your country, and if so, then you can go ahead and apply for asylum with an immigration judge and the immigration court. The standard to be able to pass a credible fear interview is now significantly higher. And then even if you make it, the immigration judge now has the authority to completely deny your application without even a hearing if the immigration judge sees that he’s not likely or she’s not likely to grant the application.

Related: How the US immigration system nearly tore this LGBTQ couple apart  

We also need to discuss DACA here — Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, the program that allows undocumented immigrants who were brought to the US as minors to remain here to study or work. If the Supreme Court rules against DACA — we’re still waiting for some decision — could these new changes impact DACA recipients who try to seek asylum in the US?

One-hundred percent. If the Supreme Court strikes down DACA, what the heads of the Department of Homeland Security have made clear is that they do plan to place DACA recipients into removal proceedings, the process it takes for someone to be ultimately deported. That typically goes with a hearing before an immigration judge. The one lifeline that DACA recipients could have had to try to save themselves in removal proceedings is now being not only structurally changed but gutted from all its due process rights. So, ultimately, the consequence will be that once DACA recipients are placed in removal proceedings, the ability to fight your case to stay here now is significantly diminished from an already limited basis.

Related: Trump ended DACA. This woman is suing to stop him.

You yourself are a DACA recipient. You were also part of the legal team that argued to the Supreme Court for DACA’s continuation. How are you seeing this raft of restrictions once you look at the sum total?

Certainly, it’s going to be met with a lot of legal challenges because the fundamental notion that the United States has is the ability to be heard and the ability to have a fair proceeding. So, we think there’s going to be a lot of legal challenges, you know, challenging the stripping away of the basic due process rights that asylum-seekers might have, which ultimately may include DACA recipients in the future.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity. 

This Zimbabwe rom-com could be your next Netflix binge

This Zimbabwe rom-com could be your next Netflix binge

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Amanda McGowan

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Tendai Ryan Nguni and Tendaiishe Chitima star as Prince and Anesu in the Zimbabwean film, “Cook Off.”

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Courtesy of Bongani Kumbula/”Cook Off” 

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Sometimes you just need to kick back in front of the TV and watch a rom-com.

Here’s a suggestion: “Cook Off.” 

It’s the story of a single mom who enters a TV cooking competition that might just change her life. Last week, it became the first film from Zimbabwe to get picked up by Netflix.

Related: Brazilian Netflix film sets off censorship debate

“It’s a huge milestone for Zimbabwe. … It’s the first time ever a film from this side has been seen on such a platform. For us, we see this as a chance to introduce Zimbabwean films to the world.”

Joe Njagu, film producer, “Cook Off”

“It’s a huge milestone for Zimbabwe,” the film’s producer Joe Njagu told The World. “It’s the first time ever a film from this side has been seen on such a platform. For us, we see this as a chance to introduce Zimbabwean films to the world.”

The film, which is in English, centers around the relationship between single mom Anesu, played by Tendaiishe Chitima, and her son, Tapiwa, played by Eugene Zimbudzi, who encourages her to follow her dreams and enter a cooking contest even when Anesu’s own mother disapproves.

Singer Shingai Shoniwa, who plays herself and Eugene Zimbudzi, who plays Tapiwa, in a screenshot from the Zimbabwean film, “Cook Off.”

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Courtesy of “Cook Off”

Related: Netflix’s ‘Ghee Happy’ imagines life as a Hindu deity — in preschool

There’s also — of course — a love story that blossoms on the set between Anesu and fellow contestant Prince, played by Zimbabwean hip hop artist Tehn Diamond (Tendai Ryan Nguni). 

“Cook Off” was produced on a shoestring budget of$8,000. Njagu says it was made possible by the fact they could reuse sets — the writer and director of the film is also the director of a Zimbabwean TV show called “Battle of the Chefs,” — and the cast and crew agreed to a deferred payment plan. 

The film, which premiered in 2018 at the Durban International Film Festival, was produced in extraordinary circumstances, during the historic ouster of long-time ruler Robert Mugabe in 2017.

Related: Dead at 95, Mugabe was one of Africa’s most polarizing figures

Tendie Chitima, who plays Anesu, on the set of “Cook Off.”

Credit:

Courtesy of Anel Wessels/”Cook Off”

Njagu is hopeful that “Cook Off” won’t be the last Zimbabwean movie to reach a wider audience.

“It’s still a little film community that’s trying to sprout out and become an industry,” he said. “Why this is such a big deal is this is almost like a springboard to kickstart things, so we can start getting to a place where we can call ourselves a film industry.”

Njagu said he wanted to make “Cook Off” — a love story and underdog story — to challenge Hollywood’s typical depictions of Africa.

Related: What the US can learn from West Africa to slow the spread of coronavirus

“I always feel that Africa is portrayed in a very negative light: like, it’s synonymous with stories about war, poverty, hunger disease. This was a chance to show the other side of Africa, the other side of Zimbabwe.”

Joe Njagu, film producer, “Cook Off”

“I always feel that Africa is portrayed in a very negative light: like, it’s synonymous with stories about war, poverty, hunger disease. This was a chance to show the other side of Africa, the other side of Zimbabwe,” he said.

“This is why I felt like this was a very important story to tell — to change that whole Africa narrative,” he added. 

In Spain after lockdown, soccer resumes for men — but not for women

In Spain after lockdown, soccer resumes for men — but not for women

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Lucía Benavides

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Members of Madrid Women’s Club go for a run on the soccer field, Madrid, Spain. 

 

 

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Lucía Benavides/The World 

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Spanish soccer will resume on June 11, after nearly three months without games. La Liga, Spain’s professional soccer league for men, was suspended in mid-March when the Spanish government put the country on lockdown in an attempt to contain the coronavirus pandemic. Now, the league championship matches will go until July 19, and games will be played with no crowds and with strict safety protocols. 

The women’s league — which had its own championship — will not return. Their season was completely canceled in May, and the FC Barcelona female club was declared this year’s champions, since they were in the lead when the games were suspended.

Related: Women’s pro soccer made gains toward parity. Will coronavirus undo it?

But before the pandemic put the country on pause, women’s soccer in Spain had been making strides toward greater equity.

On Feb. 18, all 16 first-division teams signed a collective bargaining agreement that guaranteed female players a minimum wage, protocols for sexual abuse cases and paid maternity leave. It was a big step — and currently the only existing agreement of its kind for any women’s sport in Spain. 

Forward Ana Lucía Martínez, from Madrid Women’s Club (or Madrid CFF), said this was a historic moment for Spain’s female soccer leagues. The World spoke to her in February — just one week after the agreement was signed, and just two weeks before her trainings were put on hold due to the pandemic.

Related: Under lockdown in Spain, hotels transform into field hospitals

“People in Spain are increasingly interested in women’s soccer,” she said, pointing to last year’s Women’s World Cup when a record 2 million people watched Spain’s national team lose to the United States 2-1.

Forward Ana Lucía Martínez, from Madrid Women’s Club (or Madrid CFF), trains with her team. 

Credit:

Lucía Benavides/The World  

But it’s still difficult for women to make a living from soccer, said the 30-year-old player. Since moving to Spain from Guatemala five years ago, Martínez has played for various first-division teams — the first club didn’t even give her a contract.

“It’s not like the men who retire and make millions. We have to worry about our future, get an education.”

Ana Lucía Martínez, forward, Madrid Women’s Club, Madrid, Spain

“I was making 200 euros [$230] a month, which isn’t enough to live off of here,” she said. “I spent those days indoors, I never went out. I considered quitting because I couldn’t go on like that.”

Now, she’s one of the better-paid players in Madrid CFF — she makes enough money to pay her bills and concentrate on soccer full-time. But she says many of her teammates still rely on side jobs to get by.

“It’s not like the men who retire and make millions,” said Martínez. “We have to worry about our future, get an education.”

With the collective bargaining agreement signed, a career in soccer is beginning to look like a viable option for many women. But it took a year of negotiating and a week-long strike to get there.

Madrid women’s soccer players train together. 

Credit:

Lucía Benavides/The World 

Lawyer María José López represented the main soccer union involved in the negotiations. 

“It was necessary to have this agreement for the sake of equality,” she said. “I mean, we’re in the 21st century.”

López says the agreement is exactly the same as the one signed by the men’s first-division teams decades ago, except for one thing: their salaries. In Spain, the base salary for men’s professional soccer is $170,000 a year; the women’s is $18,000.

Men’s games draw bigger crowds and more advertising dollars on Spanish TV — this means more revenue, which then translates into high salaries. López gets this. Still, she says the wage gap needs to shrink.

“The argument we always hear is: ‘These girls don’t bring in money, so they can’t make demands.’ No, no. These are working women who deserve worker’s rights.”

María José López, lawyer representing the main soccer union involved in negotiations, Madrid, Spain

“The argument we always hear is: ‘These girls don’t bring in money, so they can’t make demands,’” said López. “No, no. These are working women who deserve worker’s rights.”

López says if advertisers would invest more in women’s games, there would be more interest — leading to more ticket sales, television programming and, eventually, higher salaries.

But all of this is on hold because of the pandemic. 

Related: Two Berlin soccer teams now kept apart by COVID-19

Tamara Ramos directs another soccer union that signed the collective bargaining agreement this February. She says she expects the coronavirus outbreak to disproportionately affect the female leagues, which were already struggling with funding. 

“Why do the men’s leagues come back after lockdown, but not the women’s? … Signing the collective bargaining agreement was a bittersweet moment. Of course, it was a big step forward. But we still have a long way to go.”

Tamara Ramos, soccer union director, Madrid, Spain

“Why do the men’s leagues come back after lockdown, but not the women’s?” she asks. “It’s all part of the same problem: lack of resources.” 

In this case, that means coronavirus test kits and equipment to implement necessary safety measures.

“Signing the collective bargaining agreement was a bittersweet moment,” said Ramos. “Of course, it was a big step forward. But we still have a long way to go.”

Trump authorizes sanctions over ICC Afghanistan war crimes case

Trump authorizes sanctions over ICC Afghanistan war crimes case

US President Donald Trump delivers remarks to US troops, with Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani standing behind him, during a visit to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, November 2019.

Credit:

Tom Brenner/Reuters/File photo

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US President Donald Trump has issued an executive order authorizing US sanctions against International Criminal Court (ICC) employees involved in an investigation into whether American forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan suggesting that the Hague-based tribunal is threatening to infringe on US national sovereignty.

In announcing the action on Thursday, Trump administration officials also accused Russia of manipulating the ICC to serve Moscow’s ends.

“We cannot, we will not stand by as our people are threatened by a kangaroo court,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in announcing the move and warned other nations.

“I have a message to many close allies in the world. Your people could be next, especially those from NATO countries who fight terrorism in Afghanistan right alongside us,” he said.

Neither Pompeo nor any of the top officials who were present at the announcement — Defense Secretary Mark Esper, national security adviser Robert O’Brien and Attorney General William Barr — took questions from the press.

ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda wants to investigate possible crimes committed between 2003 and 2014, including alleged mass killings of civilians by the Taliban, as well as the alleged torture of prisoners by Afghan authorities and, to a lesser extent, by US forces and the CIA. The ICC investigation was given the go-ahead in March.

Rights activists assailed Trump’s move. Andrea Prasow, the Washington director for Human Rights Watch, said the action “demonstrates contempt for the global rule of law” and represents a “blatant attempt at obstruction.”

Trump’s order authorizes Pompeo, in consultation with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, to block assets in the United States of ICC employees involved in the probe, according to a letter sent by Trump to U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi accompanying the order.

It also authorizes Pompeo to block entry into the United States of these individuals as well as their family members.

‘Low point’

The ICC was established in 2002 by the international community to prosecute war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity. It has jurisdiction only if a member state is unable or unwilling to prosecute atrocities itself. The United States has never been a member of the court.

The US action is the latest under Trump taking aim at an international body. Trump, who has promoted an “America First” policy during his presidency, last month said he would end the US relationship with the World Health Organization.

Afghanistan is a member of the ICC, though Kabul has argued that any war crimes should be prosecuted locally.

“The Department of Justice has received substantial credible information that raises serious concerns about a long history of financial corruption and malfeasance at the highest levels in the office of the prosecutor,” said Attorney General William Barr, who did not offer evidence.

He also said the court was being manipulated by Russia, but did not elaborate on how. He hinted there could be more actions against the ICC. “The measures announced today are an important first step in holding the ICC accountable for exceeding its mandate and violating the sovereignty of the United States.”

John Bellinger, the State Department’s former top lawyer under Republican former President George W. Bush, said the two sides could have avoided the conflict but chose not to.

“It’s unfortunate that the long-running US dispute with the ICC has reached this new low point. … It’s not surprising that the Trump administration has reacted forcefully with threatened sanctions, especially in an election year,” he said.

The Trump administration imposed travel restrictions and other sanctions against ICC employees a year ago.

The ICC decided to investigate after a preliminary examination by prosecutors in 2017 found reasonable grounds to believe war crimes were committed in Afghanistan and that the court has jurisdiction.

A senior Trump administration official, describing the order to reporters on a conference call, said the directive authorizes sanctions against any individual directly engaged in any effort by the ICC to investigate American personnel without US consent.

By Steve Holland, Humeyra Pamuk and Arshad Mohammed/Reuters

Trump administration proposes more hurdles for asylum-seekers; Amazon halts police use of facial recognition technology

Trump administration proposes more hurdles for asylum-seekers; Amazon halts police use of facial recognition technology

By
The World staff

Migrants are seen outside of tents at a migrant encampment where more than 2,000 people live while seeking asylum in the US, in Matamoros, Mexico, April 9, 2020.

Credit:

Daniel Becerril/Reuters

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Top of The World — our morning news round up written by editors at The World. Subscribe here.

The Trump administration is proposing an overhaul of the asylum system that would make it much harder for applicants to win protection in the US. If enacted after public comment, the changes would streamline the asylum process by enabling lower-level asylum officers to throw out applications they deem “frivolous” — preventing applicants from having their claims heard in full court proceedings. Read the 161-page proposal here.

The narrowed grounds for asylum claims proposed by the departments of Justice and Homeland Security would no longer recognize applications based on people fleeing gangs, terrorists, “rogue” government officials or “non-state organizations.”

For now, asylum claims are essentially halted with US borders closed under provisions of the public health emergency Donald Trump declared in March amid the coronavirus pandemic. The proposed changes come on top of another set of rules the administration established last July — requiring migrants fleeing their homelands to apply for asylum in one of the first countries they pass through. 

What The World is following

Amazon said Wednesday it plans to halt sales of its facial recognition software to police for a year. The technology has been widely criticized as being used by law enforcement to unfairly profile people of color. Teleconferencing company Zoom has been called out for suspending an account belonging to a group of US-based Chinese activists who held an event on the platform to commemorate the 31st anniversary of China’s Tiananmen Square crackdown. Also, Apple removed the podcasting app Pocket Casts from its Chinese App Store at the request of the government.

On Wednesday, Brazil’s most populous state, São Paulo, reported a record number of COVID-19 deaths for the second day running. The infections and high death tolls come as the government started allowing many businesses to reopen. The virus has disproportionately struck Brazil’s poor, largely neglected favelas. But activists in the favelas are organizing their own fight.

From The WorldLatino groups fight voter suppression efforts as US election nears

A voter casts a ballot at the Flushing Volunteer Fire Department in Flushing, Ohio, on Super Tuesday, March 6, 2012. 

Credit:

Matt Sullivan/Reuters

Approximately 32 million Latinos are expected to be eligible to vote in the general election this November, making them the nation’s largest minority voter group, according to the Pew Research Center. But there are numerous efforts to suppress Latinos and black voters underway across the country — particularly as white Americans make up a declining share of the US electorate. And with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting this election cycle, advocacy groups worry it could get worse.

Toronto’s first black police chief resigns

Mark Saunders, then the deputy police chief, speaks at a news conference in Toronto, Canada, Feb. 24, 2015.  

Credit:

Aaron Harris/Reuters 

With just eight months to go in his term as chief of the Toronto Police Service, Mark Saunders seems to have surprised everyone by abruptly resigning — without fully explaining why. Activists say the Toronto police chief helped maintain the status quo. But after George Floyd’s death, Saunders declared that incremental change was no longer enough. He knelt with protesters in the street. And by stepping away from his position, some say he has left an opening for possible change.

And: From Minneapolis to Madrid, racial profiling and police harassment cost lives

Morning focus

Marmite, the company that makes a — love it or hate it — spread from yeast extract, announced that because of the shortage of brewer’s yeast due to the coronavirus, it’s now only producing the 250-gram jar. A serious situation for Marmite lovers.

Hi Tim, due to brewers yeast being in short supply (one of the main ingredients in Marmite) Supplies of Marmite have been affected.

As a temporary measure we have stopped production of all sizes apart from our 250g size jar which is available in most major retailers.

— Marmite (@marmite) June 10, 2020In case you missed itListen: Global movements to end systemic racial discrimination

A man raises his fist over a crowd of demonstrators during a protest against racial inequality in the aftermath of the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, at Puerta del Sol square in Madrid, Spain, June 7, 2020.

Credit:

Juan Medina/Reuters

Wednesday on The World, we’ll check in on global movements to end systemic racial discrimination. First to Toronto, Canada, where the city’s first black police chief resigned abruptly — months before he was supposed to and without explanation. And, thousands of demonstrators gathered in front of the US Embassy in Madrid over the weekend to commemorate the life of George Floyd. But, they were also protesting the racial inequalities in Spain. Also, as lockdowns were lifted in China, worry spread about imported cases from abroad. Black people were targeted, leading some African Americans in Guangzhou to question whether they could stay.

Don’t forget to subscribe to The World’s Latest Edition podcast using your favorite podcast player: RadioPublicApple PodcastsStitcherSoundcloudRSS.

Latino groups fight voter suppression efforts as US election nears

Latino groups fight voter suppression efforts as US election nears

Numerous efforts to suppress Latinos and black voters are underway across the country — particularly as white Americans make up a declining share of the US electorate. And with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting this election cycle, advocacy groups worry it could get worse. 

By
Daisy Contreras

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A voter casts a ballot at the Flushing Volunteer Fire Department in Flushing, Ohio, on Super Tuesday, March 6, 2012. 

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Matt Sullivan/Reuters

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This story is part of “Every 30 Seconds,” a collaborative public media reporting project tracing the young Latino electorate leading up to the 2020 presidential election and beyond.

In the fall of 2018, Alejandro Rangel-Lopez, then a senior at Dodge City High School in Kansas, joined friends at parent-teacher conferences in registering people to vote in the midterm election.

Then someone asked to check their voter registration status online. Rangel-Lopez glanced at the polling location address and noticed something was off.

“What popped up was not the civic center — which is where people would normally vote here in town — but instead of that, was the expo center, which is located outside of city limits,” he said. 

It wasn’t a mistake. The Ford County Clerk had, in fact, moved Dodge City’s only polling location, which serves 13,000 voters. The county said the move was due to construction. But with the midterm elections only four weeks away, many were skeptical of the reason. 

Rangel-Lopez said he worried what changing the polling location would mean for the Latino vote in his city. Dodge City is 60% Latino, with many working in the meatpacking plants there. 

“This would further decrease Latino turnout and put Latinos in a place where, even if they wanted to go out and vote, it would be so inconvenient and out of the way.”

Alejandro Rangel-Lopez, resident, Dodge City, Kansas

“This would further decrease Latino turnout and put Latinos in a place where, even if they wanted to go out and vote, it would be so inconvenient and out of the way,” he said.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Kansas and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) of Kansas sued the Ford County Clerk for changing polling locations at such short notice, citing violations to Dodge City voters’ constitutional and civil rights. Rangel-Lopez became a plaintiff in the case, representing Latino voters in Dodge City who were afraid to lose their jobs if they spoke up. A federal judge dismissed the case. 

Related: The key to winning the Latino vote in 2020? Latinas.

But what happened in Dodge City is one example of suppression of Latinos and black voters underway across the country — particularly as white Americans make up a declining share of the US electorate. And with the COVID-19 pandemic affecting this election cycle, advocacy groups worry it could get worse. 

Approximately 32 million Latinos are expected to be eligible to vote in the general election this November, making them the nation’s largest minority voter group, according to the Pew Research Center. Eligible Latinos will surpass eligible black voters for the first time. Civic engagement and civil rights groups are working to make sure Latinos have access to the polls. 

State governments keep people from voting in many different ways, said Arturo Vargas, president of NALEO Educational Fund, a group focused on Latino civic engagement. Examples include requiring voters to have certain photo IDs or purging voter rolls.

“And then there are unintentional ones that result in discouraging voters, for example, cutting down on early voting period so that there is less voting,” he said.

These tactics have intensified since 2013. In a landmark Supreme Court case that year, Shelby County v. Holder, the court removed key voter protections contained within the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965. The court sided with a lower court’s decision that some of the protections were outdated — though opponents argued that removing them would pose barriers for minority voters in states with a history of discrimination. Under the decision, local and state governments no longer need federal approval to pass voting or election laws. 

The original law was put in place to ensure black voters were not denied their right to vote. And without federal oversight, local governments may adopt restrictive voting practices, Vargas said. 

As a result, he said, more lawsuits aiming to overturn these practices are expected in the lead-up to November.

“There have been some states where we have been successful in trying to get some of these voter suppression policies and practices withdrawn.”

Artuto Vargas,  president, NALEO education fund

“There have been some states where we have been successful in trying to get some of these voter suppression policies and practices withdrawn,” Vargas said. 

Groups such as the ACLU and LULAC are leading the charge to ensure minority voters have fair access to the polls. 

LULAC, the oldest known Hispanic organization in the US, was a co-plaintiff in the Dodge City case in 2018. It also filed a lawsuit last month against Texas officials, arguing the state’s vote-by-mail policies violate the Constitution.

To vote by mail in Texas, people must be disabled or serve in the military, or over 65 years of age. The argument for these restrictions is that voting by mail should only be available to voters who are physically unable to get to the polls, explained Domingo Garcia, LULAC’s national president. 

Related: Can Biden turn out Latinos to vote? Advocacy groups aren’t sure.

But that holds back some voters — including minority and younger voters, Garcia said. And now, with the coronavirus, groups like LULAC argue there is even more reason to allow for a vote by mail.

“I don’t know if la abuelita or la tía, grandma or grandpa, you know, aunt and uncle, are they going to risk their lives to go wait an hour, two hours, three hours to vote?” he said. 

Latino voters historically prefer to vote in person, Vargas said. But he also doesn’t see an option but to expand access to voting by mail as the general election nears. 

“Latinos are much less likely to have had experiences voting by mail than non-Latinos,” he said. “So, unless voting by mail arrangements aren’t accompanied by very robust public education campaigns to adequately educate Latino voters about how to vote by mail, this may actually erect more barriers to people being able to vote.”

In late May, a US district judge moved to allow voting by mail for people concerned about the coronavirus. But an appellate panel put that on hold days later. 

Garcia says he likes to focus on small wins. LULAC’s next target state is Arizona, he added.  

“I keep thinking that mañana things will be better for Jose and Maria on Main Street, and for Billy Bob and Mary Sue on Main Street. ”

Domingo Garcia, national president, LULAC

“You know, I’m an eternal optimist,” he said. “I keep thinking that mañana things will be better for Jose and Maria on Main Street, and for Billy Bob and Mary Sue on Main Street. ”

Another win can be traced to the Dodge City case. It took two years, but the city now has three polling sites.

Rangel-Lopez, the plaintiff, who is now 19, is glad to see that but says voter suppression elsewhere is real.

“I’m very worried about what’s going to happen,” he said. “And there needs to be a lot more attention to this issue than what we’re currently giving it.”

This year, Rangel-Lopez will vote for the first time in a presidential election. He’s been reflecting on his achievement as a high school senior two years ago with the legal case over polling sites.

“You are never too young to be politically active or to affect change in your community, in your state or nationally,” he said.

Rangel-Lopez learned that lesson. Now, he wants to make sure other young people learn it, too.

Paul Kim – Christmas Love Lyrics

[Intro]
Just wanna love

[Verse 1]
하얀 크리스마스트리
반짝이는 조명 아래
몰래 준비한 너를
웃게해줄 선물

[Pre-Chorus]
조심스레 다가가서
Kiss 널 깨울래
내게 가장 고마운 선물
For you 노래 불러줄게

[Chorus]
Because of 넌
날 설레이게 해
매일이 내겐
Christmas eve
Because of 넌 날 미치게
Hey 곁에 있어 forever

[Post-Chorus]
하나뿐인 넌 나만의
Christmas love

[Verse 2]
오랫동안 기다려왔어
(One like you)
천천히 너에게
다가가 (Love)
힘껏 안아줄게

[Chorus]
Because of 넌
날 설레이게 해
매일이 내겐
Christmas eve
Because of 넌 날 미치게
Hey 곁에 있어 forever

[Post-Chorus]
가슴깊이 따뜻해져
찰나의 반짝이는

[Bridge]
불꽃이지 않기를

I give you my word
나만의 하나뿐인 별
절대 놓치지 않을거야

[Chorus]
Because of 넌
날 설레이게해
매일이 내겐
Christmas eve
Because of 넌 날 미치게
Hey 곁에 있어 forever

[Post-Chorus]
하나뿐인 넌 나만의
Christmas love

Sally Klein O’connor – Make Me A Window Lyrics

Make me a window
Catching Your glory
One of the pages
Telling Your story

Make me a wonder
A sign of Your kindness
A living reminder
You heal our blindness

Like a candle at midnight
Or a city lit up
All eyes are drawn to the view
Let Your love shine brightly
So people see clearly
The radiance in me is You

Make me Your mercy

For all who are broken
Cold cup of water
A word fitly spoken

A bush in the desert
Blazing with fire
A witness of splendor
And Heaven’s desire

Like a field of flowers
Caught in the moonlight
There’s a beauty that pierces us through
It’s part of the picture
A piece of the puzzle
Of longing that leads us to You