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Calls are growing to defund police in the US. Here are some lessons from overseas

Calls are growing to defund police in the US. Here are some lessons from overseas

(Source cnn.com) Alex Vitale, a Brooklyn College professor and author of “The End of Policing,” has been advising campaign groups on defunding across the US for several years, and told CNN there are “all kinds of examples” of how it can work. “In the United States, a huge amount of what police do is managing folks having mental health crises, experiencing homelessness, suffering from drug overdoses,” said Vitale. “These are responsibilities that could be better handled by medical professionals, outreach workers, and frankly the provision of supportive housing and high-quality drug treatment and mental health services. Policing isn’t the right tool,” he added. Many nations have reduced the range of police responsibilities while investing in social programs. This often involves freezing police budgets or cutting their numbers while investing in agencies running programs relating to housing, income, youth, mental health and rehabilitation. The Swedish capital, Stockholm, established a psychiatric emergency response unit to respond to crisis calls from people in mental health distress, which patients say has created a safe environment and space for dialogue.

Vitale also points to Portugal’s decriminalization of drugs and investment in social work in 2001. “They’ve largely removed policing from any involvement with this issue.” Instead, he explained: “They’ve turned it over to health authorities. Health outcomes have improved and civilization has not collapsed.” Police forces elsewhere have embraced training and tactics for de-escalation, which police in the UK say have helped their interactions with individuals with mental health issues. In Scotland, officers are trained in de-escalation methods including identifying danger signs early and approaching a subject calmly. Police set up the Scottish Violence Reduction Unit (SVRU) in 2005. The unit now receives $1.3 million from the government annually. It takes a public health approach, employing police, experts and people with lived experience in social programs. The programs include outreach work in emergency wards and enterprises that offer hospitality jobs to people with convictions. Violent crime and homicides in Scotland have dropped by 25% in 10 years. Los Angeles’ Police Commission has announced it intends to complete de-escalation training for the whole force this year. Community policing, which involves partnerships between officers, agencies and communities, is described as a “major pillar” of police development by the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE).

Carnival Becomes Latest Fallen Angel While Covid Halts Cruises

Carnival Becomes Latest Fallen Angel While Covid Halts Cruises (Source Bloomberg)

Carnival Corp. is the latest cruise line to lose its investment-grade credit ratings after S&P Global Ratings downgraded the company Tuesday.

S&P slashed the company’s long-term rating by three levels to BB-, from BBB-, saying the cruise line’s credit metrics are likely “to remain very weak through at least 2021” as it begins to slowly resume its operations. The cut from S&P hands the company a second high-yield credit rating, meaning its debt will leave investment-grade credit indexes.

Moody’s Investors Service cut the company to junk in May. In a statement Tuesday, it downgraded Carnival’s unsecured credit ratings by one notch to Ba2, the second-highest junk rank. It also rated Carnival’s planned term loan Baa3, the lowest investment-grade rating. S&P graded the new loan BB+, or one step lower. Carnival’s recovery will be much slower in 2021 due to the fact the cruise line plans to return to normal operations in phases, S&P said. Additionally, the credit rater also expects it will take several months for Carnival to return all its ships to service as the virus deters previous demand.

New York, New Jersey, Connecticut to quarantine visitors from states with high coronavirus infections

New York, New Jersey, Connecticut to quarantine visitors from states with high coronavirus infections

(Source reuters.com)

The governors of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut announced on Wednesday that visitors from states with high coronavirus infection rates must self-quarantine for 14 days on arrival.

Those states are Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas, Utah and Washington, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters. “This is a smart thing to do,” New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said via video at a joint news conference in New York City. “We have taken our people, the three of us from these three states, through hell and back, and the last thing we need to do right now is subject our folks to another round.”

New York was for a time the epicenter of the novel coronavirus outbreak but has since lowered its infection rate after locking down much of its economy.

Millions of Americans will fall off an ‘income cliff’ when extra $600 in unemployment benefits ends next month

Millions of Americans will fall off an ‘income cliff’ when extra $600 in unemployment benefits ends next month (Source cnbc.com)

Tens of millions of Americans who lost their jobs because of the coronavirus pandemic have been able to collect an extra $600 in weekly federal unemployment benefits over the past few months on top of the standard amount given by their state. For many households, the enhanced benefits have been a financial lifeline amidst record job loss and a burgeoning recession. But on July 31, that enhanced benefit will end — and that could have dire consequences for millions of households. Renters, who tend to be lower income and have lost a disproportionate number of jobs during the pandemic compared to homeowners, will also be hit particularly hard. When the supplemental benefits run out and tenants who are out of work receive only the base unemployment benefits, they will face an “income cliff,” with many “unable to cover food, clothing and other living expenses,” according to an analysis from the Urban Institute.

Crews Begin Removing John C. Calhoun Statue In South Carolina

Crews Begin Removing John C. Calhoun Statue In South Carolina (Source npr.org)

Crowds gathered early Wednesday in Charleston, S.C., as crews began preparing to remove the statue of former Vice President John C. Calhoun from Marion Square. The removal comes less than 24 hours after the Charleston City Council’s unanimous vote on the statue’s fate. Calhoun’s statue is the latest in a wave of removals throughout the nation following protests for racial justice sparked by the police killing of George Floyd. The Charleston Police Department announced just before midnight that Calhoun Street between Meeting Street and King Street would be closed for several hours for the statue’s removal. A special panel of historians will determine the statue’s new home. The mayor said he wanted the statue to be preserved at a museum or educational institution, where it could be displayed in its full historical context. “We are taking this action only after careful consideration of the facts of Mr. Calhoun’s life,” Tecklenburg said. He called Calhoun both “South Carolina’s most prominent national statesman” and “its most consequential defender of slavery and white supremacy.”

7.4 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Mexico; At Least 4 People Killed

7.4 Magnitude Earthquake Strikes Mexico; At Least 4 People Killed (Source weather.com)

A powerful 7.4 magnitude earthquake rattled the Mexican state of Oaxaca Tuesday morning and prompted tsunami warnings for Mexico and parts of Central America. At least four people were killed.

The quake struck at 10:29 a.m. local time Tuesday Federal civil defense authorities said a worker at the state-run oil company, Pemex, died when he fell from a refinery structure, The Associated Press reported. Another man was killed when a wall fell on him in the Oaxaca village of San Agustin Amatengo. Mexico President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said one person was killed and another injured when a building collapsed in Huatulco, Oaxaca. Most reports were of minor damage such as broken windows and collapsed walls. Murat said a hospital caring for COVID-19 patients suffered structural damage and had to be evacuated, according to Telemundo.

Benedict XVI back at Vatican after German visit to brother

Benedict XVI back at Vatican after German visit to brother (Source cruxnow.com)

Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI returned to the Vatican on Monday after a four-day visit to his ailing elder brother in their native Germany.

Benedict, a Bavarian native, flew from Munich to Rome aboard an Italian air force plane. He was seen off by Bavaria’s governor, Markus Soeder, who said it was a moment “of happiness and melancholy,” news agency dpa reported. Benedict returned to his home in the Vatican gardens in the early afternoon, said Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni. It was his first trip outside Italy in over seven years.

The 93-year-old retired pontiff arrived in Germany on Thursday to be with his 96-year-old brother, the Rev. Georg Ratzinger. On Saturday, he greeted old neighbors and prayed at his parents’ grave. He stayed at a seminary during his trip, visiting his brother twice a day.

Benedict has lived at a monastery on the Vatican grounds since shortly after his 2013 retirement, a decision that stunned the world. Elected to the papacy in 2005 to succeed St. John Paul II, the former Joseph Ratzinger was the first pontiff in 600 years to resign the post. He was succeeded by current Pope Francis.

Thickest Saharan dust ever recorded in Caribbean arrives in Texas

Thickest Saharan dust ever recorded in Caribbean arrives in Texas(Source kxan.com)

The much-discussed cloud of dust from the Sahara Desert in Africa will arrive in Central Texas starting Wednesday in light amounts. Thicker dust and haze are forecast to blow into the area Thursday through Saturday, limiting visibility and potentially capping rain chances as well. Large clouds of dust from the Sahara frequently blow across the Atlantic during the summer months driven by the prevailing easterly winds, suppressing hurricane formation on their journey toward the United States. While it is not uncommon for these to appear from time to time in central Texas, this dust cloud is particularly thick.

Michael Lowry, former scientist with University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), posted on Twitter this morning that “The ongoing Saharan #dust outbreak across the tropical Atlantic is by far the most extreme of the MODIS satellite record — our most detailed, continuous record of global dust back to 2002.” This dust, or “Saharan Air Layer (SAL)”, brings very low relative humidity in the lower and mid-levels of the atmosphere. This could limit rain chances locally Thursday and Friday as the dry, dusty air battles moisture and instability already in place over the state. Haze and dust appear to be most dense in our area Thursday through Saturday. Dust should lighten and exit the area later this weekend. Additional particulate matter in the atmosphere during these dust events enhance the sky colors at sunrise and sunset, but also may irritate your eyes and throat if you have allergies or asthma. There are no major air quality impacts expected in central Texas.

Russia is holding a massive show of military might in Moscow, and it’s crucial for Putin

Russia is holding a massive show of military might in Moscow, and it’s crucial for Putin

(Source cnbc.com) Russia is holding its annual Victory Day parade in Moscow on Wednesday, commemorating the 75th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s capitulation in World War II.  As well as a day of national celebration, the parade allows Russia to show off the range of its military personnel and equipment to the world.  More than that, however, the event is seen as a way for President Vladimir Putin to cement Russian patriotism and his power base. This year’s parade comes during an unprecedented global health crisis, and the event had to be rescheduled from its original date, on May 9, to June 24. Nonetheless, preparations for the parade have been taking place in Moscow and Russia’s Ministry of Defense confirms that over 13,000 military personnel are taking part in the parade that will include 216 units of military equipment (ranging from tanks to armored vehicles to rocket launchers) and a fly past featuring 75 military aircraft, including fighter jets and helicopters. Russia political analyst Anton Barbashin told CNBC why the Victory Day parade matters so much to the Kremlin. “Victory over the Nazi Germany is by far the biggest and the most significant historical event for contemporary Russia. For the Kremlin it is the most effective way to unite diverse peoples of Russia, it is used to legitimize Kremlin’s foreign policy aspirations and generally (the) Russian attitude towards great power status.

EU Could Bar U.S. Travelers Due To Ongoing Rise In COVID-19 Cases

EU Could Bar U.S. Travelers Due To Ongoing Rise In COVID-19 Cases (Source npr.org)

The European Union is making a list of countries whose travelers will be allowed to visit this summer — and for now at least, the U.S. doesn’t seem likely to meet the criteria based on its recent coronavirus numbers. The United States has the most cases of any country in the world, and many states are reporting sharp rises in new cases as they ease shutdown orders. The EU plans to begin lifting its travel restrictions on July 1 in a move that could salvage part of the summer tourist season. Its member nations are now discussing how to open the bloc to travelers without risking a new outbreak, and the list of preferred countries is a central part of those talks. Chief among the criteria: “the epidemiological situation in a given country, which should be as good as or better than in the EU,” a European Commission spokesperson told NPR.

As of last week, the notification rate for new coronavirus cases in the EU and the U.K. “was 82% lower than at the peak on 9 April 2020,” the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said in its most recent weekly report.

In contrast, the U.S. recently reported more than 32,000 new cases on two consecutive days – something that hadn’t happened since April 11, according to data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The European Commission set the framework for a selective list of countries this month when it said all 27 member states should agree to one set of criteria to allow visitors from outside countries. The EU’s current goal is to finalize the list before it lifts restrictions in one week.

Once the EU travel list is final, the bloc would revise it on a regular basis, to reflect changing circumstances as countries grapple with the pandemic that has now left some 9.3 million people infected worldwide, including more than 2.3 million in the United States. Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, French minister for Europe and foreign affairs, is one of the European officials negotiating the travel list — a process he described on French radio as “very intense work.” Lemoyne said Europe had mostly gotten the epidemic under control and that France was ready to roll out the welcome mat to other Europeans. But he said the EU could not risk letting visitors in from countries where the virus is still rapidly spreading.