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.

Lloyd’s of London to pay for ‘shameful’ Atlantic slave trade role

Lloyd’s of London to pay for ‘shameful’ Atlantic slave trade role (Source Reuters.com)

The Lloyd’s of London insurance market apologised for its “shameful” role in the 18th and 19th Century Atlantic slave trade and pledged to fund opportunities for black and ethnic minority people. As part of a global reassessment of history and racism triggered by the death of George Floyd in the United States, some British institutions have begun re-examining their past, especially connections to slavery. The Bank of England also apologised for what it called the “inexcusable connections” of some past governors and directors to slavery, and said it would remove any portraits of them from display anywhere on its premises. About 17 million African men, women and children were torn from their homes and shackled into one of the world’s most brutal globalised trades between the 15th and 19th centuries. Many died in merciless conditions.

Major study finds common steroid reduces deaths among patients with severe Covid-19

Major study finds common steroid reduces deaths among patients with severe Covid-19

(Source statnews.com) A cheap, readily available steroid drug reduced deaths by a third in patients hospitalized with Covid-19 in a large study, the first time a therapy has been shown to possibly improve the odds of survival with the condition in the sickest patients. The drug, dexamethasone, is widely available and is used to treat conditions including rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and some cancers. In a statement, Patrick Vallance, the U.K. government’s chief scientific adviser, called the result “tremendous news” and “a ground-breaking development in our fight against the disease.” “Dexamethasone is the first drug to be shown to improve survival in COVID-19,” Peter Horby, one of the lead investigators of the study and a professor in the Nuffield Department of Medicine at the University of Oxford, said in a statement. He added that the drug should now become the standard treatment for patients with Covid-19 who need oxygen. “Dexamethasone is inexpensive, on the shelf, and can be used immediately to save lives worldwide.’”

Ex-national security adviser John Bolton responds to Trump’s tweets about his memoir

Ex-national security adviser John Bolton responds to Trump’s tweets about his memoir

(source nbcnews.com) John Bolton fired back at Donald Trump on Thursday after the president unleashed a firestorm of critical tweets about his former national security adviser and his new book, “The Room Where it Happened.”

“I think it’s unbecoming of the Office of President,” Bolton said Thursday. “I think it degrades the political civil discourse in our country and [I’m] just not going to respond to him.” The attacks from Trump come at the same time as his administration is fighting in court to halt the release of the book, claiming it contains classified information. “The president isn’t worried about foreign governments reading this book. He’s worried about the American people reading this book,” Bolton told ABC News about the book. Now the Department of Justice has been granted an emergency hearing Friday by a federal district court judge in Washington, D.C., on their application for temporary restraining order blocking the book’s scheduled release next Tuesday because of its alleged national security risk.

“When I wrote the book, to begin with, I was very conscious to avoid putting in anything that I thought could be deemed classifiable, and I didn’t think I had to put the book through the pre-publication clearance process for that reason,” Bolton explained. “But we did out of an abundance of caution and then went through four arduous months of making sure there was nothing classified and I believe that strongly today.”

Former APD officer charged with murder of Rayshard Brooks turns himself in, second officer out on bond

Former APD officer charged with murder of Rayshard Brooks turns himself in, second officer out on bond

(Source 11alive.com) Both of the officers charged in connection to Rayshard Brooks’ death have turned themselves in. Atlanta Police Officer Devin Brosnan surrendered to the Fulton County Jail Thursday morning. Now former Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe did so after 3 p.m. Both had until 6 p.m. to surrender. 11Alive reporter Maura Sirianni confirmed that Brosnan later bonded out just before 1 p.m. The bond, according to public records, was $30,000. Meanwhile, former Atlanta Police Officer Garrett Rolfe will not have a bond, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said yesterday when announcing the charges. A Fulton County Judge signed warrants for both on June 17, Howard said. By law in Georgia, a grand jury must now convene and determine if it will indict the officers. But, due to the pandemic, no grand juries can meet until at least October. The D.A. wants the ability to move forward without an indictment. 

Why Did Cup Foods Call the Cops on George Floyd?

Why Did Cup Foods Call the Cops on George Floyd?

(Source nytimes.com) Ever since George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officers on May 25 after a grocery store reported that he had used a counterfeit $20 there, Muslim Americans have been asking why the store’s workers called the cops in the first place. Like many grocery stores in low-income neighborhoods, Cup Foods is owned and largely staffed by an immigrant Muslim family, and the police call has prompted some to see racist motives. Mahmoud Abumayyaleh, the Palestinian-American owner of Cup Foods, the grocery store, was away when a 17-year-old worker made the call. A statement from the store referred to a “state policy that requires stores” to notify the police about counterfeit bills and Mr. Abumayyaleh described the practice as “standard protocol” for businesses. He vowed that his store will no longer do so “until the police stop killing innocent people.” Nuisance abatement laws have been used similarly nationwide, including at Cup Foods. These laws are part of what is known as “third-party policing,” which transforms immigrant businesses into nodes of surveillance, expands the power of the police and the courts, and drives wedges between vulnerable communities.  The facts of third-party policing do not take away from the need for conversations about anti-black racism within Muslim American communities. Although Muslim Americans routinely have to deal with the bigotry of Islamophobia, many have been in denial for far too long about the anti-black racism among the believers. About a third of American Muslims are African-American and the history of Islam in the United States is deeply connected to the African-American story. Yet research by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, which studies American Muslims, shows that African-American Muslims still often feel unwelcome in South Asian and Arab Muslim circles.

Poland’s Jewish leaders deplore stigmatization of LGBTQ people

Poland’s Jewish leaders deplore stigmatization of LGBTQ people (Source nbcnews.com)

Jewish community leaders in Warsaw voiced their opposition to the “dehumanizing” language they say is being used against LGBTQ (lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender and queer) people in Poland’s presidential election campaign. Gay rights have been thrust into the spotlight during the campaign for the June 28 election. President Andrzej Duda, an ally of the right-wing ruling Law and Justice party , views what he calls LGBTQ “ideology” as an invasive foreign influence that harms traditional values in the devoutly Catholic nation. “We have observed politicians… cynically undertake to foment hostility and hatred towards LGBT persons,” the Board of the Jewish Community of Warsaw wrote in a letter. “We Jews – the descendants of Holocaust survivors – cannot and will not remain indifferent to words that would dehumanize LGBT persons,” the board wrote, saying that politicians had failed to learn the lessons of World War Two. Duda has said he would ban teaching about LGBTQ issues in schools and labelled LGBTQ “ideology” more destructive than communism. He later said his words on LGBTQ and communism were taken out of context.

Duda’s main opponent is liberal Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski, who has faced criticism for introducing education about LGBTQ matters in schools in the Polish capital. Protestant bishop Jerzy Samiec tweeted on Sunday that LGBTQ people in his church were “Sisters and Brothers in Christ”. Poland’s influential Catholic Church has also referred to LGBTQ people as brothers and sisters, but has spoken out against “an ideology that aims to revolutionize social customs”.

Florida Gators banning ‘Gator Bait’ cheer because of the phrase’s ‘horrific historic racist imagery’

Florida Gators banning ‘Gator Bait’ cheer because of the phrase’s ‘horrific historic racist imagery’

(Source tampabay.com)

In the wake of nationwide racial unrest, the University of Florida banned its famed “Gator Bait” cheer Thursday because the term’s racist history, which includes printed images and unsubstantiated accounts of black babies being used as hunting lures. “While I know of no evidence of racism associated with our ‘Gator Bait’ cheer at UF sporting events, there is horrific historic racist imagery associated with the phrase,” school president Kent Fuchs said in a letter to the University of Florida community. “Accordingly University Athletics and the Gator Band will discontinue the use of the cheer.” Indeed, the history of the cheer appears to be harmless; the Gators credit its spread to a celebration of the program’s first national title in 1996. But the history of the term is anything but innocent. Stories from as far back as the 1880s mention American hunters borrowing black babies to use them to attract large reptiles. Other accounts from the time reference similar activities happening in Africa and Florida. University’s Jim Crow Museum of Racist Memorabilia — said the source material of those stories is questionable. But he believes there’s enough evidence to suggest the practice happened occasionally. “I don’t want to put a limit on the evil people do,” said Hughes, the museum’s multimedia specialist. Regardless, the phrase and imagery became a part of the Jim Crow era.

Postcards and prints of black children labeled “alligator bait” were sold in stores. So were knickknacks of black men being attacked by gators. And a pencil with a black child as its eraser and an alligator as its holder. “It’s hard to wrap your head around,” Hughes said. “This was really that common where we would send that stuff on postcards to people.”

Atlanta megachurch pastor Louie Giglio sets off firestorm

Atlanta megachurch pastor Louie Giglio sets off firestorm by calling slavery a ‘blessing’ to whites

(Source washingtonpost.com)

Many white pastors have been addressing racism in the past few weeks, since the outbreak of widespread protests across the country over police brutality and the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, in the custody of Minneapolis police. At Passion City Church in Atlanta, Giglio described slavery as a blessing after talking about “the blessing” of the cross on which Jesus died.

“We understand the curse that was slavery, white people do,” Giglio said during a conversation Sunday about race in America with hip-hop artist Lecrae Moore and Chick-fil-A chief executive Dan Cathy, who is an evangelical Christian. “And we say that was bad. But we miss the blessing of slavery, that it actually built up the framework for the world that white people live in.” Giglio’s comments became a trending topic on Twitter on Tuesday as people objected to slavery being described as a “blessing” and to his implication that the concept of white “privilege” — a term that refers to the advantages white people enjoy in a racist society — could be equated with a gift from God. “It’s a bad theology that has existed since the beginning of the slave trade,” said Anthea Butler, a professor of religious studies at the University of Pennsylvania who is working on a book on white evangelical racism. “Giglio said what was true to him and what’s true to a lot of evangelicals, but it doesn’t make it right.”

Georgia session reboot opens with new call for hate-crimes law

Georgia session reboot opens with new call for hate-crimes law (Source AJC)

With protesters outside and inside the Capitol demanding change, the Georgia General Assembly reopened for business amid bipartisan calls to pass hate-crimes legislation. The rebooting of the 2020 session, which was suspended in March because of the coronavirus pandemic, came during protests over the recent killing of African Americans, including unarmed black jogger Ahmaud Arbery, shot by a white man who chased him down, and the police shooting of Rayshard Brooks on Friday night in the parking lot of an Atlanta fast-food restaurant.

Hate-crimes legislation has stalled in the Senate after passing the House last year. The Senate committee that would handle the bill didn’t meet Monday as originally scheduled.

House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, made an impassioned plea in his chamber for the Senate to act. “All Georgians were shocked by the senseless murder of Ahmaud Arbery, who was hunted like an animal and shot with a shotgun at point-blank range,” Ralston said. “Members of this body, that is hate. “If we leave here this session without passing a hate-crimes bill, it will be a stain on this state that we can never wash away.” Lawmakers returned for the final 11 working days of the session facing state finances wrecked by the pandemic recession, as well as calls for police and criminal justice reform.

Legislators entered the building for their social-distancing session through scanners that checked their temperatures. House members were required to wear masks; most senators also wore them in their chamber.