Greene County Schools equip classrooms to protect returning students and staff

The Greene County School System resumed face-to-face instruction at its school facilities utilizing the Phase II Hybrid Plan, beginning Monday, April 5, 2021. As shown in photos, each student desk has a three-sided plexiglass shield and masks are required for students and all school personnel. According to Superintendent Dr. Corey Jones, temperature checks are administered each morning automatically as students and staff enter the facility. Hand sanitizers are available in each classroom and throughout the facility. Air purifiers are installed in each classroom. Dr. Jones stated that he is very pleased with the conduct of students and staff on the first days back at the schools. “ I want to commend our students, teachers and staff for the outstanding cooperation they demonstrated on returning to the face-to-face academic program. Everyone wore their masks and were sensitive to keeping safe distances and just trying to keep each other safe,” he said. Superintendent Jones noted the on-site school enrollments for the initial day back: Eutaw Primary with 214 students; Robert Brown Middle School with 220 students and Greene County High School with 125 students. Virtual classes are still available. Students who are returning to on-site classes are scheduled by the beginning letter of the last name. Students with last names A to M will attend classes on Monday and Tuesday; students with last names N to Z will attend classes Wednesday and Thursday. All academic programs are virtual on Fridays.

One quarter of Greene County’s adults have received one vaccination

Vaccination at Greenetrack parking lot conducted by the National Guard

According to the Alabama Department of Public Health (ADPH), 25% or more of Greene county’s adults, over the age of 16 have received one or more doses of coronavirus vaccine. The ADPH Coronavirus Dashboard, on the state’s website, shows that as of March 30, 2021 there were 2,927 does of vaccine administered to Greene County adults. This includes 2,081 who received one shot and 874 who are fully vaccinated with two shots of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one shot of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. In a press release yesterday, the ADPH says 25% of adult residents of 35 Alabama counties including: Greene, Marengo, Hale, Wilcox, Perry, Lowndes, Dallas, Sumter, Choctaw, Monroe, Washington, Macon and Bullock in the Black Belt, have received at least one dose of coronavirus vaccine. Last Wednesday, March 24, a total of 396 people were vaccinated at the Health Department in downtown Eutaw and a special vaccination site administered by the National Guard at the Greenetrack parking lot. In all, the National Guard has administered 3,738 shots in 24 Alabama rural counties as part of a targeted effort that began last week. The ADPH says in its press release that, “Successful public health efforts to achieve vaccine equity have resulted in higher vaccine uptake among African American residents of Black Belt counties.” This comes after an initial period where immunization of African-Americans, who are more vulnerable to the disease, lagged behind in vaccinations. 64% of the most vulnerable populations above the age of 75 have received one dose or more in Alabama as of yesterday. ADPH says. “People in this age group are at high risk of hospitalization, illness, and death from COVID-19. As we age, our immune cells become more difficult to activate. ADPH maximized our limited vaccine resources to help protect these Alabama residents. Regrettably, 78.8 percent of Alabamians who have died due to COVID-19 are age 65 and older. Vulnerable older residents have been prioritized in our Vaccine Allocation Plan for that reason.” ADPH says that supply remains an issue, as there is not yet enough vaccine available for everyone who would like to be vaccinated. The state continues to receive more vaccine distribution from the Federal government and hopes to make shots available to all who want the by the end of April 2021. ADPH encourages the use of facial coverings after the state mandate ends on April 9, 2021. Masks or other facial coverings will no longer be a mandate after April 9, but ADPH reminds everyone that masks remain one of the most successful tools to help reduce the spread of COVID-19. Many businesses and healthcare facilities will continue to require facial coverings in their facilities. Hospitals and nursing homes are under federal guidance that supports the use of facial coverings, and we anticipate the requirement for facial coverings to remain in place at those facilities.

Newswire: Day 2 of Chauvin trial was rife with emotional witness testimony

Former Officer Chauvin has knee on George Floyd’s neck

 By:  Paige Elliott, Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder

The second day of the Derek Chauvin murder trial was full of emotional and heart-wrenching witness testimony. Witness after witness spoke of the despair, helplessness, and the struggle to come to grips with what they witnessed when George Floyd lost his life under the knee of Chauvin on March 25, 2020. In agonizing detail, the witnesses, many of whom are underage and therefore not shown on video by court order, described how heartbroken and haunted they remain over Floyd’s killing almost a year ago. Donald Williams continued his testimony from the opening day of the trial. The prosecution walked Williams through what he witnessed on Memorial Day when he stumbled upon the scene of Floyd’s fatal arrest while headed to Cup Foods. It was revealed on Tuesday that Williams, like 911 operator Jenna Scurry who testified the day before, “called the police on the police.” After Floyd was taken away in an ambulance, an emotional Williams called 911 to report the incident. “I believe I had just witnessed a murder,” Williams recalled. Williams added that he placed the call because he “didn’t know what else to do,” as he couldn’t establish a human connection—what he termed as a “human being relationship”—with the police on the scene, so he reached out for help. Tears streamed down his face when his call was played in the courtroom. Defense attorney Eric Nelson spent a lot of time trying to undercut Williams’ experience and knowledge as a mixed martial arts fighter and former wrestler. However, Williams was not on the stand as an expert. As legal analyst Laura Coates said on CNN, “They’re attacking the very idea that he [Williams] was never there to present.”  Williams also rejected the idea presented by the defense that the bystanders grew into an angry mob as time wore on. “I grew professional. I stayed in my body. You can’t paint me out to be angry,” he said. Chuck Rosenberg, a former U.S. Attorney, and legal analyst told MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell that the defense’s cross-examinations of the witnesses so far was “mediocre” because it has taken Nelson “a very long time to make minor points. The best cross-examinations are short and simple,” he said. “And so far, from what I’ve seen from the defense, the cross-examinations have not been short and have not been simple.” Darnella Frazier, 18, was the second witness to take the stand on Tuesday. As a minor at the time of Floyd’s death, her face was not shown on camera, though the court has allowed her last name to be printed. Though unseen, Frazier’s voice effectively conveyed her pain. At times she spoke in hushed tones, with her voice breaking.  We learned that Frazier was on her way to Cup Foods with her young cousin, but like Williams, she never made it into the store. Instead, she escorted in her cousin so she wouldn’t witness what was happening between Floyd and the police officers outside. Frazier stayed outside and eventually took out her camera and began recording—her video of the incident is what was initially posted on social media and sparked the national and international outcry against Floyd’s killing. Frazier, though emotional, was consistent on the witness stand. She recalled Floyd stating, “I can’t breathe; please get off of me,’” while he lay handcuffed in the prone position under Chauvin’s knee. “He cried for his mom. He was in pain,” said Frazier. “He seemed like he felt it was over for him. He was suffering. It was a cry for help.” She recalled the bystanders saying to Chauvin: “You’re hurting him,” “Are you enjoying this?” “His nose is bleeding,” and “You’re a bum. She said she didn’t recall Chauvin offering any “care” for Floyd at any time she was there. “If anything,” she said, “he was actually kneeling harder. He was shoving his knee in his neck. I felt like he was feeding off of our energy.” Like Williams, Frazier countered the defense’s claim that the crowd was hostile. “Any time someone tried to get close, they [the cops] were defensive, so we couldn’t even get close,” Frazier said. She pointedly noted that the only violence she saw that day was from the police officers, and that Chauvin “had a cold look, heartless. It seemed like he didn’t care.“ When the paramedics arrived, Frazier said Chauvin still didn’t release his knee from Floyd’s neck. “No, the ambulance person had to get him to lift up. He checked his pulse first while Mr. Chauvin’s knee still remained on George Floyd’s neck. The paramedic made a motion to get up,” she recalled. The defense’s line of questioning centered on Frazier having limited knowledge of what else had occurred prior to her arriving and what else may have been going on in the surrounding area at the time. Inexplicably, the defense asked if the video she recorded changed Frazier’s life. She replied that it had. This left the door open for the prosecution to redirect and ask Frazier to explain how the video changed her life. She replied, “When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad, I look at my brothers, my cousins, and uncles because they are all Black. I have a Black father; I have a Black brother … I look at how that could have been them.” She continued, “I stay up apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and for not physically interacting and not saving his life. But it’s not what I should have done, it’s what he [Chauvin] should have done,” she said through tears. It was the most emotional moment of the trial thus far and widely seen as a misstep by the defense. “The lesson here,” said Rosenberg about the defense’s line of questioning, “unless you really have something to add by opening your mouth and talking in court, sit down and be quiet.” Frazier’s nine-year-old cousin took the stand next; she capped an emotional first half of the afternoon before recess. She was seen in surveillance video with the word “love” on her shirt, but what she witnessed at her tender age was anything but.  She gave a brief testimony describing what she saw that day and how it made her “sad and kinda mad” because she felt the cops were stopping Floyd’s breathing and hurting him. She also recalled how a paramedic had to ask Chauvin to release his knee from Floyd’s neck.  The defense did not cross-examine her. Two other underage witnesses took the stand, including Kaylynn Ashley Gilbert, 19, who was on her way to Cup Foods to buy a phone charger. She ended up joining the bystanders and taking phone footage of Floyd’s death. She teared up on the witness stand and said she felt like she “failed” Floyd because the police preventing her from helping him. The day closed with moving and at times pointed testimony from Genevieve Hansen, 27, a firefighter and certified EMT worker who was out walking when the commotion on the corner of 38th St. & Chicago Avenue caught her attention. She said she heard someone say, “They’re killing him” and walked over to see what was going on.  She was immediately alarmed by what she saw. “I was concerned to see a handcuffed man who was not moving with officers with their whole body weight on his back and a crowd that was stressed out,” she recalled. Hansen wanted to render medical aid to Floyd. “I would have been able to provide medical attention to the best of my abilities,” Hansen said, “and this human was denied that right.” She, like two other witnesses, also called 911 to report what she saw.  Hansen and Nelson had a few heated exchanges when Nelson tried to paint the bystanders as an angry mob. Hansen said she was more desperate than angry. “I don’t know if you’ve seen anybody be killed, but it’s upsetting,” she said. Judge Peter Cahill struck her comment from the record.

COVID -19

As of March 23, 2021 at 10:00 AM (according to Alabama Political Reporter) Alabama had 511,789 confirmed cases of coronavirus, (2,313) more than last week with 10,450 deaths (87) more than last week) Greene County had 899 confirmed cases, (8 more cases than last week), with 33 deaths Sumter Co. had 1,024 cases with 32 deaths Hale Co. had 2,149 cases with 72 deaths

Eutaw City Council approves budget but tables most other items until IRS lien can be resolved

The Eutaw City Council met twice in March on the ninth and twenty-third to consider a similar agenda. The Council approved the latest version of a budget, prepared by Financial Consultant, Ralph Liverman, paid essential bills but did not approve other new purchases and initiatives pending a resolution of an outstanding problem with IRS. The Council approved the fifth version of a budget submitted by its special financial adviser, Ralph Liverman. The budget, which includes $3.5 million in projected revenues and $3.2 million in projected expenses was prepared using the best data available from past and current operations. The budget is divided into seven funds based on revenue streams. The budget includes: General Fund Administration, General Fund Police, General Fund Street and Sanitation, General Fund Debt Service, Water and Sewer Fund, 7-Cent Gas Tax Fund, 4-Cent Gas Tax Fund, Special Street Fund, and Capital Improvements Fund. “We have an approved budget for the city, which is a plan that can be amended and changed as we learn more about our finances and critical needs. We also have an accountant doing an audit for us for the past three years – 2018, 2019 and 2020, which helps us to know where we stand and allows us to apply for new grants,” said Mayor Latasha Johnson. The Council requested an update on the situation with IRS from Kathy Bir, the City Clerk. Ms. Bir did not have a report at first but went to get copies of correspondence from her office. She said that she had been overwhelmed with other work priorities like payroll and also had been sick. Mayor Johnson said, “We have been very lenient on this but we have been asking for this information on IRS for five months.”The problem with IRS has two parts. IRS filed a lien against the City for unpaid Employee taxes during the past administration of Mayor Raymond Steele. There also is a second problem with a report filed by Ms. Bir, which was incorrect because the wrong figures were placed on the wrong lines of a quarterly earnings report filed with IRS. This report and problem have been corrected by Ms. Bir but no confirmation of the correction has been received from IRS by the City. The City owes IRS for these problems that are accumulating interest and penalties as long as they are unresolved. The Council expressed concern that they cannot move forward with other new purchases, such as needed police cars and a GIS mapping of city utilities, until the issues with IRS are clarified and a payment plan developed for the outstanding amount owed to IRS. Mayor Johnson said, that with the help of Ralph Liverman, she had written a letter to IRS to get a clear statement of the amount owed and the reasons for the debt. “We have not received an answer to our letter yet, so we will need to keep following up because we need results and not excuses to resolve this problem,” said Mayor Johnson. The Council agreed to pay outstanding bills for routine business but tabled action on most new expenses. In the March 9th meeting, the Council approved payment of $8,950 to Layne Christensen Company and $24,000 for payment to Sheppard Services LLC for repairs and replacement of well pumps for the water system. In response to requests from City Engineer Babbs, the Council approved joining the 811 Alabama Location Center, to get advanced notice of new construction affecting underground utility lines. The cost of this membership is $520 per year. The Council tabled Babbs request for a GIS Mapping System ($40,000) of the streets and utility lines needed for future grant requests for maintenance and repair, until the IRS claims can be resolved. The Council also tabled requests for new police vehicles, a SCADA and Telemetry system for the City water system, purchase of tractors and street improvement equipment and approval of the Utility Operations Policy and Procedures Manual until the IRS issues are resolved. The Council did approve $5,000 for upgrading the computers, networking and telephone system at City Hall, which will provide answering services and other improvements to the system. It approved arrangements for on-line payment of utility bills using debit, credit cards and other forms of non-cash payment. The Council approved entering into an agreement with Community Services of West Alabama for the payment of utility bills to help low-income residents. The Council also approved a contract with Jordan Vending Services for the placement of vending machines for water and Gatorade at the Robert H. Young Community Center (old Carver Elementary School). They also approved a timeclock for employees that will be coordinated with the ADT payroll service to provide more accurate records of hours worked by the city’s staff. The Mayor asked Terry Tyson to report on his audit of the city water meters. Terry has visited 753 water meters, about half of the meters. He has found problems with meters installed incorrectly, meter id numbers not correctly matched to the billing system, and some meters not included in the billing system. He plans to visit all of the meters and correct the problems as part of his agreement with the City. The Mayor and City Council noted that storm shelters are needed for Branch Heights, National Guard Armory and Carver School and Community Center. The Mayor said that she was working out the details on locating and constructing these shelters.

Bingo distribution for February totals $485,963.85, with additional $71,000 from Greenetrack

On Tuesday March 23, 2021, Greene County Sheriff’s Department reported a total distribution of $485,963.85 for the month of February from four licensed bingo gaming operations in the county.  The bingo distributions were contributed by Frontier, River’s Edge, Palace and Bama Bingo. Greenetrack distributed an additional $71,000.   The recipients of the February distributions from bingo gaming include the Greene County Commission, Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union, Boligee, the Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital (Health System).

Sub charities include Children’s Policy Council, Guadalupan Multicultural Services, Greene County Golf Course, Branch Heights Housing Authority, Department of Human Resources and the Greene County Library. Bama Bingo gave a total of $114,994.98 to the following: Greene County Commission, $30,570; Greene County Sheriff’s $33,750; City of Eutaw, $9,250; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,875; Greene County Board of Education, $10,500, and the Greene County Health System,  $12,500. Sub Charities, each received $1,133.33. Frontier (Dream, Inc.) gave a total of $114,990.00 to the following: Greene County Commission, $30,570; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $33,750; City of Eutaw, $9,250; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $3,875; Greene County Board  of Education, $10,500; Greene County Health System, $12,500. Sub Charities each, $1,132.50. River’s Edge (Next Level Leaders and Tishabee Community Center Tutorial Program) gave a total of $114,994.98 to the following:  Greene County Commission, $30,570; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $33,750; City of Eutaw, $9,250; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee  each, $3,875; Greene County Board of Education, $10,500; Greene County Health System, $12,500. Sub Charities each, $1,333.33. Palace (TS Police Support League) gave a total of $140,983.89 to the following: Greene County Commission, $37,478.82; Greene County Sheriff’s Department, $41,377.50; City of Eutaw, $11,340.50; and the Towns of Forkland, Union and Boligee each, $4,750.75; Greene County Board of Education, $12,873 and the Greene County Health System, $15,325; Sub Charities each, 1,389.47. On Tuesday March 23, 2021, Greene County Sheriff’s Department reported a total distribution of $485,963.85 for the month of February from four licensed bingo gaming operations in the county.  The bingo distributions were contributed by Frontier, River’s Edge, Palace and Bama Bingo. Greenetrack distributed an additional $71,000.   The recipients of the February distributions from bingo gaming include the Greene County Commission, Greene County Sheriff’s Department, the cities of Eutaw, Forkland, Union, Boligee, the Greene County Board of Education and the Greene County Hospital (Health System).

Newswire: House passes sweeping police reform named after ‘George Floyd’, but will it pass the Senate? 

George Floyd

By Jane Kennedy

(TriceEdneyWire.com) – Only those with the hardest of hearts will ever forget the dying words of George Floyd, a Black man who gasped, “I can’t breathe!” as a white Minneapolis police officer literally choked him to death. The horrific incident, which was captured in video, set off a season of protests across the United States and the globe and a national reckoning of the racial and criminal injustice that have plagued African Americans for generations. In a late-night session on March 3, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, largely along party lines and with just one vote by a Republican, Texas Rep. Lance Gooden, who later said in a since-deleted tweet that it was an accident and he had pressed the wrong button. This landmark, wide-ranging police reform legislation has received broad support from a wide variety of civil rights organizations, including the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the NAACP, the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc., the National Urban League, the National Action Network, the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, and several other civil and human rights groups. “Never again should an unarmed individual be murdered or brutalized by someone who is supposed to serve and protect them,” Rep. Karen Bass (D-CA), who authored the bill, said in a statement. “Never again should the world be subject to witnessing what we saw happen to George Floyd in the streets in Minnesota.” Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis, Minn. officer responsible for Floyd’s death, was fired and will soon be tried on a third-degree murder charge. Jury selection was beginning this week. The bill, which must be signed by President Biden before it becomes law, aims to end racial profiling, change the culture of the nation’s police departments, build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve—and save lives. The bill – if passed by the Senate and signed by the President, would: • Prohibit federal, state, and local law enforcement from racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling. • Mandate training on racial, religious, and discriminatory profiling for all law enforcement. • Require law enforcement to collect data on all investigatory activities. • Ban chokeholds and carotid holds at the federal level and conditions law enforcement funding for state and local governments banning chokeholds. • Ban no-knock warrants in drug cases at the federal level and conditions law enforcement funding for state and local governments banning no-knock warrants at the local and state level. • Require that deadly force be used only as a last resort and requires officers to employ de-escalation techniques first. Changes the standard to evaluate whether law enforcement use of force was justified from whether the force was “reasonable” to whether the force was “necessary.” • Limit the transfer of military-grade equipment to state and local law enforcement. • Require federal uniformed police officers to wear body cameras and requires state and local law enforcement to use existing federal funds to ensure the use of police body cameras. • Require marked federal police vehicles to have dashboard cameras. • Make it easier to prosecute offending officers by amending the federal criminal statute to prosecute police misconduct. The mens rea requirement in 18 U.S.C. Section 242 will be amended from “willfulness” to a “recklessness” standard. • Enable individuals to recover damages in civil court when law enforcement officers violate their constitutional rights by eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement. The Justice in Policing Act also establishes public safety innovation grants that community-based organizations can use to create local commissions and task forces to develop equitable public safety approaches, much like former President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. In addition, it requires the creation of law enforcement accreditation standard recommendations. “This represents a major step forward to reform the relationship between police officers and communities of color and impose accountability on law enforcement officers whose conscious decisions preserve the life or cause the death of Americans, including so many people of color,” said civil rights attorneys, Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, on behalf of the Floyd family in a statement. Civil rights leaders are ecstatic over the bill’s passage but may soon find they will have to temper both their enthusiasm and expectations. The House passed a similar bill last year, but then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell buried it in what came to be referred to as his “legislative graveyard.” In a CNN interview last week, Bass said that she has been in talks with Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Tim Scott (R-SC) for several weeks, and current Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) will likely put some version of the bill on the floor for consideration and a vote. But first, obstacles will have to be overcome. Although Democrats now control the Senate, with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Kamala Harris, some Democrats may require some convincing and 10 Republican votes also will be needed for passage. Senate Republicans have claimed that the House bill puts police officers in danger and makes communities less safe. They also object to the provision that eliminates qualified immunity and prosecutorial standards, the major sticking point that they believe would subject law enforcement officers to excessive litigation. But Democrats argue it is needed to hold police accountable for unnecessary use of deadly force. That’s a red line for me, Scott told the Associated Press. “Hopefully we’ll come up with something that actually works.”  

Newswire : How Racism and Sexism intertwine to torment Asian-American Women

Shaila Dewan   By: New York Times

 Shuran Huang for The New York Times Kira Hung holding a sign that says “Stop Asian Hate” during a march in response to the shootings in Georgia, in Washington on Wednesday. After eight people, six of them Asian women, were fatally shot this week in a rampage near Atlanta, a law enforcement official said that in the gunman’s own words, his actions were “not racially motivated,” but caused by “sexual addiction.” The official, Capt. Jay Baker of the Sheriff’s Office in Cherokee County, where one of the three massage businesses targeted by the gunman was located, cautioned that the investigation was in its early stages. But the implication was clear: It had to be one motive or the other, not both. That suggestion was met with incredulity by many Asian-American women, for whom racism and sexism have always been inextricably intertwined. For them, racism often takes the form of unwanted sexual come-ons, and sexual harassment is often overtly racist. With reports of anti-Asian attacks surging after the Trump administration repeatedly emphasized China’s connection to the Covid-19 pandemic, there is evidence that most of the hate, unlike other types of bias crime, has been directed at women. “People on here literally debating if this was a misogynistic attack against women or a racist attack against Asians,” Jenn Fang, the founder of a long-running Asian-American feminist blog, Reappropriate, wrote in a scathing Twitter thread. “What if — wait for it — it was both.” Captain Baker’s briefing on the attacks on Wednesday included an assertion that the accused gunman, who is white, had been having “a really bad day,” which many women took as yet another way of excusing violence against them. His comments were widely criticized, and he was found to have promoted sales of an anti-Asian T-shirt. The Sheriff’s Office later said in a statement that the captain’s remarks were “not intended to disrespect any of the victims” or to “express empathy or sympathy for the suspect.” But the apology seemed to do little to quell a sense that the authorities were missing the point. “Law enforcement and society in general tends to really not understand how racism and hate and prejudice is directed toward Asian-Americans, and certainly not understand how it’s directed toward Asian-American women,” said Helen Zia, an activist and author who has tracked anti-Asian violence. “So the instant reaction is generally to discount and dismiss it.” There is a long history of misogyny and violence directed specifically at Asian women by men of all races — including Asian men. Asian-American women have long been stereotyped as sexually submissive, portrayed in popular culture as exotic “lotus blossoms” and manipulative “dragon ladies,” or as inherently superior to other women in a way that erases their individuality. They have been subjected to backlash for any failure to conform to those stereotypes and trolled for choosing non-Asian partners. Despite vast economic inequality among Asian-Americans, they are often assumed to be accomplished, financially successful members of a “model minority,” a fabrication sometimes used to denigrate other racial groups by contrast. Sung Yeon Choimorrow, the executive director of the National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, an advocacy group, said that when she first came to the United States to attend college in 2000, she was “stunned, dumbfounded, horrified” by the way she was frequently approached by male strangers who professed to love Korean women. “It is the ‘Me so horny, I love you long time,’ in like weird accents, and ‘Oh, are you Korean? I love Korea,’” she said, adding that she began to wonder if American men were crazy. They would “go into this whole thing about how they served in the military in Korea and how they had this amazing Korean girlfriend that was just like me. And will I be their girlfriend?” The men, she said, ranged in age from the very young to the very old, and seemed never to understand that their attention was not flattering. “I’ve experienced racism. I’ve experienced sexism. But I never experienced the two like that as I have when I came to the United States.” She said many Asian-American women viewed Tuesday’s shooting rampage as the culmination of this racialized misogyny. “I’m telling you, most of us didn’t sleep well last night,” she said. “Because this was what we had feared all along — we were afraid that the objectification and the hypersexualization of our bodies was going to lead to death.” Federal data suggest that across the country, the victims of most violent hate crimes are men. Yet a recent analysis by a group called Stop AAPI Hate, which collects reports of hate incidents against Asian-American and Pacific Islander communities, said that out of nearly 3,800 incidents recorded in 2020 and 2021, more than two-thirds of the reports came from women. Hate crimes against Asian women are almost certainly undercounted, and Ms. Zia said one reason is that those with a sexual dimension tend to be classified as sex offenses, in effect erasing the racial aspect. Stereotypes of Asian women as submissive may embolden aggressors, she said. “We’re seen as vulnerable,” she said. “You know — the object that won’t fight back.” Very little is known about the motives of the Atlanta gunman, but organizations that track hate crimes have paid increasing attention to misogyny as a “gateway drug” to other types of extremism, such as violent racism, in the wake of mass shootings at yoga and fitness studios frequented by women and the slaughter of 10 people in Toronto in 2018 by a self-described “incel,” or involuntary celibate. The deaths of 77 people in Norway in a shooting and bombing attack in 2011 were widely portrayed as a result of right-wing extremism, but the attacker, Anders Breivik, also viewed feminism as a significant threat. In 2018 the Southern Poverty Law Center and the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism began to track what they call male supremacist terrorism, fueled by aggrieved male entitlement and a desire to preserve traditional gender roles, according to a brief by the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism. The Anti-Defamation League published a report called “When Women Are the Enemy: The Intersection of Misogyny and White Supremacy.” Scholars say the fetishization of Asian women, and a corresponding emasculation of Asian men, have long histories shaped by United States law and policy. The Page Act of 1875, which ostensibly banned the importation of women for prostitution, effectively prevented Chinese women from entering the United States, while laws prohibiting mixed-race marriages left male Chinese immigrants perpetual bachelors. Kyeyoung Park, a professor of anthropology and Asian-American studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, said Asian immigrants have historically been viewed exclusively through the lens of their labor or businesses. In the case of the spas in Georgia, she said capitalism based on racial exploitation has been intertwined with the sexualization of Asian women, and particularly Korean women, over many decades. The police have not said whether any of the three spas had ties to sex work. “I think the origin of these massage parlors can be traced back to Korean War brides and military wives,” Dr. Park said. Overseas, poverty and the privations of war gave rise to a prostitution industry that provided inexpensive sex to American servicemen in Korea, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, compounding stereotypes of Asian women as exotic sex objects or manipulators trying to entrap American husbands. Sexual imperialism was not limited to Americans; the Japanese also forced Chinese, Filipino and Korean women into prostitution as so-called comfort women in the 1930s and ’40s. Many women who were in the sex trade were brought to the United States as brides, and some of them who were later separated or divorced from their husbands started massage parlors, a history that likely helped shape a perception of all Asian-run spas as illicit and the women who work in them as sex workers, Dr. Park said.”

Newswire: Biden: States should open vaccinations to all adults by May 1

President Joe Biden

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent

 Just hours after signing into law his massive $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, President Joe Biden addressed the nation and announced the implementation of his next phase of a national strategy to put the pandemic in the country’s rear-view mirror. The President declared that he would direct states, tribes, and territories to make all adults eligible for the coronavirus vaccine by May 1. In his first prime-time address since taking over the Oval Office, President Biden proclaimed a goal of getting the nation closer to normal by the July 4 holiday. “If we do our part, if we do this together, by July 4, there’s a good chance you, your families, and friends will be able to get together in your backyard or in your neighborhood and have a cookout and a barbecue and celebrate Independence Day,” he noted as he stared firmly into the television camera. Speaking from the East Room of the White House, President Biden said returning to normal requires everyone to continue wearing face coverings, social distancing, and getting vaccinated. More than 529,000 Americans have died since the pandemic began, and nearly 30 million have contracted the virus. “We all lost something,” the President declared. “A collective suffering, a collective sacrifice, a year filled with the loss of life. In the loss, we saw how much there was to gain. An appreciation, respect and gratitude,” he uttered. Within his first hours in office, President Biden launched a comprehensive strategy to defeat the pandemic. He noted that in the seven weeks since, the Administration has delivered more than 81 million vaccinations and more people can visit their loved ones again. “There is more work to do,” the President reminded viewers. He promised that the White House COVID-19 Response Team has concluded that the accelerated vaccination efforts will enable prioritized vaccinations that will prove far enough along by the end of April that officials could lift all eligibility restrictions at that time. The President outlined a “ramped-up effort” to create more places for people to get vaccinated, enabling officials to reach those hardest hit and most challenging to reach. Over the next six weeks, the Administration will deliver vaccines directly to up to an additional 700 community health centers that reach underserved communities, increasing the total number of participating community health centers across the country to 950, White House officials said. The Administration also will double the number of pharmacies participating in the federal pharmacy program, making the vaccine available at more than 20,000 pharmacies in locations convenient to all Americans. Pharmacies are also directed to expand mobile operations into the hardest-hit communities to reach more people. The Administration promises to more than double the number of federally run mass vaccination centers, run by FEMA, the U.S. military, and other federal agencies in partnership with states, to ensure that we reach the hardest-hit communities in this historic effort. “Finding light in the darkness is a very American thing to do,” President Biden said. He also used the national platform to denounce racism and hate crimes against Asian Americans, whom the previous Administration targeted as the cause of the pandemic. “There have been vicious hate crimes against Asian Americans who’ve been attacked, harassed, blamed, and scapegoated,” President Biden remarked. “At this very moment, so many of them, our fellow Americans, are on the front lines of this pandemic trying to save lives and still are forced to live in fear for their lives just walking down streets in America. “It’s wrong, it’s un-American, and it must stop.”

Newswire : City of Minneapolis settles wrongful death suit with Floyd family for $27 million

Press Conference announcing settlement

By: MSN News Online

     “We are grateful to the leadership of the City of Minneapolis,” said George Floyd’s family attorney Ben Crump as he opened an hour-long press conference in which it was announced that the City had agreed to pay out $27 million to settle the Floyd family wrongful death lawsuit.   The $27 million is the largest-ever payout by the City of Minneapolis, topping the $20 million paid to the family of Justine Ruszczyk in 2019. The settlement is the second-largest in U.S. history. “Today they [City of Minneapolis] have shown that the life of George Floyd and Black lives matter to them. We applaud this responsible city leadership,” Crump said. The Minneapolis City Council approved the settlement unanimously. The settlement has raised lots of speculation on how this will affect the outcome of the Derek Chauvin trial. Chauvin is on trial only blocks away for the second and third-degree murder of Floyd. “When George Floyd was horrifically killed on May 25, it was a watershed moment in America,” said Crump. He pointed out that over 50 million witnessed Floyd “tortured to death.” Crump said that once you see the video of Floyd’s fatal arrest, you cannot un-see it. “Breonna Taylor and George Floyd will be forever linked in history,” said Crump. Louisville settled a wrongful death lawsuit for $12 million with Taylor’s family in September. “Because of the pandemic, everything else in America has shut down except for implicit bias and police excessive force, ” added Crump. George’s brother Philonise Floyd said he was “relieved” that a settlement had reached but said, “If I could get him back, I would give all of this back.” “George’s legacy for those who loved him will always be his spirit of optimism that things can get better, and we hope this agreement does just that—that it makes things a little better in Minneapolis and holds up a light for communities around the country, said George’s brother Rodney. As part of the settlement, $500,000 would be contributed to businesses in the 38th Street and Chicago corridor where Floyd was killed. Lawyers also mentioned that the City had discussed tightening its policy on body cameras, enlisting a new policy to help police disengage in tense situations, as well as a new panel on the use of force–all of which was made public for the first time. “If you don’t fix the policies, you will be seeing us again,” warned attorney Chris Stewart. The Chauvin criminal trial was on the minds of the attendees and press alike. One of the teams of attorneys said partial justice would be no justice at all, alluding to the settling of the suit as a kind of partial justice. One questioner asked why the settlement was reached now, while Chauvin is on trial for murdering Floyd. Another asked if the two were related. Councilmember Andrea Jenkins asked for calm in the streets regardless of the trial outcome. She said in the future she will be seeking “transformational healing” and said this is a step toward that healing.  “Our settlement with George Floyd’s family reflects a shared commitment to advancing racial justice and a sustained push for progress,” said Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey. When confronted with a question about why there were so many fortifications, soldiers, and barbed wire the mayor said they were a precaution against what happened when “White Supremacists used the protest as cover for destruction. We want to encourage peaceful protesting,” he said.