(Cambridge Health Alliance) COVID-19 Vaccine Primer for Primary Care

Last month, primary care doctor John Adams realized that coronavirus vaccines would be coming very soon, and he wasn’t ready for them. He didn’t know enough yet to counsel patients or make his own decision about whether to get one. And some of his colleagues at the Cambridge Health Alliance COVID-19 clinic in Somerville, Mass., felt the same.

“It was very much like, ‘We need to learn more about how these things work, because they’re coming fast’,” Dr. Adams says, “and we all sort of shared these doubts.”

They also shared unusually intense experience with COVID-19: The clinic has treated thousands upon thousands of patients since March, and its staff knows better than most how devastating the virus can be.

So Adams and physician assistant Neha Sandeep did some research. And at a meeting earlier this month, they presented their findings to the clinic’s medical staff — including their conclusion that although it took just one year instead of the usual 10 or 15 to develop the first coronavirus vaccines authorized for use, that didn’t mean corners had been cut.

“So these vaccines have been developed under a sort of a rapidly accelerated timeline,” Dr. Adams explained to colleagues. “So — if you go to the next slide — the way that that’s happened is basically by doing everything super fast and also sort of stacking these various phases.”

The presentation also addressed the newness of the mRNA technology the first two vaccines use: “Before going into this presentation, I was kind of worried about the idea [that with] these mRNA vaccines, you’re injecting genetic material into the cells,” he said. “I was worried: Could this cause cancer?”

“But actually safety is a big advantage of the mRNA vaccines,” Adams explained, because they trigger the immune system without the risk of using an actual virus to do it, and they have been tested for years in humans — though against cancer rather than viruses.

wbur.org/commonhealth/2020/12/30/somerville-clinic-coronavirus-vaccination


CHA physician Gerard Coste, MD provides a COVID-19 vaccine primer for healthcare and essential workers. This is intended for use by clinicians and leaders to share details about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, answer questions about their safety and support widespread adoption to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Learn more via NPR affiliate WBUR:

wbur.org/commonhealth/2020/12/30/somerville-clinic-coronavirus-vaccination


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(Joint Chiefs of Staff) Memorandum for the Joint Force

Letter from Joint Chiefs of Staff, US Military

military.com/daily-news/2021/01/12/unprecedented-joint-letter-top-generals-denounce-us-capitol-riot.html


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(Campbell Harvey) We are in another Bitcoin Bubble

This is not financial advice. Seek the counsel of trusted professionals applicable for your personal goals. Please do your homework.


The word VALUE, it is to be observed, has two different meanings, and sometimes expresses the utility of some particular object, and sometimes the power of purchasing other goods which the possession of that object conveys. The one may be called ‘value in use;’ the other, ‘value in exchange.’ The things which have the greatest value in use have frequently little or no value in exchange; and, on the contrary, those which have the greatest value in exchange have frequently little or no value in use.

Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations Chapter IV: Of the Origin and Use of Money

Campbell Harvey, via Linkedin:

We are in another bitcoin bubble. The latest spin: Bitcoin is the “new” gold.

We are in another bitcoin bubble. The latest spin: Bitcoin is the “new” gold. The value of all the world’s gold is $9 trillion. Potential bitcoin supply equals 21 million, meaning 1 bitcoin should be worth $400,000.

Nonsense. First, gold has fundamental value with 70% used in jewelry and some in technology. Bitcoin is purely digital. Second, bitcoin is impractical for transactions & lacks the operationality (loans, derivatives) of Ethereum-based protocols. Bitcoin relies on its “store of value,” but has massive volatility, roughly 4 times the vol of gold or the S&P.

Matt’s note: I have added links for the reader’s reference

I have taught a blockchain course for 7 yrs and have a new book on DeFi (https://lnkd.in/ebgQzyy). I believe in the potential of this technology. In Dec 2017 when bitcoin was near $20k, I penned a Washington Post OpEd stating that bitcoin was in a bubble as retail investors rushed to create accounts. Today, the surge is driven by institutional investors trying to “ride the bubble.” BITW is a fund that holds cryptocurrencies. It is trading at a 600% premium to the value of the underlying assets! My warning about bitcoin is similar to my warning about certain growth stocks. Many are buying as prices rise, the so-called ”buy-high” strategy, which usually does not end well. #bitcoin #cryptocurrency #blockchain

https://www.linkedin.com/posts/camharvey_bitcoin-cryptocurrency-blockchain-activity-6745784283828404224-QGsU/


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More:

Gold, the Golden Constant, COVID-19, ‘Massive Passives’ and Déjà Vu:

papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=3667789


Matt’s worthless ramblings on the 6 purposes of any currency:

linkedin.com/posts/matthew-krupczak_top-6-functions-of-money-discussed-activity-6742177346809303040-xNlI


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(Bridgewater) Beyond the Election: What Doesn’t Change Will Be a Lot More Than What Does

While the US election is very important across many dimensions, it’s also worth keeping in mind that the dominant forces which are now shaping economic/market conditions will remain the dominant forces. We see the following conditions as the primary determinants of future economic/market outcomes:

1. The impact of the virus is likely to be big for another year or more on the overall level of spending and income as well as on differences in the level of spending and income across sectors and economies.

2. We will still be in an MP3 world where fiscal policy, supported by monetary policy, will be the primary lever for managing the economy, and the need for wise lever pulling will be substantial. That brings with it the uncertainty of the political decision-making process as well as differences across countries in the ability and willingness to take action over time.

3. The world will be awash in liquidity, with monetary success (i.e., reflation) leading to ever-increasing piles of cash which steadily lose real purchasing value.

4. Abundant liquidity will continue to seek out storeholds of wealth that protect against the risks of those assets most impacted by lower levels of income and spending as well as the devaluation of money resulting from MP3 policies.

5. While these conditions are most prevalent in the West, they are not so prevalent in the East, thus creating a step change in the secular shift of economic power from West to East. We expect global capital to move similarly over time.

bridgewater.com/research-and-insights/beyond-the-election-what-doesnt-change-will-be-a-lot-more-than-what-does


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Reichstag Fire

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reichstag_fire

The Reichstag fire (German: Reichstagsbrand, listen(help·info)) was an arson attack on the Reichstag building, home of the German parliament in Berlin, on Monday 27 February 1933, precisely four weeks after Adolf Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany. Hitler’s government stated that Marinus van der Lubbe, a Dutch council communist, was the culprit, and it attributed the fire to communist agitators. A German court decided later that year that Van der Lubbe had acted alone, as he had claimed. The day after the fire, the Reichstag Fire Decree was passed. The Nazi Party used the fire as a pretext to claim that communists were plotting against the German government, which made the fire pivotal in the establishment of Nazi Germany.

Hitler hoped to abolish democracy in a more or less legal fashion, by passing the Enabling Act. The Enabling Act was a special law that gave the Chancellor the power to pass laws by decree, without the involvement of the Reichstag.


The Atlantic (+)

“The Election That Could Break America”

Publication Date: September 20th, 2020


theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/11/what-if-trump-refuses-concede/616424/

The Atlantic
“The Election That Could Break America”

This year, if election analysts are right, we know when the trouble is likely to come. Call it the Interregnum: the interval from Election Day to the next president’s swearing-in. It is a temporal no-man’s-land between the presidency of Donald Trump and an uncertain successor—a second term for Trump or a first for Biden. The transfer of power we usually take for granted has several intermediate steps, and they are fragile.

Concessions employ a form of words that linguists call performative speech. The words do not describe or announce an act; the words themselves are the act. “The concession speech, then, is not merely a report of an election result or an admission of defeat,” the political scientist Paul E. Corcoran has written. “It is a constitutive enactment of the new president’s authority.”

The battle space of the Interregnum, if trends hold true, will be shaped by a phenomenon known as the “blue shift.”

Edward Foley, an Ohio State professor of constitutional law and a specialist in election law, pioneered research on the blue shift. He found a previously un­remarked-upon pattern in the overtime count—the canvass after Election Night that tallies late-reporting precincts, un­processed absentee votes, and provisional ballots cast by voters whose eligibility needed to be confirmed.

Two things began to change about 20 years ago. The overtime count got bigger, and it trended more and more blue. In an updated paper this year, Foley and his co-author, Charles Stewart III of MIT, said they could not fully explain why the shift favors Democrats. …

It was Florida, however, that seized Trump’s attention that year. On Election Night, Republicans were leading in tight contests for governor and U.S. senator. As the blue shift took effect, Ron DeSantis watched his lead shrink by 18,416 votes in the governor’s race. Rick Scott’s Senate margin fell by 20,231. By early morning on November 12, six days after Election Day, Trump had seen enough. “The Florida Election should be called in favor of Rick Scott and Ron DeSantis in that large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged,” he tweeted, baselessly. “An honest vote count is no longer possible—ballots massively infected. Must go with Election Night!”

Trump was panicked enough by the blue shift in somebody else’s election to fabricate allegations of fraud. In this election, when his own name is on the ballot, the blue shift could be the largest ever observed. Mail-in votes require more time to count even in a normal year, and this year there will be tens of millions more of them than in any election before. Many states forbid the processing of early-arriving mail ballots before Election Day; some allow late-arriving ballots to be counted.


The Electoral College

Matt’s Note: admittedly, an un-democratic snatch of the electoral delegates feels unlikely to occur, but that is not reason enough to ignore both its (questionable) constitutional legality and the reported planning of such action by the Republican party:

December 8 is known as the “safe harbor” deadline for appointing the 538 men and women who make up the Electoral College. The electors do not meet until six days later, December 14, but each state must appoint them by the safe-harbor date to guarantee that Congress will accept their credentials. The controlling statute says that if “any controversy or contest” remains after that, then Congress will decide which electors, if any, may cast the state’s ballots for president.

We are accustomed to choosing electors by popular vote, but nothing in the Constitution says it has to be that way. Article II provides that each state shall appoint electors “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct.

Trump may test this. According to sources in the Republican Party at the state and national levels, the Trump campaign is discussing contingency plans to bypass election results and appoint loyal electors in battleground states where Republicans hold the legislative majority. With a justification based on claims of rampant fraud, Trump would ask state legislators to set aside the popular vote and exercise their power to choose a slate of electors directly

Matt’s note: emphasis my own, and does not reflect the views of or reporting from The Atlantic


https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1326343694912466944?s=20
9:00pm 2020-11-10

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is brushing aside results of last week’s presidential election, saying with a grin that the “transition” to a second Trump term would be “smooth,” before saying the State Department is ready for any eventuality. (Nov. 10)

news.yahoo.com/pompeo-us-ready-transition-2nd-194805306.html

Video Transcript

MIKE POMPEO: There will be a smooth transition to a second Trump administration. Right, we’re ready. The world is watching what’s taking place. We’re going to count all the votes. When the process is complete, there’ll be electors selected. There’s a process. The Constitution lays it out pretty clearly.

The world should have every confidence that the transition necessary to make sure that the State Department is functional today, successful today, and successful with the president who’s in office on January 20 a minute after noon will also be successful. I went through a transition on the front, and I’ve been on the other side of this. I’m very confident that we will do all the things that are necessary to make sure that the government, the United States government, will continue to perform its national security function as we go forward.

I’m getting calls from all across the world. These people are watching our election. They understand that we have a legal process. They understand that this takes time, right? Took us 37 plus days in an election back in 2000, conducted a successful transition then. I am very confident that we will count, and we must, count every legal vote. We must make sure that any vote that wasn’t lawful ought not be counted. That dilutes your vote if it’s done improperly. Gotta get that right. When we get it right, we’ll get it right. We’re in good shape.

– Any foreign?

MIKE POMPEO: Yeah, any foreign interference.

– Yeah.

MIKE POMPEO: So I’m going to I’m going to leave that question to the Department of Homeland Security and to the Justice Department folks who deal with that. But as I think we all said prior to the election, we did an enormous amount of work to reduce the risk that they would have the capacity to have a significant capability to interfere in the elections themselves.




More:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fascism

Fascism (/ˈfæʃɪzəm/) is a form of far-right, authoritarian ultranationalism[1][2] characterized by dictatorial power, forcible suppression of opposition and strong regimentation of society and of the economy[3] which came to prominence in early 20th-century Europe.[4] The first fascist movements emerged in Italy during World War I, before spreading to other European countries.[4] Opposed to liberalism, Marxism, and anarchism, fascism is placed on the far right within the traditional left–right spectrum.[4][5][6]

Fascists saw World War I as a revolution that brought massive changes to the nature of war, society, the state, and technology. The advent of total war and the total mass mobilization of society had broken down the distinction between civilians and combatants. A “military citizenship” arose in which all citizens were involved with the military in some manner during the war.[7][8] The war had resulted in the rise of a powerful state capable of mobilizing millions of people to serve on the front lines and providing economic production and logistics to support them, as well as having unprecedented authority to intervene in the lives of citizens.[7][8]

Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete and regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic difficulties.

Fascism rejects assertions that violence is automatically negative in nature and views political violence, war, and imperialism as means that can achieve national rejuvenation.

Fascists believe that liberal democracy is obsolete and regard the complete mobilization of society under a totalitarian one-party state as necessary to prepare a nation for armed conflict and to respond effectively to economic difficulties.[9] Such a state is led by a strong leader—such as a dictator and a martial government composed of the members of the governing fascist party—to forge national unity and maintain a stable and orderly society.[9] Fascism rejects assertions that violence is automatically negative in nature and views political violence, war, and imperialism as means that can achieve national rejuvenation.[10][11] Fascists advocate a mixed economy, with the principal goal of achieving autarky (national economic self-sufficiency) through protectionist and interventionist economic policies.[12]


The Conspiracy Theories That Fueled the Civil War – The Atlantic

May 29, 2020

theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2020/05/conspiracy-theories-civil-war/612283/

Matt’s note: The Declaration(s) of Causes of Seceding States are a useful primary source for those who hold skepticism on the causes of the Civil War. Read them, and decide what to think for yourself. (+)


The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire is a six-volume work by the English historian Edward Gibbon. It traces Western civilization (as well as the Islamic and Mongolian conquests) from the height of the Roman Empire to the fall of Byzantium. Volume I was published in 1776 and went through six printings.

Thesis

Gibbon offers an explanation for the fall of the Roman Empire, a task made difficult by a lack of comprehensive written sources, though he was not the only historian to attempt it.

According to Gibbon, the Roman Empire succumbed to barbarian invasions in large part due to the gradual loss of civic virtue among its citizens.


Reading:

While “The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire” , with its first volume’s release in 1776, is an important work, I believe I’ve read that modern historians believe it has some flaws.

Tom Holland’s “Rubicon: The Last Years of The Roman Republic” may be a better place to start for most readers.

Dan Carlin’s “Death Throes of the Republic” podcast series is another great resource. It does a great job of giving ancient Rome, its society, and its culture some narrative color and texture through the stages of its progression and eventual collapse. Dan Carlin might describe himself as more as an entertainer than historian to some, though.


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(New England Journal of Medicine) Dying in a Leadersip Vacuum

nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMe2029812

Covid-19 has created a crisis throughout the world. This crisis has produced a test of leadership. With no good options to combat a novel pathogen, countries were forced to make hard choices about how to respond. Here in the United States, our leaders have failed that test. They have taken a crisis and turned it into a tragedy.

The United States came into this crisis with enormous advantages. Along with tremendous manufacturing capacity, we have a biomedical research system that is the envy of the world. We have enormous expertise in public health, health policy, and basic biology and have consistently been able to turn that expertise into new therapies and preventive measures. And much of that national expertise resides in government institutions. Yet our leaders have largely chosen to ignore and even denigrate experts.

The response of our nation’s leaders has been consistently inadequate. The federal government has largely abandoned disease control to the states. Governors have varied in their responses, not so much by party as by competence. But whatever their competence, governors do not have the tools that Washington controls. Instead of using those tools, the federal government has undermined them. … Our current leaders have undercut trust in science and in government,4 causing damage that will certainly outlast them. Instead of relying on expertise, the administration has turned to uninformed “opinion leaders” and charlatans who obscure the truth and facilitate the promulgation of outright lies.

Anyone else who recklessly squandered lives and money in this way would be suffering legal consequences. Our leaders have largely claimed immunity for their actions. But this election gives us the power to render judgment. Reasonable people will certainly disagree about the many political positions taken by candidates. But truth is neither liberal nor conservative. When it comes to the response to the largest public health crisis of our time, our current political leaders have demonstrated that they are dangerously incompetent. We should not abet them and enable the deaths of thousands more Americans by allowing them to keep their jobs.

New England Journal of Medicine Editorial: “Dying in a Leadership Vacuum

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New England Journal of Medicine

Publication Date: February 28, 2020

There are two reasons that Covid-19 is such a threat. First, it can kill healthy adults in addition to elderly people with existing health problems. The data so far suggest that the virus has a case fatality risk around 1%; this rate would make it many times more severe than typical seasonal influenza, putting it somewhere between the 1957 influenza pandemic (0.6%) and the 1918 influenza pandemic (2%).2

Second, Covid-19 is transmitted quite efficiently. The average infected person spreads the disease to two or three others — an exponential rate of increase. There is also strong evidence that it can be transmitted by people who are just mildly ill or even presymptomatic.3 That means Covid-19 will be much harder to contain than the Middle East respiratory syndrome or severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which were spread much less efficiently and only by symptomatic people. In fact, Covid-19 has already caused 10 times as many cases as SARS in a quarter of the time.

nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp2003762

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Blue lips. Blackened skin. Blood leaking from noses and mouths. Coughing fits so intense they ripped muscles. Crippling headaches and body pains that felt like torture. These were the symptoms of a disease that was first recorded in Haskell County, Kansas, one hundred years ago this week, in January 1918. From Kansas the illness spread quickly: not only throughout the U.S. but across the world. Eventually (if misleadingly) it became known as Spanish flu. And while its effects on the body were awful, the mortality rate was truly terrifying.

During a pandemic that lasted two years from its outbreak in the U.S., between 50 million and 100 million people across the globe died. Spanish flu killed more people than any pandemic disease before or since, including the sixth-century Plague of Justinian, the medieval Black Death, the AIDS epidemic or Ebola.

The First World War, which was ending just as the flu took hold, killed barely a third as many people with bullets and bombs as the H1N1 strain of influenza did with coughs and shivers.

history.com/news/spanish-flu

One cannot know with certainty, but if the upper estimate of the death toll is true, as many as 8 to 10 percent of all young adults then living may have been killed by the virus.


…perhaps two-thirds of the deaths occurred in a period of twenty-four weeks, and more than half of those deaths occurred in even less time, from mid-September to early December 1918.

Influenza killed more people in a year than the Black Death of the Middle Ages killed in a century; it killed more people in twenty-four weeks than AIDS has killed in twenty-four years.

John Barry’s: The Great Influenza pg. 19, Prologue

cdc.gov/flu/pandemic-resources/1918-commemoration/three-waves.htm


Housing was so scarce [in Philadelphia] that Boy Scouts canvassed the area seeking rooms for newly arrived women with war jobs. Two, three, and four entire families would cram themselves into a single two-or three-room appartment, with children and teenagers sharing a bed. In rooming houses laborers shared not just rooms but beds, often sleeping in shifts just as they worked in shifts. In those same tenements, the city’s own health department had conceded that during the winter of 1917-18 ‘the death rate’ has gone up owing to the high cost of living and scarcity of coal.

John Barry’s: The Great Influenza pg. 330 Ch. 17

The winter of 1917-18 was the coldest on record east of the Rocky Mountains, barracks were jam-packed, and hundereds of thousands of men were still living in tents. Camp hospitals and other medical facilities had not yet been finished. An army report conceded the failure to provide warm clothing or even heat. But most dangerous was the overcrowding.

John Barry’s: The Great Influenza pg. 240, Ch. 11

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(Bridgewater) Tracking and Assessing Monetary Policy 3 Around the World

bridgewater.com/research-and-insights/tracking-and-assessing-monetary-policy-3-around-the-world

In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, we have built out our framework for understanding economic policy going forward: what we call Monetary Policy 3. In short, with interest rates around the world at zero and traditional methods of monetary stimulus now ineffective, policy makers have been forced to turn to coordinated monetary and fiscal policy in order to engineer any hope for a sustained recovery. Senior Portfolio Strategist Jim Haskel sits down with Co-CIO Greg Jensen and senior investor Jason Rotenberg to discuss how we’re tracking MP3 implementation around the world, the divergences we’re seeing between countries, and the challenges policy makers are facing.

August 6, 2020 By Greg Jensen, Jason Rotenberg, Jim Haskel

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The Philips Curve: Unemployment and Inflation

economist.com/schools-brief/2020/08/20/why-does-low-unemployment-no-longer-lift-inflation

Although the flat Phillips curve puzzles central banks as much as anyone, they may be partly responsible for it. The curve is supposed to slope downwards (when inflation or unemployment is high, the other is low). But central banks’ policies tilt the other way. When inflation looks set to rise, they typically tighten their stance, generating a little more unemployment. When inflation is poised to fall, they do the opposite. The result is that unemployment edges up before inflation can, and goes down before inflation falls. Unemployment moves so that inflation will not.

The relationship between labour-market buoyancy and inflation still exists, according to this view. And central banks can still make some use of it. But precisely because they do, it does not appear in the data. “Who killed the Phillips curve?” asked Jim Bullard, an American central banker, at a conference of his peers in 2018. “The suspects are in this room.”

But what happens when the killers run out of ammunition? To keep the Phillips curve flat, central banks have to be able to cut interest rates whenever inflation threatens to fall. Yet they can run out of room to do so. They cannot lower interest rates much below zero, because people will take their money out of banks and hold onto cash instead.

When Mr Bullard spoke, the Federal Reserve expected the economy to continue strengthening, allowing it to keep raising interest rates. But that proved impossible. The Fed was able to raise interest rates no higher than 2.5% before it had to pause (in January 2019) then reverse course. The neutral interest rate proved to be lower than it thought. That left it little room to cut interest rates further when covid-19 struck.


What do changes in the Fed’s longer-run goals and monetary strategy statement mean?


Is Stagflation Next?



cnbc.com/2020/06/24/accurate-economic-research-group-using-math-derived-from-skull-measurements-sees-slower-recovery.html

2020-06-15
From “Portfolio Choice with Path-Dependent Preferences
MIT Sloan School of Managment and State Street Associates

IMF.org/basics

This is why *cough* stimulus as a policy measure is important!
It is a sorry state of the Congress when the Fed passes the baton,
only to say months later that they may end up having to take it back!

Previously:


Take a look here especially at the February Monetary Policy Report from the Federal Reserve


The Inflation vs. Deflation tug-of-war (2020-04-28):

seekingalpha.com/article/4340323-inflation-vs-deflation-tug-of-war


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(Natalie Papillion) It’s finally time to defund the drug war


equityorganization.org


naacp.org

aclu.org


washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/08/09/portland-police-union-fire/

oregonlive.com/portland/2020/08/saturday-night-riot-todays-top-takeaways.html (+)

theguardian.com/us-news/2020/aug/09/portland-protesters-clash-police-building-fire

Situation declared a riot as police use flashbang munitions and smoke canisters to force hundreds away


Matt’s note: Of the three articles here, I prefer The Oregonian’s.

Both The Washington Post (‘baldy’s boys) and The Guardian seem to editorialize quite a bit, but from different directions.

On such a polar topic as this, I believe reading many sources of different political leanings (especially the ones you disagree with) is important.

Also, you want to know what the quickest way to loose support for a movement is?

  • No clearly defined, obtainable objectives
  • No formal organizational movement or administration
  • Set fire to police buildings and commit violence, or respond to it in kind

Shame. Shame for those who squander the legacy of what civil rights leaders have worked for decades to establish.

Shame for those who forget Dr. King’s long march to freedom

Shame for those who forget the bravery and foresight of those who chose to march. To march for their vote, to march in the most bigoted parts of the deep south, and yet still choose nonviolent activism: to stand and get beaten and bloody for all the nation to see on television:



It’s finally time to defund the drug war

In the wake of George Floyd’s killing, the public has demanded policies like chokehold bans, access to police department’s personnel files, and an end to the idea of qualified immunity. Politicians have countered with talk of body cams, anti-bias training and a harder look at municipal budgets. 

Most of these efforts are well-intentioned. Many are worthwhile. But despite the recent flurry of policing and criminal justice-related reforms, there’s been virtually no discussion around one of the biggest drivers of over-policing and racial injustice in America: our five-decade long War on Drugs. 

“there’s been virtually no discussion around one of the biggest drivers of over-policing and racial injustice in America: our five-decade long War on Drugs.”

If we’re serious about making real change in the US then it’s time we started talking about defunding the drug war.

If we’re serious about making real change in the US then it’s time we started talking about defunding the drug war.

The war rages on

To be fair, it’s often hard to remember we’re still embroiled in the expensive, expansive War on Drugs. After all, the hysteria around (Black) crack babies and dope dealers has been replaced by nuanced portraits of (White) victims of the opioid epidemic. Recent years have seen shifting sentiment around substances like marijuana and the tempering of once-absurdist drug education. 

Even the rhetoric has changed. Gone are the Reagan-era invocations of “public enemy number one”. They’ve been replaced by the compassionate — though deceptive — language of drug courts, dependency issue, a public-health crisis.

But make no mistake: despite its diminished presence in our public and political consciousness, the war’s still very much on. Every year, our elected officials funnel tens of billions of dollars and destroy countless lives in order to prop up America’s discriminatory and counterproductive drug policies.

Predictably, Black people are generally the ones who pay most dearly, and as recent events sadly demonstrate, oftentimes the price is their life. 

It’s no coincidence that a responding officer taunted the crowd by saying “this is why you don’t do drugs, kids”

Their deaths are visceral reminders of our country’s long, sordid history of using drug use — real or imagined — to control, criminalize, and brutalize minority communities.

There’s a direct throughline from our drug war policies to the botched no-knock arrest that killed Breonna Taylor. It’s no coincidence that a responding officer taunted the crowd by saying “this is why you don’t do drugs, kids” as Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd’s neck. Their deaths are visceral reminders of our country’s long, sordid history of using drug use — real or imagined — to control, criminalize, and brutalize minority communities.

As headline after headline and data point after data point demonstrate, in both its inception and its enforcement, the War on Drugs—and the carceral state it has helped to create—has really always been a War on People. 

And more specifically, a war on Black and brown people.

How policy can help

The racialized reality of American drug enforcement isn’t a bug, it’s a feature. From the very beginning, the explicit goal of our country’s drug policies were to criminalize members of what Harry Anslinger — the grandfather of American drug enforcement—believed to be “the degenerate races“. 

Anslinger architected marijuana prohibition, a policy that’s been a linchpin of broken-windows policing and mass incarceration, and pushed it through Congress with fabricated evidence and testimony that “reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.” 

….pushed it through Congress with fabricated evidence and testimony that “reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”

A cursory look at our militarized law enforcement agencies, prejudicial penal code, over-policed minority neighborhoods, and distended criminal justice system, demonstrates the countless ways the drug war has served to animate and exacerbate many of the racial injustices and social inequities we’re grappling with today. And to add insult to injury, this unyielding crusade has done virtually nothing to curb American drug consumption.

Criminal justice reform has become an increasingly popular, bipartisan issue over the past few years. But though one of every five people currently incarcerated in American prisons and jails is there because of a drug conviction, there’s been very little political movement around drug policy reform issues.

As our politicians pay lip service to ideas around decriminalization and drug courts, American police departments are still making over a million drug possession arrests each year. And unfortunately, the few drug-related reforms that have been prioritized (eliminating crack and powder cocaine sentencing disparities, drug courts, etc.) betray a superficial understanding of both the law and our criminal justice system. Marijuana decriminalization efforts, for example, barely make a dent in the number of — or racial disparities related to — weed-related arrests

Even if one were to just focus on our policy of federal cannabis prohibition, we’re still talking about millions of stop-and-frisks, traffic stops, summonses, arrests and probation violations each year. In fact, American law enforcement agencies make more arrests for marijuana possession than all ‘violent’ crimes combined

Unsurprisingly, most of these cannabis-related encounters are overwhelmingly centered in African-American communities. Despite virtually identical rates of consumption Black people are almost four times as likely as their white peers to be arrested on marijuana charges.

Despite virtually identical rates of consumption Black people are almost four times as likely as their white peers to be arrested on marijuana charges.

And while it’s true that fewer people are serving long prison sentences for weed than they were a decade ago, our draconian and ever-expanding system of collateral consequences means that a marijuana-related encounter can easily result in eviction, student loan ineligibility, and the impossibility of ever being able to access gainful employment. 

Marijuana isn’t a gateway drug—at least not in the sense most people imagine. However, it is a gateway for Black people to arrests, incarceration, and death and defamation at the hands of the state. 

The good news is, the vast majority of Americans agree that the War on Drugs has been an abject, spectacular failure. And though these highly polarized times mean it’s rare to find an issue that brings together people of different political persuasions, when it comes to dismantling the drug war… well, there’s an angle for everyone. 

Libertarians can focus on the conflict’s role in the expansion of civil asset forfeiture . Conservative commentators should speak up about the civil liberties violations associated with racially biased and pre-textural stops

Good governance groups should look into claims that the Department of Justice is devoting most of its resources to advancing Bill Barr’s personal drug-related vendetta. Criminal justice-minded reformers can focus on claims that cities have ceased arrest quotas and “stops and frisks”. After all, police departments continue to collect billions in taxpayer dollars that are directly tied to the number of drug-related arrests. 

Even the most dispassionate observer should be concerned about tanks — given to police departments by the Department of Defense for counternarcotics operations— parading down small town streets.

Matt’s Note: “Tank” is a word often over-used by the under-informed. Minor pet-peeve of mine. Police departments have been gifted absurd amounts of military surplus equipment and $800,000 Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles though, to which I am guessing this author was intending to refer to.

And for those who cite the ‘will of the people” to justify their inaction? 91% of American adults are fed up with our current approach to drug policy. 

To be clear, drug policy reform will not end the over-policing of Black communities or eliminate the racial inequities embedded in American society. It alone will not eliminate state-sanctioned violence. Nor will it reverse the devastating and disproportionate harms of the War on Drugs. 

But—if done thoughtfully, with a focus on public health—a more humane and equitable approach to drug policy will pull millions of people out of a penal system that marks them for life. It will help people get the help they need, while simultaneously reducing the unnecessary and unjust harassment of (predominantly Black and brown) communities.

…a more humane and equitable approach to drug policy will pull millions of people out of a penal system that marks them for life.

It will help change a culture that for too long has looked to drug use to justify mass incarceration, police violence, and death at the hands of the state.

It will help change a culture that for too long has looked to drug use to justify mass incarceration, police violence, and death at the hands of the state. It’s not a panacea, but it is a worthwhile start.

Natalie Papillion is the Founder and Executive Director of The Equity Organization, a national not-for-profit organization working towards a more just, effective and equitable approach to drug policy and criminal justice. She is also the author of the forthcoming  ”Reefer Madness: The Roots of Drug Prohibition in America,” a history of drug policy in the early twentieth century.

This is an opinion column. The thoughts expressed are those of the author(s).

Read the original article on Opinion Contributor. Copyright 2020. (Business Insider)


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project-syndicate.org/topic/breaking-the-drug-war-habit


nationalinterest.org/blog/reboot/want-stop-police-brutality-start-ending-war-drugs-now


en.wikiquote.org/wiki/John_Ehrlichman

John Daniel Ehrlichman (March 20, 1925February 14, 1999) was counsel and Assistant to the President for Domestic Affairs under President Richard Nixon. He was a key figure in events leading to the Watergate first break-in and the ensuing Watergate scandal, for which he was convicted of conspiracy, obstruction of justice, and perjury and served a year and a half in prison.

The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.

Matt’s note: some have cast doubts on the broad generalizations that Ehrlichman makes in this quote, but personally I believe it is an interesting look into the American psyche and the political considerations that may have unjustly founded the war on drugs.


idpc.net/publications/2011/01/idpc-paper-dutch-drug-treatment-programme


The Wire

theguardian.com/tv-and-radio/2018/mar/06/the-wire-10-years-on-we-tore-the-cover-off-a-city-and-showed-the-american-dream-was-dead

wsj.com/articles/the-wire-is-finished-but-baltimore-still-bleeds

link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12117-018-9350-y

Protection theory searches for analytical links between the absence of state-involvement and the emergence and behaviour of criminal groups. For instance, explaining violence as a means to protect stolen or illegal assets or to ensure criminal agreements in general


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But the greatest risk now, is complacency:

“Would you go so far as to say, crisis averted?”

“Ohh, no? I think it’s way to early to say that. I think we’ve seen fantastic behavior from the public that has spared us the horror of the spike of the disease, but it’s just turned it into a marathon”

“So we can’t let our guard down.”

“Absolutely not. Not unless we want to start looking like… New York.”

Herman Cain, Former C.E.O. and Presidential Candidate, Dies at 74

Mr. Cain sought the 2012 Republican nomination and became an early supporter of Donald Trump’s 2016 bid. He had been hospitalized with the coronavirus.

He attended President Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Okla., last month and tested positive for the coronavirus shortly after.

How Coronavirus Spread Across the U.S. | WSJ

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