Monday News: Death sentence

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FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DOES NOT TRACK COVID 19 CASES AT PRIVATELY-RUN PRISONS: On Sunday, a public health director in North Carolina confirmed one inmate and at least three staff members have tested positive for the virus at Rivers Correctional Institution near the Hertford County town of Winton. It is a low-security prison for men run by the GEO Group in Boca Raton, Fla. Sue Allison, a spokeswoman for the bureau, confirmed last week in an email that the bureau’s case tracking does not include the privately run prisons. She did not say why. Efforts to reach bureau officials on Sunday by phone and email were unsuccessful. Irving Joyner, a law professor for N.C. Central University in Durham, said the lack of reporting out of privately-run federal prisons is another example of governmental officials not taking seriously the health and welfare of inmates in a pandemic. “This is just another example of dereliction of duty as it relates to the safety of that population that’s incarcerated by our government,” he said.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/article242125516.html

BIGOTS "ZOOMBOMB" GAY ASIAN'S COOKING SHOW IN ASHEVILLE: About half an hour into the lesson, after Chong tossed the sauce with cooked penne and was preparing to take audience questions, around a dozen new accounts flooded into the video stream. Chong’s first thought: “Cool, more people are joining.” Instead, the new entrants began spewing a string of slurs toward Chong. Both verbally and on Zoom’s chat feature, the intruders got off a torrent of anti-Asian and homophobic epithets before CSE staff scrambled to block off all accounts. While the entire episode lasted around 20 seconds, those listening in said it seemed much longer. “It felt like forever,” said Al Murray, CSE’s director of engagement and organizational development. “It was infuriating. It was heartbreaking. J is an incredible human and just walks through the world with so much kindness. She is the last person I’d wish this upon.” The intrusion into J Chong’s lesson represented two broad trends of the COVID-19 outbreak: disruptive video chat “bombings” and growing incidents — both nationally and locally — of discrimination against Asian-Americans.
https://www.wral.com/anti-asian-zoombombing-of-nc-woman-shows-troubling-trend/19061512/

NCAE ELECTS NEW LEADERSHIP, GEARING UP FOR ACTION: The North Carolina Association of Educators announced Friday that Tamika Walker Kelly had been elected president of the group and that Bryan Proffitt had been elected vice president. They had run as a ticket and are the co-chairs of NCAE Organize 2020 Racial & Social Justice Caucus, which helped organize protests in May 2018 and May 2019 that caused schools to shut down across the state while educators marched on state lawmakers. The results are unofficial until certified by the NCAE board of directors. Walker Kelly replaces Mark Jewell, who did not run for another term. Proffitt replaces Kristy Moore, who unsuccessfully ran against Walker Kelly for president. Walker Kelly is an elementary school music teacher in Cumberland County. Proffitt is former president of the Durham Association of Educators and was a history teacher at Hillside High School. Proffitt co-founded Organize 2020, which this year surveyed school employees across the state about how many days of work they’re willing to miss to pressure the General Assembly to meet their funding demands. They were considering escalating the one-day protests that had been done the last two springs.
https://www.newsobserver.com/news/local/education/article242095136.html

CONGRESS IS ABOUT TO PASS $470 BILLION BOOSTER FOR COVID 19 RELIEF: The agreement would include $75 billion for hospitals and $25 billion for testing, which have been major Democratic demands. Some $60 billion in the new funding for the Paycheck Protection Program would be targeted specifically for smaller financial institutions to ensure loans for minority and lower-served areas, said people familiar with the plan who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe it. “We want to make sure that it’s reaching all of America’s small businesses,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said on ABC News. “And we also want to make sure that it’s operating in a community where our police and fire, our health-care workers, our doctors, nurses, our teachers are being compensated for and not fired. And that’s why we’re asking for the additional funds in the package, as well as for hospitals so that we can do testing, testing, testing.” “I think we’re very close to agreement,” Pelosi said. The lack of testing has been a major pressure point throughout the pandemic, with lawmakers and governors lashing out at the federal government for its failures in that regard even as Trump has increasingly blamed governors.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/us-policy/2020/04/19/trump-coronavirus-democrats-small-business/

FAULTY ANTIBODY TESTS HAVE FLOODED THE U.S. THANKS TO TRUMP ADMINISTRATION RECKLESSNESS: In recent weeks, the United States has seen the first rollout of blood tests for coronavirus antibodies, widely heralded as crucial tools to assess the reach of the pandemic in the United States, restart the economy and reintegrate society. But for all their promise, the tests — intended to signal whether people may have built immunity to the virus — are already raising alarms. The Food and Drug Administration has allowed about 90 companies, many based in China, to sell tests that have not gotten government vetting, saying the pandemic warrants an urgent response. But the agency has since warned that some of those businesses are making false claims about their products; health officials, like their counterparts overseas, have found others deeply flawed. Tests of “frankly dubious quality” have flooded the American market, said Scott Becker, executive director of the Association of Public Health Laboratories. Many of them, akin to home pregnancy tests, are easy to take and promise rapid results. As President Trump presses to reopen the country and several states are considering lifting lockdowns in the next few weeks, widespread screening is considered critical. On Friday, Mr. Trump cheered the F.D.A.’s emergency approval of some antibody tests, saying they would support efforts to get Americans back to work “by showing us who might have developed the wonderful, beautiful immunity.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/19/us/coronavirus-antibody-tests.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stor...

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Escaped Butner inmate interview

It's a hell of a story, and I feel for the guy. But I'm afraid he's not going to get what he wants when he's back in custody.

Franklin Graham Central Park stunt update

NC media still isn't paying much attention to the story, but bigot Franklin Graham's publicity stunt in Central Park is generating more concerns and protests in NYC and some lawmakers are weighing in. Per the Guardian on 4/19:

Natalie James, a member of Reclaim Pride Coalition, which staged a protest outside the hospital on Tuesday, said: “Franklin Graham, their notoriously transphobic and homophobic leader of their organisation, had an Easter sermon right there in Central Park next to those tents, which I can only imagine was furthering their fundraising.”

Among those who spoke at the protest was Timothy Lunceford-Stevens, who said he was rejected as a volunteer by Samaritan’s Purse because he did not want to sign the statement of faith. James said the protesters were not necessarily trying to shut down the hospital – acknowledging that help was needed – but that the group wanted Samaritan’s Purse to drop the statement of faith, which they believe could be in violation of state and city human rights laws.

A group of US lawmakers from New York – including the Democrats Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Adriano Espaillat and Jerry Nadler – wrote a public letter warning of their “concern about the policies governing Samaritan’s Purse emergency field hospital in Central Park specifically, the implications for LGBTQIA+ New Yorkers with Covid-19”.

The letter, addressed to New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo; the New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio; and the Mount Sinai Health System CEO, Kenneth Davis, called for answers to a series of questions, including details of the process that granted the charity use of public land, any non-discriminatory agreements in place and funding.