Tuesday, June 16, 2020
San Juan The
US Supreme Court Rules Civil Law Protects LGBTTIQ+ Workers P10
Senate to Summon Girl Prosecuted by Labor Secretary Nominee to Testify P4
The Eternal Battle Over ‘Gone with the Wind’ P20
White House Representative Evaluates Local Gov’t Readiness for Hurricane Season
NOTICIAS EN ESPAÑOL P 19
The San Juan Daily Star
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
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June 16, 2020
The San Juan Daily Star, the only paper with News Service in English in Puerto Rico, publishes 7 days a week, with a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday edition, along with a Weekend Edition to cover Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Rear Adm. Brown impressed by island’s level of readiness for hurricane season
By JOSÉ A. SÁNCHEZ FOURNIER @SanchezFournier Special to The Star
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White House representative is aiding in Puerto Rico’s strategy for emergency management
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rying to stay one step ahead of any possible emergency, Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced met with Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González and Rear Adm. Peter J. Brown, the White House special representative for Puerto Rico disaster recovery, to assess the island’s state of readiness for the current hurricane season, which officially began on June 1. “We wanted to have this meeting to make sure we continue working hand in hand and in total cooperation with federal efforts and personnel,” Vázquez said after the meeting, at which several members of her staff were present. One of them, José Burgos, has been touring the island during the past few weeks along with Puerto Rico National Guard Adj. Gen. José Juan Reyes Peredo to make sure shelters and emergency personnel are at the ready in case an emergency situation hits the island, which is still recovering from the impact of category 5 Hurricane Maria in 2017 and from an earthquake early this year. Burgos is the commissioner of the island’s Emergency Management and Disaster Administration Bureau. The governor said the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has a reserve of emergency material and equipment that includes 20,576 bedsheets, 10,342 cots, 432 power generators and 71 light banks, as well as 192,491 blue tarps, over six million liters of water, 26 large water tanks and 6,329,893 meals ready to eat (MREs).
Vázquez underlined the fact that according to all prediction models, this hurricane season is going to be atypical and very active, which requires additional safety measures, without forgetting that the island is also amid a public health emergency due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. But even with this bleak forecast, Brown praised the island’s efforts and degree of readiness for the hurricane season. “The progress that’s already been made in hurricane readiness is truly remarkable,” he said. “We want to make sure that the government and the people of Puerto Rico are as ready as possible for this year’s hurricane season.” “I think the island is much more ready compared to a few years ago,” Brown added. “The lessons learned from hurricanes Jose and Maria and other emergencies were especially valuable for this year’s sheltering plan, with over 300 shelters and capacity for over 42,000 people while complying with social distancing guidelines. Even following those guidelines, the capacity is triple what it was a few years ago. We are all working together.” Another source of worries is the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority (PREPA), which was brought to its knees when Hurricane Maria destroyed a large part of the island’s electrical infrastructure in late 2017, only to be hit again by an earthquake early this year. Brown thinks that despite these previous problems, the island is much better prepared than it was when Hurricane Maria ravaged the above-ground electrical grid and left the majority of residents with no electricity for months in the worst power outage in United States history. It took 11 months -- and frequent short-term outages -- before power was fully restored on the main island. “PREPA is already working with FEMA and with the EPA [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] to make sure that their plants are put to optimal use, to make sure that not only they have the capacity to meet demand, but also reserve capacity as well,” Brown said.
The San Juan Daily Star
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Senate to summon girl prosecuted by Labor secretary nominee to testify at closed hearing By THE STAR STAFF
t the end of Monday’s interrogation process for Labor secretary nominee Carlos Rivera Santiago, Senate Appointments Committee Chairman Héctor Martínez announced he would be summoning special education student Alma Yadira Cruz Cruz to testify as part of the public hearing on the nomination. Rivera Santiago was the prosecutor who pursued charges against Cruz Cruz, who was 11 years old, for the crime of assault in 2016, a decision that was criticized as racially motivated. Charges against the juvenile were dropped two years later. “It will not be the only public hearing,” Martínez replied to a request made by Popular Democratic Party (PDP) Sen. Aníbal José Torres, who insisted on more time to question the nominee about that particular case. Martínez said Cruz Cruz will be summoned to appear in a closed hearing with her mother. The criminal prosecution of the black minor began in 2016 and ended in 2018 when the government dropped the charges. That case generated public discussion about bullying and racial discrimination. Rivera Santiago worked on the Cruz
Cruz case when he was attorney (prosecutor) for minors in the commonwealth Justice Department led at the time by current Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced, who was then the Justice secretary. PDP Sen. Eduardo Bhatia questioned
Rivera Santiago in public hearings about his performance in that case and what he did to stop it. Rivera Santiago acknowledged that he did not stop the case against Cruz Cruz after analyzing its details and the role of
the other girls involved in the case. “I fulfilled my ministerial duty,” Rivera Santiago insisted. Bhatia then said he had to ask how many other girls like Cruz Cruz he prosecuted with the same results.
Island LBGTTIQ+ community celebrates US Supreme Court decision By JOHN McPHAUL firstname.lastname@example.org
BGTTIQ+ community activist Pedro Julio Serrano on Monday celebrated the United States Supreme Court decision that recognizes that federal laws and protections regarding employment discrimination cover LGBTTIQ+ people. “This is an historic victory,” Serrano said in a written statement. “Much more, when we see the conservative and fundamentalist composition of the United States Supreme Court right now. Already in Puerto Rico we have prohibited employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity since 2013 with Law 22. In matters of LGBTTIQ+ rights, we are more advanced than most states and ter-
ritories. In fact, we are in 20th place and that should fill us with pride.” The spokesman for Puerto Rico Para Tod@s called for the protections for LGBTTIQ+ people to be expanded to include public spaces, housing, credit and the rights of minors of sexual and gender diversity. “The glorious thing about this decision is that it was written by [Associate] Justice [Neil] Gorsuch, who was nominated by the homophobe [President Donald] Trump,” Serrano said. “Let homophobes and fundamentalists know: we are not going to take a step back in our fight for equality. We will achieve all our rights and we will fight to eradicate homophobia, lesbophobia, biphobia and transphobia. We want all rights for all people. No more no less; the same.”
The San Juan Daily Star
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Molina: More than meets the eye in Cataño mayor’s arrest Félix Delgado says he wasn’t there for cockfights; Mayors Federation president raises possibility of entrapment By JOSÉ A. SÁNCHEZ FOURNIER @SanchezFournier Special to The Star
he arrest of Cataño Mayor Félix “El Cano” Delgado Montalvo for being among the public at an underground cockfighting event last Friday has brought to the fore the government’s apparent contradiction when it comes to the now illegal practice, known in Puerto Rico as “the sport of gentlemen.” It also underscored the deep-seated loyalty many on the island have toward the now illegal practice of training and fighting game roosters. Delgado Montalvo, who studied civil engineering and is a lifelong Cataño resident, was arrested and accused of violating Article 8 of the 2017 law that makes cockfighting illegal. He will also be accused of violating the executive order that prohibits group gatherings due to the coronavirus pandemic. It is worth noting that Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced has often paid lip service to the large game rooster community in Puerto Rico. As recently as May 22 she posted a message on her Twitter profile stating that
“we are evaluating the time to restart your operations. We want that important cultural and economic industry to return to action with the necessary measures. You continue to have our firm backing.” On Dec. 17 of last year, Vázquez signed into local law a bill that tries to circumvent the federal law that made cockfighting a crime throughout the United States and its territories starting on Jan. 1 of this year. Since the federal law came into effect, the local authorities basically took a “see no evil, hear no evil” philosophy toward cockfighting. Until last Friday, when officers of the commonwealth vice squad intervened at the gathering in the Juana Matos sector of Cataño sector where they apprehended the
town’s first-term mayor. Delgado Montalvo was processed and given a July 22 court date. He received the practically immediate backing of several key figures of the New Progressive Party (NPP), including Arecibo Mayor Carlos Molina, who presides over the Puerto Rico Mayors Federation to which Delgado Montalvo belongs. “I believe in ‘El Cano’ Delgado. He is an excellent mayor; he is a great human being,” Molina said in a radio interview. “He has done an excellent job for his people and he is a person who always goes where people are; he is always with the people, he is always doing activities and they invite him to activities and he is always with them. He is a mayor of the people and I
can attest to that.” Molina floated the theory that perhaps someone wanted to entrap the popular politician in a compromising event, in this case an underground cockfight which, ironically, was held in a relatively open area. Molina seemed to brush off arguments to the effect that the mayor must resign his post if found guilty. “We are going to wait. You have a legal process that you must carry out until its end,” Molina said. “He has proof. He has been straightforward, and I believe in the comments that Félix ‘El Cano’ Delgado made. I believe in the words that he is saying.” Molina pointed out that the young mayor -- one of the rising stars of the prostatehood NPP -- is backing former Resident Commissioner Pedro Pierluisi in the NPP primaries for the candidacy for governor in the November general elections. Vázquez is the other candidate running in the primary for that position. Yet Molina stopped short of offering any conspiracy theories related to the arrest. He simply stated that “everything it is possible in this life.” Delgado Montalvo, meanwhile, said in a press release that he did not participate in the event and that he had just arrived, when an instant later the police were on the scene. “They invited him to an activity in that community,” Molina said. “We [politicians] go to a lot of activities that we are invited to. … He was greeting people [when the police appeared].”
House hearings on budget resolutions postponed until Friday By JOHN McPHAUL email@example.com
ntonio “Tony” Soto Torres, chairman of the Finance, Budget and Supervision, Administration and Economic Stability of Puerto Rico, PROMESA Committee in the island House of Representatives, announced Monday that the House has postponed until Friday the beginning of public hearings on operational budget resolutions for fiscal year 2020-2021. Soto said the decision to postpone the hearings came after an extensive dialogue with the economic component of the executive branch, and awareness of how tight the schedule has been for the central govern-
ment to develop the budget resolutions. “Certainly, the situation created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the certification of the Fiscal Plan at the end of May caused a delay in the preparation of the budget by the Executive and for this reason we have made the decision to postpone the start of public hearings for [this] Friday at 9 a.m.,” Soto Torres said in a written statement. The hearings will begin, as previously announced, with presentations by the Treasury Department, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Puerto Rico Fiscal Agency and Financial Advisory Authority in the Severo Colberg Ramírez Hearing Room, better known as Hearing Room No. 1.
The San Juan Daily Star
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
PDP House members slam NPP colleagues for postponing budget hearings By THE STAR STAFF
Rep. Rafael ‘Tatito’ Hernández.
he Popular Democratic Party (PDP) House delegation chided the New Progressive Party (NPP) majority Monday for postponing hearings on the proposed fiscal year (FY) 2021 budget for Puerto Rico’s government this week, giving lawmakers barely four days of hearings to evaluate the legislation before the June 24 deadline to pass the bill. The PDP delegation says the majority is paving the way for the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico (FOMB) to enact its own version of the budget, as has happened over the past three years, instead of approving the government’s version. The oversight board last week submitted its amended version of the FY 2021 budget after concluding that the government’s version of the budget was not compliant with the fiscal plan certified on May 27. The $10 billion budget for FY 2021 is
higher than the current $9 billion budget despite an expected decrease of about 12 percent in revenues due to the coronavirus pandemic. House Minority Leader Rafael Hernández blamed the cancellation of hearings on the power struggle between Gov. Wanda Vázquez Garced and her contender for the NPP gubernatorial nomination, Pedro Pierluisi. The governor does not want irregularities to come out in an election year, Hernández said. “The governor told all her cabinet members that all of those who appear before the Legislature will be fired,” Hernández said. “She is also slated to give her budget speech outside the Legislature.” With just days to finish the session, the first budget hearing was rescheduled for Friday. “We are only going to have four days to see the budget,” Hernández said. He also blasted House Treasury Committee Chairman Antonio Soto for not do-
ing the work or economic projections to counteract the oversight board’s version of the budget. PDP Rep. Jesús Santa said the budget needs at least one day to receive House approval before it is sent to the Senate. Nonetheless, the Treasury Committee did not need to have the budget to do economic projections or evaluate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on revenues. “That to me was the most important thing. And they have not done that,” Santa said. “It is important to have that information if you are going to challenge the budget in court.” PDP Rep. Luis Vega Ramos said the shortened evaluation of the budget is an attempt by the majority to hide the use of public funds and certain cuts that are improper. “They want the FOMB to carry the burden of the misuse of public funds to avoid the flap in an election year,” Vega Ramos said.
National Guard to add locations for delivery of virus test results for first responders By JOHN McPHAUL firstname.lastname@example.org
he Puerto Rico National Guard (PRNG) announced Monday that it will add new locations for the COVID-19 Test Centers and the delivery of results for first responders. “The health and safety of our first responders is critical to continuing our role in the service of the citizens of Puerto Rico,” said Puerto Rico Adj. Gen. José Reyes in a written statement. “The National Guard maintains an unwavering commitment to the community during these times of concern that we all face,” he added. The PRNG will continue to perform the COVID-19 molecular test on first responders from Monday to Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the following locations: Aguada: Ismael “Chavalillo” Delgado Multipurpose Coliseum Arecibo: Manuel Petaca Iguina Coliseum Bayamón: Rubén Rodríguez Coliseum Ciales: Municipal Theater (closed Sat-
urdays) Coamo: Luis “Wito” Santiago Convention Center (closed Saturdays) Guaynabo: Mario Jiménez Coliseum Guayama: Blondet Community Multiple Use Center Fajardo: Tomás Dones Municipal Coliseum Loíza: Municipal Library Mayagüez: Recreation and Sports Palace Ponce: Urb. Perla del Sur Community Center Yabucoa: Faustino Torres Community Center Brigadier Gen. Miguel Méndez, commander of the Joint Task Force-Puerto Rico, added: “We continue our efforts to protect our [first responders]. As long as the island needs it, our soldiers and airmen will continue saying ‘present’ in support of the government of Puerto Rico.” The delivery of results of the tests carried out between May 1 and May 15 will take place as follows: the results of the tests carried out at Lucía Cubero Elementary School in Aguadilla, Convention Center of Cabo
Rojo, Justo Méndez Amphitheater in Isabela and Luis Aymat Coliseum in San Sebastián will be delivered at the Mayagüez Recreation and Sports Palace. The results of the tests conducted at El Tiburon Community Center in Barceloneta, Florida Medical Plaza in Florida and Francisco “Pancho” Deida Coliseum in Hatillo will be delivered at the Manuel Petaca Iguina Coliseum in Arecibo. The results of the tests carried out at the Eastern Sports Complex in Caguas will
be delivered at Mario Jiménez Coliseum in Guaynabo. The PRNG, which has administered more than 30,000 molecular tests to first responders, will continue to report the results of the tests administered after May 15. For additional information on the COVID-19 test results notification process for first responders, please contact the Call Center at the Emergency Management and Disaster Administration Bureau at 787-523-0801 or 787-523-0802.
The San Juan Daily Star
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Trump’s halting walk down ramp raises new health questions By MAGIIE HABBERMAN
resident Donald Trump faced new questions about his health Sunday, after videos emerged of him gingerly walking down a ramp at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and having trouble bringing a glass of water to his mouth during a speech there. Trump — who turned 74 on Sunday, the oldest a U.S. president has been in his
first term — was recorded hesitantly descending the ramp one step at a time after he delivered an address to graduating cadets at the New York-based academy Saturday. The academy’s superintendent, Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, walked alongside him. Trump sped up slightly for the final three steps, as he got to the bottom. Another video circulated of Trump taking a sip of water from a glass tucked inside his lectern on the dais at West Point. Trump
President Donald Trump applauds as U.S. Army helicopters fly over during the commencement ceremony for the Class of 2020 at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.
held the glass with his right hand and brought it to his mouth, but appeared to momentarily have trouble lifting his arm farther. He used his left hand to push the bottom of the glass so that it reached his lips. Trump posted defensively on Twitter late Saturday about the video circulating of his walk and offered a description that did not match the visuals. “The ramp that I descended after my West Point Commencement speech was very long & steep, had no handrail and, most importantly, was very slippery,” Trump wrote. “The last thing I was going to do is ‘fall’ for the Fake News to have fun with. Final ten feet I ran down to level ground. Momentum!” There was no evidence that the ramp was slippery, and the skies were clear during the ceremony. The videos again raised questions about the health of Trump, whose advisers have never fully explained his abrupt visit to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in November, saying at the time only that it was intended to get a jump on his annual physical. The White House doctor released a memo this month that summarized Trump’s yearly checkup but provided little information beyond blood pressure (normal) and a description of his course of hydroxychloroquine as a prophylactic after the president was exposed to two staff members who tested positive for the coronavirus. The summary
was not the customary report released in the past by Trump and other presidents after a physical. Trump’s difficulty traversing stairs and ramps has come up before, most notably in January 2017, when he clutched the hand of Theresa May, then the British prime minister, as they walked at the White House. The president has frequently tried to raise questions about the health and mental fitness of his rivals, while growing indignant when his own is questioned. Most recently, he and his allies have questioned the mental acuity of the presumptive Democratic nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden, who is 77. But Trump spent much of the fall general election in 2016 challenging the “strength and stamina” of his Democratic rival at the time, Hillary Clinton, who suffered a bout of pneumonia and was videotaped unsteadily being led into a van at the annual ceremony at the World Trade Center site to commemorate the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Trump’s personal physician before he was president, Dr. Harold N. Bornstein, has said publicly that Trump dictated a note the doctor wrote about his fitness when he was a candidate. “If elected, Mr. Trump, I can state unequivocally, will be the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency,” the doctor wrote in the note, which was released in December 2015.
Trump’s niece to publish book with ‘harrowing’ revelations, report says By NEIL VIGDOR
niece of President Donald Trump will divulge a series of “harrowing and salacious” stories about him in an upcoming book, according to a published report. It would be the first time that the president could be forced to grapple with damaging revelations by a member of his own family. The niece, Mary Trump, will release the book, “Too Much And Never Enough,” on Aug. 11, less than three weeks before Trump accepts the Republican nomination for a second term, The Daily Beast reported on Sunday.
The report said that in the book, Mary Trump, 55, will say she was a primary source for The New York Times’ coverage of Trump’s finances and provided the newspaper with confidential tax documents. A spokeswoman for The Times declined to comment on Sunday. Three journalists from The Times received the Pulitzer Prize for explanatory reporting last year for their work providing an unprecedented look at the Trump family’s finances and contradicting Trump’s image of a self-made billionaire. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the report.
Mary Trump is the daughter of Fred Trump Jr., the president’s older brother, who died in 1981. She has mostly kept out of the public eye, except for a family feud over the will of the Trump family patriarch, Fred Trump Sr., who died in 1999. Simon & Schuster, the reported publisher of Mary Trump’s book, did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Several former White House aides and Trump administration members have written books that have been problematic for the president. One of the most glaring examples is a memoir written by Trump’s former national
security adviser, John Bolton, which Trump has sought to prevent from being published. The book’s release has been fraught with disputes over what the Trump administration contends is classified information. The White House is expected to give Bolton a redacted version of his manuscript by June 19, which would be four days before the book’s current publication date. Several books have pulled back the curtain on the Trump White House and have risen to the top of best-seller lists, including the 2018 books “Fear” by Bob Woodward, which was also published by Simon & Schuster, and “Fire and Fury” by Michael Wolff.
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
The San Juan Daily Star
Police chiefs are finding job security is hard to come by
A protest at the Wendy’s in Atlanta were Rayshard Brooksby was shot and killed by police. By SHAILA DEWAN
rika Shields was not your old-line, law-and-order police chief. She came into office in Atlanta in 2017 promising to clean up the “mess we created in the judicial system in the ’80s and the ’90s” by arresting too many people, especially young black men. She imposed a “zero-chase policy” after high-speed pursuits ended in fatalities. She was the first openly gay chief in Atlanta, and the second woman to lead the department. In recent weeks, she was praised for firing the officers who had pulled two college students from a car and Tased them — and for walking into a sea of protesters against police violence to hear their complaints in person. And now, after Atlanta officers fatally shot a man in a Wendy’s parking lot on Friday night, she is out of a job. With her voluntary resignation Saturday, she joined a long and growing line of progressive, reform-minded police chiefs who have stepped down or been fired, often after high-profile episodes of police violence. The position of police chief, once prestigious, might be the most precarious job in America right now. And even with nationwide protests clamoring for change after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May, the risks are particularly high for those whose mission is reform. “You can do everything right and have one officer, one night, do something — and all of a sudden your career is upside down,” said Chuck Wexler, the director of the Police Executive Research Foundation. The foundation is often retained to help find police chiefs for cities, including Philadelphia, Baltimore and now, Louisville, where
the chief was fired earlier this month after a shooting incident that left the owner of a popular barbecue stand dead. The chief, Steven Conrad, was already under fire after an EMT, Breonna Taylor, was killed in a no-knock police raid of her apartment in March. Recruiting chiefs and satisfying city demands are difficult tasks, Wexler said. “There’s this notion that there’s someone else out there who’s better than what you have.” Chiefs must perform a high-wire act of retaining the respect of their officers, aligning with elected officials and giving the community genuine input into policy and operations, he said. Often, pleasing one side means displeasing another. And now chiefs are facing fundamental questions over not just how they police, but why. Even before the current moment of reckoning, chiefs brought in to fix troubled departments often found themselves abruptly unemployed. Baltimore alone is on its fifth commissioner since the death of Freddie Gray in police custody in 2015. Many chiefs have complained that they faced resistance from within the department’s ranks, lacked the power to remove bad officers or install their own leadership teams, and were abandoned by those who appointed them when the going got tough. Some have been shown the door after intense pressure by police unions, while others have been faulted for high-profile episodes that happened on their watch. Garry McCarthy was respected in law enforcement circles for ushering in an era of modernization and experimentation as superintendent of the troubled Chicago Police Department. He was fired in 2015 by the mayor at the time, Rahm Emanuel, over his handling of the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald. Though McCarthy had viewed video of the shooting days after the incident, it took more than a year and a court order for the video to be publicly released.
McCarthy has said he removed the officer who killed McDonald from the streets immediately but did not have the power to fire him. Frank Straub, the former public safety director in Indianapolis and former chief of police in Spokane, Washington, said reformers brought in from outside do not expect to last long. “We’re brought in to shock the system,” he said. A model in which an outside chief stays for a few years and grooms a successor can work well, he said. But in Spokane, it ended badly. Straub, now the director of the Center for Mass Violence Response Studies at the National Police Foundation, instituted the use of body cameras, revised the department’s use-of-force policy and required deescalation training for officers. He said the rank-andfile welcomed the opportunity to become more professional, but the department’s brass opposed him. He was unable to assemble his own command team or remove people from leadership positions, he said. “In some cities the way the labor contracts are written, you have to promote from within,” he said. “What does that do? It just perpetuates the system that’s already in existence.” When the mayor who appointed him was running for reelection, Straub said, he was forced out with the release of letters from high-ranking officers who said he was abusive. A federal judge called his dismissal “a hot mess,” but his wrongful termination suit was unsuccessful. In retrospect, Straub said, he might have been more successful if he had moved at a slower pace. But protesters of police violence today are demanding immediate change. Officers accused of misconduct are being identified, disciplined and even charged with crimes more swiftly, and chiefs have not been spared from repercussions. In Atlanta, Shields appears to have come to the decision to resign on her own. “Out of a deep and abiding love for this City and this department, I offered to step aside as police chief,” she said in a statement. “It is time for the city to move forward and build trust between law enforcement and the communities they serve.” The Georgia NAACP had called on her to resign, saying, “The Atlanta Police Department continues to terrorize protesters and murder unarmed Black bodies.” The statement criticized Shields for failing to hold all six officers involved in the Tasing of the college students “fully accountable” and for objecting to their facing criminal charges. Wexler said he had spoken with Shields, and she told him that she hoped her exit would help calm the city. But hours later, the Wendy’s where the man was killed was set on fire. And even after all the tumult of recent weeks, including the firing of at least four officers, the Atlanta police union said it was sorry to see her go. Vince Champion, the southeast regional director for the International Brotherhood of Police Officers, said the union did not always agree with Shields, who joined the force as an officer in 1995. But he said it was the mayor who should resign, and that Atlanta would be hard pressed to find a better chief than Shields. “If people are blaming her for this situation,” he said, “that’s the wrong place to point the finger.”
The San Juan Daily Star
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
The pandemic claims new victims: Prestigious medical journals By RONI CARYN RABIN
ne study promised that popular blood-pressure drugs were safe for people infected with the coronavirus. Another paper warned that anti-malaria drugs endorsed by President Donald Trump actually were dangerous to these patients. The studies, published in the New England Journal of Medicine and The Lancet, were retracted shortly after publication, following an outcry from researchers who saw obvious flaws. The hasty retractions, on the same day this month, have alarmed scientists worldwide who fear that the rush for research on the coronavirus has overwhelmed the peer review process and opened the door to fraud, threatening the credibility of respected medical journals just when they are needed most. Peer review is supposed to safeguard the quality of scientific research. When a journal receives a manuscript, the editors ask three or more experts in the field for comments. The reviewers’ written assessments may force revisions in a paper or prompt the journal to reject the work altogether. The system, widely adopted by medical journals in the middle of the 20th century, undergirds scientific discourse around the world. “The problem with trust is that it’s too easy to lose and too hard to get back,” said Dr. Jerome Kassirer, a former editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine, which published one of the retracted papers in early May. “These are big blunders.” If outside scientists detected problems that weren’t identified by the peer reviewers, then the journals failed, he said. Like hundreds of other researchers, Kassirer called on the editors to publish full explanations of what happened. In interviews with The New York Times, Dr. Richard Horton, the editor-in-chief of The Lancet, and Dr. Eric Rubin, editor-in-chief of the NEJM, said that the studies should never have appeared in their journals but insisted that the review process was still working. “We shouldn’t have published this,” Rubin said of the study appearing in the NEJM. “We should have had reviewers who would recognize the problem.” Horton called the paper retracted by his journal a “fabrication” and “a monumental fraud.” But peer review was never intended to detect outright deceit, he said, and anyone who thinks otherwise has “a fundamental
misunderstanding of what peer review is.” “If you have an author who deliberately tries to mislead, it’s surprisingly easy for them to do so,” he said. In addition, the editors said, there is an urgent need to rapidly publish new findings to improve treatments for desperately ill coronavirus patients. Since the pandemic began, The Lancet is receiving three times the usual number of papers for consideration, Horton said. And the NEJM has fielded as many as 200 submissions in a day, including essays, according to Rubin. “I’m an infectious disease doctor, I treat COVID-19 patients,” Rubin said. “I’ve been in the hospital recently treating patients, and we have no idea what to do. I’m the primary driver at the journal of saying, ‘We have to get data out there that people can use.’” “We are very careful,” he added. “At our editorial meetings, this comes up almost every day. ‘If we publish this, will it hurt people?’ That’s our biggest concern.” The NEJM and The Lancet are among the oldest, most respected and most widely read medical journals in the world. They were established in 1821 and 1823 and are ranked often first and second among general-interest medical journals by their “impact factor,” the frequency with which their studies are cited in other research. A report in one of these journals can have immediate repercussions both for patients and for research. After The Lancet’s initial publication of the study concluding that the anti-malarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine endangered the lives of coronavirus patients, the World Health Organization and other groups halted clinical trials of the drugs while safety reviews were conducted. The reputation of these journals rests in large part on vigorous peer review. But the process is opaque and fallible: Journals generally do not disclose who reviewed a study, what they found, how long it took or even when a manuscript was submitted. Horton and Rubin declined to provide those details regarding the retracted studies, as well. Critics have long worried that the safeguards are cracking, and have called on medical journals to operate with greater transparency. “We are in the midst of a pandemic, and science is moving really fast, so there are extenuating circumstances here,” said Dr. Ivan Oransky, co-founder of Retraction Watch, which tracks discredited research.
“But peer review fails more often than anyone admits,” he said. “We should be surprised it catches anything at all, the way it’s set up.” Journals used to take many months, or even a full year, to scrutinize and edit a complicated study, a process that included several weeks for outside experts to peer review the research. Now peer review may be condensed to as little as 48 hours; some studies deemed of vital importance to patients may be published online within 20 days of submission. “There is always a tension between getting it fast and getting it right,” said Dr. Marcia Angell, another former editor-inchief of the NEJM. “I always favored getting it right. But in the current pandemic, that balance may have shifted too far toward getting it fast.” (Both retracted studies were led by Dr. Mandeep R. Mehra, a widely published and highly regarded professor of medicine at Harvard, and the medical director of the Heart and Vascular Center at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. In a statement last week, Mehra apologized for the retractions, which he attributed to an eagerness to publish helpful information during the pandemic. He stopped short of calling them fraud, saying only that the data could not be verified by independent auditors. The politicization of the pandemic
also may have played a role in The Lancet’s publication, critics charge. Trump has vigorously endorsed hydroxychloroquine as both preventive and curative treatment for COVID-19. The study’s conclusions at first appeared to rebuke the president. Horton is no fan of Trump, calling his decision to withhold funding from the WHO in April “a crime against humanity.” “Every scientist, every health worker, every citizen must resist and rebel against this appalling betrayal of global solidarity,” Horton wrote on Twitter. On Friday, he said he chose to publish the hydroxychloroquine study only because it showed an immediate danger in widespread use of the drug. The clinical trials should not have been halted, he added. “Because of the political context, and people using this drug on the basis of minimal evidence in its favor, it seemed very important to publish work that at least gave some sense of whether the drug was safe or not,” he said. “That was the motivation behind the publication.” Journal editors are caught in a Catch-22 of sorts, said Dr. Hassan Murad, of the Mayo Clinic, who works with a federal project to review medical evidence. “You want to push the information out quickly to practitioners. It’s a pandemic, it’s an urgent situation.” “At the same time, you want quality control.”
Janet Mendez, left, who spent almost three weeks in the hospital while being treated for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, walks with her mother, Maria, in New York.
The San Juan Daily Star
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Civil Rights Law protects gay and transgender workers, Supreme Court rules
Tiffany Munroe waves a Pride flag during a rally to call attention to violence against transgender people of color in Brooklyn. By ADAM LIPTAK
he Supreme Court ruled Monday that a landmark civil rights law protects gay and transgender workers from workplace discrimination, handing the movement for LGBT equality a stunning victory. The vote was 6-3, with Justice Neil Gorsuch writing the majority opinion. He was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. The case concerned Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employment discrimination based on race, religion, national origin and sex. The question for the justices was whether that last prohibition — discrimination “because of sex”— applies to many millions of gay and transgender workers. The decision, covering two cases, was the court’s first on LGBT rights since the retirement in 2018 of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinions in all four of the court’s major gay rights decisions. Those decisions were grounded in cons-
titutional law. The new cases, by contrast, concerned statutory interpretation. Lawyers for employers and the Trump administration argued that the common understanding of sex discrimination in 1964 was bias against women or men and did not encompass discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. If Congress wanted to protect gay and transgender workers, they said, it could pass a new law. Lawyers for the workers responded that discrimination against employees based on sexual orientation or transgender status must as a matter of logic take account of sex. The court considered two sets of cases. The first concerned a pair of lawsuits from gay men who said they were fired because of their sexual orientation. The second was about a suit from a transgender woman, Aimee Stephens, who said her employer fired her when she announced that she would embrace her gender identity at work. The cases concerning gay rights are Bostock v. Clayton County, Georgia, No. 17-1618, and Altitude Express Inc. v. Zarda, No. 17-1623.
The first case was filed by Gerald Bostock, a gay man who was fired from a government program that helped neglected and abused children in Clayton County, Georgia, just south of Atlanta, after he joined a gay softball league. The second was brought by a skydiving instructor, Donald Zarda, who also said he was fired because he was gay. His dismissal followed a complaint from a female customer who had expressed concerns about being strapped to Zarda during a tandem dive. Zarda, hoping to reassure the customer, told her that he was “100% gay.” Zarda died in a 2014 skydiving accident, and his estate pursued his case. Most federal appeals courts have interpreted Title VII to exclude sexual orientation discrimination. But two of them, in New York and Chicago, have ruled that discrimination against gay men and lesbians is a form of sex discrimination. In 2018, a divided 13-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in New York, allowed Zarda’s lawsuit to proceed. Writing for
the majority, Chief Judge Robert A. Katzmann concluded that “sexual orientation discrimination is motivated, at least in part, by sex and is thus a subset of sex discrimination.” In dissent, Judge Gerard E. Lynch wrote that the words of Title VII did not support the majority’s interpretation. “Speaking solely as a citizen,” he wrote, “I would be delighted to awake one morning and learn that Congress had just passed legislation adding sexual orientation to the list of grounds of employment discrimination prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I am confident that one day — and I hope that day comes soon — I will have that pleasure.” “I would be equally pleased to awake to learn that Congress had secretly passed such legislation more than a half-century ago — until I actually woke up and realized that I must have been still asleep and dreaming,” Lynch wrote. “Because we all know that Congress did no such thing.” The case on transgender rights is R.G. & G.R. Harris Funeral Homes Inc. v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, No. 18-107. It concerns Aimee Stephens, who was fired from a Michigan funeral home after she announced in 2013 that she was a transgender woman and would start working in women’s clothing. Stephens died on May 12. “What I must tell you is very difficult for me and is taking all the courage I can muster,” she wrote to her colleagues in 2013. “I have felt imprisoned in a body that does not match my mind, and this has caused me great despair and loneliness.” Stephens had worked at the funeral home for six years. Her colleagues testified that she was able and compassionate. Two weeks after receiving the letter, the home’s owner, Thomas Rost, fired Stephens. Asked for the “specific reason that you terminated Stephens,” Rost said: “Well, because he was no longer going to represent himself as a man. He wanted to dress as a woman.” The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in Cincinnati, ruled for Stephens. Discrimination against transgender people, the court said, was barred by Title VII. “It is analytically impossible to fire an employee based on that employee’s status as a transgender person without being motivated, at least in part, by the employee’s sex,” the court said, adding, “Discrimination ‘because of sex’ inherently includes discrimination against employees because of a change in their sex.”
The San Juan Daily Star
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Fears for Volvo expose sour turn in Sweden’s ties with China By THOMAS ERDBRINK and CHRISTINA ANDERSON
he 2009 meeting in Shanghai between the Swedish union leader and the “Chinese Henry Ford” started in a minibus ride and ended in one of the financial capital’s most opulent hotels. There, the men struck an unlikely alliance to save the struggling Swedish carmaker Volvo. The president of Geely Auto Group, Li Shufu, promised that his ownership would provide a blank check and allow Volvo to keep its name and independence. He has since invested $10 billion as Volvo’s value has risen tenfold during the last decade. Even during the pandemic, Volvo’s sales have held up compared with the dismal results of rivals. “We got near-total freedom to excel,” the union leader, Magnus Sundemo, said in a recent interview at his house in a suburb of Gothenburg, Volvo’s home base. “We started believing we could fight with Audi, BMW and Mercedes. We got our confidence back.” But the limits of that freedom are increasingly apparent, as Sweden has unexpectedly become a bellwether for the European Union’s ever more strained engagement with China. Swedish political and business leaders are asking whether the country rushed too swiftly into an economic relationship with China, with the Volvo deal as a renewed source of controversy. This year, Li announced plans to merge Volvo Cars with his Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, the parent of Geely Automotive, creating a global company and, in essence, swallowing the business whole. In Sweden, it triggered a national debate, with a swirl of rumors in its wake. As yet, it is not clear what changes will come if Volvo is no longer allowed to operate independently inside the larger company. But there are concerns in Sweden that a merger could mean moving the headquarters of Volvo to China, perhaps with a listing on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange; or that parts might be fabricated more centrally for both brands, meaning a potential loss of work for Swedish subsidiaries. And there are rumors that Li might rename the company Volvo-Geely, using the Volvo name to add prestige to a less established brand. “We want the innovation power to remain,” said Anna Margitin Blomberg, the head of the engineers’ union at Volvo, who is preparing for talks with the Chinese owners. “And also the critical thinking, and that is typical of the engineering.” Her major worry, she says, is “that there will be people sitting at the top making decisions, and that we can’t be a part of those decisions.” Some Swedish officials who are reassessing ties to China have also raised national security concerns. Chinese investors have bought a variety of other Swedish companies, some of which make dual-use technologies that they are forced to share with the Chinese military. Geely was not Volvo’s first foreign owner: It had previously been held by Ford, which had starved it of investment. Yet Volvo is the beating economic heart of western Sweden, employing 19,000 people. It is also hard to overstate the position Volvo occupies in Sweden’s identity and national mythology, particularly after the demise of Saab in 2011. Clunky
Volvo’s offices and factory in Gothenburg, Sweden. and somewhat drab, but always durable and, above all, safe, Volvos have for decades reflected the country’s self-image of no-nonsense practicality. “Volvo was really synonymous with Sweden because this small country produced a car that was sold all over the world and it was the safest car in the world,” said Olle Wastberg, a former diplomat and former director-general of the Swedish Institute. Li started Geely, the first Chinese carmaker not owned by the state, in 1997. When he and Sundemo, the Swedish engineer and union leader, met in 2009 in Shanghai, there were a lot of smiles, Sundemo recalled. “He smiles a lot, but as a Swede you can never really understand what he thinks behind that smile,” Sundemo said. Volvo executives and labor leaders had welcomed the Chinese with open arms, glad to be done with Ford. The Americans had so tarnished Volvo’s image that when they put it up for sale it attracted few buyers save Li, who firmly believed in the company, Sundemo said. After the sale in 2010, Swedish authorities went out of their way to please the new Chinese owners. When the company wanted to buy land to build a research center in Gothenburg, Sweden’s second largest city, the municipality sold it a plot at a generous discount. They also canceled the building of a school on the same grounds and helped Geely cut through Sweden’s red tape. They had ample reason to be so welcoming. “Gothenburg is Volvo and Volvo is Gothenburg,” said Da-
niel Bernmar, a member of the opposition Left Party. In Gothenburg, new Volvo models stand on display at the arrivals hall of the airport. In town, seemingly every other car is a Volvo. Losing Volvo, like Saab before it, would have been traumatic. Despite the city’s close business connection with China, Bernmar, a critic of China’s human rights record, led an effort last month to cut friendship ties between Gothenburg and Shanghai, citing Beijing’s authoritarian turn under President Xi Jinping. “Instead of these business contacts promoting democracy, it’s done nothing of the sort,” Bernmar said. While his campaign failed in Gothenburg, in recent years 11 Swedish cities have cut friendship ties with China, with several citing the country’s human rights record as the reason. “When you deal with corporate China, you also deal with governmental China,” Bernmar said. Asked for comment, a spokesman for Geely Holding did not directly address the issues of Volvo’s independence, saying that, “Geely Auto and Volvo Cars are continuing to discuss areas of cooperation and mutual value-creation that could lead to a full combination of the companies.” Volvo refused to comment on the proposed merger, saying the details were still being debated. But many Swedes fear that a full-on takeover by the Chinese might undercut the remarkable strides the company has made in re-establishing the brand. “We are Sweden lovers, and Volvo stands for something,” said Margitin, of the engineers’ union. “We would like that to remain.”
The San Juan Daily Star
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Stocks rebound on Fed debt program, oil recovers
gauge of global equities rebounded on Monday after the Federal Reserve widened its program of buying corporate debt, while crude oil rose on signs fuel demand is recovering and as investors grapple with how to assess the economic reopening. Stocks jumped after the Fed said its secondary market corporate credit facility would now include an indexing approach to account for all U.S. corporate debt that satisfied minimum rating, maximum maturity and other criteria. The purchases, which will start on Tuesday, will complement the other asset purchases made by the facility, which began buying shares of broad-based exchange-traded funds in mid-May. “The Fed just wants to make sure there’s plenty of liquidity in every market,” said JJ Kinahan, chief market strategist for TD Ameritrade in Chicago. “In theory it should help keep liquidity in the markets.” The Fed and other major central banks halted a steep plunge in equity markets in March by enacting a number of fiscal and economic stimulus programs that helped restore investor confidence by ensuring markets remained liquid. Markets are likely to be volatile as investor impatience with wanting to see a rapid opening of businesses from the coronavirus-induced lockdowns is met with the reality that it will take time for the economy to recover, Kinahan said. Fears of a second wave of COVID-19 infections had earlier rocked world markets, knocking down oil prices and major equity indices by more than 2% on Wall Street and Europe, and even more overnight in Asia. MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.14% while the pan-European STOXX 600 index closed down 0.27%. Overnight in Asia, Japan’s Nikkei fell 3.5% and South Korean shares tumbled 4.8%. On Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 157.62 points, or 0.62%, to 25,763.16. The S&P 500 gained 25.28 points, or 0.83%, to 3,066.59 and the Nasdaq Composite added 137.22 points, or 1.43%, to 9,726.02. Investors were spooked after China re-introduced restrictions in some areas after Beijing reported its biggest cluster of new infections since February, and new cases and hospitalizations in record numbers also swept through more U.S. states, including Florida and Texas. Data showed factories in China stepped up production for a second straight month in May, giving investors hope, but also showed sustained contractions in retail sales and investment, suggesting many sectors were still struggling.
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The San Juan Daily Star
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Slowing the Coronavirus is speeding the spread of other diseases By JAN HOFFMAN and RUTH MACLEAN
s poor countries around the world struggle to beat back the coronavirus, they are unintentionally contributing to fresh explosions of illness and death from other diseases — ones that are readily prevented by vaccines. This spring, after the World Health Organization and UNICEF warned that the pandemic could spread swiftly when children gathered for shots, many countries suspended their inoculation programs. Even in countries that tried to keep them going, cargo flights with vaccine supplies were halted by the pandemic and health workers diverted to fight it. Now, diphtheria is appearing in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. Cholera is in South Sudan, Cameroon, Mozambique, Yemen and Bangladesh. A mutated strain of poliovirus has been reported in more than 30 countries. And measles is flaring around the globe, including in Bangladesh, Brazil, Cambodia, Central African Republic, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Nigeria and Uzbekistan. Of 29 countries that have suspended measles campaigns because of the pandemic, 18 are reporting outbreaks. An additional 13 countries are considering postponement. According to the Measles and Rubella Initiative, 178 million people are at risk of missing measles shots in 2020. The risk now is “an epidemic in a few months’ time that will kill more children than COVID,” said Chibuzo Okonta, president of Doctors Without Borders in West and Central Africa. As the pandemic lingers, the WHO and other international public health groups are now urging countries to carefully resume vaccination while contending with the coronavirus. At stake is the future of a hard-fought, 20year collaboration that has prevented 35 million deaths in 98 countries from vaccine-preventable diseases, and reduced mortality from them in children by 44%, according to a 2019 study by the Vaccine Impact Modeling Consortium, a group of public health scholars. “Immunization is one of the most powerful and fundamental disease prevention tools in the history of public health,” said Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the WHO, in a statement. “Disruption to immunization programs from the COVID-19 pandemic
threatens to unwind decades of progress against vaccine-preventable diseases like measles.” But the obstacles to restarting are considerable. Vaccine supplies are hard to come by. Health care workers are increasingly working full time on COVID-19, the infection caused by the coronavirus. And a new wave of vaccine hesitancy is keeping parents from clinics. Many countries have yet to be hit with the full force of the pandemic itself, which will further weaken their capabilities to handle outbreaks of other diseases. “We will have countries trying to recover from COVID and then facing measles. It would stretch their health systems further and have serious economic and humanitarian consequences,” said Dr. Robin Nandy, chief of immunization for UNICEF, which supplies vaccines to 100 countries, reaching 45% of children under 5. The breakdown of vaccine delivery also has stark implications for protecting against the coronavirus itself. At a global summit earlier this month, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a health partnership founded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, announced it had received pledges of $8.8 billion for basic vaccines to children in poor and middle-income countries, and was beginning a drive to deliver COVID-19 vaccines, once they are available. But as services collapse under the pandemic, “they are the same ones that will be needed to send out a COVID vaccine,” warned Dr. Katherine O’Brien, the WHO’s director of immunization, vaccines and biologicals, during a recent webinar on immunization challenges. This had been the year that Congo, the second-largest country in Africa, was to launch a national immunization program. The urgency could not have been greater. The measles epidemic in the country, which started in 2018, has run on and on: Since January, there have been more than 60,000 cases and 800 deaths. Now, Ebola has again flared, in addition to tuberculosis and cholera, which regularly strike the country. Vaccines exist for all these diseases, although they are not always available. In late 2018, the country began an immunization initiative in nine provinces. It was a feat of coordination and initiative, and in 2019, the first full year, the percentage of fully immunized children jumped from 42% to 62% in Kinshasa, the capital. This spring, as the program was being
In a photo from UNICEF, Hawa Hamadou, a health worker, at the Gamkale health center in Niamey, Niger. readied for its nationwide rollout, the coronavirus struck. Mass vaccination campaigns, which often mean summoning hundreds of children to sit close together in schoolyards and markets, seemed guaranteed to spread coronavirus. Even routine immunization, which typically occurs in clinics, became untenable in many areas. The country’s health authorities decided to allow vaccinations to continue in areas with measles but no coronavirus cases. But the pandemic froze international flights that would bring medical supplies, and several provinces began running out of vaccines for polio, measles and tuberculosis. When immunization supplies finally arrived in Kinshasa, they could not be moved around the country. Domestic flights had been suspended. Ground transport was not viable because of shoddy roads. Eventually, a U.N. peacekeeping mission ferried supplies on its planes. Measles virus spreads easily by aerosol — tiny particles or droplets suspended in the air — and is far more contagious than the coronavirus, according to experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “If people walk into a room where a person with measles had been two hours ago and no one has been immunized, 100% of those
people will get infected,” said Dr. Yvonne Maldonado, a pediatric infectious disease expert at Stanford University. In poorer countries, the measles mortality rate for children under 5 ranges between 3% and 6%; conditions like malnutrition or an overcrowded refugee camp can increase the fatality rate. Children may succumb to complications such as pneumonia, encephalitis and severe diarrhea. In 2018, the most recent year for which data worldwide has been compiled, there were nearly 10 million estimated cases of measles and 142,300 related deaths. And global immunization programs were more robust then. Before the coronavirus pandemic in Ethiopia, 91% of children in the capital of Addis Ababa received their first measles vaccination during routine visits, while 29% in rural regions got them. (To prevent an outbreak of a highly infectious disease like measles, the optimum coverage is 95% or higher, with two doses of vaccine.) When the pandemic struck, the country suspended its April measles campaign. But the government continues to report many new cases. “Outbreak pathogens don’t recognize borders,” said O’Brien of the WHO. “Especially measles: Measles anywhere is measles everywhere.”
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
The San Juan Daily Star
For migrants in Russia, virus means no money to live and no way to leave “Migrant workers make a significant contribution to Russia’s development,” said Imomuddin M. Sattorov, Tajikistan’s ambassador to Russia. “In contrast to migrants who work in European countries and have a status and receive some social guarantees, our workers just come, work and pay taxes.”
The residents of the Bashnya communal apartment in St. Peterburg, Russia, share 100 square meters with almost no personal space. By IVAN NECHEPURENKO and SERGEY PONOMAREV
igrant workers from Central Asia, shrugging off the risk of coronavirus infection, have gathered in groups each day outside their countries’ embassies in Moscow, banging on doors and fences and shouting for officials to come out and tell them when they can finally get on a charter flight home. With regular flights canceled, charters offer the only feasible way out for the more than 5 million migrant workers from former Soviet republics now stranded in Russia as a result of the pandemic, with many living in increasingly dire circumstances. While Russia has been battered by the virus, with the third most cases in the world after the United States and Brazil, the crisis has hit migrant workers especially hard, as they were the first to lose their jobs and often the last to receive medical help. Many have no money for food and, once infected with the coronavirus, have been left in crowded dorms to fight the disease by themselves. Many would like to return to their countries. But they can’t. Before the pandemic hit, more than 15 flights left Moscow each day for various cities in Uzbekistan, Central Asia’s most populous nation. Today, there are only two charters a week, and the embassy’s waiting list has more
than 80,000 names. One of those waiting is Botir Mukhammadiev, who was living in Moscow with his mother, Gulya, a nanny, and working as a barista with Russia’s biggest coffee shop chain. “They fired all the migrant workers first,” said Mukhammadiev, 26. “Even though I have all the documents that allow me to work, even a diploma from a Russian university, I cannot get any job now.” A migrant’s life has never been easy in Russia. Lured by higher salaries, visa-free entrance and a common Soviet heritage, migrants from Central Asia often live in cramped apartments and dorms, frequently sharing a room with up to 10 other workers. Police officers habitually harass them. Many local Russians express a loathing of them. If they are fired, employers often do not pay their final salaries. There are no precise official figures available, but migrants are believed to contribute up to 10% of Russia’s gross domestic product. With the average salary in Russia five times that of Tajikistan and at least twice what it is in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, migrants are typically willing to work for around $600 a month in Moscow — less than Russians. Many of Moscow’s taxi drivers, couriers, waiters, street sweepers, janitors and construction workers are migrants from Central Asia or the South Caucasus. Some affluent Russians take entire families of migrants into their suburban homes as household help.
The coronavirus crisis has magnified the inferior status of migrant workers. The police, for example, have locked up entire dorms when one person has become infected. In Moscow, the coronavirus lockdown deprived 76% of migrant workers of their jobs, and 58% lost all their income, according to a poll conducted by Evgeni Varshaver, head of the Group for Migration and Ethnicity Research. Among Russians, 42% lost employment and 23% lost all income, Varshaver said the poll found. Many migrants survive in Russia today thanks only to help from charities and embassies. Russian news outlets often portray Central Asian migrants as unwanted aliens. Over the past few months, some publications have speculated that jobless migrants will have no choice but to form gangs and start robbing ethnic Russians — even though the number of crimes committed by migrants dropped in the first three months of this year, according to Moscow’s mayor, Sergei S. Sobyanin. “My view is that any ideology needs an enemy,” said Zarnigor Omonillayeva, an Uzbek human rights lawyer who helps migrants. “Migrants are just being used as such whenever they need.” But the discrimination long endured by the migrants may have become even more pronounced during the coronavirus crisis, with basic health care sometimes denied them. As Gulnara Dzhengabayeva discovered, ambulance drivers frequently refuse to take migrants to the hospital, though it is illegal. Dzhengabayeva, a 56-year-old Uzbek, had been working as a private nurse, caring for the sick in Russian families. In April, she took care of two older people who later died of COVID-19. She subsequently fell ill herself. She called an ambulance, but the driver refused to take her to the hospital. She then went to a clinic, but doctors there refused to treat her. She finally resorted to calling a doctor in Tashkent, the Uzbek capital, for advice on treatment. “The government supports imperialistic and chauvinistic sentiments among the Russian people,” said Omonillayeva, the rights lawyer. “Migrantophobia is real in Russia.” At the end of April, following calls from rights activists, Sobyanin, Moscow’s mayor, urged health care services to make sure migrants receive the help they needed. “These are people who live in Moscow, worked in Moscow but ended up in such a situation because of the circumstances,” Sobyanin said in an interview with the TV news channel Rossiya-24. “You cannot envy them.”
The San Juan Daily Star
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Desperate for any Coronavirus care, Afghans flock to herbalist’s ‘vaccine’ By MUJIB MASHAL, FATIMA FAIZI, NAJIM RAHIM and TAIMOOR SHAH
very day, thousands of people swarmed Hakeem Alokozai’s herbal clinic in Kabul seeking their three drops of his COVID-19 “vaccine.” Some carried IV drips, others oxygen cylinders. Some were brought in ambulances, others in the back of Toyota station wagons. They were laborers, officers of the security forces and even lawmakers in the country’s parliament. When the Afghan Health Ministry first tried to shut down Alokozai’s operation several weeks ago, residents were furious — they protested, blocking roads and burning tires. Even after laboratory tests showed that his concoction was nothing but several types of narcotics, the response was: So what? The government has since forced him to leave the city. The rush on the herbalist in Kabul nonetheless points to Afghans’ rising desperation as the coronavirus overwhelms their country’s struggling health system amid a bloody war with the Taliban. As the virus spreads and the death toll climbs, Afghan officials have said they simply do not have the capacity to test and contain the pandemic. President Ashraf Ghani’s administration, which is largely dependent on aid from donor countries that are themselves grappling with the pandemic, is trying to manage daily violence and focus on averting a famine that officials fear could grip a country where 80% of the population lives just above the poverty line. The Health Ministry said Sunday that about 55% of the roughly 1,200 coronavirus tests conducted in the past 24 hours were positive, bringing the number of official cases to about 25,000. The recorded death toll stands just below 500. But health experts openly warn that the official figures are at best an indication of a catastrophic picture, not an accurate count. The Afghan health minister, Ahmad Jawad Usmani, said that about 20,000 samples were being taken across the country each day, but that there was capacity to test only about 2,000. The governor of Kabul, Mohammad Yaqub Haidari, said at a recent news conference that the city’s ambulance service had told him there were about 33 deaths a day. He said that his phone rang constantly with news of the dead needing burial, and that those thought to be victims of the virus were being buried in the dark of night. “The number of infected is higher than the picture we have,” Haidari said, adding, “In Kabul, it is likely more than a million people.” Mohammed Dawood Danish, the head of one of the two government hospitals in Kabul that has been dedicated to coronavirus treatments, said that many patients died before they could be tested. “Last week, on average, we had eight deaths a day at our hospital,” Danish said. “Maybe two of them would be tested, while six others who had symptoms died before testing.” Over the past two decades, Afghanistan’s health system has been largely dependent on subcontracting services to small nongovernmental organizations and reliant on foreign donations for health spending of roughly $5 per person.
A 100-bed hospital, to be used for the isolation and treatment of coronavirus patients, under construction in Herat, Afghanistan The Afghan government sought to make the fight against COVID-19 a demonstration of its competence. Amrullah Saleh, one of the country’s two vice presidents, said in April that his government had been a “role model of management in the Third World” and that it did not “need WHO to come show my nation how to wash their hands.” But hospitals across the country were soon overwhelmed. In Kabul, there were widespread complaints of a lack of oxygen cylinders. In Herat, the center of the country’s first outbreak, front-line medical workers resigned en masse, saying that they had not been paid for months. In Kandahar’s main hospital, coronavirus tests were positive for about 100 of 900 staff members. Basic health services in the restive region could barely be delivered, and the hospital was forced to stop receiving the roughly 2,000 people needing daily outpatient services, admitting only the most seriously ill patients. In the early weeks of the outbreak, the government tried to enforce partial lockdowns in urban centers. It bought some time by distributing bread to the most needy. But without a social safety net, many people soon left their homes to return to work. Infections mounted last month after markets were flooded with people shopping for Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim festival that ends the holy month of Ramadan. In the weeks that followed, hospitals were quickly overwhelmed. People hoarded oxygen cylinders at home, exacerbating the state of panic at health facilities. Death notices flooded social media, few mentioning the cause. Crowded funerals followed. In private conversations, families would admit that deceased loved ones had shown symptoms. So when news spread that Alokozai, the herbalist, had “a vaccine,” people rushed to his clinic.
Alokozai has been making herbal medicine for 25 years, his brother Mohammad Khamas said. They first started distributing the concoction in Kandahar with a partner, before bringing it to Kabul on a scale where some days as many as 5,000 people were given three drops of it for no charge. “The rush was such that sometimes people brought blankets and slept on the road the night before to be first in line the next morning,” said Sediqullah Nekzad, a tailor next door to the clinic. “Hundred percent, it worked — one time they brought a patient in an ambulance who was plugged into oxygen. An hour later, I swear to god, he walked on his own feet. I saw it with my own eyes.” When its warnings were ignored, the Health Ministry published the result of its tests on the so-called vaccine. Tests found several types of opiates — opium, morphine, papaverine, codeine — mixed with a few herbs. The pressure grew, and Alokozai’s big-ticket supporters quietly backed off. The clinic in Kabul was closed. Alokozai appears to be in hiding, with reports of a warrant for his arrest, but his brother said they continued to distribute his drops to about 3,000 people in Kandahar each day. Alokozai has split with one of his first partners in Kandahar, who had been distributing the concoction on his behalf. The former partner, Nisar Ahmad Ehsan, said Alokozai had stopped sending them drops — which people drink in a glass of water or tea — after demand rose in Kandahar. So he left to make his own “vaccine.” “Our drop is better than Alokozai’s — his took 30 minutes to an hour to kick in; ours takes only five to 10 minutes,” Ehsan said. “Alokozai is not a herbalist — he is an addict. I don’t know where he got his formula from.”
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
In an English city, an early benefactor is now ‘a toxic brand’ By MARK LANDLER
tanding beneath an empty stone plinth, from which the statue of the 17th-century slave trader Edward Colston was toppled last week, Richard Saunders showed his son photos of three black Americans who had been killed by police an ocean away and 200 years after the end of Bristol’s slave trade. Saunders, a 51-year-old veterinarian, explained to his son, Dylan, 9, what had happened to the three victims: George Floyd, Eric Garner and Breonna Taylor. Connecting their deaths to Colston was harder — not just because he is such a distant figure but also because his name is inscribed on a concert hall across the street, a school nearby, a pub up the hill and housing for the poor next to it. “He’s almost on the syllabus as the local hero,” said Saunders, who is white, as Dylan went off to inspect a half-dozen black balloons fluttering in the wind where the statue had stood. “But it doesn’t excuse the evil of his original acts. It’s like mugging a grandmother and giving half the money to charity.” Bristol is, for all intents and purposes, the town that Colston built. Tearing down his statue has reopened a painful reckoning with the past — one that has long divided this port city of 460,000, laying bare its contradictions. It is multicultural but segregated, festive but given to spasms of unrest, liberal but enriched by the lucre of slavery. After the protesters toppled Colston, they dumped him in Bristol Harbor, a theatrical touch that recalled the rebellious British subjects in colonial Boston. But this protest was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, not the Boston Tea Party, and it poses a nettlesome challenge to Bristol similar to that faced by cities across the American South, where statues of Confederate
Edward Colston’s Almshouse on St. Michael’s Hill near the center of Bristol, England. generals are teetering. Protests have also broken out in London, Paris, Berlin and other European cities, drawing attention to police brutality, targeting monuments to Winston Churchill and King Leopold II of Belgium and igniting anguished debates about the difference between marking history and venerating its most oppressive actors. “Some are elated about the statue coming down; some are confused; and some are very fearful and angry,” the mayor, Marvin Rees, said in an interview. “Some people are saying, ‘Colston is Bristol, and therefore Colston is me. And if you take that statue down, you’re taking something of me down.’” It has put Rees, the son of a Jamaican father and a British mother, in a tricky position. As mayor, he said, he could not ignore criminal damage to public property. He also worried about crowds amassing at a time when the coronavirus is still killing hundreds of people a day in Britain. But as a child of Jamaican immigrants, he said, “I could not pretend I was anything but affronted by the statue.” “Colston,” he said, “may have owned one of my ancestors.”
Rees ordered the statue fished out of the harbor and plans to install it in a museum, where it can be presented with historical context. There is no shortage of ideas for how to do that. Banksy, the mysterious street artist who became famous for his graffiti paintings on buildings in Bristol, posted a sketch on Instagram of a proposed memorial in which Colston would be shown in the act of being pulled down, with the protesters tugging on ropes around his neck. “I think it’s an interesting idea,” Rees said, adding that the plan would need as much public consensus as possible. Finding that consensus will be elusive. For every visitor like Saunders, there is another like Nick Morris, a Bristol native who works for the National Health Service and considers the desecration of the statue an assault on his city’s heritage. “If you pull down every statue around the world that has anything to do with slavery, abusing people, or war, there would be nothing left,” said Morris, who is white. “You might as well pull down the pyramids.” Whatever his reputation today, Edward Colston bequeathed Bristol the stately Georgian squares where its merchants once built their houses, and he helped preserve the churches that distinguish it today. As a director of the Royal African Company, which monopolized slave trading until 1698, he opened the business to the city. At its peak, in the mid-1700s, Bristol’s merchants profited from a thriving triangular trade, exporting brassware and woolen cloth to the Guinea coast, now West Africa, where they bartered it for human cargo. After grim, dangerous voyages across the Atlantic, the slaves were sold to plantation owners in the British Caribbean as well as Virginia. The ships returned to Bristol laden with sugar, rum and cocoa. Historians estimate that Colston’s ships transported more than 84,000 slaves, of whom nearly 20,000
died during the crossings. It is impossible to escape the Colston name in Bristol. There is a street, an avenue and a parade named after him. He has a stained-glass window in Bristol Cathedral. There is even a local sweet bun, with dried currants, called the Colston bun. “Some people still cling onto the saintly philanthropist idea,” said Cleo Lake, who was the first black lord mayor of Bristol and removed a portrait of Colston from her office. While she said she hoped last week’s events would finally change those shibboleths, she was troubled that the protesters, who pulled down the statue without interference from police, were mostly white. “Would it have been a different reaction if the people had been black?” Lake asked. “Would the prosecution have been tougher?” Other black residents worry about a volley of charged language from Prime Minister Boris Johnson. He condemned the “thuggery” of those who attack statues, saying it undermined lawful protests against racial injustice. Authorities in London covered up memorials of Churchill to protect them from vandals, while Oxford University faced calls to remove a statue of Cecil Rhodes. Churchill’s wartime heroics, critics say, should not paper over his history of racist statements. Rhodes’ white supremacist views are considered by some to be a precursor to apartheid. In Bristol, there is already evidence of tit-for-tat desecration. Witnesses said a white man poured bleach on a statue of a Jamaican-born playwright, Alfred Fagon, which stands in a park in St. Paul’s, the city’s oldest black neighborhood. Among those who went to survey the damage, there was anger and sadness at what they said was a betrayal of the hard-won harmony of their diverse community.
The San Juan Daily Star
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
The Court-Martial of Donald J. Trump By FRANK BRUNI
he first time I saw President Donald Trump referred to as “Cadet Bone Spurs” I laughed, the second time I smiled and the third time I cringed. It’s an apt slur, but it lumps him together with all the other politicians whose military huzzahs contradict their personal histories and whose insult to our men and women in uniform can be reduced to dodging the draft. Trump’s twisted and utterly transactional relationship with America’s armed forces is a bigger insult than that. For all his lip service to military service, his actions reveal a crude take on those who perform it. And they have led now to a remarkable and remarkably public reappraisal — even repudiation — of him by people in the armed services, their leaders and veterans. Some are finally coming around to a cleareyed view of a corrupt president. Others are venting a distaste for Trump that they’d previously downplayed or kept to themselves. Even the most dutiful soldier has a breaking point, and even a culture of deference finds its moment of defiance. Late last week Army Gen. Mark Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, issued an extraordinary apology for his participation in that awful presidential photo op made possible by the use of tear gas against peaceful protesters. But as Helene Cooper noted in a story in The Times, that’s just one example of an intensifying friction between the president and military leaders. Many of them don’t share his opposition to renaming bases that honor Confederate officers and disagreed with his push to have armed forces quell demonstrations. “Trump’s Actions Rattle the Military World” was the headline on a separate story in The Times by Jennifer Steinhauer. Her conversations with members of the military, their family members and veterans made clear that they might not back Trump to the extent that they did in 2016. Then there are the generals and admirals, silent by custom but silent no more. What we’ve seen and heard from them over the past two weeks is unprecedented in my adult lifetime, a jolting departure from their norm of mutely supporting a sitting president, no matter their differences with him. Trump has been denounced by Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis and reprimanded by Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly, both of whom held top jobs in his administration. “I think we need to look harder at who we elect,” Kelly said in an interview for the online platform SALT Talks. Trump has been upbraided by Navy Adm. Mike Mullen and Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, each of whom served as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George W. Bush. “I’m glad I don’t have to advise this president,” Myers said in a CNN interview. Together these admonishments amount to a metaphoric court-martial of the commander in chief. Trump campaigned by arguing that presidents before him had abused the military by deploying troops to places — Iraq, Afghanistan — where the justification was suspect, the mission
President Trump delivering the commencement address at the United States Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., on Saturday. ill-fated and the end point invisible. He promised to avoid such costly entanglements while nonetheless spending more on military equipment. He wanted lots of it and he wanted it to gleam, just like his casinos. He told members of the armed forces that they’d never known a friend like him in the White House. But what a nasty tongue and temper this friend has. At the start of his candidacy, he grossly mocked John McCain, who had been tortured for years in North Vietnam, by saying that he preferred war heroes who didn’t get captured. He praised generals, sure, but only to assert his superiority to them. “I know more about ISIS than the generals do — believe me,” he said at one point in his candidacy, a cockamamie coda to his earlier boast that “there’s nobody bigger or better at the military than I am.” He attacked Gold Star families, rage-tweeting against the father of Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was killed in Iraq, and the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in Niger. They had dared to criticize him, and he put his vanity over their grief. Trump approaches and appraises the military as he does all else: What’s in it for me? He needlessly sent troops to our southern border in the fall of 2018 because it advanced a narrative, which he contrived to help the Republican Party in the midterms, that America was being threatened by an invasion of migrants. “My military,” he has said, and it’s no slip of the tongue. He sees the military as a vessel for his own glorification, to which end he openly yearned for a military parade in Washington, a titanic tribute to all the metal and munitions under his control. “My generals,” he has also said, referring to the bevy of them — Mattis, his first defense secretary; Kelly, his second chief of staff; Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, his first national security adviser; Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, his second — with which he stocked his administration. The phrase is the giveaway that, to him, they were trophies, their stars and medals merely ornaments on his ego. And they were meant to defer, lest there be doubt of his
own dominance. So he lied not only about firing Mattis, who in fact resigned, but also about having given him the nickname “Mad Dog.” For Trump the military is a commercial enterprise and commodity. His complaints about NATO boil down to balance sheets, focusing on the financial disparity between the United States’s military contribution and other countries’, as if our servicemen and servicewomen are service providers. They rightly see themselves as more than that — and as more than the brutes of Trump’s childish imagination. Last November he cleared three members of the armed forces who had been accused or convicted of war crimes. He did so against the wishes of Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy, who worried about the military code of justice being undermined. Code? Justice? Trump thinks and speaks in the language of wins, losses, brawn and bloodshed. He only pantomimes principle. His supposed reluctance to send troops into foreign lands gave way over recent weeks to his readiness to have them occupy our own land and engage in combat with their fellow Americans. That he didn’t expect them to push back proves how little he understands them and how far short he sells them. They bring more than muscle to what they do. They bring heart, soul and intellect. Which is more than can be said for their commander in chief.
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Tuesday, June 16, 2020
The San Juan Daily Star
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL
More people will be fired in the pandemic. Let’s talk about it.
A man hurrying past the steps to the U.S. Senate in Washington earlier this year. By JENNIFER SENIOR
ears ago, I stumbled across some startling research by economists in England and Australia: It takes longer to adapt to the pain of unemployment than to losing a loved one. The notion completely violated my intuition, at first. Then I considered how very personal getting fired is — it’s often taken as a referendum on your character, your competence — and what kind of crisis of meaning it can create (What am I here for?), and how thoroughly depleting debt and chronic economic insecurity can be. It really wasn’t so strange at all. It’s time to talk about layoffs. They wound people not just economically, but emotionally and spiritually, and it looks like we’re due for another round. Bloomberg Economics predicted as much in early June, and last week, we began to see it, with entities as diverse as BP, the University of Denver and the city of Peoria shedding employees. Thursday, the Labor Department reported that more than 1.5 million Americans had filed new state unemployment claims. A grim Friday report from the Federal Reserve to Congress noted, “The path ahead is extraordinarily uncertain.” One of the many unwelcome lessons we’ve al-
ready learned during this recession is just how terrible companies are at firing people. Last month, WW International, the company formerly known as Weight Watchers, laid off employees in an arpeggio of simultaneous Zoom calls lasting just three minutes each. A few weeks before that, Bird, the Santa Monica, California-based scooter rental company, lured 406 employees to a mysterious Zoom “webinar” only to have them stare at a slide that read “COVID-19” while a disembodied female voice told them their services were no longer required. “It felt like a Black Mirror episode,” said a former employee. (If only. At least there would have been the possibility of a star turn by Jon Hamm.) Letting people go is not a natural instinct, even if you are a sadist. Our own president, who achieved household fame as the guy who fired people on TV, is a boneless chicken about it in real life, deputizing the unpleasant task to underlings or doing the deed by letter, even by tweet. But there is a right way and a wrong way to pinkslip someone, and every boss in America should be trained in the art of having this difficult conversation. As Joel Brockner, a professor of organizational behavior at Columbia Business School, explained to me, layoffs take a less extreme toll if there is “procedural fairness” associated with them — if employees are given reaso-
nable advance notice, for instance, and the resources to ask follow-up questions and find new job leads. Artless layoffs, he added, don’t just devastate those who’ve been let go, but the survivors left behind. “It can be devastating to productivity, devastating to morale,” he told me. The more fair layoffs are, he has found, the happier and more committed the remaining workers are six months later. And this, perhaps, is where the logic of these pandemic layoffs must itself be called into question. That’s what I discovered after speaking to Wayne Cascio, a management professor at the University of Colorado, Denver. He and two colleagues recently completed a study of every publicly traded company on the New York Stock Exchange from 1980 to 2016. The companies that delayed layoffs as long as they could — whether by cutting salaries, furloughing employees, or even running in the red — saw higher stock returns, two years later, than comparable companies that fired people from the start. Businesses currently mulling layoffs should remember this. Sometimes layoffs can’t be helped, obviously: A restaurant closes; its staff must go. But if a business or institution endures, there’s a whole body of literature suggesting that layoffs don’t ultimately help the bottom line once the economy heats back up. Experienced and dedicated people are hard to replace. Recently, I called James Guthrie, an author of one of the most accessible and often-cited papers that argued as much. (It’s called “Dumb and Dumber.”) He is an associate dean at the school of business at the University of Kansas — which, like many universities in the United States, is struggling to stay afloat. Yet I discovered it wasn’t economic efficiencies that interested him most at this moment. It was fairness. Now, he told me, is the time for every organization to express its values. “If we at the university had to resort to layoffs, we’d be laying off some of the most vulnerable staff — who happen to be the lowest-paid employees: the custodians, the maintenance crew, the receptionists,” he told me. He finds the thought quite troubling. He has started arguing for pay cuts and furloughs of the better-heeled faculty and administrators instead. “It’s both more effective,” he said, “and more just.” A number of cautionary tales are going to emerge during this annus horribilis. But if we want to survive this recession with our dignity and our sanity intact, it is clear we should keep two things in mind: How people are laid off matters. And layoffs should be a last resort. They are often the lazy way out.
The San Juan Daily Star
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Fundación Ricky Martin expande ayudas a familias vulnerables ante el COVID-19 By THE STAR STAFF
a Fundación Ricky Martin se acerca a las familias de Puerto Rico y República Dominicana, residentes en comunidades de alta vulnerabilidad ante el COVID-19 y desastres naturales, a través de la nueva campaña “Movimiento de Apoyo y Solidaridad” para brindarles servicios de pruebas del coronavirus, apoyo emocional, alimentos, educación y equipos de protección personal. Usando el hashtag #JUNTOS2020, la Fundación conjuntamente con sus aliados en este esfuerzo, CharityStars, Fundación Juan Luis Guerra, Global Gift Foundation, Hispanic Federation, JetBlue, SER de Puerto Rico, Medtronic Puerto Rico, y Wendy’s Puerto Rico, inicia este nuevo esfuerzo de recaudación de fondos para encaminar las ayudas y servicios en favor de proteger a aquellos que no pueden hacerlo por sí mismos. “Durante esta emergencia global es nuestro deber continuar ayudando a las comunidades más vulnerables, esas que no les es posible enfrentar este virus por sí solas. Ayúdanos con tu donación en: CharityStars. com/RMF y únete al movimiento de Apoyo y Solidaridad de la Fundación Ricky Martin”, advirtió el filántropo en comunicación escrita. En la línea de ayuda humanitaria, Wendy’s Puerto Rico hizo una gran aportación, y estará recaudando fondos a través de todos sus restaurantes para llevar alimentos a los más necesitados en estas comunidades. “La unión de Wendy’s al Movimiento de Apoyo y Solidaridad, reafirma nuestro compromiso de años con la Fundación de Ricky Martin y su causa,” dijo Jorge Colón Gerena, Presidente de Wendy’s PR. “En esta ocasión nos convertimos en una herramienta para que el pueblo puertorriqueño demuestre su gran generosidad
con nuestros hermanos más vulnerables.” El “Movimiento de Apoyo y Solidaridad” incluirá además servicios para atender la salud mental de aquellas personas afectadas por la depresión, ansiedad o miedo, e igualmente ofrecerá talleres educativos para garantizar el cuidado y protección individual ante esta pandemia que actualmente alcanza cifras de contagios y muertes altísimas en el mundo. La totalidad de las donaciones irá destinada a la Fundación Ricky Martin para encaminar esta labor hu-
manitaria y se pueden hacer a través de la plataforma principal del esfuerzo: www.CharityStars.com/RMF, los restaurantes de Wendy’s Puerto Rico y ATH Móvil: /RickyMartinFoundation. Para más información sobre #Juntos2020, Visita www.CharityStars.com/RMF o contacta a Natalia Parga de Ricky Martin Foundation al 787-220-2144 / natalia@ rm-foundation.org
Puede seguir a Ricky Martin Foundation a través de: rickymartinfoundation.org
Secretario de Agricultura asegura PR no está en alerta de retiro de carne molida contaminada Por THE STAR
l Departamento de Agricultura de Estados Unidos no ha emitido alerta a Puerto Rico ante el retiro de los lotes de carne molida contaminada en Estados Unidos, aseguró el lunes, el secretario del Departamento de Agricultura, Carlos Flores Ortega. “Esta mañana nos comunicamos con representantes del Food Safety and Inspection Service, del Departamento de Agricultura de Estados Unidos. Cuando ocurren estos retiros, las potenciales jurisdicciones afectadas reciben de inmediato una alerta, así como las empresas a las que le fueron distribuidos los productos. En este caso no se recibió alerta. De hecho, esa carne molida, de esa empresa espe-
cífica, se vende en un número ínfimo de establecimientos en Puerto Rico”, expresó el Flores Ortega en comunicación escrita. El secretario auxiliar de Integridad Agrocomercial, agrónomo Jesús Santiago, explicó que la carne molida contaminada con E-Coli y retirada es de la empresa Lakeside Refrigerated Services, ubicada en el estado de New Jersey. Mencionó que el retiro fue de 42,922 libras e incluyó carne molida orgánica en diferentes empaques, así como tipo hamburguesa. Todos tenían la codificación de USDA “EST. 46841”. El problema de contaminación fue descubierto durante una inspección rutinaria en la planta de New Jersey el pasado 13 de junio.
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
The San Juan Daily Star
The long battle over ‘Gone with the Wind’ By JENNIFER SCHUESSLER
hen HBO Max announced Tuesday that it was temporarily removing “Gone With the Wind” from its streaming service, it seemed as if another Confederate monument was coming down. “Gone With the Wind” may register with younger people today only as their grandmother’s favorite movie (or maybe the source of a lacerating joke that opens Spike Lee’s “BlacKkKlansman”). And for every prominent conservative accusing HBO Max of censorship, there were plenty on social media calling the movie, well, boring. But the 1939 classic — still the highest-grossing film of all time, adjusted for inflation — has enduringly shaped popular understanding of the Civil War and Reconstruction perhaps more than any other cultural artifact. “You want to have a Southern antebellum wedding — where does that come from?” said Kellie Carter Jackson, a historian at Wellesley College who teaches a course on slavery and film. “People will say they haven’t seen the movie. But they have seen it — just not in its original form.” HBO Max’s move came a day after The Los Angeles Times published an opinion piece by John Ridley, screenwriter of “Twelve Years a Slave,” criticizing “Gone With the Wind” for its racist stereotypes and whitewashing of the horrors of slavery, and calling for it to be presented only with added historical context. (A few days later, African American film scholar Jacqueline Stewart announced in an opinion piece for CNN.com that she will be providing the introduction when the movie returns to the streaming service.) But it also represents a belated reckoning with African American criticism that started immediately after the 1936 publication of Margaret Mitchell’s novel — even if it was barely noted in the mainstream white press. “Gone With the Wind” is one of the mythic lightning strikes of American cultural history. Mitchell, a former journalist who wrote the novel (her first and only) while recovering from an injury, expected it to sell 5,000 copies. Instead, it became a sensation, selling nearly 1 million copies within six months and earning her the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. The production of the movie version, including the casting of Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, was covered breathlessly in the press. And by opening night, in 1939, 7 million copies of the book had been sold. The frenzy around the novel and the movie also touched off a national craze for all things Dixie. Mitchell was inundated with requests to authorize “Gone With the Wind”-themed pens, hats, dolls, even chintz fabric. In 1939, Macy’s devoted several floors of its flagship store to products associated with the film, under the theme “The Old South Comes North.” “People just ate it up,” said Karen Cox, a historian at the University of North Carolina, Charlotte, and author of “Dreaming of Dixie: How the South Was Created in American Popular Culture.” And the Northern embrace of Mitchell’s plantation nostalgia, with its depiction of happy, obedient slaves, wasn’t
“Gone With the Wind,” starring Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara, left, and Hattie McDaniel as Mammy, has enduringly shaped popular understanding of the Civil War and Reconstruction perhaps more than any other cultural artifact. just harmless lifestyle consumerism. “There was nascent civil rights activity in the 1930s, but if everyone is watching this movie or reading this book, they get the idea that that’s how things were,” Cox said. “It made it easier for white Northerners to look at African American migrants arriving in places like Chicago and say, ‘Why can’t you act like these Negroes?’” But even as white Americans embraced the moonlight and magnolias, African Americans were registering objections. Soon after producer David Selznick bought the rights, there were complaints that a movie version would incite violence, spread bigotry and even derail a proposed federal anti-lynching bill. Mitchell reacted dismissively to the criticism. “I do not intend to let any troublemaking Professional Negros change my feelings towards the race with whom my relations have always been those of affection and mutual respect,” she wrote to a friend. The film tried to sanitize some of the novel’s racist elements. References to the Ku Klux Klan, which the novel calls “a tragic necessity,” were omitted. Reluctantly, Selznick also cut from the script a common but notorious racial slur (“the hate word,” as one African American journalist who weighed in put it). The film also finessed a scene from the book where Scarlett, while riding alone through a shantytown, is nearly raped by a black man, which prompts a retaliatory raid by the Klan. Instead, the attacker is a poor white man, and the nature of the posse that rides out to avenge her honor is not specified. “A group of men can go out and ‘get’ the perpetrators of an attempted rape without having long white sheets over them,” Selznick wrote in a memo. But the film put the nostalgic Lost Cause mythology — by that point, the dominant national view of the Civil War — front and center, starting with the opening title cards paying tribute to “a land of Cavaliers and Cotton fields,” a “pretty
world where Gallantry took its last bow.” Even during production, there were calls for an African American boycott. Afterward, there were protests outside theaters in Chicago, Washington and other cities. While responses to the finished film in the black press were mixed, the criticism was harsh. The Chicago Defender initially published a column calling it inoffensive and the performances of Hattie McDaniel (Mammy) and Butterfly McQueen (Prissy) examples of “Negro artistry.” But a week later, it ran a scathing review calling it “a weapon of terror against black America,” a sentiment echoed in other black papers like the Pittsburgh Courier, which denounced the depiction of all blacks as “happy house servants and unthinking, helpless clods.” Among those who saw it around this time was a teenage Malcolm X. “I was the only Negro in the theater, and when Butterfly McQueen went into her act, I felt like crawling under the rug,” he wrote in his autobiography. White audiences, meanwhile, were largely swept up in celebration of the nearly four-hour Technicolor epic, with its hundreds of extras, lavish costumes and themes of grit and survival that resonated with a country emerging from the Depression. White newspapers, including The New York Times, carried rapturous coverage of the movie’s premieres in New York and Atlanta, where the four days of festivities included the Ebenezer Baptist Church choir (including, one film scholar has noted, a 10-year-old Martin Luther King Jr.) singing in front of a mock-up of Tara, the film’s plantation. But few noted the African American protests or any black criticism at all. Some African American artists have made direct challenges to its whitewashed nostalgia. In 2001, the Mitchell estate fought a losing copyright battle against “The Wind Done Gone,” novelist Alice Randall’s parody from the point of view of the enslaved. The authorized sequels, meanwhile, have tried, sometimes awkwardly, to update the book’s racial politics while keeping the white-centered romance intact. In Alexandra Ripley’s “Scarlett,” from 1991, Scarlett lovingly tends to the dying Mammy, who is ushered offstage (along with most of the black characters) early on. “Rhett Butler’s People,” by Donald McCaig, from 2007, focused on the post-Civil War struggle over the reestablishment of white supremacy but glossed over the issue of the Klan (and Rhett’s possible membership). But even in America, it retains its allure, including among audiences “who know better,” as New York Times critic Vincent Canby put it in a mostly rapturous 1998 reassessment of the movie. Jackson, the Wellesley historian, said students usually come to her class having never seen the film. But it ends up being one of the offerings they respond to the most. “Students will say, ‘I love ‘Gone With the Wind’ and ‘I hate ‘Gone With the Wind,’” she said. “They love the aesthetics, which are so over the top, it’s like candy. But they know I’m going to make them dig deeper. And when they do, they say, ‘This is awful.’”
The San Juan Daily Star
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Netflix and Cinemax go to South Africa for real By MIKE HALE
n Netflix, a steamy high school romance with strong suggestions of “Gossip Girl.” On Cinemax, a steamy international thriller with harried spies and a strong, silent hero. Both concepts are typical for those providers, though in each case your eyes are drawn to something uncommon: Cape Town’s Table Mountain, looming in the background whenever the cinematographers can find a way to get it in the frame. South Africa has been growing as a hub for film and television production for years, part of an international circuit that includes Vancouver and Toronto, London, Berlin, New Zealand and huge new studios in China. Cinemax is a regular in South Africa, having filmed seasons of the action thrillers “Strike Back” and “Warrior” there. Now comes “Trackers,” a complicated six-episode story involving diamonds, terrorism (maybe) and redemption that’s playing weekly on Fridays. Netflix is a relative newcomer, having begun its push into African original series this year with a pair of South African productions: “Queen Sono,” in February, and the recently added “Blood & Water.” The latter, which debuted in May, comprises six episodes of family drama and superdeluxe back-stabbing set at a fancy Cape Town high school, a setting that will slake any thirst you might have for crested blazers and tartan skirts. What’s most notable about “Trackers” and “Blood & Water” is that they’re genuinely local productions, South African stories made by South Africans. That they slot into genre templates familiar around the world, and are in a mix of languages dominated by English, illustrates the degree to which the international market for series, fueled by U.S. money, is creating a narrative Esperanto that can be translated for any culture with fast Wi-Fi. “Blood & Water,” written and directed by Nosipho Dumisa, Daryne Joshua and Travis Taute, feels like the more locally grounded of the two shows, though that may just be because its story is more domestic, focused on a standard teenage-drama contrast between glittering seaside villas (representing moral vacuity) and solid working-class suburbs. Ama Qamata, a young actress with a quiet charisma, plays Puleng, a 16-year-old trapped in the shadow of an older sister who was kidnapped as a baby. The show begins as Puleng suffers through her family’s annual birthday party for the missing child. Her troubles are compounded when a trafficking investigation leads to her father’s being charged in the long-ago abduction of his own daughter. The story that follows is a fairly ordinary, and at times highly contrived, combination of mystery
Thapelo Mokoena in “Trackers,” a new South African thriller on Cinemax. and melodrama, as Puleng engineers a transfer to an exclusive school on a hunch that a star student and athlete there is actually her sister. It is distinctive, though, for the stubbornness she brings to her investigation and for the epic scale of the resulting chain of misunderstandings, school suspensions, social-media witch hunts and ruined lives. If there’s a second season, it will take a full six episodes just to sort out the emotional damage of Season 1. (It also has a terrific soundtrack of South African hip-hop and soul, nearly a reason in itself to watch.) “Trackers,” adapted by a group of South African screenwriters from a novel in Afrikaans by Deon Meyer, was overseen by British producer Robert Thorogood (the creator of “Death in Paradise”). It’s more polished than “Blood & Water,” which has its good and bad sides — “Trackers” is more entertaining, and perhaps more forgettable. (The lead producer was South African cable network M-Net, which showed it last year.) James Gracie, another performer who, like Qamata, can do a lot with silent looks of doubt and reproach, stars as Lemmer, a former cop now reduced to riding shotgun on a truck hauling contraband through the South African night. He occupies about a third of a well-stocked plot that also involves a government counterterrorism unit, a group of Islam-
ic radicals who appear to be in touch with ISIS, and a woman (Rolanda Marais) in flight from her marriage who discovers she has a talent for espionage. There is a plot afoot that may involve bombing a soccer match, but probably doesn’t, and a pair of rare black rhinos that may be the world’s heaviest red herring. Through the three episodes available for review, the threads are still separate, including how Lemmer’s troubled past ties in with the past troubles of the spy agency’s director (Sandi Schultz, who also plays the high school principal in “Blood & Water”). In what could be another effect of the international marketplace — if it’s not just the general approach of current South African popular entertainment — the shows address questions of race and representation, and the legacy of apartheid, in muted ways, if at all. In “Blood & Water,” one student aggressively and continually demands that the curriculum focus on colonial depredations, in a manner that almost comes across as comic relief. Otherwise, race and history aren’t overt issues (though it’s noticeable that the most sympathetic and well-developed characters in “Trackers,” among the black intelligence agents and possible Muslim terrorists, are the troubled white outsiders played by Gracie and Marais). It’s easy to forget where you are, in between shots of Table Mountain.
The San Juan Daily Star
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
North Carolina Pug was not infected with Coronavirus, USDA says
Winston, a pug whose saliva showed a low amount of the coronavirus in a preliminary test result, getting swabbed while Sydney McLean, right, holds him. By CHRISTINE HAUSER
inston the pug can breathe a sloppy sigh of relief; he is not the first dog in the United States to be infected with the coronavirus. That was the conclusion of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories, which “was unable to verify infection in this dog,” a USDA spokeswoman, Joelle Hayden, said in an email Monday. Since the outbreak of the pandemic, there have been confirmed coronavirus infections in the United States of a tiger, a lion and two pet cats. But so far, not a single dog. Such an infection appeared possible in April, unfortunately for Winston, when Duke University researchers studying the coronavirus visited his family at their home in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and took samples from them and several of their pets. Three of the family members — Dr. Heather McLean, Dr. Samuel McLean and their son, Ben McLean — had been infected with the virus but
recovered. But the family also noticed that Winston had symptoms that made him appear ill. He was sluggish, sneezing and breathing heavily, and he didn’t finish breakfast one morning. Winston and two other pets — Otis, 13, another pug, and Nibs, a 12-year-old tabby cat — were also swabbed by the researchers. Dr. Chris Woods, the head of the Duke University team, later said a preliminary result showed that a low amount of the virus had been detected in Winston’s saliva. The USDA laboratory, which carries out official confirmation of such results, then performed its own tests and released the results May 27. “No virus was isolated, and there was no evidence of an immune response,” Hayden said of the findings. The “weak detection” of Winston’s original oral swab “may be the result of contamination from the COVID-19-positive household,” she added. Many pet owners are concerned about how susceptible animals are to the coronavirus. Experts have said that there is no evidence that pets
can transmit the virus to people, and that people should not worry about giving it to their pets. The first animal that tested positive for SARSCoV-2 in the United States was a tiger at the Bronx Zoo in April. Samples from the tiger were tested after lions and tigers at the zoo showed signs of respiratory illness, but public health officials said they believed the animals were exposed to a zoo employee who had the virus. A lion later tested positive as well, and then the USDA confirmed coronavirus in two pet cats. Two dogs tested positive in Hong Kong, but no dog has been verified as infected with the virus in the United States. (The USDA results were reported last week by WRAL, which first reported Winston’s preliminary test when contacted by the McLean family in April, and by The Canine Review, a news site about dogs.) Woods said Monday that Winston’s results highlighted the difference between detection of the virus and infection with it. A small amount of the virus was also found in a rectal swab later taken from the older pug, Otis, he added. “With infection it would be replicating in him,” Woods said of Winston. “He was contaminated with it, as was his housemate.” “These dogs would not have posed a risk to owners or other dogs or potentially to each other,” he said. “There was, at a minimum, a transient colonization event that we just happened to capture.” “At the end of the day, I don’t want people to be scared of their animals,” he said. Dr. John Howe, president of the American Veterinary Medical Association, said in an interview Monday that the association was informed about the USDA results last week. “Winston could have licked something or someone with the virus, causing him to test positive,” he said. “But that did not mean that the virus was in his bloodstream or his respiratory tract, which would have made him infected.” He said a dog “can have the virus in their mouth, but not in their system.” “There was no inflammatory response,” he added. Howe said that even though dogs have not been confirmed to have the coronavirus, the association recommended that dog owners who are sick with COVID-19 wear a mask or have someone else take care of the animal. “Even though we have not had any,” he said, “we still recommend being safe than sorry.”
The San Juan Daily Star
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Doctors heavily overprescribed antibiotics early in the pandemic By ANDREW JACOBS
he desperately ill patients who deluged the emergency room at Detroit Medical Center in March and April exhibited the telltale symptoms of the coronavirus: high fevers and infection-riddled lungs that left them gasping for air. With few treatment options, doctors turned to a familiar intervention: broad-spectrum antibiotics, the shotin-the-dark medications often used against bacterial infections that cannot be immediately identified. They knew antibiotics are not effective against viruses, but they were desperate, and they feared that the patients could be vulnerable to life-threatening secondary bacterial infections as well. “During the peak surge, our antibiotic use was off the charts,” said Dr. Teena Chopra, the hospital’s director of epidemiology and antibiotic stewardship, who estimated that more than 80% of arriving patients were given antimicrobial drugs. “At one point, we were afraid we would run out.” Chopra said the doctors, and others across the country who liberally dispensed antibiotics in the early weeks of the pandemic, soon realized their mistake. “Many physicians were inappropriately giving antibiotics because, honestly, they had limited choices,” she said. Now that the initial, terrifying flood of patients in hard-hit cities has subsided, doctors across the United States are seeking to draw lessons from their overuse of antibiotics, a practice that can spur resistance to the lifesaving drugs as bacteria mutate and outsmart the drugs. Many critically ill patients on ventilators have developed serious secondary infections. But widespread fears that coronavirus patients were especially susceptible to drug-resistant infections — a concern first described in studies from China — appear to have been misguided, according to interviews with researchers and more than a dozen doctors who have been treating patients with COVID-19. “The fears turned out to be overblown,” said Dr. Bruce Farber, chief of infectious diseases at Northwell Health, which has cared for thousands of coronavirus patients at its 23 hospitals in New York. For many doctors, the pandemic not only provides lessons about the judicious use of antibiotics, but it also highlights another global health threat that has been playing out in slow motion: the mounting threat of antimicrobial resistance that annually claims 700,000 lives as the world’s arsenal of antibiotics and antifungal medication lose their ability to vanquish dangerous pathogens. In recent weeks, doctors, researchers and public health experts have been trying to turn the pandemic into a teaching moment. They warn that the same governmental inaction that helped foster the rapid, worldwide spread
A coronavirus patient receives care at Elmhurst Hospital in Queens on May 8. of the coronavirus may spur an even deadlier epidemic of drug-resistant infections that the United Nations suggests may kill 10 million by 2050 if serious action isn’t taken. Without new antibiotics, routine surgical procedures like knee replacements and cesarean sections could become unacceptably risky, and the ensuing health crisis could spur an economic downturn to rival the global financial meltdown of 2008, the U.N. report, released last year, said. “If there’s anything that this COVID-19 pandemic has taught the world, it is that being prepared is more cost-effective in the long run,” said Dr. Jeffrey R. Strich, a researcher at the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center and an author of a study published Thursday in Lancet Infectious Diseases that seeks to quantify the growing need for new antibiotics to treat drug-resistant infections. “Antimicrobial resistance is a problem we cannot afford to ignore.” The pipeline for new antimicrobial drugs has become perilously dry. Over the past year, three American antibiotic developers with promising drugs have gone out of business, most of the world’s pharmaceutical giants have abandoned the field, and many of the remaining antibiotic startups in the United States are facing an uncertain future. Such dreary financial realities are driving away investors at a time when new antimicrobial drugs are urgently needed. “I’m worried the remaining small biotech companies won’t be here this time next year,” said Greg Frank, director of Working to Fight AMR, an advocacy group
funded by the pharmaceutical industry. “The longer we wait, the deeper in the hole we’re in and the more expensive it’s going to be to solve the problem.” The crisis, many experts say, calls for robust government intervention. In a report published in March, the U.S. Government Accountability Office documented a piecemeal federal response to antimicrobial resistance and said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was hobbled in addressing the problem by a lack of basic data about drug-resistant infections. As an example, it noted that the CDC tracks less than 2% of the country’s annual half-million cases of drug-resistant gonorrhea. The data doesn’t even include cases affecting women. In addition to improved surveillance, the report recommended financial incentives for antibiotic makers as well as support for companies developing diagnostic tests that can quickly identify infections and enable doctors to prescribe the right drug. “The bottom line is we can do better; otherwise we’re going to find ourselves facing a superbug that rivals the crisis posed by COVID-19,” said Dr. Timothy M. Persons, the GAO’s chief scientist and a lead author of the report. Legislation in Congress to address the broken antibiotics marketplace has failed to gain traction in recent years, but public health experts are hoping the coronavirus pandemic can help break the political logjam in Washington. “This isn’t a political issue; it’s not a problem for Republicans or Democrats — it’s a national security issue,” said Dr. Helen Boucher, an infectious disease specialist at Tufts Medical Center, who is a member of the Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria. In Ann Arbor, Michigan, Dr. Valerie Vaughn, a hospitalist at Michigan Medicine who is studying antibiotic use in coronavirus patients, has been trying to make sense of the past few months and sharing best treatment practices through lectures posted online. In a review of more than 1,000 coronavirus cases across the state, she found that only 4% of patients admitted to the hospital had a bacterial co-infection. Most patients were nonetheless given antibiotics soon after they arrived. “What the pandemic has shown us is that even when doctors know patients have a viral infection, they are still providing antibiotics,” she said. “It’s hard because doctors want to do something for their patients, even when it’s not the right thing to do.” But beyond just altering doctors’ prescribing habits, Vaughn said she hopes the current health crisis will make it harder for political leaders and policymakers to ignore the need for improved surveillance and concerted action to fix the broken market for new antibiotics. “We’ve been moving slower than we should,” she said, “but hopefully the pandemic will light a fire under people and get them to move faster.”
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
The San Juan Daily Star
Familiar culprit may have caused mysterious mass extinction By SHANNON HALL
t has long been our planet’s greatest and oldest murder mystery. Roughly 445 million years ago, around 85% of all marine species disappeared in a geologic flash known as the Late Ordovician mass extinction. But scientists have long debated this whodunit, in contrast to clearer explanations for Earth’s other mass extinctions. “The Ordovician one has always been a little bit of an oddball,” said Stephen Grasby of the Geological Survey of Canada. Now he and David Bond of the University of Hull in England say they have cracked the case in a study published last month in the journal Geology. Widespread volcanic eruptions unleashed enough carbon dioxide to heat up the planet and trigger two pulses of extinction separated by 1 million years, they report. If true, it places the first grand wipeout of life on Earth in good company: Many of the other major mass extinctions are also thought to be victims of global warming. Scientists have offered a range of culprits — including toxic metals and radiation released from a distant galaxy — but the favored explanation has long been global cooling. Toward the end of the Ordovician, Earth underwent widespread glaciation. That could have caused the shallow seas to disappear, which provided optimal conditions for a variety of organisms. But some scientists, including Keith Dewing, who is also at the Geological Survey of Canada but was not involved in this research, have struggled with this hypothesis. Geological evidence shows that both pulses of the extinction were quite abrupt, but glaciation often waxes and wanes over millions of years. “You had to shoehorn your data in a little bit
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An artist’s concept of marine life during the Ordovician Period, which spanned from 485 to 443 million years ago. to get it to fit,” he said of that explanation. Bond and Grasby reached their volcanic hypothesis after collecting Ordovician rocks from a small stream in southern Scotland. They then shipped those rocks to Vancouver, British Columbia, where the specimens were heated in a lab until they released large amounts of mercury — a telltale sign that volcanoes had rocked the epoch. The rocks also emitted molybdenum and uranium — geochemical proxies that suggest the oceans were deoxygenated at the time. Only warming so easily robs the oceans of oxygen, they say, asphyxiating the species that live there. Think of a bottle of cola. “If it’s been in the fridge, it stays nice and fizzy because the gas in that carbon dioxide stays in the liquid,” Bond said. “But if you leave it on a sunny table outside and it gets really warm, then that gas quickly dissociates out of that liquid and you end up with a flat Coke.” These findings allowed the team to paint a new picture — one that doesn’t discount the glaciation at the time but suggests that the cooler climate was punctuated by global warming events triggered by volcanic eruptions. “It all just seemed to fit together quite nicely,”
Bond said. In the story they tell, Earth’s crust began to break open just before both pulses of extinction. Giant cracks released walls of lava that erupted hundreds of feet into the air and extended for hundreds of miles. So many flows could have deposited lava up to 1 million square miles away, plus mercury and enough carbon dioxide into the atmosphere to drive global warming. That, in turn, caused a cascade of effects, from punching holes in the ozone layer to reducing oxygen in the ocean. “This wasn’t an oddball cooling event,” Grasby said. “It joins the club as another ‘death by warming.’” Seth Finnegan, a paleobiologist at the University of California, Berkeley, who was not involved in the research, has questions about the study’s mercury data. It’s possible, he said, that mercury (from later volcanic eruptions or elsewhere) moved into Ordovician rock shortly after the extinction pulses. Dewing said that if one rock showed an anomalously high mercury signature, it might be cause for concern. But the team saw it in rock after rock after rock. “It’s a very pronounced change right at that point,” Dewing said. “So it’s not just one bad data point.” The new hypothesis points toward a number of tests that scientists can now undertake, like studying Ordovician rocks in other locations for the same signatures. That alone is a huge step beyond the global cooling hypothesis, which Dewing said “was almost more like a belief system.” In addition, scientists can attempt to pinpoint the volcanic region that dates to that time (as they have done with other periods of mass extinction). “The real smoking gun would be to find a big volcanic province,” said Paul Wignall, from the University of Leeds, who was not involved in the study. If the hypothesis holds, the first mass extinction will match many of the others. For some scientists, that only provides more impetus to better understand these events — which can no doubt yield further insight into anthropogenic impacts today as we also pump carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere. Although it might sound mind-boggling, Finnegan argues that we’re releasing greenhouse gases at a rate that equals or exceeds these major extinction events. “These are not worlds that you want to inhabit,” Finnegan said.
The San Juan Daily Star
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
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The San Juan Daily Star
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
After more proposals, players tell MLB: ‘Tell us when and where’
Commissioner Rob Manfred. By JAMES WAGNER
hat once seemed like a worst-case scenario for MLB — a regular season of roughly 50 games — now appears to be all but inevitable. In yet another round of sharply worded statements and correspondence Saturday night, the players’ union rejected the league’s latest salary proposal and essentially dared the league commissioner, Rob Manfred, to impose the severely shortened version of the season he has threatened. “It unfortunately appears that further dialogue with the league would be futile,” said Tony Clark, the head of the players’ union. “It’s time to get back to work. Tell us when and where.” The strained relationship and the lack of trust between MLB and the union have been on full display during their talks to begin the season after the coronavirus shutdown. While other major professional sports leagues, including the NBA and the NHL, are further along in their resumptions, MLB and the players’ union are still mired in a nasty public feud, volleying accusations of bad-faith negotiations back and forth. None of this bodes well for their immediate or distant future, with the collective bargaining
agreement between the sides due to expire after the 2021 season. On Saturday, the union’s chief negotiator, Bruce Meyer, sent a letter to his counterpart at MLB, Deputy Commissioner Dan Halem, declaring that the union believed negotiations over the 2020 season were at an end. Meyer blamed MLB’s repeated insistence on pay cuts that go beyond a March agreement between the two sides, which stated that players would be paid a prorated salary depending on how many games were played and that the sides would “discuss in good faith the economic feasibility of playing games in the absence of spectators.” That pact allowed MLB to set the new 2020 schedule and declared that the league should use its “best efforts to play as many games as possible, while taking into account player safety and health, rescheduling needs, competitive considerations, stadium availability and the economic feasibility of various alternatives.” But as it became apparent that any games would most likely have to be played without fans, MLB owners repeatedly sought further pay cuts for players, who have held firm on the issue of receiving their full, prorated salaries. The latest offer from MLB came last Friday, calling for players to make 70 percent of their prorated
salaries over a 72-game season — with the possibility of reaching 80 percent if the playoffs are completed. After the rejection of MLB’s latest proposal, players expressed their exasperation and solidarity with the union on social media, with many echoing the union’s message: “Tell us when and where.” MLB, which interprets the March agreement differently, has argued that the shutdown has cost it billions of dollars already, and that games without fans would cut into revenues even more — thus the demands that players take additional cuts. The players’ union has asked for and said it hasn’t received sufficient documentation from MLB, which earned more than $10 billion in revenue last year, to support its financial claims. The union’s counterproposals have called for more games — as many as 114 — than MLB has offered, with full, prorated pay. But the league desperately wants to protect its lucrative postseason revenue by wrapping up the World Series before a potential second wave of coronavirus infections in the fall, and to avoid a cluttered television sports schedule in November. MLB has also sought an expanded postseason format, which would bring in more revenue, but that requires approval from the players.
Last week, St. Louis Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt Jr. said in a radio interview that “the industry isn’t very profitable, to be honest,” a claim that players resoundingly criticized given the billion-dollar values of team franchises and large television contracts. In his statement, Clark, the union chief, alluded to owners crying poor and to reports of a new MLB national television rights deal. (Sports Business Daily reported Saturday that MLB had reached a new, larger extension with one of its rights holders, Turner Sports, worth $3.29 billion from 2022 to 2028.) If MLB is indeed going to set the 2020 season, which the March agreement allows, Meyer asked MLB to tell players how many games would be played, and when and where to report for work. “It is unfair to leave players and the fans hanging at this point, and further delay risks compromising health and safety,” he wrote to Halem. “We demand that you inform us of your plans by close of business on Monday.” In its response late Saturday, MLB said it was “disappointed” that the players’ union “has chosen not to negotiate in good faith.” The league once again argued that the March agreement was “premised on the parties’ mutual understanding that the players would be paid their full salaries only if play resumed in front of fans” — a characterization the union disputes. MLB also said that the union’s position on pay “is not fair to the thousands of other baseball employees that clubs and our office are supporting financially during this very difficult 2020 season.” It concluded: “We will evaluate the union’s refusal to adhere to the terms of the March agreement, and after consulting with ownership, determine the best course to bring baseball back to our fans.” While MLB could still come back with another proposal, and the union could file a grievance over a proposed season from MLB, Meyer’s letter Saturday closed by addressing more immediate unfinished business. He said that while MLB’s latest proposed guidelines for the 2020 season — which cover such matters as health protocols and rules governing the rosters — included the union’s feedback, several items needed to be ironed out further. “We will be available at your convenience to continue discussions on the manual,” he wrote. A season, even one under much disagreement, may be coming soon, after all.
The San Juan Daily Star
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
A nerve-racking final round adds drama to golf’s fan-free return By BILL PENNINGTON
he PGA Tour returned from a threemonth layoff due to the coronavirus pandemic last Thursday. But to golf fans worldwide, the true measure, and appeal, of a tour event is a taut, nerve-racking final round. If the scheduled 18 holes end in a tie at the top of the leaderboard that leads to a tenser, more jittery playoff, then all the better. On that count, professional golf got its wish on Sunday with a star-studded leaderboard that included the game’s top players, who alternately soared and stumbled in what was an entertaining close to an eventful week for the sport. The Charles Schwab Challenge at Colonial Country Club in Fort Worth, Texas, began with the 148 players in the field successfully passing tests for the coronavirus. Then, near the beginning of each of the four rounds, players, caddies and officials at the golf course paused for a moment of silence in honor of George Floyd, whose death in Minneapolis police custody has sparked protests worldwide. Next, the golfers adapted to a new condition of tournament play: competition without fans. In the end, a one-hole playoff on Colonial’s 17th hole ended with a rising star on the tour, Collin Morikawa, 23, missing a short par putt that handed the championship to Daniel Berger, another surging young player who has had to overcome serious, careerthreatening injury. Berger clinched his berth in the playoff with a twisting birdie putt on the 72nd hole of the event. Morikawa could have clinched victory on the same 18th green, but missed a 3-foot putt. Berger, 27, whose playoff record before Sunday was 0-2, commiserated with Morikawa. “Obviously, I didn’t want to win it like that, but sometimes that’s just the way golf goes,” said Berger, who now has three tour victories in his career and four top-10 finishes in 2020. “To be able to come out here and beat so many of the best players in the world — you look at the field that was out here this week and I don’t have a stellar playoff record — so to show up here this way, I’m very proud of myself.” Morikawa explained afterward that he struck the putt on the 18th hole as he intended, but had misread the break of the green.
Collin Morikawa, right, watched as Berger sank the winning putt on the 17th green. Berger now has three PGA Tour victories in his career and four top-10 finishes in 2020. Of his missed playoff putt, he simply said, “Just not a good putt.” The best players in golf made a run at the tournament title on Sunday, including Patrick Reed, Bubba Watson, Justin Rose, Xander Schauffele and Bryson DeChambeau, all of whom finished within two strokes of the lead. The world’s top-ranked player, Rory McIlroy, began the day with a chance to catch the leaders, but bogeyed the first hole, the course’s easiest. Things went downhill from there. Playing at Colonial for the first time, he bogeyed the fourth, fifth and ninth holes and double-bogeyed the seventh, taking himself out of contention early. He finished with a 4-over-par 74. Playing with McIlroy was DeChambeau, who was as buoyant as his partner was dispirited. DeChambeau had played the event four times and made the cut only once. He teed off Sunday three strokes behind Schauffele, the third-round leader, but with five birdies in a nine-hole stretch near the middle of his round, he charged into a tie for the lead. DeChambeau’s 145-yard approach shot to the 17th green flew long and into a difficult spot to chip from behind the hole. He did not recover well from that predicament, and the ensuing bogey dampened his mo-
mentum. Still, he had a chance to get into the playoff with a birdie attempt on 18 that he nearly holed. DeChambeau, whose newly enhanced, musclebound upper body allowed him to smash towering drives that overpowered the venerable Colonial layout, was not cowed by his final hole failings. “If I had putted well,” he said afterward, “I would have won by a lot this week. I’m very encouraged.” Berger’s comeback comes after a confusing, debilitating injury sustained in 2018. After tying for a sixth-place finish at the 2018 U.S. Open, he felt pain in his right index finger after hitting a shot at the tour’s next event, the Travelers Championship. Berger tried playing through the pain for months, but the discomfort not only got worse, it led to an inflammation of his right wrist. An extended rest was the medically recommended course of action. While Berger made strides in 2019, it wasn’t until this spring that he seemed to regain his old form, with a tie for ninth, a tie for fifth and a tie for fourth in three successive tour events. Berger said the health setbacks to his career helped motivate him. “There was so many times today
where I could have given it up or let the pressure get to me,” he said. “But I hung in there and I played practically some of the best golf I’ve played during the last six years in the last five holes today.” Harold Varner III — an early tournament leader who is one of the few black golfers on the elite professional tours and who was vocal last week in the discussion in golf about racial injustice — began the day in contention but had some costly missteps in the middle of his round on Sunday. He shot 72 and finished tied for 19th. Jordan Spieth, the three-time major champion whose game before the shutdown had been wildly inconsistent for several months, concluded what was an uplifting tournament for him with an uneven 71 that included four birdies and five bogeys. He finished tied for 10th. Spieth was nonetheless feeling refreshed, and not just because he was back playing competitive golf again. “I definitely see progress,” Spieth said. “I knew coming in that I didn’t have all the tools. Didn’t have all my weapons yet. But I certainly gained more this week, gained a lot of confidence.”
The San Juan Daily Star
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Breanna Stewart pushes for change on and off the court By KURT STREETER
uch remains uncertain for Breanna Stewart, the former University of Connecticut star and WNBA MVP who, during the pandemic, has been prepping for a return to the Seattle Storm following a year lost to injury. The WNBA and its players seem close to an agreement but continue to puzzle over the details of playing a shortened season. Amid the postponement, America has over the last month seen an outpouring of powerful protests unimaginable at the outbreak’s onset. “Our country is fighting two viruses at once,” Stewart said. “The coronavirus. But now we’re also facing up to racism, which has been around for centuries. It’s the virus of racism that is most in my thoughts right now.” The 25-year-old has an unusual vantage point from which to view race. Stewart is white — and considered one of the best in the history of a sport deeply infused with African-American players and culture. As stay-at-home orders have loosened, she has ventured beyond the confines of her Seattle condominium to speak up in support of racial justice. This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity. Breanna Stewart: I was with an ex-boyfriend once who is black. This was back in college, at UConn. We were on the New Jersey Turnpike. He was driving, I was in the passenger seat, and one of his teammates who is African-American was in the back. Well, we got pulled over. The policeman came right over to the passenger’s side, looked in and said, “Is everything OK?” and when he did that it felt like he was talking just to me. Then he asked for the IDs of the guys I was with, but not mine. And to the whole car he said, “Where are you guys going?” We were thrown off, because we hadn’t been speeding or doing anything but regular driving, and we asked the officer why we’d been pulled over. The answer was, “Oh, you were following a car too closely.” Following a car too closely? No way. This is an instance I’ve experienced firsthand, that taught me how people are judged differently. If it were two white guys and me, no way we get pulled over. The memory is still in the forefront of my mind, and it still makes me mad. It’s extremely important for white athletes to speak out for racial justice. Black
Breanna Stewart and her Seattle Storm teammate Jewell Loyd spoke at a local protest organized by other basketball pros. “To be around all of these players gave me comfort, a sense of relief, just to feel that support we have for each other,” Stewart said.
people and the black community have been fighting this for years. To help make real change, white people need to be involved. White people need to stand up and support black communities in all ways, and have it be something that happens not just now, during this period of protest, but an ongoing battle. We’ll have to maintain energy and continue to speak out, continue to focus on something other than ourselves. It’s a must. It’s not easy, reconciling the way I feel about playing for Team USA, that pride, with the shame I feel about racism that
contributes to my own privilege and the oppression of black people. I mean, I’ve represented Team USA since I was 14, at all levels. And when you think of USA, you think of that verse, “The land of the free, home of the brave.” But that verse isn’t really true. It is not really the case for a lot of people. It’s just not. Wearing that uniform for Team USA, we represent everyone in America and yet, under that umbrella, we are also representing people that are still involved in systemic racism and racial injustices. This is something I’ve thought about for a long time
now. I think our country is the best country in the world, you know, but there’s just obviously a lot of things that we don’t do right. You knew Seattle was going to protest. This is a city where people always try to stick up for what’s right and what we believe in. I wasn’t there when it really got started, but I could hear it. I remember it was a rainy day and since I live downtown, I could hear everything. I could hear the loud voices, the sirens echoing and bouncing off the buildings. The helicopters, out past midnight. I’ve been listening as much as possible. A lot of Zoom calls with teammates, friends and the league about this. I was on a call with Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter. Got a whole legal pad of notes I’ve taken. For a whole week I didn’t want to work out. I canceled all of my events and media I was supposed to take part in because, you know, I don’t want to get on my Instagram Live and talk about sneakers. That is not what is important in our lives right now. There are bigger things, and they deserve to be completely in the spotlight. Will there be a WNBA season this year? I think there will be. I’m not on the executive committee for the players’ union, but I’m getting intel, and I feel like the union and the WNBA will come up with an agreement. We’re going to do our best to make sure it happens, and also make sure we’re able to use our voice and platform to highlight the social issues that need to be fixed at the same time. Will we be taking a knee during the anthem? You bet. I’m trying to get the league to put “Black Lives Matter” on the court we’ll be playing on. Let’s have that on one baseline, and “Say Her Name,” for Breonna Taylor, on the other baseline. I’ve been to two protests so far, and they’ve both been really energizing, really positive and communal. One was a pretty small gathering at a local park. It was with a whole lot of people from Seattle’s basketball community, organized by Will Conroy, an assistant at Washington, and Jamal Crawford from the NBA. I went with Jewell Loyd, my teammate on the Storm. I needed that. Seattle has been my home for five years now and I just wanted to do what I could to help. I spoke up, along with many others. To be around all of these players gave me comfort, a sense of relief, just to feel that support we have for each other. So, in a really tough time, that was therapy.
The San Juan Daily Star
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
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The San Juan Daily Star
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
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(June 22-July 23)
(Dec 22-Jan 20)
Life may seem terribly uncertain right now, which is a problem for a security-minded person like you. Creating some comforting rituals can offset your unease. Get into the habit of preparing more formal meals at home, complete with candles, flowers and music. Extreme political or religious views are alienating. The next time a zealot tries to convert you, set a firm boundary. If this pest persists with their lectures, break off the relationship or file an official report. You shouldn’t be subjected to these diatribes. Financial fears are driving earning opportunities from your door. Dwelling on what you lack isn’t helpful; it’s better to bring your attention to the many blessings you often ignore. These can include anything from a soft bed, a full stomach and good friends. Conflicts will arise over some shared resources. It may be necessary to get legal representation in this matter. Before hiring someone expensive, put out the call on social media for reasonably priced solicitors. You’ll get some good recommendations. Acting like a know it all will create resentment. Get into the habit of asking for feedback and listening attentively to people’s suggestions. Slowly but surely, the ice between you will melt. Collaborating is much more enjoyable than barking orders from an exalted height. This isn’t a good time to sign a contract. The deal you’re being offered will make you miserable. It’s better to demand better terms, even if it means delaying a potential source of income.
(July 24-Aug 23)
Daydreaming your life away is a waste of valuable energy. There’s nothing wrong with building castles in the air, but you should temper these flights of fantasy with work. Apply your organisational skills to a project that has been suffering from neglect. No job is worth putting your health and safety at risk. If you need extra protection, talk to your employer. Getting protective equipment or establishing some security procedures will make you feel much better about the situation.
(Aug 24-Sep 23)
A well-intentioned friend will give you bad advice. The only guidance you need comes from within. When you are faced with a choice, take the road that feels best to you. If you dislike all your options, forge a new path. Resist the temptation to take a financial risk. It’s better to wait for current conditions to change and ease so keep your hardearned money in the bank, where it will serve as a cushion from economic uncertainty. Don’t worry; you’ll soon have a chance to expand your earnings.
(Oct 24-Nov 22)
Although you’ve accumulated lots of knowledge and experience, it’s important to get some specialised skills. Be open to learning every aspect of your desired field. Not only will this make you a hot commodity on the job market when current restrictions ease, it will also earn you respect. It may be hard to accept other people’s views and values right now. Resist the urge to lecture somebody on their pie in the sky expectations, as this will only create hurt feelings. t’s hard to achieve intimacy when you’re so intent on retaining your independence. Being in a close relationship doesn’t mean you’re relinquishing your freedom. In a healthy union, you’ll continue to pursue your hobbies, interests and work. If your amour is jealous, ease their fears. Be scrupulously honest about finances. Whether you’re applying for a refund or selling merchandise, transparency will be rewarded. You’ll be treated fairly when you listen to your conscience. The terms of a contract are confusing. Don’t enter into this agreement until your concerns are addressed. The more someone tries to pressure you into signing an official agreement, the more sceptical you should be about its benefit to you. A headstrong attitude is stopping you from making alliances. Be open to working with someone with less experience. Their tremendous creativity will pave the way to a successful product or service.
(Jan 21-Feb 19)
You’re worried about the health of someone with whom you work. Giving them dieting or exercise advice will fall on deaf ears. If this colleague wants to get better, they will take the appropriate steps. Shaming people usually does more harm than good. Getting involved in a secret intrigue will be cause for regret. You’re too honest to tell cover stories for a friend who is behaving badly. If your loyalty is questioned, you will know that you’re being asked to do something unethical. Stand by your principles.
(Feb 20-Mar 20)
Pleasure shouldn’t trump business. Although it’s important to have good times, they shouldn’t keep you from fulfilling your obligations. Deliver on promises you made to a relative, colleague or neighbour. The transition will be painless. Trying to rescue a loved one will be an exercise in futility. The fastest way to destroy a good relationship is to offer unsolicited advice. Rather than focusing on someone’s bad points, develop a deeper appreciation for their many wonderful attributes.
Answers to the Sudoku and Crossword on page 29
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
Frank & Ernest
Wizard of Id
For Better or for Worse
The San Juan Daily Star
The San Juan Daily Star
Tuesday, June 16, 2020
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